When Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Fort Collins' Couragent, Inc., began his presentation last Wednesday by pulling out his portable scanner, I groaned. "A scanner. Really?" I mumbled to myself. "Aren't scanners going the way of the fax machine?"
Plus, the market's already saturated, isn't it? There are numerous offerings in this class of device. So much so that when I did a quick smart-phone Google search on the keywords "portable scanner," the Flip Pal scanner did not come up until Page 3. The on-the-surface competitive devices are built by Brother, Fujitsu, VuPoint, and Gordon's former company, HP. 

However, on Slide 3 of Gordon's pitch, I began to understand. With its patented "flip-and-scan" technology that keeps photos safe in their album and its ability to stitch together multiple scans, the Flip Pal's market is a sizable niche: 17+ million scrapbookers. More recently, they've expanded to include genealogists, collectors, photographers and designers. Gordon and his team of talented 2008 cast-offs were astutely applying key lessons from Crossing the Chasm and Innovator's Solution. And they're demonstrating lean startup principles in their execution (e.g., The Lean Startup by Eric Ries).  So far, they're succeeding.

It's exciting to me when you see these concepts in action, making visible differences in the launch of a business. I thoroughly enjoyed Gordon's presentation and the insights gained from a company that has demonstrated a true learning orientation during its first two years of existence.

So, here are five of the many lessons from Couragent and its Flip Pal product that you can apply to your own business.

The last several years have seen the Front Range of Colorado bloom when it comes to a dynamic entrepreneurial community. A client recently asked me about networking and entrepreneurial learning opportunities of which I was aware, and I put together the following list.

For newcomers or those that have been living an insular corporate existence, these are excellent examples of the many Front Range venues available to learn new stuff, meet interesting people, and feel more invigorated.  And, if you are in the midst of a challenging situation for your small business, these may get you connected with folks that can help you close your gaps.

1)  Boulder StartUp Meetup - Coordinated by Brian Tsuchiya, this meets weekly on Wednesday evenings in Vim's 'cozy' offices in Boulder/Gunbarrel.  The topics cycle each week through the following themes: Funding, Entrepreneurship, Sales & Marketing, and Technology & Operations. There are usually a couple presenters each week with ample time for questions, feedback and general networking. Attendance is usually in the range of 30-50.