Winterim Day 4: Part 1, Dr. Richard Merkin, FasterCures

On 12 Jan 2012, the Tbird Entrepreneurship Winterim (#eWinterim) visited with Dr. Richard Merkin, of FasterCures, and Kimberly Fowler, Founder of YAS (Yoga & Spinning). Both came from very different professional backgrounds (Richard, trained as an MD, and Kimberly as an attorney), but ended up as entrepreneurs in areas they are passionate about. The commonalities in their stories relate to the “do what you love” theme, and also that prior educational and work training positioned both of them to apply themselves in new and relevant ways as entrepreneurs later in life.  My first in this two-part blog edition covers Faster Cures, while part two of two will cover YAS. Richard’s session focused on several problems currently existing in the healthcare industry, and how he has set out to solve them. The first issue revolves around motivation in the healthcare industry. What motivates doctors? What motivates patients? What motivates hospitals? What motivates insurance companies? Well, apparently all different things. But in theory, the motivations can and should converge–this convergence of disparate incentives and motivations is one of the key goals that Richard’s business, FasterCures, focuses on. As an example, on the doctor side, the input, the way money is managed, greatly….

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Day 3 of Entrepreneurship Winterim #eWinterim

The night of 11 Jan 2012 the 2012 Thunderbird School of Global Management Entrepreneurship Winterim was in for a real treat.  A tasty treat.  A hot dog treat (and hamburgers, turkey burgers, turkey dogs, AND veggie dogs), with all the fixins that only Pink’s Famous Hot Dogs (http://www.pinkshollywood.com/), an LA local favorite, can serve up.  The owners, Gloria and Richard (both UCLA alumni), were kind enough to host twenty Tbirds at their flagship restaurant in Hollywood (709 N. LaBrea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039). In business since the Great Depression (1939 to be exact), Pink’s was founded by Richard’s parents, Paul and Betty Pink. as a hot dog cart in the same location where a quick-service restaurant now stands in Hollywood.  Other than the ever-expanding menu, which has countless items designed, ordered, and consumed by celebrities, not much has changed over the years.  Pink’s value proposition is still quality and service. According to Gloria, the food creation process is not a cookie cutter process–it is really made to order, giving the customer the ability to customize in many dimensions. There is even a vegan option. As Gloria put it, “we want to have something for everybody.” As I see it,….

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Day 2 of Entrepreneurship Winterim #eWinterim

On Tuesday, Jan 10 2012, the Tbird 2012 Entrepreneurship Winterim group (#EWinterim on Twitter) visited some exciting companies in the San Diego area, all involving a Tbird founder or driving force. First we met with Zuumcraft President, Jim Scott, who talked with us about his product (an electric scooter that is between the scooter and electric bicycle space) and gave us a demo. He already has a product built, and is leveraging a manufacturer he met through a third party to produce the initials, with investment from friends and family. He is currently in the fundraising phase, and has some interesting thoughts on the type of investors he wanted.  For Jim, one big donor is the ideal situation, rather than lots of smaller donors. The obvious benefit of one big donor is removing complexity introduced by adding stakeholders to deal with and report too, but the chief negative is the likelihood of that one donor to want to meddle in the day to day issues of the company (not that the small donors wouldn’t also have a propensity to meddle). However does it really matter where the money is coming from? Sure, it is good to target a specific type….

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Day 1 of Entrepreneurship Winterim #eWinterim

The 2012 Thunderbird Entrepreneurship Winterim, which I have been on for the past week, has so far been to San Diego and Los Angeles. This first series of blogs that will post will summarize, one day at a time, the highlights of the visits. Starting on Monday, Jan 9 2012, we got a taste of the entrepreneur lifestyle via alum, and successful founder, investor, and entrepreneur, Howard Lindzon. One of the key messages of the session was that the basic ingredient substrate for a successful entrepreneur (or investor) is subject knowledge depth coupled with passion.  Take StockTwits, Howard’s own company, which he started on Coronado Island in San Diego.  Even though he is in a “small pond” (his words), he has proved that this model can still work because of his subject matter depth (focus), and passion for the subject matter itself.  This disciplined focus was something that he did not necessarily have early on in his career, as he drifted in and out of different phases, ideas, and adventures–he reflected back on many missed opportunities, and how he could have been even more ahead of the curve in his chosen field if he had continued with it from his….

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Organized Chaos

Organized chaos is what I like to call the “on the ground” situation in Egypt and India, and I imagine in most other developing countries, where nothing works yet everything works at the same time.  It is the paradox that comes when basic things break down, yet life still needs to move ahead.  It is the optimization that occurs by individually, each doing what is best for them, that creates a dis-optimization for society.  However, even while not optimal, the state created is functional, so life can move on….

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