How Aaron Patzer of Made $170 Million in Two Years | by Aaron Patzer | October 2009

Aaron Patzer launched as a user-friendly alternative to Quicken and other personal-finance software out there. Little did he know that just two years later, Intuit, which makes Quicken, would fork over $170 million for his website. So how’d he do it? [Read more…]


Fix It – Even If It Ain’t Broke

FastCompany | by Kaihan Krippendorff | October 12, 2009

When something works, people grow fixated on it. They stop looking for alternative options. And this fixation creates an opportunity for those willing to reconsider the accepted approach. The company I introduced last week, Rosetta Stone (RST), hasn’t been satisfied with the fact that its products work. Instead, it continues to challenge the norm. [Read more…]


How to Work More Like a Start-Up | by Darren Dahl | May 2009

The first thing you notice when you walk into the Chicago offices of Total Attorneys, which provides software and services to small law firms, is the number of people on their feet. Every morning, the company’s 180 employees gather around the office in groups of five to 10. Close your eyes, take in the often raucous banter and laughter, and it’s easy to mistake Total Attorneys’s headquarters for a college cafeteria. But these meetings, which last for about 15 minutes, are more than mere employee chitchat. They are intended to create what CEO Ed Scanlan calls controlled chaos.

The inspiration for the gatherings comes from a process for designing software called agile development, which aims to promote flexibility, speed, and teamwork. But rather than limit participation to software engineers, Scanlan has deployed agile development concepts companywide, in a drive to make the seven-year-old business act more like the start-up it once was. [Read more…]


From Crisis to Creative Entrepreneurial Liberation | by Anthony B. Bradley | May 6, 2009

Necessity is the mother of invention, said Plato, and the truth of the proverb has been borne out once again. Necessity is generating entrepreneurial energy amid America’s current economic crisis, according to a new study by the Kansas City-based Kaufman Foundation. The study reveals an increase in business startups during 2008, as the recession was taking hold. The rise is consistent with similar previous trends, such as the boomlet occurring after the tech bust of the 1990s. Throughout human history, a nation’s best resource in time of crisis has been the unleashed creative and entrepreneurial spirit of its citizens.

According to the study, U.S. entrepreneurship rates increased for lowest-income-potential and middle-income-potential types of businesses from 2007 to 2008 but decreased for the highest-income-potential types of businesses. In other words, the highest growth rates were among necessity-inspired everyday Americans. The entrepreneurial spirit embedded in all human persons has been stirred in women and men at all levels of society. [Read more…]


Inspired Misfires – How Hard Could It Be? | by Joel Spolsky | February 2008
Why the most important innovations are often those that appear to be fatally flawed.

I could fill a pretty long book with all the stories of times I thought that an idea was stupid and could never work, only to discover that, in fact, it was pretty inspired. The two bad calls that I’m most proud of? That’s easy: eBay and Wikipedia. [Read more…]


Breaking Through | by Mike Hofman | January 2008
How companies just like yours mushroomed into powerhouses in their industries. A conversation with Keith R. McFarland.

How do you create a breakthrough company? Where do you start?
First, I’d say that it’s not about being in a hot, sexy market. It’s not about having the coolest, hippest product. We came up with an index of companies that grew to a certain level both in terms of their annual revenue and in terms of their financial performance, compared with the rest of their industry. [Read more…]


Private Company Does in 3 Days What Government School Could Not Do in 12 Years

Sylvan Learning Center private company success by John Stossel –
With public schools spending more than $100,000 per student on K-12 education, you’d think they could teach students how to read and write.

South Carolina is one of many states to have trouble with this. It spends $9,000 per student per year, and its state school superintendent told me South Carolina has been “ranked as having some of the highest standards of learning in the entire country.” So let’s ask the infamous question, “Is our children learning?”

Dorian Cain told me he wants to learn to read. He’s 18 years old and in 12th grade, but when I asked him to read from a first-grade level book, he struggled with it.

“Did they try to teach you to read?” I asked him.

“From time to time.”[Read more…]


The Nanny State in Space

SpaceShipOne spacecraft
SpaceShipOne spacecraft

No sooner had SpaceShipOne safely landed in the Mojave Desert, making history as the first privately-funded manned space vehicle, than government officials rekindled their desire to regulate this nascent private industry. Such concern for the safety of future space travelers is commendable but somewhat disingenuous, given Congress’ rather poor record of oversight in maintaining the safety of NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

On Monday, October 4th, 2004, piloted by a civilian, SpaceShipOne reached space for the second time in two weeks. As reward for such a remarkable feat Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a private company headed by aeronautic legend Burt Rutan and funded by billionaire Paul Allen, will receive the $10 million Ansari X-Prize.

The revolutionary SpaceShipOne project was started by Burt Rutan partially in response to the challenge setup by the X-Prize. The prize was created to reward the first privately funded team that sent a three-person spacecraft into space on two different flights within a two-week period. With approximately $30 million in funds Rutan and his group were able to achieve this amazing goal in a relatively short amount of time and claim the award. [Read more…]