Posted by & filed under Kauffman Felllows.

PeriscopeTHE CHANGING SHAPE OF VENTURE CAPITAL MARKETS: Accelerators, Disruption and the Evolving Role of Corporations

You can find it here.


Over the last five years we have seen tremendous changes in the venture capital industry, no more so than in early stage investing, where there have been waves of new funding and programs: angels, angel funds, seed funds, accelerators, and accelerators growing into funds.


My focus has been on creating and implementing innovation/accelerator programs, in partnership with corporations and venture firms, to build and support entrepreneur ecosystems.  In running the Citrix Startup Accelerator, I managed a seed fund and placed 31 investments, many of which are developing into great companies.  We also created a three-month accelerator program, the Innovators Program, in which we brought forward the best practices around lean startup and design thinking to ecosystems around the world: Silicon Valley, Raleigh, Santa Barbara, and Bangalore.  We worked with 70 teams, including a number of intrapreneur teams, mixed with entrepreneurs, which was really pushing the envelope!


It was a great challenge and I’m really proud of what our team accomplished.  But a question still nagged at me: What else is going on out there?  While we’re creating great new startup programs, what else is going on around the world?  What other great new programs are being created?


At the same time, I was going through the Kauffman Fellows Program, a two-year leadership program for venture capitalists and innovators of all kinds.  In my class, I got to know thirty-five fantastic people active in many different parts of the venture industry.  I learned a lot from them, and I still am, but, again, I asked myself how I could learn from the other 400 Kauffman Fellows from 50 countries, who have been part of the society for the last 20 years?


I started an ongoing research project to talk with as many Kauffman Fellows as possible and develop a report on the evolution of the venture capital industry.  This week at the Global Corporate Venture Conference, I am releasing the first report:

THE CHANGING SHAPE OF VENTURE CAPITAL MARKETS: Accelerators, Disruption and the Evolving Role of Corporations

You can find it here.




Posted by & filed under Innovators Program, Raleigh.

Editor’s Note: The Raleigh Innovators Program is a three-month lean startup and design-thinking accelerator that aims to cultivate breakthrough mobile, cloud, and collaboration technologies. Supported by a coalition of organizations including Citrix Startup Accelerator, Red Hat, Cherokee, HQ Raleigh, and the City of Raleigh, there are 12 teams participating in this year’s program. Of those teams, four are “intrapreneurial” teams from Red Hat and Citrix, three are clean tech teams supported by Cherokee, and the rest are early-stage technology startups. This blog series takes a closer look at the 2015 cohort.


With the proliferation of accelerators in recent years, it can be difficult for these accelerators to differentiate themselves and build a strong profile. Successful accelerators tend to be laser focused on specific subject matter expertise. The Citrix Startup Accelerator has carved out a niche in corporate innovation and enterprise technology since it launched in 2011. One differentiator that the Innovators Program offers is a blended cohort that takes external startups from each region and puts them alongside Intrapreneurs from Citrix and its corporate partners. Today, we take a look at the four Intrapreneur teams from Citrix and Red Hat – Addo, Coco, Collider, and Para.


Citrix Team Addo

Online training is usually delivered through one of two mediums: recorded asynchronous video through a learning management system (LMS) or live, instructor-led trainings through an online product. Addo, developed by Hudson Haines and Sujan Abraham from Citrix, is a product aimed at disrupting the traditional training space.


The team’s product combines two of the most widely used delivery methods into a single, simple interface to offer a different style of online learning. Hudson and Sujan came up with the idea after competing in the Citrix Hack Week challenge. Since developing the original concept, the idea has been shaped through speaking with customers and gaining a better understanding of their pain points.


Citrix Team Coco

Citrix colleagues Anuja Gogate, Ryan Morton, and John Totten are creating Coco, a tool to help teams get the context they need to accelerate decision-making. The team recognized that people are under a constant barrage of emails, texts, invites, and notifications. Further, people use several tools to manage all of these types of communications. This approach leads to constantly switching between tools, which can make decision-making complicated and slow. Coco aims to bring all messaging, file sharing, and meeting tools together in one easy-to-use platform.


With fierce competition, the team is interested in gaining an understanding of how to communicate the value of their idea and bring it to market. They have gained so much from the Innovators Program and credit the program with pushing them to maintain momentum.


While the team is seeking to grow their business, they have a positive attitude and believe the lean, iterative, and user-centered approach obtained from participating in this project will help them with their goal of making the best products possible.


Red Hat Team Collider

Red Hatters Lincoln Baxter, III; Ian Hands; Jozef Hartinger; and Josh Kinlaw are working to enhance developers’ awareness of projects and help them collaborate with other developers. Across the industry, developers spend hours trying to address problems that may have already been solved. By bringing the right answers to the right people at the right time, the team believes they can help developers save time and get un-stuck. The app can connect developers with others around the world, or locally on their team, who may have already experienced a similar issue. As such, it encourages collaboration and productivity by helping individuals make connections with their peers.


As part of the Innovator’s Program, the team has been learning how to engage customers and validate an idea. The first step of the process is discovery – speaking with and interviewing industry developers. These conversations with developers has helped the team to hone their vision for Collider.


Citrix Team Para

Team members Virginia Moundous, Kevin Tuttle, and Kelley Allen believe that seven out of 10 people check their phones while driving, presenting significant safety issues. After extensive testing, the team believes that many apps claiming to be safer solutions or that use hands-free voice recognition to perform tasks were not always reliable and could leave the end-user hanging.


They began working on Para, a mobile app designed to help busy professionals stay productive and connected when on the go. The app is designed to be simple and easy-to-use and relies on an innovative gesture and voice interface. Using only four main gestures, people can have the app speak to them as they navigate. The goal is to meet National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards and have most of the tasks performed on the app to rank at a two or lower according to the AAA distracted driving study.


So far the team has found that the biggest obstacle to bringing their product to market is time, but they are also excited by how much they are learning from the Innovators Program. They’ve learned how important it is to have a more holistic view of the business and bigger appreciation for all moving parts.


All teams will present their businesses to the Raleigh innovation community Tuesday, December 8th, at Market Hall in Downtown Raleigh. For tickets, please visit:


This post was authored by the Red Hat team with assistance from Citrix and the featured teams. For more information on the Innovators Program, please visit


Posted by & filed under Innovators Program, Startup Accelerator.

Dancing Elephants

“Dancing elephants” was the term I heard used this week to describe corporations trying to be agile.  Many corporations are looking to leverage the movements around lean startup, agile development and accelerators to change their cultures and bring new products to market faster.  But it’s not an easy transition.

The rub is that these large businesses are not only not good at disruptive innovation, they are fundamentally organized to resist break-through change.   We have known this for about 20 years, since Clayton Christiansen documented the phenomena in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997): When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. He highlights that successful organizations with profitable business models lose their ability to innovate.  “The reason is that good management itself was the root cause…The very decision-making and resource-allocation processes that are key to the success of established companies are the very processes that reject disruptive technologies… These are the reasons why great firms stumbled or failed when confronted with disruptive technological change”.

But now the business environment itself has fundamentally changed, particularly for mature companies that are under pressure like never before. A few months ago Steve Blank wrote the foreword for the The Startup Ecosystem Report Series from  In it he highlighted the “decline of the blue chip” and noted the increased “topple rate” of S&P 500 companies.  “Back in the 1930’s, a company coming on the S&P 500 list could expect to remain there for 65 years… the average life-time of a company on the S&P 500 has declined to about 15 years, a decline of almost 80%… Businesses … do not know how to adapt to the new conditions of the Information Era, and thus await a languishing future to be followed soon by death.” (See a few of Steve Blank’s blog posts on his observations working with large organizations below).

Over the last 15 years we have witnessed a new breed of startups that has been heavily funded by venture capital and are disrupting every industry.  The examples are numerous in technology, media, hospitality, transportation and just about any other industry you can think of.  Now the elephants feel they need to learn to dance or face extinction.

At the Citrix Startup Accelerator we help teach elephants how to dance and how to invest in the best startups and internal teams (intrapreneurs).  In the last five years we have deployed seed capital into over 30 startups, with many now blossoming into areas like scalable super-computing, machine learning, real time identity management, optimized wireless networks and other key software stack areas.

In the last two years our three month  Innovators Program has trailblazed a new framework for bringing design thinking, lean startup techniques and internal corporate teams together.  We’ve been running our Accelerator for nearly 5 years now and with all the new accelerators coming to market, our program is still the only one that combines the most promising enterprise technology startups to work alongside internal corporate product teams in every cohort.  We are currently running our fifth Innovators Program, and have worked with over 60 teams.  We worked with partners such as Red Hat, Cherokee Fund, Arrow Electronics, Silicon Valley Bank, Ricoh Innovation, HQ Raleigh, StartupSB, Nasscom and internal Citrix business units pioneering our partner led, open innovation platform. If your company or organization would like to join us in running an Innovators Program please contact me at

Our current cohort in the Research Triangle Area will be pitching at our Demo Day on December 8th, 2015.  If you would like to join and see eight startups and four internal teams present please RSVP here.


Further reading:

Making Elephants Dance – Lean Startup for Corporations.  Presentation on SlideShare.

Steve Blank’s blog posts over the last year as he has taken on the task of applying lean startup principals to large successful organizations.   Check out:

Hacking a Corporate Culture: Stories, Heroes and Rituals in Startups and Companies

Posted on September 9, 2015 by steveblank |

Corporate Innovation Requires an Innovation Culture
Innovation in an existing company is not just the sum of great technology, key acquisitions and smart people. Corporate innovation needs a culture that matches and supports it. Often this means a change to the company’s existing culture.

Why Corporate Entrepreneurs are Extraordinary – the Rebel Alliance

Posted on August 25, 2015 by steveblank |

I’ve spent this year working with corporations and government agencies that are adopting and adapting Lean Methodologies. The biggest surprise for me was getting schooled on how extremely difficult it is to be an innovator inside a company of executors. —– What Have We Lost?