How to NOT Become an Entrepreneur

bae logo I get a lot of junk email that I normally ignore, but this one ticked me off enough to write about:

Major Changes for Bay Area Entrepreneurs Workshop

Changes?  To what?  I’ve never heard about this program before.

Lowering the price of the Workshop by $500 to $1,000

Ouch!  Lowering?  And then it’s still $1,000?  Now I really have to check it out…

The Bay Area Workshop is a series of weekly, 3-hour long presentations, 8 in total for a “discount” price of $1,000, or $175 per individual session.  The “Team” consists of the CEO.  The Agenda focuses on Business Plan building, culminating in an investor presentation, and the presenters are “named” illustrious experts like “Start-up consultant”, “Go-to-market consultant”, “Marketing consultant”, “Angel investor”.


Most impressive, isn’t it?  Wait, here’s a preview: you can watch a 46-minute embedded webinar here.  No, your video did not freeze, you really are staring at one single slide (long live Powerpoint!) for close to two minutes. Never mind that you can’t read the small print and full-screen toggle does not work…. I’m sure there’s value in there … somewhere 🙂

Oh, boy. If I wanted to be cynical, I’d say this program is a tired, half-cooked attempt at delivering recycled presentations by a retired executive at a premium price. But I don’t want to be cynical, so I’m not calling it a rip-off… All I am saying is: I’m not sold, and buyer beware.

OK, here’s what I really think:

If you are in a corporate job thinking of becoming an Entrepreneur – save the money, these courses will not “make you” an entrepreneur. You should probably keep your job.

If you already are talking to potential partners, are busy building an early stage product, then you already are an Entrepreneur.  You have the drive, you did not “get it” from a bunch of expensive classes.  You may or may not get funded one day, and sure, there’s a lot to learn, but you can pick it up along the way.  There’s probably no better place to start than reading Mark Suster’s series.  Sage advice from an Entrepreneur-turned-VC.  By all means, network: go to events like SF Beta,  the New Tech Meetups in SF or the Valley, Meet real VC’s at events hosted by SVASE – wherever you start, one event will lead to another, and you will make real-life connections.

Most events will cost you $20-40, some a little more expensive, but whenever you see a 3-digit price-tag, run the other way!  And don’t even think of spending a thousand bucks just to hear from unknown instructors how you should put a business plan together.

As for The Bay Area Workshop, I saved the best for the last.  If you really have a thousand bucks to throw away, would you expect to just sign up and attend?  No, you have to apply and “qualify”:

To apply for all eight session of BAE Workshop, send your business summary to We will evaluate the submissions and notify those accepted into the program.

I’m so out of here…

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )


ToonDooSpaces: Comics-based Social Network for School Kids

Zoho is mostly known for their Web-based productivity and business software, but sometimes they venture into … hmm… unproductivity.   In the past year or so close to a million cartoons were created @ ToonDoo, and that number grows by 3-4 thousand every day.  (Hey, even I contributed onesmile_wink)

Today they have announced  ToonDooSpaces, private comics-based collaborative space for classrooms, be it school or kindergarten level.  (Remember when FaceBook – actually TheFacebook at the time – was strictly limit to the confines of actual colleges?)   What can you do @ ToonDooSpaces?  Here’s how the kids at one of the pilot schools explain:


Even before this launch, ToonDoo has been used at hundreds of schools including Auburn High School, US, Totino-Grace High School, US, Leawood Middle School, US, Korea International School, Korea, Mount Scopus Memorial College, Australia, Lake Superior College, US and many others -  apparently all the way to college level.  That said I think ToonDooSpaces will be most favored by the younger ones.  Here’s a detailed review by Kevin Hodgson who has been using ToonDooSpaces in his class for months:

All spring, my sixth graders (11 and 12 year olds) were fully engaged in the use of our ToonDoo Spaces site. They would walk in the door and immediately ask: Are we going to make comics today, Mr. H? And they give a little shout of “Yeah!” with a fist pump when I say “yes” (after we do whatever other work we have planned).

Here’s an interactive video showing off more of ToonDoo’s features:


But hey, I’m writing a business / technology blog, so let’s get serious here. smile_wink   I often talk about Freemium (more here), and I think this is a perfect showcase.


Remember, Freemium takes patience – in this case ToonDoo has been available for over a year, attracting hundreds of thousands of users before the launch of the “premium” version, Spaces.

And here’s something else: I guess the inner child must have died in me a long time ago, how else do I have the most fun on the Pricing Page?  The fact is, we often talk about the need for transparency, and how SaaS should be easy not only to learn, use, but to buy, which includes price information, without having to endure lousy sales calls.  Well, it doesn’t get any easier:


Move the cursor along the users / months axis, click anywhere, and voila! – there’s your price quote.   SaaS companies, take notice: you can get rid of the kiddie appearance, but should offer a pricing tool this easy.

Now I am off to create a cartoon(doo). smile_shades

(Disclaimer:  I am Editor of CloudAve, a Zoho-sponsored group blog.)