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3 Sentences an Entrepreneur Should Never Say to an Investor Under Any Circumstances
February 3, 2019 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Fundraising has always been, and will remain one of the most challenging elements of building a startup for a first time entrepreneur. We have already covered how to answer some of the most common investor questions.

Communicating effectively throughout the process with an investor is also imperative to your success, even when communicating digitally. There are also many things entrepreneurs should never say to anyone, but there are certain phrases that people say to investors all the time, that upon those words being uttered, the meeting is instantly over, even if it officially continues for an hour.

Here are three things entrepreneurs should never, under any circumstances, say to an investor:

“Can you sign an NDA?”

How does anyone, in their right mind, think it is ok to ask an investor, or for that matter, anyone they are going to for advice or assistance, to sign an NDA? I can tell you as someone who meets and helps entrepreneurs a few times a day, that if someone asks me to sign an NDA, all I hear is “Listen, I want your help, but really, I don’t trust you enough to tell you what I am building so please waste your time helping me, even though I am not paying you, and even though I think you are a dishonest person who is going to steal my idea or give it to my competitor.”

In other words, asking me, or an investor to sign an NDA, is not only ineffective, it is highly offensive, not to mention, a waste of your time, but more on that later.

“I have no competitors.”

Any entrepreneur who says they have no competitors says it because they think it will make a positive impression that the whole market is sitting and waiting for their solution while everyone else missed the opportunity. The reality? Quite the opposite.

If you tell an investor that you have no competitors, you are either not prepared for the meeting and didn’t do competitive analysis or you don’t understand the meaning of a competitor. Alternatively, if you say you have no competitors, you might actually be lying to the investor and even worse, to yourself.

No matter which one of those reasons is true, saying you have no competitors is about the dumbest thing you can say to an investor and makes the worst possible impression.

Why? If you have competitors, if you have many competitors, other companies trying to solve the same problem as you, that means one thing. There is a real problem that people want a solution to, which means there is a huge opportunity. Others are trying to solve it? So what? Many are trying to cure cancer. The problem still exists and whoever solves it will get a Nobel prize. 

“No one can steal my tech because I have patents.”

Oh man, when I hear these words mentioned by an entrepreneur, I genuinely do not know whether to laugh or cry. This is similar to the NDA question in that, even if you have patents or an NDA, neither of them will really protect you in the wild jungle that is startup life.

Think about it. Imagine you have a signed NDA or a patent for your technology, and a huge multi national corporation who you showed it to, steals it. Now what? You are going to spend the next 5 years of your life and the 30 cents you have in the bank to litigate and sue this company? Really? That is what you think is the most effective use of your time and money? News flash: It isn’t.

I know that patent attorneys might take offense to this, but in 2019, your defense or your barrier is not a patent or an NDA, it is execution. You don’t have to be the first to do it, and if others try to do what you’re doing, you need to beat them not on timing, but on building the best version of your vision.

Apple wasn’t first. In fact, Apple was told they don’t stand a chance because Nokia and Blackberry own the market. Facebook wasn’t first or last and Zuck was told he has no chance because MySpace has market dominance. And the list goes on.

Don’t be first and try to prevent others from entering the market. Instead, focus your time and resources on executing in a way that no one else can copy. That beats your patents and NDAs any day of the week.

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China's ties with Taiwan chip firms under scrutiny as U.S. trade war heats up
November 7, 2018 12:03 am|Comments (0)

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Washington’s decision to cut off U.S. supplies to a Chinese chip-maker spotlights mounting tensions over China’s drive to be a global player in computer chips and the ways in which Taiwan companies are helping it get there.

FILE PHOTO: Men walk past a signboard of chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) in Hsinchu, Taiwan January 10, 2006. REUTERS/Richard Chung/File Photo

Shut out of major global semiconductor deals in recent years, China has been quietly strengthening cooperation with Taiwan chip firms by encouraging the transfer of chip-making expertise into the mainland.

Taiwan chip giant United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) (2303.TW) last week halted research and development activities with its Chinese state-backed partner Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd, following the U.S. move.

Taiwan firms such as UMC have helped supply China with a steady pipeline of chip expertise in exchange for access to the fast-growing chip market there.   

China has faced a shortage of integrated circuit (IC) chips for years. In 2017, it imported $ 270 billion worth of semiconductors, more than its imports of crude oil.  

At least 10 joint ventures or technology partnerships have been set up in the last few years between Chinese and Taiwanese firms, according to industry experts, luring Taiwanese talent with hefty salaries and generous perks.

“Such companies will need to also take care to ensure no patent or IP infringement is involved as the U.S. has export control means to restrict support of critical technology,” said Randy Abrams, an analyst at Credit Suisse in Taipei.

Among the most valuable cross-strait partnerships for China would be ones that strengthen its foundry services and memory chip production. Those two sectors require much-needed help from overseas firms due to the complexity of the manufacturing technologies and intense capital requirements, analysts have said.

TRADE TENSIONS

But the technology transfer between China and self-ruled Taiwan has raised concerns amid the Sino-U.S. trade war and escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

China has aggressively used “market-distorting subsidies” and “forced technology transfers” to capture traditional and emerging technology industries, Brent Christensen, the director of America’s de facto embassy in Taipei, told a business gathering in late September.

“These actions are harming the United States’ economy, Taiwan’s economy, and other economies.”

Taiwan is one of the largest exporters of IC globally and many worry the island could lose a key economic engine to its political foe.

Taiwan’s government views the island’s chipmakers’ cooperation with China cautiously and has implemented policies to ensure Taiwan’s most advanced technology is not transferred.

“When businesses go to the mainland to invest in wafer production, they must accept controls including one that requires the manufacturing technology to be a generation behind,” the economics ministry’s industrial development bureau said in a statement to Reuters.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CONCERNS

Cooperation between UMC and Fujian Jinhua came under scrutiny last month, when the U.S. government put the Chinese company on a list of entities that cannot buy components, software and technology goods from U.S. firms amid allegations it stole intellectual property from U.S.-based Micron Technology. Fujian Jinhua denied the allegations.

Fujian Jinhua now faces big challenges to reach commercial high volume production as expected in 2020, industry observers say.

Last week, both UMC and Fujian Jinhua, which was only founded in 2016, were charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from Micron in a U.S. Justice Department indictment.

“Taiwanese tech companies need to carefully re-evaluate their positions and supply chain arrangements as the tension between the two super powers escalates,” Bernstein analyst Mark Li said.

While China will need at least six years before it can catch up in chip manufacturing, according to some estimates, the scale of its chip-making abilities is already seen as a threat in other parts of the chip supply chain.

Barely 2-1/2 years after breaking ground on a 12-inch wafer plant in China, Nexchip, a joint venture between the Chinese city of Hefei and Taiwan DRAM maker Powerchip, started producing 8,000 wafers a month. Wafers are thin pieces of material, usually consisting of silicon, used to make semiconductor chips.

Nexchip’s main goal is to produce liquid crystal display driver ICs for flat-panel makers.

Using Powerchip’s resources and Taiwanese talent, which make up a quarter of its 1,200 employees, Nexchip is helping reduce China’s reliance on foreign chip suppliers.

With an aim to become “the world’s No.1 chipmaker for display drivers,” Nexchip plans to build three more 12-inch wafer plants and ramp up its monthly production to 20,000 wafers by 2019, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

After visiting Nexchip late last year, researchers from Taiwan’s chip hub, Hsinchu Science Park, said progress at the Hefei plant was a “breakthrough”.

“This will likely increase Taiwan firms’ needs to invest in the China market, and it will be a test for the (Taiwan) government’s industrial policy.”

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu and Yimou Lee in Taipei

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Facebook says users must accept targeted ads even under new EU law
April 18, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

MENLO PARK, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Tuesday it would continue requiring people to accept targeted ads as a condition of using its service, a stance that may help keep its business model largely intact despite a new European Union privacy law.

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The EU law, which takes effect next month, promises the biggest shakeup in online privacy since the birth of the internet. Companies face fines if they collect or use personal information without permission.

Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said the social network would begin seeking Europeans’ permission this week for a variety of ways Facebook uses their data, but he said that opting out of targeted marketing altogether would not be possible.

“Facebook is an advertising-supported service,” Sherman said in a briefing with reporters at Facebook’s headquarters.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

Facebook users will be able to limit the kinds of data that advertisers use to target their pitches, he added, but “all ads on Facebook are targeted to some extent, and that’s true for offline advertising, as well.”

Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, will use what are known as “permission screens” – pages filled with text that require pressing a button to advance – to notify and obtain approval.

The screens will show up on the Facebook website and smartphone app in Europe this week and globally in the coming months, Sherman said.

The screens will not give Facebook users the option to hit “decline.” Instead, they will guide users to either “accept and continue” or “manage data setting,” according to copies the company showed reporters on Tuesday.

“People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want,” Sherman said.

Regulators, investors and privacy advocates are closely watching how Facebook plans to comply with the EU law, not only because Facebook has been embroiled in a privacy scandal but also because other companies may follow its lead in trying to limit the impact of opt-outs.

Last month, Facebook disclosed that the personal information of millions of users, mostly in the United States, had wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, leading to U.S. congressional hearings and worldwide scrutiny of Facebook’s commitment to privacy.

Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner warned in February the company could see a drop-off in usage due to the EU law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Lisa Shumaker

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Under Armour's Olympic Speed Skating Suit Looks to Defeat Physics
January 23, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

The speed skating suit has always been the technical marvel of the Winter Olympics. With high-tech fabrics and unusual construction, it’s designed to eek out every bit of athletic optimization. In a sport where a thousandth of a second can determine who gets a medal and who doesn’t, athletes rely on technology to give them an edge. “We’re trying to get the body to be more aerodynamic than it is in its natural state,” says Clay Dean, chief innovation officer at Under Armour, the company behind the suit the US speed skating team will wear in PyeongChang this February.

Speed skaters wage a battle with physics every time they race. As their muscular bodies cut through the air at more than 30 mph, they leave a trail of drag in their wake. The key to winning (against physics and humans alike) is to reduce the amount of air resistance a body produces. Part of it is stance—to minimize their body’s effect, skaters fold themselves over, keeping their backs flat like a table top—and part of it is suit.

Under Armour’s new suit is an overhaul to the Mach 39, the controversial uniform that many blamed for the US team’s poor performance in Sochi. In 2014, not a single US speed skater medaled, despite the high prospects going into the Olympics. Under Armour was a natural scapegoat.

In the lead up to the game, the company heralded the Mach 39 as the fastest suit ever designed. The bodysuits were made from a dimpled polyurethane material designed to divert air drag; designers placed a large, latticed vent in the back of the suit to let the athletes bodies breathe. It turned out that the vent allowed too much air to enter the suit, creating a vacuum behind the athletes that slowed them as they skated.

Damien Maloney for WIRED

This year’s suit has no vent. Instead, it’s stitched together from three fabrics like a couture gown. One of those fabrics, a white nylon spandex mix called H1, runs down the suit’s arms and legs in patches. The fabric’s jacquard weave creates an almost imperceptible roughness in the surface. “I would describe it as a very fine grit sandpaper,” says Chris Yu, director of integrated technologies at Specialized, the company responsible for the hundreds of hours of wind tunnel testing the suit underwent.

The texture creates pockets in the surface that make the suit more breathable. It also makes the suit more aerodynamic. Yu explains that anything punching a hole in the air will leave a wake or vacuum behind it. Speed skaters need to make that hole as small as possible. Cylindrical objects like arms and legs are particularly troublesome since wind tends to wrap around them, creating vacuum that can slow skaters’ speed. Anywhere you see the H1 fabric is a trouble spot for wind resistance. Under Armour and Specialized claim the small dimples on the surface of the suit disrupt the airflow ever so slightly, causing the air to re-energize and reattach to the limbs so the vacuum is reduced. “Call it the golf ball dimple effect, if you will,” Yu says.

Golf balls have dimples across the entirety of their surface because there’s no way to account for how the ball will fly through the air. Skaters, on the other hand, move in controlled and predictable ways, making only left turns as they sprint around the track. This predictability allowed the designers to position the H1 material in precise locations on the suit. “You can’t add roughness willy nilly,” Yu says. “If you add too much you’ll introduce more drag; add too little and you’re not re-energizing the air quite enough.”

Damien Maloney for WIRED

Damien Maloney for WIRED

The rest of the suit is made from a stretchy polyurethane fabric that’s designed to lay flush against the skaters skin, even when they’re folded over. Dean says Under Armour decided to sew the suit with an asymmetrical seam that runs from the lower left leg to the right shoulder, which reduces bunching and allows the skaters more freedom of movement during their left turns. It’s a small but significant detail that the design team decided to incorporate after analyzing the particular movements skaters make on the ice—the low stance, swinging arms, and right leg that constantly crosses over the left. They then spent more than two years testing the aerodynamics of the suit inside Specialized’s wind tunnel, ensuring that the suit met performance standards in every position skaters adopt during a race.

In the lead-up to Sochi, Under Armour kept the Mach 39 so tightly under wraps that the athletes didn’t get to test the new design in competition. This time, the athletes have been wearing the suits in practice and competition since last winter, while seamstress nip and tuck the material to tailor-fit it to each skater. It’s a long-term design process, but Dean says it’s worth it to make a suit he eagerly claims is faster, better, and more advanced than what they made for Sochi. “We believe they do give us an advantage,” he says. “It’s a faster skating suit than what we had before.”

It’s an enthusiasm that Dean tempers when he recalls the backlash from the 2014 Olympics. If Under Armour has learned anything in the last few years, it’s that a bit of managing expectations can go a long way. And that a suit, even the fastest in the world, is only a small piece of why athletes find themselves on the podium. “There’s no guarantees in competition,” Dean adds. “All we can do is prove through science, through construction, and through material that we’ve given them the best possible tools to do their job.”

Olympic Tech

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Build electronics projects great and small with the SainSmart UNO for Arduino, for under $55
May 22, 2017 10:35 am|Comments (0)


Understanding how electronics actually work can be pretty confusing. Often, inquisitive students succeed or fail in creating small electronic projects by simple trial and error. Thankfully, you can offer some structure to your pursuit of electronics knowledge with the SainSmart UNO for Arduino microcontroller board. It’s on sale right now for only $ 53.99 (19 percent off) from TNW Deals. This powerful board is the “sandbox” for inventive tinkerers to create their own electronics projects — then bring them to life. Powered by the open-source versatility and extensive library of Arduino, you can use the SainSmart UNO to build handfuls of simple electronic…

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Domino’s Now Deploying Pizza Chatbot Down Under
March 3, 2017 11:25 am|Comments (0)

Pizza maker is the first enterprise in Australia and New Zealand to deploy Nuance’s multi-channel virtual assistant, called DRU Assist.


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