Category Archives: Conflict

A STOLEN STORY

by John Jonelis

“Tell me a story, Uncle John!”

“A story eh?” My pal Loop Lonagan got in big trouble telling stories to Jim Kren’s little girl. “Y’know, Princess, in this case, maybe discretion’s the better part of valor.”

“But I always get a bedtime story. I can’t sleep without a bedtime story. Please, Uncle John! Pleeeeeeeeeze!”

How can a guy turn this kid down? “Okay Princess, just lay back and pretend you’re sleepy.”

“Make it a Christmas story!”

“Hmmm.” After a moment, one occurs to me—one I can steal. “Okay Princess, here goes. There’s this bright guy I know. Immigrant entrepreneur. I mean, Princess, he comes to this country and founds a startup company.”

“I know what it means.”

“It’s high tech. Agricultural analytics. Starts it during the dot-com crash around the turn of the century. Despite the lousy economy, it takes off big-time, goes public and makes me and the other investors real happy.

“His two sons work for him to build up the business. They’re his key employees and make fair salaries. The company adds a mobile app, enhanced AI, and thrives right through the 2008 recession. Years later, it’s still strong. Stock keeps going up-and-up.”

“That’s not a Christmas story, Uncle John! That’s business stuff. You sound just like my daddy.”

“Hold onto your red fur hat—I’m just getting warmed up. Papa loves those boys more than anything—wants them to run the company when he retires. Lost his wife years ago and these two are all he cares about.

“Now let’s look at the younger son. He knows he’s gonna inherit a lot of stock some day and can’t want to get his hands on it. He feels trapped and longs to run his own life while he’s still young. So on Christmas in 2006, he announces he wants his inheritance—right now. Like most kids that age, he’s full of himself—not seeing things from his fathers point of view, maybe not considering all the ramifications of what he says. But it’s kinda like telling the old man, ‘I wish you were already dead so I had your money.’”

“That’s not nice.”

“No it’s not and it gets worse. The young buck’s not interested in the company at all. Not planning to stick around. Just wants to cash out and enjoy life.”

“This is a bad boy, Uncle John.”

“Ah Princess, don’t be so hasty to judge. You don’t know what’s really in his heart. Now the company’s listed on Nasdaq, and Papa still owns 40% of the shares. He says to himself in his broken English, ‘That what they want? Okay!  Is Christmas!’ There’s a family trust set up, so he simply transfers his stock—all of it to the two boys.

“Right away, the young colt sells his stock on the open market. With all that loose cash, he feels rich. So he moves to Vegas. Lives the wild life. Gambling all night. Show girls. Maserati. Yacht. Private jet. Hangs around with movie stars. And lots of foolish investments that don’t pay off. He never calls or writes home. Doesn’t visit the next Christmas.

“Now the older brother is still working at the company. But as you might have guessed by now, the old man is really the brains of the outfit. The shareholders—especially that big VC firm that owns a lot of stock with a seat on the board—they all want to keep Papa running the company. The board of directors votes to keeps him on as CEO, with a fat salary—bigger than he ever paid himself.

“Now I want you to notice something: That move wrankles the older brother. He secretly wants to run the show, but there’s nothing he can do about it. So he hoards his shares and bides his time. He stays at his job, working harder and harder, trying to prove himself. Doesn’t like it that his father’s salary is coming out of his share of the company. Can’t wait for the old geezer to croak so he can slide into that big desk.”

“Ugh! How horrible! This brother is worse than the other one!”

“Right Princess. Pappy doesn’t have a clue what’s cranking through this guy’s mind. The kid works hard. He’s dependable. Therefore, he must be a fine boy, right? But he’s so secretive—so sour—never smiles—and for some reason that Pops doesn’t understand, the other one still holds a soft spot in his aging heart.

Back to the younger buck: By the second year, this kid’s portfolio takes a dive, and at the same time, he’s going through money like water. Kid starts looking for work. After all, he was a big executive at a successful company. Impressive LinkedIn resume and all. But now it’s the great recession of 2008 and all he can get are temporary consulting jobs. He forms a startup company, crunching numbers for big investment houses and actually raises some capital. But not enough. Goes belly up within the year. Figures he’s a failure and he’s ashamed to let his father know how bad things are turning out for him. So he doesn’t visit the family that Christmas either.

“By the third year, he’s broke, can’t pay the rent, and gets evicted from his hotel suite. Most of that year, he’s living in his car and scrounging food, feeling mighty low.

“Don’t cry, Princess.”

She sniffs. “This is a terrible Christmas story.”

“Wait and see. Finally, the kid hits rock bottom and comes to his senses. I mean—hey—he’s starving to death. He decides to go home. Even newbies at his dad’s company make a decent living. He’ll confess everything to his father—his failure, his waste—he’ll apologize and beg for a part-time job. Nothing special—maybe an internship or some low-level gig on probation—something like that. He knows it’s more than he deserves.

“Out of the blue, Papa sends him an invite to Christmas dinner and a plane ticket that year, so he texts that he’ll come. Spends the whole flight practicing his confession.

“On Christmas Eve, the old man gets restless; hires a limo and goes out to make a few preparations. Phones his secretary with special instructions. Stops at Mens Wearhouse and lotsa other places. Gets to O’Hare and hangs around for hours. I mean, this guy hasn’t even heard from his boy in three years! When the kid finally walks out the concourse, Papa runs to him, throws his arms around him, hugs him tenderly, tells him he’s glad he’s home. The kid hasn’t changed clothes in a year. Stinks to make your eyes sting. No luggage. Papa leads his son to the limo, arm over his shoulders, and tells his boy he loves him.

“In the back of the limo, the boy stammers out his practiced confession, tears streaming down his face, but his father will have none of it. ‘Stop—no more!’ he shouts. If there’s anything this kid ever learned, it’s to obey his father’s commands. Papa breaks out two tumblers and a bottle of Drambuie and leads the conversation into fond recollections and good times. Does most of the talking and the kid can’t help but laugh at some of the memories.

“Limo stops at the Union League Club and they take in a steam and swim and shower. The kid opens his locker to find a new shirt, jeans, sport jacket, shoes—the works. He can hardly believe it and again stammers out his confession.

Enough already! I not hear it!’ says his father, and the old man’s word is always final.

“When they get home, the place is full of Papa’s close friends and dear customers—maybe 300 people. A twelve foot tree sparkles with a million lights.  A live band pumps out Christmas music.  The aroma of good food fills the house. A caterer lays out an amazing number of enormous turkeys with stuffing and potatoes with gravy, and cranberry sauce, wine and all the trimmings. All that food takes up the big table in Papa’s baronial dining room and they set up a buffet line. People enjoy their meal milling around, indulging in lively conversation. When everybody eats their fill, out comes the pumpkin and mincemeat pies, ice cream, coffee, and brandy. The band leads the crowd singing carols. Take it from me: this is a great party! I for one, enjoyed every minute of it.

“Now the older brother works late at the office that night, as usual. One of the guests notices him out front, pacing in the snow. Papa runs out to him—doesn’t even stop to put on his coat. Begs the boy to come in and join the party. But the kid spits out words in anger: ‘I work for you day and night! I never refuse to do anything you say! Do you ever throw a party for me? But when this worthless bum—this son of yours—shows up, after squandering your money on women and gambling—you celebrate like some kind of idiot, disgracing us in front of all our friends and customers!’

“Papa hugs him and speaks softly to him in his native dialect. ‘On you I depend always. You are good boy. You own all my company stock. But your brother is home! After three years he come home! We must celebrate! Is like he come back from dead!’

“But the older brother won’t be consoled. He curses and shouts, ‘He should be dead,’ and gets in his car and drives off.”

I smile at Princess. She doesn’t look sleepy at all.

“What happens then?” she says.

I sigh. “The old man—Uncle Ludditis, in case you hadn’t guessed already—he eventually retires and opens that bar he always dreamed about.  Rents me the back room for my magazine.  The older brother takes over as CEO and forces the younger one out.

“Uncle John!  That can’t be the way it turns out!  It’s not fair!”

“Why not?  Those are the consequences of their decisions.  The older one holds onto his 20% share of the company so he finally runs that show, a rich miser living alone.  The younger one learns from his mistakes, finds employment elsewhere, marries a good woman, raises two wonderful children.

“And Princess, their father loves them both deeply, no matter what.  His love is all he has left to give and he’s not stingy with it.  Close your eyes now.  Merry Christmas.”

Story credit: Jesus Christ, The Parable of the Prodigal Son –Luke 15:11-32

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More Christmas Stories:

BEST GIFT

A LOOP LONAGAN CHRISTMAS

THE BUM IN ME

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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SECRETS DARK AND OLD

by John Jonelis

“I still say da guy deserves what he got. He ran down dat poor animal on purpose! Hates squirrels. Says so in da papers.” So proclaims Loop Lonagan regarding Alderman Brookins of Chicago’s 21st Ward.

“Is not true! Right here in Chicago Tribune, it read—how you say—kamikaze squirrel.” Donatis Ludditis thumps a stout digit on a newspaper headline and continues in his broken English. “Creature attack alderman. Throw itself into wheel of bicycle in suicide attack! Here is proof, see?” He points to a photograph—a photograph that Brookins took himself. It shows the murdered animal lodged in the spokes of his ruined bicycle. “Newspapers in whole country print story.” says Ludditis. “Not one say alderman cruel to animals! Not one time!”

Photo by Alderman Brookins

Lonagan clutches his brow for a long moment. “So yer tellin’ me dat ever’body believes dis guy’s story?”

The Brookins story has re-surfaced in news outlets because the man is up and taking nourishment after recovering from major injuries. At the time of the accident, he was credited with some rather peculiar remarks. Apparently, because of his vigorous opposition to the eastern gray squirrel and his call for the extermination of the species, the local underworld of tree dwelling rodents staged a coordinated and premeditated suicide attack against their arch nemesis. Now he’s on his soap box, again garnering support for his cause. It makes me wonder if this guy read too many comic books in law school.

Lonagan abruptly pounds a fist against my desk. After an involuntary flinch, I roll back my chair to examine the man from a somewhat safer distance. “Okay, lemme tell you a story ‘o my own,” he says. “One fine day, I run down some neighborhood kid—on purpose—’n’ he gets stuck behind da front wheel o’ my Cadillac er Lexus, er whatever politicians drive deeze days. So whaddaya think I do?  I climb outa da driver’s seat and snap a pic o’ da corpse ‘n’ post it online. Den I say, da kid launched hisself at my car’s front wheel in an effort t’ kill me, ‘cause I been crakin’ down on neighborhood gangs.”

“I object! Loop, that’s just awful.” But I’m too late to squelch the horrid image.

Lonagan raises both arms, palms open. “See? You’se is never gonna get anybody t’ buy a story like dat. What makes dis squirrel any different?”

“I not know,” says Ludditis. “Back in old country, if you damage party member limosine, you pay! No matter how it happen. Is politics!”

Howard Brookins speaks to the medea – Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune

During this exchange, Jim Kren’s face—never a pleasant sight—screws up tighter and tighter in what I always take as a combination of anger and spite. I’ve been watching him and waiting for an explosion. It begins with a slow leak. “You two judicial giants know nothing whatsoever of the true ramifications of this matter,” he says. “I can tell you a thing or two about the eastern bloc squirrel. Some of it will curl your hair. People know they are astoundingly cunning rodents, but there is more—much more!”

Kren looks to be on a roll. “This eastern bloc squirrel represents the most monstrous and pernicious plot against humanity since the fluoridation of water! We face a much larger threat than that posed by the proliferation of common vermin. These squirrels are more capable than rats and possess a much higher intelligence!” Kren gets increasingly loud and shrill. “Eastern bloc squirrels look out for their kind and know who is persecuting them! If you thwart their plans, they figure a way to take care of the problem! Nothing can stop them from getting what they want!”

Lonagan takes a seat, shaking his head in hopeless abandon. I’ve heard Kren utter such a sentiment before, but never an inkling of this political angle. The man bears watching.

Greedy Guts the Squirrel

“Agents of sedition started smuggling these iconoclasts to our shores decades back!” shrieks Kren. “And they now represent the dominant species! Think of it! Squirrels in your own back yard—the place where your children play! Your children! Talk about infiltration! And they remain there all night, listening to your every word! They meet in secret, pass on intelligence, and formulate plans!”

“So,” says Lonagan with a smirk. “How d’ya figure they listen in on City Hall?”

Kren doesn’t miss a beat. “Don’t be so naive, MISTER Lonagan! In an era of central heating, do you actually believe they cannot gain easy access to any building they choose through the HVAC system? Certainly, gentlemen, it is child’s play for the eastern bloc squirrel to monitor a city council meeting and plan a counter-attack! I could show you one of their secret websites! It disseminates information about these scheming rodents to their craven human allies! It’s written in a code—a code colloquially known as poetry—a cryptic language few speak any more. Let me show you an excerpt.”

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There are secrets dark and old

Things that make the blood run cold

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Facts that twist the human brain

And plunge the mind into pain

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Knowledge that is from long ago

That man was not meant to know

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But the squirrels know

Don’t have a problem with it

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.See video performance by Bob Badpoet

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“Gentlemen, what to you say to that?!!!” Krens interogatory smacks of satisfaction—like he’s busting out with a SO THERE! “If you truly want to gain an inside knowledge of the malicious nature of these animals, here is this!”

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.I am the rodent of your discontent

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From the bushes I listen as you vent

I know what you said and what you meant

For I am the rodent of your discontent

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For my services I charge no rent

I encourage every argument

Behold the rodent of your discontent

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What I do earns me not a cent

But your anger has a sweet scent

Savored by the rodent of your discontent

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Gnawing on your house until my strength is spent

Just to add to your torment

Despair of the rodent of your discontent

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I would follow no matter where you went

So that new troubles I could invent

Fear the rodent of your discontent

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See video perfomance by Bob Badpoet

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Kren leans forward and speaks in a more secretive tone. “Most do not know that these eastern bloc squirrels plotted world dominance long before the era of modern totalitarianism. Men are putty in their paws! Have any of you read the squirrel manifesto? No? It is the most outrageous collection of hate and bile uttered by any animal since the beginning of time! I keep an excerpt with me—it is written in the same foul poetic code.”.

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I come seeking nuts and seeds

To get them I do dark deeds

Fear the squirrel

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I take what I want in food

Even if it hurts your mood

Fear the squirrel

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I sneak into your house at night

At your groceries I bite

Fear the squirrel

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Many wonder how I know

Where it is your food you stow

Fear the squirrel

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Such knowledge is not hard

After all I live in your yard

Fear the squirrel

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I know secrets lost and deep

I gather them while you sleep

Fear the squirrel

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I whisper dark knowledge in your ear

Tell you what you don’t want to hear

Fear the squirrel

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Madness stalks the dreams of man

It is all part of the plan

Fear the squirrel

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Or you could leave out some sunflower seeds

Up to you

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See video performance by Bob Badpoet

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Lonagan opens his eyes wide and his nose almost touches Kren’s. “So I take it you’se is sidin’ with da Alderman?”

“Yes!” says Kren, squaring his shoulders and pushing back. “I take the good Alderman’s side on this issue—and not without reason! I know!  The eastern bloc squirrel is alien to everything we stand for! I can no longer permit alien infiltration, alien sedition, and the international eastern bloc conspiracy to sap and impurify our entire way of life!”

Time for me to pull rank. “Gentlemen,” I say. “Let us repair to the front room for some refreshment. I have another matter to discuss.”

The front room of our magazine offices is Ludditis’ bar.

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Go to Part 1 – TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM

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Source Material & Links

Kamikaze Squirrel Gets Revenge on Ald. Brookins

Chicago Tribune

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Alderman, victimized by squirrel, still fighting trash-seeking furry rodents

Chicago Tribune

 

Bob’s Bad Poetry

You Tube

Bob Badpoet

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This magazine fully endorses Bob Badpoet but the remarks by Kren, Lonagan, and Ludditis do not necessarily express the opinions of the editor or this magazine.

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Graphics and Other Credits

Poetry by Bob Badpoet

Dead squirrel photo by Ald. Howard Brookins

Photograph of Howard Brookins by Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune

Bob Badpoet graphic by Jennifer Jonelis

Wildlife photography and Tavern graphic by John Jonelis

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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MILLENNIALS ARE BECOMING OBSOLETE—ALREADY!

by Tom McBride

The first time I heard the word “obsolete” was when I overheard my father talking to a stranger on a bus. They were speaking about a new expressway that the city had built, and the stranger said, “That thing was obsolete before they ever opened it.”social media MS OFFICE

I was impressed. I went home and looked up the word. And in time I realized the stranger was right. The builders of the new road had put in four lanes but should have put in six. Soon enough, traffic was snarled, and eventually cars started avoiding the route altogether. Then the side streets became overcrowded with autos. The whole thing was a mess.

“Obsolete” was a terrible word. It still is. If something or someone is obsolete, then he, she, or it no longer works. He, she, or it languishes in irrelevance. And then he, she, or it comes to be avoided altogether. Everyone would rather take the side streets. Obsolete things are just in the way. They are like old professors on college campuses. The young sneak behind buildings in order to avoid them.

Today’s Millennials are not obsolete—yet. Born between 1980 and 2000 they came to this planet during a fairly prosperous time, so they represent a population glut. There are already more Millennials alive than Baby Boomers, who constituted the mother of all population explosions.

percent of workforce MS OFFICE

Corporations are working overtime to figure out how to market to this bunch of fickle young consumers, who have an embarrassment of choices. Human resources directors are wondering how to motivate them in the workplace. They are praised for wanting a more healthy balance between work and life (some of them think overtime is evil), and they are feared, almost, for being digital natives. Unlike the rest of us, they grew up high-tech, so what do they know about cyberspace that we don’t?

phones and tablets MS OFFICE

Others can’t stand them—why won’t they look us in the eye at Starbuck’s instead of staring at their phones all the time? And a few of us older people see them as symbols of a world we don’t want to have much to do with. The whole idea of “looking something up on your phone” (which has more data than your local public library) seems repugnant somehow.

infographic MS OFFICE

But there’s one thing these non-obsolete Millennials can’t avoid: In time, they will become obsolete, like the city expressway of my childhood. They will seem irrelevant. They will be in the way. Young people will hide from them. The new generation will have to work around them.

The question, though, is how can Millennials tell when they’re becoming outmoded?

startup venture MS Office

Like, invest in my startup, huh?

The answer is simple. It’s when they start beginning sentences with “These kids nowadays…” I’ve heard early rumblings of this sentence, as when an older Millennial said of younger Millennials, “These people just take wireless computing for granted.” He was too young to say “these kids,” but give him another ten years.

loft MS Office

The truth is that older Millennials are already far enough along to have teen-aged children. A Millennial born in 1980 is now thirty-six and may well have a fourteen-year-old around. In just ten years that will be true for Millennials born in 1990. They will enter that most dreaded source of becoming old-fashioned and resented: parenthood. And then you will hear such sentences as these:

“You kids have it so lucky. We actually had to flip switches to get lights on in a room—none of this decadent voice-activation stuff.”

“You’re lucky, you kids: When I was your age we couldn’t get our genes edited at birth to make us better-looking.”

robot MS Office“When I was your age, we didn’t have to pay extra to get an actual human being to teach us calculus—unless you kids can learn on a machine, you’re going to bankrupt me.”

“Yes, that’s right, kids. Only when a political party isn’t in power does it object to big government deficits. That’s the way it’s always been. Don’t think that you kids can change it!”

“You kids just trust technology too much. I don’t want to have a robot remove my appendix even if it is cheaper.”

Do you hear the notes of weary impatience in these sentences? Do you detect the tone of resentment in the voice of older people when they encounter the youth and idealism of their kids? Do you sense the envy of the young? Do you pick up on the fatigue of bearing parental burdens?

time magazine MS OFFICE

Yet every one of these sentences will be spoken by…a Millennial. They will be speaking to their offspring, which will be called something like Generation Alpha.

And what about the rest of us—old Boomers and Gen X types? Most of us will be even better than obsolete. We’ll be dead.

But don’t you feel better knowing that these young whippersnappers today will also go the way of all flesh? That’ll be true even if, as predicted, people will be immortal by having their brains downloaded into a computer.

Eventually, even the computer will become…obsolete! Ha!

Cell Phone Girl MS Office

Tom McBride is co-author of The Mindset Lists of American History

and The Mindset List of the Obscure,

and the author The Great American Lay: An All Too Brief History of Sex.

He lives in southern Wisconsin.

Graphics from MS Office.

This article appeared in News From Heartland

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WHY MILLENNIALS KEEP DUMPING YOU

An Open Letter to Management

by Lisa Earle McLeod

Attracting and keeping top millennial talent is a burning issue for leaders. Millennials are 35% of the workforce. By 2020 they’ll be 46% of the working population.

Some of our most successful clients — organizations like G Adventures, Google, and Hootsuite — are filled with millennials who are on fire for their jobs. Yet many organizations struggle to attract, and retain, top millennial talent.

One of us, Elizabeth, wrote this letter, to share insights about what top-performing millennials want and how leaders can ignite the “energy of a thousand suns.”

~ ~ ~

An Open Letter to Management:

You hired us thinking this one might be different; this one might be in it for the long haul. We’re six months in, giving everything we have, then suddenly, we drop a bomb on you. We’re quitting.

We know the stereotypes. Millennials never settle down. We’re drowning in debt for useless degrees. We refuse to put our phone away. We are addicted to lattes even at the expense of our water bill. Our bosses are not wrong about these perceptions. But, pointing to our sometimes irresponsible spending and fear of interpersonal commitment isn’t going to solve your problem. You still need us. We’re the ones who’ve mastered social media, who have the energy of a thousand suns, and who will knock back 5-dollar macchiatos until the job is done perfectly.

I’ve worked in corporate America, administrative offices, advertising agencies, and restaurants. I’ve had bosses ranging from 24 to 64. I’ve had bosses I loved, and bosses I didn’t. I’ve seen my peers quit, and I’ve quit a few times myself. Here’s what’s really behind your millennials’ resignation letter:

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-1- You tolerate low-performance

It’s downright debilitating to a high achiever. I’m working my heart out and every time I look up Donna-Do-Nothing is contemplating how long is too long to take for lunch. I start wondering why leadership tolerates this.

Is that the standard here? No thanks.

Fact: Poor performers have a chilling effect on everyone.

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-2- ROI is not enough for me

I spent Sunday thinking about how I can make a difference to our customers. Now it’s Monday morning, what do I hear? Stock price. Billing. ROI. Suddenly, my Monday power playlist seems useless. I’m sitting in a conference room listening to you drag on about cash flow.

I was making more money bartending in college than I am at this entry-level job. You say I’ll get a raise in a year if the company hits a certain number? So what? I need something to care about today. Talk to me about how we make a difference, not your ROI report.

Fact: Organizations with a purpose bigger than money have a growth rate triple that of their competitors.

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-3- Culture is more than free Panera

Don’t confuse culture with collateral. Yes, I am a cash-strapped millennial who really appreciates free lunch. But I don’t wake up at 6AM every day to play foosball in the break room. I’m not inspired to be more innovative over a Bacon Turkey Bravo.

I need to be surrounded by people who are on fire for what we’re doing. I need a manager who is motivated to push boundaries and think differently. Working in a cool office is really awesome. So is free lunch. But a purposeful culture is more important.

Fact: A culture of purpose drives exponential sales growth

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-4- It’s ok to get personal

Treat me like a number? I’ll return the favor. This job will quickly become nothing more than my rent payment. I’ll start living for Friday and counting down the minutes until 5. After a few months of that, I’ll probably have a drunken epiphany and realize I want more out of my life than this.

Then I’ll prove your assumptions right. 8 months in, I’ll quit and leave. Or worse, I’ll quit and stay, just like Donna-Do-Nothing.

That’s not good for either of us. Here’s what you need to know:

I was raised to believe I could change the world. I’m desperate for you to show me that the work we do here matters, even just a little bit. I’ll make copies, I’ll fetch coffee, I’ll do the grunt work. But I’m not doing it to help you get a new Mercedes.

I’ll give you everything I’ve got, but I need to know it makes a difference to something bigger than your bottom line.

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Signed,

A Millennial

~ ~ ~

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The millennials are telling us what we already know in our hearts to be true. People want to make money; they also want to make a difference. Successful leaders put purpose before profit, and they wind up with teams who drive revenue through the roof.

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This article was co-written with Elizabeth McLeod, a millennial and cum laude graduate of Boston University, and daughter of Lisa Earle McLeod.

Lisa Earle McLeod is the creator of the popular business concept Noble Purpose and author of the bestselling books, SELLING WITH NOBLE PURPOSE and LEADING WITH NOBLE PURPOSE. Lisa is a sales leadership consultant and keynote speaker who helps organizations improve competitive differentiation and emotional engagement. www.mcleodandmore.com

This article previously appeared in Forbes

Image credit: Lisa Earle McLeod

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Also by Lisa Earle McLeod:

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
.
.

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TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM

20161201-_jaj0288tby Mark T Wayne

Howard Brookins Jr, the alderman for Chicago’s 21st ward, was biking along Cal-Sag Trail on Nov. 13, when a squirrel darted into his path. The squirrel wrapped itself in the spokes of the alderman’s bicycle. [The Washington Post.] According to the alderman, “I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge.” [The Chicago Tribune.]

If this is revenge, there is good reason for it. Yes sir! As the Post also reports: “Brookins denounced the eastern gray squirrel in a Chicago City Council meeting and has publicly spoken out about a toothy menace.” He complains of “aggressive squirrels that undermine efforts to overhaul the city’s trash carts.” [Chicago Sun Times] He claims that squirrels are gnawing through garbage cart lids at a cost to the city of $300,000!

According our own Alexander Harbinger PhD, such behavior is perfectly normal. “Like all rodents, the teeth continue to grow during an entire lifetime. It is gnaw or die.”

howard-brookins-photo

Posted on Facebook by Alderman Brookins

As proof of the squirrel’s malicious intent, Alderman Brookings posted a photograph of the unfortunate animal on Facebook, caught in the wheel of his bicycle.

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Closeup of Brooking’s dead squirrel

Brookins did not escape injury from the ferocious creature’s attack. “The alderman flipped over the handlebars, fractured his skull, broke his nose, and knocked out a handful of teeth.” [Tribune]

The remedy proposed is extermination of all urban squirrels.

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Mark T Wayne

Revenge of the Squirrels

Of course, when faced with annihilation, any red-blooded squirrel is compelled to take action! Who can find it in their heart to condemn this animal?  But for the protection of the residents of our fair city, we must guard against further malevolent behavior perpetrated by these scheming creatures.

So far, this activity appears unique to the gray squirrels in Brookins’ 21st Ward.  The implications are startling and frightening.  These particular animals exhibit traits that must not be permitted to spread.

  • Brookins’ squirrels take a keen interest in civic matters and monitor city council meetings.
  • When action is required, Brookins’ squirrels organize in secret and plot the required counter-attack.
  • In this case, one squirrel soldier carries out a kamikaze raid on a leading enemy, Alderman Howard Brookins.

Jim Kren, our assistant editor, offered this opinion: “Squirrels are good-for-nothing vermin. They look out for their kind and know who is persecuting them. If you thwart their plans, they figure a way to take care of the problem. Nothing can stop them from getting what they want!”

But renowned squirrel expert, B. A. Christie MLS, holds a different view. “Squirrels are attractive, with fine coats and tails—a benefit to any neighborhood. They are strong, brave, loyal, intelligent, entertaining, and acrobatic. Squirrels prune and plant trees. And tough? I saw one fall fifty feet to the pavement—but after a few minutes, the little dear just hopped to its feet and ran off. Every levelheaded individual knows that squirrels are friendly. I believe Bill Murray said so in a motion picture.”

No, I am not entirely satisfied with the alderman’s flippant slur against these creatures. Nor do I entirely agree with the other opinions ventured damning them. No sir! Permit me to propose a few alternative theories on the matter:

20161201-_jaj0286

Greedy Guts the squirrel, outside my window

Cruelty to Animals Theory

Does it not seem a whole lot more believable to you that this squirrel lodged in the spokes of the good alderman’s bicycle during his hightly successful attempt to run it down? A fat squirrel lounging on a path can present a tempting target to certain personality types, and such behavior may seem quite natural to a politician, particularly an alderman. Has Brookins intentionally misrepresented the facts and blamed the true victim for the consequenses of his personal indulgence in an urban blood sport?

One strong indication of the veracity of this theory is seen in the alderman’s photograph. The squirrel is lodged in the front wheel, which indicates an attack by the alderman, not the squirrel. If, on the other hand, the animal lodged in the rear wheel, the alderman’s story might carry some weight.  Take dogs as an example.  Dogs are known to snap at automobile tires and invariably go for the rear wheel. It’s a question of catching the vehicle as it speeds by. Perhaps the ASPCA should investigate the matter. The evidence is clearly on display in the photograph published by the man himself!

 

Guilt by Association Theory

Squirrels will eat just about anything, and have been known to forage during daylight hours, when they find trash conveniently strewn about—but they do not do so at night! They sleep at night. Does the timid squirrel gnaw through a garbage can in broad daylight, vulnerably exposing its hide to every kind of predator for an extended period of time? No sir! The thought seems akin to a neighborhood bunny rabbit attacking a Pit Bull in the act of sullying somebody’s front lawn!

Nighttime is the rat’s domain, not the squirrel’s. Nighttime is the likely period for damage to ensue. Could it be that, during the daylight hours, the alderman observed some squirrels in the civic-minded act of cleaning up the nocturnal mess left by sloppy rats? This is guilt by association of the worst kind! Both are rodents, but the similarity ends there! I propose that we are dealing with an unsuccessful rat control problem.  That is where the battle must be fought.

20161201-_jaj0283

Greedy Guts gets fed

Mistaken Identity Theory

Permit me to relate a perplexing personal incident. After one fine Christmas afternoon dinner, I noted a scurry of cold and hungry squirrels—sweet, harmless, and industrious animals that every normal person loves. My wife calls the big one Greedy Guts—an admirable fellow, in my opinion. I slid open the window and tossed out a handful of peanuts to the little beggar. Little did I know that my benevolence would provoke a strong reaction from my houseguest.

Jim Kren, our guest, turned violently red and spoke in loud and vitriolic indignation, “You feed those rats?” This man hails from an affluent tree-lined neighborhood teeming with a large and healthy squirrel population. Imagine his constant horror, living in such exquisite surroundings and unable to distinguish a squirrel from other rodentia. Unbearable! It explains that nervous tick.

For those that share Kren’s malady, permit me to quell such unwarranted and hysterical fears:

  • Rats hide in dark, filthy places—squirrels live in trees.
  • Rats carry rabies—squirrels do not.
  • Squirrels behave more like neighborhood bunny rabbits.

 

Scapegoat Theory

As noted, Brooking’s 21st ward appears to be the only area of Chicago suffering squirrel damage. No other alderman or city councilman has taken up the cause. That raises some questions. I own a home in the country. Its peaceful environs swarm with squirrels, rabbits, hawks, turkey vultures, and deer. Yet our garbage bin remains intact. How can this be? Are the alderman’s cans of less quality than others? Impossible! Those receptacles reportedly cost the city hundreds of thousands of tax dollars! Is it possible that squirrels are a scapegoat for some sort of political shenanigans? I put it to you, sir! Chicagoans have learned to accept business-as-usual in our longstanding tradition of machine politics as long as one keeps quiet about it. There is no call to harm the wildlife.

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A squirrel is not a rat

Noble Savage Theory

But what if Alderman Brookins’ allegations were true?  Could it be that we are witnessing an altruistic and noble example of squireldom? Yes sir! Such an image of heroic sacrifice warms my heart. Faced with the the personal hatred and vendetta of one malevolent alderman—faced with the annihilation of family and friends—faced with the end of a way-of-life-as-he-knows-it—one of Chicago’s bravest takes matters into his own paws.  He takes one for the team!

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Go to Part 3 – SECRETS DARK AND OLD

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Mr. Wayne’s speculations are his own and do not always represent the opinions of this journal.

Image Credits: Bicycle photo by Alderman Howard Brookins. All other nature photography by John Jonelis.

 

Sources

Washington Post – ‘Suicide bomber’ squirrel hospitalizes Chicago politician who spoke out against squirrels

Chicago Tribune Kamikaze squirrel gets revenge on Ald. Brookins

Chicago Sun Times – Alderman says ‘aggressive squirrels’ eating through garbage carts

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Characters, Chicago Venture Magazine, city, Conflict, Education, gentrification of the city, Jim Kren, Mark T Wayne

TRUMPED

donald-trump-tby John Jonelis

Political outsider elected president! Nationwide shock! Emotions run wild! Markets in turmoil! Worst riots since Orson Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast!

Loop Lonagan watches the mayhem on television. People on the streets shout lewd obscenities—carry hate signs—crawl over cars—destroy businesses—throw bricks at police. “Da theater o’ dee absurd,” Lonagan mutters, “Did deeze folks even vote?”

He continues his impromptu soliloquy. “Why don’t deeze malcontents all move t’ Greece?” Ah, Greece—where socialism is in full bloom and the weather is gorgeous. “Maybe President Elect Trump will offer free one-way luxury cruises to da Mediterranean and make da Greeks pay for it.” Lonagan figures that will make everybody happy.  But then he reflects that Greece is bankrupt. Socialism didn’t work there.

riots-washington-times

European-style Riots in Chicago – [The Washington Times]

The riots disturb Lonagan because he now sees a political party that generates looters. His own! “Hmmf!”  It shames him. He’s embarrassed for the European decadence of his people. This is not our way. Americans don’t throw temper tantrums after elections. We vote. We accept what happens. We come together. These are principles Lonagan grew up believing.

He pats his bull terrier, Clamps. The dog lets out a long satisfied sigh while Lonagan takes a stiff slug of scotch. “You never worry ‘bout dis kinda stuff, do you Clamps old buddy?” In this election, with a choice between the crass and the criminal, Lonagan never expected a good outcome. In his view, which he loudly stated to everyone that would listen, “Anybody with half a brain knows we’s gonna get one o’ two things—Cleopatra II or Nebuchadnezzar III. I dunno which is worse. So why all da fuss?”

trump-obama

Improbable White House Briefing – [Associated Press]

As a practical man, Lonagan figures the real game is to do well no matter who is in office. On the night of the election—during all the hyper uncertainty—when index futures were tanking big time—Lonagan capitalized on the unexpected.  He went Long all he could during the after-hours session on slim capital and crazy margin, using all the leverage he could muster. Now, during the riots, he’s cashing out of those positions to the tune of millions. But what if—

A small tug at his sleeve and he suddenly remembers his duties as a babysitter. He shuts off the TV and takes Jim Kren’s little girl into his arms.

“G’night Uncle Loop”, she says, wrapping her arms around his neck, “I love you,”

“I—uh,” he squeezes out the difficult words, “I love you too, Angelica.  Lemme tuck you in.”

And when he sets her on her feet, she bursts out, “And tell me a bedtime story!”

“I dunno, Princess. Last time yer papa grilled me fer an hour—”

“But I want to hear what happens to the Dragon Lady and the Big Bad Duck.”

He stares at her good and hard. Precocious little tike. “No, babe, it don’t seem right to—”

“Please, Uncle Loop. PLEEEEEZE!”

Lonagan wipes a hand across his jaw. It’s nine o’clock. Mama and papa are out. He’s supposed to use his judgement in emergencies like this. “Okay, Princess.” He can hardly believe what he hears himself saying. “We’ll do anudder chapter o’ da Dragon Lady ‘n’ da Big Bad Duck.”

Angelica claps her hands and jumps in place, her long curls bouncing on her shoulders. “Thank you, Uncle Loop!”

“Go brush yer teeth er somethin.’ I’ll be right up.”

She calls out, “Clamps!” The enormous bull terrier bounds up the stairs after her.

57661370ca0ff_image

Crazy Political Campaign – [Associated Press]

Lonagan goes over the images of this absurd campaign and pours himself three more fat fingers of scotch. He’s playing with dynamite and curses his lousy imagination—using hardcore news to create a bedtime story—stupid, just stupid. Chicago-style political intrigue on the national stage is a tough lesson for anybody. It’s the wrong material for a youngster. Maybe it’s child abuse. He wishes he never told her that story, but he did and now she wants the rest of it.

He pours more scotch. Maybe, just possibly—if he sticks to the script and keeps the whole thing in a child’s world—it might all turn out fine. All the Lonagans love happy endings. Plunking down his empty whiskey glass, he checks his watch. Five minutes. Showtime. And keep it clean!

Upstairs, Angelica is curled up with Clamps, rubbing the dog’s ears. The animal squeezes its eyes closed in ecstasy and rumbles a soft, deep rhythmic growl. He’s the only dog Lonagan knows that can purr.

clamps

Clamps is at Peace – [John Jonelis]

After pulling the covers over those two, he settles his rump on the foot of the bed. “Okay Princess, lemme catch up on da story. Best I can remember, yer at school, it’s recess, ‘n’ yer gonna play soccer. It’s da Jackasses—I mean da Donkeys vs. da Elephants. You’se is picked fer da Elephant team, right?”

She nods.

“Da best player is da Dragon Lady ‘n’ da whole Donkey team treats her like some kinda queen. I mean she’s got skill. She’s got clout. She’s got her team all hand-picked and organized. She’s got—whadayacallit—a ground game. And she cheats—oh yeah, she cheats—big time. That’s called politics. That’s Civics lesson 101. Am I givin’ ya da straight goods?”

“Yes, Uncle Loop.”

“Okay then. So we already know her plan with da Duck.  He’s s’posed t’ start a big fight. Then he’s s’posed t’ take his regulation soccer ball ‘n’ summa da best players on yer team with ‘im. Then they’s s’posed t’ go off t’ play with some udder kids. So yer team loses.  That’s called splittin’ da ticket. That’s Civics 201. I think dat’s da way I told it last time.”

Angelica blurts, “I know, I know! That Dragon and Duck! They planned this whole mess together! And now my team doesn’t stand a chance!”

Lonagan grins. “Okay, so ya got basic conspiracy theory all figured out now. Yer learnin’ fast. That’s Civics 301. But da Dragon’s smart and mean, see? Maybe cunning’s a better word. There’s deeper waters goin’ on here. Way deeper. Now she rolls out her REAL plan.”

The girl knits her brows while scratching the thick short fur on Clamp’s neck. “I don’t understand.”

“Sure ya do, kid. Da Duck’s a big bully and he’s got dis huge ego, see? C’mon, you know that. Ever’body knows that. So, da Dragon taunts ‘im. Mocks yer team. Calls you a buncha morons. Says she can cheat all she wants. Who’s gonna find out? Yer all trash—nobody’s gonna believe ya. How d’ya feel about that, Princess?”

“I’m just so mad!”

“Okay, so after all da yellin’ ‘n’ pushin’ around, da Duck gets mad too. Now he turns against da Dragon. He’s gonna fight her now, insteada doin what they cooked up beforehand. He’s too proud t’ quit da team after all da abuse she spits out, so bein’ da biggest, he takes over. And da Dragon Lady is smilin’ da whole time. Ever see dat smile? It’s enough t’ zap yer spine outa joint.”

new-normal

Clinton’s prepares to smile – [The New York Times]

Angelica sits straight in bed. “But Uncle Loop, that means the Dragon has to play against the Duck. That doesn’t make sense. She would never plan it that way.”

“Ah, Princess, lay back ‘n’ relax.” He tucks the covers under her chin. “Doncha see? She WANTS t’ play against da Duck. She figures he’s her easiest opponent ’cause allota his team won’t play so hard for ‘im.  I mean, plenty o’ kids don’t like dis guy so much.  He’s her handpicked patsy. Has been since day one. She’s so sure she can beat ‘im, it tastes like candy. Ever’body says she can’t lose. She already watched him bust up da udder team ‘n’ now she’s ready fer da killshot. Pick yer opponent.  That’s Civics 401.”

Angelica squeezes out a tear. “So my team loses anyway? This is an awful bedtime story!” 

“Don’t cry, Princess.  Stop ‘n’ think! da Dragon’s got a buncha great big weaknesses. Mosta da kids don’t like her so much neither.  And she don’t see what’s about t’ happen ’cause she’s—whadayacallit—a nar-sisist-sisist-sisit.”

“A narcissist?”

Cute kid. “Yeah, what you said there. She’s selfish ‘n’ she’s ruthless.  She ain’t got no idea how udder people feel. She don’t like ’em.  She don’t understand ‘em. She don’t care about ‘em. All she cares about is herself.  It’s gonna bite ‘er big time. She’s got dis big master plan, but da more complex da plan, da more chances fer a mistake.  Somethin’ unexpected always happens.  Da Dragon’s set herself up fer a big fall.”

The girl just stares at him

“Doncha get it?  Same kinda thing happens in all competitions.  Like when ya play pinochle with yer folks.” 

“What’s that, Uncle Loop?”

Lonagan shakes his head.  Kren always boasted about the way his little girl played.  “Just a card game, kid.  Allota times da udder side thinks dey hold all da cards.  Then comes da big shock.”

“I don’t understand.”

 “Look Angel, every hand o’ pinochle’s got a different set o’ special cards, see?  They’s da most powerful ones ‘n’ ever’body’s gotta keep track o’ dem real careful-like.  Sometimes, da udder players don’t do that so good ‘n’ you snap down one o’ deeze big fat cards.  You just trumped da udder side!  Let’s get back to soccer.”

“What trump card does my team have, Uncle Loop?”

“Ah, you figured it out!  You got outrage, anger, drive, determination–stuff like dat!” He throws his arms out in a broad gesture.

Clamps lets out a powerful bark and Angelica strokes the animal’s massive head.  “Everybody is so angry.”

“No, take a look over there, sweetheart. Her team’s all smiles.  They’s so sure.  They just know they’s gonna win.  They’s—whadayacall—overconfident.  It’s da players on yer team is steamin’ mad.  They’s breathin’ smoke.  So what happens when people get all pumped up like that?”

She sniffs. “They fight?”

“Bingo! I seen it happen again and again in sport after sport.  They fight like wildfire!  Ever’body gives a hunert ‘n’ twenty percent.  They win da game!  A surprise victory!  A major turnover!  Somethin’ nobody expects!”

“So you mean that my team wins?”

“Yeah, Princess, you win!  Den da recess bell rings ‘n’ it’s back t’ class.   Look, ya gotta get some sleep, so listen up—lemme give ya da moral o’ da story. Sh— I mean stuff happens. Stuff nobody expects. So’s when you’se is growin’ up, learn t’ expect what nobody expects. Dat’s where ya find success.  Ya get it?”

She nods silently.

“Ya don’t look sleepy yet. Anudder story, maybe?”

She shakes her head no, and hugs Clamps tighter.

trump-in-whitehouse-ap

Dazed Trump tours the White House after Briefing – [Associated Press]

 

Lonagan closes Angelica’s door and sits on the stairs. For months he’s heard stupid quote after stupid quote from The Donald. Now the guy’s president elect. So he searches his phone for some quotes from Hillary and comes across a nasty collection that shocks him.

  • Clinton on voters: “Look, the average Democrat voter is just plain stupid. They’re easy to manipulate. That’s the easy part.” [Read it on Tumbler]
  • Clinton on voters: “… you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.” [Read it in the New York Times]
  • Clinton on Benghazi: “What difference at this point does it make?” [You saw it on television]

As Lonagan reads more of her words, the invective gets strikingly shrill and profane. Finally he pockets his phone. He refuses to think any more about the foul stench pouring out of Cleopatra’s mouth.

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Clinton cursing – [Tumbler]

Maybe the country got lucky, maybe not. Lonagan doesn’t know such things.  He believes that every politician, without exception, is a self-serving bastard.  Maybe that’s all we can expect, but at this point, he wishes with all his heart that President Elect Nebuchadnezzar eats his bitter greens and becomes the leader this country needs so badly.

The opinions of Mr. Lonagan and his wild conspiracy theory are not endorsed by the management.  Mr. Kren has been made aware of possible turmoil planted in the mind of his young child.

Read Part 1:

“THE DRAGON LADY AND THE BIG BAD DUCK”

 

Photo credits: Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Times, Tumbler, John Jonelis

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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SOURCING STRATEGIC INVESTORS

Monopoly Investor MS Office clipart TPart I – Funding your Business with Strategic Corporate Investors

by Laurence Hayward

It’s common to think of strategic investors, or strategics, as large established corporations that make equity investments in entrepreneurial ventures (and that is precisely how the Kauffman Foundation defines it). However, the reasons they make these investments vary and are more subtle than the definition implies.

The obvious reason is to gain a strategic or operational advantage by investing in emerging technologies. But let’s give it a bit more color.

  • To serve as a single contact point for emerging technologies, which historically can get lost in the organization.
  • To fill the gap in the capital markets where meaningful innovation needs to occur.
  • To align interests between several technology companies, which bring value to the corporate enterprise.

Corporations also create open innovation programs and becoming limited partners in independently managed venture capital funds. A corporation need not have a dedicated fund division to be actively involved in the world of venture-backed companies.

Monopoly Investor MS Office clipart

 

Corporate VCs

A strategic, in many cases, wants just the opposite of the typical venture capital operation. A VC fund is operated by a team of professional asset managers backed by limited partners as part of a financial return strategy. Much like the average investor in stocks and bonds, one doesn’t tell his mutual fund manager what to do. Like the average investor, limited partners often want little or no connection to the assets managed. They seek capital gains, not strategic or operational benefits.

This distinction was not always so clear. In the heat of the late 90s, corporations caught the private equity bug and many large companies entered the venture game—with or without venture experience. Companies often targeted companies not strategically aligned in product or service. It didn’t end well and many of these initiatives terminated. Today, I see corporate investors making significant efforts to ensure business unit alignment—seeking an operational benefit in addition to a financial one.

Today, corporate venture capital is experiencing a renaissance, but one more circumspect than in the past. This marks the strongest year since the crash of 2000. According to National Venture Capital Association, corporate venture groups invested $5.4B in 2014 accounting for 11% of all venture dollars invested.

Large corporations are playing an increasingly critical role in financing important technologies. There is a distinct lack of non-strategic investment in vital sectors such as Cleantech, Agriculture, Material Science and Advanced Manufacturing. (Cleantech investors themselves want more competition.) Because companies in these sectors tend to be capital intensive, with extended sales cycles, financial venture firms are straying back to traditional areas of focus such as Infotech.

Fortunately, strategic investors have stepped in where financial investors have exited. This is important. Many of these companies are commercializing breakthrough innovations that benefit mankind. Government research dollars alone cannot bring them all to market. I’m reminded of a cover of MIT Technology Review featuring Buzz Aldrin saying, “You promised me Mars Colonies. Instead, I got Facebook.”

 

Types of Strategics

Many entrepreneurs in underfunded sectors ask how to work with strategics. Just like other types of investors (angels, family offices, venture capital firms, etc.) there is a wide spectrum. They don’t all approach deals the same way.

Many strategic investors begin by making investments from their balance sheets through operating divisions within the company. This important activity may not be captured in the industry statistics, which represent more formalized venture funding.

Other firms set up a separate venture capital unit, in some instances as a separate corporate entity or business unit. This is done for a variety of reasons including internal organizational considerations for the strategic, but it is also done to address a key concern of the entrepreneurs, such as, “Will the strategic attempt to tie me up in some way?” Separate venture capital units are designed to avoid these concerns.

In most of strategic transactions, the investor seeks some special rights in addition to the purchase of equity. These can come in the form of distribution and supply agreements, license agreements, exclusive rights to product/technology, right of first refusals (ROFRs) for sale of the acquired company, preferred pricing arrangements and so on. It is critical for the entrepreneur and any co-investing financial investor to understand the implications of the agreement before beginning discussions with a strategic. These terms can make a significant impact on a company’s ability to pivot, its opportunity to exit, and ultimately its valuation.

For example, most venture capital funds will advise their entrepreneurs that ROFRs are a non-starter—and with good reason. A right of first refusal in the sale of the company can make a competitive bid or auction process entirely impractical. Why would a competitive buyer delve deep into diligence if they know the company holding the ROFR can sweep the deal away from them at the last minute? The potential buyer will also wonder how deeply entrenched the company is with the strategic owner and be concerned with competitive disclosure issues. The ROFR can restrict an entrepreneur’s ability to maximize value in an exit and inhibit a true auction-like environment.

Remember the objective of most venture-backed companies is extraordinary returns, not average returns. From the perspective of the entrepreneur and the non-strategic investors, it is not about seeking a fair price in an exit, it is about getting the best price possible.

 

Separating Equity from Everything Else

Many strategic investors in formally run venture capital units do not necessarily seek to become eventual acquirers of the companies in which they invest. And they often avoid conflicts such as ROFRs. Strategic and operational gains can be found in other ways.

For example, the gain can be a customer, distributor, supplier, etc. It can be first to market with a new technology. A distribution or supply agreement can be of great benefit. For example, imagine a small company that quickly gains access to global distribution of a large corporate enterprise. Therefore, a key consideration is the value of any arrangement outside of or in addition to the exchange of equity.

It’s important to account for any exchange of value above-and-beyond the equity. For example, a license provides value via access to technology. Such agreements often include upfront payments and royalties for the value of the technology to the strategic. A company will want to clearly capture and specify this value.

 

Too Many Cooks

An entrepreneurial venture will require multiple types of investors over time. If an angel, a venture capital firm, and a strategic invest in the same company, how do you ensure they have equitable value especially if the strategic is getting “extras”? On the one hand, access to the emerging company technology might provide the strategic a major competitive advantage in the marketplace. Then again, the strategic investor might bring added value that the angel investor can’t. What is one to do?

The answer is to account for each unique benefit with a discrete standalone agreement, separated from the equity arrangement. For example, if there is access to technology, then structure a separate license agreement. On the flip side, if the strategic is providing access to new markets, a distribution agreement might help ensure fair compensation for selling the company’s product. In other words, price “extras” separately where possible.

At some point, equity interest and operational interest may diverge. For example, a strategic may at some point elect to exit an equity position, but might still want to have an operational relationship such as a license with the company. If those are intermingled in the original agreement, separating them may become a challenge.

In short, meticulous accounting is required for operational and strategic benefits. They need to be valued separately from the price of equity. After all, the price paid for equity involves a fair exchange in percentage ownership in the company just as provided to any other investor.

 

GO TO PART II

Larry Hayward Photo

Venture Lab Logo

Laurence Hayward | lkh2@theventurelab.com | VentureLab | 2100 Sanders Road | Northbrook, IL 60062

This article is abridged from News From Heartland and TheVentureLab.

Copyright 2015. The VentureLab

Image Credits – Parker Brothers via MS Office, Laurence Hayward

Subscribe to Larry’s articles at http://theventurelab.blogspot.com/

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, Big Corporations, big money, Chicago Ventures, Conflict, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Invention, investor, new companies, vc, venture capital