Saturday, November 12, 2016

What Trump America Will Look Like - From Someone Who Predicted His Succes in 2011


Trump World: The American Pivot?

As a commentator who predicted Trump’s success as far back as 2011 here’s what the future looks like through the crystal ball I used.

Overall, it’s a lot better than most liberals expect although they may not like it for a while and it may never return to the way it is. We may have pivoted out of the monolithic 2 Party State and the classic Labor vs. Corporation conflict.

We are pivoting towards political coalitions and an opportunity economy with more freelancers than salary people and money may actually recede as the primary form of wealth because otherwise, robots would outearn us.

First, consider the reason, I predicted Trump would do well – although honestly, I never expected him to win, especially in light of his many errors and transgressions.

But the message I first heard 5 years ago is what triumphed.

This is what I heard in 2011 and what I think is likely to transpire in 2017.

The first thing about Trump is that he spoke like a world class businessman and not a glorified attorney trying to negotiate legalisms. We forget that most politicians are lawyers, they think like them and they talk like them. That is not necessarily a bad thing but it is nothing like how real people operate and it does not in any way prepare them for true leadership. Trump therefore sounded like a total breath of fresh air t many and made all politicians seems suspect. Suddenly the classic politician’s words, “we must do more” sounded like pure bunkum.

The bottom line is that he tapped a sense among many traditional Americans and older folk that we just don’t carry the same weight in the world that we used to. Regardless of what you think of Hillary Clinton, when her and the DNC’s self-serving activities were revealed, most Democrats sloughed it off, but the bedrock red states dug their heels in with mounting ferocity. While Democrats thought Trump was ignorant and erratic, the “people of the heartland” were just glad to hear someone bring up the issues that seemed so wrong and yet so accepted but the media and political elite. When Democrats called Trump unqualified they saw what “qualified” people were generally up to and it was mostly looking out for themselves. When Hillary labeled them deplorable – as indeed many on both sides were – she reminded them of what a typical discussion with a liberal tended to be: everything you wanted to discuss was off the table and you were a dog/pig/racist/scumbag just for bringing it up. The rioting and occasional Trump voter bashing of the two-fisted and foot-kicking type certainly reinforces that.

The other driving force was  the Obama issue and how, in a strange way, he ushered in the Trump era. Since I voted for Obama, I can say this with open heart: people liked him but they became worried as he backpedaled on American exceptionalism. That was a good thing at first, in the wake of the disastrous Iraq and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan experience. After Bush, it seemed like everyone hated us, so surely a brown man with an Islamic name, no real racial animus and a Harvard pedigree would be the ideal candidate to make the world love us again. Europe agreed and immediately offered Obama the Nobel Peace Prize.

But reality had a different take on it.

The Islamic World didn’t quite agree, which is mighty interesting. In Egypt they thought it meant he wouldn’t support Mubarack and so they felt free to overthrow him only to bring in the Moslem Brotherhood. In Syria, Assad knew we wouldn’t intervene. ISIS saw weakness borne of an apostate who looked Moslem but chose Christian. But regardless, Obama had no real vision about America as the 21st Century Superpower, just America as a power, with a lower case p. Obama was Superman hung up his cloak and just wanting to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, scratch golfer and pickup basketball player if that’s OK with you all. And sure, he’ll have a beer and some fish tacos with you any time he can.

Trump, by contrast was more than happy to play the comical superhero and the elite press made sure we never forgot that. But what they also forgot is that the public long ago forgave comics for being comical. They go to ComicCon. They mostly go to movies based on comic book heroes. So all that pooh-poohing only worked on their elite followers and not on the “people of the heartland”. When most of the media veered from reportage to plain anti-Trump propaganda, the heartland folks noticed while the Clinton/Media followers didn’t, hence the surprise.

The Birth of the Media Candidate
Most people think that JFK ushered in the era of the media-friendly candidate. Indeed, JFK’s imagery is so powerful that no matter how much dirt they have dug up on him, it has not changed our attitudes a whit. He is somehow sainted. The same could be said about Bill Clinton.

Obama took this to a whole other level because he was actually born as President as a kind of an American Moses story: a stranded outsider who became an insider due to thealignment of various stars. The easiest way to see this is to compare him to Jesse Jackson who fell off the map after he uttered the most Biblical of threats, to castrate Obama (how many people remember that?)

Obama was born when Bill Cosby showed America just how cool, intelligent and loving a sophisticated black father could be. He happened to be advised by a African-American, Harvard educated psychiatrist. What came to be revealed about the Cos after the fact will be about as harmful as what was revealed about JFK. His image remains and over time we’ll just get over the bad stuff.

Obama’s leadership role was paved by the nest great African figure, Nelson Mandela. Truly our first African Saint. All that had to happen was for America’s equivalent of the Paharoah’s daughter, Oprah Winfrey, to notice, nurture and then anoint Obama and we had our next President.

While many Republicans and most racists freaked out, Obama didn’t turn out be half bad. He was highly likeable, funny, cool as heck and took us all out to dinner a lot on America’s credit card.

And therein lay the problem. People of the heartland were the ones to realize that we had run out of credit and they were paying the interest by shipping their jobs to foreign lands or become the victims of one kind of regulation or another. Since the media elites were doing just fine they didn’t hear them at all. That is why DC is now home to some of the richest zip codes in the nation. DC produces almost nothing other than regulations and hot air. So when the WikiLeaks double-dealing info came out, there was just no spinning their way out of it. The Clinton foundation may have helped the poor but only while helping themselves and their cronies even more. When you can’t name a substantial accomplishment of Secretary of State Clinton, which is fine for her supporters but then you find  out because she was busier making deals for her foundation, husband, friends and possibly the DNC, the people of the heartland got the picture. Throw in the private servers and all the stonewalling and you get the idea that the political class works for itself and not the people. But the coastal elites weren’t too concerned.

When Trump came along with just enough f-you money to say exactly what he wanted to, blue collar folks warmed up to him. The fact that he doesn’t drink, smoke or drug but has a philandering side, thereby putting him on a par with JFK, Clinton etc. you can see how they just might forgive even if they didn’t like it. At least they know what his vice is. Everyone else was able to hide theirs for some amount to time.

More importantly, Trump too, was born in the media. Most of it was self-driven and at always deliciously controversial. Mark Burnett turned out to be his Oprah by anointing him the “Master” in the Apprentice. To everyone’s surprise – including the NY Times – we liked what we saw. He appeared strangely judicious and he even got to show off his finest assets: his progeny. Anyone who watched the show had to ask themself, how bad can this guy be to have kids like that. Privileged but still grounded and seemingly hard-working. Hmmmm.

The bottom line about Trump’s win is exactly what makes any Social Media campaigns work. You don’t have to have the most fans, you just need a critical mass of the most avid fans. They will come out, they will evangelize and they will go on to the last mile. His rivals who just took their following for granted did none of that and so most followers didn’t even bother to show up. In viral terms, Hillary’s supporters were not carriers. Trump’s supporters were quietly rabid and the media did a great job of inadvertently keeping their blood at boiling temperature.

Trump was a kind of gutter superhero, a Tony Stark with his own jet, suit of armor and cloak of nonsense. People bought it and paid for the biggest tub of popcorn to watch it….

Winning by Losing
Every time Trump picked another fight he seemed to lose another constituency. Yet, he appears to have done better math than most of us. Annoying the right people is a great way of bolstering your supporters. What really surprised people was that he got a higher number of votes from African Americans, Hispanics and Muslims than Mitt Romney. Likewise, driving away all those Republican insiders, the notorious scolds that all progressives hate, helped him too. He won over a lot Sanders Democrats because of that.
Luckily for Trump, the numbers added up in the right places, but only by a hair…..

Into the Future

The Death of Party Politics
What all of this portends is that political parties are not trustworthy and the voters will start to demand direct politics rather than political loyalty.  They will vote for people cliques and coalitions and will learn to benefit by playing them off against each other.. Parties will become more like federations than strict orders. This election set that off, the internet will bring it to fruition. The bigger picture is that the rationale for parties – big business vs. labor is going way. The organizations no longer represent the majority of working Americans and so the battle is no longer center stage. Just as importantly, as we move to more of a freelance economy this will become the silent majority that neither party represents.

That is why Trump’s party crashing looked pretty good to a lot of people trying to make it on their own.


Unleashing the “Dirty Giant”: Why Bankruptcies and Vileness May Have Helped
Trump’s crudeness and bankruptcy-dodging is not necessarily a bad thing. The country is on its way to bankruptcy and we have been way too nice to people who really aren’t nice themselves. Yet, to the powers like the media, business and the political elite that was just fine since they generally profited from those people. Sending our factories overseas, fostering the debt, taking money from foreign interests and acting as if America was some kind of high-minded priesthood suited them just fine. But not the struggling nobodies in the hinterland.

In that light, someone like Trump, a scrappy guy who knows how to dodge bills and is willing take on some sacred cows is not necessarily a bad thing.

What a lot of people forget is that America has become something like a waxed factory-farmed orange – plenty of vivid colory on the surface but empty of flavor on the inside. As we lost our industrial heartland, the great service and financial jobs moved to the coasts, where the political parties and media reside. So yes, the elites have it good and world looks great to the coastal populations but the inlands are hollowing out financially.

This was not a big deal when oil was trading at $100 a barrel. That kept many people employed and flowed enough money through the heartland that they didn’t mind factories slipping off to China or Mexico. They didn’t mind corporate inversions or Apple tax shenanigans in Ireland.

However, at $30 a barrel that has gone away. Yet the Democrats still don’t want us to export oil or more significantly, natural gas. As for coal, it is all but dead. Simply unleashing these energy sources can change the world balance of power. The US can offer to replace Russia as the lead supplier of natural gas to Europe and pull the plug out of their advancing power.

Exporting gasoline means that the middle east may undercut us but they are no longer a monopoly. We can now threaten to leave the key oil sites unprotected creating fear in the Persian Gulf. Yet the Saudis have done nothing to resolve the Syrian Crisis, they accommodate no refugees and have no apparent skin in the game. The same applies to the Palestinian issue. While they may not be the only ones to resolve, no solution will occur without Saudi’s full support. No one seems to have persuaded them to get on board. Oddly enough, Obama’s accommodation with Iran may have paved the road for Saudi involvement in all of the above, including an alliance with Israel in the face of Iranian expansion.

Trump understands that, by selling energy and fighting for America’s place in a new energy world, the US can sway major powers, stem the tide of energy imports and bring in major revenue. The country gets dirtier but we get to keep our homes. Some of the same can be said about infrastructure improvements but paradoxically, better roads make it easier for imports to reach our markets than for exports to leave. But at least for a decade or so, there will be plenty of work to be had but only if the unions are cowed. You can’t build a lot of stuff if you are forced to pay three or four times the standard labor rate to get anything done.

Yet that is what unions have mostly done for the past 60 years and they are likely to continue. However, this time it could be different.

We are about to seriously compete with robots and are about to enter the jobless world.

Jobless America – The Structural Change the Trump Addresses Whether He Likes it or Not
The fact is, we are undergoing a major structural change as the knowledge economy kicks into the super-knowledge economy and middle level jobs disappear. Only the highest and the lowest remain. The rest of us will serve or be on our own.

Here are a few data points to consider.

Self Driving Trucks
About 8.5 million people drive trucks and it is one of the few ways a working person can make a middle-class living. You can live almost anywhere and so many famers stay alive by driving on the side. But in any case, it supports about 19 million American though the industries like rest stops, hotels, repair shops and so on.

Self-driving trucks will destroy about 80% of those jobs.

Robot Factories, Stores, Construction and Farms
As labor flexes it muscles again, robots will strive to become cost-effective. Unlike low cost labor from Central America they will not have to scale any walls or file for any papers. They will sweep through factories than can manufacture that way, they will take you orders at MacDonalds, they will do the work of many construction laborers and white collar workers alike and they will run many farms – especially ones that are close to their markets.

Trump may not have any solutions to this but he does have what no other politician has, no obligations to either corporate or labor interests. He is free to act in the best interests of the country and not his constituency. A new class of blue collar digital literates will take over. They will know how to program, manipulate and otherwise hack robots and other machines. They will form their own idea of unions and the current parties will see their bases shift.

Dealouts? The End of Stringless Handouts
If there is one thing we now about Donald Trump, he does nothing for nothing and he always seeks some type of payback for offenses to him. This does not necessarily make him uncharitable but it does reveal his mindset: every entitlement will come with some type of payback. He will try to give opportunity instead of cash. This is not necessarily a bad thing either but it is very different from what we do now and there will be plenty of push back.

One thing is clear, Trump doesn’t believe in a free lunch and there are lots of ways of putting people to work. This will become a big issue as automation and artificial intelligence takes over more and more rote jobs.

What Trump believes is that people who get something for nothing are at the heart of inner city despair. But can he generate enough opportunity? New kinds of public service and even renumeration may fill that gap. Not everything should be measure in money and as long our basic needs are taken care of, money is by no means everything……

Trump the Dictator?
You may not love Trump’s idea of democracy but unlike most dictators who are extremely fixed in their thinking, Trump is nothing if not changeable. If he becomes a Hitler it will be like the screwball one played by Dick Shawn in the Producers. And if he is an anti-Semite he is one strange version who makes his Jewish son-in-law chief of staff and his kosher-keeping daughter his advisor.

The Next Four Years? Back to the Future, but Still the Future.
In some ways, Trump is reviving an older America when it had swagger and could say fairly arrogant stuff without seeming too ridiculous. Watch any movie from the 40’s and something will make you cringe. It would be the doctor smoking a cigarette while taking your pulse or a comment about broads. Most of all people were fairly free to be who were, warts and all. Now, we haven’t learned to evolve as much as we have learned to conceal our real selves. Not a true evolution. Trump’s funky openness may turn out to be a better impetus to growth than political correctness.

On the other hand, America may have become more racially and political diverse in a way that cannot be bridged.

It’s a huge challenge but given the comparison between Trump and Romney, being tough and outspoken is more impressive to people who are supposed to hate you than being kindly and mealy-mouthed. Trump is likely to keep playing that card and generally winning more than he loses. Likewise, the comparison between Jackson – the angry redux of a tragic racial history vs. Obama, the optimistic straddler of races and history but without the baggage, makes it clear what works.

You can be tough, politically incorrect and worse. You just can’t bring out historical baggage and you’d better come up with ideas, opportunities, jobs and solutions in droves.

The electoral college seems to think Trump can do that.















Monday, October 24, 2016

Great Moonshine Cruise on Oct. 20!

Thanks to all of you who came out for the amazing Cruise-a-Palooza - unbelievable weather, great band and great music by Robyn Adele Anderson. Can't wait for the next one in spring!
Post your pics and vids from Thursday's cruise.

video

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Hottest Tech in Stamford: Language Learning

You wouldn't expect Stamford to be the home of better language learning, but it was Language Zen that won the August 10th pitch.

What was so special about Language Zen.

The multilinguists who made LZ followed the language hacking techniques of polyglots (learn that!) and developed a mobile teaching system with a small but healthy revenue base.

They will be appearing a the next Private Equity Forum in NY.

Full Results

Language ZenMicah  Greenberg, CEO micah@languagezen.com              Language Zen is a web app that uses proprietary machine learning technology to be the most quantifiably effective way to learn a new language (2.2X faster than Rosetta Stone and 3.4X faster than college courses to be exact). We let users learn from music, explore their personal interests and data-mine spoken conversation for relevant content. Language Zen is currently booking $12,000/month in consumer revenues with a 3.5 month payback period and low churn.

Comment:  Savvy startup group tackling a slightly crowded market in a clear new way.                                                          

Mother's Milk Is Best, Inc
Elizabeth Schinkel, Founder brina5@hotmail.com 970-556-4780Pure, concentrated human milk promotes optimal growth and contains immune  boosting bioactive nutrients that serve a profound role in the survival and health of a premature newborn. Our solution is simple: using mature technology we remove water from mother’s milk without damage from heat or pressure; thereby reducing the volume while increasing the benefits of the mother’s milk. It provides the nutrition needed in the lower volume a baby can handle and is inexpensive. This system is unique; It alone allows a mother to tailor her own milk’s nutrient concentration for her baby as needed to promote growth.

Comment: Very unusual pitch for this group but show s promise. Heartfelt but needs a little more business edge.  

Pearl's Premium Inc.     
Jackson Madnick, President,  jackson@PearlsPremium.com, (508) 653-0800Ultra Low Maintenance Grass that needs mowing only once every 4-6 weeks, needs 1/4 the water of other grass and stays green year round without chemicals, now in over 400,000 lawns in all 50 states

Comment:  The grass really looks greener here. Needs a marketing boost.   

CLENCH Sports
Jim Calisi, Founder & president, jim.calisi@clenchsports.com  (860) 538-4713          At CLENCH, we make custom-fitted sports mouthguards. And using the latest advancements in digital dentistry and 3D printing, CLENCH is offering athletes an affordable alternative to traditional, store-bought mouthguards (aka Boil-&-Bites).

 Comment: Great pitch, promising market looking for a barrier to entry.....

Judges at Work

Judith Benardete from Private Group Networks
Alex Jordan, BookU
Devin Dixon, Sprout Connections







 

 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Can Smart Tech Save Policing?

A few years ago I saw a presentation by Verint, the company that listens in on phone calls with customer reps.

According to them, they they can evaluate the tone of the conversation as well as key words.

If the tone reaches a certain threshold or if certain key words pop up they can predict with apparent certainty loss of the customer.

So when will the police cams get AI and start picking up on he interaction.

There are obviously two sides to this issue and it would help to have an impartial real time evaluation.

Is this the future of Robocop?

What do you think?

Monday, July 11, 2016

June Report: Great Startups Begin WIth a Seed - literally.......

Startupalooza returned as an iBreakfast and attracted one of the largest number of presenters we have seen in years!

We also got a reminder about how great ideas spread.....as seeds. One of the great books on the spread of ideas, Crossing the Chasm was based on the spread of new seeds.....and that's who won in June!


The Winner:

Pearls Premium Ultra Low Maintenance Lawn Seed
Jackson Madnick, President      jackson@premium.com           (508) 653-0800Ultra low maintenance lawn seed (grass) that you mow only once a month, rather than every week, needs 1/4 the water compared to other grass, stays green year round without chemicals and sequesters 4 x the carbon compared to other grass to help lessen climate change.

Commentary:
An innovative, useful solution for millions of lawn owners. Obviously this existing product hit some kind of wall that investors found to be a workable challenge.

What is most interesting is that while it took tech to develop, it is a non-tech product. Yet seeds are also the product that inspired one of the most useful texts in the tech world: Crossing the Chasm. That book explains how new ideas - particularly in tech - make their way navigating from early adopters to the mass market. It was all based on the case study of new seed adoption in the 19th Century.

Talk about going full circle. Or just going to seed!

The First Runner up was:

The Wealth Factory      Angel   Rich     CEO     angelrich27@gmail.com         2024605627Commentary: The gamifactiation of financial educaton for the young with major corporate backers and some great name dropping (i.e. the First Lady) plus a solid pitch made this a close contender.

The Second Runners Up were:

HotelsByDay        
Yannis  Moati   CEO     yannis@hotelsbyday.com  2123630120         
HotelsByDay allows customers to book hotel rooms for half a day, to refresh, rest, interview, prepare for a meeting. 
Check-in AM, Check-out PM - Simple! Our company is reinventing the Hotel stay!  Imagine getting into a city at 8am, and have a meeting at 1pm. What do you do with those hours in-between? During those hours, thousands of hotel rooms are sitting empty and millions of people are wandering aimlessly.  There is a massive gap in the market.  And that is why we created HotelsByDay. Through our apps and website, HotelsByDay allows customers to book DayRooms.

Commentary: A new spin on an old, once disreputable idea was credibly and extremely well delivered. A great execution play that could have been the winner if there were defensible IP. (Best wisecrack of the day, Trump could be an investor: "Making Times Square Great Again!")

MeVee        
Kristen Fletcher           CCO     kristen@fletchpr.com            6313983456
MeVee is the social media live streaming platform that allows users to go live, monetize, and share everywhere. Explore MeVee to discover interesting, funny, and premium content. You can also live stream privately with a friend or a group. The Wall Street Journal writes that, “MeVee was designed intentionally to be different from other live streaming apps” while The New York Times says that MeVee is “causing a stir.”

Commentary:
A great solution for the personal video age - one submission to all platforms and direct rev share. Would have been a shoo-in if the advertiser/monetization aspect were more evolved and the IP protectable.

Special Mention
NangioTx   
Vivek    Kumar CEO/Co-Founder         vak1000@gmail.com            678 613 1386
NangioTx was founded in 2015 to provide safe and effective ways to regenerate blood vessels for the treatment of peripheral artery disease.

Commentary: While the judges agreed this may be the most promising and certainly life-changing product in this crowded list, as a biotech product, this was in a special case. It has to navigate FDA approvals and needs startup money in the millions. Nevertheless, the ability to safely regenerate real blood vessels is extremely interesting and the company will pass on to our specialized healthcare startup partners at Health 2.0, MedStartr and MidAtlantic Biotech Angels.          

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Smart Storefronts: Winners from Boston Event at McCarter & English

Here are the winners from our June event at McCarter & English in Boston.

imageSurge 
Oleg    Vyadro,           CEO    OLEG@IMAGESURGE.COM         
ImageSurge converts any retail storefront into a through-glass touch interactive marketing and eCommerce platform.

Comments: Innovative solution to make storefronts com ealive. Has revenue. Shortest runway to likely success.

FROZEN7  
Ernest  Jacquet COO  ernestj@MentorLLC.com      FROZEN7 is Liquid Nitrogen manufactured natural ("Farm to Table") Ice Cream retail chain opening first store in The Market Place Mall (owned by Irvine Co.). FROZEN7 is trademarked (Disney) and competes with SUB-ZERO and Creamistry- growing over 100% per year.

Comments: Great franchise concept. Has two competitors, no IP but a likely momentum pay.


Private Group NetworksJudith  Benardete, CEO          jbenardete@gmail.com           845-392-2629            Private Group Networks Private Group Networks has developed an app that facilitates communication for groups of all kinds. iSpark- currently in use as the FirstTouch app for soccer teams- will solve problems resulting from the need to improve communication between, for example, health care providers and their constituents. FirstTouch is applicable to affinity groups of all kinds that form community around any issue whether that is political activism, non-profits, medical conditions, greek life, alumni groups or trade associations.

Comments: Good numbers and signs of growth. Buyout possible but some fears of being overtaken by a big player.


QC Check LLC  Marc Blumenthal        Managing Partner      marc@novationsinc.com       QC Check is focused on helping businesses do better through real time customer & employee feedback which is critical for any business that wants better product & performance, customer retention, business growth and success. When businesses don’t get real time feedback, it can go viral when it’s too late to reverse the damage.  QC Check has a working prototype, a great team, filed IP and an innovative solution to a 7-billion-dollar market that is stuck in the Middle Ages. Smart strategic funding of $250 k is sought in connection with a pending SBA loan.

Comments: Great idea for improving customer feedback but requires some customer effort and does little to improve the actual feedback.

A New Bicycle from Washington? Results from DC

Congratulations to the winner, Wilz Bikes - an expandable bike that grows from a stroller to a tricycle and then a battery-powered vehicle - may still be an idea on a piece of paper but it is clear that we have already helped this idea get off the ground!

The runner-up, Dog Pawz - a dog-walking aggregator that doubles as an in-home pet product retailer - didn't even realize what they had until our workshop helped uncover it.

As for the second runner-up eGrocer, they got an education in having a "Wow" factor - a pantry camera - before getting anyone's interest in the finer points of their plan.

We'll be back in Q3.