The microscopic particles combine single-walled carbon nanotubes with porous silicate materials that can absorb various molecules such as a photoactive ruthenium complex. The research involved dissolving the bundles in chlorosulfonic acid, which added protons (a positive charge) to each nanotube. This made the nanotubes attractive to three types of silicate particles tested.
“Basically, we found out that if you put a photoactive species (ruthenium) there and excite it with light, two different processes happen. If it has carbon nanotubes close by, it will transfer an electron to the nanotubes. There’s a charge transfer, and we knew that would happen,” said Angel Martí, an assistant professor of chemistry and bioengineering. “What we didn’t expect when we analyzed the spectrum was seeing two different species of ruthenium complexes, one with a very short photoluminescence lifetime and one very long.”
The platform could be key to unlocking better methods for catalysis, artificial photosynthesis or splitting water into hydrogen, the researchers said.
Ref.: Angel A. Martí, et al., Single-walled carbon nanotubes shell decorating porous silicate materials: A general platform for studying the interaction of carbon nanotubes with photoactive molecules, Chemical Science, 2011; [DOI: 10.1039/C1SC00323B]
Mike Lee, formerly of Apple and Tapulous, has moved to Amsterdam and is looking to set up a new application development community. Lee left the U.S. after he became disillusioned with how the country and the development community was headed. He was frustrated with not being able to afford heath insurance as a self-employed worker and was put off by the fast, money-focused lifestyle of Silicon Valley.
He chose Amsterdam for his new Appsterdam project after traveling the world looking at prospective cities. It has the right combination of affordability and is centrally located in Europe. Amsterdam, he notes, is already filled with creative and marketing people. He hopes to provide a pool of talented app developers. Lee already kicked off his Appsterdam project with a weekend of tours and has designated official hangouts where developers can collaborate. Local investor Floris van Alkemade is offering his support by establishing a seed fund that will provide investments of 10-50,000 EUR (US$14,000- $70,000) per company.
Appsterdam: building a haven for app developers in Amsterdam originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 28 Jun 2011 09:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
(Editor’s note: Megan Lisa Jones is an investment banker who works primarily with companies in the digital media, technology, gaming and other emerging industrie. She submitted this story to VentureBeat.)
LinkedIn valued at over $8 billion; Facebook is currently at over $70 billion and was even the star of a movie. Start up conferences and competitions abound, as do rich valuations and venture capitalists throwing money at early stage companies.
It’s a far cry from 2009. (And, as I’ve argued before, even further from 1999.) Are we seeing a bubble? Sure, we probably are. But that doesn’t mean that it’s either a good or bad time to start a company.
I have my biases. When funding is scarce and hope for innovation is low, engineers are cheaper and available since the alternative career paths aren’t as bright. Smart people are willing to create opportunity because the downside is so low.
Now, with start-ups hot again, I’m hearing about bidding wars – for engineers and tenuous or incomplete business plans. So much money is going into social networking and other Internet or wireless consumer options, but the more capital rich start-ups are seeing tighter money.
Ignore it all. That’s my advice.
Great companies will always be great companies. If you aren’t aiming to start a great company, why take the risk of starting one at all? It’s rarely easy. And while marginal companies might benefit more from a boom than great companies, it won’t be enough for them to prosper.
Some argue that the Web 2.0 companies were born out of the NASDAQ crash of 1999 and 2000. Smart, ambitious, talented and creative people found themselves unemployed and in a bad economy. So they started companies.
But some absolutes do exist. Below, I’ve listed my top ten reasons to start a company – as well as the top ten reasons to forget the idea entirely.
Ten reasons to start:
1. You have an idea that fits the basic criteria: large and growing market; something proprietary; clear way to monetize; partners that compliment your skills; and an industry with long term potential ($1 billion plus if you want to raise venture money).
2. You can both handle and afford risk: Financially, personally and professionally.
3. You can live with uncertainty and long hours.
4. You like the industry and area/service/product you’ll be pitching.
5. You have a passion for that same industry.
6. You need a job (and feel it better to create something of value than job hunt).
7. You bring concrete skills or connections to building the business. You’ve done your homework researching the industry, competitors, competing industries, product, market and anything else you can imagine.
8. Others, whose business judgment you respect, have validated your idea.
9. A hobby is already in the process of developing into a business.
10. You want to build a great company and are willing to make sacrifices to do it.
Ten reasons not to start:
1. An idea you have seems to make sense; but you haven’t researched it fully.
2. Every one else seems to be doing it and making a lot of money.
3. You want Mark Zuckerberg’s life and he’s just a kid.
4. You want to make a lot of money. Fast.
5. You’ve discovered the next category killer idea (why does this one never seem to work out).
6. You need a job (and don’t know what else to do).
7. If not now, never. Your career has stalled.
8. You hate your boss, industry, company or spouse.
9. You want an easier or more flexible schedule.
10. You want the prestige associated with being a founder.
Start-ups are never easy. Assess why you’re doing it and what advantages you bring to the table. If they measure up, take the associated risks and build something great. Anything less may not be worth the work and stress involved.
The only real way to grow sales and profits is to create innovative offerings with some ‘must haves’ that define new categories or subcategories for which competitors are not relevant. The goal is not only to find and successfully introduce such offerings but to create barriers that inhibit or prevent competitors from entering and becoming serious customer options.
The firms that have enjoyed years or even decades of life with no or weak competitors have created such barriers. Here are some twelve routes to real barriers the last six of which involve the brand. I would be interested in examples of others.
- Proprietary technology. Diamonds (formerly P&Gs) Pringles, Prius Hybrid Synergy Drive, and Dreyers Slow Churned Ice Cream all have technologies not easily copied.
- Ongoing innovation. Becoming a moving target as Apple did by following the iPod with products like the nano, shuffle, and iTouch, and Gillette did with razors from the Trac II to the Fusion ProGlide. Chrysler went for 18 years without a serious competitor in the minivan category it created in part with innovations like sliding driver side doors, swivel seats and removable back seats.
- Scale. IKEA, Starbucks, eBay, and Apple’s iPod all have scale economies often based on first mover status that provide ongoing competitive advantages.
- Investment. A high investment protected brands like CNN, ESPN, and Kirin’s Ichiban for many years.
- Execution. Zappos.com with its Wow! experience, its culture celebrating weirdness, and its 24/7 call center that will even find an open pizza shop presents a high bar.
- Brand networks. Supporting networks such as the Apple App suppliers and the Pampers’ links to organizations involved in raising babies and keeping them healthy can be hard to duplicate.
- Customer involvement. Some brands can organize a community around the brand as Harley-Davidson has done with their Trip Planner and General Mills has done with the Betty Crocker Kitchen. Others can associate with a common interest such breast cancer research (Avon), creativity (Sharpie), or outdoor hiking (Columbia).
- Self-expressive benefits. Functional benefits are often quickly copied; it is much harder to copy self-expressive benefit such as those offered by Prius. A driver of a Focus may or may not be driving a hybrid but there is no such doubt about a Prius driver
- Brand equity. Muji, Zipcar, PowerBar, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car all have strong brands with visibility, associations, and a sense of authenticity.
- Brand loyalty. If a brand can capture the customers most likely to value the ‘must haves’ and can keep them involved and happy, competitors will be faced with less appealing segments on which to build a business.
- Branded differentiators. A branded feature, service, program, or ingredient that will define a ‘must have’ such as the EarthGrains Eco-Grain, Aquos’ quad pixel, Weston’s Heavenly Bed, Oral B’s Action Cup, or Amazon’s OneClick can be owned by the firm.
- Exemplar status. If the brand represents the category such as Fiber One, iPhone, Whole Foods Market, Geek Squad, or Jeep then other brands will have a difficult time getting considered.
These barriers can inhibit competitors from getting traction, becoming visible, and being perceived as authentic or credibility. As a result, they may be weak players for a long time. Even better, they may be discouraged from entering in the first place. To paraphrase Bruce Henderson, the founder of BCG, ‘the essence of strategy is to convince competitors not to invest in areas of strategic importance to you.’ It really is a different way to look at strategy. Don’t try to beat competition but, rather, make them irrelevant and discourage them from even competing.
This post is part of the HBR Insight Center Making Collaboration Work.
Much has been written about getting out of the box, but perhaps the most frustrating — and useful — guidance I have received in this came from a Zen teacher who pointed out that ‘the instructions for getting out of the box are written on the outside of the box.’
We all have some sense of ‘the box’ as an onerous thing that stifles original thinking, solutions and creativity, something foisted upon us by external circumstances. But solving that Zen teacher’s riddle help me realized that sometimes we create stifling boxes for ourselves.
On the phone recently, trying to extend a pre-existing reservation with a hotel and an online travel service in advance of the Coachella music festival:
xxxxx.Com: ‘We don’t show that room available. You’ll have to call the property directly.’
Hotel Agent: ‘We have the room, but I can’t extend that reservation. You’ll have to call xxxxx.Com.’
Me: ‘How about if I leave the old reservation as is, and make a new reservation for one night?’
Hotel Agent: ‘Oh. I guess that would work.’
Introducing the box of ‘this is the way we do it.’ When you’re inside this box, it’s very hard to see the instruction on the outside named ‘there’s always another way.’ And if you’re a service organization putting the onus of thinking ‘the other way’ on the customer, don’t count that customer as a long-term asset.
A colleague of mine, Rob Mathias who runs our D.C. office, reminded me of the danger of another box, the one I’ll call ‘it’s my damn box, and I’ll say who gets in and who gets out.’ In business, this is a sure recipe for groupthink. More specifically, Rob introduced me to the theory and discussion around the idea of weak ties, or weak links, in social interactions.
The idea being that in our relationships with other people we have strong ties (primary, close relationships, often peers, like-minded people, departmental colleagues) and weak ties (secondary relationships, loose ties to the people who know our ‘strong ties’). Think of ‘friends,’ and ‘friends of friends,’ on Facebook for a casual understanding of this. (Or dive in at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weak_ties)
When we restrict ourselves, our interactions, our discussions, and our meetings to our strong ties, that is a limiting box indeed, one we could label alternatively, ‘the box of what I already know,’ or ‘the box of people I know will agree with me.’ A good example of operating in this box is discussing politics with someone who agrees with you: easy, pleasant, and rewarding in an opiate sort of way, but not much of a way to learn, grow, or move the world forward.
Some other common boxes, and tricks to get out of them:
- The box of believing ‘there is no box.’ Wrong. There’s always a box (see the starter list at the top of this post). Identify it. Get intimate with it. Understand the edges of the box. Boundaries give you something to leap over. There is no hurdler without a hurdle.
- The box of strong ties. Recognizable when you look around a room and see yourself, your beliefs, your opinions, your experience, your culture, and your skills all mirrored perfectly back at you. When you see this box, invite new voices in. Invite ‘weak ties.’ Friends of friends. As Rob puts it, people who ‘shouldn’t be in the meeting according to common assumptions.’ They’re the ones who’ll move things forward.
- The box of ‘I’m right.’ This is particularly pernicious in creative circles. ‘They hired me to be creative, I’m the creative, and they should listen to me.’ An easy way out of this box: assume you have already lost the battle to have it your way and must find another way. Let creativity begin.
- The box of ‘Chief Innovation Officer’ or any other title. I once told a group of our people, ‘I’m not interested in your job description or your title. Bring who you are to the party, and we’ll get something done.’ I believe this passionately. Park those titles (big boxes indeed) where they belong: in the dustbin. And let’s get to work.
Send me names and descriptions of your favorite boxes. Once you’ve named a box, you’ve also just revealed the escape instructions on the outside of it.
Collected by good.is
Graduation is an exciting time, but let’s face it: Commencement speeches aren’t always memorable. A completely unscientific poll of the GOOD office revealed that almost none of us recall our college commencement speakers, or what they said to us (although we suspect it was something like, ‘You’ve worked hard! Yay!’). So here are 10 commencement speakers—and their inspiring, funny, and just plain on-point words of wisdom—that we wish we’d heard on graduation day.
1. Steve Jobs, Stanford University, 2005: Jobs hits all the right notes in this speech, in which he shares his own humble upbringings and reflects on his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He told the crowd, ‘Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.’
2. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), Lake Forest College, 1977:When Lake Forest asked Geisel to come accept an honorary degree, he agreed, but he then balked at being their commencement speaker. ‘I talk with people, not to people,’ he told the school’s president. Geisel relented at the ceremony and pulled out a 92-word poem he’d composed, ‘My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers‘.
3. J.K. Rowling, Harvard University, 2008: In her speech, ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,’ Rowling reflects on her experience writing herself out of poverty. She told graduates about the benefits of failure, saying, ‘failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.’
4. Bono, University of Pennsylvania, 2004: U2′s frontman struck the perfect balance between humor—he poked fun at annoying rock stars with causes and fans following him into bathrooms—andraising the call for this generation to end the spread of HIV and extreme poverty in Africa.
I’m not a hippie, I do not have flowers in my hair, I come from punk rock, The Clash wore army boots not Birkenstocks. I believe America can do this! I believe that this generation can do this. In fact I want to hear an argument about why we shouldn’t.
I know idealism is not playing on the radio right now, you don’t see it on TV, irony is on heavy rotation, the knowingness, the smirk, the tired joke. I’ve tried them all out but I’ll tell you this, outside this campus—and even inside it—idealism is under siege beset by materialism, narcissism and all the other isms of indifference. Baggism, Shaggism. Raggism. Notism, graduationism, chismism, I don’t know. Where’s John Lennon when you need him?
5. Wynton Marsalis, Northwestern University, 2009: Marsalis is known for giving music and song-filled commencement speeches. At NYU’s commencement in 2007, he simply got on stage and played his trumpet for almost two minutes. Two years later, in 2009, he briefly spoke to a nearly rained-out crowd at Northwestern University, referencing lessons he’s taken from jazz legends and honestly addressing the realities of life.
6. Anderson Cooper, Tulane University, 2010: Cooper hilariously reflected on his own lack of memory of his commencement address and poked fun at liberal arts majors: ‘I, too, was a liberal arts major, so like you, I have no actual skill.’ But Cooper also told the seniors how much he admired them for taking the chance on coming back to school in New Orleans a year after Katrina. ‘Your choice helped this city rebuild.. re-new…re-start,’ he said.
7. Will Ferrell, Harvard University, 2003: True to form, during his speech, Ferrell impersonated George W. Bush and read a ‘message’ from the president. ‘Bush’ hilariously thinks he’s speaking to the Class of 2002 and butters them up by saying, ‘Make no mistake, Harvard University is one of the finest in the land. And its graduates are that fine as well. You’re young men and women whose exuberance exude a confident confidence of a bygone era.’
8. Ursula K. Le Guin, Bryn Mawr College, 1986: Le Guin encouraged students to keep their connection to the language of what’s right instead of the male-dominated language of success taught in society:
Our schools and colleges, institutions of the patriarchy, generally teach us to listen to people in power, men or women speaking the father tongue; and so they teach us not to listen to the mother tongue, to what the powerless say, poor men, women, children: not to hear that as valid discourse.
I am trying to unlearn these lessons, along with other lessons I was taught by my society, particularly lessons concerning the minds, work, works, and being of women.
9. Jon Stewart, College of William and Mary, 2004: Stewart headed back to his alma mater and delivered a classically funny, self-deprecating speech with lines like ‘In 1981 I lost my virginity, only to gain it back again on appeal in 1983″ and ‘You could say that my one saving grace was academics where I excelled, but I did not.’
Stewart then went on to declare his faith in this generation, and shared how after 9/11 he was depressed and had lost hope, until ’one day I was coming out of my building, and on my stoop, was a man who was crouched over, and he appeared to be in deep thought. And as I got closer to him I realized, he was playing with himself. And that’s when I thought, ‘You know what, we’re gonna be OK.’’
10. David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College, 2005: Wallace gave one of the most beloved commencement speeches a mere three years before his tragic suicide. The speech refreshingly leaves the commencement address script and addresses the reality of life and our inner motivations:
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
Bonus: I was wondering why I haven’t heard from some of my Facebook friends, then I saw this. Quit sheltering me from the world, Interweb.
(Via The Green Head.)
Since the dawn of time, people have found nifty ways to clean up after the bathroom act. The most common solution was simply to grab what was at hand: coconuts, shells, snow, moss, hay, leaves, grass, corncobs, sheep’s wool—and, later, thanks to the printing press—newspapers, magazines, and pages of books. The ancient Greeks used clay and stone. The Romans, sponges and salt water. But the idea of a commercial product designed solely to wipe one’s bum? That started about 150 years ago, right here in the U.S.A. In less than a century, Uncle Sam’s marketing genius turned something disposable into something indispensable.