Ulrich News – January 2014

Ulrich Newsletter – January 2014

1. Launch of Business Radio Powered by Wharton on SiriusXM (Channel 111)

Tomorrow evening (Wednesday, january 15) at 7pm U.S. Eastern Time (4pm West), I go live with my show Launch Pad on the SiriusXM satellite radio network. I’m co-hosting the show with Rob Coneybeer, Managing Director of Shasta Ventures. Our guest tomorrow will be Andre Haddad, CEO of Relay Rides. We’ll also be discussing the sale of Nest Labs to Google (announced yesterday). Shasta, along with Kleiner Perkins, provided the Series A financing for Nest, so we are very lucky to hear Rob’s perspective about the deal.

Our show is on Channel 111 on Sirius. This is a new channel Business Radio Powered by Wharton (of which I’m also the Channel Director). Regrettably Sirius is a subscription-only service. If you don’t have a Sirius account, you can sign up for a free trial here. (I have no financial interest in SiriusXM and am not paid to host the show, so please don’t think I’m pitching Sirius here. I do think subscription radio is a pretty nice thing, though, as the ratio of content to advertising is quite attractive.)

I’d really appreciate your tuning in, and I’d be even more excited if you gave us a call at 844-WHARTON to ask us a question or two. It’s a little scary to go live without knowing if there is anyone out there listening.

2. Wrap-Up of Semester in San Francisco

Sixty second-year MBA students spent their fall semester at the Wharton San Francisco campus. I had the pleasure of teaching Technology Strategy in the program. What a delightful group of students. Here’s a photo we took on the last day.

2013 Wharton MBA Semester in San Francisco

3. 2014 Edition of the Wharton San Francisco Web Workshop

As I love San Francisco, I look for any chance to be at our campus there. Last week I ran an intensive workshop on design and development of web-based products and services.

You can see the prototype websites here.

Here’s the group just as we were finishing up on Thursday.

2014 Wharton Web Workshop

 4. Update on “Design 2″

I’d really like to do an advanced design course (on-line, MOOC-style) focused on commercialization of products. My hope is to offer this course this coming summer via Wharton Executive Education. The goal would be to enroll a few hundred aspiring design entrepreneurs, ideally arranged into groups of 6-8 people with similar interests. We’re struggling as an institution to balance the objectives of (a) outreach to the world, which is clearly part of our social mission, with (b) the need to generate sufficient revenue to operate our core educational programs on campus. Non-credit-bearing on-line education is a brave new world. If you have thoughts on how this course might be structured, please let me know.

5. Belle-V Project Status

I finally got my very own Belle-V ice cream scoop in the mail. Wow. It’s really beautiful. (Although I created the original product concept, I can’t take credit for the beauty of the resulting object. That is the work of the magicians at Lunar Design.) We’re now engaged in the really fun activity of figuring out what type of product to take on next. It will probably be something from the kitchen. Let me know if some current kitchen product really fails to meet your needs.

6. WSJ Blog

I write a monthly blog for the Wall Street Journal called (with humility) THE EXPERTS. You might find my posts interesting, but you’ll almost certainly find the posts of my colleagues interesting. Here’s my post from last month.

What financing secret can you offer to help an entrepreneur looking for money?

When I was raising money for my first entrepreneurial venture, the Xootr scooter, I learned about a source of capital that has served me well now for 15 years. Like I do, you might have friends who think of themselves as entrepreneurial, but who have mortgages, tuition payments, and high-paying jobs consistent with those expenses. They might be management consultants or work in financial services. They aren’t going to quit their jobs to join a startup; they perhaps correctly deduce that no rational person would quit a job like theirs. But, for the cost of a BMW they can be your “angel,” and be “almost founders.” (OK, this is obviously a secret not everyone can take advantage of. I’m self-aware enough to realize that this might come across like when Mitt Romney said, “Borrow money if you have to from your parents.”)

When I started Xootr, my friend Tom, then a bond salesman at Lehmann Brothers and my friend George, a technology executive and former McKinsey consultant, made too much money to quit their jobs and join a scooter company. However, they wanted to enjoy the excitement of the startup and so each invested $50,000, providing the necessary capital to get the company off the ground. Tom and George have since invested in several of my ventures. Looking back, that has been good for me and good for them. When you need the seed capital to launch your dream, turn to your friends who would love to be entrepreneurs were it not for their high expenses and high salaries. Those friends will often happily support your venture, providing you with necessary capital and them with the thrill of being part of something new.

Please stay in touch and send me a note, particularly if you have feedback on our new radio show.