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Entries in Entrepreneurship (3)

Monday
Aug062012

Billionaire Entrepreneur Wants to Put Man on Mars

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the Mars rover Curiosity, a $2.5 billion robot the size of a Mini Cooper, touched down last night, one billionaire was already planning the next logical step -- sending humans there.

"I'm confident at this point that it can be done," Elon Musk told ABC’s Nightline in an interview at SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles. "I think we'll be able to send, probably, the first people to Mars in roughly 12 to 15 years. That's my estimate."

Musk, who made his billions as an Internet entrepreneur, wants to bring Silicon Valley ingenuity to a space exploration process that, until recently, has been something only governments tried to tackle.

He entered the space race in 2010 with his company's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, reusable spacecraft built with the goal of taking astronauts into space and returning them safely to Earth.

Musk said he is aware he has competitors in this new space race -- one reason why SpaceX does not patent any of the top-secret technology it creates.

"The rockets we're building right now could certainly send probes to Mars, like the Mars rovers and that kind of thing," he said. "But the rockets we hope to build in the future are the ones that could take people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian base."

And he has big plans for Mars -- not just taking people there, but making it possible for people to thrive there and even establish businesses.

"Mars is the only place in the solar system where it's possible for life to become multi-planetarian," Musk said. "We could make Mars like Earth…it's more than our life raft, it's like backing up the biosphere."

One of the biggest challenges of colonizing the red planet is making the trip affordable for the average American, he said, which is "extremely difficult."

While Musk's outer space ambitions may sound bold, he has a track record. After leaving his native South Africa at 17, he went into online commerce with his brother. One of his companies is known today as PayPal. That company brought him his first billion dollars, which he poured into his electric car company, Tesla, and an energy services company Solar City, two companies now at the cutting edge of renewable energy.

Watch the full story on ABC's Nightline tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May042012

Mark Cuban: Richest 1% Should Pay More

ABC News(DALLAS) -- Since he turned his boyhood stamp collection into a money-making scheme and asked to move out of the house at age 11, entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he’s been driven not by the rewards of business, but the tooth-and-claw competition of making high-risk deals.

Selling powdered milk door-to-door may not have been his finest hour, but he says it gave him some of the skills that eventually led to a $6 billion payday. Whether it was luck or delusion that convinced Yahoo to hand over that much stock for Cuban’s Broadcast.com in 1999, he still had the foresight to diversify before the tech bubble burst. Some of his partners lost it all, while he sits atop a multibillion dollar sports and media empire.

Over lunch at his favorite burger joint this winter, the famously candid mogul bounced from topic to topic, dispensing to ABC’s Bill Weir opinions on politicians, business leaders and the state of the nation. When his lawyer dropped by the table to discuss buying the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cuban wrinkled his nose and shook his head at outgoing owner Frank McCourt’s demands.

“He wants to keep the parking lots and lease them back at a ridiculous rate,” he said. “And he’s sued everybody he’s ever gone into business with.”

In a wide-ranging interview in his owner’s suite, Cuban had no qualms wading into election-year politics and calls for “the 1 percent” to pay more in taxes. Unlike many of his fellow billionaires atop the Forbes list, he agrees. And the attached video clip explains why:

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Watch ABC News Nightline anchor Bill Weir’s full interview with Mark Cuban on Nightline TONIGHT at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb082012

Creating a Smarter Reality Show with Entrepreneurial Ideas

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOULDER, Colo.) -- A group of young social innovators with ideas that might change the world spent three months living in a house having their lives taped 24/7 for an online reality show.

It's called the Unreasonable Institute and was created during a light-bulb moment by Daniel Epstein, along with fellow University of Colorado alumni Teju Ravilochan and Tyler Hartung.

"We're very intentional about not making this into reality TV. We wanted this to be real TV," Epstein said. "We want to be showing the struggles, the ups and downs and the wins of entrepreneurship."

Competition was stiff. More than 300 people applied from 65 countries to attend the 32-day program nestled in the foothills of Boulder, Colo., and 26 were selected.

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"The Unreasonable Institute is an international accelerator for early-stage entrepreneurs who are wielding entrepreneurship as a mechanism for combating social challenges, and they're trying to take those to scale," Epstein said.

The institute's name comes from a quotation by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw: "All progress depends on the unreasonable man." But these entrepreneurs who are selected believe they can realistically affect the lives of at least 1 million people.

Some of the ideas: utilizing worms to increase agricultural yield; providing solar cookstoves to rural regions in the Himalayan Mountains; or tackling anemia through iron fortification and testing. One young woman literally reinvented the wheel.

The water wheel is a 25-gallon drum that moves five times the amount of water possible than traditional methods, which is five gallons carried on the head, Cynthia Koenig, inventor and CEO of Wello, said. "So not only is it alleviating women and girls from this tremendous physical burden of water collection but it's also reducing the time burden. Women and girls spend about 25 percent of their time each day collecting water," she said.

Daniel and his team at the institute match the early-stage entrepreneurs with mentors such as the chief of technology at Hewlett-Packard, as well as investors who come to stay in the house and help them bring their ideas to scale.

"It's amazing what Unreasonable will do," said Myshkin Ingawale, who raised money at the institute for his company Biosense, which is helping to monitor anemia in India.

"We call it accidental productivity. So you have 26 people with ideas to change the world and they are put together in this frat house which they call the mansion. Synergy is the perfect word to describe it."

When ABC News stopped by the institute, ER Executive Producer Neal Baer was offering mentorship to the 26 entrepreneurs, teaching them how to use good storytelling techniques to help raise funds.

"When you are pitching to a venture capitalist, I want to be moved," Baer told the fellows. "The thing I found that moves venture capitalists is they want to know the story. They need to see the numbers but if they can't see it, then they're not going to be involved."

The do-gooders get by with barely any sleep for six weeks. By day, the fellows might go to the mountains with a mentor such as Baer, or potential investor. They also discuss their ideas at workshops, or take part in a large pitch where entrepreneurs present their companies to the community for feedback. By night, they have dinner at a huge table straight out of a scene from Beauty and the Beast.

"At the dinner table, we try to meet with random people we don't know so we can mingle a little bit, dinner's supposed to be fun," said Mohamed Ali Niang, CEO of Malo Traders, an organization fortifying rice in Mali.

And then it's off to town out to blow off a bit of steam. After all what is a revolution without a little dancing?

The program culminates as the entrepreneurs travel to San Francisco pitching their ideas to a group of investors, and then it's back to Boulder for the "Unreasonable Climax" one last final pitch to the community. The whole idea is to get these ideas funded and brought to scale.

This year, you can help decide who gets to go by going online to unreasonableinstiute.org/marketplace. It might be one way you can make the world a better place.

"Take Mohamed Salem, he's s providing renewable energy to off-the-grid customers in the deserts of Palestine and Israel, getting Jewish and Muslim communities to work together at the same time," Epstein said. "Philip Wilson from Guatemala is providing clean drinking water to families for $35 a year through a brilliant water filtration device they've developed. They have sold over 53,000 filters benefiting over 300,000 people in the last three years. The stories go on and on."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio