Thoughts on Wicked Weed’s Acquisition by Anheuser-Busch

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.12.53 AMI (kind of) get it. A local icon of brewing liquid gold gets bought by mega-corp, and you personally feel slighted. How dare they! I can’t support that, can I? What will my friends think?

To everyone whining about Wicked Weed being acquired by Anheuser-Busch:

Keep your promise and stay away. It will be much easier for me, my friends, my family and other merry bands of misfits to get a table when we visit Asheville.

Stop using and buying other products that you love that are also owned by bigger companies. Why limit your cutting-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face to just one acquisition? Go ahead and turn off Instagram, delete YouTube, don’t eat at Chipotle, don’t buy just about anything from the grocery store. Sheesh…that place is a sell-out emporium.

Shun any successful business that builds a great company that then has a successful exit to avoid your own personal cognitive dissonance. Let’s keep things consistent. (+1 for use of MBA words, +1 more if I actually used “cognitive dissonance” correctly).

Never start your own business. Instead, continue whining about the success others have. Your feelings of personal injustice are blinding you to the fact that Wicked Weed’s sale to AB may foster multiple new breweries, new business ventures, and more jobs in Western NC. Entrepreneurs are known for reinvesting their earnings in new companies…they don’t sit still.

Better yet, start your own business and live “the struggle”. Then you’ve got some ground to stand on as a company founder whether or not to keep a business family-owned, lifestyle, or high-growth.

Tell all of your friends in other states not to buy Wicked Weed because those founders are such sellouts. Yep, it’s a terrible idea to bring crazy delicious beers to a nationwide audience. Who would want that? You should stop this movement before it starts.

What did Anheuser-Busch ever do to you, personally, to merit this kind of disdain? We have common ground that many of their own beers are tasteless, but what about Goose Island, Devils Backbone, Breckenridge, Four Peaks? Did they run your family farm out of business?

Get over yourself. It’s not about you at all.

Cocktails & Sandwiches

cocktails-dreamsCocktails and sandwiches. Not to be confused with “Cocktails & Dreams”, perhaps the best cocktail bar ever conceived.

No, we’re referring to a mysterious universal force, initially brought to my attention by my thoughtful spouse.

“A sandwich tastes better when someone else makes it for you”. Quite true. The same can be said for cocktails: the margarita, the Old Fashioned, the G&T, it doesn’t matter.

Why is that?

There’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction in DIY: completing a Lego set your kids got for Christmas that you put together because it was fun, building your own patio, changing that flat tire. You look back at your work, reflect for a moment on your ingenuity and persistence, and feel proud for contributing something meaningful. But…

There’s a trace of intrigue, a wisp of romance, an element of mystery when someone else makes something for you, even though you know all of the ingredients that make the sausage.

Many times the hand of an expert and a trained eye wields that extra flavor. Sometimes it’s the act of kindness, making someone else a sandwich, that adds a savory kick.

There’s a business lesson or life analogy in here somewhere…



When Is It Okay To Pull The Emergency Cord?

nyc-emergsignAs I cruised back on the E train to Long Island City after a full day of work conferencing, I noticed this sign. It’s easy to notice because on the subway you either look at your phone, your feet, or the walls.

This sign lets passengers know what to do in case of emergency.

I’ll summarize:


A Medical emergency – DON’T PULL THE EMERGENCY CORD!


Evacuation – Get the F out!

In the first three, you’re supposed to find, locate, and speak with the non-existent train personnel. Whatever you do, DON’T PULL THE EMERGENCY CORD!

So when is it okay to pull the emergency cord?

  • Terrible flatulence
  • Imminent childbirth (Dammit, that’s a medical emergency. Never mind)
  • Voldemort returns
  • Your iPhone battery dies

Why have an emergency cord if you can’t pull it during an emergency?

Ask More Questions

Do you have kids? They’re amazing and terrible. There are numerous studies from reputable, non fake, sources that show kids will ask so many questions and push so many buttons that they’ll figure something out better and faster than adults. Like iPads and Minecraft. They’re not afraid of asking questions or making mistakes by hitting the wrong button.

The downside is that they ask so many questions they drive you insane.

[There’s a cognitive dissonance that occurs as a parent when you tell your kids to stop asking so many questions but want them to always remain curious and ask more questions. Your head explodes.]

I heard a story today about a company whose own employee embezzled serious loot. He figured out how to divert their website’s advertising revenue from the company’s bank account to his own. The management team saw discrepancies, asked a few questions, and was satisfied with the answer.

Hamburglar5 months later they finally asked more questions, then figured out that a Digital Hamburglar was on staff.

I can count on both hands the times the past 12 months that I’ve seen something that looked weird, and took the first answer, but should have probed deeper and harder. The key is going both deep and hard. Watch out.

Ask more questions. I’ve regretted asking too few.


Weird Ways To Keep Time

toothclockWhenever I’m at the dentist, I ponder what I was doing 6 months ago. With my blue bib on and my gaze averted to avoid the blinding light, I think back.

What was going on with the kids? What was happening at work? Did we do anything fun?

Having a mark half way through the year proves to be an interesting reflection point. Alas, I’ve never written anything down…until now!  Here’s what’s happening:

  • Work is going well. We spent 2014 on fire, 2015 building a new product, and 2016 building the market for it. At the start of 2017 we’ve got the flywheel turning.
  • The kids want tons of stuff for Christmas.
  • I’m training for the winter races I enjoy doing. Lots of mountain biking and trail running.

I also have a strange compulsion to mark the passage of time by marking when my shampoo bottle runs dry.

Weird ways to keep time.

Three Keys to Business Success

Longevity in the workplace can lead to clarity. Concepts or truisms emerge if you can distill down the daily activity in to  big picture observations. Here’s a concept that’s become more evident to me the last 5 years.

Starting, running, and growing a business requires 3 key elements.

  1. Hard work – without this, all else fails.
  2. Luck – working hard, and working smart, creates more opportunities for more luck. Anyone who tells you they made it on hard work, or their superior intellect, alone is full of shit.
  3. Who you know – sure, you can build a business without this, but you can do more, faster, if you’ve got strong ties with friends, colleagues, and family across your industry.

Six People to Know in NC State Entrepreneurship

This article originally appeared on, by Laura Baverman

Local universities continue to be one of our startup community’s greatest assets—not only do they educate and produce talent that feeds into the startup community but they train students to become entrepreneurs and they employ professors and researchers who develop and commercialize groundbreaking innovation.
There’s a team of people on every campus that help to connect faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members with various programs and opportunities, all to promote innovation and economic development in the state of North Carolina.
In the first of a series of Q&As with university leaders across the state, meet some of the folks making it happen at NC State University.
Megan Greer at NC State

Megan Greer 

Director of Communications and Outreach for the Entrepreneurship Initiative 
Brief overview of your job/role with the university 
I am responsible for the strategy, planning and execution of co-curricular programming, lead outreach and engagement activities where I serve as the primary liaison for external partners, and oversee EI communications efforts.
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
My background is in sales and marketing, including a stint as a sales representative with Kellogg’s and several years in the Office of Admissions at Meredith College. My first real exposure to the entrepreneurial lifestyle came when I married my husband, who started a technology company while he was a student at NC State. You can read more about that on the EI’s blog! All of these experiences led me to the position here at NC State.
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I’m really proud of the new programs and events we’ve introduced over the past few years. At our inaugural Entrepalooza (NC State’s outdoor entrepreneurship and innovation festival) event last fall, I was amazed at the number of students who attended and experienced first-hand all of the opportunities in entrepreneurship available to them. It’s also the day-to-day things that give me a sense of pride, like seeing rooms full of students working together in the Garage to create the next big idea.
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
Although I’ve met lots of impressive entrepreneurs locally and on our Fall Break and Spring Break trips to New York and Silicon Valley, I’m most impressed by what our students have accomplished at such a young age. Getting to see the growth and development of these entrepreneurs from companies you probably now know, such asUndercover Colors, Frill, Bee Downtown and Offline (just to name a few), makes me feel like I’m on the ground floor of something very special. I get to say I knew them when!
A fun fact about yourself? 
I won’t pass up an opportunity to challenge anyone in Dance Central. What I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm!
Matthew Davis of Reveal Mobile NCSU Alumni Network

Matthew Davis 

What is your job/role with the university? 
I serve as chair of the NC State Alumni Entrepreneur Network. Collectively we work to make sure alumni entrepreneurs stay connected with each other and with the university. We host entrepreneurship events that highlight NC State alumni entrepreneurs, and frequent happy hours.
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming?
My first business was selling hand-woven baskets, which I weaved (woved?), to my parents’ friends and co-workers. Since then I’ve held almost every job imaginable from Arby’s cashier to valet to pool boy. I owned and operated a window washing business in college. Our motto was “Windows so clean, you can see through them.” Ahh…college. I sold that business after five years because I was afraid of heights. Reveal Mobile is the fifth company I’ve been a founder of, and my third mobile focused startup.
Tying all of this back to my role as the alumni network chair, the intent is to make sure the university hears the voices of their entrepreneurs. We serve as one conduit to that end. Being able to see the world from an entrepreneur’s viewpoint ensures the university builds programs, education, and services that support their entrepreneurial community.
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I’m most proud of the work our team has done to grow the community and events. This year they’ve really stepped up to deliver incredible programming. We’ve covered entrepreneurs in food science, biotech, fashion, tech and food, while doing a better job of involving our female entrepreneurs. Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? Anyone who is willing to start a business of any kind gets my respect.
What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
In the span of one year, I quit my job to start a business while simultaneously getting my MBA at NC State, then welcomed twins into the family, then moved to a new house, then went without income for 14 months. That added a few wrinkles and gray hairs.
Gary Beckman NCSU

Gary Beckman 

How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
Ph.D. in musicology aside, I spent a significant part of life in popular and Renaissance music: performing, touring, education, etc. Besides a number of arts consulting gigs, my most successful business was founding a small record and distribution company in New England.
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
Too many to mention. However, when my students can really see how an entrepreneurial life in the arts (ie: a dream) is “actually” possible, it’s a moment beyond description. Helping to provide that life choice is an absolute honor.
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
Canadian artist Sid Dickins. He’s got a great business model and great art. We explore his work and business extensively in our Foundations in Arts Entrepreneurship course. I should add extreme artist Phillip Gray for the same reasons.
That said, we have so many students who have such new and innovative ideas every semester, it’s hard to keep track of them all. What’s impressive is watching students take risks. The decision to move forward with an entrepreneurial lifestyle is a courageous act—and THAT is impressive, each and every time.
What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
I’ve been a prog-metal guitarist for far too long….who knew?
Elizabeth Benefield NCSU

Elizabeth Benefield 

Social Entrepreneurship Program Manager 
What is your job/role with the university? 
My role at NC State is to manage the university’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. A fairly new program based out of the Institute for Nonprofits, we offer co-curricular (and soon, curricular!) educational offerings to students from every corner of campus bridging STEM and Humanities. Workshops, events, a student network of changemakers, and a new fellows program support students interested in learning about social entrepreneurship and innovation and those working on social enterprise ventures.
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
My career has been a deep dive into nonprofit sector fundraising as an independent consultant and entrepreneur, and 15 years in higher education.
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I am most proud that NC State is embracing the power and importance of social entrepreneurship.
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
Local entrepreneur and soon to be NC State graduate and ThinkHouse Fellow Nate Myers of the Malkuta Project is the most driven, passionate and talented young entrepreneur I’ve had the privilege to work with. He’s unstoppable!
What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
I am dog-obsessed.
wade fulghum ncsu

Wade Fulghum 

Associate Director of Venture Development, Office of Technology Transfer
What is your job/role with the university? 
I lead the efforts to launch and support startup companies from NC State that are based on university research. During the last five years, I’ve been responsible for supporting the launch and growth of over 46 startup companies and have launched initiatives including the PackStart Program, the Venture Innovation Partner Network, the Executive-in-Residence program and formalizing a partnership with the CED Venture Mentoring program.
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
I have experience as a small business owner, a startup consultant and in commercial finance and insurance with a Fortune 100 company. I’m also a veteran of the US Army and have an MBA in organizational change management.
I bring over 10 years of experience advising companies and have served as a technology commercialization and development counselor for the North Carolina Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC). I’ve also served in several economic development roles at NC State and now on the International Technology Transfer Network’s International committee, the NC State Alumni Entrepreneurs Network Board, the local SBTDC advisory board and the Innovate Raleigh Task Force.
Earlier this year, I co-founded the Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN) and now serve on the steering committee.
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
  1. Joining forces with Duke and UNC to launch the Wolfpack Investor Network as part of the Triangle Venture Alliance, which includes the Duke Angel Network and the Carolina Angel Network.
  2. Joining forces with CED through a formal partnership to leverage the CED Venture Mentoring Service for NC State research-based startups and applying for an Economic Development Administration grant together to bring extra support to expand this partnership to UNC, Duke and RTI research-based startups.

Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 

Paul Garofalo of Locus Biosciences has incredible vision, drive, leadership, passion and has built such long-lasting relationships. I am very bullish about Locus and the impact they could have on the world through gene editing technology.
What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
We have an aquaponic greenhouse that my family and I run with the help of YouTube. We grow tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and raise tilapia.
Lewis Sheats at NCSU

Lewis Sheats 

Director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic and Senior Lecturer of Entrepreneurship in the Poole College of Management 
What is your job/role with the university? 
I lead the undergraduate entrepreneurship concentration & minor offered by the Poole College of Management, as well as direct the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic. Within our program we provide experiential learning, embed our students in the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the Triangle and provide them the tools and resources to execute on their own concepts and opportunities. In doing so, we serve the community through project-based assistance for entrepreneurs and new ventures.
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
The collection of companies I have founded cross several unique industries. I started companies in logistics, medical waste, GPS, finance and cookies! It is a combination of this practical experience and theory that have helped us create an experiential immersion for the students at NC State.
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I have several, but here’s one—a student entered our program with very little confidence and sense of self-worth. To see his growth in the classes and his success after graduation makes me extremely proud and validates that what we are doing makes a big difference in young entrepreneurs’ lives.
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
I have taught 500+ students in our capstone course in the entrepreneurship concentration. Many of them have launched successful companies or become integral leaders in new ventures or entrepreneurial units of larger firms. For me to pick one is impossible.
A fun fact about yourself? 
I like to freestyle when I sing along to a song. Sometimes, I do it when I don’t realize people are close enough to hear.

Not In The Dropdown

Ever filled out a form on the website? If you answered “no”, someone printed this post out on paper and handed it to you.

There are many joys about working at a startup. It’s usually a small company with a team atmosphere. Very little political infighting. Each win is more important than the previous.

The pains of starting a business from scratch are well documented. No need to re-hash that here. The pains of creating a new product in a new market…also documented.

But I have uncovered one ridiculously trivial but annoying quirk about being an early stage and early-to-market startup.

Your company category is never in the dropdown menu on websites.

How to Remain a Kid (at heart)

Our daughter reflected that she wants to stay a kid forever. Cute. We told her that is possible, assuming you can stay a kid at heart.

That concept floats over the heads of six year olds. Hmm…how do you dumb that down  explain that to small children?

Here’s what we offered:

  1. Have fun
  2. Keep making new friends
  3. Keep learning new things

That’ll work.

The Difference Between Sales People and Marketers

It’s a well-known fact that both sales people and marketers are the worst-of-the-worst in the working world. I should know – I fit both of those descriptions.

During our morning ritual of discussing the day’s upcoming events, someone expressed frustration that what they’d read on a website in no way lived up to the reality of the product. Hmpf.

We inadvertently stumbled upon a subtle difference between sales & marketing types.

A sales person lies stretches the truth on a one-by-one basis.

The marketer lies stretches the truth to thousands at a time.

There are good people that work in sales & marketing. Most are well-intentioned. Some are shucktsters. And I use the word “lie” in jest. We don’t lie. You can trust us.