Sunday, March 14, 2010

So what's been up in the past 12 years?

I recently went to a good friends wedding who I have known for 18 years roughly. With attending that event a common question asked was, so what's up been up in the past 12 years. Well I have been meaning to write about my past for a while. One reason I haven't is because I dreaded spending a long time writing. So to make it easy and to go with the timing, I decided that I will write about the past 12 years in free writing for 12 minutes in silence. Meaning to write non-stop, one time through with no editing and just letting it flow out as it comes. Talk about really have organization of thoughts in line.

Starting now:

Ok so after graduating from Mount, I went to Central Catholic. There I spend my first two years of high school. Ironically it was also the two required years of ROTC. After that experience I knew that I did not want to join the military. For some reason, I dont know what it is, I decided to go to public school. It could have been because of several things; I felt bad that my high school tutition was so expensive, it was a private catholic school in San Antonio or maybe it was because I didnt really feel like I fit in or I just wanted to try something else. I transferred to a public school in a neighborhood in the area we moved. That wasn't that great of an experience. It was a tough move because everyone was so clickish. I arrived to late to really make any friend. I tried playing football to make friends and that didnt work because I way small and sucked pretty much. All in all high school kinda sucked.

Now in college, that is where life really took its course. My freshmen year I was in all types of clubs at school and very active around campus. I played lacrosse and we won our division championship that year, life was pretty good then. My sophmore year, the first semester, I joined a fraternity at UT and was living the dream. I met my current best friends and did a lot of great things over ther years there. From holding several positions like rush chair, social chair, philthanthropy and fundraising chair. Too funny because I didnt even goto that school I lived in the frat house my junior year. But hold up.

The summber between my sophmore and junior year, my dad died of widespread cancer. A few days prior to his death, I had a surgery for a partial thyroidectomy. A few days later he died then two days after his funeral I got a call from my doctor to go see him immediately. He told me face to face that I had cancer and that we would need to have suergery again in three weeks to take out the other half. To make a long story short, I beat cancer and survived school while working full time at a great company. I graduated magna cum laude honros with a double major in business administration and management. Also, that first semester in school, I met my first mentor who greatly influenced the path I am on today. She taught me the secret and I am seeing it manifest before me today, 5+ years later.

After graudating, I went on a mission trip to Peru and that was a great eye opening experience. A few months after that I went backpacking by myself around Europe for 31 days. I visisted 9 cities and 7 different countries. Aside from my plane ticket and train ticket, of which my family all got me combines. I ventured to Europe on less than a thousand dollars.

I thtne got back and spent two years working with Wells Fargo Bank, both in banking and as a credit manager during a major economic time. The stocket market got cut in half in a matter of months. After two years, I wanted to do something about the financial literarcy situation or lack of in the community. With out hte support of my brance (branch), I quit my job during the worst economic time to do so. I got heavily involved with social innovation and working to this day on developing a social innovation eco- system in Austin to drive real social impact through entrepreneurship. In addition to that, I am also working on various entrepreneurial ventures, One of which is really starting to take off and I am feeling really confident that this is going to be the hone that helps propel me to global recognition. We have a great team and a great strategy. Currently ,my family is awesome except for the fact that my aunt doesnt want anything to do with us. That is so unfortunate because she is reallly missing out. I have the most beautiful and adorable niece. The best big brother in the world, I owe much of my success and growth to him. His awesome wife, who has been a sister and great friend to me since the day she meant me, shes awesome. And my mother who I love so much and am more proud of her every day. She is currently going through a life change. She has lost a ton of weight, moved cities and uprooted her life to start anew with my bro, sis in law, baby k and me. Things are headed in the right track and I look forward to the next 10 amazing years.

bam done with ten seconds to spare.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Would I sell equity in my life Earnings?

I recently read a blog post by Michael Norton Obe, blogger of The 365 Ways, entitled "Invest in Me"

In a nutshell, he discusses the idea of social entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs in general selling equity in their life earnings. I found it to be an interesting concept but entertained the thought of it. I wrote a lengthy comment but thought I would share it on my blog.

I did check out the two sites mentioned in the article because I am currently working on various social enterprise projects part time as I devote a majority of my time to a paying entrepreneurial venture.

I can attest that if I received a substantial investment, I could devote my full efforts on social innovation and speed up the progress of my current social innovation projects.

Now what is substantial? No idea. For the past 5 minutes I have been thinking of scenarios as to where I would entertain the thought of selling equity in my life earnings. First, I thought what would be the bare minimum amount for me to entertain the investment.

To keep it easy, I selected $100k. I picked this number because I can easily allocate this amount to fully sustain myself as I devote a majority of my time to developing, monetizing and scaling my social venture ideas. Some of which I am bootstrapping right now. A substantial investment would definitely speed up their progress. So if this was the minimum amount, what would be the minimum amount of equity life earnings that would go with this amount? To keep things easy, I chose 1%.

So to entertain the thought, I selected $100k for 1% to start thinking about the possibility. That doesn't seem very bad.

Especially when that thought led me to think that once I multiplied that $100k investment into various profitable social enterprises my social impact value would increase and I could then go back and get additional investment, possibly, from additional investors for more rapid innovation at a higher valuation.

So say 2+ years after the initial $100k for 1%, I could now sell life earnings equity for $250k per 1% and so on as the years go on the valuation per percent is higher. This would greatly benefit the initial investors because every subsequent investment would be compounded with higher investments with very minimal dilution. This could also serve as an exit option for the investor even though there is no buyout clause between myself and the investor. An investor could sell their stake at a premium only with my full approval on the new investor. Of course no one would want to sell their stake in my life earnings equity but it’s to show how flexible it could be.
In the same train of thoughts, I thought of what would be the maximum amount of life equity earnings that I would sell at once. I first started out with what amount I would not even put on the table. 50% was out for sure, and 25% seemed still way too much to give up. So I went with 10%. Once again, to keep it easy, I selected $1 million for 10%. But and this is a big BUT, but wouldn't want it all from one single investor. I would limit a maximum investor amount to be 2.5%.

I would want to build a master mind group who is an all star team in its own merit who can all work together through my actions to drive social innovation. I am a strong believer in the acronym for T.E.A.M., together everyone achieves more.

I would be so committed to whomever I selected as my master mind group of investors that there would be no buyout clause because money wouldn't be a driving force for any of the investors nor me. We would partner up for life because of our passions, personalities and commitment to driving positive innovative change throughout a lifetime.

It is an interesting idea to entertain. It seems like a pretty good idea on the surface but it definitely doesn’t motivate me to go try and sell myself that way. A very small part of me finds it a bit insulting that entrepreneurs would go out there and in a sense “pimp” themselves for investment on their life earnings. I did not want to have to use that word but that was the only word that I could associate to how this idea can be viewed and how it makes me feel in a way. A part of me makes me think that this would be ideal for someone who wants a quick fix and willing to trade a percentage of their life for without putting in the work to manifest their dream. Seems kinda desperate to me but I can definitely see the benefits. This idea of selling equity in life earnings screams to me that entrepreneurs are saying “Hey, I’m a good smart person. Give me money because I am good and smart.” Ok well there are many good and smart people out there. I guess the opposite could work as well where really evil and mean people can invest in up and coming mean and evil people.

Of course there are entrepreneurs who are doing some great things. I checked out the Thrust Fund site and it looks like everyone is working on something great and on the right track to continuing a life time of great things. From my impression, it seems that if an investor were to invest in a Thrust Fund, it would go towards an existent operation. That forces me to ask the question, is the investor investing in the individual or the social enterprise? Most likely it’s both, the individual and the social enterprise. If it is not about the money then how come the investment is seen as a buy into an asset at a rate per percent determined by the entrepreneur? It might be better suited to be structured as a club with memberships. For example, instead of selling 1% of my equity life earnings for $100k, what if I sold one partner spot for $100k. For investors to attempt to see this approach as a means to get any financial return is delusional. Of course we all know that the investors are not investing for financial returns. So if that is the case then why set it up that way to where they are getting a percentage in life earnings? If they are doing it because they want to help a new wave of social innovators then why not set up a concept to where they are buying a membership to your master mind group. Just a twist to the thrust fund concept.

There is a part of me that whispers that I wouldn’t take that kind of offer. There is something not so satisfying about just being given something. In this case, given a substantial amount of money to work on your passions. To me making the dream happen is all part of the journey and to be simply given something to make it easier would take much of the gratification out of the experience. Yes, more innovation can possibly be developed more quickly if money was widely available but much of the experience is how one develops in times of adversity and scarce resources.

I believe it would a disservice to fund an extremely young individual to work solely on their passions with no real experience. Having been learning in the school of hard knocks of the entrepreneurial world under the mentor-ship of many great mentors, I can say it’s a tough out there.

I say this because if someone is just given something of that magnitude then they may not be prepared to handle it. I have been on an entrepreneurial journey for about 5 years now. Most of that time was in school and two years in the professional world working at a bank. Over the years I have tried my hand at over a handful of business ideas where I have invested ample amounts of money and spent many hours on developing. I have learned quite a bit and continue to build upon my experiences so that I can work my way up to doing bigger and bigger things. This past month marks my one year anniversary of pursuing my own endeavors. It was tough first starting out and if it wasn’t for all the lessons over the years of experiences, I would not be who I am today.

I can honestly say that if I was given an easy start from the get go, I would not be who I am today and I wouldn’t trade who I am today for all the money in the world.

Luckily, I see all these years as training and development towards building the mold of who I wish to become. Right now its unfolding nicely and a substantial cash injection would definitely catalyze many great things.

Thanks for sharing the concept of Thrust Fund but I am going to keep on doing what I am doing and if someone approaches me then I will have that discussion and see what unfolds. Let's be honest, a cash infusion in these economic times can do quite a bit of innovation.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

UnUsual Biznuss: How to apply entrepreneurial thinking to addressing social challenges

Well another great RISE Austin has come and passed. It was this time last year when I really started getting into social entrepreneurship. After last year's RISE I set out on a mission to work with a team of very talented and bright social entrepreneurs on developing an eco-system in Austin to foster social innovation. After about nine months of planning and envisioning what it would be like and how it would operate, it all fell apart in a matter of days. It is interesting as to how things can unravel so quickly.

Luckily, I continued on with one of my projects. That of teaching social entrepreneurship to a class of 6th graders at Kealing Middle School through the Citizen Schools after school apprentice program. You can read about that blog here.

With RISE coming around again this year, bigger and better. I volunteered to help Mando Rayo with getting speakers for the multi-cultural series segment of RISE. As more and more of my friends volunteered to host sessions, I would get asked if I was hosting one. After about the fifth inquiry, I was like I am now, lol.

With not much time to plan a presentation, I decided the Wednesday or Thursday before RISE to register for a session, I decided to focus the session on being both a take away and workshop experience. The plan was to talk for like 15 to 20 minutes on my after school social entrepreneurship experience and then engage the audience to go through fast paced versions of the exercises I did with the students. Simple enough.

Well because I delayed in deciding whether or not to host a session, I did not do the proper promotion. I guess one part of me was hoping no one would show up and then another part of me wanted lots of people to show up. Turns out that one person showed up, Maria. A long term veteran in the mobile services industry. I believe she had been working with Sprint since like '95. Maria shared with me that back then, they were telling her that mobile was going to be huge and eventually the norm. That has pretty much come true since then.

Considering that only one person showed up to my session at Cospace, 911 W. Burnet, I adjusted my game plan to fit the situation. Cospace was awesome in hooking up a conference room with a whiteboard so I took full advantage of what was available. I told Maria that I was going to make this more of a one on one workshop to help her find out where her passions lay and how she could do something with her skills to follow suit with her passions. The goal was to show her how in an hour you could apply entrepreneurial thinking to address some social challenge.

Using the entire white board space available, I wrote out four columns; passions/likes, skills, resources, and needs.

Under passions/likes we listed;

networking and meeting people
mobile lifestyle and technology
wanting to do something about human and animal captivity (remember this because I will come back to this later)

Skills & Resources:

Business Development
Networking and social interaction and a vast network
Technology background
Freedom with current job to be out of the office
Access to financial means


Freedom to be out of an office
residual income to sustain lifestyle
Must be doing something that provides some type of value and does good for someone or something.

After we had listed out all this stuff and more, I didnt take notes so I am going all off of memory, lol. So anyways once we had all this listed out. I then went on to dig deeper onto everything. Because quite frankly helping and giving is all types of vague. So I immediately asked "DO you want to give and help animals, women, children, the environment and etc, lets break it down to something specific."

One of the first things that came up was animal captivity and we started talking about elephants chained up and how whenever Maria would see animals in captivity that she would feel real bad. Then from there we led the convo to human captivity and human trafficking. Maria had read somewhere recently that human trafficking is becoming more lucrative for criminals than the drug trade. It turned out that this topic was very close to Maria so we focused on this.

We now how a global social challenge that we could begin to apply entrepreneurial thinking to address. Incorporating her skills and background we decided that it would be best to somehow leverage mobile technology to combat human trafficking. Because of the challenge we selected we also had to add some more things to the needs list; be away from harms way.

To make a 2 hour and 15 minute workshop story short, we ended up coming up with the following idea.

What if there was a program/business/non-profit/something that when a cell phone was bought, a cell phone would be given to someone living in a high risk region of the world for kidnappings, human trafficking and other similar atrocities. That why they could keep in touch with family, be tracked via GPS if taken, the phone network could be leveraged to send out the word when someone went missing so that a network can work together in prevention and retrieval (similar to how you see those warning notices on the express way of what color truck and license plates. But through SMS)

So now that we had a general idea of something that could somewhat address a social challenge. Maria's next question was "So how do we make money off of doing this good?"

Well great question, no one wants to start a venture that loses money. My first suggestion was to have a hybrid type venture where one part of it is non-profit while another portion of it is for profit. The non-profit portion of this imaginary business would be the part that coordinates cell phone carriers, i.e. at&t, sprint, verizon and whomever to participate in this program that would match phone purchases with a phone donations to someone in a high risk region for kidnappings and such to this non-profit. The non-profit would then also serve as the connecting piece to distribute the phones to those in most need. The non-profit arm would also serve as a presence in that area to make people aware of the kidnapping risks in that region and work with the network on retrieval and prevention.

The for profit arm would have to take some thought and time. The initial ideas were to leverage the eventual network of phone recipients as a means to serve up messages and select advertiser mobile offers. Considering that recipients would be in specific areas, we could serve up local business offers to people through this mobile phone network. That was just one of the ideas but there were a few ways to monetize this.

Maria was really excited about having come to the self discovery that she could technically incorporate her passions, skills and resources towards something of meaning and benefit to the world at large by using entrepreneurial thinking to address a social challenge.

My take away from the session/workshop was great. This was the first time I had attempted to do something like this and it went much better than I had anticipated. Maria asked me on several occasions how much I charge to consult people and businesses on how to do this exercise and I said, nothing. I am definitely considering it now and definitely love to do this kind of brainstorming with individuals, groups and organizations all the time.

Innovate on.