Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Invisible CAPTCHA


Do you know what a CAPTCHA is? It's those irritating wavy numbers and letters that a Website uses to determine if you're a human.

Pramana, a VentureLab graduate company that's now being incubated in the ATDC, has created a better way to eliminate fraudulent use of a Website while being friendlier to customers. Forbes quotes Sanjay Sehgal (former VentureLab Fellow and now CEO of Pramana) as saying:

Instead of submitting users to a test, the Atlanta-based company's technology plugs into Web sites and invisibly analyzes users' online behavior to determine who's a human and who's a bot. "We don't demand that users prove they're human," Sehgal says. "We simply watch them and decide for ourselves."

Read the rest of the article here.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Business Models to Avoid

Having spent some time with Startup Gauntlet, Pitch Camp and Startup Riot, I've had the chance to see some really terrific business ideas. And some remarkably bad ones too.

When building a startup idea, it is critical to think through your business model. How do you trade your widget or service for cash? There are some good ones, and there are some bad ones.

Here are a few models to avoid:

Spaghetti: "We have five ways of making money." If one model is good, isn't five better? This is like a football team with three quarterbacks, they really have none. Don't throw spaghetti against the wall to see if one of them will stick. Pick the most compelling model and focus on that.

Field of Dreams: "If we build it, surely they will come." One of the worst things to ever happen to entrepreneurship was the horribly, horribly misleading quote - "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door." Uh, no, they won't.

Boil the Ocean: It's good to think big, but don't think too big. You need to prove you can be successful with a few customers and then scale.

China: "If we can only get 1% of the Chinese market for our widget, we will be a billion dollar company." Sure you will. Where do I sign up? Pick a small market and a way to dominate it. If you can't find a way to do that, redefine your market. Whatever market you go after, you must be a leader.

Venn Diagram: "We will build A. People want to buy B. We think they might overlap." Maybe. Probably not.

Bill Clinton: The man from Hope. That's all I need to say about that.

Do you have any other favorites? Send them to me and I will add them to the list.

Coming soon to a blog near you - some really good business models.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

InVenture Prize


VentureLab is proud to be one of the sponsors of the new InVenture Prize. In addition to cash, the winning team will be automatically accepted into VentureLab for commercialization assistance. Georgia Tech OTL will also help pay for patent filings, if needed.

Read more about it at