Sometimes, a real no-brainer, problem-solver of a product can crash and burn spectacularly upon entering the market. This isn’t limited to the Pepsi Clears of the world, where sheer ridiculousness doomed the idea from the start: According to Nielsen data, 85 percent of new consumer packaged goods will fail within two years. Marketing snafus, bad luck and timing aside, pitfalls in the process of product design are often to blame. Catching oneself before blundering into them takes a conscious effort, as several local designers and makers illustrate.
It’s an unwritten but long-standing axiom in business: You can’t get to the top alone. You need a mentor in your corner who is older and wiser. As a young, aspiring publisher almost 27 years ago, I certainly had help from all around. The business owners with whom I spoke supported me with their wisdom, as they continue to do today. I’ve received guidance, know its value and am extremely grateful.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a 3-year-old book in recent days- — even more so in the aftermath of the recent study mission to Chicago. The book is Brad Feld’s Startup Communities — a how-to manual for building vibrant, connected communities of innovative companies and entrepreneurs.
Last December we featured regional designers who create unique, user-friendly art (“Function with Flair,” Allison Joy, December 2014).
Here is a look at what they have been up to this past year.
I just started a new job where I am an exempt employee. When I started, I was asked to provide a “regular work schedule” that I selected as 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. When I inquired about coming in at 8:30 on Monday and Friday mornings, my employer said they didn’t favor that and as a new employee, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing back. As an exempt employee, what are the rules about standard hours?
Every well-meaning small business owner is capable of inflicting wounds that stifle drive, trust, employee engagement and motivation. Maybe not as blatantly as calling out incompetence, but neglect and disrespect through lack of communication de-motivates too. Worst of all, we don’t even know we are doing it.
Hacker Lab co-founder and CEO Gina Lujan has been focused on entrepreneurship for over two decades. Hacker Lab’s 10,500-square-foot space in midtown Sacramento had become a hub of innovation for numerous creators and doers in the Sacramento Region, from artists to engineers. The site has been so successful it has opened a second site in Rocklin. We sat down with her recently to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the hacker innovation space.
Anthony Costello had the next generation of medicine in mind when he launched Mytrus in 2009. The Davis-based company created a system that helps patients fill out consent forms electronically and participate in clinical trials for new drugs and therapies from the comfort of their homes.
“In order for a company like VSP to be around for 60 years, we’ve had to be innovative — to change who we are,” says incoming CEO Jim McGrann, who used to be the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Plenty of companies like to toss around buzzwords like “innovation,” but it’s usually just an empty slogan. VSP has spurred innovation by creating The Shop, launching their Project Genesis, and supporting a 90-day rotational program that lets everyday employees — no matter what division they work in — pitch new ideas and brainstorm new products.
Giving customers price incentives to use less energy during peak periods is a key feature of SMUD’s smart grid. That new metering system is designed to let both the utility and customers better monitor energy use in homes. Now SMUD is hoping to take its grid to the next level. It’s partnering with entrepreneurs who can give customers technology that lets them use SMUD’s price incentives to save money
Arrhythmias (irregular or erratic heart rhythms) can lead to heart failure, stroke or cardiac arrest. That’s why cardiologists at UC Davis Medical Center aim to treat it efficiently and completely with a remotely operated magnet-guided catheter system — the first of its kind to be used in the Sacramento area.