Kleiner Partners’ View of the Future of Tech – WSJ.com

Kleiner Partners' View of the Future of Tech - WSJ.com

Kleiner Partners’ View of the Future of Tech – WSJ.com

“If you’re working with great entrepreneurs in a rapidly growing marketplace, you have a conviction to work with them and you can be rewarded all along the way. Every one of those investments is leveraging the trends of mobile, social and commerce. These aren’t waves of innovation; they’re tsunamis.”

This is a great interview from the Wall Street Journal with Ted Schlein and John Doerr from KPCB. Since 1972, KPCB has backed more than 500 ventures, including some of the world’s most visionary entrepreneurs. In this interview Schlein and Doerr talk about investments in clean tech as well as Twitter, Square, Spotify, Flipboard, Chegg, and Coursera, among others.

What they are talking about:

  • There are 1.2 billion people with smartphones, up 40% year over year, and that’s just 17% of the world’s population.
  • On tech’s “four horseman” – Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon: “This is day zero. Apple is not done, Facebook is not done, Google is not done, and Amazon is not done. Those companies have massive opportunity. I would be a long-term shareholder in all of them – and I am.”
  • In 2011, the cumulative revenue of approx. 70 companies in Kleiner’s clean-tech portfolio was $1.3 billion. In 2012 it was $2.4 billion, up 80% year over year.

I also recommend checking out the Insights section on the KPCB website. There are great free presentations on a wide range of tech topics from 2012 Internet Trends to CEO 2.0 – lessons from Jeff Bezos, Mark Pincus, and Neil Young – to Hacking Gamification.

 

Easy and Affordable Menu Management | Locu

Easy menu management | Locu

Easy and Affordable Menu Management | Locu.

“Locu’s founders met at MIT in 2010, where they worked on a project together that was supervised by a group of top researchers and lecturers, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. One of his central ideas is to have one unique address for every object in the world. Take Jen, who runs a great Italian restaurant called La Morra. Instead of having to upload a menu to her own website, mobile site, Facebook or one of hundreds of menu review and recommendations sites, she should be able to maintain her menu in a single place. Anytime a change occurs, an update is made across the web. Even better, if someone “likes” a dish or tells his or her friends about it, Jen should be able to track all this in one place. The idea for Locu was born.”

On Dec. 10th I posted an article from Forbes about how restaurants are using technology to provide better customer service. Locu, is a Boston-based local business data provider helping restaurants (and other small businesses) use technology to reduce complexity and manage their businesses more efficiently, and improve customer experience.

Locu has built a sizable collection of restaurant menu data, and allows restaurant owners to take ownership of their Locu profiles to update price lists, specials, menus, and services. All updates made on the Locu profile will be made automatically on websites, mobile sites, mobile apps, Facebook pages, and in local search directories. Locu also provides low cost tools for restaurant to use to help them publish dynamic menus and price lists to their sites.

On Nov. 15th, as reported by TechCrunch here, Locu announced a notable partnership with OpenTable. According to the agreement, OpenTable’s menu data will now be powered by Locu, and restaurant owners will also be able to edit those menus in real time.

By allowing restaurants to efficiently update menus and prices across various platforms, Locu will help ensure much needed consistency of menus across sites. If you have ever gone to a restaurant after looking at the menu on Yelp, and found out that what you wanted was unavailable, you will also understand that this service will greatly improve customer experience.

Articles about Locu:

  1. Locu Seeks to Unlock the Power of the Mobile Web for Local Businesses
  2. Locu Launches to Merchants: Now Local Businesses Can Update Once To Publish Prices to Web, Mobile & Facebook

More Information:

Winners and Losers In The Last-Second Economy – Forbes

Winners and Losers In The Last-Second Economy – Forbes. – James Slavet, a partner at venture capital firm Greylock 

“The very best of these apps will occupy permanent real estate on consumers’ phones, and will have high repeat usage. They’ll have your credit card on file, and you’ll be able to book with addictive ease. The best will deliver experiences that deliver utility (my ride shows up on time) with just the right sprinkling of magic (my favorite Pandora station is already playing when I open the car door). These apps will each be a form of vertical wallet in key areas for the consumer, including gifting, ticketing and live entertainment, transportation, dining and others. The startups that succeed will have capabilities that extend beyond pure front-end software development, including logistics, inventory optimization and distributed workforce management.”

 

Starbucks’ Secret Weapon – Forbes

Starbucks' Secret Weapon - Forbes

Starbucks’ Secret Weapon – Forbes.

“[Michelle Gass] led Starbucks in a new direction in 1996 by making a huge success of Frappuccino, now a $2 billion brand. She ran the company’s big turnaround for Chief Executive Howard Schultz after he returned to the top job in 2008. She led Starbucks to triumph in the usually reviled world of instant coffee with the introduction of VIA in 2009. Now she’s going to run Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the company.”

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from intrapreneurs who have built thriving brands and products within large, established organizations. Michelle Gass built Frappuccino into a $2 billion brand by taking a clouds down approach to the business and asking her team to think about how big the Frappuccino business could be. She ultimately created a platform with tens of thousands of possible flavor combinations. Next, Gass challenged the status quo by moving Starbucks into instant coffee with VIA. Most recently, she took the helm of Seattle’s Best Coffee and expanded to 50,000 distribution points from 3,000, while cutting 40% of its line of packaged coffees.

Clouds Down: A term l learned while working for Yum! Brands. It implies taking a step back, seeing the big picture and setting expectations high, and then developing the specific milestones to achieve a vision. Large companies often get stuck in cycles of incremental change or “business as usual”. A clouds down strategy can help lead to step-change results.

Lessons: 

  • Look for big ideas: She pitted fresh-brewed Starbucks against VIA instant to see if customers could tell the difference.
  • Be disruptive: She concentrated Seattle’s Best’s packaged coffee line to 5 core coffee types and took the packaging from traditional coffee-brown to bright teals, reds, and oranges. “As a small brand you’ve got to be disruptive,” she says.
  • Stay close to the details: “To create something sustainable, you have to be close to the details…As an engineer I use facts and data, but it’s about seeing inside them.”

The Google-Funded Drones That Hunt Illegal Hunters | Fast Company

The Google-Funded Drones That Hunt Illegal Hunters | Fast Company.

“When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) wanted to fight animal poachers–illegal hunters of wildlife–they decided to bring in an unorthodox weapon: Drones. But these drones were different from the killer Predators of public imagination. Instead, they were unarmed, superlightweight, and users launch them by throwing them into the air–in fact, they are heavily modified model aircraft.”

 

How Restaurants Are Using Technology to Deliver Better Customer Service – Forbes

How Restaurants Are Using Technology to Deliver Better Customer Service - Forbes

How Restaurants Are Using Technology to Deliver Better Customer Service – Forbes.

“Consumers want to see the new technology they use integrated into their dining experience, a new study from Technomic on consumer-facing technology shows, especially if it will speed up the process of getting their meal or paying their bill.”

Trends:

  • Mobile Ordering
  • iPad Order Kiosks
  • Facebook Ordering
  • Tabletop E-waiter & Checkout
  • Digital Menuboards & Smarphones
  • Games while-u-wait
  • Online Coupons

A Smart Tattoo For Medical Sensing And Athletic Performance | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation

A Smart Tattoo For Medical Sensing And Athletic Performance | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation

A Smart Tattoo For Medical Sensing And Athletic Performance | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and University of Toronto have come up with a lightweight, transferable tattoo that easily sticks to the skin, and barely troubles the wearer. Inside are a set of ion-selective electrodes that register the pH or salt levels of the skin, as well as traces of potassium, sodium, and magnesium.”

Inspiring Entrepreneurship

Venture for America | Mobilizing Graduates as Entrepreneurs

Andrew Yang is changing the landscape of America by connecting emerging start-ups and early-stage companies in depressed cities, including Detroit, Providence and New Orleans, with the talent they need to grow their businesses and reinvigorate their communities. Yang’s organization Venture for America (VFA), modeled after Teach for America (TFA), hopes to create 100,000 new jobs by 2025. The VFA business model is terrific because it gives students hands-on experience in an entrepreneurial environment, and allows them to apply their education to help revitalize neighborhoods and provide new jobs and opportunities for people without them. It also provides entrepreneurs with low cost access to high-quality labor and helps depressed cities compete with cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York for recent grads from top universities.

According to an article on forbes.com, over 1,000 students have applied for VFA fellowships and the first 7 of 50 fellows have been selected. Yang eventually wants to run a recruitment database and charge start-ups for access – brilliant.

This original post was written on 3/10/2012. On 12/3 Andrew Yang posted to the VFA blog that Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, and Downtown Project have pledged $1 million to VFA over the next several years to help revitalize downtown Las Vegas. This pledge is the largest VFA has received to date.

Lessons:

  • You do not have to start from scratch. Build on great ideas that are already working (VFA & TFA)

Other Links:

BioLite CampStove review | Digital Trends

BioLite camp stove review | Digital Trends.

The BioLite CampStove works by using thermoelectric technology. A thermoelectric generator converts the heat from the fire into electricity, allowing users to power most things that connect via USB while boiling water or cooking a meal. This would have been a lifesaver in areas hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. Click above to see product review on Digital Trends.

Four Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Sam Adams

Four Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Sam Adams | Fox Small Business Center.

“When I started, the economy was just coming out of a recession and no one knew were the American economy was going. It’s very similar to what’s happening today. But I believe there is always a place in this economy for a great product, made by passionate people, who don’t do a lot of dumb things in business.” – Jim Koch, The Boston Beer Company

Lessons:

  • Be patient: “it me took almost 12 years before Sam Adams was all over the U.S”
  • Protect your seed money:  “all we had were two car phones, and all of our accounting was done in shoe boxes”
  • Do what you love: “passion sustains”
  • Put your product first: “be the best at what you are doing”

Companies mentioned: