Wearables – those smart bands, glasses and even jewelry that can run apps just like smart phones – are expected to explode in popularity over the coming year. A recent study by Canalys estimated that over 40 million wearable bands will be shipped this year. And, the Orlando tech community is already brimming with wearables activity!
In my first blog post last fall, I wrote about the American mythology of singular renegades striking out on their own and that myth’s place in the American self-image of individuality and entrepreneurial spirit. Much of that legend is rooted in our affection for George Washington, whose selflessness, heroism and morality (the fabled cherry tree and “I cannot tell a lie”) – no matter the degree of fiction involved – embody the American ideal, and it’s why his birth is commemorated each year as a federal holiday (more on that at the end).
When I was a kid, it seemed to me that innovation began less in a garage than in a Shack.
I had a cordless telephone with an antenna that, in my memory at least, pulled out about four feet. If you carelessly walked through a doorway, you’d snap the antenna or, in the more spectacular moments, send the phone flying across the room. The phone would survive intact, but the antenna, not so much. Fortunately, that was back when you could repair personal electronics yourself. On an embarrassing number of weekends I would ride my ten speed the couple of miles to what was this store of magical geekdom, Radio Shack, stuffed with toys and gadgets, cassette players, Betamax tapes and double-density floppy disks, wires and transistors, 101-in-One Electronics Project Kits and, yes, antennas that I could use to repair my phone all by myself. The place was a storehouse for imagination, creativity and innovation.
It may seem like Catalyst has been stuck in Groundhog Day. You know this already, but in 1993’s classic “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray’s character, obnoxious weatherman Phil Connors, finds himself stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in a never-ending loop and condemned to repeat February 2 over and over and over until he is transforms into, well, a mensch. So it happened with Catalyst. For the last several months, every day we woke up to find that, once again, we were two weeks away from opening day.
Serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman, founder, CEO, and senior executive in a number of start ups and high growth companies, including Priceline.com, uBid.com, and ColorJar, and coauthor of the recently released book, “Scale: 7 Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back,” was in Orlando earlier this month as the keynote speaker for 4Q VenturePitch Orlando. His presentation, “Keys to Scaling Your Life and Your Career,” was, as one audience member commented afterwards, “one of the best I have ever heard targeted at entrepreneurs.” His key points for success which he illustrated with examples from his own entrepreneurial journey:
I once had lunch with Henny Youngman – the King of the One Liners – at New York’s Carnegie Deli. It was early in the summer of 1991, my first summer in New York City, and I hadn’t been to the Carnegie since I was a kid on vacation. I couldn’t wait to go back, so one day my college roommate and I met there for lunch. (No, Henny Youngman wasn’t my college roommate!)
In his classic book on tech marketing, Crossing the Chasm, Mohr Davidow Ventures Partner Geoffrey A. Moore describes the gap between the early adopters of a product (the enthusiasts and visionaries) and the beginning of the adoption by the early majority (the pragmatists) of the mainstream market. Moore describes strategies that early adopters use to create an anchor to successfully cross the chasm and enter the mainstream market.
We like to talk about coworking as a relatively new concept, a rethinking of the best ways to get work done and to foster connections that result in growth and innovation. These concepts are seemingly cutting edge in the workplace: moving away from the individual-centric work environment and offering collaborative spaces which result in more productive exchanges of information; connecting people and creating a greater sense of community; encouraging diversity, in both human and physical resources, to spark creativity; providing places like lounges, cafés and coffee bars for informal interaction.
In their book Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back, Jeff Hoffman and David Finkel describe the situation many entrepreneurs (whether self-employed or building a company) find themselves in: “so busy doing the job of their business that they can’t step back and focus on growing their business.” Coworking environments, like Catalyst, are ideal for entrepreneurs looking to escape this “self-employment trap” and scale up to a successful and sustainable business. They can benefit from the community of talented people who cowork, advise, and mentor there and apply some of the scaling principles described in Hoffman and Finkel’s book, including:
Catalyst, a 7,000 sq. ft. collaborative shared workspace for entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers, and independent creative class professionals, is opening late this summer on the 5th floor of the historic Yowell-Duckworth Building (1914) at 1 South Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando.