In a business news story that recently surprised the venture capital world, Los Angeles-based tech start-up investment firm Upfront Ventures announced that hip-hop artist Chamillionaire would be joining the company as an entrepreneur-in-residence. The announcement may have surprised some in the business and music worlds, but in fact, the relationship between the rapper and the company is a natural one.
Chamillionaire, also known by his real name Hakeem Seriki, has been involved in entrepreneurial ventures for several years. He has invested in a Houston car dealership and a few tech companies, and has established a modeling firm and a tour bus company. He has also promoted entrepreneurship by giving talks at tech conferences and supporting initiatives like the Global Innovation Tournament at Stanford University.
Mark Suster, a partner at Upfront Ventures, met Chamillionaire in 2009 and was struck by the rapper’s business acumen, particularly his refined understanding of social media and customer engagement. The two hit it off, and Suster introduced him to startups at business events. Many entrepreneurs were initially interested in engaging Chamillionaire as a potential promoter of their products. However, those conversations often went far beyond that and dove into much more conceptual territory such as product design, customer engagement, and marketing strategy.
Upfront Ventures recently extended an invitation to Chamillionaire and his producer, Nsilo Reddick, to join the venture capital firm’s team. The two will be engaged in evaluating startup ideas, advising aspiring entrepreneurs, and further developing their insights into the world of tech startups.
Denver, Colorado, will serve as the site of the 94th Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Convention. Drawn by the area’s natural beauty and cultural highlights, representatives from DAV offices all over the United States will converge on the Mile High City in August to discuss major issues of interest to the nation’s disabled vets.
The four-day event will include a number of meetings, talks, and seminars addressing a range of topics that concern veterans. The convention also provides a forum for national leadership to report to local and state-level chapters and to conduct organizational business.
This year’s schedule has yet to be finalized. DAV National Conventions in recent years, however, have included a strong focus on supporting federal legislation and initiatives that benefit vets, especially with regard to Department of Veterans Affairs health care funding. Other past topics of interest have included employment of injured service members, women veterans’ issues, and recognition of influential members and contributors.
This year’s convention will be held August 8-11 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Denver.
Terra Ferma provides a number of solutions to clients in the oil, gas, and mining industries, offering self-contained and self-powered products that handle communications, lighting, security, and more. Oil and mining operations often end up in remote locations without traditional communications infrastructure. In order to keep sites productive, the people running those sites need to find ways to keep in touch with them.
In mining, Terra Ferma often provides key communications infrastructure. Its Oak and Bamboo Series of products can handle up to 50 users, offering a way for miners at remote sites to stay in touch with headquarters and the outside world. In areas that have little or no telecommunications infrastructure, Terra Ferma provides voice and video service as well as data connections and Internet access. Its systems can also deliver lighting and monitoring.
Oil projects face many of the same challenges as mine sites. Drilling operations can use the Oak Series to maintain monitoring and communications without building expensive land-based infrastructure, while exploration projects can use the smaller Bamboo Series to support teams of up to five people while they are mobile in the field.
One of the most successful and innovative programs for the rehabilitation of disabled veterans is the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Held in Snowmass, Colorado, this year, the clinic is sponsored annually by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
The largest program of its kind in the world, the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic aims to improve the physical and emotional health of soldiers with significant disabilities, such as neurological disorders, amputations, spinal cord injuries, or visual impairments. The ultimate goal of the program is to provide injured service members with stimulating and meaningful physical and mental challenges. This, in turn, can boost their self-esteem and empower them to take control of their lives in productive ways.
In the nearly 30 years since the clinic was established, it has engaged service members in a wide variety of sports, from alpine skiing to volleyball, as well as other activities such as harmonica instruction and fly fishing.
Logistically, the massive annual effort involves coordinating the schedules and accommodations of hundreds of participants in wintertime conditions. Despite the complexity of the clinic, the event’s dedicated staff and volunteers make it work year after year. Their effort is well worth it to show our appreciation for returning service members who have sacrificed so much.
Over the last few years, Scott Gelbard has become increasingly involved in consulting with multinational and international corporations. Scott F. Gelbard also helps several smaller businesses based in the United States, including Terra Ferma.
Terra Ferma’s portable, self-reliant communications systems can be used effectively in a range of situations, including many faced during oil and gas production. The sites at which oil and gas production takes place often lie far from regular infrastructure and traditional communications arrays. They still require the capability to transmit and receive video and data, however, so that the organizations running them can track production and prevent theft.
Building land-based communications infrastructure for far-flung projects would be uneconomical for most gas and drill sites. Terra Ferma can instead provide turnkey communications suites that offer their own power generation and secure connectivity for voice, video, and data. The company can also handle the operation of security cameras and lighting, allowing oil and gas producers to monitor remote sites securely and effectively.