This is everything I've written here or elsewhere over the last few years. You can search, filter by publication, or choose from some highlights below.
FILTERED: ALL BLOG

Here's Everything You Should Know About Startup

The Book That Wasn't Meant To Be a Book

4.19.17


I know what you're thinking. It's kind of an ego trip to put a title on a book like Everything You Should Know About Startup. In my defense, it's not what I meant to do when I set out on this project.

But for the record, I wish I had read this book 20 years ago.

In the spring of 2015, Automated Insights, the startup I helped build from the ground up when it was just me and the founder developing our first Natural Language Generation platform and a bunch of young coders standing up the infrastructure, was acquired, quite by surprise, by a private equity firm. It was one of the highest-dollar exits in the Triangle startup center in years.

Just 15 months prior to that acquisition, ExitEvent, a news source and network/database of startups across the Southeast and beyond, was acquired by Capitol Broadcasting for 20x what I put into it.

My phone, email, Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook blew up. A lot of questions about taking startup to exit, a lot of the same questions about taking startup to exit. After more coffee, lunch, and beer than one human should have over the span of two months, I got an idea.

See, the Ai/ExitEvent twin exits weren't an overnight thing. They were actually my 9th and 10th startups. Most of those turned profitable and exited nicely, a couple of them blew up in my face or languished into stagnation. But over the course of 20 years and 10 startups, I've built up enough stories and scenarios to be able to talk about startup without having to resort to bullshit startup talk.

read the rest


Automating Digital Video

We're On The Cusp of a Video Data Revolution, and We Need to Tell Those Data Stories

4.12.17


"It is estimated that media companies and user-generated content creates over 2 billion digital images and over 1 billion hours of video watch time every day." -- Justin Pang, head of publishing partnerships at Google.

I don't have to tell you that a digital video revolution is underway. That you know. But what I do want to get across in this article is that we're quickly approaching a critical point at which the explosion of unstructured data generated by digital video content will make it next to impossible to understand, utilize, or even recall most of the information contained in all of that video.

Automation can fix that.

Natural Language Generation (NLG) should be telling the stories behind all that video using all that unstructured data. This is the message I'm bringing to NABShow, the annual gathering of the National Association of Broadcasters, when I speak there on April 23rd. If you're in broadcasting and working with digital video, I want to talk to you. Get in touch.

I've been automating content for seven years, from the very inception of our company, Automated Insights, and have produced billions of unique and insightful human-sounding narratives from raw data for companies like the Associated Press and Yahoo. All along, I've been fighting a battle for acceptance of automated content in the universe of traditional journalism.

Last week, the Associated Press published a report that neatly summarized that battle and declared it all but over. Augmented journalism, the term they use for the integration of human and machine in the creation of news stories, is not meant to take journalism jobs away from humans, it said. Augmented journalism should be standing side-by-side with traditional journalism to incorporate the data science required in contemporary journalism while complementing the investigative process and conclusive reasoning inherent in the job of the journalist.

read the rest


10 Minutes on NPR to Understand Automated News

The Future of Journalism

3.30.17


So I gave a radio interview to NPR last week on the future of news and automated journalism. Like most good NPR radio, the host turned our casual conversation into an audio story, and when this happens to your own words, it's like 100x more cool.

Listen to it here or scroll down to listen to it on KSFR's site.



Dylan Syverson at KSFR happened to read an interview I gave for MediaShift while I was out at SXSW. We exchanged a few brief emails, and I discovered he's a guitar guy and a poker guy, so right away we had something in common. The actual interview conversation started with that -- guitar stuff and hold 'em stuff -- and then we naturally pivoted into automated news.

What he turned that conversation into was a concise 10-minutes encapsulating everything I want journalists, broadcasters, and all other media people to know about automated content and Natural Language Generation.

read the rest


48 Hours at SXSW

I Went To 1 Session and 1 Party, and It Was Awesome

3.23.17


Last week, I spoke on The Future of Automated Journalism at SXSW, on a panel that included folks from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Norwegian News Agency NTB. The panel was amazing, and I'll be following up from the inbound avalanche for at least another week.

I've been to SXSW several times. In fact, just last year I spoke there about the future of sports. I was there for four days, I went to a ton of sessions. I went to bunch of parties, I even went to a handful of VIP events. It was fun, but it was kind of empty.

So this year I approached SXSW a little differently, because this year, I'm on a mission. Actually it's several missions, but it all rolls up into one greater mission: Democratize the way we communicate to an audience.

The mission started with a number of meetings I had set up around the panel before I had even left for Austin. My flight arrived an hour and a half late, so I was already a half-hour late for my first meeting. But that person was forgiving and that meeting and the rest of the meetings were excellent.

I'm no longer talking about how automated content isn't a threat to news, I'm talking about how automated content can expand, fortify, and even save news. Newsrooms and journalists and broadcast media outlets are finally coming to an understanding about automated content. They're no longer seeing it as a threat, but as a tool. Now, they just want to get started, even if they're not 100% sure how.

That's where I come in.

And then there was the panel.

read the rest


South By Southwest: Talking About The Future of Media and Journalism

If You're In Journalism Or Broadcast Media, Let's Chat

3.7.17


On Tuesday, March 14th, one week from the date of I'm posting this, I'll be speaking at South by Southwest, where I'll join folks from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and a European News Agency called NTB, to discuss The Automated Future of Journalism.

If you're in media, specifically news, television, and/or radio. I want to talk to you about two things:

1. The future of the newsroom and how automated content will change and improve it.

2. The impact of a growing boom in startup on the future of traditional broadcast media.

Hit me up here if you're in Austin and available on March 14th. My schedule is super-tight and filling up quickly, so I'll need to be selective. If we can't talk in Austin, we can make plans to hop on the phone afterwards.

I think about the future a lot.

With robots.

It's my job.

I mean, I think about the daily life future things, too. Are my financial plans on the right track? Are the Yankees going to compete this season? Do I have clean pants to wear to work tomorrow?

But I also get paid to figure out how we're going to communicate with one another five-to-ten years down the road. And I don't mean emojis and six-second videos and disappearing selfies. I'm trying to figure out how you're going to get the information you need to answer your daily life future questions -- everything from the news you care about to the sports you follow to the financial info you can take action on.

read the rest


Teaching Startup: The Show Featuring WedPics Founder Justin Miller

The 2-block will be about marketing, perception, and pivot

2.20.17






So this is the first set of episodes we attempted with a special guest star, and for this first run-through, I went with a friend, WedPics co-founder Justin Miller, whom I've known since he left IBM to start his first company, DejaMi.

Justin is the kind of entrepreneur I want to highlight, not someone you'd likely find in an MBA program, and someone who can talk to the "startup for everyone" vibe I'm building Teaching Startup around.

read the rest


Teaching Startup Debuts Episode 1 of The Show

Bringing Startup to Everyone

1.10.17


Yesterday, my side/giveback project Teaching Startup debuted the first episode of The Show, an online TV series dedicated to bringing the concepts of startup and entrepreneurship to a broader audience by making it more accessible.





It's been a long time coming. And we're pretty hyped about the results, even though we know we have a long way to go.

On The Show, we talk about startup without droning on about startup. Sure, we talk about startup, in fact, we do that a lot, and you'll definitely learn something. But we also talk about stuff that's far more interesting.

Pop culture? Of course. We don't do our jobs 24/7. Neither should you.

Sports? Yeah, look at us. It's in our DNA.

Parenting? No better way to learn about being an entrepreneur.

Humor? If you're not laughing, we're not doing our job.

read the rest


Embrace Chaos

My Theme for 2017

1.5.17


I don't do resolutions. I don't. The reasons why have been well documented. What I do instead, is themes. A theme isn't a resolution, nor is it a slogan. A theme, if I do it right, not only neatly encapsulates everything I want to be and do and try in the new year, but it's an evolutionary statement as well, applying not just to me, but how I see the world around me.

Therefore, I believe my theme can help you as well. It's doesn't have to be your theme. In fact, it shouldn't be your theme. But my theme might help inform your theme.

Here's my theme: Embrace chaos.

This is a statement I've been thinking about for a while. Personally, it represents a lot of what I need to be able to do in terms of pulling success out of failure, creating something from nothing, and generally finding happiness in a world that doesn't allow you time to be happy, let alone find that happy in the first place.

I'm not immune to personal disaster or disappointment or life changes that leave me reeling. I had those in 2016. This is how I'm dealing with them.

Professionally, I've landed on this statement as a prescription for not only what I go through as an entrepreneur -- although in that, I think it buttons up my needs pretty well -- but also what I do with the things I do to find satisfaction in my life.

read the rest


How Teaching Startup: The Show Almost Failed Immediately

You Can Do Almost Everything Right

12.22.16


First of all, a big thanks to the THOUSANDS of you who watched at least part of the Teaching Startup: The Show trailer last week. I'm pretty excited about this, even though a lot of how it will operate is still shrouded in mystery. That's partly fake-it-until-you-make-it, but I've been told it can be hard to get a handle on my vision for something like this, which makes me all the more grateful to Andy, Kyle, Sean, Jon, and Chop for just grabbing hold and hanging on.

Now, let's talk about how the trailer launch almost failed.





The three-word mission for Teaching Startup is "Take startup mainstream." Video, good quality, unique, fun, valuable video, is the way to do that. And instead of video, let's call The Show a television show, because that's what it is, but if I tell people I'm starting a television show it sounds even crazier that it already does.

That's cool and all, I don't care how crazy it sounds. I'm an entrepreneur. But people need a bridge to get on board with crazy. 15 years ago, electric cars were crazy. Then Tesla.

So anyway, I'm taking startup mainstream using television. But not reality television. That's why I took an unprovoked shot at Shark Tank. They're trying to take startup mainstream using corporate sensibilities.

Good for them. Go make your money. You're doing it at the expense of startup culture, but what do you care? You're owned by NBC Universal.

read the rest


Start Your New Year's Resolutions In December

Forget Goals. If You Want to Succeed, You've Got To Prepare

11.28.16


There you go. There's some of my best advice, right there in the title and subtitle. If you want to stop right here and just go and execute on that advice, go nuts. I won't hold it against you. Get started.

In the rest of our time together, I'll explain why I'm giving that advice, so you'll understand that I'm not just putting words into neat sentences to make myself seem smart.

I'm not a believer in New Year's resolutions. For that matter, I'm not a huge fan of locking into any goal and putting blinders on to get there. Yeah, I know, you hear this kind of thing all the time -- in sports in relation to championships, in academics while striving towards a big test, in the workplace barreling forward to the end of the quarter or the fiscal year.

But this advice is not for you, it's for the drones.

A good coach tells his or her players to march forward with blinders and earmuffs and keep chopping and grinding and all sorts of cliched useless platitudes while keeping eyes on the prize with one heartbeat to shock the world.

But the coach is not marching to those orders. The coach is constantly monitoring and reassessing and changing the game plan based on perpetually incoming new information.

The coach knows there's no direct route from the beginning of the season to the championship. The coach is working his or her butt off to lay new path just ahead of the team and building walls on either side, while telling them that this path was there the whole time and they should just focus on that newly laid piece of path that he or she just put down.

In life, you're not the player. You're the coach.

read the rest


Survive, Advance, and Move On

Doing the Wrong Thing for the Right Reasons

11.17.16


At the end of this past summer, I wrote a piece about bribing my daughter to play soccer.

It's not as awful as it sounds.

Let me break it down real quick.

See, at the end of last spring season, she had just barely aged out of her bracket, born less than three weeks after the cutoff and gifted with my height and growth cycle, my 11-year-old mighty mite found herself placed on a u15 team in a different league.

Now, that's not so bad. I'm all for a challenge. But it turns out, the team she got placed on had been together for a couple seasons with a coach who was super (but not overtly) competitive. These kids were playing to win. They all knew each other already. They were good. They were winners. And they wanted nothing to do with this pipsqueak new girl.

The first practice was an unmitigated disaster. They wouldn't talk to her, let alone pass to her in drills or tell her what she was doing right or wrong. And when compared to her former, all-girl, 10 & 11-year-old team, these dudes were twice as big, ran three times faster and longer, and fought five times as hard.

To put the final nail in the coffin, the only other girl on the team (a 13-year-old) quit before the second practice.

I got all of this news on my way home from work the night of that first practice, and was further told that she was absolutely, positively not going to play on this team, which meant she would not be going to the next practice after school the following day.

I had 20 hours to fix this. With bedtime and school, I had 45 minutes.

read the rest


Good Job, Baseball

The 108-Year Drought That Saved The Show

11.4.16


Baseball finally righted itself early yesterday morning when Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant came up smiling before making a laser throw to Anthony Rizzo for the final out of the 2016 World Series.

It only took 22 years. Not even a quarter of the time it took for the Cubs to become World Champions again.

I was introduced to the game of baseball by an unlikely teacher. My grandmother, Angelina Procopio, came to America as a little girl, and immediately fell in love with the New York Yankees of the 1940s and 1950s. Her favorite players, Joe DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto, were models of the American Dream with an Italian heritage.

She introduced me to the Yankees shortly after I could walk, and my first memories of baseball are of those late 1970s teams -- Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage. I'd listen to broadcasts on an AM radio and drift off the sleep nearly every night from April to October.

Baseball was my jam.

When I was old enough to play, I found another player to love. Sure I had loved Reggie and Bucky and Dave Winfield, but I had never seen anything like Ozzie Smith. While my size and power weren't working for me on the ballfield, I did have good hand-eye (thanks, video games!) and quickness. Ozzie, a small contact hitter and defensive genius, was my spirit animal, and by the time he executed his first backflip in the 1982 World Series, he was my hero.

I loved baseball, everything from the numbers to the smell of the grass to belting out Take Me Out To The Ballgame as loud as I could, every time, without fail.

Then 1994 happened.

read the rest


Six Guys, Two Cameras, and a Hurricane

Why Teaching Startup: The Show Will Succeed

10.20.16


Forgive me, and this is a long-tail forgive me, but I'm about to do something stupid.

I want to flush away any preconceived notions of entrepreneur post-exit experimentation, or maybe even mid-life crisis. Hell, this might just be a poorly executed ego trip, the one where my left brain and my right brain finally have it out in the most awkward way possible.

In fact, you know that scene at the end of the series run of The Office, the British one, when David Brent falls into some money and immediately blows it all self-producing (and over-producing) a pop song and accompanying music video -- living the life he always imagined he was destined for in a humiliating end story for the character?

That's keeping me up at night right now. And man, that arc was brilliantly written.

Last weekend, I got five other dudes to show up wicked early on a Sunday morning, which also happened to be the morning after Hurricane Matthew blew through the state. I mean, we didn't get the brunt of it here in the Triangle, lots of power outages and downed trees, one of us had to skip a shower, I had to go to three different places to find coffee. That kind of first-world thing.

Anyway, two of them, Kyle and Sean from Interbrew, were there with a bunch of equipment to guerilla-shoot a few hours of video. Video of what, you're probably not asking, so I'll use a device to get to the point? Video of four of us entrepreneurs at different stages of our careers talking about whatever the hell we felt like talking about.

And it was awesome.

read the rest


Startup, Standup, and the Importance of Being Funny

Yes. Ha-Ha Funny

10.17.16


For the last few years of my startup journey, with wisdom behind me and old age in front of me, I've been more of the mind that startup must be fun in order to be successful. So when one of the young(ish) dudes I'm mentoring told me that one of his goals for the next six months was to do 20 minutes of standup at an open mic night, my day immediately got 100x better.

And look, I don't mean to oversimplify the concept of fun when I talk about startup. I'm not talking about shoehorning beer Fridays or a ping-pong table into the culture at an early stage. In fact, those two examples themselves are played and silly.

Beer Fridays are stupid. There's no better way to lower productivity and open all sorts of liability windows than plopping a keg into the middle of your workspace at noon on a Friday. Plus, I've always been of the mind that drunk is drunk. If I'm going to have a beer, I'd much rather have six than two (be responsible, kids), so I make sure of things like not having to drive and, you know, not having any laptops around.

And there's a startup I get to walk by sometimes (trying to keep this anonymous) where they have a ping-pong table tucked into the corner of their office, where it's sat since they've been there. I've never seen even so much as a sign that anyone has ever played a game -- the table halves have always been askew, you know, not completely flush. But I'm assuming said startup thought it was mandatory to make their place a fun place to work.

Startup culture is deeper than that, it should permeate every seam of the fabric of the company.

read the rest


Stay Sane and Tune Everything Out

Protect Your Empathy

10.3.16


Scrape 'em off, Claire. If you want to save someone, save yourself.

If you can laugh at that line (Scrooged, Bill Murray, 1988, classic), then the speaker is probably not you, and that's good. It's certainly not me. I have empathy, a lot of it, and it's usually good for me. When presented with a moral or ethical challenge, I'd say 90% to 92% of the time, I come down on the right side of things. I'll even take the time to think through some of the murkier stuff, which, in this age of the death spiral of nuance, is not always an easy or quick thing to do.

But I've had to learn to be colder, and by colder I don't mean colder to a fellow human being when confronted with said moral/ethical opportunities, but rather colder to humanity in general as they perpetually scream misinformation at one another.

You can take a look at almost any newsworthy issue these days and I guarantee you there will be two sides to it. How can I make that guarantee, which I assure you is iron-clad? Because there are two sides to everything. There always has been, and there always will be.

The aforementioned death spiral of nuance is causally tied to to the rise of unchecked outrage, and more than coincidentally follows the timeline of making a bunch of money by getting people all worked up. You know this is true, I know this is true, but we still fall for it almost every single time.

I mean, we can all agree that Internet news article comment sections are the scourge of humanity, yet almost every single professional news gathering site still employs them and rarely policies them.

What does that tell you?

read the rest


Showing 1 to 15 of 114 articles
older->