Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bill Hulsey of Hulsey IP Law Talks about Patent Protection Internationally

Bill Hulsey of Hulsey IP Law Talks about Patent Protection Internationally

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee.

What university did you go to?

I attended Rhodes College to receive a degree in theoretical mathematics. Then, I joined the U.S. Navy to train in its Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program and then serve as a submarine officer in the construction and deployment of Fast Attack nuclear submarines. I later obtained a masters degree in economics from the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I focused on the economic factors causing entrepreneurial companies to aggregate in places like Austin, Palo Alto, and the Boston Route 128 Corridor. Finally, I received a law degree from the Vanderbilt School of Law in Nashville, Tennessee with the intention to serve entrepreneurial businesses. These days I find myself at many universities teaching IP and entrepreneurial classes.

What brought you to Austin?

I was an associate at the Baker & Botts law firm and
wanted to come down to Austin to start that firm’s IP practice and to serve entrepreneurial companies in Austin. That was back in 1993. Since then, I have continued to work here, starting my own firm in late 2002.

What is your passion and strength?

My passion is to help companies succeed in an IP-intensive and competitive marketplace. I believe that I and the other IP professionals in our firm have a special focus and ability to serve entrepreneurial and emerging growth companies. Our strong technical capabilities—all of us are first electrical, nuclear, biomedical engineers or physicists—give us the ability to communicate at technologically deep levels with your clients. I have a very strong passion and strength, I believe, in helping young engineers and law school graduates become practicing and highly competent IP professionals. All of this is about growth and development.

What need does it fulfill?

Well, I would say that my passion and strength in focusing on growth and development allow me to take a long view in the service of our clients as we participate in the ups and downs of their entrepreneurial efforts. It also allows me to take a long view with young professionals and to be proud of their many achievements as they prosper and grow.

What exactly do you bring to startups?

Over twenty-five years of working with startup companies and over thirty years of working with some of the most technologically complex technologies of the day. I also bring a deep desire to see our clients achieve their market objectives. I also bring a team of young and aspiring professionals committed to seeing their clients well served.

What type of startup would benefit from your strengths?

A startup seeking to commercialize a technology in one of the fields of energy technologies and applications, bioscience and biotechnologies, electronics devices and systems, environmental technologies and processes, software/Internet technologies and processes, or aerospace technologies. These are IP-intensive companies, generally, and are a good fit for our law practice. Over the years we have been of significant service to companies in these fields to develop IP assets and navigate IP situations as they enter, grow and mature in these markets.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?

I think that from a legal services point of view, startup companies have a need to protect two things. They need to protect their IP, but they also very frequently or generally need to protect their checkbook. Protecting their IP generally calls for obtaining patent filing dates as early as possible and as inexpensively as possible. But, they should plan for IP expenses to grow as the company grows and becomes more successful. This growth, however, should track or match the revenue that the company generates from selling its products and services and licensing its technology. Keeping this relationship between IP investment and company revenue in “right relation” is an ongoing challenge, but well worth the effort.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Use the domestic and international IP systems. These systems and the laws that support them are established and operated for their benefit. The state and national governments know that entrepreneurs power our national economy. They have made sure that the IP systems serve their needs. Because of this, entrepreneurs need to know what is in place for them and how to avail themselves of these business tools. Also, check out the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office tutorials, as well as those of the World IP Organization and the European Patent Office. These are on the respective websites and can be of immense benefit to company business and technical leaders.

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

I think that two resources in Austin are most valuable for entrepreneurs. They are different, but very tightly connected.
One is our amazing University of Texas. There is not enough time to discuss all that UT does to support entrepreneurs and business here in Austin. But, the IC2 Institute, TechLabs, the MSTC Program, ATI, and all of the technical and professional schools support the local, state, and national economies. This resource in the heart of Austin is great treasure.

The other resource is our excellent Austin Chamber of Commerce. The work of Mike Rollins, Susan Davenport, and Erika Sumner, as well as a large number of other Chamber staff and volunteers, make economic development in Austin the envy of the nation. You know, Austin was named the second most innovative city in the U.S. last year and frequently wins many other such awards or recognitions.

The University of Texas and The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce play important roles in our being so recognized.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Craig Berlin of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance Gives an Update on the Film Industry in Texas

Craig Berlin of Texas Motion Picture Alliance Gives an Update on the Film Industry in Texas

The Texas Legislature convenes this year with a problem that is not unusual if you look around the country but it is unusual for Texas: a budget shortfall as high as $27 billion. Since Texas cannot deficit spend as the Federal government does, the winds of cutting spending are blowing through Austin with the same hurricane force we hear about Washington, D.C. With so much on the chopping block including every conceivable hurtful sacrifice from closing schools to cutting mental health programs to ending some kinds of aid to victims of child abuse, nothing is sacred. To almost anyone then, ending incentives for film, video and video game producers ought to be a no-brainer.

While conservative “fiscally responsible” think tanks certainly toot that horn and a number of other economic development funds are being targeted, since 2006 it has been the job of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance ( to educate and inform the public and the Legislature that decreasing funding for the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program will have the opposite of its intended effect, costing the State hundreds of millions of dollars in business and tax revenue and sending jobs elsewhere.

Programs in other states are justifiably being cut not just due to the prevailing mentality but because overly generous and corrupt programs full of loopholes cost their states more money than they made. Seeing that, along with misinformation, has fueled a public and legislative appetite for cutting all programs back.

However, the facts have been largely overlooked or distorted and sometimes overshadowed by outright falsehoods. The truth is that Texas went from being the Third Coast to an afterthought when other states began offering incentives, and when places such as Louisiana went from $20 million in production in 2002 to $620 million four years later, the Texas production community knew something had to be done. The TXMPA was created in a near-panic to effect change and has worked closely with IATSE, the labor union for production crewpeople, to create a conservative but effective program which has brought in over $600 million in production spending since its inception and created thousands of jobs, resulting in tremendous trickle-down spending and tax revenue benefitting every man, woman and child in Texas. It is noteworthy as well that without the program, much of this business would have gone elsewhere. Prison Break, which stayed in Dallas for its third season (the second in Texas), did so primarily because of our new and improved incentive program.

The budget, economic development, incentives and the ancillary subjects are complicated but one thing is for certain: the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program brought jobs and business BACK to Texas and prevented others from leaving – all with a closely scrutinized process that requires that producers come to Texas, spend money and provide documentation of that spending before they get one red cent back. If and when they are eligible they must do due diligence and their grants are structured in a way that benefits both the producers and the State. Our program was designed from the beginning to rely on Texas being a great place to produce on its own so we will never have to give away the farm. However, we do need the program to have adequate funding or once again, the industry will go elsewhere to work.

For more information on the importance of the program please visit our website at If you would like to speak to a representative of the Board, please contact us or Hall Martin, who can put you in touch with someone. The TXMPA is a 100% volunteer non-profit organization and we are desperately in need of financial support to help preserve this program, which in turn generates hundreds of millions of dollars for Texas workers and other worthy government programs facing huge cuts. Please contact us to learn how you can help.

Craig Berlin is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in Plan II, the Liberal Arts Honors Program and Radio-TV-Film. He has operated audio-visual production and support company Take 5, Inc. dba/Pro-Tape since 1986 and is a founding Board Member and former treasurer of the TXMPA.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bob Dipasquale of HumorQ Talks about His Startup

Bob Dipasquale of HumorQ Talks about His Startup

Where are you from originally?

I was the youngest of six children in my family and I was born in Buffalo, New York in 1960. It was a bit of a bumpy start since my dad died when I was three of heart disease, and my mom died when I was 10 from cancer. Soon afterwards, my brothers and I went to live with my oldest sister in Vermont. I continued to start my own family there until November 2006 when we moved to Round Rock. I’m guessing that’s the longest, saddest, and most complicated answer you’ve ever gotten for that question.

What university did you go to?

I guess I want to add to the short list of successful people that didn’t go. I worked as a co-op for IBM when I was in high school, and soon after graduating I got a job in their manufacturing area. I taught myself some software skills, and now after 32 years with them, I’m working remote as an application developer and release engineer for their semiconductor plant in Burlington Vermont. I’ve learned a lot more than software of course by being an IBMer.

What brought you to Austin?

A good Google Earth shot right about now would tell that story best. Winter is long and brutal there and my wife and I really enjoy warm weather. The sister that acted as my guardian ended up here and her grown children and families are here too. Housing, college for my teenage girls, and opportunity are big additional reasons that made Austin a great choice.

What is the idea behind your startup?

I’ve always had a side of me that enjoys writing comedy. One of the ways I enjoy exercising those muscles is to participate in caption contests. I really started to get disappointed though at some of the winners and finalists being selected, so I put on my application developer hat and built one myself. It uses a selection method I call crowd-sifting where members judge other members, and the best rise to the top. As I developed it, I realized we can provide feedback for every captioner, and actually put a reasonable metric on how funny someone is. So does just that.

What need does it fulfill?

A lot of people would say they don’t need to put a number on how funny they are. There’s still a lot of people that say they don’t need to put a number on how smart they are either. But, there’s a large population of people that are curious and want to know. If we can create a widely accepted humorq, we’ve established a valuable metric for many industries involving creativity and humor.

What exactly does your product do?

HumorQ measures two things for a member, the popularity of their captions, and their ability to recognize popular captions when they are judging the captions of others. It uses an algorithm that calculates and maintains a humorq for each member which is a number between 1 and 200. I’ve built it such that your humorq requires maintenance. Just because you we’re funny last year, doesn’t mean you’re funny now.

Who is it for?

It’s for creative directors, advertising executives, script writers, greeting card writers, singles, bored housewives, and everyone with a handheld device and five minutes for a creative exercise.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?

I would use the word ‘is’ rather than ‘was’. I’ve built a working prototype, and a very modest membership base, but I’m finding the most challenging part to be building a team.

What is the next step for you and your startup?

Building a team is the obvious next step, and as I mentioned a significant challenge. I think there are probably many readers that see the merit and potential of this idea. At the same time, they see the captain of the ship with no degree, no startup experience, and oh yeah … no money, and their better judgment sends them in another direction. I need to find equity partners that can fill those significant voids. I need person(s) that are smart enough to know that most ideas are dead without the right team, but that there are some ideas that quite frankly don’t deserve to be dead. I’m ready to give up all but control in exchange for a team of people that can put this together with me and bring the capital needed to get going. Meet with me, and I’ll show you my business plan and that I have what it takes to grow this idea with the right teammates and vendors. So visit the web site , and contact me (Bob DiPasquale) by email

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Simply said. Don’t give up.

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

I took the Startup Business Class offered by the Austin Entrepreneur Network. It was extremely eye opening, and I made some significant contacts there. It taught me about the many facets and levels of startups, and exposed me to a group of people all nurturing ideas at different steps along the journey. I’m very grateful for what that experience extended to me.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Terry Chase Hazell Talks about RampCorp

Terry Chase Hazell Talks about RampCorp

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from Pottstown Pennsylvania, then home of Mrs. Smith’s pies. We used to throw plastic army men into the pumpkin trucks as they went under the climbing tree in the front of our house. I still look for those men in pumpkin pies. I moved to Maryland in High School and lived in Maryland until I moved to Georgetown Texas in 2008.

What university did you go to?

I went to the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP). I almost became a life-time Terp!

My internship in High School was with Martek Biosciences Corporation and they did work at the scale-up facility at UMCP. I went to UMCP as an undergrad, then managed their scale-up facility through graduate school, then started a spin-out company from UMCP, married a professor of UMCP (not one of mine!), moved my company into the incubator at UMCP, became a UMCP CCLS Board of visitor member, my kids went to the UMCP preschool, I spoke at commencement, I started a second company at UMCP….finally decided 20 years was enough and moved to Texas.

What brought you to Austin?

We wanted to relocate within Maryland, but I met some Texans at NIH and they told me of the “magical” entrepreneurial environment in Texas. I didn’t think “entrepreneurship” when I thought of Texas, so I visited to check it out. I loved Austin, but wanted to be a little bit out of town. My husband pointed at the map and said “check out this Georgetown”. I did and loved Georgetown’s mixture of small town feel but high-tech spirit. So we moved to Georgetown.

What is your group’s mission?

We aim to increase the number of women-led growth companies through-out Texas. Texas State RampCorp Austin provides training and coaching for women who are or who want to be running a scalable business.

What need does it fulfill?

Texas State RampCorp provides women with specialized coaching, and an access to network of men and women to learn knowledge and skills to more successfully scale their businesses. Also, we offer women the opportunity to gain support from other women building big businesses but starting small. Often women find themselves to be the only one in a group for scalable or technology entrepreneurship—we provide dozens of peers.

What exactly does it bring to startups?

Often our members have not started a business and they launch in the program. Start-ups that have already launched learn methods to lead, connect, fund and scale their business.

We teach 16 “Ramps” toward scaling your business. These Ramps include 8 knowledge and 8 skills that all entrepreneurs, especially women need to be successful. Check out our list of resources for one of our Ramps at

We offer lots of one-on one coaching and access to our expanded networking. Check out the team of investors, inventors and entrepreneurs providing help…

We offer women “sponsorship”—meaning we get them connected with people and organizations they need to know and we advocate for them. Once such organization is Springboard Enterprises that has helped women raise $5 Billion.

See some of the quotes from women helped by our team…

What type of startup would benefit from your group?

We’re looking for startups led by a CEO with the determination to grow the company beyond her own labor, to serve a national or international market, to choose a scalable business model and to generate economic value for her and her company’s stakeholders.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the initiative?

The most challenging aspect of launching in Texas was finding a University brave enough to bet on training for women entrepreneurs to launch scalable and emerging technology ventures. It was also challenging to branch away from the ACTiVATE program. Although challenging, both items worked out great.
RampCorp is a program of Texas State University and I don’t think we could have found a better place to grow. Texas State funded the program and not only continues to support it, but has expanded all commercialization efforts. Texas State is agile, hungry for connection with companies and forward thinking. I may like the Bobcats better than my Terps now—but don’t tell.

I came to Texas with the idea to run the ACTiVATE program just like the University of Maryland Baltimore County program where I taught. I led the first expansion out of Maryland and used the name with permission from UMBC. I found we needed to make so many changes to fit Texas that what is now RampCorp didn’t fit the vision of the ACTiVATE program—so we branched away. ACTiVATE is a great program and continues in Texas and is now expanding in many other locations outside of Maryland.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

For women, to realize that we do often think and learn differently and to seek entrepreneurship training and support to understand those differences, optimize differences that are strengths and improve where differences hurt competitiveness. At the same time, remember your network is your greatest asset and spend the time to build and maintain it.

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

Number 1 is certainly Texas State!

Coining Austin as the Human Capital is very apt. I found the people to be the best resource. Robin Curle, the “Galaxy of Entrepreneurship” has been a change agent, leading instructor and champion for our program. The Austin Chamber was immensely helpful and introduced me to resources, connected me and helped find a “home” for the training program. Terapio and Curt Bilby helped me get connected and provided some temporary employment as I transitioned. The entrepreneurship scene stewards group and Bijoy’s great map of entrepreneurship scene is a model for many cities. So I guess those Texans at NIH were right—“magical”.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Austin Venture's AV Hours -- A First Look

I encourage startups to meet with investors well before they go out to raise funding to understand better the investors criteria and to build a relationship. Many investors want to see how well the entrepreneur executes on their plan so it's best to take the investor on the journey with you. By the time you go out to raise funding you should have 20 to 30 investors who you are keeping up to date on your progress.

One investor to consider is Austin Ventures. They have dedicated a portion of their fund to early stage, emerging technology companies. Last year they funded Spredfast.

The February 22nd "AV Entrepreneur Hours" event is coming up. To join you can email them at, and give a brief description of your new project. Selected entrepreneurs will get a 20 minute time slot. By Friday the 18th, they will post or email the schedule for the meeting.

Best regards,
Hall T.