May 2011

The editorial theme for this issue of the OSBR is Technology Entrepreneurship. We have invited entrepreneurs associated with the Technology Innovation Management (TIM) program at Carleton University to share their lessons and insights about growing a technology company during its early stages. The authors represent a range of entrepreneurial experience, from serial entrepreneurs reflecting on battles won and lost, to first-time entrepreneurs describing the early twists and turns of transforming ideas into ventures.

What is common to all the articles is the approach to entrepreneurship that is nurtured in the TIM program. The TIM program is a graduate program that distinguishes itself by offering three important benefits to its students: i) a Master's degree by research; ii) opportunities for personal brand development; and iii) practical, real-world experience. In particular, personal brand development and real-world experience are gained by applying the program's lessons and the products of the student's own research to assist early-stage technology companies. If the student is an entrepreneur, they have the added benefit of applying their research and learning to further their own opportunity. In this issue, entrepreneurs from the TIM program share some of the key lessons they have learned.

Michael Ayukawa, founder of Cornerportal, reflects upon the shifts in his entrepreneurial world view framework that came about from his participation in the Lead to Win business ecosystem and his graduate studies in the TIM program. By describing the transformation and adaptation of Cornerportal's strategy in response to the shifting world view of the entrepreneurs behind it, he highlights the transformative effect of collectives on an entrepreneur's view of their environment and options.

Natasha D'Souza, founder of Virtual EyeSee, describes a problem for which she is currently developing a business opportunity to solve: helping parents provide adequate and appropriate support to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism. She uses this problem as a case study to illustrate how the implementation of a facial emotion recognition software application might be substantially different depending on the development and commercialization approach used. The article focuses on the impact of leveraging collectives to develop compelling solutions that increase the likelihood of entrepreneurial success.

Fred Dixon, CEO of Blindside Networks, shares key lessons learned while balancing the demands of building an open source business and nurturing the open source project that the business depends on. He shares lessons from BigBlueButton, an open source web conferencing system developed in the TIM program, and he shares lessons from Blindside Networks, a company that was spun out of Carleton University to provide commercial support to academic institutions.

Arthur Low, founder and CTO of Crack Semiconductor, retraces the history of key advances in the integrated circuits and electronic design automation tool industry to show that a shift from proprietary to open source tools now means that viable business models exist for small companies to create advanced silicon intellectual property. He provides two case studies to show how the shift to open source has made this high-end technology accessible to low-budget startups.

Igor Sales and Aparna Shanker outline the business opportunity they are developing within the TIM program to help bring together freelance Android developers and the software development firms in need of them. The key aspects of their opportunity are: i) the creation of a strong collective of Android developers and companies and ii) the means to prove the expertise and reputation of developers within the collective.

We encourage readers to share articles of interest with their colleagues and to provide their comments either online or directly to the authors.

For the upcoming June issue, we continue the theme of Technology Entrepreneurship. We encourage any entrepreneurs who wish to share their insights and lessons to submit articles for this issue before May 15th. In July, we focus on Women Entrepreneurs and welcome submissions that shed light on the particular challenges of increasing the number of women in founding and leadership positions. Please contact me if you are interested in submitting an article for either of these themes; we also welcome general submissions on the topic of open source business or the growth of early-stage technology companies.

Chris McPhee


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