2009 New Venture Challenge

I coached Masala Wala for the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge in 2009. They split second place with two other teams. It was a concept for an Indian food restarant. I thought they did a very nice job.

The winners were Bump Technologies that made an iPod application and a company called Nine Naturals that makes shampoo for pregnant women. They were tough competitors.

Since winning the NVC in 2003 I’ve coached six teams. Four have won first place, one has won second place, and one didn’t follow my advice. The other winning teams were:

The New Venture Challenge is a great experience– certainly the most educational part of my MBA.

I also coached the Global NVC in London in 2009. I spent several hours with about 20 teams.

Outright.com

Outright.com is a great site. It is a very simple bookkeeping program for organizations and small businesses. It’s completely free and easy to use. I’ve started a lot of little online businesses that have low requirements when it comes to keeping the books. Quickbooks is an overkill to say the least.

Outright.com tracks income and expenses with an easy-to-use interface.

Thumbs up!

By the way, did you know that the word “bookkeeper” or “bookkeeping” is the only word in the english language that has three sets of double letters in a row? Most people guess Mississippi- silly people!

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Toodledo.com

Toodledo :: A to-do list to organize your tasks.

I’m in an ongoing quest to find good organizational tools. I’m a follower of the GTD method of organzation. I’ve even done some work to design my own software to organized tasks and projects around GTD. There are a lot of sites that attempt to provide the tools.

Today I’m tring Toodledo.com. It has a lot of features, but it’s a little confusing. For instance, adding a task is a little cumbersome. You would think that this would be the easiest thing to do.

Toodledo

FreshBooks.com

FreshBooks

I’ve often been frustrated with Quickbooks for start-ups. In the early days of a start-up, especially during the bootstrapping days, finances are fairly basic, often limited to expenses and start-up costs. Revenue is sporatic, if at all. FreshBooks.com is a simpler alternative to QuickBooks. However, my expereince with the program is limited.

Shoeboxed.com

Shoeboxed.com

This is an interesting site that scans and organizes receipts and business cards. A direct competitor to Neat Company that sells scanners and software for doing the same thing.

Shoeboxed Logo

Ecommerce Patent

In 2000 I worked for a company called Bissell in Grand Rapids, MI. It was one of the best jobs I ever had. My boss, a guy named Jim Krzeminski, was a great boss. He worked hard to push the envelop and help turn Bissell into the leader in Home Cleaning.

While I was there I lead a redesign of the company’s e-commerce Web site. It was one of the most successful projects I’ve ever worked on. Jim made sure that nothing got in the way.

One of the features on the site was a check-box ordering system that allowed a user to simply check-off related items on a product page to add them to the cart with the main product. It is a simple concept, but at the time is was very new. We applied for a patent on the technology. I’m not sure if the patent was issued.

Bissell Screen Shot

Checking any of the boxes in the “Don’t Forget” section adds the accessory to the cart along with the main product when the add to cart button is clicked.

The site was designed by Daniel Arsenault. A very talented artist. I’ve worked with him on a number of projects since then.