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My New Board Game Obsession!
Mar 25th, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Blake Glenn’s Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!

— by Blake Glenn

 

I began recently to buy board games. You know – Monopoly, Risk, Operation, Clue, Battleship, Stratego … etc.

A few weeks ago I was in a Goodwill store looking at some other items I could sell online as a profitable hobby and saw a couple of board games that I remembered playing as a child. So I bought them. Even though they were used, for about $3 each they were a bargain … as long as they were complete with all of the pieces of course. Initially this started as a sentimental trip down memory lane as I looked for any of the games I played in my youth. Then on a whim I took to the Internet to see what these things might sell for.

It turns out that some of them can bring a decent price, depending on rarity, vintage, and demand. And that extremely rarefied air of highly valuable used board games can sell for 100’s of dollars, some even 1,000’s. So I honed my eye a bit more to move from pure sentimentality to a more business-like approach, seeking potential profit. While I don’t expect to find a boatload of those rare golden gems, maybe I can make a little money each year from a new hobby. Buy for $3 and sell for $20 to $50. Not a bad profit.

Lately I’ve found myself stalking area Goodwill stores. Employees from at least four area stores now shout my name when I enter. And I even pitched signs in the toy area staking the board games as my own claims, just like in the gold rush days! When I’m in a store I strongly encourage other potential board game miners to move on. Phrases such as “Go on … Get!” and “This here be my claim”, are usually enough to get people to move on. If not I’ll add a snarl or growl, jump up and down, and flash an open mouth showing several missing and discolored teeth. It’s just a simple prosthetic device that creates the desired effect. After a proper fitting, you just slip it around your gums and Voila! – instant 1880’s gold miner mouth!

While staking my claims I came across some interesting games that were focused on finance, business, wagering and/or strategy.

These included:

  • Power Barons
  • Advance To Boardwalk
  • Payday
  • Billionaire
  • Scotland Yard
  • Conspiracy
  • Trump: The Game (yes … THAT TRUMP!)
  • Sharp Shooters
  • Othello
  • Pit
  • Stocks and Bonds

 

As a result, I’ve become very interested in how/if these games can help to develop strategy and business management skills. I’m also developing a live quiz game show targeted to the business market. And I want to see how these games can inform my game show development. So I plan to play each of the board games at least 3 times.

 

Anyone interested in a monthly (or bi-weekly) board game gathering, maybe eventually morphing into a tournament?

 

In the months that follow I’ll update my board game collection progress as well as the business quiz game show creation. I’ve tested the game show concept 2 times so far. It went ok each time. But completion is still a ways off, unless of course a well-heeled corporation is interested in the education and entertainment such an event could provide its employees. In that case it’s ready to go right now.

In the meantime, I’m happy to inform you that I found another board game gem – Barbie Miss Lively Livin’:

 

“This rare 1970 board game comes with a colorful box, a beautiful paper tiara, an intact psychedelic board, one die, 2 medium metal hoops (not sure if these are original pieces or previously used improvised entry-level ear-rings for 8-year olds), and several other playing pieces. Only one listing on eBay. All offers over $100 will be duly considered, maybe even some under.”

 

P.S.   Delivery will be delayed until I’ve played at least 3, uh, 5 times. This play time is crucial to my research into board game strategies. Now time to get my Barbie on!

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

 

If you dare, I can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

P.S.  I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my business game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the player pool!

 

 

 

The Case Of The Missing Equity! … Part II
Mar 9th, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

A true story taken from the (Mis-)Adventures of The Looney Executive.

 

If you missed The Case Of The Missing Equity – Part I, it might help to catch up on the chaos of this tale and then come back for the rest!

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

So all of that insanity set the stage for a chaotic, unfocused, middling, small business pursuing government contracts. Having advised a handful of distressed small businesses I’d become somewhat of a distressed biz profiler. I’d seen the story before. And the evidence was laid out in plain sight for all to see.

 

  • No core strategy.
  • No focus.
  • Poor leadership.
  • No bread and butter clients (i.e., clients that brought consistent revenue).
  • No nothing else that was superior or unique or special that could be exploited.
  • Chaos all around.

 

Since he and I shared an office I’d been talking to him on a daily basis. I knew the strategy because I was helping to develop it, or at least I tried. He changed it almost weekly. This was an act of desperation. And I understood. I’d been in the desperate zone myself. But my strongly encouraged advice of developing and executing a core strategy went unheeded.

One week the focus was on applying for government certifications. The next it’s on contract bidding for items outside of his niche. We bid on a few contracts. Won none of them. Winning government contracts is a volume game. The competition can be fierce. So in order to be successful, you need to produce lots of proposals. It was a jungle where only the strongest, and best-connected, could thrive. We also discussed a few unique ideas that we could launch. These were ideas that would bring his thinking more in line with that of a tech startup founder. But Ricky just wasn’t of the mindset to think, and act, too creatively. On top of it all, Ricky was focused on his PhD studies. So he’d spend large parts of days doing school work and not addressing the severely damaged ship careening toward a fiery crash.

And yet part of the promo (before I arrived) included such typical and overused mantras as “highest quality”, “number one company”, “most experienced” … huh?

Even with that I was a little surprised when one day, out of the blue, he broke the news of layoffs for some of his small staff, including me. My surprise was not the layoff itself, but that he didn’t give a heads up, and frankly that it didn’t happen sooner. But he offered what he thought was a carrot to keep us engaged. He offered us an equity stake but …

 

There was no “there” there.

There was nothing original that was being produced.

There were no long-term contracts.

There were no patents or other valuable intellectual property.

There was no A+ management team.

 

And there was a lack of trust too.

On more than one occasion Ricky told a staff member that paychecks were on the way when they hadn’t even been mailed yet. He was buying time. Not communicating with staff. Operating on the edge. Sometimes when the landlord came by to collect, Ricky would pretend to not be there. Why the landlord felt the need to collect in person was an interesting phenomenon in itself. Perhaps he too had been told one time too many times that the check was in the mail.

As the team gathered in a meeting to discuss this dire situation, I just asked a couple of entirely reasonable questions. I didn’t want to say outright that equity-for-work was a damned horrible idea and embarrass him. But I needed to know. When I asked the legitimate question of how much he currently valued the company, he blurted out an exorbitantly high number. When I followed up with the question of how he arrived at that number, he became a bit irritated and defensive. He said that he could create any value he wanted.

Clearly he was delusional. I didn’t see this as an outright attempt at fraud. He was desperate. He wanted to think that his hard work over the years translated into something of great value. Unfortunately, like for most of the hard-working 49er’s of the California gold rush, it didn’t.

This model he’d chosen to pursue was a dead end. He may get a few contracts here and there. But without a clear focus, a good strategy, and great leadership he was destined to pilot this ship aimlessly through the coldness of space until it eventually simply crashed.

 

After evaluating the situation my advice was simple:

  • Shoot this miserable, suffering beast as a means to a merciful death.
  • Kill it quickly and decisively. He, and it, would not have to suffer any more.
  • Get a job. Save money. Pay off the bills.
  • Develop better ideas.
  • Start fresh in a couple of years.
  • Better yet, pursue acquisitions as a path back to entrepreneurship.

 

But if he was crazy enough to keep going as a startup entrepreneur … start over with a core strategy around one or two unique ideas in a space that was not a low-profit, commoditized jungle.

Ricky did get a job for a while. But, ignoring my advice, he kept the company open for business doing the same thing. A couple of years later, after I was gone from the DC area, he told me he had moved into a new office park. Same business model though. I always wish him the best. I hope he succeeds.

But the old saying is true … sometimes you just can’t teach a stubborn old dog new tricks.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

 

If you dare, I can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

P.S.  I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my business game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the player pool!

 

 

The Case Of The Missing Equity! … Part I
Mar 1st, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

A true story taken from the (Mis-)Adventures of The Looney Executive.

 

Way back in 2008 I worked briefly for a very small tech company. The founder, and sole owner, was a friend of mine. We met in college. Let’s call my friend Ricky. Over the years Ricky and I both tried our hand at entrepreneurship. His sole focus has been on trying to build a company around bidding for government contracts. He didn’t have a “Silicon Valley” mindset. He wasn’t focused on developing original, “disruptive” ideas that targeted a unique “space” and led to billion dollar IPOs – just simply bidding on government contracts. The DC/Northern Virginia/Southern Maryland region is ripe with so many entrepreneurs chasing the same elusive but potentially profitable dream.

At the time, Ricky desired someone to come in and provide a much needed dose of strategy and marketing for his fledgling, middling enterprise. So he asked me to help out. Over the years, as we discussed our entrepreneurial adventures, I never got a clear sense of his focus. And when I actually went inside the company I saw some things that surprised me. First, he wasn’t running his business full time. He was actually working for a large aerospace company part time. In understood this of course. You have to pay bills. And he had kids to support. But he was driving to Philly for his job. That was a 2-hour drive one way. Good thing it was part-time.

Secondly, he was bidding on supplying low-margin, commodity electronic items of all types to government agencies. As I found out in short time, literally anyone could do this. Being an expert in electronics was unnecessary. Just connect with a distributor, set up in your home, go to certain web sites for the solicitations, apply for a certification or two, put pen to paper (metaphorically of course) to bid for contracts, and voila! – you were a new very low-overhead competitor. The barriers to entry were pretty non-existent. So, because he leased a fair amount of office space, Ricky was already at a disadvantage.

Thirdly, a massive storm cloud had overtaken his operations. Let me explain. Shortly before I arrived, there was some major internal drama. Ricky fired one of his employees. Let’s call her Diane. Diane had set up her own operation using HIS equipment in order to compete against him for the same bids. But wait, there’s more.

Diane was also the sister of Ricky’s former long-time girlfriend (and mother of his 3 children), Tanya. Tanya also worked for Ricky. And she had convinced him to hire her sister Diane against his better judgment. Diane had been relieved of her previous job under cloudy circumstances. It appeared to be some level of financial misconduct, maybe embezzlement. This woman already had a history of corrupt-minded activities, which is why Ricky didn’t want to hire her. But he did it to appease Tanya. Tanya thought it would be a fresh start for Diane. Well as the saying goes, it’s hard to teach an old crook new tricks, unless they’re crooked tricks.

After Diane’s treachery, the nuclear fallout from this fiasco also emptied into family relationships as Diane and Tanya went on the warpath against each other, dragging their siblings and parents into the fray. Those extended family gatherings must have been so very interesting.

And there was a bit more intrigue going on that Ricky had actually created himself. On behalf of his employer, his job was to work with small businesses that provided products and services to the company. Over time he developed relationships with several vendors. One of those vendors built proprietary cables for Ricky’s employer. One day the owner decided to sell his little venture. And Ricky decided to buy it … without his employer’s knowledge. In short time his employer discovered that Ricky had acquired one of its small suppliers. So this employer was paying him, already an employee, to make cabling products for them through the guise of the company he acquired.

And how did they find this out?

Well Diane of course. She called and told them. Diane may be going down in flames but she certainly wasn’t going alone!

But Ricky’s employer couldn’t prove that he’d done this. They called his office a couple of times. But they got nowhere. Ricky was smart enough to operate the acquired company under its original name. Soon however, Ricky was relieved of his part-time gig. Unless, a company arranged an Enron-like bifurcation of subsidiaries, ferreting out the true ownership of any venture would take just a little digging.

Whew! Is your head spinning too?

Not to worry. Let’s take a breather. I’ll finish this story in Part II of “The Case Of The Missing Equity!”

By that time I hope your head-spinning, and dizziness, will have subsided.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, I can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

P.S.  I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my business game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the player pool!

 

Rustbelt Rising #15: The Demise of IgniteTech
Feb 18th, 2016 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Rust Belt Rising … An Epic Quest To Build A Vibrant Tech Startup Scene In A Traditional, Conservative, Hard-core Rust Belt Town.

— by Blake Glenn

 

I’m back. After a months-long break of not writing anything, I’m getting back in gear. It happens. Sometimes we must step back and take a break. We have to refresh. So many things were going on I felt the need to deep-freeze the writing for a while. But I enjoyed the holiday season and I hope you did too. Although it seems to come and go so much faster now that I’m in my middle years. I know time doesn’t change. It’s our perception of it that does.

Then again … maybe that’s not true at all. I’ve been watching the rebooted X-Flies series. Strange and unbelievable cases those FBI agents try to solve. And now that I think about it, I have a strange theory. Maybe time IS actually accelerating.  It seems like just yesterday I was on a college campus partying and working through an engineering program in Norfolk, VA. But maaaybeee … it really was yesterday. Maybe someone – or some thing – did something to me to make time accelerate several years in just a few hours.

I think my DNA-embedded neutronic positrons have been activated diametrically, which causes an acceleration of the time-space continuum on an individual basis. This was thought to be complete conjecture by the established scientific community, nothing more than voodoo science. But it’s the only plausible explanation. And that would certainly explain a lot indeed.  It’s a good thing I have Mulder and Scully on speed dial.

In any case, since I’ve last written, a lot has happened in the business world that, as usual, I have some thoughts on. And I have a few more stories to tell too.

One of those stories is my decision to pull the plug on IgniteTech. IgniteTech was a group I launched on Meetup.com in 2013. It was an experiment to see if it was possible to create a viable, energetic, grass-roots driven tech startup scene in the Dayton, OH region. You see Dayton is a hard-core rustbelt town. It’s also a hard-core military town, with one of the largest U.S. Air Force bases located in the region. And the culture of these two influences is very strongly reflected in the regional institutions and the population. When I returned here a few years ago, there was no movement to build a grass-roots driven tech startup scene.

 

So is it possible to create a dynamic tech startup scene in Dayton?

 

That was the question I wondered as I launched IgniteTech. Well the short answer (or the short-term answer) is … no. It’s not possible, at least not right now. There simply doesn’t exist a strong concentration of past, current and potential founders that have the motivation, the will, to make that happen. There’s just very little energy focused on building a great tech startup scene. On top of that, there’s not a dynamic support system (existing institutions) that helps to foster such ideas.

And though the regional institutions also lack enthusiasm for creating a dynamic tech startup scene, the situation isn’t primarily their fault. Grassroots is about people making things happen for themselves. IgniteTech was about building a grassroots movement. And the people it was meant to help simply didn’t demonstrate a motivation to build something. But there is an upside. There actually are a very small handful of people (2 or 3 that I know of) working diligently to make something happen. And if their enthusiasm can recruit a few more people committed to the tech startup scene, maybe in a few years we’ll see some significant progress.

In my last “Rustbelt Rising” post last November, I wasn’t sure if anyone else would step into the fray to continue IgniteTech and take it to the next level. No one did. After I sent the farewell notice, four or five people responded with nice words. But not a single person even inquired about how to keep it going. That, in a nutshell, is the story of the current grassroots tech startup movement in Dayton.

Suffice it to say I’ll have a lot more to post about my IgniteTech (mis-)adventure in the near future. Check out this interesting short piece on what it takes to create a tech startup scene.

 

 

Now I’m off on a new set of adventures:

  • Developing a business game show (live event)
  • Exercising my speaking chops
  • Launching a new business talk show
  • And starting on a scripted web series

 

And hopefully by the next post I’ll have connected with Mulder and Scully to solve my time-acceleration issues.

Wish me luck.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

P.S.  I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the pool.

 

 

The Best Startup Cities
Nov 17th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Blake Glenn’s Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!

— by Blake Glenn

 

While playing around on the Internet the other day and going down deep rabbit hole after deep rabbit hole, I came across an interesting piece of information on startups. It’s a Ranking of the top 40 metro areas measured by startup activity. It was created by the Kauffman Foundation.

The organization does lots of research on startups. At the time I was looking at some links about tech startups. And through a series of link-following incidents I bumped into this report. I’m not certain this Kauffman list is tech startup-centric. But even if it’s not focused on tech, it’s still pretty interesting.

 

Here are some of the more interesting tidbits of information:

  • Silicon Valley (Santa Clara-San Jose-Sunnyvale) isn’t #1, it’s #3
  • California and Texas dominate the top 10
  • California has 6 metros in the top 25, four in the top 10 – San Jose (3), LA (4), San Francisco (6), San Diego (9), Riverside (18), Sacramento (23)
  • Texas has four metros on the list, 3 in the top ten – Austin (1), Houston (8), San Antonio (10), Dallas (15)

 

** GUESS THAT MEANS GO WEST … AND SOUTHWEST PEOPLE!

 

  • Highly touted emerging tech startup hub Boulder, CO isn’t on the list, unless it’s included in the Denver metro area
  • At #12 Columbus is the top ranked Ohio city and Mid-West city (technically Ohio is really Mid-East but we’ll go with tradition)
  • The next ranked Mid-West city is Chicago (21)
  • Rustbelt cities dominate the bottom 10 – Cincinnati (32), Cleveland (35), Detroit (36), St. Louis (38), Milwaukee (39), Pittsburgh (40)
  • Another metro pretty close to Dayton, Indianapolis, ranks at #28
  • A super-region that includes Columbus, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis would be great for Dayton since it sits geographically just about in the center.
  • Pittsburgh ranks lower than the other rust-belt cities on the list … that’s a little surprising since it has been cited as a great example of rustbelt renewal
  • The Washington, DC metro ranks at #30 … such a low rank for the capitol is like totally surprising … totally

 

There are many other ways to rank startup metros too:

  • Number of startups receiving venture capital
  • Amount of total VC invested
  • Number of IPOs
  • Number of cash-outs reaching $100 Mil (+)
  • Number of executive assistants, non-executive employees, janitors, and corporate dog-walkers – I mean canine pacing engineers – achieving millionaire status due to stock options

 

Also, if you’re one of the former Industrial Age powerhouses now girding for a revival and relevancy in this Information Age, I’m not sure if you should be ecstatic just to be included on the list at all, or if you should be horrified for ranking so low.

As I come across other startup lists, I’ll be sure to share.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

 

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

Business Is Big Business in the TV Business!
Oct 9th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Blake Glenn’s Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!

— by Blake Glenn

 

Don’t look now.
Business is going big time in the entertainment industry.
Well at least on TV.

Business is having a big time moment, maybe even unprecedented in terms of the hours devoted to business programming. There may be more scripted and reality shows about business on the air right now than ever in the existence of the small screen. Now of course I don’t know this to be an absolute fact. But I think it’s entirely within the realm of possibility.

Here’s a quick look at the current landscape where business is front and center on TV:

Fictional Shows

Silicon Valley

This well-received HBO show has completed at least two seasons now. It’s a satire, or parody, of life in Silicon Valley. I mean it’s about life in a tech startup – not life as a cab driver of hotel worker or accountant working in Silicon Valley. And I’ve read that it’s pretty good. But I don’t have HBO. I have TV. And since HBO is not TV …

 

Empire

This tantalizing Fox juggernaut crashed the network scene in 2014 and has been on a rampage ever since. From the pieces I’ve seen, I’d say it’s about 1/5 biz story, 1/5 soap opera, and 3/5 total and complete insanity. It’s the urban culture of hip hop meets the cowboy, back-stabbing, devious culture of Dallas (the TV show, not the city) … set in the music industry!

 

Halt and Catch Fire

This show is set in Texas and follows the adventures of a group of computer entrepreneurs in the 1980s. Having been around during the early days of the PC industry, I’ve found the premise alone to be fairly interesting. But having it set in Texas instead of Silicon Valley makes it fascinating.

 

Blood and Oil

This new series about oil would seem to be yet another knock-off of the original Dallas series. I’ve not seen an episode yet. But if the trailers are any indication, we’re in for a real steamy, sexy, oily, back-stabbing mess. But even the recent Dallas spinoff – also called Dallas, just updated – didn’t last more than 2 or 3 seasons. So Blood and Oil’s prospects may hit a dry well. But maybe if it’s set on the North Dakota frontier, around a small town experiencing a boom because of newly discovered shell oil together with natural gas fracking, and shows a litany of modern day wild west type characters … maybe, just maybe we’ve got ourselves a hit!

 

Reality Shows

American Greed

This standard has given us dozens of tales built around the power and, ultimately, the repercussions of unbridled greed. What strikes me is how every single one of the featured greed-meisters has been able to sucker so many people. So many people that would seem to be reasonably intelligent, though some have been from the vulnerable elderly population. This show always reminds me of a book I saw a few years ago called “Snakes in Suits”. Sociopaths and psychopaths are all around us … beware.

The show also reinforces the old adage:

Never. Ever. Never. Put all of your money in one friggin’ basket. Got it?

 

Shark Tank

Enough said. Don’t watch it? You’re dead to me!

 

West Texas Investors Club

Apparently actor Matthew McConaughey has a brother with a lot of money. And this brother has a business partner that also has a lot of money. And together they take pitches at their Texas digs. And after grilling the fund-seeker in their own West Texas style accent, they then decide whether or not to invest. Sometimes they even have the entrepreneur get drunk and spend the night.

In fairness though, the product being pitched in that case was supposed to be a cure for hangovers. It’s not hard to imagine this item in demand in West Texas and at college campuses across the country. Oh yea. Then there’s that third guy. I’m not sure his role. He got drunk and spent the night handcuffed to the entrepreneur with the alleged hangover cure. I really, really don’t want to know what happened that night.

 

Bazillion Dollar Club

This series, airing on the SyFy channel, features 6 startups as they try to get their ventures into the air. It also features a couple of apparently well-known tech startup players who coach them – 500 Startups’ Dave McClure and Highway1’s Brady Forrest. As the title indicates, it’s no longer enough to get into the billion dollar club. Now you must go big and reach for BAZZILLIOOOONNN!

Update: Looks like we have our first casualty of the new group of shows. SyFY has decided not to air any more episodes after the initial episode aired on Sept 21st. The ratings must have been pretty bad for that to happen. It looks like the producers are seeking another home so they can show (or “burn off” in TV terms … I’m an insider to the biz) the remaining 5 episodes. I have a suggestion – Youtube, Vimeo, or Crackle. Well actually I guess that’s 3 suggestions.

 

Startup U.

This entry, airing on ABC Family, follows the adventures of 10 students of Draper University. This program, run by VC Tim Draper, appears to be an intensive 7-week accelerator. So apparently the cameras will try to capture the competition among these 10 super-ambitious people. According to the description, all of them will have the opportunity to pitch for dollars.
The Profit

This one is different. It’s had at least 2 seasons on CNBC. Instead of focusing on startups, it features one investor, Marcus Lemonis, trying to help small business owners turn around their mini-empires. I’ve seen these business owners. I’ve known them. I’ve advised them. This is a hard gig. In addition to advice, Lemonis invests his own money with a handshake. Sometimes owners listen. Many times they don’t. And sometimes Lemonis gets burned.

 

Make Me A Millionaire Inventor

No. I will not. But maybe buyers will. This CNBC show connects inventors with engineers and scientists to see if their invention has possibilities and, if so, to help with the commercialization process. Not all of them will make it. But for those that do maybe a few million isn’t farfetched at all.

 

Bar Rescue

This Spike TV show has been around about 4 years. It features a big, gruff consultant with a NY/NJ accent that tries to help struggling bar and restaurant owners to turnaround their failing ventures. I’ve watched about a half dozen episodes. The show’s format seems to consistently work like this:

1) The consultant and his team performs undercover recon on the bar to get an unfiltered look at the problems

2) The consultant and his team make recommendations to the owner(s) – menu items, decor, employees, management … etc.

3) The owners don’t like the recommendations and battle with said consultant and team

4) There’s lots of screaming and crying

5) Owner(s) concede they need help (but no concession for a therapist) and agree to changes

6) Changes and re-decorations made – usually in 5 minutes. The team and his consultants must be made up of super human speedsters

7) The owners and staff review changes – get mad, get happy, both

8) Bar reopens with changes and entertains a large crowd

However, it’s not all hugs and kisses. As I read the Wikipedia page I saw that many of these bars had failed anyway. And in one extreme case, an angry owner shot and killed a man in his bar after the bar was transformed, but before the episode was aired.

 

There may be a few other shows out there. It’s not an exhaustive list. And by the time you read this, another show or two may have been cancelled. But I can’t worry about that right now. I’m off to begin work on a series of TV show ideas I’ve kicked around for a while. Now, obviously, is the time to strike. Now where did I put Spielberg’s number. He said to call anytime.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

 

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

Rustbelt Rising #14: Part II
Sep 15th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Rust Belt Rising … An Epic Quest To Build A Vibrant Tech Startup Scene In A Traditional, Conservative, Hard-core Rust Belt Town.

— by Blake Glenn

 

Every adventure must come to an inevitable conclusion!

 

Apathy

1. Absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.

2. Lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting.

 

In the last three years I’ve learned that enthusiasm is an absolutely HUGE variable that determines whether or not it’s possible to ignite a grassroots tech startup scene. And frankly, the Dayton region has not had sufficient enthusiasm for the prospect of building a real startup scene. There are a handful of individuals that are all in for this. I can name them. They’re ready, willing, and able to put in the time and effort to make this happen. But that list is horrifically short. And it’s about to get even shorter.

In the almost 3 years I’ve been “efforting” to ignite a tech startup scene, only two people have stepped in as leaders to help build the group and, subsequently, the regional tech startup scene. Despite my repeated calls for additional community builders, no one else made themselves available. In truth, there were a couple of others that seemed interested. But that just didn’t translate into bodies on board. And unfortunately, both of the people that did step in are no longer able to be on board. I thank them both – Alejandro and Max – for their service. So, from a leadership perspective, it’s just me now.

It’s not just an apathy for community-building. It’s been apathy for just attending events that we offered – social hours, co-working sessions … anything! There’s been so little energy from the people in the Dayton region to just get out of their houses once or twice a month to gather and socialize around tech startups, that I’ve wondered if there’s a pulse at all!

Oh no! She’s flatlining. Defibrillator. Defibrillator!

CLEAR!

Bzzzzzzzz!

Still no pulse!

AGAIN!

CLEAR!

Bzzzzzzzz!

We’re losing her.

WE’RE LOSING HER!

 

I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry. We did the best we could. It just wasn’t … It just wasn’t enough. My condolences.

 

To quote Larry The Liquidator in the movie “Other People’s Money” (played with delightful effect by Danny Devito):

It’s dead.

Don’t blame me.

It was dead when I got here!

 

Of course Larry was talking about a dying company he had targeted for acquiring and then selling in pieces, or liquidation, in order to make a lot of money. Here of course, we’re talking about the regional tech startup scene. I have no plans to break Dayton into pieces and sell them off.

Then again … maybe I could interest Columbus, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Cincinnati in a section or two.

 

Another important event that exemplified the apathy around tech startups was Startup Weekend. There were two attempts to do this in 2014. The first attracted less than 30 people. The second had to be canceled due to insufficient registrations. Frankly, I think the second attempt was too soon considering the disappointing turnout of the first one. But I’m sure the organizers learned from their experience.

 

 

Pivot

To turn on or as on a pivot.

I’m just a bit tired of this word. It’s one of the most overused in the world of tech startups – right up there with ecosystem, disrupt, scale, and way too many others. But damnit I couldn’t think of a better one to use.

Anyway, yes it’s pivot time.

First, I have a couple of project ideas that haven’t received my full attention. I’ve neglected theses ideas because some of my attention went to Ignitetech. I’m not just a community builder. I have looney ideas constantly bouncing around in my crazy brain. And they’re just aching to launch. So I’m pursuing them with a relentless and ruthless focus.

Second, what does this mean for IgniteTech? Will it continue on? Will it evolve into something else? Well I don’t know yet. I’d be ecstatic if a few more people showed some enthusiasm (i.e., opposite of apathy) for helping to build a grassroots tech startup movement by taking leadership positions in IgniteTech. Based on past experience, that’s not likely to happen.

Alternately, the group may “pivot” in a different direction. I have an idea or two that dovetails with the projects I’m developing. So it may still exist but become something completely different than the original mission. On the other hand, maybe it just needs a merciful death. That’s a strong possibility too.

Regardless of which direction I take here, the initial IgniteTech adventure is over. It started with a tech startup summit I co-produced in November of 2012. And it continued with the launch of IgniteTech in January of 2013. Now I must turn my full attention to embarking on other adventures. Of course now and then I’ll still post observations about the Dayton tech startup scene. I’ll still participate, on occasion, in tech startup activities. I’ll continue to observe how things transpire. Maybe someone else will be able to inject a dose of electricity and jolt some life into the moribund Dayton scene.

Yea. Like Frankenstein bringing his monster to life.

Just remember …

Don’t blame me.

I didn’t kill it.

It was dead when I got here.

 

But maybe, just maybe a team of mad scientists can conjure up some lightning one stormy night and bring Daytonstein to life!

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

——————

 

 

Rustbelt Rising #14: Part I
Sep 11th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Rust Belt Rising … An Epic Quest To Build A Vibrant Tech Startup Scene In A Traditional, Conservative, Hard-core Rust Belt Town.

— by Blake Glenn

 

The End Times Cometh!

 

Membership

The total number of members belonging to an organization, society, etc.

If you’ve been reading these updates you know that IgniteTech is a group I launched in January 2013 as a means to gather people interested in building a dynamic grassroots tech startup scene in the Dayton, OH region. In December of 2014 the IgniteTech membership stood at about 190 people. Since then the membership has increased to over 270 people. That’s pretty good growth, especially for the Dayton, OH region. 80 more members in 8 months. So that’s some real good news right?

And yet, the last event IgniteTech attempted to co-produce with two other tech groups – a beer and bowling party – could only muster 4 registrations … including me! So we had to cancel it. Since last year I’ve noticed a decline in registrations for IgniteTech social events as well as our  monthly pitching/co-working meetups.

So what does this mean?

Well it seems that the membership doesn’t like what we’re offering. And to attempt to counteract this declining trend in participation, we issued a survey early this year to get a sense of what people want. While there were a few responses, I would call it tepid at best. And over the last 2 years I’ve also seen lukewarm interest in other tech startup activities not sponsored by IgniteTech.

What it means is … the IgniteTech membership not only doesn’t like what we’ve tried to offer, but doesn’t care much to tell us what they actually do want.

So why does the membership keep growing?

Well, uh, geez … Hell if I know!

Maybe people just like joining stuff, whether they plan to participate or not!

 

Traction

The adhesive friction of a body on some surface, as a wheel on a rail or a tire on a road

Initially, IgniteTech was able to get a little traction in interest with our early events. Our typical attendance was in the range of 20 – 25 people. As I look back I think a big part of this was that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING going on in the tech startup scene. I mean NOTHING! Hell there actually wasn’t a tech startup scene at all.

While there always have been and will be individuals interested in launching the next billion dollar IPO, there wasn’t an actual grassroots community that existed around tech startups. A community that supported, critiqued, and collaborated to help launch more ventures. I think the initial interest in IgniteTech events was also driven by an intrigue at the prospect of something new.

But as time progressed, our ability to maintain that initial traction has become a whole lot more challenging. The tread wear on these tires is pretty damned thin. New tires are probably needed. But frankly is it really worth the effort to try to regain the traction?

Keeping with the auto metaphor, maybe it’s best if someone with a brand new car came in to try and burn a little rubber in the tech startup scene. Oops. That would actually wear off the tread wouldn’t it. Bad metaphor.

A group called Startup Grind has recently launched in Dayton. Maybe it will gain some traction. And there’s rumblings of a new attempt at another Startup Weekend. Perhaps with their past experience as a guide, they’ll be able to pull it off. I really wish both of these efforts the best. The region needs new blood, new ideas, new energy.

 

Community

A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists

With this in mind, the Dayton region does have an existing tech community that is made up of programmers, designers, engineers, project managers, small business owners … etc. Then there’s the sub-community within the broader tech community that consists of founders of tech-related ventures that are launching ideas, seeking angel and venture funding, and trying to achieve a high growth trajectory.

But these communities are mostly a collection of individuals and teams working their own ventures, with minimal ongoing interaction and collaboration among others in the “community”. But if there’s minimal ongoing interaction, and there’s little mutual support, is it really a community at all?

Well I say no. It’s not. Definitely not.

At least not the type of community that can lead to building a truly dynamic tech startup scene. It’s simply a collection of individuals. No more.  When I look around the country at some of the cities/regions where tech startups are really emerging (Las Vegas; Columbus; Washington, DC; Chicago; even Detroit) there appear to be active grassroots communities that hold well-attended events. As an outsider, there appears to be great enthusiasm for activities that allow people to bump and connect (I’m tired of saying “colliding”). Even lil’ ole’ Reno, NV (similar to Dayton in size and its loss of traditional industry jobs – casinos in this case) is trying to become a tech startup player. And it just might succeed too.

 

In my next post, I’ll conclude my thoughts on the status of IgniteTech and the Dayton tech startup scene in Rustbelt Rising #14: Part II.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

—————————————————————

P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.  Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.

Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!

 

The Business of Chicken Wings
Aug 13th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Blake Glenn’s Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!

 

Somehow I missed it. I’m not sure how. I feel so bad.

You see I recently learned that July 29th was National Chicken Wing Day. There’s a day to honor chicken wings. As well it should be. If there was any food that should be honored it most certainly is chicken wings. They are the Subaru of food. Fairly inexpensive. Versatile. Good for most any occasion. Liked by many. A food utility vehicle. Off road, on road, you name it.

I love chicken wings. Absolutely love ’em, love ’em. love ’em!

Each year I make a significant personal contribution to the chicken wing consumption index. So I don’t know how this truly blessed day escaped me. It’s escaped me since 1977, when the inaugural national Chicken Wing Day made its debut in Buffalo, NY. This day even has its own web site.

Nationalchickenwingday.com

 

Like me, I know you’re so excited to learn more about the history of chicken wings. So here’s a brief history according to the web site:

 

CHICKEN WING HISTORY

Buffalo, New York lays claim to the birthplace of the chicken wing and that’s why they are often called Buffalo wings as well. The story goes that Teressa Bellissimo created chicken wings at the Anchor Bar, which she owned with her husband Frank, when her son Dominic and some of his college friends decided they wanted a late night bite to eat.

She wanted a fast and easy dish so she deep-fried some chicken wings, which in 1964 were usually reserved for soup stock. She tossed them in butter and hot sauce. Naturally, they were an instant hit. The Bellissimos weren’t the first Buffalo restaurateurs to realize the potential of chicken wings. John Young had opened Wings’n Things on Jefferson Avenue in 1963. But his wings were breaded and dressed in a tomato-based sauce.

 

Now we know the origins story of this superhero of foods. Yes. Chicken wings are superheroes. There should be a comic book. Graphic novel. Animated series. Live action TV series. Merchandise. And eventually a big budget tent pole movie franchise. Their biggest super power is versatility. They can go:

  • Deep fried
  • Grilled
  • Sauteed
  • Satay
  • Baked
  • Broiled
  • Smoked
  • Spicy
  • Mild
  • Medium
  • Crispy
  • Regular
  • Jack Daniels

… And on, and on, and on!

 

No other superhero has that kind of power. Not Iron Man. Not Super Girl. Not Wonder Woman. Not Batman. Yet, The Chicken Wing lives a relatively quietly unsung life until called into action.

Chicken wings are big business too. Over 27 billion wings were gobbled down in 2013. Well over 1.2 billion wings were eaten just during the last Super Bowl weekend. That’s the biggest single wing consumption period by far. What many people don’t know is that the Super Bowl is actually a big chicken wing party and celebration. You know. You go to a glorious wing party and a football game breaks out as side entertainment. Maybe you watch the game a little. But it’s not the main event by any stretch. The guests of honor are always Mr. and Mrs. Wing.

So when it comes to chicken wings …

Admire them.

Celebrate them.

Honor them.

But most of all … Eat them.

Eat the hell out of them!

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

—————————————————————

P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.  Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.

Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!

 

 

The Sound Of Money
Jul 15th, 2015 by LOONEYEXECUTIVE

Blake Glenn’s Looney thoughts, perspectives, and insights on the world of business!

 

CRACK!

Oh No!

Damn!

Did I just ….

No. No. No. No. No!!!

I knew this was gonna happen. I knew it. I knew it. I knew it!

Damn! Damn! Damn!

The Looney Man

 

 

 

 

 

To give you the big picture of this impending crisis that threatened to quickly spread across the global landscape, let me start from the beginning. Four years ago my father’s brother, Uncle Howard, died. He was in his late 80’s and had served in World War II. He wouldn’t discuss his war experiences with me. And I know his wartime journey must have left an indelibly deep tragic scar. I think he only told my father about one incident where he came across a German soldier that had been frozen in the ready position, still holding his rifle.

Over the last 3 years my father and I have cleaned out the house to prep it for sale. Yes. Three. Years. Why has it taken thee years? Let’s just say that if it were my house it would have been done within a few months. But it’s not. And it wasn’t.

The downside of this taking three years of course is that my father has paid a fair amount of house maintenance fees during that time. So he’s lost a good bit of money. The upside is that the house and garage were full of stuff, lots of stuff. The downside is that, in a rush to get a lot of the “junk” out of the house, we made several deliveries to Goodwill (including lots of vintage clothing), granted to a metal recycler a hospital bed that I later saw listed for several hundred dollars on eBay, and threw away other stuff that might have had some good sales value.

Cash Register

 

 

 

The upside is that I found and kept several potentially valuable items including a bunch of vintage and antique tools, vintage luggage and briefcases, vintage hats, over 100 albums (i.e., 33 rpm records for those born after 1980), over 100 45’s (i.e., 45 rpm records), and a few dozen 78’s (as in 78 rpm records).

That last category, the 78’s, are the most rare records I think. They were a popular format in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s before being supplanted by the albums and 45’s. And the 78 records in my, uh, “catalog” include big time artists such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, Cab Callaway, Etta James, The Mills Brothers, and The Ink Spots.

With these potentially valuable items in hand, I decided to do an inventory and set up an online store via eBay, Amazon, or other means (perhaps a stand-alone site) in order to make a little bit of money from this found treasure. I’ve even been thinking of some bad-ass names for the online store.

  • Uncle Howard’s Cool Vintage Cove
  • Howard’s Stuff and Things
  • The Vintage Palace
  • Kool Stuuff 4U

 

What do you think? Ok. Maybe the names aren’t all that bad-ass after all. But I’ve got the creative wheels turning. In any case, I’ve started setting up some spreadsheets for each category of items I plan to sell. I started the process two years ago but in the last few weeks I’ve really focused on it.

As I’ve researched these records, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that a small few of them have pretty high valuations, if in top condition. Two of the 78’s were listed at more than $1,000. That doesn’t necessarily mean that my copies are worth that much. But still, it’s not too bad if they’re even worth a quarter of the top listing.

So back to the crisis. That loud crack I heard, the one that sent me into a complete frenzied man-panic … well that was the result of my toe accidentally pressing into a 78 record. As I had stood up from my chair, I turned to my right to grab something and took a step. To the right of my chair is where I stored my inventory items vertically on the floor as I entered them into my spreadsheet.

I’d stood up dozens of times and made similar foot/toe plants in the carpet. But this one particular time I suppose I just planted a little too hard and my big toe crashed head-, uh, I mean toe-first into that 78. And CRUNCH … the poor innocent record broke clean in two. Ouch!

By the way, 78’s are made from something called shellac, not vinyl like the 33’s and 45’s. Didn’t know that did you. Well I aim to entertain AND to educate.

So put another way … that loud crack created by my big toe pressing tenaciously against shellac was the sound of money. Money drifting away, dissolving before my very eyes. I reached out in sheer desperation, grabbing furiously for tiny specks, but it wasn’t to be.

 

Poof. Dust. Hasta la vista baby.

 

And this was an Ink Spots 78. Those two records that were listed over $1,000, well those were Ink Spots. So as you can imagine, I thought I’d just possibly lit a thousand bucks on virtual fire. After a couple of depressed minutes searching my spreadsheet I found the entry for that record. The damage was less than $20. Whew! I wiped the furrowed, sweaty brow with still shaking hands.

I dodged it this time. But careful, careful from now on. I don’t want to be the one telling my father that $1,000 just did a Houdini due to a poor toe placement.

By the way – anybody in the market for a Sam Cooke 8-track tape? Yea? Well then. Make me an offer I can’t possibly refuse.

 

Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via  The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?

 

If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com

 

———————————————————–

P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.  Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas. Build your connections.

Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!

 

 

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