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Cyberbridges as Broadband Business Incubators

Can Broadband become THE Cyberbridge to an American Innovation Revolution?




"We must take change by the hand or rest assuredly, change will take us by the throat."

Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister


Will rural broadband be a Cyberbridge to Nowhere? The answer is a flat “NO!”

What IS in question is whether anyone, bottom up and/or top-down really knows what broadband training best practices can produce jobs particularly among the blue collar populations, both urban and rural. Accountability for upcoming broadband investments needs to include genuine measures of workforce readiness training, jobs, and socio-economic capacity.

The clear trends are that with smarter services, the process, cost and timeline for getting existing businesses on the web and for creating new businesses, including totally new business models is where opportunities for innovation exist. And many new start-ups are addressing how best to provide these services. Ongoing attention to the best emerging models from the booming number of related global bottom up innovations, such as micro-multinationals, informs future innovation as an essential strategy.


Rural Self Employment has long been the promise of rural broadband, with fingertip access to global markets. And today it is a reality for thousands of rural citizens who mostly taught themselves rural ecommerce and telework strategies. In the last five years, the Internet population has exceeded a billion users, with 5 billion more coming soon. New free web tools and the ability to learn from a booming number of entrepreneurial best practices worldwide are creating business startup businesses with minimal overhead, short term validation of the economic returns, and social media community building businesses with a core emphasis on building trust.


Two case studies made possible by broadband access
Printing for Less www.printingforless.com offered low-cost quality printing services aimed at businesses with printing budgets of under $3,000/year. They earn roughly $26 million a year and have a national network of partner printshops coordinated to allow them to continually function at near maximum capacity. Their model is dependent on rural broadband in Livingston, Montana.

Rightnow www.rightnow.com   in Bozeman, Montana has 700 employees and over 1400 offices worldwide, averaging $100 million a year. They provide CRM consumer relationship management software systems leveraging online self-service systems coordinated with more traditional telephone call center models. The CEO started with no funding, writing code from his bedroom. Such bootstrapping has repeatedly been proven to be more than viable, and is recommended over venture capital funding. The CEO wrote a “how-to” book on bootstrapping (Bootstrapping Your Business, Greg Gianforte.)

MySpace went “viral” in 18 months attracting 100 million users - to sell for 2.6 billion. Now, thousands of businesses are attempting to replicate this model in a blizzard of new social media start-ups. Most recently, social activism has become the new theme for such startups, with Facebook growing at 38% and MySpace’s growth having slowed to 1%. Who will launch the next big social media phenomenon?


With the global economic crisis, the unspoken question is “Can President Obama turn his successful social media campaign fundraising model into a Mass Employment and Innovation incubator, educating and employing large numbers of citizens, particularly blue collar workers and HS drop outs? Can Broadband become THE Cyberbridge to an American Innovation Revolution?”   
See the Public Recommendations to NTIA/BTOP and USDA/RUS   http://lone-eagles.com/getitright.htm


The book “Wikinomics” suggests Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, and that open competitions can be the fast-track to stimulating global innovation to solve specific problems.


A Boom in Business Incubator Innovations
The range of opportunities and the efficiencies with which new businesses can be created is unprecedented. Who can keep up? And that’s the whole point, to be competitive you have to collaborate with those already committed to keeping up. What you learn about what’s working, can also become *your business value proposition helping others keep up the same instant of progress. We’re in the knowledge age, facing an innovation economy, based on building trusted relationships, amid accelerating change, globally.


What Matters Most?
Suddenly, broadband matters, the vision of fingertip access to huge and growing global markets has become a reality. And suddenly, getting a community or nation digitally literate and entrepreneurially minded is recognized as the smartest strategy to deal with the current economic crisis.  Virtual small business incubators can streamline the costs of bringing new businesses online. Education is necessary, but not the industrial age format of sitting in a desk 600 hours a year threatened with flunking if you don’t do what you’re told.   21st Century education entails building your own knowledge and finding your own passion for self-directed learning. (Blog: What Matters Most: www.loneeagleconsulting.com )


In a world of accelerating change, services to keep you up to the same instant of progress - to keep pace with your competition - are growing. Less information has greater value if it saves you time and such value in the age of information overload, is worth paying for.  Minimal capital is needed for virtual businesses. Low Cost, High Imagination virtual incubators are competing on what they can learn from existing successes, creating their own mash-ups of what already proven to work, and bringing new services and businesses to market in days or weeks.

What is your community doing to help your citizens connect with meaningful participation in the rapidly growing global information society and economy? Take the short Smart Community Quiz http://lone-eagles.com/smart.htm and review examples of smart communities.

Here are five common sense steps to stimulate local innovation.
(From: http://lone-eagles.com/montana-choice-2005.htm )

1.      Celebrate local ecommerce and telework successes via local media

2.      Identify smart social media support systems “best practices” for families

3.      Create a local mentoring program connecting those who know how with those who need to learn

4.      Celebrate and distribute the best web content and innovations for other community – to fuel the home fires of local innovation

5.      Address local leadership training which due to generational resistance to digital tools is the greatest single barrier to local innovation.

6.      Citizen engagement at all levels; schools, community organizations, everyone needs to learn how their groups can benefit.

The generational bias against digital technologies and related ecommerce and telework tends to avoid recognition of what’s already proven possible and is happening all around us. Our willingness to innovate and build upon the innovations of others varies widely.

CISCO’s CEO “Gets I.T.!”       Mining Raw Human Potential for National Competitiveness

Corporations are out-innovating universities by providing online educational resources and innovations as social entrepreneurship and social responsibility initiatives. But there’s more to this, they are growing their future markets by educating consumers with skills for a global 21st Century interconnected economy. The developed world electronics markets are saturated, and the future growth is among the billions currently in poverty – as educable to elevate to the level of middle class consumers. 95% of the global market exists outside the U.S and the prospects of billions of new consumers has caused many companies to focus on doing business outside the U.S.


The new gold rush in very literal terms will be mining raw human potential for national competitiveness. John Chambers, CISCO’s CEO has transformed the company’s corporate culture using social media best practices to unlock the leadership potential of all employees worldwide.  Read More: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/131/revolution-in-san-jose.html

Open Source, Open Knowedge, Open Hearts

We are witnessing a global phenomenon of bottom up innovation and entrepreneurship directly related to mass access to the Internet and the unlimited opportunity to learn individually, and in collaboration with others. The proliferation of new free web-based tools, open source software, and open knowledge resources suggests opening our collective hearts to create a set of values for global citizenship. The potential is that if we all share what we know, we’ll all have access to all our knowledge. Everyone can become both learners and teachers, consumers and producers.

The newest technologies can give billions handheld devices with fast wireless Internet as their first real link to education and the global economy… to become participating global citizens. Cell phones are anticipated to be THE distance learning tool to be used by billions to both receive an education on how to participate in the one global economy. Next generation cellphones will be capable of 2-way video, sophisticated distance learning including language translation, and for mobile ecommerce participation for both buyers and sellers. In Jamaica, for example, video instruction for teaching reading and other topics is already being distributed via cellphones to those in poverty.
See www.jamaicaheadspace.com Contact Everald Gowie.

New online learning opportunities are emerging, but a recent article cited the ratio of 54:1 Internet work-at-home scams to real opportunities. Anyone can sign up for a telework job at www.contractxchange.com  or see what others are doing at www.startupnation.com  or educate themselves via a free online video course at www.thirtydaychallenge.com   While these are interesting examples of the trend, in question is whether  they are truly the best such models, and/or do they hold only pieces of yet better models due to emerge as Americans get busy innovating?

The current innovation economy requires Americans to focus on teaching the innovation process, particularly with the first digital generation, who have an unprecedented capacity, and interest, in learning these new skills.


An Alaskan partnership between the Alaskan Department of Labor and the Alaska Communications Center will use statewide television to quickly raise awareness as to what’s possible, and provide an online class for HS Drop outs on 21st Century Workforce Basics. Literally “Cliff notes” to the new world order and unprecedented social entrepreneurship opportunities. Launching April 1st, 2009   http://lone-eagles.com/loneeagleacademy.htm



Optional References as Examples and for additional reading:


Oracle’s Teleworker Jobs Matching Service  
Matches corporations seeking to save 40% by hiring remote home agents (teleworks) with rural citizens seeking home-based employment. There is a short video, and features to check the suitability of your connections for telework.


The Thirty Day Challenge
 This Australian model of free distance learning is a great example of using free tools and video instruction. However, they are very pushy selling many related products. It is suggested you ignore all fee-based product offerings until you finish all the instructional videos. You can still learn a great deal about web 2.0, ecommerce, and search engine optimization. Not recommended for those intimidated by technology. A much shorter version for Montanans would make a lot of sense.


Startup Nation
Touting 150,000 pages of content and results from a competition for the best 100 home-based Internet business, this is certainly worth explore. An Internet radio station is included.


Montana’s Supercomputer Business Incubator
Launched January, 2009, he Rocky Mountain Supercomputer Centers, INC. (RMSC ) is a unique public-private partnership business model supported by IBM to directly support business incubation and "flatten" the playing field for entrepreneurs and small-to-medium sized business. RMSC itself is not strictly a business incubator though. RMSC allows public and private business incubators and regional “Centers of Excellence” to leverage the RMSC and COEs capabilities to drive job growth, competitive advantage and economic impact. New “on-demand” services are under development.


Key Reports

The following Hewlett Foundation report addresses growing billions of new consumers through cellphone education. A Review of the Open Educational Resources Movement (OER) Achievements, Challenges, and New Opportunities


          Social Entrepreneurship Teaching Resources Handbook


             Global Youth Enterprise Conference and Report


Social Media and the Changing Consumer Experience
http://blend.cdn.fm/amex/FEED1.pdf  An exceptionally current CRM and social media report by Razorfish. 84 pages.


Social Media Literature Review:


The World Values Survey asked “Generally speaking – Can most people be trusted?” The findings suggest much of economic backwardness in the world can be explained by the lack of mutual confidence.”  Example: Scandinavian’s 2/3rds agreed VS Africans 10% agreed. A fundamental rural cultural shift will be necessary for many rural communities to participate successfully in a trusted global economic network. (World Values Survey www.worldvaluessurvey.org  )