Author Archives: clint326

Techstars Patriot Boot Camp 2013

Techstars LogoA little more than a week ago, July 17-19, 2013, I had the pleasure of participating in the 2nd Annual Techstars Patriot Boot Camp held at George Washinton University (GWU) in Washington DC.


Near the end of May 2013, my friends at VETransfer – a Milwaukee-based program that helps veterans become entrepreneurs – let me know the 2nd Annual Techstars Patriot Boot Camp was coming up, and that I should apply to participate.vetransfer

I completed the application and recorded a 4-minute video describing my military background and why I wanted to attend. By early-June I learned I was selected to attend! I quickly made flight and hotel reservations, and ordered a set of personal business cards from Moo.Com. There was no cost for the ‘boot camp’ itself.

Day One – July 18, 2013

On the first day of the program – “Education Day” – we were treated to talks by an impressive panel of speakers. Taylor McLemore – the “founder” of Techstars Patriot Boot Camp – welcomed us and outlined the agenda for each day. Retired General George Casey – the former 36th Chief of Staff of the Army – talked to us about transforming vision in to action. Dave Cass, CEO of Uvize, spoke of the struggles of being an entrepreneur and the value of working with mentors. David Mandell, CEO of PivotDesk, talked about “how to rock the pitch.” Aneesh Chopra, the first and now former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the United States, suggested there are big opportunities for entrepreneurs today in the areas of government, healthcare, and education. Finally, Steve Blank talked with us by webcam about startups and startup methodologies. In the afternoon, we attended breakout sessions on further perfecting the pitch, raising capital, customer development, and the business model canvas.


Next, we all loaded onto buses and visited the headquarters of Opower where President and Founder, Alex Laskey, told us the history of his company. Opower also provided us with dinner and an opportunity to network and tour their impressive – yet open and very comfortable – offices. Finally, after a long day of learning, we loaded up on the buses and headed back to GWU. Whew, what a day!

Day Two – July 19, 2013

Day two – “Mentor Day” – started with a talk by the current CTO of the United States, Todd Park, who encouraged us to leverage the open data sets being provided by the government. He also gave us a list of tips for entrepreneurs and invited us to contact him directly if we had questions! Patrick Riley of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) gave us tips on navigating “startup land” and working with mentors.

Next came the most exciting part of the program, for me: talking with the Techstars mentors in one-on-one 25-minute sessions. Earlier, using Ohours.Com, we were able to select which mentors we wanted to meet with. I was quick to register and was ultimately able to select and meet with eight mentors throughout the day. My first mentor session was with the serial entrepreneur and founder of Techstars, David Cohen. David was actually in London, so we talked by way of Skype. After listening to my story, he offered to put me in contact with another mentor who will hopefully help me validate my ideas. My other mentoring sessions were in-person and included meetings with: David Mandell, CEO of Pivot Desk; Rami Essaid, CEO of Distil Networks; Rahul Sing, CEO of Anant; Dave Drach, VP of Techstars; Rob Painter, Managing Director of Razors Edge Ventures; Jim Brinksma, Founder of Visible Arbitrage; and Ben Deda, VP of FullContact. I was stunned at the quality of these mentorship sessions. Each was fully engaged as I told my story and each provided unique ideas to help me move forward. During the day we also took breaks for talks by Congressman Jared Polis and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).


Next, we all loaded on buses and headed to Washington’s preimere co-working space, 1776, where we had dinner and heard from Shabab Kaviani of CoFoundersLab and Donna Harris of 1776. Finally, we loaded back on the buses and headed back to GWU.

Day Three – July 20, 2013

Day three – “Demo Day” – was a half-day, and was kicked-off by a talk by Ramsey McGrory of AddThis. Next, while many attendees demonstrated their ideas to each other, I continued to network with some of my new friends. Finally, Peter Levin, gave an engaging closing essay, and Taylor McLemore and Tom Chikoore closed out the program with a warm “thank you” and a request that we go out and “build things”.


My Techstars Patriot Boot Camp experience was simply amazing! I want to say “thank you” to Taylor and the entire Techstars crew who organized the event; to all the speakers and mentors; to GWU, Opower, and 1776 who hosted us; to the all sponsors; and to my peers and fellow attendees. Ultimately, we all came together to create a very unique experience around the idea that those with military experience are in a unique position to support each other as they follow their entrepreneurial passions.

If you have the opportunity to attend a future Techstars Patriot Boot Camp, I highly recommend it!

Problems with Chrome on Mac OS X

Within the past week or so, I’ve started to get the spinning Beachball on my Mac when running Google Chrome. It happens several times per minute when I click in the address bar or in a field in a form on a web page. Very irritating. It’ll spin for a few seconds and then allow me to carry on. Here are some of the details:

  • My Mac is a a relatively recent model:
    • Purchased in April 2013
    • MacBook Pro 13-inch, Mid-2012
    • 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7
    • 8 GB RAM 1600 MHz DDR3
    • Intel HD Graphics 4000 512 MB
    • 256 GB SSD (16GB “free”)
    • OS X 10.8.4
  • My version of Google Chrome is up-to-date: Version 28.0.1500.71
  • The spinning Beachball only happens in Chrome. I can use Firefox, for example, with no problems.
  • This even happens if I restart, keep all other applications closed and have all Chrome extensions disabled.
  • Also happens in Chrome if I click on a link.
  • I have high-speed cable connectivity.
  • Does not happen on other systems (Windows and Mac) with Chrome installed.

Anyone have any ideas of why this might be happening or how I can troubleshoot the problem?


Startup Milwaukee March 2013 Meetup

startupmke_logo_Last night saw another successful Startup Milwaukee monthly Meetup. The event was once again held at Translator in the Third Ward and approximately 110 people attended. This makes several months in a row now of more than 100 attendees and it is becoming increasingly clear there is an active and vibrant startup community in Milwaukee.

translatorThe night was kicked-off by a welcome and introduction to Translator by Katie Felten and Cindi Thomas. The Milwaukee startup community certainly owes a big “thank you” to Translator (and the Milwaukee Brewing Company) for their support and for hosting and sponsoring various Startup Milwaukee Meetup events.

Next, Matt Cordio gave an introduction to Startup Milwaukee and made several announcements:

Next up, Anne Nimke of The Good Jobs reminded everyone about their upcomming Launch Party, and Heather of Find My Spot gave a quick introduction to her new apartment search service. Both have very impressive websites that are well worth the visit.

By this time, everyone was ready for the three “keynote” presentations of the evening:

  • LeMarc Johnson of NightStyr talked about Nightstir, a mobile communication platform designed to allow you to “create and share nightlife plans.” Learn more at GetNightstir.Com.
  • Cindy Rahm and Eric Rahm of Brighter12 described their lean approach to developing their web-based application which supports individuals going through a 12-step recovery program (“Your Journey from Broken to Brighter”). The approach included: Establish a mission; Know your audience; Find a niche; Define the problem; Solve that problem; and Solve it better than anyone else.
  • Ryan Konicek of Tappr talked about the experience of the Tappr team at SXSW with a focus on the “Learnings from SXSW” workshop with Steve Blank, Bob Dorf and Startup Weekend. You can find a copy of Ryan’s presentation and more on the What’s on Tap blog.

In all, the Meetup was a whirlwind of very useful real-world experience from Milwaukee-area startups! The Startup Milwaukee organization deserves real credit for putting together an event like this. The fact that they’re doing it every month is amazing!

If you’re interested in startups — or working with others to build your own startup — be sure to register for the next Startup Milwaukee meeting on April 11!

Clint Laskowski is an information security professional, web developer, and technology entrepreneur in Milwaukee. You can follow him on Twitter at @Clint326.

Wisconsin Startup Night

monona_terraceBetter late than never, right?

Back on March 4 (2013), I had the pleasure of attending Wisconsin Startup Night at the beautiful Monona Terrace in Madison. This was a premier event for the Wisconsin startup community. It was attended by 250-300 people and featured three great talks.

accel_madison_logoOpening comments started at about 6:30pm with welcome messages from Mark Clear, Executive Director of Accelerate Madison; Christopher Cain, Attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP; and Forrest Woolworth, Chief Operating Officer at PerBlue and Co-Founder of Capital Entrepreneurs. Of special interest to me was the announcement by Forrest that the next Madison Startup Weekend will be April 5-7 at the Madison College West Campus. Closing out the welcome messages was Lisa Johnson of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

mschmidtThe first real talk of the night was by Monty Schmidt, founder of Madison’s own Sonic Foundry. Monty took the crowd through the history of Sonic Foundry, from its humble beginnings in a small office with a Tandy 6000 running Xenix to the point where Sonic Foundry sold several of it’s media suites to Sony in 2003 for $18 million. During his talk, it struck me that Monty was able to see the arrival Microsoft Windows 3.0 and the Sound Blaster sound card, in 1990-91, as an opportunity to build such a successful company.

The next talk was given by Matt Younkle and Preston Austin, co-founders of Murfie, serial entrepreneurs, and TechStars alumni. And, the final talk of the night was by Sam Yagan, co-founder of Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago), co-founder of OkCupid, and CEO of


Unfortunately, I was so engaged in all the talks that I didn’t take many notes! The talks ended at about 9pm. In all, it was a fantastic night of networking and talks by successful entrepreneurs with deep ties to Wisconsin and the upper-Midwest.

Pi Day: Are We Doing it Wrong?


Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant [Pi]. [It] is observed on March 14 (or 3/14 in month/day date format), [because] 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of Pi in the decimal form. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day. — Wikipedia

In many schools in the US, Pi Day is a fun opportunity to celebrate math and enjoy all things circular including pies, cakes and cookies. As an example of the enthusiasm Pi Day generates, my 12-year old daughter has recently memorized the first 100 digits of Pi using Learn Pi Free on her iPod Touch. Cool!

However, since Pi Day is a celebration of math, shouldn’t we at least get the math correct?

Pi – the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter – is roughly equal to 3.14. So, it makes sense for Pi day to be in March (the 3rd month).

But, is the 14th the right day to celebrate? I think not! For example, what if by some cosmic chance Pi happened to be equal to 3.48? When would we celebrate? On the 48th day of March? Obviously, there is no 48th day of March, and we’d all miss out on our circular treats.

Instead, we should be celebrating on the day of the month that is 14-percent of the way through the month. By my calculations that would be:

(14/100) x 31 = 4.34

Pi Day should be celebrated on March 4!

Now, don’t even get me started on whether we should be celebrating Pi Day
or Half Tau Day.

Password Recovery Services Best Practices

Recently, I helped a client recover the password to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. In doing so, I came up with a few best practices for password recovery services:

  1. Prior to starting any work on a password recovery project, the service provider should require the client to sign an agreement where by the client:
    1. Attests to ownership of the system or file and their right to engage the service provider to recover the password;
    2. Gives permission to the service provider to recover the password to the system or file; and
    3. Gives permission to the service provider to access the system or file for the purpose of confirming that the password recovery was successful.
  2. Best practices for the communication and storage of passwords should be applied to recovered passwords. For example:
    1. Don’t communicate passwords in clear text;
    2. Don’t store passwords in clear text; and
    3. Change passwords if there’s any chance they’ve been compromised.
  3. The provider and the client should have a reciprocal non-disclosure agreements in place.

Do you have any additional ideas for best practices for how password recovery service providers and clients should work together? If so, leave a comment!

Startup Weekend Milwaukee

As you may know, I’m helping to organize the first-ever Startup Weekend Milwaukee. A Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups! Here are some links to learn more:

Startup Wisconsin Launch Event

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the launch event for Startup Wisconsin (“StartupWI”) at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

The night started out with an hour of networking and hors d’oeuvres. It was fun to see so many people involved with the Wisconsin startup ecosystem gathered in one place, connecting and re-connecting with each other. I estimate there were close to 200 people in attendance, maybe more.

The presentations for the night were kicked off by A-Sun Truth, Founder and CEO of Twicketer. He introduced a video that lasted about 10 minutes. It interlaced short segments about Wisconsin’s historical business successes with short segments about several of Wisconsin’s current startup companies. It was inspirational and very well received. I understand StartupWI may make that video available for viewing online in the near future.

Next, Cindi Thomas of Translator Digital Cafe made the official announcement of the launch of StartupWI, the 23rd region of the Startup America Partnership. Cindi introduced the founding group and emphasized the need for everyone present to support the startup ecosystem in Wisconsin.

Following Cindi was Paul Jones of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, the premier sponsor of the event. He talked about his entrepreneurial background and his experience with venture capital (including co-managing a large early stage venture capital fund).

Scott Case

The keynote speaker for the night was Scott Case, CEO of the Startup America Partnership (and founding CTO of Priceline.Com) Scott gave a dynamic and interesting talk about his entrepreneurial experiences and his current work to create the Startup America Partnership. His suggestions for building a strong startup ecosystem were: (1) Build communities, (2) Celebrate success, and (3) Integrate those communities and hold events. Scott urged every startup in Wisconsin to join the Startup America Partnership.

Last up was the ‘Fast Pitch Competition’ in which representatives from 10 Wisconsin startup companies pitched their businesses to the crowd in a competition to win $1,500 in cash prizes. Pitches were given by the following companies:

  1. Twicketer
  2. Wom Street
  3. The Good Jobs
  4. Digital Iris
  5. Bushwack Apps
  6. Print Command
  7. We Do
  8. Our Ballot Box
  9. Ronin Studios and Consulting
  10. DocWrite

The pitches were a lot of fun to watch and reminded me of the pitches at Startup Weekend Madison. Later in the evening it was announced that first place went to The Good Jobs, and second place went to WeDo.

In all, this was a significant event for the Wisconsin business community, especially for startups and their founders. It shows, once again, our entrepreneurial spirit and ecosystem is alive and growing. I’m looking forward to seeing what StartupWI (@StartupWI) does next! A big “thank you” goes out to the organizers and sponsors of last night’s event!

Update: Tailwind Creative also has a nice summary of last night’s event along with a link to several pictures.