Sunday, 25th February 2018

Modern DC Business Magazine Spring Issue is Here

Posted on 02. May, 2011 by in MAGAZINE

Modern DC Business Magazine Spring Issue is Here

Last year, I took a 10-day, 4-city tour to China. I visited the bustling capital city of Beijing, the green tea covered hills of Hangzhou, as well as Suzhou, which is reminiscent of Venice, with its intricate canal system and massive textile factories feeding the ravenous appetites of fashionistas worldwide. On my last stop, I ended up in Shanghai, which can be best described as a city four times the size of Manhattan and on a steady diet of steroids, a true sight for capitalistic sore eyes.

I climbed the Great Wall of China and watched over the highway that leads in and out of Beijing. I witnessed the endless queue of trucks carrying in raw materials and shipping out finished goods to the rest of the world. As I stood watching, I could feel the pulse of the entire country right underneath my feet. This is how the United States must have felt to newcomers at the turn of the last century. With its vibrant and restless population, cities bustling with creative energy and factories pushing out goods twenty-four hours a day, everything must have seemed possible.

In the 1980s the United States transformed its economy from manufacturing to services. We invented the Internet and created companies like UUNET, AOL, Google, Facebook and Twitter to cater to our ever growing online needs. Today, these American companies collect fees and advertising revenues from around the world. Take for instance a German motorist who is trying to go from point A to point B in his own city of Dusseldorf, searching for directions on Google Maps. People around the globe are asking for information about their own cities and communities from Americans working in offices overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Despite the rosy picture above, the ingenuity that we applied to our private enterprises was not always matched with intelligent fiscal prudence and long-term thinking. In the private and banking sectors, we became greedy, short sighted and too smart for our own good. In the public sector, successive administrations squandered tax revenue for multiple wars and new entitlements that were never offset by spending cuts. We relied heavily on foreign loans, and in a few short years, we went from a boom economy, flaunting a resounding budget surplus, to one that is anything but. Luckily America still has the know-how, the talent and the wherewithal to bounce back and lead the way both globally and domestically. This country has hardly given up the ghost just yet, and it’s only a matter of time before we situate ourselves firmly where we belong, in the black.

This brings me back to my trip to China. Both the government of China and the private sector are eager to invest in American private enterprise. Chinese businesses are investing in enterprises as diverse as theater houses, solar energy companies, RV manufacturers, and tech firms. If there is a profit to be made, the Chinese are willing to put up the capital for it. This willingness to invest should be recognized and the opportunity seized by DC businesses.

In this issue we spoke to many experts from the CEO, Chairman of Coca-Cola, Muhtar Kent who is also the leader of the DC based US China Business Council, to Harry Weller of NEA on why he is investing in China and how DC companies can attract capital from China to our area. We have an exclusive interview with Deputy Chairman of Capgemini, Paul Spence about his experiences running a worldwide business.

I hope you enjoy the Spring issue of Modern DC Business Magazine. Please join our M Club (an invitation only social club for corporate executives and entrepreneurs) and don’t forget, MB Magazine is mostly about business and all about your business style. Enjoy.
Hulya Aksu

The Funders’ Top 10 List

Posted on 14. Apr, 2011 by in Blogs, Entrepreneur, FINANCE


If you’re searching for angel or venture funds in the Metro DC area, and you missed the Potomac Techwire breakfast roundtable on Tuesday, then you’ll want to take note of what the funders’ panel had to say. Many of the themes investors found most important paralleled the entrepreneurs’ advice.

The funders’ panel recommended that entrepreneurs:

  1. Know who you are.
  2. Know your competition.
  3. Validate your business concept. Talk to a lot of people early.
  4. Prototype. It helps tell your story in a big way.
  5. Show investors that you can execute and reach milestones.
  6. Understand your limitations. The founder is rarely the CEO five years later.
  7. Be realistic. Don’t get hung up on valuation and walk away from a good deal.
  8. Bootstrap and be as resourceful as possible. It brings independence and the valuation you want.
  9. Have a business plan. Don’t spend a lot of money making it pretty. Oh, and don’t tell investors your forecasts are conservative.
  10. Do as much due diligence on the investors as they do on you.

And just like yesterday’s blog, one more tip: Don’t approach funding like it’s a conveyor belt. Your company and the business climate aren’t that predictable. Expect to engage in a long, intense process. Each investor has a sweet spot, and it’s all about finding the right fit for both of you.

The sweet spot isn’t just about the sector, the stage you’re at, or the amount of funding you need. It’s also about chemistry. The people who invest in your company will influence how you move forward in a big way. Discord detracts from your ability to focus, execute, and ultimately limits your potential. A synergistic fit between entrepreneur and investor mitigates weaknesses and amplifies strengths. The right investor becomes a trusted, valued member of your team.

I learned a couple of important things about angels during the roundtable. First, most invest in companies within a 1-2 hour drive. It’s a red flag when companies seek angel funding beyond that radius. Unless of course, you use AngelList, which changes the game for both investors and early stage companies. Offered as a free service, AngelList creates an efficient, online marketplace with 1,500 participating angels looking for interesting deals. They’ll ping you if they like your story. AngelList can compress the early stage funding process into a matter of days or weeks.

Thanks again to the sponsors and panelists for Seed Stage Capital Outlook 2011. You offered sound advice. What we’ve discovered during our search for capital is that you’re often generous with your time and offer excellent advice offline as well. While it’s up to the entrepreneur to decide what’s best for the company, your expertise and generosity at this stage make a big difference to startups.

The BRICS are coming, the BRICS are coming!

Posted on 11. Mar, 2011 by in Blogs, FINANCE

Affluent Travel – People With a Private Jet

Financial Times reported that, “Brics becoming billionaire factory” March 9th, 2010, for the first time the number of billionaires in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has surpassed the number of those in Europe and is quickly closing in on the US, according to new figures from Forbes.

The United States still leads the pack with 413 individuals totaling a net worth of $1.500 billion. Brics are following with 301 billionaires and they have surpassed Europe by 1. Asia is the real story behind the numbers with tripling of its billionaires to reach 332 with 115 in main land China alone.

US still hold the # 2 and 3 spots for the richest person in the world. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet follow Mexican Carlos Slim as the 3 richest persons in the world. US also holds the place for the youngest billionaire with Dustin Moskowitz of Facebook at the young age of 26. US by and large has the oldest average age for billionaires in the world coming in at 66.


Posted on 26. Jan, 2011 by in Entrepreneur



Your company’s name is Kadoo. How did you come up with it? Is there a meaning or a story behind it?

Donna Hemmert & Kurt Baumann

We actually acquired Kadoo with its name in place. But, we really loved the name. And, apparently, it means “community” in Chinese, which we really like.

What is the main business of your company?
Kadoo is your private video cloud. Kadoo allows you to privately share or publicly publish your videos and other files anywhere, including smart phones, TV and social networking sites such as Facebook. Imagine capturing an HD video on your mobile phone and minutes later sharing it privately or publicly to friends on almost any device, TV or tablet.

Why is privacy in the cloud an important topic to you?

Privacy is a main tenant on which the Internet was built. We should not have to sacrifice our privacy to participate in this medium, although that’s what many of the big players make you do. Ownership and control of your personal information should be a fundamental right.

Is this your first company? How many others have you started? How did they fare?

Our whole team has participated in many successful startups. Kurt has started five, all of which had successful exits.

How did the Kadoo team come together?
We’ve all worked together in the past in certain configurations, and all felt passionate about what Kadoo is doing. This is the first time we’ve all been together as team. We have similar values, enjoy the same kind of work environment (outrageous fun and hard work), and we believe this is the right team to get it done.

What are the challenges of working out of your house?
We have all the normal challenges with the division of work and family life, but perhaps sometimes those lines are blurred even more. We determined to go without office space to run as leanly as possible, and it’s the right choice for now. For better or worse, the team meetings do stir up a lot of creative energy and chaos, which means that we have less down time in our home than other people.

Do you discuss business 24/7? What is the effect of it to your marriage?
No, because we have commitment to create as much balance as possible in our lives. We established grounds rules for how to manage our time. Sometimes, however, we do have to remind each other that it’s time to put work away.

Is the Metro DC area a good place to start a cutting edge technology business?
That’s a very interesting question. If you’re a cutting edge technology business serving the federal government then it is hot. Consumer technology faces a greater challenge. There’s less of a support structure and expertise for high tech consumer startups in the Mid Atlantic region than there is in the Silicon Valley This area experienced a setback when the bubble burst in 2000. It seems that recently, however, there’s been more activity for consumer-technologies in the Metro DC area. For example, people are showing a lot of interest in what we’re doing.

Where do you see Metro DC business environment go over the next 5 years?
Government-supporting technologies will continue to thrive. For the Internet, we are optimistically rooting for steady growth.



The Kadoo Rundown


What is it? – A browser based cloud service provider that lets you back up, store and share your files including pictures, HD videos, love letters, important documents, etc.

Who is it for? – Individuals are the primary users but small businesses can also use it.

How much does it cost? – This is one of the few things in life that is free.

Is it safe? – Company assures that all of your files will be safe and free of snooping. Just remember you password so you can recover your pictures again.


Posted on 26. Jan, 2011 by in Entrepreneur

Living Social

By Leigh MacDonald
Photography By Michael Vonal

Living Social
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Seemingly overnight, social commerce has become a staple in the world of online commerce. With such a

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Power Lunch Alternatives in Metro DC Area

Posted on 25. Jan, 2011 by in Blogs, LIFESTYLE

Harry’s Tap Room

A Power Lunch is more than just a lunchtime outing with co-workers. Power Lunches are where professionals meet, cultivate contacts and relationships, and discuss critical matters of business. Where you choose to conduct your Power Lunch is crucial, as the restaurant you choose will set the mood of the conversation and serves as a reflection of who you are and what view you hold of the people you’re meeting. Here are a few alternatives to the so called “usual suspects” of Power Lunch locales that are sure to impress.


Usual Suspect: Lightfoot Restaurant
Lightfoot Restaurant has been a power lunch staple since its founding in 1992. Operating out of a historic building that had previously been a bank and serving up award winning Modern American cuisine, Lightfoot is more than a safe bet for a broad variety of occasions, from a business outing to a romantic dinner for two.

The Wine Kitchen

The Wine Kitchen

Alternative: The Wine Kitchen
Touting, as the name would suggest, an impressive wine list and an equally impressive menu, The Wine Kitchen has emerged as an exciting alternative to Leesburg’s traditional culinary offerings. Offering what the Washington Post describes as a “downtown-D.C. vibe that’s only a 20-minute drive from home,” the ambience at The Wine Kitchen is a refreshing break from the Northern Virginia norm. Garnering an average of four out of five stars on, sixteen out of fifty two reviewers recommend the chicken and waffles, a dish the Post describes as “fried to perfection,” and one that “you don’t want to share.”


Usual Suspect: Clyde’s
Practically a Metro DC institution, Clyde’s numerous Northern Virginia locations, consistently delicious food, and distinct ambience make it a common choice for power lunchers. Offering up great American cuisine at a reasonable price, Clyde’s will definitely deliver an enjoyable business outing.

Alternative: Parallel Wine Bistro
Receiving a stellar average of four and a half out of five stars on, Parallel Wine Bistro lives up to its claim to offer an “interactive experience of wine and food.” An extensive wine list and equally impressive beer menu coupled with wonderful small plate offerings and a unique ambience make Parallel Wine Bistro a solid and exciting choice for your next power lunch in Ashburn.

Ask A VC

Posted on 25. Jan, 2011 by in FINANCE


Ask a VCHow can a founder protect the value of their common stock, and avoid dilution, down rounds and carve outs that exclude them?
Unfortunately, founder dilution is a largely unavoidable aspect of any company that needs multiple rounds of financing. The total ownership in a company must always add up to 100%, and future investors are going to need some ownership. So the real question becomes how can a founder minimize or best manage the dilution?

The most fundamental answer is for the company to be capital efficient and thus minimize the need for future rounds in the first place. And a second fundamental answer is for the company to continue to grow in value and hence maximize the valuation at which those future rounds can be done.

Beyond that, the best advice is to pick your investor carefully. In a venture financing, investors always conduct diligence on founders, but that diligence should work both ways. Entrepreneurs should not be afraid to ask tough questions of their potential investors, and they should always ask for CEO and founder references. The best predictor of how an investor will treat founders is how they’ve treated them in the past.

And lastly don’t forget that the most important thing for a founder is not the percent age of the company he owns, but what that percentage is ultimately worth. It is better to own a little of a big company that can go public or be acquired than a lot of a small company that you can never exit.

What kinds of non cash aid and support do you provide to founders?
The best venture investors are not merely “stock pickers,” they are “company builders.” This doesn’t mean that a great VC can replace the functions of a CEO or other senior executives in a company, but the right investor can certainly add significant value.

While every opportunity is unique, the core principles required to turn a great idea into a successful business remain consistent. All entrepreneurial companies must create at least five critical processes in order to succeed:
• Team Building
• Product Development
• Customer Acquisition
• Customer Deployment
• Finance and Administration
A good VC, through their experience, connections, insights and knowledge of best practices should be able to add value across all five critical processes.

Creating Strategic Alliances

Posted on 25. Jan, 2011 by in LEADERSHIP, OPERATIONS


CREATING STRATEGIC ALLIANCESStrategic alliance relationships are supposed to follow the 1+1=3 formula. You are supposed to combine and align your expertise, solutions and contacts with one or more companies to achieve greater business results than you can on your own. This sounds good in theory, but as you may have heard before, “Results may vary from company to company and there are no guarantees with alliance relationships. Side effects may include headache, nausea, heartburn…” But we all want increased predictability in our businesses and there are 10 steps that we can follow for better outcomes in our alliance relationship efforts. The following steps should apply to you whether you are a small business entrepreneur or a corporate executive.

Be selective.
Don’t have a shotgun approach to building alliances. Just like you would be selective when hiring someone, you should equally be careful about starting alliances with other companies. Diligently research your alliance partner candidates and slowly get to know them to make sure you have the same business goals, virtues, style and culture. For example an Annapolis startup that I am familiar with found a partner that was already an approved Federal government contractor. This allowed them to sell their software through this channel immediately which significantly reduced the time it would be needed for them to become an approved Federal contractor.

Patience is a virtue.
The definition of this saying is to tolerate delay. This implies self control and forbearance as opposed to wanting what we want when we want it. Alliance relationships will require time to develop trust, understanding and alignment between the two companies. You will need to spend quality time together (action oriented meetings) and diligently follow up on what was discussed. Showing that you deliver what you promised will go a long way in building trust with your partners.

Set out to support your business objectives.
Before you select partners as well as during your alliance relationship, keep your business objectives at the forefront of your actions. This may mean growing revenues by 15% or acquiring 25 new customers or to penetrating a new region. Regardless of their nature, your new alliances should be designed to support your objectives. Remember that alliances should help you open new doors that you could not otherwise do on your own.

Set realistic goals and strict rules of engagement.
If you are starting a new alliance relationship, know that progress will come slowly and in smaller increments. If one of your objectives is to grow your overall revenues by 15%, perhaps you can set your alliance goal to contribute 1 to 3% of that total. If your goal is to acquire net new customers, then you can set your goal to promote your company to 25 new customers with 2 alliance events. Rules of engagement will become very important when you start to acquire your new customers. Ensure an upfront and clear understanding of follow up procedures and revenue splits to avoid embarrassing litigation later on. Don’t forget that business needs to travel both ways. Often each alliance partner thinks the other will bring them business, leaving each partner wondering where the leads are. This often leads to frustration, dissatisfaction and potential ill will. The partnership must recognize early on the working model of the relationship – establish and agree upon expectations, goals, and measurements.

Bring value to your customers.
Customers are looking to do business with companies that can provide the greatest value to their business needs. Think about customer needs that your company does not directly address and offer combined solutions to meet them with your alliance partners. One good example that I recently noticed was, a site that specializes in incorporation services and also offers virtual telephone operator solution from one of its partners. Most people who need to form a new company will also need to set up phone services. It makes sense and it brings value to the customers in the form of a “one stop shop.”

Fully incorporate alliances into your sales cycle and align, align, align.
There are two ways to set up alliance partnerships—the right way and the wrong way. The right way is to realize and understand that alliance partnerships are part of every sales cycle regardless of the size of deal and the type products/services involved. The wrong way is to think that your company’s sales cycle is somehow separate and siloed from its alliance efforts. This lack of institutionalization of alliances will ultimately lead to unfulfilled objectives, frustration and failure. Even when we execute the right way, we need to make sure that we are fully aligned with our partners and that we speak the same language to our mutual customers. You don’t want to look like a bunch of amateurs when so called alliance partner’s communicate different messages to mutual clients.

Aim for greater openness.
Much like in your personal relationships, the better you know your alliance partners, the more you will trust them and open up your company’s books. In ideal partnerships, parties involved will invest in each others’ solution development, share sales pipelines and go to market together to address specific sector or customer needs. This will take time, but it is important to keep it as a goal in the back of your mind to guide you as you select you partners and build alliances.

Trust but verify.
This Russian saying was made famous by President Reagan as he worked to develop an alliance relationship with the Soviet Union President Michael Gorbachev. As in any relationship, test your partners’ allegiance before you share too much information with them. Take baby steps in establishing ties and go for few quick wins before investing more into the relationship. Those early wins are important in building confidence on both sides of the fence and they will become your stepping stones as well as references to increased success in the future.
Know when to sever your ties.
Much like in life, some relationships will not work out or last long. Be able to detect problems early and if they cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, sever your ties with your partner. Also, it is a good idea to run an automated internet alert to detect any important developments about your alliance partners. The last thing you want is to be associated with the wrong type of crowd.

Stay friends.
Even when you sever your ties with companies, continue to invest in your human relationships. Stay in touch with your former alliance partners and keep them updated on your progress. You never know when former ties will appear in front of you again. When that time comes you want them to be your allies rather than your enemies.

Security Advantages of Cloud Computing

Posted on 25. Jan, 2011 by in OPERATIONS, TECHNOLOGY


Cloud computingOne of the hottest debates in the information technology community today centers around cloud computing. Proponents suggest the flexibility, scalability and economics of the cloud make it a logical choice, while opponents point to security and privacy concerns as reasons not to move to the cloud. From the perspective of a company focused on providing secure information technology solutions to large, very security-conscious customers, we believe it is possible for small to mid-sized organizations to have the best of both worlds: the benefits of the cloud can be affordably attained in a way that does not jeopardize an organization’s security.

Security is the big argument against cloud computing these days. However, one might argue that cloud computing can actually be more secure than locally managed systems, particularly for small to mid-sized companies. Here are a few specific examples:

Multifactor authentication: A number of cloud computing vendors now offer multi-factor authentication as part of their service. Multi-factor authentication is much more secure than the more traditional user name and password authentication convention. Instead, multi-factor authentication systems combine something you know (password), with something you have (hard token), and/or something you are (biometric). Unfortunately, many small and mid-size companies don’t have the resources (skills, time, or money) to implement such authentication capabilities on their own.

Effective Negotiating

Posted on 25. Jan, 2011 by in LEADERSHIP


If you have ever negotiated a project or a deal, you know part of the battle isn’t just working with the other side. It’s winning over your own side as well. In every deal I negotiate, I work with my clients so that the legal team is an asset to the deal, the business team and the company in general. In this article, I’ll provide suggestions on how lawyers and their business partners can join forces to get the best deal for the company.

Business partners, these 3 ways of approaching a deal can help you leverage your legal team and close deals faster:

1. Bring in your counsel early. Lawyers cost
Imoney, and the natural inclination is to bring the lawyer in at the last possible moment to reduce legal costs. Frequently, however, when I’m brought in at the last minute, I have the unenviable task of pointing out ambiguities, risks and issues in the contract that haven’t been considered, making everyone feel like I’m being paid to call their baby ugly. In-house lawyers that get brought in at the last minute usually get referred to as the “business prevention department” because of this – which perpetuates the cycle. If I’m brought in early enough in the deal – sometimes as early as during the drafting of an RFP for large deals – not only can the legal fees be included in the business case and the budget (preventing unpleasant surprises later) but I can almost always save a client in legal fees by advising where language, concepts, or risks may be a problem for one side, and how to resolve the issue earlier in the process. I also help the client articulate and refine its going-out position, what it’s willing to give, when to give it, and at what point the deal is no longer feasible.