10 Takeaways From Startup Weekend Buffalo

Last weekend was Startup Weekend Buffalo.

It was an impressive and inspiring event. Over 150 attendees formed 16 different teams.

The goal? To create a Minimum Viable Product and pitch it to judges in less than 54 hours.

Yep, that sounds about right for entrpreneurs, huh?

I was fortunate to attend as one of the mentors, an experience with such an impact I’m still thinking about.

Hence this post.
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College is an investment

Peter Thiel the “legendary” investor who brought us companies like PayPal has an interesting “thesis” on higher education; it’s in a bubble.

It’s true that college is losing relevancy in many fields and market sectors. And yes it is becoming more and more expensive to attend. Heck as someone who went to school to be a teacher (and never became one because of what I saw “in” the system), the whole education system in this country needs an overhaul. Fast.

However, education, college or otherwise, should always be thought of as an investment. An investment that includes time plus money (and interest in some cases), which needs ultimately to provide a return over time (an increased wage over what would be earned without the education). In the past college was a great investment because it gave a great return (like Microsoft when it was a growth stock).

Having a college degree all but ensured you would make X% more per year (and thus you could afford the loan repayment while still having more cash in your pocket (your return)).
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Every Day is a Contract Year

Much of what I’ve learned about the world of business has its roots in my amateur athletics career. Whether you realize it or not sports and business have many parellels (probably because sports are business), especially when it comes to the areas of talent and performance.

Take the “contract year” phenomenon for example.

Every year a handful of veteran players emerge to dominate professional sports leagues; seemingly from nowhere. It’s the forward who scores 10 goals a year his first three years in the league, then all of sudden nets 40 in his fourth year.

Usually their herculean efforts are spurned by the almighty “contract year.” The year that proceeds becoming a free agent, infamous for inflated performances, because the player knows that the better they perform the more they will make the next year.
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Who is Your Business Drafting This Year?

As I watched the final rounds of the NFL draft this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between the NFL and businessess. There’s a lot of great things that the NFL does that your business could also do to help bring home a title.

The most important? Drafting.

Each and every year there is a new crop of young, hungry, passionate players dying to get a shot at the big time and the big money. Teams spend years watching and analyzing these players, herding them like cattle, measuring everything possible to ensure they’ve got the right guy.

The draft (and free agency) account for a good 80% of a team’s success in a given year. Coaching, injuries and luck all play a part, but the NFL is about talent.

Just like your business.
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