PhD-Plus Course @ UniPi

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39 sales techniques

Sales is hard to do and takes a lot of practice and adopting a few routines can help get into good sales habits.

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Review what an international pitch program considers important preparation.  It is only a small subset of what is needed to actually start and run a business and is mostly focused on what they think European investors want to hear and see.  It is worth studying all of these types of programs and building your own composite of what they look for.

Apr 2
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Business Model Template

Use this site to review example business models and to create one for your business as well.

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Ray Garcia and Riccardo Paterni discuss the joint MBA and PhD Plus entrepreneurship program for 2013 and the goal to submit viable business plans to the competition StartCUP Toscana.

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Your Brain on Behavioral Economics

Insightful infographic that captures in one place many of the cognitive biases that operate in our brains when making decisions.

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3D Printing of a Record

This is an outstanding test of the capabilities of 3D printing and a demonstrations of where are the limitations.  All the code is made available to reproduce the experiment.  The code is in processing and it converts to an STL file which is the input to a 3D printer.

Jan 9
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I Wanna Be a Famous Artist and Make Lots of Money

Lessons from the art world in how to not sell to galleries.   This is a nearly direct parallel to what entrepreneurs need to learn in selling to the market and to investors.   Reading the article one can substitute artist with entrepreneur and every point would be relevant.  It also illustrates why artist need to be entrepreneurs and possible why entrepreneurs need to think like artist to get the business off the ground.

Jan 5
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Tools for creating Infographs

An infograph is a single page of summarized information that is highly visually engaging and make use of charts, graphs, and visualizations to convey a message as a story.   The best ones have a narrative structure and commentary but are sparse with the textual explanations.

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Assessing a Business Model's Attractiveness

Bill Gurley, VC at Benchmark Capital list 10 traits of business models that warrant high valuations

  1. Sustainable competitive advantage
  2. Network effect
  3. Visibility and predictability
  4. Customer lock-in and high switching cost
  5. Gross margin levels
  6. Marginal profit calculation
  7. Customer concentration
  8. Low major partner dependencies
  9. Organic versus need for heavy marketing spend
  10. Fast growth
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Startup Algorithm?

Factors that improve the odds

  • “Pivots”: Tech entrepreneurs use this term to refer to the practice of trying out new ideas, shedding them quickly if they don’t catch on, and moving on to the next new thing. Founders have pivot at least once raise 2.5 times more money, have 3.6 times better user growth, and are 52 percent less likely to scale prematurely that did not pivoted at all or pivoted more than twice.
  • Team size: Solo founders take 3.6 times longer to reach scale stage compared to a founding team of two people or more.
  • Team dynamic: Balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30 percent more money, have 2.9 times more user growth, and are 19 percent less likely to scale prematurely than technical or business-heavy founding teams.

Factors that decrease the odds or don’t make a difference

  • Mentorship: Investors that provide hands-on help have little or no effect on the company’s operational performance
  • Super fast growth: The most likely reason for startup failure is premature scaling. Don’t invest in entrepreneurs that get ahead of themselves!
  • Experience of the founders: Successful founders are driven by impact, rather than experience or money.
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The reputation economy

The value of reputation is not a new concept to the online world: think star ratings on Amazon, PowerSellers on eBay or reputation levels on games such as World of Warcraft. The difference today is our ability to capture data from across an array of digital services. With every trade we make, comment we leave, person we “friend”, spammer we flag or badge we earn, we leave a trail of how well we can or can’t be trusted.

An aggregated online reputation having a real-world value holds enormous potential for sectors where trust is fractured: banking; e-commerce, where value is exponentially increased by knowing who someone really is; peer-to-peer marketplaces, where a high degree of trust is required between strangers; and where a traditional approach based on disjointed information sources is currently inefficient, such as recruiting.

The ten-step reputation plan

Want to be a trusted member of the online community? Follow these tips on building your reputation capital.

Be a maven - Demonstrate your knowledge on something — music, maths, movies — on MavenSay, Mahalo or StackExchange.

Get tagging - Use a platform such as to tag your strengths and make it easy for others to know at a glance what you can do.

Become super at something - Be a great host, runner, seller, renter, lender, in an online marketplace such as Airbnb, WhipCar or Zopa.

Build a portfolio - Make a note of references, ratings and reviews on various platforms that give a snapshot of your online value.

Collect trusted opinions - Ask people who know and trust you to write about your skills and trustworthiness on platforms such as LinkedIn.

Follow, like, befriend - Concentrate on building a deep social network on at least one platform. Interact, follow and “like” on a daily basis.

Review and recommend - Get your name out there: be active in writing reviews and vouching for friends and colleagues on a range of websites.

Monetise your profile - Build some kind of virtual currency account, whether it’s Linden Dollars, Gold Coins, IMVU or Facebook Credits.

Spring clean your reputation - Use a service such as or Veribo to clean up any misleading or false information about you.

Gain some social capital - Become an active part of your local community and demonstrate you are trustworthy in your personal life.

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European Startup Bootcamp

Startupbootcamp is a three month business startup acceleration program that runs quarterly during the year for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses across Europe to get ready for funding, launching and scaling to European and global markets. By locating startup teams to one of Startupbootcamp’s program offices in CopenhagenAmsterdamDublinMadridHaifa and Berlin, the accelerator focuses on exposing and connecting startups to an expanding community of key mentors and advisors that provide expertise from a multitude of verticals, industries and regions vital in growing a business. Take your startup to the next level with seed funding, mentorship & free co-working office space with Startupbootcamp and follow in the footsteps of fellow European startup successes such as Skype, XING, Spotify and SoundCloud.

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Angel Investors Do Make Money, Data Shows 2.5x Returns Overall

A research report on Angel investing reveals a few important things to note:

  1. In any ONE investment, an angel investor is more likely than not to lose their money, i.e. to earn less than a 1X return. It is risky. However, once investors had a portfolio of at least six investments, their median return exceeded 1X. Irving Ebert, of the Ottawa Angels, has done some outstanding Monte Carlo simulation with this data, finding that making near 50 investments approximates the overall return at the 95th percentile. Most investors will be somewhere in the middle, of course. Angel investors probably should look to make at least a dozen investments, but that’s just a rule of thumb. This is critical: Each investment has to be done as though it’s your only one; the bar can’t be lowered to enable you to more quickly build a bad portfolio.
  2. The production of cash is highly concentrated in winners; 90 percent of all the cash returns are produced by 10 percent of the exits. This is essentially the same concentration as in venture capital.  The next largest “bucket” of cash returns is in the high-volume, but low-multiple group, the 1X to 5X category.  It’s important to note, however, that it’s not exactly the same as formal venture capital. These returns happened all over the place geographically (NOT all in the Bay Area or Boston), happened across industries, and most often happened without having any follow-on investment from VCs. In fact, VCs eventually invested in only one out of three of the ventures, and the ventures in which they did invest produced lower returns than those where VCs did not invest.
  3. When you aggregate all of the data, these angel investors (across the U.S. and UK) produced a gross multiple of 2.5X their investment, in a mean time of about four years. This return is absolutely competitive with formal venture capital returns. Because the margin of error around these estimates is larger than that from the venture source and venture expert data, I won’t assert that angels “outperform” formal VCs. But to assume that they are fooling themselves about making money in angel investing is simply unsupported by the data.
Oct 8
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Driving Innovation In Large Corporations

Inhibitors to Innovation at Large Companies

While companies want to innovate and become more entrepreneurial, they face five major obstacles in attempting to do so:

  1. Fear of Cannibalization
  2. Structural Obstacles to Invention
  3. Desire for Predictable and Consistent Results
  4. Lack of Training
  5. Personal Risk/Reward Profile
Oct 5
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The state of Venture Capital returns

Many have declared the VC model broken and for good reason.  This report from the Kauffman Foundation does an analysis of their investment in 100 funds over the last 20 years and demonstrates the poor results.  They make specific recommendations for what to do to fix the VC model and what they are doing to improve their returns in the future.