7/30/13
Posted at 1:27h, 30 Jul 2013 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Good morning, All,

We saw this story this week and thought we’d share: “Back in the 1970s, liquid hand soap was sold by one guy: Robert Taylor, and his small company Minnetonka.  It was his invention, and he knew he was on to something big. Test audiences loved the product and, despite barely having enough resources to do so, Minnetonka decided to go all in and make a push to take the  product nationwide. There was only one problem: Nothing he was selling could be patented.  The concept of liquid soap wasn’t new, and simple pumps had been around since the dawn of civilization. As a result, Taylor knew several huge soap manufacturers were ready to happily steal his idea the very moment it looked like it could succeed on a large scale. Armed with superior resources and the ability to quickly R&D an imitation product, the industry giants were ready to crush tiny Minnetonka.

Taylor, however, was ready for this. Before any other company had the chance, Taylor decided to go shopping one day and bought a few plastic pumps. And by a few we mean FUCKING ALL OF THEM. There were only two companies nationwide manufacturing those little pumps, and Taylor ponied up $12 million — more than the total net worth of his company at the time — and ordered 100 million of them,  effectively buying every single pump these two companies would be able  to manufacture for the next year or two.

Anyway, without the part required to dispense the soap, there was nothing the major companies could do but sit and watch Taylor slowly own the entire market. His product would become known as SoftSoap, Two years after his little stunt, Colgate-Palmolive  would be forced to just buy SoftSoap from Taylor … for $61 million.”

Of course, this was pre-web, pre 3D printing, pre proliferation of patent trolls and pre China, who can knock off anything seemingly overnight. The point is: this is a great example of entrepreneurship at its best – the convergence of innovation and thinking outside the box. Pun very much intended: when faced with seemingly overwhelming challenges, raise the bar. Onward and forward.

 Housekeeping:

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Deadlines:

Taiwanese American Professionals New York (TAP-NY) Entrepreneurship Competition, deadline July 31st.
– First round submissions (proposals must be in English and cannot be more than 15 pages) are due by July 31st at 11:59 p.m.
– Eight teams will be chosen as finalists. Each of these teams will be paired with  a mentor (an experienced Taiwanese business professional) and will present in front of a panel of judges in September.
– Last year, we gave out $10,000 in prize money, and this year the prize pool will be even larger, and include separate categories for non-profit and for-profit businesses.
– At least one member of the team must be Taiwanese American or Taiwanese, or the company must directly benefit Taiwan.

Miller Lite Tap the Future, deadline August 1st. It’s the business plan competition that pits like-minded groups of entrepreneurs against each other to claim their slice of a $400K prize pool. Along the way, you’ll receive sweet advice and mentorship from some of the sharpest business minds out there. Submit your business idea here. You’ll be pitching it to a panel of experts, including entrepreneur-extraordinaire Daymond John from ABC’s Shark Tank.

Blue Button Co-Design Challenge, deadline August 5th. $55k in prizes. For more information, follow the link.

NEW  MSN Short-Form Storytellers Challenge, deadline August 9th. MSN and the New York Television Festival have teamed up to launch the “Short-Form Storytellers Challenge,” providing indie producers and production companies with the opportunity to compete for a guaranteed production budget of $75,000 to create an original short-form series for Microsoft’s digital platform. The partnership marks the first NYTVF development initiative conceived to specifically solicit micro-episodic content and challenges creators to creatively structure their storytelling in two minutes or less.

NEW  500Startups Fall Accelerator Program, deadline August 16th. Yup, Dave McClure’s Accelerator. The theme on their website is 007, so we guess that this is your license to kill it. And good luck to you!

MTA AppQuest, deadline August 20th.  Change the way 8.5 million people commute every day — create the transit app of the future. New/existing mobile apps running on any platform accepted.  For more information and to apply, go here.

Define the second screen experience — win $50,000 for the best TV companion apps. Deadline: August 22nd. Use the Viggle API to create responsive apps that enhance the TV-watching experience. Apps must be built with HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript and integrate with Viggle’s native iOS and Android apps. Need an idea for an app? Check out the 100+ ideas that have already been proposed by the public. You can build anything from a static content experience to a fully immersive game. Use your imagination!

The Booksmash Challenge, deadline September 6th. HarperCollins is issuing a call to developers to create excellent, functioning software and proof of concept apps utilizing the HarperCollins OpenBook API, and in doing so turn opportunities into reality. Use imagination and technology to build software that goes beyond the traditional ways we read and discover books. Grand prize: $15,000

Clinical Trial Visualization Redesign, deadline October 2nd. Eli Lilly, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, invites designers and developers to re-imagine clinical trial information in a patient-centric way. As part of Lilly’s Clinical Open Innovation initiative, which calls on open innovation to help transform clinical research and development, challenge participants are now being asked to focus on the ideas and possibilities for envisioning clinical trial protocols from a patient’s point of view. Clinical trial information can often be dense and difficult to digest from a patient’s perspective. Patients may have questions surrounding the risks and benefits of their participation in the trial, logistics, the role of their personal doctor, and much more.  The goal for this challenge is to redesign that information in a way that highlights key aspects in a visually appealing and user-friendly way. $75,000 in prizes in all. Grand Prize: $35k.

For you edification this week:

Getting Back Your Series A Mojo. This week’s must read, from Mark Suster.

14 Mistakes to Avoid When Pitching Investors. Much has been written about what to do during the fundraising process. Here is a look at what not to do…

How to Turn Your Million Dollar Idea Into a Startup. There is quite a distance between a good idea and a good business or even a plan for a business. Here are a few tips on how to bridge the gap.

10 startup mistakes and how to avoid them.  Laurence McCahill highlights some common early-stage pitfalls, with guidance on how to avoid them.

Eight Reasons Startup Incubators Are Better Than Business School. One more: they give you money rather than drive you into debt.

If I Told You I’d Have to Kill You: The Story Behind -The Secret History of Silicon Valley.  Ah, In-Q-Tel. Yes, even the intelligence community has a VC arm, and conferences, where everyone’s on a first name basis (no last names, please).

Angel Syndicates: Heaven-sent or from the devil?  Big conversation in the startup world around AngelList’s newest feature—one that’s been kept pretty quiet until the stealthy genius known as Startup L. Jackson tweeted/blogged the lid off yesterday…Angel Syndicates. Basically, the proposed idea is that a “lead” angel puts her money in, then hustles her network of other angels (and/or VCs) to fill the rest of the round, charging a 20% carry. Jury’s still out. Read on.

VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm.  We simply couldn’t resist.

How the Rich Get Richer. The truth about Richard Branson’s Virgin Rail profits.

Feds tell major internet companies to hand over users’ account passwords. And that’s ‘tell,’ not ‘ask.’

Is Your Cable Box Spying On You? Behavior-Detecting Devices From Verizon, Microsoft And Others Worry Privacy Advocates. Either sell my information, or charge for cable. Pick one.

Disconnect – our new favorite that blocks tracking. Ok, it doesn’t block the NSA. Nothing’s perfect, and no cable plug-in. Yet

Elevator Pitch/Member News
Hint, hint: Feel free to tell us what you’re working on, or if you’ve been featured in the press…Share, and we will, too!

Congrats this week go to Cynthia Schames, who just raised a seed round for her startup, Abby Post, a Plus Size fashion marketplace and community. We love to hear good news from and about you all!

As promised, we’ve scheduled our next event and it’ll be Tuesday, August 20thSOS End of Summer Networking and Happy Hour. We’ll even have an open bar for the first hour. Worth the price of admission and you know we’ll be there to make introductions for you, so even if you’re shy, you don’t want to miss this one. Hope to see you there!

There’s nothing like summer in the city and on next three consecutive Saturdays, nearly seven miles of NYC streets will be car-free from 7 am to 1 pm. Summer Streets extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park. Go enjoy!

That’s it from us this week, and yes, we are also planning a long-overdue find-a-cofounder event, too, so stay tuned. And now, as always, help is on the way…