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A word from Reed Kennedy

How do you get people to buy what you have to sell, and not buy your competitors’??? Our minds typically go to marketing, but before marketing happens, company strategies need to be developed. Overarching strategies are what give a firm a competitive advantage and what lead an organization to achieve its vision. It’s much bigger than marketing.

In a dynamic and competitive business environment, why do some companies outperform others? Firms that are successful generally have a strategic management process that helps them set strategies and execute them on a clear company vision.

Strategic management is typically an annual process where a strategic plan is developed or updated. But sometimes disruptions such as a new competitor, a competitor’s new product or service, or an external influence like Covid-19 require an organization to immediately assess the situation and revise their strategic plan.

The strategic management process starts with a review of the organization’s mission, vision, and values. It is important to get this right, as they guide the remainder of the strategic management process. The next step is to evaluate the external and internal environments of the firm through the use of various diagnostic tools. A SWOT is developed from the important findings from the analysis, from which the strategic issue(s) is defined.

Completing this preliminary work is important, as it drives the strategies that are developed, the next step. A strategy is typically a higher level, broad goal, without a lot of specifics. It is long-term in nature. It provides the direction that an organization wants to move toward to improve its performance and achieve its vision. The nomenclature may vary, but the idea is to develop a hierarchy of goals. Each strategy has a set of goals, and each goal has a number of detailed sub-goals. Accomplishing the sub-goals leads to completing the goals which leads to achieving the strategies.

Have you ever completed a strategic plan, and then find it has gone on the back burner as you deal with day to day operations? This happens frequently. An organization needs a disciplined process to keep the accomplishment of strategy on the front burner. A monthly scorecard that tracks performance to date against targets and distributed broadly can make this happen.

If your organization wants some help putting a strategic management process in place or producing a strategic plan, please contact me.

Reed Kennedy, a former hospital administrator and business owner, has taught strategic management for many years at Virginia Tech and consults in strategic planning. Learn more about his services HERE , or via email at kennedyr@vt.edu, or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/reed-kennedy-4ba1b815/

 

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A word from Karen Jackson

It’s September, Typically the time kids head back to school and “pumpkin spice” makes its annual resurgence. But September 2020 is anything but typical, and despite best attempts to define a “new” normal; “how” we live, work, and learn continues to evolve.

Despite all the upheaval, I am convinced there is at least one bright spot…the opportunity for rural areas to capitalize on the forced adoption of “online” work, telemedicine, and education.  For years (really since the industrial revolution), rural areas have been plagued by outmigration as traditional industries withered, and people moved to more suburban/city environments that offered proximity to more lucrative and plentiful employment opportunities. Then came COVID-19. Almost overnight, once eschewed remote solutions for work, education, and healthcare became central to organization survival and traditional paradigms crumbled.

A prime illustration is that leading tech companies such as Facebook and Shopify that moved to remote working as a temporary fix have already announced that many (or all) of the positions will remain remote permanently opening up entirely new opportunities for not only potential new employees, but also allows those currently in those jobs to live wherever they choose. Yes, you guessed it… including rural areas. What a fantastic chance for rural areas to rethink economic development strategies and concentrate efforts on converting these newly mobile workers and job opportunities into an exciting catalyst for rural economic revitalization.

Pivoting to a new economic development model will require the formation of unconventional collaborations and partnerships, and a willingness on the part of the public and private sectors alike to look beyond traditional incentives, recruitment processes and training models to support a new “geography independent” economic model where workers are allowed (and hired) to work remotely.

In rural Virginia, the team at the New College Institute (NCI) in Martinsville is working aggressively to position itself, through industry relevant programming, partnerships, and collaborative relationships as THE training and education destination for next-generation workforce training, certification, and educational programs.    By establishing partnerships across Virginia (and beyond) to offer virtual, hybrid, and in-person training, NCI is opening doors to employment opportunities in industries including IT/cloud computing, off-shore/onshore wind, telehealth, and cyber security.

Currently, NCI is recruiting for their upcoming, no-cost, virtual (class starts Sept 14, 2020) Amazon Web Services (AWS) re/start program that prepares individuals to successfully pass the AWS Cloud practitioner exam and find meaningful employment with a sponsoring company such as Telos, MaxxPotential, and many more.  For more information, please contact Brian Stanley, bstanley@newcollegeinstitute.org or

(276) 403-5605.

Karen Jackson is the Former Virginia Secretary of Technology and the current President of the New College Institute. She can be reached at kjackson@newcollegeinstitute.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenjackson3/

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VIC, RBTC, & RAMP Form Strategic Alliance

Valleys Innovation Council (VIC), Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC), and the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program (RAMP) today announced they are joining forces in a strategic alliance. The new alliance will drive initiatives that support the region’s innovation economy and technology community.

Greg Feldmann, serving as the CEO of the aligned organizations, said, “This alliance creates a welcoming regional ‘front door’ from all three groups—VIC, RBTC and RAMP. Together, we are better positioned to connect the region’s technology community and support programs to innovators, founders, and funders to drive plans and activities to support growth of technology-based companies. The alliance will also foster partnering opportunities with regional businesses, entrepreneurial support organizations, the education sector, and local, state and federal governments.”

John Phillips will remain President of RBTC and Dr. Mary Miller will remain Director of RAMP. Dr. Meredith Hundley will serve as Director of Research, Planning, and Grants. As CEO, Greg Feldmann will oversee the operations of VIC, RBTC, and RAMP.

All three organizations will work together to unify and coordinate efforts. Together, they will be more efficient, effective, and capable of mobilizing resources, advocating for changes, and tracking progress towards goals and key performance indicators. Sponsors, donors, and grantors may earmark their support to specific projects among the three entities.

Feldmann added, “Working as one team, we will also focus on attracting interest and funding for the region’s existing and budding industry clusters—such as emerging technologies like autonomous systems, cybersecurity, and blockchain, IT, advanced manufacturing, and health and life sciences.”

The alliance’s work covers Region 2 of GO Virginia—bringing opportunities to build the innovation economy and engage in the technology community from Pulaski County to the Alleghany Highlands, through the Roanoke Valley and east to Lynchburg and its surrounding counties.

Commenting on the structure the alliance creates, Doug Juanarena, former VIC Co-Chair New River Valley, and Victor Iannello, former VIC Co-Chair Roanoke Valley, said, “The alliance increases VIC’s ability to be the strategic planner and connection point to resources and support organizations. We expect to see existing technology companies expand and new ones start, grow, and thrive in the region. We also believe this alliance will increase our region’s competitiveness for future funding under the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority and GO Virginia, as well as from federal and private foundation sources.”

Kevin Bloomfield, former RBTC Co-Chair, and John Phillips, President of RBTC said, “RBTC’s role will remain a membership-driven entity and will continue to be the voice and home for the region’s vibrant technology community. This alliance will allow even more options to partner with organizations to deliver professional development opportunities through seminars, webinars, events, and mentorship programs. We’ll work to engage our tech company leaders and their employees and to establish connections to organizations and resources that can help businesses grow and prosper.”

Dr. Mary Miller, Director of RAMP said, “We’re delighted to align with these groups and the result will be enriched programming and mentorship for our cohorts. This partnership will further strengthen the value of RAMP as a business accelerator.”

Virginia Western Community College President, Dr. Robert H. Sandel said, “As one of the founding community partners of RAMP, and a long-time supporter of RBTC and VIC, we continue to believe we can grow companies and keep talent in this region, whether it’s in information technology, advanced manufacturing, biosciences, or other entrepreneurial efforts. The strategic alliance between RBTC, VIC, and RAMP should give RAMP an even greater ability to make an impact on growing our regional economy.”

A unified board of directors and an aligned management team will work to execute the alliance’s coordinated strategies. VIC and RBTC have a strong history of working together on grants and funding for RAMP, as well as other activities. Bloomfield and Juanarena will serve as co-chairs of the strategic alliance’s board.

Feldmann added, “As part of the alignment path, we are also evaluating the current organizations’ websites and names and how best to identify the alliance with a new name that imparts its overall mission, structure, and geography. We expect to start this project before September.”

The alliance will continue to co-locate with an office in the CRC in Blacksburg and at RAMP in Roanoke.

Organizations in this Alliance and its Board of Directors:

Valleys Innovation Council supports the region by connecting, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders to grow and strengthen our region’s innovation economy. VIC is a 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more, visit valleysinnovation.org

Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council is a member-driven association working to promote the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology and innovation community. Membership ranges from emerging technology firms   to the largest employers in the region. RBTC is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization. To learn more, visit rbtc.tech

Regional Accelerator and Mentorship Program (RAMP) is the region’s accelerator program that works to identify and support the growth of the region’s technology-based startup community through coordinated mentoring, educational programming, and increased access to capital that will foster a more vibrant and diverse regional economy. The program is a partnership of the City of Roanoke, Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, and the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council. To learn about RAMP, visit ramprb.com

Board of Directors:

Co-Chairs: Kevin Bloomfield • Doug Juanarena

Eddie Amos • Amy Ankrum • Henry Bass • John Capps • David Catalano • Kathy Claytor • Nick Conte

Steve Critchfield • Donald Deeds • Russ Ellis • Greg Feldmann • Ken Ferris • William Fralin • Mike Friedlander   Cheryl Giggetts • Pat Huber • Victor Iannello • Ed Lawhorn • Frank Lucia • Joe Meredith • Marty Muscatello • Patrick Patterson • Sean Peters • John Phillips • John Rainone • Robert Sandel • Barbara Schleider • Beth Sherman • Jeff Smith • Brian Soller • Bob Stolle • Wayne Strickland • Marjorie Tenzer • Don Taylor • Beth Waller • Clark Worthy           

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A word from Randy Lowman, President, The Lattitude Group

Conquering the Curve

“Anyone can go fast in a straight line, but it takes skill to go fast through corners.”
-Michael Schumacher

I own a “vintage” 1990 Mazda Miata and have been fortunate to drive this surprisingly slow, but extremely nimble, sports car on the beautiful and challenging Virginia International Raceway.   While the Miata is handicapped in size and horsepower, its agility allows a skilled and focused driver to pass much larger and more powerful competitors in the most terrifying, yet productive, area of the racetrack – the curves.

As anyone can attest, these challenging times have suddenly thrown all of our organizations into an unexpected curve.  While these are certainly worrisome days, they do provide the unique opportunity for progressive companies to use a balanced strategy of defense and offense, to successfully traverse the turn and position themselves stronger for the inevitable straightaway ahead.

So how does an organization navigate the treacherous twist, pass its competition, and prepare for the recovery around the bend?   As any race car driver can tell you, there are 3 critical steps in successfully executing a curve:

  • Apply the Brakes When Entering the Curve: When the curve approaches, organizations need to quickly remove excess costs; however, they must be careful not to stay on the brakes too hard or too long, as this can lead to significant under performance during and after the curve. Conversely, apply insufficient expense braking at the entry of the curve and one runs the risk of losing control and crashing into the wall.
  • Identify the Apex and then Aggressively Turn Towards that Point: Correctly identifying a turn’s apex ensures maximum speed can be maintained throughout the turn. Each car and each curve are different, and therefore require the development of a unique racing line to ensure the proper apex is targeted. Progressive companies construct recovery plans that focus on both stabilization and strategic offensive moves to ensure they do not drift and shed speed during the turn.
  • When the Apex is Reached Accelerate Hard Out of the Turn: To distance yourself from the competition, once you have successfully navigated the apex, you must begin to accelerate as you exit the turn so that you can reach top speed when you settle into your targeted line on the straightaway. By developing a short-term (6-9 month) strategic plan, progressive companies leverage this section of the curve to increase their lead on competitors and strategically position themselves for continued success on the straightaway to recovery.

In addition to professional guidance on proper technique, we can look in the rearview mirror at prior recessions for examples of longstanding companies that won and lost the race in the curves:

  • Sony: In the 2000 and 2008 recessions, Sony applied excessive expense braking (ex. delaying investment in a new LCD TV factory) and consequentially lost TV market share to Samsung and LG.
  • Staples: During the 2000 recession, Office Depot cut 6% of its workforce, while Staples executed an offensive strategy and increased its workforce by 10%.  Due to their progressive strategy, Staples passed Office Depot in sales during 2000 and has been leading the sales race ever since.
  • Hewlett Packard: HP went into the curve too aggressively during the 2000 recession (acquiring Compaq for $25 billion) and lost significant ground to IBM and Dell when the recession ended.
  • Samsung: In the 2008 recession, Samsung pursued an aggressive R&D and Marketing strategy while competitors defensively cut costs (ex. the first Galaxy smartphone was released in 2009). These offensive moves in the curve allowed Samsung to gain substantial ground on Apple, enabling them to eventually pass them as the top US smartphone manufacturer in 2013.

Just as it takes courage and steadiness to navigate a 30-year-old Miata around a challenging hairpin turn, professionals and history show us that companies who execute a balanced strategy of cutting costs, while strategically investing for tomorrow, will be able to successfully conquer the curve and position themselves for increased acceleration on the road to recovery.

The choice is yours.  Stay on the brakes in defensive apprehension or execute a balanced approach that also utilizes the gas pedal.  Only one of these strategies will lead your organization towards Victory Lane once these difficult days pass, and assuming you built your business to win the race, why would you want to be anywhere else?

Be strong, race hard, and let us know how we can assist you in navigating your road to recovery.

Randy Lowman is the President of the Lattitude Group and a member of the RBTC. Learn more about his company at https://lattitudegroup.com/, or via email randy@tlgrp.com or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/rlowman/

 

 

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A word from Sarah Phillips, RBTC Membership Coordinator, RAMP Project Manager

Sarah Phillips

These last few months have certainly presented challenges; many I would never have considered in my lifetime. The amount of uncertainty can make one wonder what the new “normal” will be when we emerge from this pandemic. However, I come from a family of problem solvers and I know that new challenges bring new solutions and in this, we have opportunities.  Our region, too, is well-known for its united community and continuous support, not merely limited to difficult times.  I like thinking that the new normal is of a stronger and even more engaged community.

In my work with the RBTC and RAMP, I am privileged to be aware of many big and little successes across the business community.  I see so much positive energy. I know that our members are quick to step up and help one another and this makes me proud of who we are.  I see mentors giving generously of their time and I see seasoned professionals helping the startups, and I even see startups helping startups. I’m grateful knowing that RBTC members sincerely like helping one another.

So, we may have new challenges at the moment, but no matter the challenges you face, whether they be a direct result from this pandemic, or business growing pains, or something else entirely, we are in this together. On behalf of RAMP and the RBTC, we remind you that we are here to help in any way we can.  It is our mission to be a valuable resource to you and your company – as a friend recently said: “collaboration will help us to survive this.”  Let’s keep these words in mind that even as we are isolated and working remotely, there are still many ways for us to grow, connect, collaborate, and be together in this. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us; we will be happy to hear from you.

Kind Regards,

Sarah Phillips

 

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A word from John S. Phillips, President, RBTC

ENGAGEMENT

Crazy times necessitate some crazy solutions! We now find that our homes are our offices, remote working is considered the new normal and isolation is an appreciated norm – we definitely live in interesting times!  Yet, we press forward creating the future economy, seeking opportunities, innovating and looking for new ways to stay connected.  Engagement, with employees, employers, customers, vendors, investors, mentors, and peers, has become an even higher priority.

Virtual everything: trivia contests, scavenger hunts, coffee breaks, even virtual stress management classes, telemedicine, slack channels for cooking, gardening and even working!  The innovation of connectivity demonstrates the resiliency of our tech community.  These and many more ideas were shared on last week’s Ask the Expert:  HR zoom panel.  Which, also, is recorded for your reference on the RBTC website.

Yes, the RBTC is seeking engagement too!  Your tech council is here to support you during these difficult periods just as we do during the growth periods.  We continue to pull together additional resources for your use.  Our website now provides materials for COVID-19 business assistance and we are using social media in a more robust fashion to help you stay up to date.

New opportunities have allowed us to expand our regional impact.

Starting on April 7th, Bill Trifiro allowed the team to create the RBTC radio program, Business at Lunch, on FM 102.5 WBZS, covering the Roanoke and NRV markets.  Our program airs during the noon hour, or 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM,  Monday through Friday.  The show provides an excellent forum to showcase the numerous tech council members who are making a difference in our communities.  In the past three weeks, we have heard from SyCom, First Bank & Trust, 5PointsCreative, Constructability3D, Building Specialists, Inc., Leadpoint Digital, Cortex Leadership, AssessmentPros, ALI, and GuidePointe Security.  The radio show is a hopeful beginning as we continue to expand opportunities for our members. In the near future, we will be launching the RBTC podcast to highlight the great talents, entrepreneurs and leaders in our region.

In addition to transitioning our forums, such as WoTech, BizDev, and CyberSecurity, to virtual events, we are developing a regular program ‘Ask the Expert Series’.  This past week, Jeff Smith, Kathy Claytor, Todd Leeson and Jacqueline Lackey all fielded pressing questions.  Their answers gave us insights on how our members are providing innovative approaches for responding to their employees in this challenging HR environment.  We continue the series, on Thursday, April 30th, providing education on using LinkedIn to its full potential as your virtual networking tool.  This series will provide subject matter experts in many areas including HR, marketing, innovation, technology applications, business finance, and even creditor discussion advice.

So many of you have stepped to the plate to provide ideas, resources and guidance to our team as we work through this time.  Thank you to everyone that has provided so much assistance, and we look forward to this ongoing collaboration.

The RBTC is indeed a unique organization in the Commonwealth.  Vibrant participation with a broad regional focus and tremendous access to the tech community, companies and leaders, allows for the successful achievement of our goals to Connect, Grow and Learn.

If you would like to participate in any of our upcoming events, contribute to our radio shows, suggest ideas for forums, share your thoughts in a newsletter opening, or assist in bringing events together, please reach out to me.

Thank you for supporting the RBTC as we continuously seek innovative methods to engage our tech community!

 

John S. Phillips

President

 

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A word from Allan Tsang, Founder, 88Owls

As I am writing this, I realize that many of you are responsible for or involved in leading a company through the COVID19 crisis and recovery.  You carry a burden that most people do not realize – the burden of keeping your company alive, providing for your team, and overcoming feelings of helplessness to make good decisions.  You don’t have the luxury of sitting back and seeing how or when this will blow over.  As a leader, you must meet this one full on…it’s the price of leading. It’s not about being comfortable or whether you like it.

These are incredibly difficult times!

In addition to the challenge of executing most, if not all, of our business communication virtually, we are facing other new challenges as a result of the virus.  As I have been coaching my Asian clients to navigate these challenges, I can’t help but know that the same issues will be (or are already) coming our way here in the US.  Companies are struggling to survive. Customers cannot pay, vendors cannot deliver, employees are scared to work and scared not to work. Nothing seems certain and business leaders feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

To come out on top, we will all have to re-negotiation many of our agreements.  While doing so, here are 3 things you can do to get what is best for your company without unnecessary compromise:

  1. Slow Down! – Fight the temptation to move fast. Overreaction can be just as detrimental as inaction. Slow, deliberative, well-planned strategies are key to negotiating with suppliers and vendors.
  2. Prepare – Do research. Develop a valid mission and purpose with which to guide you in all negotiations with your negotiation counterpart. This mission and purpose should be robust enough to help you with every decision – what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.
  3. Overcommunicate – Prioritize frequent, concise, calm, communication with suppliers, vendors, and your team.  Lead with empathy and compassion while you keep your company safe. Avoid using threats and falling back on force majeure to get out of agreements. Instead, use this opportunity to create and strengthen collaborative relationships. Remember that when the crisis is over you will need your clients, suppliers, and employees.  Whenever possible, provide everyone with a vision of hope and a better future.

If you are interested in learning more about negotiation, join Gary Noesner, Chief, FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit (Retired), Jeff Mitchell, and I on April 17 for a virtual workshop [https://www.88owls.com/events (RBTC discount code CRCTennant2)].

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A word from Jeff Smith, CEO, Voltage Leadership Consulting

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” – Thomas Paine

Wow, it has been a crazy start to the new decade. In some ways, the first quarter almost felt like a decade. Can you remember those great plans you had for 2020? I bet many of you were looking forward to a record year or launching a new product or hoping for the chance to get promoted this year. Now what? Many of us are working from home contemplating what we can do to help others, re-win our customers and how to keep our businesses afloat. Before we move to setting a vision for the future, I want you to take a moment to grieve. It is okay to be sad about missing our “old” normal. It is okay to be frustrated that you can’t come to work and be your best self. It is okay to be sad that this will not be a record year for many of you. I know I am bummed that I did not get to finish some work with NYU Langone and I worry about my friends at NYU and I hope they are doing okay.

Okay, you are a leader though and you are going to want to move to action sometime soon if you have not already started.

One of the most important things for you to imagine is, what will the new normal be for your organization? What is your vision for how your organization will look in 3-5 years? I like to ask “What will it take for your organization (and you) to thrive in ’25?” I know this can be hard when you are worried about sales and payroll right now. Yes, we need to come back to that current reality. However, paint the best picture you can of your organization in 2025. What does it look like? What would people be saying about your organization? What would customers say you are doing well? What awards would you win? Got it…okay, who do you need to enlist in this vision?

You are a leader, which means you have followers. They want to be led during challenging times. It is your role to paint the picture, connect your followers with the organization’s mission and values and work with them to create the baby steps to reach the vision. None of us know what the new normal will be but you do know what has made you great in the past. Look at the strengths of your team and your organization and use these to overcome future barriers. Take time to celebrate small wins, recognize the people that are executing the right behaviors to move you closer to your vision, and ask for feedback on how to help your team get there quicker. As you start to have this success, ask the team what they think we need to do next to achieve the next set of goals. This leads to engagement and greater commitment. The better you lead over the next 12 months, the better chance you have to keep your top employees for the next 5 years.

A final thought—this will be a marathon. Please take time as the leader to put on your oxygen mask first. Take a moment in between Zoom calls to clear your head. Get a workout in. Have dinner with your family or a significant other (even if it has to be over Zoom.) You need to take care of yourself so you can lead your team to accomplish goals and execute the vision. Here is a link to a longer blog for some more ideas.

https://www.voltageleadershipconsulting.com/blog/2020/3/20/dear-leader-put-on-your-oxygen-mask-first

Good luck and let us know how we can help you. The RBTC has many great resources and its strong network is a great asset. Reach out to your network and see who can help you reach your goals

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CompTIA Releases 2016 Cyberstates Report

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) recently released it’s 17th annual Cyberstates report – providing a complete overview of the U.S. high-tech job market. In 2015, the high-tech industry experienced its highest growth rate in the past decade, as 46 states recorded net growth in tech jobs. This growth was fueled by positive trends in custom computing programming services, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and greater numbers of organizations going on the offensive with cybersecurity.

CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2016 report represents the only comprehensive look at tech employment, wages and other key economic factors on a national and state-by-state basis, covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In response to the recent CompTIA release, President and CEO of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, Jonathan Whitt, called for local attention to the insights and statistics presented in the report:

“The 2016 Cyberstates report continues to emphasize the importance of technology occupations to Virginia’s economy and that of our region. The average technology wage in Virginia is 106% higher (more than double) the average private sector wage. Our region continues to produce highly skilled employees in software development, engineering services, computer systems design, and number of other occupations that are helping drive Virginia’s economy forward. This report highlights a number of interesting findings and is extremely useful to those in economic and workforce development, career changers, and students eyeing the best paying jobs right now and in the immediate future. The RBTC is pleased to partner with CompTIA in the release of this report.”

Read the Full Cyberstates 2016 Report >>>

 


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Scoble: Small-town America Primed To Beat Silicon Valley In Innovation

We recently were privileged to host Rackspace’s technology futurist Robert Scoble (see his presentation on ‘Beyond Mobilehere) who has been a leading voice in the tech world for years as an author, blogger, speaker and internet celebrity of sorts who documents the bleeding edge of innovative technologies that are changing our lives and businesses.

After his whirlwind visit to the Blacksburg area and several other smaller metropolitan areas, Scoble penned a telling article about a technology trend that may surprise you – the trend of high-tech companies moving away from Silicon Valley towards ‘small-town America’. Check out Scoble’s insights below, and read the full article here: where he mentions local businesses TORC Robotics, Follow My Vote, and Virginia Tech’s VR Lab.

“As Rackspace’s Futurist I’m known as one of Silicon Valley’s top tech influencers. I didn’t say that, Ivy did.

So, when I say Silicon Valley is being beaten, and is at risk of losing more companies to small towns, here’s why. In the past week I’ve visited three of those towns, Urbana, and Champaign Illinois and Blacksburg, Virginia.

You might not know, but YouTube, Tesla, PayPal, Mozilla started in Urbana/Champaign at University of Illinois there, and Blacksburg is home to many of the leading thinkers of autonomous vehicles, and others, thanks to being the home of Virginia Tech.

Yes, Silicon Valley has traditionally come to places like this and convinced innovators and companies to come to San Francisco area to build their technologies. Heck, just this week Apple grabbed a computer science professor out of Blacksburg to work on its AR/VR efforts.

I’m seeing signs that the flow of talent from small town America to Silicon Valley is reversing, though, and wanted to understand it…

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