Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Securities and Your Business: An Overview for Beginners

As an entrepreneur with a great new idea, probably one of the last things you want to hear when you’re raising money is: “Oh, and we also need to make sure you’re compliant with securities laws.” It’s yet another hurdle to clear on your way to bringing your idea to market. You know you’re supposed to care about it, but you may wonder how it really has anything to do with your business. 

Let’s break it down: Does your business use other people’s money? If the answer is yes, then securities laws likely apply. 

What is a “security” anyway? This is actually a complicated question that courts have grappled with over the years. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Digital Health Startups: How IT (and IP) Entrepreneurs Are Redefining Health care

From virtual care platforms and digital therapies to wearable health devices and precision medicine, digital health startups are creating innovative products designed to change the face of health care. 

As these startups are increasingly seen as opportunities to help reduce costs and increase process efficiencies and revenues for consumers, health care practitioners, and service providers, hospitals and medical institutions are shifting from partnerships with academic institutions to investing in and partnering with tech startups. A couple of examples:

  • Children’s Medical Center in Dallas is one of the first children’s organizations to adopt a new digital health pill created by Proteus Digital Health, a Silicon Valley-based startup. It also acquired interest in another health startup called Mend, which provides a service that delivers high-quality, on-demand urgent medical care to your doorstep.
  • Boston Children’s Hospital, which has teamed up with startup accelerator Rock Health to advise companies for the pediatric market, has also produced some promising digital health startups, including Act.md, providing a collaboration technology platform for patients and health care providers, and Epidemico, a health analytics company.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Entrepreneurial Musings from the Farmers Market

I love to spend my Saturday mornings at the farmers market. I load up on fresh produce for the week and discover sights, smells, and tastes to inspire my cooking. Last week was National Farmers Market Week, and communities across the country celebrated their local farmers markets. The market for locally-grown food has seen dramatic growth over the last decade, and farmers markets across the country continue to grow. There are over 8,500 farmers markets across the country—50% more than there were only five years ago. Farmers market growth is great for the local food movement, which supports our local economy and provides a launching pad for entrepreneurs. 


On a recent visit to the Mill City Farmers Market, I found a moment to take in the experience and was struck by some entrepreneurial themes. The farmers market is a lively gathering place, where growers and eaters interact, bustling with social and economic activity.  The exchange at a farmers market is such a pure and simple form of commerce. Growers and food artisans build relationships when they communicate with customers, suggesting cooking techniques and sharing the story behind their products. There’s an energy at a farmers market that makes shopping feel like a special occasion and a joyful adventure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

So Why Have I Crossed Some Words Out?

The 2016 Summer Olympics are upon us – this time in Rio de Janeiro.  The build-up to these Games has been focused as much on concerns over Rio’s readiness, the Zika virus, terrorist threats, contaminated water and the Russian doping scandal, as on the athletes who will be participating and probable medal contenders.  But as the Games open, I become giddy with anticipation – not just for the events, but the back stories of individual athletes and teams—and for the advertising.

Major sporting events bring out some of the best in creativity, but ads associated with the Olympic Games often have the added characteristics of emotion, pathos and goodwill that make them particularly appealing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Little, Brown and Company, 2013).

Here’s some advice a mentor gave me early in my career: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I cannot count the number of times, and in how many different contexts, perceived superiority has masked vulnerabilities.

I thought about this as I read Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent work, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsI am a fan of Gladwell’s work, including this book, but this one has not been as well-received as his earlier efforts.  This might be because his previous books explored concepts that were truly counter-intuitive, but this one really covers something that everyone, if they would only stop and think, already knows to be true—how we often misconstrue what is an advantage or a disadvantage. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Privacy Shield: A New Tool for Transferring Personal Data From EU

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about a very public bet I made with Bill McGeveran, a University of Minnesota law professor. As detailed, in front of over 150 lawyers I bet that there was no way that the European Court of Justice would ever invalidate the EU-US safe harbor, relied upon by over 4000 American businesses to transfer personal data from the EU to the US. 

This popular program, which had been in existence for over 15 years, allowed businesses to self-certify compliance with the US Department of Commerce regarding certain privacy policies and procedures. Professor McGeveran bet the European Court would invalidate this popular program. On October 6, 2015 the European Court of Justice invalidated the EU-US safe harbor framework.  Bill and I enjoyed a nice lunch at Mission American Kitchen. I paid.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Nod to Behind-the-Scenes Workers

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to score incredible seats to Disney’s live stage musical, The Lion King. It was a fantastic production and I highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance! I marveled at the vocals, the set, the mechanical stage tricks, the lighting, and especially the animals.  Life-sized elephants and giraffes, flying birds, laughing hyenas, running antelope, and even a rhinoceros (!) on stage, in the aisles, in the balconies – it was mind-blowing!  

After the performance, I posted some pictures on Facebook, and learned through a comment that a friend had actually been working behind the scenes, handling male costume changes all night! I think the biggest compliment I can give this friend is that I actually forgot he was there.  Everything looked so flawless that it was easy to get caught up in the magic and forget that there were real people walking around on the giraffes’ four stilt legs, making the hyenas’ necks crane around as they laughed, and thrusting Scar’s lion head forward whenever he got angry.