How an MBA can help and hurt entrepreneurs. Over at Vator.tv, Bambi Francisco Roizen talks to Tom Patterson, a Harvard Business School-educated entrepreneur who recently sold his company Wize to NexTag, about the pros and cons of business school. Yes, business school certainly helps with developing connections, some of which helped Patterson find investors, advisors, and future employees for Wize, he says. At the same time, he believes that business schools could do a better job helping students "understand yourself, your perception and how you relate to people," he says. "I think there is a bit of entitlement and bravado that is positive in one way for a lot of business school grads but also in another way alienating to people. If we could develop a way to help students understand that their bravado actually comes from fear, there may be a way to transform this energy to create...great success on the people/human side of business."
The business of selling pot. Slate's business site, The Big Money, launched Cash Crop, a blog about the economics and politics of the pot trade. And creator Dan Mitchell intends to cover it seriously, as is fitting of an industry that generates $15 billion in California alone. "Marijuana is one of the top cash crops in the United States (by some measures it is the top cash crop). So why is there so little coverage of this business, as a business? Consider that California is veritably peppered with medical-marijuana facilities, as other states increasingly are." The blog's challenge, of course, is finding real statistics. Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states. With Californians set to vote, in November, on whether to outright legalize and tax marijuana sales and possession for those 21 and older, the industry could experience a massive overhaul. The blog has already covered issues like the difficulty of getting medical marijuana products trademarked, and how legalizing pot in California will affect Mexican drug cartels.
Finding your unfair advantage. Whether you're pitching VCs or brainstorming strategy internally, it's crucial to know what advantages you have over your competition (via ReadWriteWeb). Jason Cohen, the founder of Smart Bear Software offers some insights on his blog about how to find your own "unfair" advantage. "The only real competitive advantage is that which cannot be copied and cannot be bought," he explains. Some examples include having the inside scoop on valuable information in your industry, having the right advocates within the technology and entrepreneurship community, and having personal authority, or brand, within your field.
Oyster industry in freshwater mess. Along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, where one-third of U.S. oysters are raised, oysters are dying en masse. It's not the spilled oil famers oystermen are blaming, it's freshwater, unleashed from Louisiana rivers by state officials, the Wall Street Journal writes in a comprehensive report. One oysterman, Nick Collins, says in his family's 2,000 oyster beds, they have lost 95 percent of oysters due to greatly reduced salinity levels in the area. The salinity drop is due to opening of freshwater channels, known as "diversions," in hopes of pushing away encroaching oil from the shore. Well, it's a lose-lose for the oyster industry. In slightly more upbeat oil spill news, check out how small businesses have helped pitch in for recovery from the spill.
Interest in bit.ly heats up. Fresh on the heels of rumors that it was looking to buy Foursquare for $110 million, Yahoo is looking to acquire another internet company: New York-based URL shortening service Bit.ly. GigaOm reports that Yahoo isn't the only web giant interested in bit.ly, which raised about $3.5 million in funding last year from Ron Conway and other angel investors. Google and Twitter were also reported to be in talks with the company.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey