I had lunch recently with my good friend and local entrepreneurial legend Ching-Ho Fung. Ching-Ho was the Chairman of Parature until the recent sale to Microsoft in January for $100 million. We were both in a reflective mood and discussed the state of entrepreneurship in the DC region. I was struck how much is happening in support of entrepreneurship.
Along those lines, I attended a DC I-Corps event on 3/28 on the recommendation of Jim Chung, the Executive Director of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer for George Washington University. DC I-Corps is a regional program designed to foster, grow and nurture an innovation ecosystem in the nation’s capital, the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia, and the mid-Atlantic region. It is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and jointly run by the University of Maryland College Park, George Washington University, and Virginia Tech.
The event featured presentations by four “teams” who are graduating to the next phase of the program and will/may become ventures one day soon. Keep an eye out for ToxFix, ReadAhead, SmartPupilometer and RedShred. All four look promising because they address real-world problems. It’s part of the “Evidence Based Entrepreneurship” concept taught within the program. I was particularly fascinated with RedShred as their RFP response solution is based on natural language processing techniques … something I have blogged about many times. It’s a great example of a burgeoning Cognitive Computing solution.
Interestingly … the definition of a start-up by the I-Corps program is “A temporary organization designed to search for a scalable repeatable business model”. I love this concept since it teaches entrepreneurs to find problems first that they can then address with a solution (and it’s value) before anything else. It’s the right model.
I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where some product manager is trying to apply the “every problem looks like a nail if you are a hammer” mentality. That’s the wrong model. Additionally, many entrepreneurs think the first thing they need to do to find venture capital. There is a place for that but it’s not first.
I-Corps has gotten it right. From what I can tell, this looks like a good program for anyone with an idea, or invention, to get started on the right foot. In recent years, all of the local universities seem to be been expanding their focus on entrepreneurship.
The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland have certainly expanded their offerings. Next for them is the 2014 Cupid’s Cup Business Competition.
I plan to attend that one as well … and hope to see you there. I also plan to blog more on both entrepreneurship (as well as intrapreneurship) going forward … so stop back soon.
As always, leave me your thoughts and comments below.