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Busy Time Here in Mobile

It was, and still is, my intention to write here regularly. And so many things have happened recently that deserve mention, but I’ve careened from event to event with little time for reflection, let alone time to organize and explicate my thoughts. With that in mind I’m going to give several subjects a short treatment here today and reserve the right to write about each in more detail later should I get some free time. It was October when I last published. Ouch. That’s bad, even for me. I will attempt to do better.

First, we had a successful elevator pitch competition this fall. We loaded up students on duck boats, drove them out into the Mobile Bay and let them give their elevator pitches to judges. We gave away a few thousand dollars and the students had a great time. When I was hired at the University of South Alabama that is what I was hired to do. My previous experience at the University of Cincinnati running their pitch competition was a tremendous help in getting this one off the ground. Because I had been through it before I wasn’t nearly as nervous as the other professors. Having said that there is no way that the event would have been nearly as successful as it was without the guidance and support from my partners in the Melton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Jennifer and Don were amazing. Our admin Rachel was amazing. The students that helped, Brooke and Henry especially, were amazing. I am grateful to have found a university with so many caring, competent people. If you’re interested in the competition, an article including results can be found here and more information on the competition itself can be found here.

Second, The Roundhouse, a co-working space, angel investment aggregator, and accelerator mentioned in an earlier post, has folded. It appears that some person or person at the facility was less than honest, less than competent, or both. I feel bad for the budding businesses that were harmed by this, and I have reached out to the ones I had a personal interaction with to help plug them into other resources. This serves as a reminder to me, and should serve as a lesson to everyone to do your homework before entering into a relationship with any business or person. To be honest, I’m not sure the community needed The Roundhouse. This community does need actual angel investors though. So if you’ve got some cash and don’t mind taking a little risk let me know.

Third, the spring competition is underway. It is called the Coastal Venture Competition. You can find information about it here. I’m really excited for this competition  and much more nervous. I’ve never run a New Venture Competition before. I think we’ve come up with a way to get a great competition out of our students and still meet them ‘where they are at’ currently. The general idea is that they will submit an entrance video, which in essence can be a video taped elevator pitch or commercial, and then over the course of this semester work with me, other faculty, and our mentor network to develop a slide presentation worthy of presentation in front of a live audience of students, faculty, judges, and potential investors. We are not requiring a business plan, but supporting information will be taken into account to determine who gets to present. We’re giving away $12,000 to the top 8 places, so I shouldn’t be worried about getting eight quality ideas, but I still am.

Fourth, we have four local breweries that are all seeking and acquiring funds to expand. It’s odd that they’re all in the same industry and they’re all seeking funds in different ways. As I understand it one is selling revenue shares, one is self funding, one is taking a bank loan and one is doing equity based crowdfunding. It seems like a strange confluence of events and I’m looking for a way to get a paper out of it. If you have any ideas let me know. Speaking of writing, my tenure clock has started (for the first time ever) and I’m planning on writing all summer long. By the time August rolls around my goal is to have three papers ready for USASBE submission, two abstracts ready to go for Babson, two abstracts for APEE (why write the paper if the abstract isn’t accepted) and a paper for the Southern Management Association. I also need to have a good start on AOM submissions. I believe that they allow three, so seven papers and four abstracts. That’s a lot of writing for such a short period of time, but I’m stealing time where I can to get a head start on it. All that to say if you need data analysis, or if you’re working on something cool in the general area of entrepreneurship and you’d like to write with me over the summer I’ll be available.

Fifth, It is Mardi Gras season down here. These people take their holiday seriously. It has been amazing. There are multiple parades every day. There are more parades next weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday than Muncie Indiana (my hometown) sees in a year. And the small ones are better than the big ones up there. There are many, many social events during the season. My wife and I have been invited to one this year. I imagine as we get to know more people we’ll be invited to more in the future. I look forward to that for many reasons, not the least of which is because I’ll get to buy her some nice evening wear and she can’t tell me no. I’ll have to buy myself one to three tuxedos, depending on what events we go to. Full tuxes with tails are a thing down here, and they’re required for certain balls. I’ve been to several black tie affairs in my life, but when this happens it will be the first time I’ve been to an event that requires tails. Fortunately for me , the event we’re going to this year just requires a suit, which I already have.

As the man says, ‘that’s the news from Lake Woebegone.’ I’d like to get into some more depth on a few of these things, and maybe I will later. For the time being though, this should serve as a quick catch up of life and business for me in Mobile Alabama.

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