Envision Ventures Partner Talks CleanTech; Why and How He Funds Startups

Dan Ahn, Managing Partner at Envision Ventures

Dan Ahn, Managing Partner at Envision Ventures

Recently, MITCNC hosted a forum entitled Multiple Ways to Fund Your Clean Energy Startup. Numerous experts provided CleanTech entrepreneurs with new ideas to fund their companies. Some of the alternative funding sources included: angels, private equity, corporate venture funds, federal or state grants, international venture investors, and prizes.

We’re pleased to invite Dan Ahn, Partner of Envision Ventures and a panel speaker, to share additional thoughts on the panel discussion, as well as the partnership he seeks and builds with his portfolio companies.

Anna: Welcome, Dan! Why did many CleanTech startups fail over the past years?

Dan: Good question. Let me start with a “historical” perspective: “CleanTech,” from an institutional investor perspective, has been a dirty word. Continue reading


Former CIA CTO Examined Catastrophic Cyber Failures at West Point US Military Academy

The officers and cadets at West Point US Military Academy came to listen to a talk by former CTO of Central Intelligence Agency, Bob Flores, and Cloud Security Alliance co-chair/Vidder founder, Junaid Islam, about how to avoid catastrophic cyber failures. Such a failure occurs when a cyber attacker is able to exploit a single vulnerability to breach an entire organization’s cyber defenses.

A strategic framework for effective cyber security proposed by Bob (left) and Junaid (center) has the following essential components:

  • Establish a comprehensive view of threats and capabilities
  • Develop a security strategy that mitigates an organization’s biggest vulnerabilities
  • Link security controls to ensure a single failure will not result in a breach

How to Prevent Catastrophic Cyber Failure

Key takeaways: Continue reading

Disciplined Entrepreneurship Workshop: Answers to Three Must-Ask Questions


If you’re currently launching a new venture, can you answer these questions?

  • Who are my customers – can I detail the “persona” of my target users?
  • What do I uniquely offer them that no one else does?
  • How do I best reach them?

If you and your team have trouble answering, don’t despair.  This September, we’re offering a practical, hands-on workshop series based on the ground-breaking book Disciplined Entrepreneurship, by Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.  As Bill says:  “The single necessary and sufficient condition for a business is a paying customer.” Continue reading

Eleven Useful Books For First-Time Tech Founders



(Image: http://www.36kr.com/p/56006.html)


I found myself recommending the same books time and again to first-time tech founders, so decided to just put together this list:

(1) The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company – By Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

(2) The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup – By Noam Wasserman

(3) Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers – By Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

Continue reading

MITCNC Key Initiative Update: Entrepreneurship, Young Alumni, and Stronger Connection to MIT

A photo of MITCNC President

Doug Spreng, MITCNC President

When Doug Spreng accepted the MITCNC president’s role last year, he set in motion three major initiatives to drive interactions between the Northern California MIT alumni and the institute. Entrepreneurship, young alumni outreach and stronger connection to MIT are the strategic building blocks to enable an evolving MITCNC community that keeps pace with the technology transformation initiated at MIT and commercialized by MIT entrepreneurs—many are young entrepreneurs.

In this interview Doug gives an update on programs that focus on these three initiatives. Continue reading