Barbara Payne's Capitalist Cleveland Blog

News and Views: Entrepreneurs a-thrive in Northeast Ohio

Friday, August 26, 2005

You and your intellectual property

Think you don't own anything that falls into the "intellectual property" category? Think again. If you've got a hot business name, or a cool logo, or a tagline that sets your prospects tingling in anticipation, that's valuable IP--and you might be a good candidate for information about a new service for small businesses from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Read about it on

Cleveland Nano-Week idea contest names judges

A whole week of nano-related companies, people, facilities and ideas is coming to Cleveland this October. Today the conference announced the names of those who will be judging the nano-business idea contest (which apparently drew considerable national attention to the region last year). As always, the prestige of the judges makes a strong statement to the press and the public about how important an event is. Check 'em out:

-- VC panelists: Jonathan P. Murray of Early Stage Partners; James L. Bildner of New Horizons Partners (Boston); and Ted Schroeder of the KAL Equity Capital Fund (Los Altos, Calif.).

-- Tech corporations: Alan Olson, director of technology for Ferro Corp., and Scott Rickert, chief executive of Nanofilm

-- Researchers: Don Blewett of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.) and Zachary Shulman of The Johnson School at Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.)

The Nanotechnology competitions (Northeast Ohio and National) sare the culminating event of NANO Week, October 17-21. All they want are ideas--you don't have to write a whole business plan.

And the NEO winner gets $75,000--even if they live somewhere else, as long as they're willing to relocate to the region. Now there's a nice incentive for a bright entrepreneur.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Taking the customer's temperature

Just wrote a post over on BlogforBusiness about the importance of customer surveys, and it occurs to me that Cleveland has been "taking the people's temperature" for decades, by forming all those many pro-entrepreneurial groups and organizations and non-profits to study the region and so on--several of which had lots of meetings and fanfare but yielded notoriously less-than-productive results.

Anyway, if we consider Cleveland business owners the customers, Capitalist Cleveland is doing just what the marketing guru orders--listening to the people. Don Larson and his gang interview real-life, in-the-trenches entrepreneurs every week about what's really going on for them. They're asking the folks who fight the battles what's important to them and sharing it with the rest of us out there on the battlefront.

It's a profoundly useful service to tell real-life stories. Thanks, guys, for a good idea, repeated and well executed. Visit the Capitalist Cleveland site; listen to the podcasts. And if you want to meet some fascinating entrepreneurs each month, get on the Gorilla Group mailing list.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cleveland named "digital community"--only 4 in the world!

Stand up and be proud, Cleveland. We have just been designated by no less than Intel as one of only four digital communities (those using wireless technology and innovative applications to help governments, businesses, and residents) in the whole world!! The others are Taipei, Taiwan and Corpus Christi, TX.
Intel credited Mayor Campbell for her leadership and willingness to pilot e-government applications and for her support of public partnerships with technology companies and non-profits like OneCleveland. Cleveland is internationally recognized as a symbol for advanced technology. Google "Cleveland Intel" to read more.
Makes ya proud to be a Clevelander, don't it?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Google puts RSS a leap ahead

Google is serious about changing the way you use your computer--and most analysts are saying this is a big poke at Microsoft and Yahoo (who have been fighting over who's gonna control your desktop for ages now). My guess is Google wasn't actually trying to compete. It was taking what it knows and brainstorming how to use it to make things better--and what a way to focus! Entrepreneurs who think mainly in terms of beating their competitors are taking the negative focus--much more energy comes from focusing on creating greater value for your customers.

If you're not familiar with RSS, it could be because it's seemed like a big dark mystery to all but the very tech-savvy among us. Local entrepreneurs Anita Campbell and Rob Felber are both early adopters because they were able to envision right away where RSS could go.

Google's new software shows that it's possible for everybody to take advantage of it. RSS will soon be the way we'll all be getting our information--even if you don't know or care beans about how it happens.

Read about Google's beta version of its new sidebar software that will automatically downloads RSS feeds into a neat spot on your computer that you can click on anytime you want--and see what's new on the blogs and websites you want to keep up with.

Oh, yeah, and it looks like it might put Outlook in a tizzy--it aggregates all your email, including from Gmail (Google's service). Anything that can go one better than Outlook's record of blotchy service is a must-have for me.

Wow. Changing the face of our business day with a single stroke. I love it. Thanks, Google.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Okay, finally I'll mention it

Been on a big rush deadline lately, but couldn't resist this one. I've been holding out on it because it's previously arrived on my desk in the form of those ohmygod-the-sky-is-falling formats that I usually ignore. This time I can't--it comes with the stamp of approval of Palm One--and it's even worse than those 3-day-vacation-package, unsolicited faxes that are against the law.

So in case you haven't already responded to one of those disaster-prognosticating emails, hear this now: Do this or risk being aggravated beyond belief by having to pay for intrusive, uninvited marketing calls to your cell phone.

Do Not Call

Very soon, cell phone numbers will begin being released to telemarketers. To help avoid those annoying and potentially expensive calls (yes, you will be charged for them) be sure to register your Treo smartphone number with the National Do Not Call list. Just call 888.382.1222 from your phone to protect your number for the next five years. Or register at their website.

Oh, and hey, if you own a Treo 650, now you can use Versamail to download your Gmail (Google's beta version of email). It's nice to know Google's entering the smartphone arena--for like Microsoft, where Google goes, good comes eventually (though not always unmitigated right away)...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Festival to showcase Cleveland performers/technology artists

As a lover of the Cleveland area, I'm thrilled to share this with you. This Labor Day weekend our city's holding a wonderful festival that some of the city's players are sponsoring--it's called iNGENUITY and it's about Art and Technology in Cleveland. The site tells you all about the multiple events in multiple venues that will be going on in the downtown area.

Someone I know actually sent the link to me--wonder where the festival organizers are getting their email distribution lists? Anyway, it looks like a lot of fun--undoubtedly a good place for those who were chosen to participate to display their talents and their wares. Should be a fun place to take the kids, too.

And maybe, just maybe, it might also be a good place to network for business, too--especially if you're an entrepreneurial artist or technology purveyor or someone who buys from or sells to them.

Side note: As someone who creates copy for websites--and designs a few sites on the side--I noticed the spiffy technology on this website. The cool dancing robot and other neat animations beautifully demonstrate the point of a technology and art festival and prove that you don't need many words when you can show people places to go and things to do!

If you're free, plan to go and enjoy yourself at this first-of-its-kind party in Cleveland.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Ohio's like Crest tooth care

Good news. First, Ohio has formed another group to help Ohio, the Ohio Business Development Corporation. I know, that doesn't sound very promising when we've had so many already with which we weren't always able to see results.

But I'm cautiously optimistic about this one. Why? Because they picked a marketing person to run it. A long-time marketing exec with Crest compares Cincinnatti and Cleveland to Crest Spin Brush and Crest Whitestrips--which may sound silly at first, but there's a lot of wisdom behind the idea. Ohio the state is made up of several regional (metropolitan area) markets, just as Crest has several differentiated product lines, all of which have a common thread--their brand.

This kind of thinking is what we need more of in Ohio.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Entrepreneur-ial resources

My recent Google search for "Cleveland entrepreneur" only yielded a couple of things, but with a little digging...

The Cleveland Entrepreneurs group (which came up first in the search results) has nearly 80 signups, but the meeting-up part seems to be lagging a bit. Do you think maybe most entrepreneurs are so overworked they don't have time for social networking?... devotes a whole section entitled "Entrepreneur" to stories and briefs on the topic. If you're an entrepreneur in Cleveland who has an idea, try one of these:
Civic Innovation Lab
E-City (for young aspiring entrepreneurs)
If you need health insurance (even if a you're a one-person outfit), talk to COSE. They ain't cheap but they'll get it done for you. Especially helpful if you or an employee have an existing condition. If you need training, try one of these:
Nance College of Business Administration at CSU
Cuyahoga Community College
Key Entrepreneurial Development Center at CCC
Case Western Reserve University
Myers University (by the way, they have affordable membership options for their recently renovated Myers University Club on Euclid Ave.--a nice place to set up meetings with prospects
Bryant & Stratton
For news and articles on national and internationl entrepreneurship, check this out: the National Forum on Entrepreneurship. Too bad I couldn't find an RSS feed--this might be a good one to check regularly. And for a foundation that's specifically devoted to entrepreneurs, visit the Kaufmann Foundation website.

Hmmm. Maybe we should set up a resources spot in the sidebar. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

If bad guys can self-promote on the web, what about you?

I talk a lot (on, which by the way has a new look and a new feature: books and tapes on speaking, presenting, and promoting) about how you could be using the Internet--especially blogging--to more effectively promote your business.

Many U.S. politicians got the picture during the last election--Cleveland's own Dennis Kucinich was among the first to blog his campaign to higher visbility with his online tactics. And now come the "bad guys", otherwise known as Al Quedahosting streaming video on the web to show off their latest antics and gain exposure for their "accomplishments".

Your blog is a powerful tool to get and keep your customers and prospects engaged and involved with your company--which builds a sense of loyalty that can make a difference when it comes to customers making buying decisions. Every entry doesn't have to be high-level literature--you can even just point to information on another site that your customers might find useful.

Your blog becomes the true voice of your company--and that's what people are hungry for--real voices instead of corporate speak.

If you don't have time or internal resources to do one yourself, hire a good writer who knows how blogs can help. Start slowly if you like; you can get a free site from Google's Blogger or some other web-hosted software. Later you can host it on your own site.

Either way, it's worth trying for three to six months--but make sure you notify your target audience and have them sign up to receive an email when there's a new entry. Give them an RSS feed so they can read your material anytime. Let us know if you'd like to know more about RSS--I'm working on an article and will be glad to share.

Here's a link to's first product to help you set up a blog to promote your business.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Twilight at the Zoo

The rockabilly music had us shoutin and stompin' at the Australian Adventure music stop on Friday night.

If you've never been to the Cleveland Zoo at night, their August Twilight fund-raising event is a great time to go. It's changed since the first time I attended--back then you could see more of the animals--but it was still a great night of music, food, shameless hawking of silly light-up wares, endless beer and wine, and running into other entrepreneurs like David Stack, who was seen chasing the guy dressed up as Samuel Adams (the brewer) to get his photo for Plugged-In Cleveland's website. Hope the zoo made lots of money, 'cuz we sure had fun!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Revving up at Blogcritics--Ten Million!

Entrepreneur Eric Olsen is very proud--justly so--that his brainchild, Blogcritics, has been so successful. And today he gets to brag about a big number--just like McDonald's started doing back in the early 60s. The Blogcritics benchmark is TEN MILLION unique visitors. And he says they're going to get that many AGAIN in just the next 6 months! Ah, the magic of compounding (once the bailiwick of financiers on interest rates, and now the happy cry of Internet marketers).

Eric has made this Internet review site a roaring success, building relationships with Amazon and all kinds of publishers of music, books, and videos. He has something like 800 folks who write reviews and opinions, and the site was recently designated a trusted news source on Google.

No small potatoes. Congratulations, Eric, and all my fellow blogcritics. Read Eric's post here.

P.S. By the way, I know when McDonald's started counting because for a brief period my dad owned a small franchise operation that sold soft ice cream--and hamburgers--and we kids worked there and heard stories early on about the competition--McDonald's, about three-quarters of a mile down the road--selling its hamburgers for fifteen cents. "How can we compete?" our dad would strategize, as another one of us kids made ourselves a double burger with extra cheese and a chocolate shake with extra chocolate. Poor dad. When you hire family, your profits can go right into their stomachs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Northcoast Entrepreneurs at play

Talking animatedly--many like old friends--attendees at the Gorilla Group summer social (on the beach at the lovely Carlyle high-rise apartments on Cleveland's Gold Coast breathed a collective sigh of relief when the sun sank behind the promontory to the west--the sweltering heat had us all dripping sweat while we talked. But good stories were exchanged, much roasted meat consumed, and lots of business relationships were formed, strengthened and/or branched out. Check out the Capitalist Cleveland site (link on the right) soon for photos by the official (and authentic--he had a REAL camera) photographer Ken Cavanaugh.