Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tom Ortman – Solar Energy Entrepreneurs Network (SEEN)

I met with Tom Ortman of Concurrent Design who recently started the Solar Energy Entrepreneurs Network (SEEN) along with Paul Ballentine of Freescale to foster networking among those working in the solar energy space in Austin and Central Texas.
They recently held their first meeting and received a greater than expected turnout -- over 150 attendees. Tom’s initiative catalyzes the discussion by focusing on solar energy issues and connecting people together to form and progress their business in this area. Tom plans to run meetings regular next year and is currently surveying the group to identify the needs.
There’s ample room for innovation in the area of solar energy. I recently tried to have a solar panel array installed on my residence. A 3.2Kw system goes for $22K but a rebate from the city cuts that price in half. And there’s also a $2K federal income tax credit on top of that. Unfortunately, my house had too much tree shading to make it worthwhile. In the end, I went with two solar powered attic fans ($700 each) that cut my electric bill by almost $100/month in the summer. I’m quite happy about that. In the area of solar energy p anels, I can see a number of areas in packaging, installation, and maintenance that could benefit from innovation.
Best regards,
Hall T.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Joshua Shipsey – An Entrepreneur Now on the Other Side of the Table

From time to time, CTAN receives a member with an entrepreneur background. Recently, Joshua Shipsey joined the group. Joshua has a background in industrial engineering and now has his own business. Over coffee the other day he commented how angels look at deals differently from entrepreneurs. Joshua came to our last presentation meeting and saw the four deals presented and then witnessed the questions the angels asked.

Entrepreneurs look at the possibilities of the business while angels tend to focus on the risks remaining to be solved. The presentation format gives the entrepreneur just 10 to 15 minutes to cover all the major points of the business – management team, product, target market, competition, financials, funds sought, exit strategy just to name a few. Some entrepreneurs would like to spend more time on the product/service they offer, but the angel is seeking to identify the risks remaining in the deal and how to solve them.

I thought this was a particularly useful insight.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chuck Besondy – The Mad Scientist of Marketing

I had coffee today with Chuck Besondy who is a fellow blogger who writes the One Riot—One Ranger blog. He is currently co-writing a book called “Leadership On-Demand” which is about utilizing interim staff for sales and marketing management functions. This also helps for high workload seasons, filling gaps in the skills set, or when key people leave. The work is based on 20 interviews with CEOs.

One of the more interesting projects Chuck has done is director of marketing for the Austin Wranglers. He put together the marketing plan for ticket sales and sponsors. He’s also worked with David Altounian’s iTaggit and performed the initial market validation and market sizing.
As for market sizing, Chuck described his work at Boxx Technologies which serves the film and video industry. Chuck took the total available market and calculated the serviceable market by looking at the number of studios, number of projects per studio, and brand loyalty among other factors to get down to a much tighter number.

Chuck is called by some the “Mad Scientist” of marketing as he brings unusual rigor to the process of setting up sales/marketing funnels. This is a favorite topic of mine since I’ve seen how powerful it can be in galvanizing the resources of a company. A sales funnel essentially divides up the suspects (no interest but potential customers), prospects (interested potential customers) and customers (those who actually bought the product) and maps the steps one goes through from one stage to the next and even models how many go through the process.

Best regards,
Hall T.