All posts by Mike Ellsworth

Startups: What Not to Do, Part 2 – Great ideas, Partners, No Competition

In Part 1, I looked at Mistakes 1 through 3, learned at my first startup in 1999. In this part, I detail some of the mistakes I learned from while trying to start my own company.

On My Own

I ended up striking out on my own in late 2000 as an IT strategy consultant with a couple of initial clients that kept me very busy. Many people said to me, “Gee, this is a strange time to be going out on your own. There’s a downturn coming.” If figured my two good clients would be enough for me to ride out the downturn.

AttributionShare Alike

Some rights reserved by Stefan Leijon

Continue reading Startups: What Not to Do, Part 2 – Great ideas, Partners, No Competition

Startups: What Not to Do, Part 1

I don’t know if I should admit this or not, but I’ve been involved in one way or another in 19 startups. In some cases I’ve advised them. In some cases I’ve invested in them. In some cases, I was one of the principals.

The reason I’m not so keen on admitting this is because I’m not writing this post from my private island in the Caribbean, but from my home office in Minnesota. Where I have a day job.

AttributionShare Alike

Some rights reserved by Eric Stark

Continue reading Startups: What Not to Do, Part 1

By the skin of my teeth . . .

So the deadline for the RFP response was 4 pm. At 10 am I found out that the three signatures on an MOU I needed had not in fact been gotten on Wednesday and I had to get them myself. The last sig I needed I got at 3:38. No prob. All I had to do was write the budget narrative my resource hadn’t written, assemble all the MOUs, paste in the budget spreadsheets and org chart, paste in my boss’ sigs (she was out of town) check everything over against the requirements and email the thing off . . . at 3:54. What was I worried about? It was only $2.75M on the line . . .

How to Win a Tekne Award

Written by Mike Ellsworth   

Tekne Awards 2009
Tekne Awards 2009

On October 22, 2009, CareerOneStop , the program I manage, was the recipient of a Tekne award , presented by the Minnesota High Tech Association. We’ve all been in shock since then, and finally I’ve got the time to blog about the experience. We were up against strong entrants in the IT-Software & Hardware, Communications and Infrastructure category: Imation and QLogic Corporation.

Continue reading How to Win a Tekne Award

Good news, bad news regarding Twitter rank

Written by Mike Ellsworth   

Today I went on over to Twitter Grader and checked myself out.

The good news is, I’m in the top 4 percent of Twitterers!

The bad news is, that means my rank is 234,399 out of a total of 5,233,919 Twitterers. Now I know that being in the top 4 percent of anything is a good thing, but the ego gets dented a little when you realize there’s more than a quarter of a million folks who are more, er, more what, exactly? More betterer? More twitteringer? More in-need-of-finding-a-life-offline?

Anyway, I’m going to revel in my lofty status while seeing if I can climb that ladder.

Continue reading Good news, bad news regarding Twitter rank

What’s the deal with tons of ghost followers yesterday on Twitter?

Written by Mike Ellsworth   

Yesterday I received more than 50 new followers on Twitter. That’s usually a good thing, but these followers all have similar handles — Trend Target, Trend Wish, Trend Finder, Cloud Trend, Weather Trend, for example — and they have zero Tweets. 

It’s obviously some sort of automated scheme, but I can’t figure out what possible use something like this could be.

Has anybody else seen this type of thing? Any ideas as to what’s up?

Yes, I know the activity is automated, but I just can’t figure out the motive. There are no bios on these accounts, thus no links that someone might hope I would follow. So it all seems pointless.

I mean, it obviously costs nothing to set up an app like TweetSpinner to automatically follow people who mention a keyword. But usually that activity has a purpose: to encourage the followee to then follow you so you can send them a canned message thanking them for the follow and including a link to a blog or site for them to engage in some behavior like buying something.

But these accounts are empty – no tweets, no bio, no nothing. So how does anybody profit from this?


What Edison Said About Energy

Written by Mike Ellsworth

I’ve just found the most delicious quote from one of the giant intellects of the 20th (heck, also the 19th) century: Thomas Alva Edison. Speaking in 1931 with fellow industrial giants Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, Edison, who knew a thing or two about energy said:

“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

Seventy-eight years later, we’re waiting until we run out of oil and coal before getting serious about renewable energy. Too bad Edison couldn’t have invented a way to live another hundred years; we could use such clarity of insight from a man who was born before the Civil war.

His quote is my new sig.

Update: I follow a Twitter follower building system

Written by Mike Ellsworth   

In an earlier post , you may remember, I promised to follow one of those hype-filled, hard-sell, pitches to build Twitter followers and make millions:

“How To Get *48,828* Followers On Twitter Automatically With Just A Simple Click Of Your Mouse?”

So I signed up for Twitter List Builder about a month ago, and what happened? I got maybe 20 new follows, about a third of which I subsequently unfollowed, including several naughty girls, Penthouse, and a really high-volume spammer from Australia.

Of course, I also got lots of come ons from Twitter List Builder to upgrade my account, but I definitely expected that.

I had my doubts right from the start. The scheme appears to work just like those chain letters you got in junior high school. Well, maybe you’re too young to have gotten a snail mail chain letter, but the email versions work pretty much the same: you remove the top name in a list of seven or so, and send the chain letter out to the other six, after adding your name to the bottom. After lots of other chainers do this, like the Chinese inventor of chess who asked the emperor pay him only in grains of rice , you’ve got ungodly amounts of follower. (Don’t diss the exponent!)

Now while some may argue that I broke the chain by ditching the comely young things who wanted to sell me Webcam time, I seriously doubt that had anything to do with it. And, besides @deaffondvbb1, @Fea1eeg (a shill for a scheme that will make me $171,168.06 Per Month (and doggone it, that 6 cents is important!)), and @JessicaTrommler (who shills for survey-taking at home) still follow me, among several others who came aboard via Twitter List Builder.

At about the same time, I signed up with Perry Belcher and Tellman and Shawn, who promise I can make money on autopilot. The jury’s still out on these dudes. Belcher sure is an interesting guy, and he really does know his stuff. The two hour Webinar I attended (along with like 16,000 others, according to Perry) had about 45 minutes of killer Internet marketing techniques. If you want to see it without getting on his list, I can hook you up. Just email .

So I plan to explore a variety of other moneymaking systems such as Hits2U, Maverick Money Makers Club,  and such.

There’s one thing for certain, however: Somebody is making money using this stuff, if only the shillers themselves. Perry claims to have sold out of 500 $1K/month memberships, 250 $2K/month memberships, and 250 $3K per month memberships after the Webinar.

So it could happen to me!

The Future of Brands, or Yoda Was Right

Written by Mike Ellsworth   

Social media like Twitter not only blur the lines between public relations, marketing, and brand building, but they require a completely different approach than the traditional media. While brands and companies thought they could control the message and their image before, they must give up that illusion of control to maximize the use of social media.

People are talking about you (if you’re lucky). You can engage them, or you can message them. Engaging wins you evangelists and instant feedback. Messaging (massaging) them yields frustration and a feeling that social media doesn’t work.

Master Yoda said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Be a person, not an artificial brand.

Learn how:

I follow a Twitter follower building system

Written by Mike Ellsworth   

“How To Get *48,828* Followers On Twitter Automatically With Just A Simple Click Of Your Mouse?”

I’ve been taking a look at all these hypefilled Twitter follower-building offers, and I must admit, they all look pretty much the same. I’m not real clear on the mechanisms they use, so I decided to try one: Twitter List Builder. I’ll blog in this space about what I find out, but I must say, I’m prepared to be underwhelmed. It sounds a lot like a daisy chain.

Nonetheless, I’m keeping a mostly open mind.

Here are links to several other very similar deals, some of which require a purchase:

Twittering for Traffic 
Viral Followers 
Twitter followers 
Twitter Unleash 

It all smacks of MLM to me, but I can’t figure out the business model.

More as it develops . . .