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Recent Blogs

I’m mad as hell and don’t want complex edtech anymore!

mad as hellHow much has teaching and learning really changed in the last 10,000 years? Sure, we have the internet with millions of pages but that’s just a big disorganized library. What about the real stuff of teaching and learning? I don’t think teaching and learning has changed at all, matter of fact I think we’ve lost touch with some very simply truths and technology needs to reflect that.

We’ve always learned in one of two ways: 1. top – down from our parents or an authority figure (a teacher or a boss) or 2. from the other kids in the playground (our colleagues and fellow students). We learn by looking, listening, writing, practicing, repeating, thinking and imitating.

Let’s look at the tools of teaching and learning. All that’s needed is something to “write” on or something that lets us “read” what is to be learned; by read and write I mean things that let us look, listen, write, practice, repeat, think and imitate and today that means text documents, video, audio and pictures.

But the tools we used in the past were really simple: sand, clay, a blackboard or just paper. But now the tools we use are computers or phones. So we don’t carry a slate around with us any longer and the tools (computers and phones) we do carry have gotten more and more complex. But a computer or a phone are just a modern version of the slate. What do you use to replace your finger or a piece of chalk? Today we use software to replace our fingers and chalk and this has led to breeding tools that are themselves more and more complex and difficult to use.

This simply shouldn’t be. If you’re developing software for teachers or for students make it simple. Put yourself in their shoes. Is this something you would want to use yourself? Forget about selling your product (I actually think people who buy education solution are sometimes dazzled by complex products and want to buy the most complex solutions so people keep making more and more complex solutions to sell to them; but that’s a topic for another blog). There are enough people, teachers and learners in the world, 7 billion at last count that what want and need is just the modern equivalent of the slate and a piece of chalk– something simple they can use.

We somehow think that technology will somehow change the way we actually learn or teach. We are humans and changing how we learn would mean changing our very DNA. What can be changed is the tools that make learning and teaching possible.

They need to be simple, intuitive and be so easy to use that everyone can use them – both teachers and students, managers and employees, leaders and soldiers.

OK, you might say I’m biased because I built the easiest to use mobile learning platform in the world – Kedzoh – but damn it, why does everything have to be so complex? Well, I got so mad that I went out and did something about it!

Keep Calm and Keep on Truckin’

keep on truckin2If you believe everything that you read you would think that being an entrepreneur is all if not mostly one high after another; every idea being funded, every app getting built and every team jumping for joy every day. The reality is quite the opposite. But we do it because of the intense satisfaction we get from doing something meaningful. Something that we are passionate about.

Recently, I received an email from a friend and fellow entrepreneur and I thought I’d share with you what is to me a rare glimpse into just how hard the hard work of building a business can be.

Their comments to me are in gray and my responses are in blue.



Not sure if you are able to understand how I feel.

I am going between excitement and depression.

– Completely normal. As I like to say, having your own startup is like believing in God, your faith is always being tested.

Excitement, because I envision the outcome, because I think about all the good indications, that are telling me we will have a big success.

– Yes the early years are in some ways the most exciting as you’re fighting the early battles. As it gets older you’re fighting more traditional business battles of selling and making a profit.

Yes! And at the beginning you have a vision but later it is more about implementing things, which often means dealing with admin stuff, testing products, and seeking more funding.​

Depression, because I think about the time I already spend on the project. I had always thought this would be a 4 months development task but I’ve been at it over 2 years now.

– It always takes much longer than you think. Like deciding to fix something in your house. You think you can do it in a few hours and three days later you’re still working on it. Having a startup is no different.


And then I participate in these mentoring sessions, with mentors that I feel are much less experienced than me, and with co-entrepreneurs that are much younger. So I often feel misplaced.

– I just listen, some young guys have no idea of what they are doing and yet one of the best most mature entrepreneurs I know is less than 30 years old. He’s just amazing. So, you never know. I just keep an open mind and see what people have to say. There’s always some wisdom you can pick up.


And then there is the lonesomeness, as I seem to be the only one who really cares. This is only increased by having to travel to many different places for the project.

– This is perhaps the greatest challenge. Your focus is 100% on the business and then you realize that you’ve neglected your personal life.. So yeah, entrepreneurialism is difficult for a personal/family life but that doesn’t mean it’s not impossible, it’s just a major hurdle.


– I think the best way to fight loneliness is to do things and be involved in something that is completely unrelated… a hobby or a sport or an activity you really like… I even find that blogging helps me. I just like sharing my experience and it’s one way to do so. But, nothing beats just getting out of the business routine whether it’s a sport (yoga’s my thing) or participating in cultural events (art, music, you name it).

​I do try and recently tried dancing Salsa. It was nice and I got to know some people.​

And then there is the fear that this might not work out. And what would I do then? Work at a job, where the boss is probably incompetent and much younger than me? And where my entrepreneurial experience is not valued at all.

– Even if it doesn’t work out as a business it will work out anyway ’cause you’ve gained so much experience. No one knows what we’ve had to endure to try and build a business and now if I was running a major company I’d want to hire people who truly understood what it took to build a company, not just some fancy degree. So, no matter the outcome, I think the outcome is positive and has incredible value.

But companies like [Big name “entrepreneurial” company goes here] think otherwise! :-( I had a long talk with one of their recruiters. He really took the time to explain things to me: He thinks I am really smart and hard working, BUT they generally do not like to hire entrepreneurs. Instead they hire consultants and investment bankers. People that have no prior experience in startups but that are intelligent and supposedly good at execution.

Have you ever been in these situations?

– So yes, I’ve been in all of the above.

– Having said all of the above I think having a supportive environment is very important. In Startup Chile I felt really supported and I always had people I could speak to. Startup Brazil was similar but on a smaller scale. One really needs a strong supportive environment. Especially one where you can talk to other entrepreneurs. Maybe you need to go home for a few months and recharge or find a place where you can be around lots of good entrepreneurs.

I agree. I think it already helps that I have a co-founder.​

– Call anytime and know that you are not alone and that what you’re going through is perfectly normal and natural.

​Thanks for your advice. It is good to share with a fellow entrepreneur! :-)​

So, Keep Calm and Keep on Truckin’ – to mix two generational metaphors.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With JFDI



“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher
604 BC – 531 BC


“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
German writer


Patrick Kedziora
21st Century


I came across the Goethe saying today and it reminded me of the Lao-tzu saying which reminded me of how I began my latest journey… By taking that first step, by just f’ing doing it.

I’m sure you’ve heard some variation on this over the years. Until you actually do it you’ll never imagine the power that first step has. You don’t know where you’ll end up. You may think you do. But the first step will then lead to the second and then when you’re on your 10,000th step you’ll look back and be amazed at the journey you’ve taken.

If you don’t take that step however, I can guarantee you that you won’t go anywhere.

So, JFDI. And enjoy the journey!

You Gotta Be Crazy to Change the World

“You’ve got to be crazy to change the world but you’ve got to be crazy not to.”
— Patrick Kedziora

“Here’s To The Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who DO !”

— Apple Computers 1997

One Potato, Two Potato – Why Revenues Are So Important

OK. You’ve heard it a thousand times. Show me the money.

Having been surrounded by entrepreneurs, 24/7, for the past year and a half I’ve seen hundreds of projects and as many founders. For the most part they all have passion, smarts and in many cases a reasonably well thought out idea that they could pitch reasonably well.

So, imagine you’re a VC (not an Angel – we’ll talk about Angels some other time), a VC with a fund you have to invest. You see maybe 1,000 or 2,000 deals a year. maybe even hear 200-300 pitches a year. How are you going to make a decision?

It’s almost impossible. They all sound good. Sure you can screen out the ones with bad pitches but now almost everyone has learned to pitch with 12 slides. They all say the same thing in their own way: best technology ever, huge market, great team, wonderful opportunity, can’t miss, and on and on an on.

They all can’t be right. So what are VCs do? They tell the promising startups to keep in touch.

It means get in touch with us when you’ve got revenues.

Wait you say. If I have revenues, I don’t need a VC. Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you need funding to grow faster. No way a bank is going to touch you. Maybe you can get an SBA loan. Maybe. You’re only choice are VC’s. That’s the niche they serve. Everyone thinks VC’s fund new technologies. Sure. But here’s the full sentence: they fund new technologies that have already shown promise by already showing revenues.

They do one other thing really well. They fund teams that they think can hit the technology out of the ballpark even before revenues (Think Google). But unless you’ve got a killer team, go for revenues. It will be faster ’cause once you have revenues the VC will find you.



Absolute Stupidity – Happy April Fools Day

I got the following list from a friend. I have no idea who wrote it but it’s one of those internet emails you get periodically that you just find yourself having to share with friends. So happy April Fools day. And, just hope your product doesn’t end up on this list. (Hey, if you know the author please extend my thanks to them and let me know and I’ll be happy to put their name of this)

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual  label instructions on consumer goods:

On a Sears hairdryer:   Do not use while sleeping.
(Gee, that’s the only time I have to work on my hair!)

On a bag of Fritos:   You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.
(The shoplifter special!)

On a bar of Dial soap:   Directions: Use like regular soap.
(and that would be how…?)

On some Swann frozen dinners:   Serving suggestion: Defrost.
(But it’s *just* a suggestion!)

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert:   (printed on bottom of the box) Do not turn upside down.
(Too late! You lose!)

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding:   Product will be hot after heating.
(Are you sure??? Let’s experiment.)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron:   Do not iron clothes on body.
(But why…???)

On Boot’s Children’s cough medicine:   Do not drive car or operate machinery.
(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we just kept those 5 year olds off those fork lifts.)

On Nytol sleep aid:   Warning: may cause drowsiness.
(One would hope!)

On a Korean kitchen knife:   Warning keep out of children.
(Or pets! What’s for dinner?)

On a string of Chinese-made Christmas lights:   For indoor or outdoor use only.
(As opposed to use in outer space?)

On a Japanese food processor:   Not to be used for the other use.
(Now I’m curious.)

On Sainsbury’s peanuts:   Warning: contains nuts.

On an American Airlines packet of nuts: Instructions:   open packet, eat nuts.
(I’m glad they cleared that up…)

Competitions & Demo Days – We don’t give a damn about your stinkin’ badges

I just finished rating a bunch of business plans for the Milken – University of Pennsylvania Education Competition. Damn that was difficult. All these great entrepreneurs and great ideas but there will only be one winner. This is making me reflect on all those demos days I’ve been to and why I rarely go anymore. The outcome of these contests doesn’t matter. Sure they help. But what matters is getting your business going. So to all the contestants out there, just focus on building your business and tell ’em “we don’t give a damn about your stinkin’ badges“.

International Opportunities – Part II – Copycat Entrepreneurialism

Great artists steal

Picasso said that the good artists borrow and that the great artists steal. A rather bold statement and one the Samwer Brothers in Germany have literally taken to heart. The Brothers simply copy. They don’t even try to invent. If they see a good idea taking off in the US they will will copy it and make a non-US version. Think Groupon. Their copy, Citydeal, was eventually acquired by Groupon.

Why the US? Because it is the single largest mature and unified market in the world (Europe is large and mature but fragmented, Asia is large but not mature). Therefore, when something takes off in the US it can grow quickly and often so quickly as to be beyond the US teams ability to execute internationally at the same speed.

For example, if I have a technology company in the US and it’s growing 100% a month I have to make a choice. I can’t expand to every country in the world, I have to choose my markets.

So, maybe one of your markets is too small for that US company. Well, that presents an opportunity.

The biggest example of this is Baidu, the Chinese search engine. Google, was just too slow to go after the Chinese market and lost it to a me-too competitor.

So, the path goes both ways: you can copy US ideas and take them internationally AND you can take a non-US idea and bring it to the US.

Perhaps, the greatest example of such an opportunity is Vente-Privee, the French flash sale company. It took them ten years before they entered the US market. In that time, many me-too companies entered the US market.

I find that most of the time people are copying US ideas and rolling them out internationally. But, I think opportunities exist in taking international ideas and bringing them to the US. (In particular, I would look at energy ideas). The challenge is not going to be in finding the ideas but executing them in the US. There are simply few people who live outside the US who understand the US from a business point of view and even fewer who understand how to access the Venture Capital market in the US – in short this lack of knowledge is it’s own barrier to entry or an opportunity if you do understand the US market.

So, start looking. Look at what’s hot in the US. Look at what’s hot outside the US. See how you can take one of those ideas and make them florish elsewhere.

Make Picasso proud!

10 Things Every Startup Needs to Know

Phew, I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I’ve written a blog. It’s been an incredible ride.

Back in October of 2011 I was accepted into Startup Chile – undoubtedly the best darn incubator/ “ultra-angel investor” on the planet. If you get in, you get $40,000 USD – equity free – that means they want no equity in your startup. If you agree, you simply need to go live in Chile for six months. The hope is that your entrepreneurial mojo will rub off on Chileans. And, it works. I’ve seen it work. In fact, I’ve had people whom I hired go out and start their own business.

So, if you you’re even remotely thinking of starting something apply to Startup Chile.

And, yes, I’ve been here for over a year because things are going well for my startup – Kedzoh – and I’ve got my team here plus great traction with customers and resellers.

OK, enough  of the travelogue.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned in the past year.

  1. Revenues are king.Your idea doesn’t mean shit until you have paying customers.
  2. Set goals. You must set a few goals for each year if you are going to make progress and achieve anything – I would set three.  My goals for the first year – all of which I achieved – were: 1) build the damn thing, 2) get traction with customers and 3) get more funding.
  3. Stretch resources. When you have only a half of tank of gasoline you figure out ways to make it go as far as 5 tanks full of gasoline. Yep, $40,000 doesn’t sound like much in the US but it goes a long way outside the US. Figure out how to conserve cash early – go global on day one with your resources. Yes, it will be frustrating but you’ll go a lot further.
  4. Adapt to the world. Working with other people from around the globe requires you to adapt. YOU MUST CHANGE! Don’t expect that they will. Adapt.
  5. Remember to take a day off. It can be in the middle of the week. It doesn’t matter. Just rest. You need your energy. This can be very hard to do but your health and the health of your business requires this. This is not an option. (This and the next suggestion are probably the most ignored.)
  6. Don’t forget your family and friends. You need them more than you realize. It’s lonely being an entrepreneur – even with a team. You need a support system that has nothing to do with business.
  7. Go to every damn startup event were you’ll meet other entrepreneurs. I’m not talking about the Meetups where people go who want to be entrepreneurs, I mean get-togethers for and by entrepreneurs. I was (am) in an incubator and am constantly meeting other entrepreneurs. There’s so much you can learn from other entrepreneurs. Don’t pass up on this… It’s how I found out about my second funding source…
  8. L’audace, toujour l’audace. This has to be your creed.
  9. Delegate. If you have something that’s going to work, get ready to delegate, because sooner or later – when it does work and it’s growing – you’ll have to delegate. So, start doing it earlier. Your people will appreciate it.
  10. Hire good people. Sure you want people that are talented but you want that X factor. Only you can determine what that X quality is for your organization. For me, the X factor is people with heart, with passion, with a burning desire to do something different with their lives. I want people who believe they can make a difference – because at Kedzoh we are making a difference!

Understanding The World – Part I – 5 Tips on How to Find International Opportunities

Is this your next car?

In the past I’ve written more than a few blogs about the opportunities that exist for non-US entrepreneurs in the United States.

Today, I’m writing about the vast opportunities open to all entrepreneurs worldwide. They just need to know how to look. So here are 5 tips on how to look for and spot international opportunities.

  1. Look at which countries are hot. Brazil and China for sure, but what about places like Bangladesh and Nigeria? I know of one enterprising American entrepreneur that’s selling cell phones in Angola. And I have a friend who moved to Bogota, Columbia several years ago when it wasn’t exactly a tourist destination. And another friend that just purchased the cellular phone rights for an entire country. OK, so there’s some risk. But, heck there’s also some outsized returns. How many competitors do you think these people encountered? Not many, that’s for sure. So, what’s the moral of the story? Think outside the country.
  2. Keep your eyes open. One of my favorite examples is the US school teacher that was traveling with her class of elementary school children in Europe. And, what were the little rascals buying? Gummy bears! What did she do? She secured the rights to the US market and made a tidy sum selling something that had never been sold in the US. OK, so Europe isn’t exactly on the super fast growing economies list. But, that’s not the point. The point is: travel with open eyes and you will see the opportunities. Go back to your home country and start selling that product!
  3. Think Poor. When you’ve grown up with everything this one is difficult: think poor. Ask yourself, how would I make due with their income? What would I be willing to buy with the little money I had? I had a French teacher, a wonderful lady, that used to teach in Cameroon and one of the things she sold quite succesfully to the locals was a plain straw hat that had a mirror on the inside. Who would have thought? She did. And, what did she once do? She gave a free hat to a big chief and in return he gave her a carved elephant tusk. Ok, so that’s not IPO material. But, it’s a start and if you don’t start you don’t get anywhere.
  4. Think Poorer. You say, how can really poor people possibly afford anything? Well they can’t. You have to come up with completely new products and ideas for those markets. After all, most of the products in the developed world are made somewhere else so you need to look elsewhere for ideas. Peel the orange all the way back and invent something new. One of my favorite stories, is the American entrepreneur that moved to China to sell cosmetics to the Chinese masses. Well, lipstick can be pretty expensive. But her solution was ingenious. She was going to sell miniature lipsticks. Like those mini-bottles you find in hotel room bars. Just a small version of the original. I’m generally not a big fan of just make it smaller to make it affordable but in this case it was the right approach. (More about how to develop for the non-US market in a future blog). And…
  5.  Think local. So what do you do if you need a shovel to farm but you can’t afford shoes? Ever try pushing your naked foot against the blade of a shovle to push it into the ground. Tough right? More, like impossible. So what did some enterprising entrepreneur do? They put a step on the shovle so it formed a “T” and the farmer could then push down with their naked foot onto the top of the “T” and not cut the bottom of their foot. A very simple and elegant solution. OK, so that’s not exactly a large market. No it’s not, but depending on what you’re trying to do (i.e. do good) it could be the perfect solution. The point is that even if you want to make money (while doing good I assume) you have to adapt locally?

So, as they say, when in Sri Lanka, do like the Sri Lankans and all roads will lead to Beiing.


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