Showing posts from June, 2010

Mentor Day at Excelerate Labs

Company founders are the lifeblood of our economy. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times recently wrote a piece talking about the relationship between net new jobs and startups. "Here’s my fun fact for the day, provided courtesy of Robert Litan, who directs research at the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in promoting innovation in America: 'Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by firms that were 5 years old or less,' said Litan. 'That is about 40 million jobs. That means the established firms created no new net jobs during that period.'” Everyone has noticed that the startup community here in Chicago is growing. The online success of GroupOn has brought about some positive attention. This year we saw the launch of three new incubator type groups - Lightbank , Scalewell , and Excelerate Labs . Sam Yagan, founder of OK Cupid , launched Excelerate Labs using what he describes as a "mentorship model&quo

Out teach your competition

At Inventables, we believe that when it comes to trying to sell your product, educating customers is more effective than interrupting them. Traditional advertisers and marketers use the model of interruption to get people to buy their products. Interrupting with cold calls, interrupting with TV ads, interrupting with magazine ads, the approach is to insert the advertisement for their product in something else that their potential customer is interested in. We believe the internet has made it possible to end these interruptions. Interruptions are not pleasant, and they lower our productivity. Google Adwords has made the most significant dent in ending these interruptions. Thanks to Adwords, rather than interrupting a TV show to tell the masses about a new camera, Canon can instead target a customer who is actually in the process of researching and buying a camera online. The customer clicks on the ad and has an opportunity to learn about the product. From my own experience, I tend

Dog Food Tastes Good

At Inventables, we are all about eating our own dog food! If you know what I am talking about, great. If you think this is gross, read on for clarification... Dogfooding means a company uses the product that it makes. At Inventables, we create team exercises where we use the Inventables materials site like a customer would in order to learn what is missing or broken so that we can improve the quality and usability. For our first Dogfooding experience, we teamed up with popcorn company - Popcorn Palace, located in Chicago. We wanted to test what it was like to use the Inventables website as a popcorn container designer. Would our site be a good resource for them to find new materials that would enhance the look and function of their popcorn containers? Initially, we decided to visit Popcorn Palace facility to get into the mind-set of the Popcorn designer . After touring the plant, speaking with their team and eating a lot of popcorn Inventables felt we could help them find some ex