June 2011

The editorial theme for this issue of the OSBR is Technology Entrepreneurship. As with our May issue, which shares this theme, 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.

Robert Poole, CEO of FreebirdConnect.com, describes the benefits of starting a business that leverages an existing platform and outlines three key business models that are relevant to entrepreneurs taking this approach: multi-sided platforms, long-tail markets, and freemium business models. He describes his own platform-based business and the steps that an entrepreneur can follow to start a business on this platform without substantial startup capital. He argues that entrepreneurs receive the following benefits when starting a business on an existing platform: lower risk of failure, low start-up costs, decreased time to market, rapid scaling, continual customer feedback, and simplicity.

Daniel Crenna was the CEO of Lunarbits, a technology startup company from the Lead to Win ecosystem. Lunarbits has recently closed its doors due to a variety of factors, which Daniel describes in his article. He argues that we have as much to learn by analyzing the causes of failure as we do from celebrating success stories. He describes the entrepreneurial pitfalls of relying too much on the validation of an idea from non-customers and of visualizing a software application only using static mockups. He attributes the failure of Lunarbits, in part, to his inability to find a suitable co-founder and to an overemphasis on developing a solution to a problem he could identify with, rather than a problem that was generally experienced by others. He analyzes and shares his own experiences to increase the chances that his next venture will succeed, but also so that others can benefit from the lessons he has learned.

Frank Horsfall from Carleton University's Technology Innovation Management program describes a new rapid prototyping environment to help student entrepreneurs in that program. This environment supports a collaborative entrepreneurial community that is building complementary products around a core platform. The entrepreneurs using this environment benefit from access to a flexible, high-performance workspace that is designed to help them rapidly test and evolve their prototypes and then support them through the development of production-quality releases that are ready to bring to market.

Ali Kousari, CTO of Systema Technologies in Geneva, reviews the challenges facing technology startups under traditional funding models, particularly the difficulty in accessing venture capital funds in today's economic climate. He describes new funding approaches, including seed funding and crowd funding, that can provide startups with small investments to help them develop their good ideas into feasible ventures, which may increase the likelihood of larger investment later. He combines these new approaches with an ecosystem perspective to suggest ways of enhancing the current funding situation and moving towards a new model of funding technology startups.

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 July issue, 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 this theme; the deadline is June 15th. 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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