The Startup J Curve

The Startup J Curve

In his book, the Startup J Curve, noted entrepreneur and angel investor, Howard Love, essentially states that there is no straight line from startup to sustainable success.  Rather, it follows a J Curve where the company initially dips after it starts.  The dip can occur for several reasons:

  • Product takes longer to develop
  • Customers don’t embrace the initial product
  • The business model doesn’t quite work

Love describes this dip as the Valley of Death.  A young startup needs to be able to crawl out of it before they run out of cash.  Much of his book describes strategies in working through the Valley of Death.

Here is a description of the 6 phases of the Startup J Curve:

  1. Create: This is where the initial excitement occurs for a startup and the three elements come together: the idea, team, and the money.  This is the best time to raise money because the startup is selling the dream.
  2. Release: This is where a startup releases their product to market and where the market will provide feedback.  It’s where the rubber hits the road and reality hits.  It’s at this phase where founders really need to listen to their customers.
  3. Morph: In this phase, the startup needs to make adjustments on their product or business model based on customer feedback.  At this phase, there needs to be several iterations until product market fit is achieved.
  4. Model: In this phase, the startup needs to optimize their business model.  The goal is to get to a point where there is a direct ROI if more money is invested in the startup.
  5. Scale: After the business model has been nailed, this is where investment into the startup is able to scale the business.
  6. Harvest: this is where the startup graduates to a fully established business and is where the founders have the opportunity to reap the benefits of their labor. It is also where they need to decide on what direction they would like to take including IPO, acquisition, etc.

A startup founder needs to be aware where they are on the J Curve.  For example if they focus on scaling strategies before they actually nail the business model, the odds of success are diminished. This video is a great overview of the Startup J Curve.

If you like to meet Howard Love and get a copy of his book (while supplies last), he will be speaking at Startup Grind Sacramento on December 13, 2016.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

The 2016 Sacramento Region Innovation Award Winners

2016 Sacramento Innovation Awards

The inaugural Sacramento Region Innovation Awards luncheon was held on November 4, 2016.  The criteria for the award is that the innovation must be developed by a Sacramento region entity.   The awards were given in six categories and judged by a panelist that consisted of industry experts.  Below is a list of the award winners and finalists.

Innovation of the Year

Golden 1 Center (Award Winner), the new home of the NBA’s Sacramento King was given a special Innovation of the Year Award for being the most sustainable and technologically advanced arena in the world. Sacramento Kings President, Chris Granger , gave the keynote speech at the luncheon, highlighting the arena’s impact on the surrounding community and its industry-leading commitments to sustainability, technology innovation and local industry.

Advanced Manufacturing

Watercraft Manufacturing by Free Form Factory Inc. (Award Winner) is an advanced manufacturing company currently focused on personal water crafts (PWC), jet skis. Their first product, FFF2.0, is the world’s first polymer based high performance PWC hull, with a proprietary chassis design. FFF has developed proprietary manufacturing techniques to manufacture PWC hulls 10x faster, 3.5x stronger, with zero volatile organic compounds.

Bolt Star by Construction Innovations LLC (Finalist) is a breakthrough product of Construction Innovations LLC. Their BOLT STAR division specializes in the design and manufacture of tools for the construction industry.

Food & Agriculture

Radio Frequency Pasteurizer by RF Biocidics (Award Winner) designs, develops and operates disinfection and disinfestation systems for a worldwide clientele to create the next generation of food safety solutions.

Automated Irrigation Advisor by Tule Technologies (Finalist) takes the guesswork out of irrigation and provides precise measurement of how much water crops are using with 24 hour remote monitoring.

Rapid Kit by Astrona Biotechnologies (Finalist) is a simple to use detector that can be deployed on-site at every phase of food production from field to table. Their technology can screen all food types in under an hour versus today’s 48 hour standard food safety process

Hardware & Electronics

Linkbot by Barobo, Inc. (Award Winner) aims to make robotics more affordable, adaptable, reconfigurable, and reprogrammable for education, research, and industrial applications. Its flagship product, the Mobot, is a modular robot designed for transformative K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

GPS Real-Time Network by California Surveying & Drafting Supply (Finalist) is a dynamic GNSS Real-Time Kinematic network that provides more reliability, more coverage, and more accuracy than traditional single-base networks. The CSDS RTN provides RTK & GLONASS corrections to equipment in the field, enabling up to 1 centimeter accuracy.

SenCam by Senworth (Finalist) is a body worn camera designed for law enforcement.  The camera is triggered by a blue tooth enabled holster with 126 degrees angle lens which saves the video to the cloud.

Medical & Health Technologies & Services

B. infantis by Evolve Biosystems (Award Winner) develops the next generation of microbiome-based solutions to establish, restore, and maintain a healthy human gut microbiome across a range of unmet clinical needs.

Osteo-P HCCP by Molecular Matrix, Inc.(Finalist) is focused on providing advanced research tools for cultivating and studying stem cells. Their products provide cutting edge solutions for growing cells in three dimensions.

ViVita Process & ViVita BP by ViVita Technologies, Inc. (Finalist) removes the immunological barriers in animal-derived tissues, rendering them immune-compatible with human patients. Leveraging this technology, ViVita aims to  generate off-the-shelf tissue and organ replacements that avoid long-term medication, repeat transplants, and associated patient deaths.

Software

The Risk Number by Riskalyze (Award Winner) is transforming the advisory industry by empowering investment advisors to capture a quantitative measurement of client risk tolerance, and use that data to win new clients,  capture and meet expectations and quantify suitability.

DialSource by DialSource, Inc. (Finalist) accelerates sales with the highest rated telephony platform on the Salesforce AppExchange and the first native communications platform for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Wyndow by Wyndow (Finalist) is a leading technology company focused on delivering local event, entertainment and experience content that fits within a traveler’s free time.

Sustainability

FastOx Gasifier by Sierra Energy (Award Winner) is a modular and universal waste gasification system that converts nearly any form of waste into renewable products. The initial FastOx system will produce electricity; later models are expected to produce renewable fuels such as diesel or hydrogen.

Pipeline Leak Detection by Electro Scan Inc. (Finalist) finds all defective pipe joints and sewer tap connections that CCTV can’t by visual observation. In addition to identifying leak locations, Electro Scan indicates the size.

TdX 20 by Bluon Energy (Finalist) creates refrigerants that increase operational efficiencies in existing HVAC-R equipment, and decrease electricity consumption as well as the carbon footprint.

The inaugural Sacramento Innovation Awards was spear headed by Stoel Rives LLP and highlights the region’s growing innovation ecosystem.  Interestingly enough, Riskalyze raised $20 M and  DialSource raised $5 M this week further showing the growth of the region’s tech scene.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

Public Sector:  The Risks and Consequences of Not Being Innovative

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Image source: http://fti-tmt.com/

In the private sector, not being innovative can lead to the demise of an organization.  Giants like Blockbuster Video and Kodak are recent examples of industry titans that became extinct by not being innovative and adapting to the current environment.

The public sector on the other hand, tends to be risk adverse and unfortunately avoids innovation.  I’ve talked to several public sector managers and their mantra is to avoid doing something that will put them on the front page of the local newspaper.  Hence the focus becomes maintaining the status quo.  However, there are risks and consequences of not being innovative:

Not Meeting Customer Needs

Although the government is slow to adopt the technology, the public, on the other hand may quickly adapt new technology.   Consequently, this may result in a disconnect where a public sector agency fails to adapt to the public.  For example, we are working with a public sector client on a project and a big issue is that they are still using a web site made in the 90’s. Consequently, they’re not meeting the needs of their population whose primary Internet access is through mobile.  (More about this can be found here).

Not Being Able To Scale

One of the main reasons that the private sector strives to innovate is to meet the demands of a growing population at a lower cost.   A great example is how the banking industry uses ATM and mobile banking to accommodate a larger user base at a lower cost. Compared that with a visit to the DMV; you have a choice of waiting in line for 45 minutes or scheduling an appointment weeks in advance.    When a public sector agency fails to innovate they also fail to scale to a growing population.

Becoming Vulnerable

If a public sector agency fails to keep up with technology, they become easy prey to the bad guys that are both creative and innovative.  Case in point is ransomware where hackers will lock out the data of an organization until a ransom is paid.  Ironically many police departments have become victims of ransomware and were forced to pay a ransom to hackers in order to get access to their data.

Increasing Cost of Legacy Systems

Many public sector agencies still use legacy systems that are decades old.  In doing so, they find that there is increasing cost to maintain them because their vendors increase the support charges as their knowledgeable employees become more scarce as they age.

Bankruptcy

Governments can and do go bankrupt.  Detroit, Stockton, and Orange County are spectacular examples.  Potentially, had they been innovative, they might have been able to become more efficient in running their operations, reduce cost and avoid going bankrupt.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

Apptology’s Wins 1st Place at California’s Health Data Code-A-Thon

The Apptology Team participated in the California’s Health Data Code-A-Thon  sponsored by the California Health Foundation over the weekend of June 6 and 7, 2015 which was also designated as the National Day of Civic Hacking.  There were over 60 participants from all over Northern California.  Apptology developed a project using the WIC vendor data and created an app for the population served by the Sacramento County WIC office.

I’m honored to report that Apptology team took first place.  Special recognition goes to the Shellynn Finstad for her wonderful design work for the project.  The full rankings can be found here.   The full description of Apptology’s entry is listed below.

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To view Apptology’s Demo for the California Health Data Code-A-Thon, tap on the icon for your device.

For iPhone users, enter sacwic in the email field and leave the password blank.

 Please note that the HTML 5 version has limited functionality.

The purpose of the Sacramento County WIC App is to provide relevant data to the population served by the Sacramento County WIC Office.

Data Sets Used in the Development of this App:

The above data was plotted and overlaid on one map, with each set color coded.

These are the front end features of the app:

  • Info: Provide the same content that’s in the Sac. County WIC web site
  • Locations: provide directions, phone number, and email of all Sacramento County WIC offices
  • Resources: Combines the WIC vendor Data, Sacramento County WIC info, and 211 Sacramento Resources in a usable format that’s searchable, can be viewed in a map or by list
  • Calendar: provides calendar of relevant events
  • Videos: Links to California WIC YouTube channel
  • Share Photos: allows user to share their photos
  • Social Media: links to Sac County’s Facebook and Pinterest pages
  • WIC Shopping Guide: PDF of official WIC Shopping Guide
  • Notepad: allows users to make notes
  • Online Education: instructions on how to access WICs online educational program
  • Book: PDF of Eat Well on $4 a day
  • Feedback: Allows users to send feedback via audio recording
  • Links: links to relevant resources

These are the main backend features:

  • Content Management System: Allows app administrator to update content in real time
  • Push notification: Allows app administrator to send out a push notification
  • Analytics: view different usage analytics regarding the app
  • iPhone 5 Emulator: allows administrator to view the functioning app

Push Notification Interface

Analytics Dashboard

Scaling Up

Using the Sacramento County WIC App as a template, the app can be replicated in other languages and for counties inexpensively.

 By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Five Life Lessons I Learned From Mr. Spock

I was the stereotypical nerd. When I was a kid, I would rather watch classic episodes of Star Trek than an NFL game. Star Trek was a big influence in my life so I was really saddened with the recent death of Leonard Nimoy. In his honor, here are five lessons I learned from the iconic Mr. Spock.

  1. It’s okay to be different: I grew up as the only Asian kid in my elementary class in El Paso, Texas in the 70’s. I was constantly labeled “Jap,” “Chink,” and “Gook.” Spock was my role model on how to handle racism. He was the only Vulcan on Starship with a crew of 400 and he was constantly called names like “Green blooded,” “half-breed,” and “hob-goblin.” He never let it bother him and focused on excelling. As such, I also did my best to ignore the taunts and focused on being the best student in the class academically.
  2. Science and technology is cool: It was the standard Star Trek plot formula, the crew of Enterprise would encounter some cosmic calamity, and Spock, being the ship’s Science Officer, would come up with some innovative scientific solution that saves the day. Because of this, I grew to love science which eventually led to getting a degree in engineering and my life long career in technology.
  3. The nobility of being a military officer: Spock was an officer in the fictional Star Fleet which was modeled after the U.S. Navy. This was my exposure to military service and what it meant to be an officer. Although fictional, I think it was a good portrayal of officer traits like leadership, duty, honor, integrity, and discipline. I believe this is one of the things that led me to get my commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy.
  4. Decision making: In Star Trek II, Mr. Spock sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise and calmly states to Captain Kirk, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” This is such a simple statement but is a mantra for every hard decision. What is the greater good?
  5. Have long term goals: Finally, Spock’s typical farewell that accompanies the Vulcan salute is “Live Long and Prosper” which is an elegant way to state what everyone’s ultimate long term goal should be.

Thank you, Mr. Nimoy for your brilliant portrayal of Mr. Spock. I wish you Godspeed on your journey into the final frontier.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.