Web 3.0 is Mobile, Are You In?


As I have discussed in many past blogs, we are seeing a major shift in how people access technology as more people move toward Smartphones. I see a world where business will be driven by the connectivity we all have with one another based on that little device that acts as an extended appendage for most of us.

We all have an internal desire to be connected. As I spend time with my family in Rochester, NY, I listen to the conversations of my nieces and hear their infatuation with the latest phone technology and getting a new or upgraded phone. At this point in their lives, they consider that to be a major accomplishment. Why is that? I would say it has to do with the knowing that they can share and connect more with their friends and the world around them.

If you think of this from a business perspective, you’ll see the opportunity to connect with your customers as well as their friends, which will create more business prospects. You can connect with your sales people on the road to update them on all your products, services, and even competitor products, so they can be more effective. People working on projects in the field can update software, coordinate with others, and access so much more information to get the job done.

Web 3.0 is mobile! Web 1.0 was about connectivity with the likes of Netscape, AOL, Google, and Yahoo, and Web 2.0 was all about social media with Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter. The main elements of Web 3.0 will be:

Real Time

Location-Aware

Ubiquitous (everywhere at the same time)

Sensors

Smaller Screens

The key for the 3.0 mobile world is real value for customers and real commerce for merchants.

At Efficience, we are building an infrastructure to help companies get a mobile platform up for themselves along with a strategy to make money using their mobile app.

I’ll have more on real examples of how consumers and merchants can be mobile in order to get real value in the next blog.

How are you using mobile to reach new customers and realize more business?




Power of One


Having a business and being an entrepreneur, you attempt to make a difference in your life, sometimes in the lives of others, and not so often, in the world. I see this on a daily basis because running a company is integral in the lives of many people around me.

You usually see the small things but not the larger impact that you might make someday in the future. For example, you may have created some great product that improves the lives of others in a meaningful way, or you may go public in an IPO and share stock with your early hard-working employees that one day generates more money than ever imagined.

Sometimes, your greatest impact to make the world better may not even show up until after you’re gone. This was the case for Rachel Beckwith, a little girl that forever changed the lives of 60,000 people after she was killed in a tragic accident. I will share the story briefly, and then you can watch the short video to see the effects of her dreams and actions. Warning to all viewers: if you are uncomfortable feeling the goodness of humans helping each other and fear a tear may build up around your eyes, don’t watch this video.

At 9 years of age, Rachel Beckwith had a big heart and wanted to solve many of the problems she saw in the world. When Scott Harrison from Charity Water (my favorite charity) visited her church and shared how his organization helps young kids in Africa get access to clean drinking water, she set out to help and created her own fundraising page. With her ninth birthday coming up, she asked those that normally gave her gifts to donate $9 instead, with a goal to raise $300.

She raised $220 and made a promise to try harder next year. However, a few weeks later, a tractor-trailer on I-90 near Seattle, WA jackknifed into a logging truck and smashed into Rachel’s car. She was the only one critically injured, and on July 23, 2011, she was taken off life support. The news of her story soon spread, and in the month that followed, approximately 30,000 people gave $1.2-million.

Watch as Rachel’s mom goes to Africa to witness the new wells flowing with clean water and the impact that her 9 year old daughter has left on the lives of so many.

What is the legacy that you are going to leave behind?

See VIDEO here.

 




5 Keys to a Great Team


In previous blogs, I have shared my admiration for Robin Sharma, best-selling author and business coach, and when I viewed some of the mostly highly watched videos from him, I wanted to share one that most resonated with me. The video “How Remarkable Entrepreneurs Build Winning Teams” had a great message and had accumulated almost 18,000 views.

I have been working for years to build a great team, and I am excited about the one that is in place today! We have gone through different team members, and it seemed to be an evolution on the talent that we were attracting. Today, the team is full of highly skilled and dedicated people that want to give their all to make the company improve and grow.

Here are the 5 things entrepreneurs do to build a winning team:

1) Appreciation – show appreciation and give praise. A gallop study said that the #1 reason companies lose talent is that employees don’t feel appreciated. I am thankful for my team and could do more to share that with them.

2) Belonging – create a sense of belonging. People like to feel like they belong to a special community. Our team just seems to like each other by the way they joke and laugh so often.

3) Develop Your People – grow their talents, challenge them to be better, and take them where they want to go. Mentor and help them be better. We ask them weekly what they have learned, and we pay for educational programs for our team.

4) Celebrate Your Team – celebrate the big things but also the little things that happen along the way. We have had little celebrations such as going to lunch together and even a coupon book that can save over a $1,000 to local retailers. We could do more to celebrate our team and will work on this.

5) Communicate a Compelling Purpose – share a common goal and passion. People like to feel like they are making a difference. Here at Efficience, we believe that there is a better way to leverage technology in your business. We are passionate about creating life-improving solutions, such as more affordable mobile apps for small businesses, so they can connect with their customers and grow their business.

I know I could do more and I will work harder in these areas. What are you doing to help your team to be the winners you know they can be?




The Power of the Crowd


I wrote a blog in July 2011 called “What Disruptive Technology is Sneaking Up on You?” I also wrote another one more recently called “Crowdfunding, the Savior for the Entrepreneur.” Interestingly, they have both been pulled together by the disruptive technology guru Clayton Christensen. Clayton spoke with CNNMoney for an article they featured on his involvement in crowdfunding.

As I explained in my previous blog, crowdfunding will allow companies to raise money with their social contacts for partial ownership in a company. You can raise a lot of money by asking for small investments from a large number of people. Think of this like a mutual fund that has lots of money to invest, but one individual investor may only put in $500 while another puts in $10,000. Crowdfunding gives the investor the opportunity to invest in people they know even if they don’t have large sums of money. The previous laws placed tight limitations on this.

Clayton pulls disruptive technology and crowdfunding together when he points out that crowdfunding has the potential to disrupt traditional financiers. He has invested in a platform that is being created to help bring together both the investor and the company trying to raise more capital.

As I’ve said before, I think this opportunity is going to be big! It will change the game for many people, most importantly the entrepreneur. Ideas and opportunities that would have never gotten off the ground before will now have a better chance at a good start and could become job creating machines.

Now, the important ingredient for anyone with aspirations to grow and get funding is a strong social network. The theme we had back in my investment days was connectivity. We invested in companies that were creating the infrastructure which would bring us together. We have all heard “it’s who you know, not what you know.” This rings even truer today with a major focus on people.

What are you doing to grow your social network?




Make the Trend Your Friend


Mary Meeker recently released her annual overview of internet trends, and I found it to be very insightful. You may remember that I have discussed Mary’s research and opinions on this topic in some of my previous blogs. She pushed forward as a leader in this space with different investment banking firms and is now a partner at one of the most prestigious venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins.

Meeker’s overview includes more than one-hundred slides, so I have summarized some of what jumped out at me. The general theme is that internet growth is still significant and mobile adoption is still in the early stages. Many of the slides show examples of how this connected world is creating the Re-Imagination of everything.

The Smartphone has penetrated only 953 million users when compared to the 6.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions as shown on slide 11. This is a huge upside. Think about all the new businesses and people considering apps moving forward. Is your business prepared to benefit from this growth?

Next, on slide 10, compare the global penetration between the Android and iPhone shipments. Android has over 250 million compared to over 60 million with the iPhone. This is a four times difference, and it makes you think about for which one you would build an app. Looking at your demographic, area, and global reach will help to determine if you choose to create an app for one or both.

Slide 18 shows India’s usage of the internet on a desktop has decreased over time, and their usage of internet on mobile devices has increased over the period 12/08 to 5/12. Mobile usage has currently surpassed that of desktops, which should be considered for the monetization of sites. Most sites make more money from ads on the desktop than on mobile. This will changes things.

Mary also makes several points about how things are changing in the world with the internet. In 2010, after 305 years, newspaper ad revenue was surpassed by internet (slide 32). The trend lines for the newspaper ad revenue were declining much faster than the internet was sloping up.

From a technology investment perspective, be careful. Look at slide 108. Out of the 1,720 IPOs over the periods 1980 and 2002, only 2% of these companies accounted for 100% of net wealth creation.

Mary states that the “Magnitude of upcoming change will be stunning. We are still in spring training.” She gives a long list of reasons in slide 85. A few key elements include nearly ubiquitous high speed wireless access in developed countries, fearless and connected entrepreneurs, and inexpensive devices and services, including apps.

How are you benefiting from these major trends taking place right before our eyes?




Is Your Sandbox Big Enough?


In business we refer to a sandbox as the area in which you play or conduct business. It consists of three things: your geographical boundaries, your products or services, and either your client description if you sell direct or your distribution channel if you sell there.

When determining your sandbox, one area of thought is to make sure that the sandbox you are playing in is capable of getting you to the goals you have created for yourself. Problems could include not having enough customers or not having the right customers in your geographical boundaries. The product or service may have saturated the market you’re in, and the client description could have changed or expanded.

In our situation, we found that to reach our goals we need to add a geographical boundary that is larger and more diverse than our existing one in Knoxville, TN. We have the opportunity to open another office in a market that provides this, and we feel this will open the sandbox for us to get where we want to go.

April Cox, my partner and co-founder of Efficience, will be going to Dubai in the beginning of June to start our new office in that fast growing and dynamic city. April has contacts there from her husband and EO members that we have met over the years, so she will be off and running to network and increase our reach in our new expanded sandbox.

Not only will she be in fast growing market, it is also a modern city adapting to the latest technologies. This will be a plus for us at Efficience because we believe there is a better way to leverage technology and growing in a new environment with other companies that believe this also will be mutually beneficial. It takes four hours by plane to get to our office in India from Dubai, so working with our team there will be more “local” for the companies we connect with as we work together.

We are excited for this expansion and the chance to open the door to new relationships, customers, and product opportunities.

Is your sand box big enough to get you where you want to go?




Riding the Wave or Being Knocked Over?


Have you thought about how fast things change and how really different things have become with how you work and live? Think about the companies that you use every day that didn’t even exist ten years ago. Think about how you use your smartphone today and access Facebook. How different, both good and bad, was your life back then?

Consider all this from a business perspective. What new companies have appeared or disappeared because of a new innovative idea? Things move so rapidly! A company can go from zero to hero in a flash, but one can also go from kingpin to trash bin in the blink of an eye. What happened to MySpace, and what is occupying that building near you that was once Blockbuster?

The point is that technology and connectivity are changing the world so fast that items and companies we consider staples, such as Google and Facebook, may not even be around in 5 or so years. I recently read a Forbes article that shared a perspective on this topic.

According to the article, companies in the early years of the web 1.0 like Yahoo, Amazon, or Google didn’t see the social aspects of web 2.0. Now in web 3.0, the social companies have not adapted to the current world of the Smartphone.

Will Google face a challenge as better ways to search on smartphones appear? Will Amazon and Facebook keep up as more people use their phones to shop and connect instead of the desktop? Which one of these companies will be hit by a new idea brewing up in the garage right now?

Is there an opportunity for you in this space? If mobile can disrupt Google and Facebook what can it do to your business?




Our Instincts Are Social


As discussed in the X-Factor Blog, I attended and spoke at the Nerve Conference in Atlanta just over a week ago and had a great time! We listened to some interesting speakers and had a fun spending time with our EO friends and meeting some young aspiring entrepreneurs. The breakout went well! The X-Factor content leads to such powerful discussions and opens us up to the possibilities of creating breakthrough opportunities for our businesses.

The conference theme “Dream, Challenge, and Lead” was inspiring. They kicked it off with video of Martin Luther King, Jr. Then a gentleman came up on stage looking like a young Dr. King and orated the “I Have a Dream” speech. What a powerful experience!

We later listened to the three young international workers that had been captured and held hostage for over a year because they had been hiking near Iran. It was seriously challenging to listen to them share their stories, let alone be in their situation for that amount of time. They spent much of the time in solitary confinement, and they spoke in depth about how incredibly difficult that was for them. Their stories on this hit me hard and reinforced how social a species we really are. When we don’t have human contact, we are driven to a psychological breaking point.

The natural instincts we have to be social would explain the success of social networking and the intrigue we have around the success of Facebook. So when we were told the Winklevoss Brothers were speaking, we packed the conference room. They came up with the idea of a social website and asked Mark Zuckerburg to try and build it, and then he went off and built one himself. The twins talked about their work habits and the challenges of being Olympic caliber rowers. They did a great job comparing Olympic sport to the business world and what they are doing today.

They didn’t really break out into the issue we all wanted to hear about and what really happened with the Facebook before Q&A. However, we jumped right in and asked when they took questions. They shared that they felt it was pure fraud, and they were very disturbed by his actions. I would say they don’t have much to complain about with Facebook stock getting ready to go public, and they also got rich while training for the Olympics. They have new ideas (shhh it’s a secret) that they are exploring with all that money they have now.

I find it very beneficial to be at these conferences (being social) and to gain exposure to the experiences of proven and successful people, whether they are the speakers or the members attending. I was excited to meet a couple of young entrepreneurs with that look in their eyes that says they’re ready to go after something big and create something from nothing. Quinn and Michelle go out and make the world a better place with your budding entrepreneurial spirit!

What are you doing to let that inner entrepreneur to come out?




Crowdfunding, the Savior for the Entrepreneur


Something exciting has happened in the entrepreneurial world, and I want to share it with everyone. The JOBS Act, passed by both houses of Congress in March and signed into law on April 5th, will generate big changes for the growth of small and mid-sized businesses. One of the major amendments in this bill would allow crowdfunding. I see this evolving into a significant means for companies to access increased funding, and it is a great way for small investors to find more opportunities to devote their money to companies with which they are more closely involved. Given how connected we are through social media and the internet, this is ripe for the times!

So what is crowdfunding? It is the opportunity for your business to use a website and social media to allow others with an interest and small sums of money to invest. Prior to this bill, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would only let a small number of people invest in one business, but once your business passed that limit, other investors were required to have a large income or net worth, or you would have to register as a security with the SEC. Crowdfunding will eliminate all this red tape and provide the opportunity to truly democratize the investment process.

This can be compared to a New York law which passed in 1811, changing the liability requirements for corporations and making it easier to establish one with minimal requirements. This allowed investors to hold a diversified portfolio of stocks without regard to the debts of the companies in which they invested. This freed up money to move in areas it was needed, which at the time included textile mills due to our challenges with Britain (War of 1812) reducing trade.

That timely law allowed money to flow where it was needed. Today, we have a similar environment where businesses can’t get the funding they need to grow because of all the bank problems. Banks withhold lending because they fear the bad economy, have experienced many losses already, and must hold more money in reserves due to increased government regulation. This starves the entrepreneur from the funding needed to take advantage of various opportunities.

Given my history with investments as well as the historical results when we democratize people, government, business, and investments, I see the start of a new era. Investing in a portfolio of startups will become as common as mutual fund investments! Does your business need capital to grow and could crowdfunding be the advantage you have been looking for to explore new opportunities?

Theophylline




Solving the World’s Problems with Abundance


Let’s continue our discussion from last week’s blog. How does Abundance solve the future problems that seem to loom before us like population growth, water needs, hunger, and power?

Abundance Thinking holds the understanding that we have the capability to solve our pains with the technologies we have already created. Those technologies are at such a level that the continued connectivity of each of them creates exponential opportunities for solving all the issues of the day and the problems out ahead of us.

Click Image below for TED Talk.

When I talk about technologies, I am referring to ubiquitous broadband networks, nanomaterials, digital manufacturing, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and infinite computing. These areas of exploration are a game changer for the world in which we live. For those skeptics out there, let’s look at a few examples.

Consider the issue of water needs, which is a major one. Dean Kamen was working to get sterilized water to dialysis patients, when he realized he could solve a problem of clean water for billions of people by creating the Slingshot. This device is the size of a dorm room refrigerator and has an intake hose and an outflow hose, so you could stick it into anything wet, and out would come pure pharmaceutical grade injectable water for dialysis. Great for drinking also! Anything wet includes salt water, arsenic-laden water, and even the latrine. Can you imagine that?

This ultimately translates into helping to solve the population explosion. How? Most people that have large families are rural farmers that need more people to work their farms. They have more children because they tend to have a higher mortality rate in rural areas without clean drinking water. Solve the water problem, and you take huge steps toward the over-population problem.

Next, let’s tackle food. Vertical farms will change the game here. This would consist of utilizing buildings that would be immune to weather changes, so crops could be grown year round. It would take ten to twenty soil-based acres to produce the same amount of crops as one acre of skyscraper or vertical farm. This also means no pesticides or herbicides to runoff and effect the environment.

Now, we will take a look at the power issue. An updated version of the stirling engine can burn almost anything, and it is being used to power things like cell phones and lights. This engine can also power the Slingshot. Guess what powered it during a six month trial in a Bangladesh village? Cow dung!

All these examples prove that we really can solve huge problems and realize how abundance will raise the living standards, save resources, and provide ecological benefit to all on the planet.

If you are wanting to explore this more or still not convinced check out the TED Talk by Peter Diamandis or read the book.