Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During June 2012...

Week Four: Stakeholders and Bluetooth

Saturday, June 30, 2012 9:23 pm

Stakeholders:

Who holds the power? Who are the stakeholders? These are the questions that my advisor, Dr. Clark, has pressed me to answer from the very beginning of my research. Where does the power reside in rural entrepreneurship and who are the key players in this system?

To answer this, I broke out the sticky notes, some yarn, and started mapping relationships.

Initially, I assumed that organizations/business resources were the stakeholders for rural entrepreneurs. They are, however, this mapping technique helped me to view organizations/business resources as a group of people, rather than one, singular body. Stakeholder organizations are the product of their members and directors. Each group of sticky notes represents an organization that would be considered a stakeholder organization. The individual sticky notes contain the names of key players in that organization, while the yarn connects the same people that serve in multiple roles across organizations. The more strings coming from a name indicates a greater presence in determining the entrepreneurial landscape of Alexander County.

Some of the results of “key players” were not surprising; however two or three more names immerged that I otherwise would have overlooked. Also, interesting enough, only one organization had no overlap by sharing members. I am not sure if that was deliberate or coincidence, but is peculiar.

Percent overlap was then measured by counting the total strings in each grouping divided by the total number of members.

Organization Alpha: 80%
Organization Beta: 25%
Organization Gamma: 15%
Organization Delta: 0%

Leadership Board Epsilon: 28.5%
Leadership Board Zeta: 14.3%

Just because overlap is high or low does not mean that one is necessarily better than the other. High overlap can represent a group that isrepresentativeof leaders coming together across organizational boundaries, while low overlap can represent an innovative organization seeking to do things differently.

Bluetooth:

The Alexander County Commissioners keep giving me great insight during their meetings. The local police force recently requested funding to purchase Bluetooth technology for those on staff. This is the first vote from the commissioners that has not been unanimous since I began researching and it hinged around a technological innovation. Funding was not granted for Bluetooth because the commissioners did not feel as if the officers would adapt and use the technology. In a different light, the way of the past will prevail in the face of innovation. While cost was a concern too, the vote to approve or deny was a vote for accepting innovation. And, innovation was denied.

From an academic perspective on creativity, creative products must be fully realized, actualized, and brought to the public domain. Creativity is needed, but is perhaps hindered by being stopped short of becoming fully realized through the workings of the creative environment. The commissioners’ vote reflected this.

-Jonathan

 

FINALLY!

Saturday, June 30, 2012 8:47 pm

Well, better late than never I guess is what they say. After the first two weeks of lacking internet in the apartment I have been subleasing and then being unable to access the blog website on my work computer….I am finally posting the first of many blog posts. So what exactly is my internship this summer? Well, no exaggeration…my dream job. Here I am in NYC and have been for wow, now my fourth week and find myself craving to go to the office at night and having more fun in the office as opposed to nights out on the town. What’s wrong with me?
Golf Digest may seem like a well oiled machine, a corporation that is hardly entrepreneurial well yes, and certainly no. Conde Nast, the publishing company that started Golf Digest was created on pure entrepreneurial vigor by Conde Nast back in 1909. He purchased the now bible of fashion, known as Vogue Magazine in 1909 and form there built a publishing/multimedia mecca that is home to over 27 magazine and online publications. If that isn’t entrepreneurial then I don’t know what is.
My first day here has stuck in my head like gum to a shoe. Selected as 1 of 85 interns out of a pool of 2,500 applicants I felt honored to just enter the building. All of us interns reported to the building at 8:45 and had a nice mingling breakfast until 9:30 when our orientation began. The breakfast was high class in itself, true Conde Nast fashion I would later learn. China was used and fine silverware, the coffee and fruit fresh from the gourmet kitchen and I felt like I was at a regal NYC luncheon then an intern orientation.
I sat down between two fellow Kappa Kappa Gammas, one from SMU and the other from Syracuse. Both girls were extremely different but their gleaming smiles and eager attitudes modeled every other face in the lofty room. We chatted about our similar but different sorority experiences and about our assigned internships at Golf Digest, Women’s Wear Daily and Lucky. The girls thought I had gotten the short end of the stick but I reassured them that I was the luckiest gal in the room.
The head of HR who had interviewed me months before ran the Orientation and presented a Powerpoint that gave useful tips on how to be corporate in an often cut-throat industry. I felt extremely empowered but a tad intimidated. Everything was executed perfectly so far, the speech, the motivational Powerpoint, the impeccable outfits of the HR department and delicious breakfast…felt like I was in a movie.
I was given my corporate badge, which would be my access to the building, way to get into the multitude of elevators in this 46-story skyscraper and use in the cafeteria for my countless cups of coffee and delicious fresh sushi rolls for lunch. Conde Nast really did it up, they gave pure excellence to their employees and expected nothing short of the same in return.
Next, I met my fellow intern partner in crime, Tim. A dapper lad from Connecticut he was everything I expected from a New England prep boy. Perfectly dressed with coiffed hair, he made sure to explain that his father was an owner of a hedge fund down in the Financial District and how he lived and breathed golf more than anyone else. I didn’t feel the need to compete. My desk was then revealed to me, a gleaming massive Mac desktop sat in one of its corners, a mini closet and at least 5 cabinets above it. It was a corner cubicle, hardly a cubicle in my mind. A massive L-shaped it commanded authority, fully stocked with my favorite pens, and framed golf images, it even had its own telephone and my own personal extension with my name already programmed into it. I had to pinch myself, weren’t interns suppose to sit in the corner?
Tim and I were shown around the office and introduced to the multitudes of Golf Digest employees, from Integrated Marketing to the Art department. I was wide eyed and loving it all. That was pretty much how the rest of the week went, blissful, full of corporate lunches to meet different executives and get to know my fellow partner in crime better. It took a while for us to ease into our comfortable co-working friendship but we did it.

Week 6: Decisions

Saturday, June 30, 2012 3:03 pm

This past week was filled with decisions. In the beginning, I was going back through existing leaves, checking their content next to our standards for what non-majors need to know and fixing minor errors (in spelling, referencing sources, etc.) as they arose. This is a very tedious process and I did not get close to finishing, but I am glad to have started.

 

About mid-week, I hit a group of leaves on animal diversity. There are a lot of these leaves in this section because every animal group, including flatworms, Cnidarians, and arthropods, was given a leaf of its own. Looking at the standards for non-majors, in general non-majors only need to know one or two facts for each of these groups. This means that we have written a whole lot more information than non-majors need to know.

 

Providing more information is not always a problem, but in this case I thought it was because of the subject matter. Animal diversity leaves basically consist of a brief introduction to the phylum, then a description of the anatomy of the organisms in this group. For example, the leaf on molluscs first states that molluscs are a diverse group of marine animals and discusses basic characteristics of molluscs, like the fact they do not have a skeleton. The leaf then provides information and a numbered list of anatomical qualities most molluscs possess.

 

As the amount of information in these leaves suggests, they contain an abundance of facts. My concern is that students reading these leaves will get lost in the amount of specific information presented. I therefore advised that survey leaves be made that present a paragraph of basic information on three or four different phyla. These leaves would contain all the information non-majors need to know and link to the more detailed leaves for students who want to learn more.

 

The team agreed with my assessment of the problem and proposed solution. So I spent part of this week making this week making two of the survey leaves, with more to come as time permits. Next week will bring new challenges as we seek to complete this textbook and make decisions about where BioBook will be tested in the fall, but regardless of how this process turns out, the project is going very well and I am proud to have had a part.

 

It is hard to believe that so much of the summer has already past!

Jessica

 

Week 6: Rap Genius / Stereo IQ

Friday, June 29, 2012 8:27 pm

This past Tuesday marked the release date of the album Self Made Vol. 2 by Maybach Music Group – the album which most of my work focused on the first half of this week. I continued to prepare email reports for the site co-founder regarding people with whom we could reach out to form partnerships with for this new album release as well as future endeavors. One of the people we recieved positive responses from was the person who runs the official online fan website and twitter page for rapper Wale (who is a member of Maybach Music). He seemed really enthusiastic about working with Rap Genius on a future project. It makes me happy to have been a part of the process of putting him in touch with my boss and site co-founder, Mahbod. This experience has also broadened my scope of what goes on behind the scenes of the music industry in terms of what goes into an artist or an album. It’s easy to buy into the illusion that it’s simply an artist and a microphone when in reality there’s so many factors that come into play for music artists: managers, publicists, marketing teams, A&R reps, record labels (and all of the people that brings into the picture), and the list goes on.

Halfway through the week I received an email from my boss regarding Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album – a project I had been working on early on in the internship. Turns out some of the lyrics explanations that were posted were not to his expected satisfactory level – as some were noted as boring or unresearched. This was critical because in the email it was mentioned that an investor was looking into Stereo IQ and had pulled up that album in particular to check out the website. I spent the next two days refining the work that had been published for that album to which I had received an email from my boss stating the renovations were “brilliant!” and that I was “getting the hang of things”. I’m glad that I’m on the right track with my work and that I was able to effectively communicate with my boss to correct my mistakes. I’m glad to be working for a company where my output actually has an effect on the business. It’s great to see the continued growth of the company as well, since “investors” has positive implications.

In terms of social media growth for the Stereo IQ brand, we’ve gained 23 Facebook “likes” and 23 more twitter followers. This puts our total at 2,816 facebook “likes” and 971 folllowers. Next week will hopefully mark the passing of the 1,000 follower benchmark.

I realized upon reading my previous blog posts that I never did a great job of explaining what exactly the company is. If you’re curious about the website and how it was founded – check out this article from the latest issue of Yale Alumni Magazine (Rap Genius made the cover) -http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2012_05/feature_rap.html

Happy Friday,

Dalton

Week 4- New Training

Friday, June 29, 2012 6:01 pm

With Intellect Resources expanding at a rapid pace, I’ve been forced to work on a variety of new tasks to help with theirgrowing demand. Most of my time is spent looking for new candidates using a number of different Internet resources. My new job now is reaching out to these potential candidates and handling some of the recruiting aspects of Intellect Resources. This is done in a variety of ways: email, phone calls, in person meetings, Linkedin messages etc… Most of my interactions with new candidates have been writing new job openings that fit their specific skill levels. If their skills match the job description, I write up an email introducing Intellect Resources, the perks and requirements of the job, and ask them to send me a resume, skills etc..

When we receive a resume the first thing is to make sure all the job requirements are filled. If the job requirements are not filled then we cannot present the candidate to our client. If the requirements are filled and the candidate has extra skills and expertise we present them to a client hoping they accept them for the job order. If the job order is filled a percentage of their salary is paid to Intellect Resources. In some cases our health care clients will hire them as full-time employees but in most cases they are technically Intellect Resources employees that work for our client. It can get quite confusing but the employee must fulfill the needs of both parties.

Next week I will begin telephone screening potential candidates. This is essentially interviewing candidates for specific jobs. It will be the first step of weening down our pool of employees for our Wake Forest Baptist job. I will have to conduct about 6 interviews a day for the next 3-4 weeks along with others to make sure we have enough people to invite for face to face interviews. The main criteria we look for is the employee’s interest and knowledge in the job, their poise and critical thinking which is necessary for customer service, and of course their prior experience. If these criteria are successfully met they will be invited back for the final step of the process.

This experience in multpile fields has given me an oppurtunity to learn some of my likes and dislikes in the corporate world. Hopefully this knowledge, however,will give me a well-rounded skill set to because a useful asset in future jobs and endeavors.

-John

Week 3

Thursday, June 28, 2012 2:12 am

One of my mentors told me, “there’s sales, and there’s everything else.” We hustled to make a sale, and this week, we landed our first customer! While we don’t yet have the signed contract, we got a verbal commitment. We’ve been working through logistic to finalize our North Carolina General Contractors license, but that will not pose a stumbling block for us yet because this project is below $30,000. For most cities, this only requires a “Privilege License.” Little known fact: you need a privilege license to operate a business in Winston Salem. While nobody at the City may have a clue what you’re asking about, if you call to inquire about rates, it is, in fact, required. We paid are $10 and are official. Now on to finalizing subcontractor agreements, sourcing materials for the design we’re generating, buying a giant ladder….”everything else.”

Week 3: the new comers

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 7:00 pm

Half way in my 3rd week at Greysteel, two other interns had joined us. It was Megan from University of California, Riverside and Nick who just graduated from Emory University. It was exciting to have some new faces in the office because it would be more fun to work with more people in our age. At the same time to me it was a reflecting point, I did not realized how much I have learned in two weeks until I was asked to teach the new interns on different tasks. There were things like looking at those scanned legal documents on DC Online Public Records that was once difficult to understand and I got accustomed to. I realized that I was able to quickly go through them to for the information I’m looking for, instead of reading through pages of inks typed bytypewriters.

The environment we are in is really fast paced and a lot of times we did not have time to have a second thought, we just have to dive in and stumble through our mistakes to ge better. By the time we actually got the hang of it we just keep moving forward without thinking that wait a second I can do it on my own now.

With more interns, we were able to finish our tasks moreefficiently. Megan who seemed to like writing became in charge of the write ups on property and locations. Nick whose father runs his own real estate firm took charge with the phone to filling the missing information on our rentcomparable files since he had the experience in dealing with property managements. With the new additions, we were able to allocate our tasks to get them done more quickly and to get more assignments. We realized the faster that we could get things done, the more we could learn. Because we were able to break through the repetitive cycles in the early stage of each case and participated more of the upper levels processes.

Backpacker Magazine: Week Four

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 4:35 am

It’s press week at Active Interest Media, which means everybody’s scrambling, not just the Climbing staff. Ready or not, the August issue goes to press on Friday. By the time it hits the news stands and your mailbox, digital content must be primed and ready to go. Every QR code, hyperlink, and trip ID must be linked to the appropriate photos, maps and slideshows… not to mention the iPad edition… and did we ever hear back from that sleeping bag company?

After weeks of emails, phone calls, and trips to the mail room, each and every piece of gear had finally arrived. It was time to hit the photo studio. I spent the better part of the morning steaming each and every merino wool and polypropylene wrinkle–have you ever tried to de-wrinkle a sleeping bag? I assure you, it is no small task.

Although it seems time consuming, steaming before shoots is a lifesaver. Once upon a time, I was working a portrait shoot for University Photographer Ken Bennett, due to extenuating circumstance we used an older, wrinkled backdrop. I spent several hours of a Saturday night photoshoping that background smooth. As I worked, our staff photographer Ben and photo assistant Andrew perfected the studio lighting. The time passed quickly as we kept each other company discussing political conspiracy theories… what really happened to JFK? In the words of the Avett Brother’s “ain’t it like most people, I’m no different, we love to talk on things we don’t know about.”

Before we could take a single picture, each product had to be styled. Did you know there are industry standards for the appropriate placing of shoe laces?

The best part of the shoot came at the very end of the day. I can’t give specifics but I learned a great party trick involving fire and cheese. Can’t wait until we’re both at a wine and cheese gathering? I guess you’ll just have to pick up the August issue of BACKPACKER and impress your friends yourself.

In addition to studio time, I spent an afternoon writing captions for our online photo slideshows. A seemingly simple task can be quite involved. After contacting each photographer, the info must be fact-checked and then crunched into one concise, catchy, inspirational sentence.

All around Boulder wildfires are burning. Today a lighting bolt struck only a few miles from town. While the authorities believe it’s under control, evacuations have begun. By night, the ridge of the mountain glows like lava.

The fires aren’t the only things ablaze. We’ve had the highest temperatures on record since 1946. It’s reached 1o6 twice and 100 almost everyday. The weekend cued a mad search for a place to cool off. We found the Eldorado Springs pool. The pool is located in the scenic Eldorado Canyon and is fed by natural spring water. Not only is it beautiful but the pool built by miners in 1905 deep end sinks to 30 feet in the deep end!

In the next couple weeks I’m looking forward to hiking a few fourteeners (peaks at or above 14,000 ft above sea level.) Perhaps Long’s Peak with a couple folks from the magazine. Of course, I’ll keep you in the know :)

xo,

Lauren

Website Development

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 2:00 pm

This past week has been entirely dedicated to checking the website for bugs and foreseeable advancements. I have the privilege of working with some great programers who really know what they are doing and have a passion for the project. We are currently adding the last finishing touches on the frontend and hope to release it by the end of next month.

We also have talks with potential investors/partners coming up so we’re also been working on our Prezi presentation/pitch . This has been especially interesting as it forces us to really think about our business model in a almost visual sense – its been great. For the next meeting however we have to start developing a pitch deck (essentially, a “summery” of our longer presentations)…it should be an interesting experience so see just how we’ll pull that off. I was actually going to ask if anyone knows of a good platform (like Prezi) for presentations. Though I love Prezi, and think its way better that PPt, I am really interested in trying something new – any ideas?

Week 4 and 5 – Coding, coding, coding…

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 3:03 am

Hello again!

The past two weeks have been something of a dull period in our application’s development. Rather than trying our hand at some new aspect of the business side of software development, we instead have been spending the past two weeks more or less implementing the designs we finalized in the first few weeks of the project, which has involved a lot of coding, in-house testing, and more coding. For those of you who have little experience with how software development works (which is not to say I am some guru myself), to summarize the process: we’ve spent a lot of time the past two weeks sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, doing the equivalent of editing a large word paper. The only difference is that whereas a spelling error in a document may be a minor inconvenience, to make the equivalent of a spelling error places a halt on all progress in coding. Sometimes, these errors are largely insignificant and easily caught and/or fixed by the equivalent of a spell-checker, to extend the paper analogy. Others, they can go largely unnoticed, and while an error like the innocent misspelling of a word in a document is harmless, in a program, it can cause the program to run, but behave erratically – one of the must frustrating types of errors to fix.

Consequently, this is where good designs are critical. Good designs make for easier program writing because they simplify the coding necessary to implement a functionality, while also making it easy to maintain. An analogy that explains this, albeit somewhat stretching to fit this example, is solving a probability problem like the chance of a coin coming up heads. It’s entirely possible to run 100 tests of the problem, average the results, and find an answer. But doing so is tedious and prone to error (what if a test is skewed, or ananomaly occurs where tails shows up 70 times?). Instead, it is much easier to simply apply a probability principle, in this case, 1 desired outcome / 2 possible outcomes means a 50% chance. All designs that solve a problem are not created equal, and half the struggle in the application’s development is making sure we get as strong and flexible design as we can.

Until next week.

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