Category Archives: Internet Marketing

YOU MIGHT AS WELL DANCE

help-t-ms-officeIT Guys—Stop Playing Defense

by Howard Tullman

Not feeling enough love? Yes, techies are under appreciated until spit hits fan. But if you’re one of them, you’ve got a bigger role to play than you think. Here are three ways to raise your profile.

I feel bad for the guys in our IT department because they suffer the same career issue as the heads of Homeland Security. As we all know, terrorists and other scumbags only need to get it right one time and horrible things happen. Yet our counter-terrorism teams and other law enforcement agencies must try to be right every time. Then, when nothing happens, no one bothers to thank them or offer recognition for their work.

it-guys

People whine about cost, delays, and all the stupid rules. They figure that protecting us is what we’re paying these folks to do. The best the good guys can hope for is a tie. No harm—no foul. And no credit for keeping us safe.

I Don’t Get No Respect

IT departments in almost every business get the Rodney Dangerfield “I don’t get no respect” treatment. They’re taken for granted and get little or no recognition—from anyone—even though the complexity, significance, and risks associated with their responsibilities have multiplied exponentially in the last decade.

Face it, we humans only understand the degree of our dependence on machines and systems when they shut down, data disappears, and systems stop delivering the information we need to proceed.

help-ms-office

The truth is, you can’t do anything intelligent today without solid, timely, reliable, and accurate data. It’s the oil of the digital age and the IT guys are the ones with their mitts on the meters, mechanisms, and measurements. IT infrastructure is the make-or-break gate, tool and tunnel through which everything critical in our data-driven world passes. If they don’t get it right, your business simply doesn’t get done. Relative to your competition, you might as well be in the Dark Ages.

The Tide is Changing

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time with IT teams and I’m encouraged to see a few positive signs.

  • A slowly growing acknowledgement of the importance of IT.
  • Recognition of the turmoil caused by under-investing and under-appreciating the IT team.
  • How neglect exposes your entire company to critical and severe problems.

But time only changes what you don’t change first. I tell all the IT people I meet that they have to be their own best advocates and change agents if they really want to see meaningful improvements and add real value to their businesses.

This is no easy sell. These folks aren’t really built that way.

Selling their ideas is the last thing they ever thought they’d be stuck doing. But the waves of change are coming—and you can swim with the tides or sit still and be submerged.

I’ve found three specific ideas and approaches that senior-level IT folks can focus on to make a serious contribution to the future of their firms.

connected-devices-ms-office

1—Be a Weapon, not a Shield

Playing great defense isn’t enough. The smartest IT players are extracting from the plethora of connected devices and turning the data they develop into “weaponized” information—decision tools that move their businesses ahead by providing better and more timely solutions, both to internal users and outside clients. What gets done is what gets measured. Help your team optimize every aspect of the operation with real-time decision support. That puts everybody in a position to correctly make the most critical calls—like when to double-down on winners and how soon to ditch dogs. Providing increased metrics and visibility is what the best data-driven IT strategies are all about. Money is just expendable ammunition. Data is power and guess who’s in charge of the data?

future

2—Focus on Future

Everything is about the future. We need bridges—not more bandages. The network is the name of the game. Help your team exploit the extensive resources outside of your own shop. Connect your company to critical partners, collaborators, and new technologies that are beyond your four walls. Do it securely, without sacrificing speed, accuracy or ease of access.

Make sure your people are an active and effective part of all the “social” conversations that concern your business because these new channels are changing the way we all confer, compare, communicate, and consume. Unless your products and services are part of the ongoing conversations and decision sets, when the buyers are ready to buy, you’re nowhere.

Holding down the fort isn’t enough; you’ve got to do more than simple maintenance because your business needs a vision and a path forward—not another Mr. Fix-It.

be-the-solution

3—Be In the Room Where It Happens

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. As a senior IT professional, step up and insist that your presence and your input is central to securing the best solutions for the business. If you’re not there, if you don’t have some skin in the game, if you’re just a spectator, then the changes that do happen will happen to you, not through you. It’s not always safe to step up, but it’s the smartest bet you can make. If you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, who else will? And take my word for it; waiting never gets you to a better result. The world is moving too quickly to give anyone the luxury of time. Just like in racing, you need to understand that no one waits for you.

If it’s any consolation in these tough and troubling times, just remember that they’re going to blame you for anything and everything that goes wrong anyway. So, if you’re already walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.

howard-tullman-double-gulp-t

Howard Tullman is the father of Chicago’s 1871 incubator.

Read his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_A._Tullman

Check out his websites at http://tullman.com/

and http://tullman.blogspot.com/

Write him at 1871@Tullman

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

This is an excerpt from an article in INC.

http://www.inc.com/author/howard-tullman

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

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 © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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HOW BAD IS IT

bobs-bad-poetry-swtby Loop Lonagan

Lotsa people keep tellin’ me good things about Bob’s Bad Poetry so I’m checkin’ it out. Yeah, yeah, I know what yer thinkin’. But there’s no law against an angel investor goin’ in fer high culture. That’s right, I like literature ‘n’ modern art too—’specially the abstract stuff. You got some problem with that, bud? Hey, me fodder and me mudder’s both Irish ‘n’ both poets, so’s I got it in da genes. Maybe you already figured that out from da way I talk.

And hey—dis ain’t just any poetry—it’s high tech—performed exclusively on da internet. Maybe it’s a startup company! Y’know how I like t’ invest in them. So I ask ya—lookin’ at da macro picture—with this lousy economy, dis goofy election, crime ‘n’ all—can it be that hard times once again spawn a renaissance o’ creative juices? Will demand fer artistic expression skyrocket like it done in da 60’s? Doncha wish you invested in Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney back then? Could it be that bad poetry is da next growth industry? Sounds like a winner t’ me! But how d’ya make a thing like that fly?

I sneak onto You Tube while da boss ain’t lookin’. He’s over dare, behind his big fat beat-up WWII air force desk tyin’ flies. Yeah, flies! Fer fishin’! Guy’s got da worst case o’ writer’s block I ever seen. He won’t notice me takin’ in a little culture. Don’t seem to notice nothin’ nowadays—unless it’s new fishing gear or maybe a Cubs game. Yeah, he put in a big-screen TV and DVR here at our corporate offices in the backroom of Ludditis Shots & Beer—just so he don’t miss a single inning.

ludditis-shots-and-beer-500

Our Corporate Offices

Whoa—look at dis site! This is fer real! Bob’s pumpin’ out a new poem every single day. Weekends too! I watch five of ‘em and find myself feelin’ real, real good—kinda grinnin’ to myself like I just downed a big mug o’ prime porter and lickin’ my lips. But beer costs money and dis poetry site is entirely free! Don’t cost me a single dollar! And only five minutes goes by! Yeah, deeze poems is all short—real short—just da way I like ‘em! So I subscribe, just to make sure I don’t miss any.

bobs-bad-poetry

Bob Badpoet

Can high culture be good fer a guy and this much fun too? Bob’s Bad Poetry. Looks to me like a creative genius maybe figured a way t’ use dis high tech world t’ make money—in an industry where nobody made money before! And if he’s revenue positive, dat’s what I call da businessman of today! If he’s selling shares, I’m in!

And if you don’t believe me, see fer yerself. Click here: BOB’S BAD POETRY

 

Please listen to poetry responsibly.

Graphic by Jennifer Otsuka

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, big money, Economics, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, investor, loop lonagan, Mobile, Mobile Marketing, new companies, Social Entrepreneur, Social Media, vc, venture capital, wireless internet

APPLESAUCE AND APPLE

THE FINANCIAL MINDSET OF A NEW GENERATION

Tom McBride and Ron Nief

Light Bulb

The students who began college this past fall have a forty percent chance of graduating in four years, and a seventy percent chance of graduating in six. Having grown up in the Great Recession they can rarely take money for granted. They are more interested in money than in love, unlike their parents, who may have grown up as hippie advocates of free love during the far more prosperous 1960s.

But it’s possible that the old hippies are their grandparents: yep, that much time has passed.

They expect to graduate from college in debt, but they must also worry about what sort of job they can get to pay it off. They are all too keenly aware of how easily a sophisticated algorithm can replace human beings in the performance of even high-tech tasks. They know that jobs—maybe including one that has their name on it—can be outsourced cheaper overseas. Some of them are growing up in states like Florida where governors are pressuring universities to explain the financial prospects of their various major fields. They might love philosophy but decide to major in Geriatric Studies—perhaps the United States will run out of articles on Aristotle sooner than it runs out of old people living longer and longer.

Since they were about twelve years old the stock market has run a gamut of about twelve thousand points. The most precarious roller coaster at the nearest amusement park seems tame in comparison. They wonder if they will have the guts for investment in this sort of market when they aren’t risking whiplash in their necks (unlikely with the roller coaster anyhow) but cavities in their pocketbooks. Yet at their young age it’s silly to worry about the long-range future, right?

Still, they know they are coming of age in a world where pensions are becoming as infrequent as desktop computers, and where they may have ninety-five year old great grandparents still vacuuming up Social Security and Medicare. They’ve been told that a member of the generation just behind them may live to be 140 years of age. Where will the money to sustain so many geezers come from? Well, it’s too far off to panic now.

The financial hero of their generation is not old Bill Gates but young Mark Zuckerberg, who came up with Facebook. They dream about formulating some high-tech enterprise that will make billions of dollars for them, too. But what might it be? Replacing passwords with high-tech facial identifications? Nah: it’s too late for that—the research is already underway. When they were having their baby food applesauce, Apple seemed to be a company that had seen its best days. Well, look at how that turned out, so for them fantasies of high-tech riches spring eternal.

Rather anxious about money, they are frugal. There’s only a six-in-ten chance they have a credit card. They go debit, thank you. They’d rather have a new tablet or phone than new car. Autos are more expensive and not so necessary. They know a lot more about chips than about carburetors. They tend to congregate after graduation in cities with public transport, and they are a keen ride-sharing generation.

Besides, with Skype who needs actually to go there? One thing they don’t expect if and when they do get a job: lots of face-to-face conversation. It wouldn’t surprise them to learn that they will spend most of their working careers in their apartments—and of course in cyberspace.

They may become the first generation for which there will be scant old-age welfare, and yet also the first for whom it is largely unnecessary to leave the house for anything. Graphic virtual vacations to Venice may be on their way two decades hence, and they’ll be at lot cheaper than going there.

During their lifetimes the price of a first-class stamp has risen 65%. Maybe this has something to do with decreased demand for them. Theirs is a generation that rarely “writes” letters placed into envelopes with stamps attached. Going to the P.O. is hardly a ritual for them.

In their lifetimes K-Mart and Target have always been going in opposite directions. They expect similar corporate unpredictability in a world where popular websites can change every five minutes. They do not expect to stay with one company for long.

They hear about income inequality constantly and may cynically conclude that a rising tide lifts all yachts. Yet both the libertarian Republicans, who appeal to their sense of entrepreneurship, and the progressive Democrats, who promise to close the gap between rich and middle-class, appeal to their economic instincts, however unformulated as yet.

The one thing they should not give up on is education. One study concludes that if every high school student had the skills of every college student, the former would make $28,000 more per year. A Harvard study says that having just one good teacher for only one year can increase lifetime income by $80,000. In a time of gyrating stock markets, rising inequality, and scary high-tech chaos in the job market, it is easy to become cynical about an assigned term paper on the Thirty Years’ War.

But it would be foolish not to complete it, and get a high mark for doing so.

Tom McBride and Ron Nief are co-authors of the annual Mindset List® and of two books: The Mindset Lists of American History (Wiley, 2011) and The Mindset List of the Obscure (Sourcebooks, 2014). For their Financial Mindset List for the Class of 2018, go to http://themindsetlist.com/2014/10/financial-mindset-list-class-2018/

Photo credits – MS Office

Adapted from News From Heartland – the Journal of the Heartland Angels

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 © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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HAWKS

Hawk Logo_JAJ0561by Mark T. Wayne

“Quit talking business!  This is important!”  A shocking pronouncement coming from one’s employer!  I go mum.  We sit behind thick glass, watching the Chicago Blackhawks clobber the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the series.  The Hawks will win this game and go on to the coveted Stanley Cup.  That is correct, sir—an opportunity for a third championship in just a few years!

I comply with Jonelis’ rude order.  I do it because I sympathize with his lack of discipline in this arena of violent chaos.  And of course, like most men, I am quite prepared to revive my boyhood when the opportunity arises.  Certainly, there are subjects other than business worthy of utterance.

Mark T Wayne

Lonagan is at my right, constantly jostling, constantly booming, “Did ya see dat?” shouts the execrable fellow.  “He jammed da butt o’ his stick right into dat poor sap’s kisser.”  Permit me to note that Lonagan is able to perform a multitude of tasks simultaneously:

  • He shouts expert opinions about every detail of this free-for-all.
  • He gnaws great hunks from greasy bratwurst.
  • He swills beer from a paper cup with great skill.

I have never before witnessed a hockey game.  I attempt to test its worth with my closest scrutiny, but find it difficult to comprehend my editor’s rationale—dragging me out here to write about six bearded hooligans with faulty dental work beating up six over-muscled goons.  How can I stay abreast of the Chicago private equity action?  Nothing of impact happens in California.  Most of their financiers chase after the same-old, same-old mobile apps.  But I agreed not to talk business.

John thru the glass_JAJ05618B

Against the glass

Jonelis and Lonagan both jump to their feet and beer sloshes onto my fine white flannel suit.  “Goal!” they scream in rough unison, and the stadium erupts in opposing voices of victory and outrage.  Jonelis pounds my shoulder.  “Did you see that?  Did you?  A rebound—that’s the way to score a goal—always crowd the net!”  I am perplexed.  How can he possibly assume that I did not witness the occurrence?  Does the man think I am blind?  We are right here in the front row of the roaring crowd, watching this madness with an entirely unobstructed view!  A gentleman named Toews, who I am told, for some unknown reason, pronounces his name Taves, just flung a small black object into the goal by artful use of a stick.  I saw the act, as did every other bloodthirsty spectator in this crowded coliseum.

Meanwhile, Lonagan gesticulates broadly with both arms, then breaks into impassioned laughter that squeezes out a few tears.  He reaches across me and punches Jonelis square on the shoulder.  “Dis is da best!  First class airfare.  First class box seats!  I kin hardly believe I’m here!  What made ya ask me?”

Jonelis seems momentarily at a loss for words.  He grins sheepishly, then admits in a somewhat lower tone, “You know how to throw a party—I don’t.”  He clears his throat.  “After we win this game, I want to celebrate.  I want to do it right.”

I catch a glint in Lonagan’s eye.  “You want I should pour it on industrial strength?”

A wan smile.  “That’s the general idea.”

“Yer on!”  Lonagan grins like a slathering bulldog.  “What about old whisker-puss here?”

“He’s covering the game.”  Then Jonelis addresses me.  “Get the article out tonight, will you?”

I care not about a drunken felon denigrating the quality of my mustaches, but the second insult inflicts its sting.  My host reduces my status from guest to employee.  Such is the level of respect shown an accomplished novelist.  A writer is without honor, sir!  (I secretly resolve to delay the entire project for several days.  I, too, enjoy the Lonagan fellow’s raucous celebrations.)

Two huge bodies in bulky uniforms slam into the glass inches from my nose with an impact that rattles the structure of the enclosure.

I sit up and take notice.

Pinned, the Hawk reaches under an inadequate face guard and grabs the nose of the angry Duck, who bars his stick against the Hawk’s hairy throat.

A whistle!

With a bleeding nose, the Duck skates to the penalty box.

In the ensuing power play, I note amazingly deceptive and expert stick handling.  Fascinating!  Other members of the team, entirely out of the action of play, perform acts of sadistic menace upon each other’s persons.  These go unnoticed by the officials, otherwise engaged.  As an organ plays magnificent chants, I wonder how thugs learn to skate with such skill.

Toews scores another goal and I am wearing flecks of Lonagan’s mustard.  Only a few minutes have transpired since the splattering of beer—inadequate time to allow my suit to dry.

I stand and cheer!  “Hooray!”

This represents an important lesson!  Yes sir!  How is it that I have never before attended such an event as this?  And I speculate on the odds of bribing a season ticket from some luminary with the only real weapon I own—the promise to not write about him.

Read KIDNAPPED

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 © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, Invention, investor, loop lonagan, Man's Favorite Sport, Mark T Wayne, Mobile, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, vc, venture capital

THE HIDDEN DANGER IN YOUR DATA

Howard Tullman B&Wby Howard Tullman

From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

Today, entrepreneurs have tools and technologies to collect, monitor, and document more data than ever before. You’re likely swimming in data, since customers leave a trail of it everywhere to be captured and analyzed in real time. As I’ve often said, in business, what gets measured (and acknowledged and rewarded) is what gets done. I haven’t changed my belief about that, but I have come to see that we are putting too much emphasis strictly on the numbers. Numbers don’t lie, but they never tell the whole story. They can only take you so far before they top out and you need something qualitative and experiential to get to the right conclusions.

Pie Chart Hesitation

Peter Drucker’s dictum “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has created a whole generation of leaders so focused on perfecting their company’s processes that they lose sight of the company’s purpose. I hear managers all the time talking about the need to get more work out of their people when they should be trying to get the best work out of them. Optimizing (not maximizing) the team’s output is what matters most to the ultimate success of a business. Working smarter and more effectively—not necessarily longer or harder—is how you ultimately move ahead of the competition.

You need to be exceedingly careful these days that you don’t let the ease of access and the ubiquity of massive amounts of quantitative performance data cause you to over-emphasize the math and measurements—and thereby lose sight of the far more important qualitative attributes of what’s going on. Not everything is easy to measure or quantify, but that doesn’t make these things less important; it just makes your job as manager tougher. But when you get so wrapped up in the measurement process that it becomes the goal itself, it loses its effectiveness. It’s easy to confuse movement with progress, but not all motion is forward. And lots of activities that run up the numbers aren’t remotely productive. Measuring is easy; measuring better is tough.

When you let the numbers drive the train, you give up two important advantages that are critical to your success. First, the goal isn’t to be the thermometer; it’s to be the thermostat. It’s not about measuring the heat; it’s about generating and controlling the heat. You don’t want the analytics to lead you; they’re a useful benchmark and a guide for course corrections, but it’s your job to set the direction and move the business forward. Second, when you get so focused on specific and concrete financial results (sales targets, growth rates, etc.) and you direct all your team’s energies toward getting as close to achieving those numbers as possible, you actually limit your ultimate upside because you lose the ability to think and see beyond those immediate goals. When a game-changing opportunity arises or a quantum shift occurs in your sales prospects, your team will likely be so heads-down chasing those numbers that someone else will come along and grab the new brass ring.

Black Hole of Data

Here are three principles that have helped me resist the temptation to get too caught up in the numbers—and focus on what truly matters at my company:

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Elaboration is a form of pollution

Tell your team to keep it simple. No one gets paid by the page, and shorter is almost always better. I’ve found that when people expand and extend their plans, proposals, and presentations, there’s a high degree of likelihood that they’re concerned about the value of their pitch, so they try to bury it in a boatload of facts, figures, charts, citations, and everything else that just hides the hard truth. It’s better for everyone when your people put things right out there—front and center—and take their medicine if that’s what’s called for. If you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll say whatever you like, but that’s not any way to get to the truth or the right result.

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Not everything is worth doing well

Tell your team that everyone’s always on the clock. There’s an opportunity cost associated with everything you do, so choosing what not to do (and how extensively to do the things you need to do) is critical in any startup which has scarce resources and time. Some things just don’t warrant the full-court press, and it’s important to make sure that everyone knows that that’s okay with you. Other things shouldn’t be done at all, and you should never try to do things cheaply that just aren’t worth doing. It’s never easy to turn people down or say, “No,” to marginal choices, but it’s part of the job.

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No one’s ever measured how much the heart can hold

Ultimately, the value of the critical connections your people make every day with your clients and customers can only be roughly approximated by even the best math. But it’s those daily personal and emotional interactions with your empowered employees that build crucial engagement as well as the lifetime value of those buyers for your business. You need to give your team permission to do what’s best for the customer in the moment that the opportunity arises. If they need to consult a rule book or have a calculator handy to do the math, they’ll lose the value of the moment every time. The best businesses don’t worry about the number or sheer volume of moments–they work to make each moment matter.

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Howard Tullman is a philosopher, investor, and Chicago entrepreneur.   For more from Howard, go to

http://tullman.blogspot.com

www.1871.com/

Read his bio: http://tullman.com/resume.asp

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This article appeared in the following publicatons:

News From Heartland  http://news.HeartlandAngels.com

INC Magazine  http://www.inc.com/

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Graphics: Getty Images, MS Office, H Tullman

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 © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, Invention, investor, Marketing, new companies, philanthropist, philanthropy, Social Media, Software, vc, venture capital

TALENT HIDES

icstarg 10aTechBash – Part 1

By Loop Lonagan,

as told to John Jonelis –

 I feel the bite of Christmas in the air. It’s the season o’ giving. I’m here at TechBash coverin’ fer Da May Report but I never seen an event like this before. Right away, I get hit with pounding music, flashing lights and maybe a couple thousand er more people. Place is fulla bigshots.  So many C-level execs at one party—mosta them CIOs o’ big corporations. And the food and open flowing bar. I mean, this is a HUGE party that puts Dennis Koslowski and Tyco to shame—but this one’s legit. Lemme tell you about it:

icstarg 2b

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Talent Hides

You know where talent hides? In places where people got no hope. In the tough neighborhoods with lousy schools, worn-out housing, and alotta crime, gangs, ‘n’ drugs. Yeah, talent hides real good in them places ‘cause so many people don’t know they got potential.

A gal named Sandee Kastrul came across this idea:  There’s more talent here than in all o’ them comfy middle class suburbs or even at the universities. And there’s people here with a whole lot more inner strength than them soft-living places, too. We got lotsa neighborhoods like this right here in Chicago. Yeah, it’s still a city o’ neighborhoods—nothin’s changed much since the FIRST Mayor Daley.

What that means is there’s a huge population o’ smart people them big companies don’t know nothin’ about. And the companies wanna find out who them people are. They wanna do that in the worst way. That’s the genius o’ this thing. So Sandee co-founded i.c.stars to make it happen and throws dis big TechBash party every year along with alotta other events.

i.c.stars is a place where raw corporate greed and avarice can do some good in this rough old world. That’s right—this ain’t no charity organization—it’s an opportunity fer big business.  A company that wants in on this thing hasta participate and support i.c.stars if dey want a good outcome. And why not?

  • It’s better than outsourcing yer executive search, ‘cause you get to know the applicants up-close ‘n’ personal.
  • You get yer tech projects done cheap ‘cause them projects turn into curriculum fer the i.c.stars interns.
  • And that means the interns get paid t’ learn, so it’s a big opportunity fer them too. Thousands apply every year.

Big business knows a good deal when they see it and so do smart people looking fer a career. The whole idea’s brilliant! What we’re lookin’ at here is somethin’ that’s gonna grow into a self-sustaining social enterprise.  That’s like a gift to ever’body.  Hey—like I told ya, it’s Christmastime!

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Da Event

So all deeze huge companies come to this party fer what they want most—TALENT. That’s somethin’ that’s always hard t’ find.icstarg 9a And at dis TechBash event, Da Talent can talk one-on-one with Da Top Brass—if they can make themselves heard in all this hubbub. I’m talkin’ here about executives that most folks never even get to meet. Believe it er not, these C-levels bigshots even cough up their contact info and follow up with these interns personal-like.

i.c.stars stands for inner-city computer stars, and from the look of it, there’s lotsa them kinda folks here. All the interns and alums is wearin’ star-shaped badges that flash colored lights so it isn’t hard t’ spot ‘em.

QuasheI meet one intern that’s built like a football player in a good suit. Name of Quashe Granville [pronounced QUAH-SHAY] ‘n’ he’s got a voice dat rumbles like James Earl Jones. I’m expectin’ to hear somethin’ like “Luke, I am your father,” but he’s real professional. So I asks him, how does i.c.stars really work? Is it some kinda incubator?

“Yes. It’s not like a traditional college,” he says.  “You get the tools and everything you need but it’s largely self-taught. When it comes to computer languages—jQuery, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails—in order to learn those, it’s about what you put into it. You get out of it what you put in.”

Man, I love listenin’ to that huge voice.

icstarg 1b

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Who Gets In?

I run into Jerry Johnson, their Candidate Relations Manager, ‘n’ ask him how hard it is to get into dis program.

“It’s 20 out of 3000.”

That sends me reeling ‘n’ I almost spill my free scotch ‘n’ soda. A waiter comes by with a tray o’ food ‘n’ I wolf down some carbs ‘n’ protein. “Hey Jerry,” I say, “That’s a hellovalot tougher than getting into the U of C.” I say that while munching on somethin’ that tastes real good. I don’t know what I’m eatin’ but it’s great.  Summa them Hors d’oeuvres, I guess.

Quashe pipes in: “It might be hard, but out of those 3000 I can genuinely say 2600 eliminate themselves because they don’t want to go through the process. So then it’s Jerry’s job to sift through the other 400.”

So I ask: “The ones with enough hope dat you can make ‘em believe?”

Jerry comes right back: “The ones that have the fortitude to do what we ask them to do.”

“So whadaya look for in yer applicants?”

“Resiliency—that’s the best thing. Creative thinking. We have a lot of different logic puzzles. We have coding exercises if people have never done it. It’s all resiliency built.”

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Da Result

VeraI meet an alum named Vera Shabazz [pronounce SHUH-BAAZ] and what she says is somethin’ worth hearin’:

“Anything i.c.stars does, I’m behind 100%. Before them I lost my job and had no inkling of what I was going to do. Then I found i.c.stars. They pay you $150 a week just to come and learn.

“It’s not easy. This is a tough job and they treat it like a job. It is very, very tough. You have to go through a lot of training. At first I was afraid. I’d never done it before.”

I look her in the eye and decide this gal means what she says. So I put it to her, “Ain’t that an awful huge learning curve to overcome.”

“It was huge. It was HUGE. And to tell you I was afraid is an understatement. But my colleagues were so phenomenal. They helped to bring me through what I did not know and they erased all my fears.

“I didn’t know anything about technology. Now, I work with United’s 55,000 employees. Whenever something goes down, they call us. A ticket agent might say, ‘The computer isn’t working—the printer isn’t working—I’m getting an error message or I’m getting this or I’m getting that.’ With i.c.stars I learned how to drill down. How to ask, ‘What are you seeing? What is happening? What did it do first? What did you do first?’ And it calms them down that we know what we’re doing. They can help their passengers board their airplanes on time.

Whatever they call me with, I’m able to decipher and figure out what they need, all because of i.c.stars.

Now Vera’s givin’ back by supportin’ Virginias House. They help survivors of domestic violence.

Checkout dis great video on i.c.stars:

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GO TO PART 2 – GIVING BACK

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Contacts

i.c.starswww.icstars.org

Sandee Kastrul – sKastrul@icstars.org

Jerry Johnson – Jjohnson@icstars.org

Quashe’ E Granville – QuasheGranville@gmail.com

Vera Sabazz – vaShabazz@VirginiaHouseInc2.com

Vera’s outreach: Virginias House – http://VirginiasHouseInc2.com
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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. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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SHORT ON MARKETING

Compass 3 - John OrtbalWhere Tech Startups Come Up Short

.From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

By John Ortbal

Far too many start-ups in the technology sector launch a great product with distinct advantages over competitors but fail to gain a solid footing in their marketplace. One of the major reasons is lack of adequate investment in what I call a solid marketing infrastructure.

Establishing a solid marketing infrastructure gives the startup technology firm (software or hardware) the foundation from which to grow and expand. Without that foundation, it’s easy to become distracted in a scramble to ramp up sales—dispersing your resources and energy.

Compass 4 - John Ortbal

What does it take to build a solid marketing foundation? Here are some basic suggestions:

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Positioning

First and foremost is positioning. A start-up or early growth technology company has to stake a claim, define its positioning, and express it in an elevator pitch—the two or three sentence description that captures the who, what, where and most of all why your new company exists. What most start-ups don’t realize is that when you position yourself, you’ve repositioned everyone else, i.e. your competition. So there has to be a strong element of conflict in your positioning and maybe even a bit of controversy. Playing it safe just doesn’t cut it.

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Content

Content is king today as evidenced by the flood of buzz around “content marketing.” For technology start-ups and early growth companies, developing, organizing and sharing content is critical to grabbing and keeping anyone’s attention for long. There’s a reason that Google has recently urged companies to rely less on link building and more on building quality content.

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Design

How many people know that the now-famous TED conference was founded by a designer? In fact, how many people know that TED stands for Technology, Education and Design? I doubt there is a component of marketing infrastructure that’s less understood or undervalued. Without the creative genius of design, your content lacks drama and impact.

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Web Presence

While anyone can put up a web site these days, that’s the problem for many startups. Their web sites look arbitrary and boring. They lack the content and design that define any brand personality, which could set them apart from their competition. In other words, their web presence fails to fulfill the promise of their positioning. That’s a huge and costly disconnect for many start-ups.

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Public Relations

I lump the analyst and professional social media community under public relations. You must communicate your positioning. Flesh it out through a coordinated public relations effort that leverages ALL types of media. That means your positioning has to wear a lot of different outfits depending on which audience you’re trying to attract. Find a spokesperson who can play off your core value proposition with variety and variation using by-lined articles, blog posts, tweets and video interviews.

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Customer Community

This is obviously the toughest nut for startups to crack. If you had customers, you wouldn’t be a startup. Your initial customers are really your partners and should be treated as such. Promote them as much as your product and you’ll plant the seeds of a growing customer community that will yield results for years to come.

This article is adapted from the Journal of the Heartland Angels

Download NEWS FROM HEARTLAND (1.2 MB PDF)

Contacts

John Ortbal is President of Services Marketing Group http://servicesmarketinggroup.com/

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NEWS FROM HEARTLAND, The Journal of the Heartland Angels, is a quarterly newsletter published as an information service to its members.  Articles may be reproduced with attribution for educational purposes. Copyright © 2013 Heartland Angels –  John Jonelis, Editor – John@HeartlandAngels.com

HeartLand Angels Logo

CAVEAT EMPTOR – This article is for educational purposes and is not investment advice.  All investment involves substantial risk.  Please do your due own diligence.  Contact Ron Kirschner – Ron@HeartlandAngels.com

For more information, go to:

www.HeartlandAngels.com

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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. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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