Writings by a younger, less handsome man who shares my name

I spent most of last night awake and working frantically on this big announcement by Philly Startup Leaders. We felt we had to act immediately if Philly’s effort to bring gigabit broadband here was going to succeed. We also thought that whether or not Google chooses Philadelphia, this is an opportunity to shine a worldwide light on our grassroots tech and creative communities.

Here’s a summary of the announcement with a link to the full version:

Philly Startup Leaders needs your help to do something big for Philly. Really big.
We’re pledging $5,000 toward a prize for the best gigabit idea submitted on Gigabit Philly. This is all the money we have available as an organization — it’s our savings for the last two and half years. We need you and the city to match it.

The Google gigabit competition is a golden opportunity to prove that we have the best grassroots tech and creative community in the world. Our grassroots communities have already started the campaign with Gigabit Philly, a website that collects your big ideas for how to harness gigabit connectivity to change the world.

Yet we will fail in this campaign unless we do something dramatic. We have to show Google what’s special about Philly. And we haven’t done that so far.

So Philly Startup Leaders is taking a gamble on Gigabit Philly, and we need your help. Our $5,000 pledge is just the beginning. We need our donation to spark a wave of pledges large and small that will draw worldwide attention to Philly. This prize will help us generate hundreds if not thousands of big ideas on Gigabit Philly from all over the world.

Make a pledge now and send the full announcement to everyone you know. We need help from every one of you!

Here’s the link to share: http://phillystartupleaders.org/news/philly-startup-leaders-goes-all-in-for-gigabit-philly/

We literally went from idea to launch in about 12 hours. At 9pm last night, a group of us were sitting at the Philly Startup Leaders fishbowl event with an idea, and by 9am this morning our announcement was live.

Read more…

Olympians do super human things, but they aren’t super human.

Sure, they can push themselves harder and longer than the rest of us. Lance Armstrong’s heart is about twice as strong as mine. At rest, his beats 32 times per minute while mine is in the high 50s.

This means that during a sprint in the Tour de France, when his heart is exploding at 200 beats per minute, he’s pushing blood and oxygen through his legs with twice the force of my heart when I’m maxed out on a soccer field.

He could make a fool out of me in any test of physical endurance. And he’s 38 years old.

But here’s what he can’t do. He can’t train his body not to scream in pain when it gets tired. He can’t train his mind not to consider quitting when his body is broken and hurting like hell weeks into a race.

His body obeys the same rules mine does. It breaks and hurts and gets so tired that it tells him to stop. So does his mind. It tries to rationalize the easy way out. It tells him that it’s okay to slow down. Everything will be fine.

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Imagine that you are stuck on an island with only a handful of other people. [image of guy alone on an island]

These people are very different from you. And you don’t like some of them.

Maybe their names are Gilligan, Mary Ann and the Skipper. Or maybe they are your boss, your competitor, the loudmouth who hogs all the credit and your ex-friend who gossips about you behind your back.

Sure, you don’t have to get along with them. You can choose to avoid one, not talk to another and form an alliance with whoever feels the same way.

But it’s going to make life on that little island lonely and complicated. More importantly, it’s going to be hard to get the things you need.

Because the loudmouth knows how to waterproof your hut. The competitor knows how to find water when it hasn’t rained in weeks. And your ex-friend has the savvy to rally the other two to help.

Read more…

Right now, I’m fighting a solo battle with the Angel Venture Fair (AVF) over their lame decision to use Eventbrite instead of TicketLeap. Until now, this disagreement has lived on the on the AVF’s Facebook page.

I’m really irritated.

The Angel Venture Fair is put on by the Private Investors Forum, which in turn has members who invested in TicketLeap (Robin Hood and the MAG Fund participated in a recent round). The AVF is dissing a local company for reasons that don’t make any sense to me. This is after a recent discussion among Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) members over what many entrepreneurs (and Jason Calacanis) think is ridiculous pricing — $1,000 to present at the fair and $250 just to apply.

It’s also amusing that the AVF says that they aren’t really looking for PSL stage companies. In a phone call with Valerie Gaydos, who runs the AVF, she said that they are looking for companies with around $500k in revenue.

This is amusing for two reasons:
1. PSL has a bunch of companies with $500k+ revenue
2. How lame is our angel community to be that far upstream?

I’ve literally had angels in Boston and DC laugh at me when I told them what kind of deals our “angels” look at. And this is on top of what the real Philly angels are saying, who don’t need the AVF to source deals and think this whole affair is downright silly.

I’m tired of sitting this one out. I hope some of you are too.

This is the final post in a five-part series on missioneurs, a new community of startup and social entrepreneurs.

The premise is that startup entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs need each other. Alone, too many of their great ideas are struggling and failing. Together, they can fill in each other’s blind spots, build stronger companies and make greater change.[Missioneurship image]

A new post in this series will be published every day this week. Blog subscribers will receive them one day early by email or RSS.

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In this series, I’ve been talking a lot about bringing startup and social entrepreneurs together. Now it’s time to do it.

We’ve talked about how our startups and non-profits are dying needless deaths. Our startups are masters of execution. Our non-profits are masters of mission. Each is focusing on one at the expense of the other.

Alone they are struggling. Together, they can become unstoppable mission-driven entrepreneurs (or missioneurs for short).

They run their companies like causes and their causes like companies. They know exactly why they exist, and they execute like hell.

They each have almost everything they need to change the world. Everything except each other.

That’s why we so desperately need to bring them together. Read more…

This is the fourth post in a five-part series on missioneurs, a new community of startup and social entrepreneurs.

The premise is that startup entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs need each other. Alone, too many of their great ideas are struggling and failing. Together, they can fill in each other’s blind spots, build stronger companies and make greater change.[Missioneurship image]

A new post in this series will be published every day this week. Blog subscribers will receive them one day early by email or RSS.

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Entrepreneurs become unstoppable when they see the world through both eyes. That is, when they become more than a startup entrepreneur and more than a social entrepreneur.

This is the premise of missioneurship.

Earlier in this series, we talked about the social entrepreneur’s obsession with mission at the expense of execution. We also talked about the startup entrepreneur’s obsession with execution at the expense of mission.

The results are often fatal. We lose startups and social causes that don’t have to die.

That is, unless we do something about it. Read more…

This is the third post in a five-part series on missioneurs, a new community of startup and social entrepreneurs.

The premise is that startup entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs need each other. Alone, too many of their great ideas are struggling and failing. Together, they can fill in each other’s blind spots, build stronger companies and make greater change.[Missioneurship image]

A new post in this series will be published every day this week. Blog subscribers will receive them one day early by email or RSS.

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Yesterday, we discussed the startup entrepreneur’s obsession with execution at the expense of ideas and the crippling effect this has on their marketing, sales and HR.

Now let’s talk about social entrepreneurs, who have the opposite problem:

Social entrepreneurs are obsessed with mission at the expense of execution.

This is a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing because their mission can be a very faithful guide. It defines what services they provide, how they make decisions, how they communicate to donors and constituents and how they build their teams. Read more…

This is the second post in a five-part series on missioneurs, a new community of startup and social entrepreneurs.

The premise is that startup entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs need each other. Alone, too many of their great ideas are struggling and failing. Together, they can fill in each other’s blind spots, build stronger companies and make greater change.[Missioneurship image]

A new post in this series will be published every day this week. Blog subscribers will receive them one day early by email or RSS.

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Yesterday, we discussed the epidemic of startups and non-profits dying needlessly – and why it’s time to do something about it.

Now let’s talk about the startup half of the epidemic, beginning with the single biggest reason why so many promising startups end up in the deadpool: the obsession with execution at the expense of ideas.

Ted Leonsis, former Vice Chairman of AOL, said it best in a speech at the 2007 Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s all about execution.”

The same advice could just as easily have come from dozens of the most respected thinkers on startup entrepreneurship. Read more…

This is the first post in a five-part series on missioneurs, a new community of startup and social entrepreneurs.

The premise is that startup entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs need each other. Alone, too many of their great ideas are struggling and failing. Together, they can fill in each other’s blind spots, build stronger companies and make greater change.[Missioneurship image]

A new post in this series will be published every day this week. Blog subscribers will receive them one day early by email or RSS.

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Great startups and non-profits are dying needlessly, and it’s time for those of us who care to do something about it.

The obituaries look so familiar that they start to run together.

Here lies Anthillz, a tech startup that failed for lack of traction, inability to attract investors and too much time and money spent building the right tech team.

Here lies Great Intentions, a (barely) fictitious non-profit that died the non-profit version of this same death. It lost its foundation funding, laid off most of its staff, sought help in vain from its indifferent board – most of whom missed that board meeting, just like the ones before it – and forced its founders to look for other work because they couldn’t afford to pay themselves a salary, not even the peanuts they were making before.

If you’re a startup or social entrepreneur, one of these two stories should sound familiar. You probably hear versions of them again and again. Read more…

[Image of reluctant valentine]
If you’re anything like me, Valentine’s Day is not exactly your favorite day of the year. The pressure is on, Romeo. Juliette is watching you like a hawk to see just how much you really care. And your brother, Lonelio, is feeling even worse. After all, he’s going home alone tonight.

I felt the heat when I was a 19 year-old college student. I was dating a wonderful, low-maintenance woman who nonetheless expected a good show from young Blake. And I put on a damn good show, if I do say so myself.

But I sure was reluctant to do it. I wrote all about it in my college newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, in an article called “A Reluctant Valentine” (see below). I laughed when I read it again today, and I’d thought I’d share it with all of you reluctant lovers and Valentines out there. Read more…