Today’s Entrepreneurship Summit at Northwestern University organized by the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation featured several outstanding business plan/model presentation and panel discussions. Dry Goods won first place with a professional and well performed pitch and appears well positioned for its planned August launch. The runners-up did not fall short of insightful business models and thoughtful product concepts.

Looking back the last decade, Northwestern has come a long way in developing its entrepreneurial activities across campus under guidance of Prof. Mike Marasco. The Farley Center did an excellent job instilling an entrepreneurial mindset at Northwestern and developing a core framework of entrepreneurial classes for students. Together with the Technology Innovation Center incubator in downtown Evanston, there is a solid support layer for entrepreneurs in and around campus.

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Lean Startup Conference

April 20, 2010

Make sure to check out the Lean Startup Conference this Friday. The lineup features the Who’s Who of the lean startup movement.

The Lean Architecture

January 21, 2010

This is the second in a series of articles on building elastic cloud applications. Read the first article here.

Adapting the Lean Startup principles to application architecture produces a few significant requirements. A Lean Architecture has the following properties:

  • requires next to none upfront cash investment
  • is flexible to changing application requirements
  • requires little time investment to scale
  • incurs moderate scaling costs

Taking these principles into account, it becomes obvious why some early design decisions may affect your business’ ability to cope with the challenges during the early stage and later growth. Cash is king and any required upfront investment directly affects the risk versus reward perspective. In Lean Startups where the product concept changes to reach a product/market fit, an upfront infrastructure investment may become obsolete quickly.

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The Elastic Cloud

January 18, 2010

This is the first in a series of articles on building elastic cloud applications.

This might be the year where enterprises finally adopt cloud computing. Despite all the hype about software as a service (SaaS), few resources focus on how infrastructure as a service (IaaS) helps Lean Startups avoid significant investments.

While IaaS saves monetary investments in hardware and long-term hosting contracts, it also frees up valuable human resources used to set up and manage data center infrastructure. And when your user base finally grows, the elastic cloud absorbs the extra load without creating sleepless nights and requiring urgent visits to the data center.

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The Lean Startup

December 19, 2009

The Lean Startup vision introduces a methodology for building a technology product. In short, a Lean Startup is a low-burn technology venture which combines the Customer Development methodology and an Agile Software Development methodology.

Startups don’t fail because the technology doesn’t work. They fail because nobody wants what they are trying to build.

Eric Ries

Eric Ries and his blog ‘Lessons Learned’ offer insights on how to build a Lean Startup. A recent presentation from Eric Ries’ on Lean Startups in the Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner explains his approach to building a technology product. In his pragmatic view on how to integrate Customer Development with Agile Software Development, he advocates an approach with two teams. The cross-functional problem team continuously validates the problem hypothesis and updates the product concept, while the solution team uses an Agile Software Development methodology to build the product from the product concept.

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