Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Minnesota’s Ban on Employment Non-Competes

Non-compete provisions have long been a staple of employment agreements in most companies, especially smaller, start-up ventures where it is more likely for the average employee to have access to the company’s “secret sauce” as part of their day-to-date duties. While protections on the “secret sauce” itself are not changing, mechanisms whereby a company might prevent employees, or independent contractors, from going to work for a company’s direct competitor the day after handing in their company access badge have all but disappeared, thanks to a recent spending bill that was passed by the Minnesota legislature.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

A Review of Summertime Inventions

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of Summer. As we start preparing for picnics and barbeques, outdoor concerts, trips to the beach or days at the pool, I thought it would be fun to review some interesting inventions and innovations that often evoke childhood memories of summers past. In this prior post from December 2021, I took a nostalgic look at some of the toys and games we grew up with and examined the patents behind those innovations, including U.S. Patent No. 3,359,678, issued on December 26, 1967, for Wham-O Manufacturing Co.’s “Flying Saucer,” modelled after pie tins manufactured by the Frisbie Pie Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Wham-O’s flying discs, of course, are known as Frisbees, which are perfect for a nice summer day at the park.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Power of Finding your Community on Twitter

What if I told you that a place existed where you could interact with hundreds of entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants, bankers, investors and more, all from your seat on the couch? In that same place, these people share ideas, tips, and stories from their years of experience. And the best part—you can gain access to this vast base of knowledge at your fingertips, and all for free. That place is Twitter, and no matter what business or industry you’re in, you’ll likely find that there is a Twitter community catering to it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Rinker Buck, Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure (Simon & Schuster, 2022)

In an effort to be timely and topical, I thought about writing something about the coronation of the new titular leader of our closest ally, but—let’s face it—this subject is of limited interest except to the most devoted Anglophile. And, aside from commenting on the huge amount of capital that must have been expended in this exercise, there wasn’t much I could think of in relation to this event that has instructive or inspirational entrepreneurial overtones.

So I turn instead to a story of plain old American ingenuity. In the early days of the American republic, soon after we had overthrown the shackles of colonial status and our allegiance to this leader’s ancestor, the distance between nascent agricultural settlements and trade ports considerably hindered economic development. It didn’t take long, though, for those on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains to discover that they could use rivers as an economical way to float goods to market in New Orleans via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Even the flatboats used for this purpose themselves generated revenue: after arriving at market, they would be disassembled and the wood sold or repurposed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Next Up in the Tank – Lessons from Watching the “Sharks”

Acknowledging up front that “Shark Tank” is not exactly breaking news (the show premiered in 2009 and one of the other authors of entreVIEW wrote a post about it back in 2014), I still like to point out how helpful it can be to entrepreneurs, even those who don’t make it into the “Tank”. In initial consultations with start-ups and early-stage companies looking to raise capital, I often bring up Shark Tank and the lessons that can be learned from watching it (I generally recommend casual viewing – my husband can watch for hours, which drives me crazy).

Seriously – learn from watching often-hapless people pitch often-ridiculous products and concepts to a bunch of millionaire/billionaires, frequently subject to brutal ridicule? Actually, entrepreneurs can incorporate many lessons from the show when making their own pitches to potential real-life investors.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Using AI to Create “Creative” Works

I have previously written on this blog about the intersection of entrepreneurship and the creative arts, in particular the copyright considerations that businesses must consider when creating or re-using media. The skyrocketing interest over the past year in artificial intelligence-driven content (aspects of which were covered in recent posts by Alex and Brandi) has led to some exciting but also concerning developments in how we think about creating and protecting media.

 It is now possible to ask a machine learning-powered tool to create an essay or a painting and to receive somewhat convincing results. On the one hand, these developments have been criticized as devaluing the contributions of legitimate human artists. On the other, proponents have argued that these AI tools provide creative services that some people or businesses could not otherwise afford or access.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Jurassic World Dominion (Universal Pictures, 2022)

What better way to pass a snowy March evening with family and friends than to take in a movie about dinosaurs and errant scientists?*

Frankly, that’s pretty much all I took away from the film. As with previous iterations in this franchise, the entertainment value is in the special effects (which, admittedly, are quite good). The story itself may be most charitably characterized as formulaic.

So what’s the formula? Start with an astounding scientific breakthrough. Make it something that could have massive practical implications. Put it into the hands of a large, faceless corporate entity led by a charismatic yet ostensibly non-threatening genius who, alas, has ulterior motives driven by greed. And someone’s life has be put in danger by the machinations of the evil capitalist.