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German incubator proves a ‘clone factory’ isn’t a bad thing

I spent time with some of the people I respect most in the startup world on this trip, and also with a couple of Rocket folks. I came away impressed as you can see from my latest post.

Integrating work and home — tech dads need balance too

This is a post I just did that really is important to me, and I’m hoping that others find it valuable.

Maker Faire, flying motorcycles, and opening new worlds

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A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking my two daughters to the Maker Faire.  It was one of those experiences that left me feeling like a pretty cool Dad (and that doesn’t happen all that often!)

In the interest of full disclosure, I had some extra incentive for the trip– one of my friends is the founder of Molnari, the world’s first flying motorcycle company.  When I first met Deszo Molnar, I came home and told Melina about the flying motorcycles.  She thought it was the coolest company I had ever met (and I concur). For a school assignment this year, Melina had to write a persuasive essay in school, and she titled it “Why My Dad Should Invest in Flying Motorcycles.”  It was so awesome, I sent it to Deszo, and it is on his website.  http://www.molnari.com/gyroblog

At a family party a few weeks ago, I had the chance to introduce Melina to Deszo, and he told her that he would take her and her sister for a ride in the motorcycle (but not fly).  Her eyes got big, and there was a combination of excitement and a little fear that I could see.  Excitement trumped fear, and we arranged to make it happen at Maker Faire.

I was totally excited to expose my daughters to some of the really innovative ideas, companies and people at the Faire.  It was everything we expected and more.  Some awesome innovation, and more than a few odd inventions and things I’m not sure will really find a market.

Melina and Nadia loved the next generation lights– some pretty cool stuff there.  They were dumbfounded by the tapigami http://tapigami.com, and I was amazed at the amount of time spent on it– it reminded me of the reaction I have with some of the exhibitions in museums of modern art.  There is a combination of respect, wonder, and pure disbelief that this is being done.

The robots and some of the creations with legos were just plain off-the-charts.  Coming from a background in robotics, I love all the innovation that I see in that arena, and the fact that robotics is really coming into its own, both in the business and the consumer world, makes me very excited about all the opportunities ahead.

Both Melina and Nadia have decided that we need a 3-D printer after taking a look at the things that were built by Makerbot, Shapeways, and others.  3-D printing is really one of the game-changers globally– this technology has changed our world forever.  We haven’t even begun to see what this does to manufacturing, to innovation, and to global economics.  Made in the USA will mean something different going forward.  I’ve already decided that my girls need to learn how to use 3-D modeling software– yesterday.  At Maker Faire, they both walked away with little souvenirs courtesy of the very generous woman who showed Melina and Nadia the printer and some of the creations.

Then onto the highlight of the day.  We went to the Molnari booth just as the Faire was closing.  After telling the girls a bit about the motorcycle, Deszo put Melina in the back seat and drove her around for a while, drawing attention from everyone.  She was grinning ear-to-ear, and totally excited.  Nadia was supposed to be next, but one of the Faire officials told us that we couldn’t drive the vehicle until the Faire was completely clear of people, which he thought would be an hour or two.  Then he looked at Nadia, and her dejected face, and said he couldn’t keep her from a ride.  She got her turn, and I think she was even more excited than her sister.

There is nothing like seeing a look of sheer happiness on the faces of your children, and as most parents can attest, it doesn’t happen every day! For me, this was an all-around winner– I exposed Melina and Nadia to some of the coolest technology anywhere, and got to see the looks of wonderment and the huge smiles of pure enjoyment!

Would you give up half your company for $250K?

Rare interview: Oliver Samwer explains how Rocket has soared above its copycat rep

The real opportunity for payment startups: simplicity

My latest post on financial services– there will be more on different topics where I see some great opportunities.

On the Set at CookTasteEat

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I had the pleasure of joining the @CookTasteEat team on the set this past week and have nothing but gratitude for their warm hospitality!  It was an amazing experience, and they were extremely gracious in hosting Melina, Nadia and me.

Personally, I’m blown away by the way this team is so focused on producing a top quality product.  It pervades everything that they do, from the attention to detail with each recipe, the amazing guests, the high quality production and set, and that doesn’t even begin to speak about the food!  It is a huge differentiator for the company and the people, and I am very proud to be part of the team.

For Melina and Nadia, this was an amazing experience.  I love to expose them to different experiences, and allow them to see some of the myriad opportunities that they will have as they grow up.  Both of them loved the opportunity to say “Action!” when it was time to shoot, but the people and the food stole the show for them.   I loved all of the different conversations, from Melina explaining that her favorite food was clams, to even guessing that they were going to cook creme brulee, and both of my girls talking way too much about funny family stories.  Michelle was so good to the girls, listening to all of their stories!

Melina and Nadia had a blast, and they loved the food, and tried everything.  Lamb.  Caviar.  Creme brulee.  Strawberry short cake.  And salad (which made Dad very happy).  They tried everything, and there wasn’t anything on the menu that they didn’t like.  And some things I could hardly stop them from eating!

I can’t wait for the next time, and I am very excited about all of the opportunities ahead for CookTasteEat.  Some great partnerships coming, and with the continued dedication to quality, the sky is the limit for this team!