Our Forums – The Accelerated Entrepreneur

I asked Robert Geller, senior vice president with technology public relations firm Fusion Public Relations, and author of the blog Flack’s Revenge, “…would you be willing to share your top three pieces of PR advice for high-tech start-ups for guest posts on Handshake 2.0 and on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks?”

(I asked Geller this question in a comment as part of a discussion on one of his blog posts.  You can view the discussion here.)

He wrote, “I appreciate the chance to offer some advice but would first like to learn more about your forums so that it is informed advice.”

Mr. Geller, for local high-tech start-up news and advice, we’ve got two forums:  Handshake 2.0 and Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.

First, Handshake 2.0.

Handshake 2.0 is a high-tech business news and business advice site showcasing the local high-tech economy.  Our high-tech economy is alternately placed in the New River Valley, Southwest Virginia, and the NewVa Corridor, all difficult to define geographically or any other -ly.  Here’s the The NewVa Corridor Technology Council’s vision of the geography of our “locale.”

What’s happening here, however one defines “here,” is high-tech on fire.  It’s fueled by innovations and inventions at Virginia Tech and Radford University, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, the business accelerator VT KnowledgeWorks, initiatives from economic development organizations such as the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance, and other factors.

Here are our tricky local questions:

  • If California has Silicon Valley and New York has Silicon Alley, what does Virginia have?
  • More specifically, how does the New River Valley, Southwest Virginia, or the NewVa Corridor name and brand its high-tech economy?
  • Does it need to?

Regardless of how and if we brand ourselves, what we want to do with that high-tech fire is use its energy to power an economic development engine.

Who reads Handshake 2.0?  In its first four weeks of existence, from 7/28/08 to 8/27/08, according to Google Analytics, 396 visitors have made 685 visits and viewed the pages 1784 times.  Who are they?  It started with people I knew.  Then they told people they knew.  Then someone told Bennie.  And Bennie e-mailed you (added 12:30 EST, 9/4/08).

It’s still who you know.

What do I hope Handshake 2.0 becomes?  The “Gotta-see-and-be-seen,” “Gotta-find-out-can-find-out” site for the local high-tech economy.  Ideally, it creates power for its readers to make better business contacts, have better business knowledge, and make better business deals.

How do people get seen on Handshake 2.0?  They hire our blog services.  They advertise.  They share their expertise with readers of Handshake 2.0.  They shake us up with something creative.  Someone’s good to Blog Diva and she writes about them. 

How can people find out what they need to know?  I ask experts like you for business advice and post it.  Since the Handshake 2.0 site is blog-based, all the posts are archived and searchable.  As the content builds, so will the “can-find-out.”

Ah, Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.

The blog for business incubator VT KnowledgeWorks launched about the same time your blog, Flack’s Revenge, did, in November, 2007.  It just turned three-quarters of a year old.

I am a woman of passion.  My passion for local community and economic development, for high-tech, for entrepreneurs, for helping people get their dreams, for words, came together when Jim Flowers, Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, answered my question, “How about a blog?” with a “Yes.”

Inside VT KnowledgeWorks is a high-tech business news and high-business advice site showcasing the member companies of VT KnowledgeWorks and the business acceleration services offered by VT KnowledgeWorks.

For a woman with my passions, it’s a dream gig.  Thirty-five plus companies!  All with entrepreneurs!  All with high-tech software, machinery, inventions!  All in various states of development needing the expert advice of this person or that!  Many seeking funding!  Oh, the drama!  Why, the story could fill a blog!

Who reads Inside VT KnowledgeWorks?  I’m uncertain of how many from inception since, in November of 2007, I had never written a blog entry, much less created a blog, and spent about one hour per number of member companies just getting the first post up.  Luckily, there’s Seth Godin’s Who vs. how many wisdom for reassurance:  “Just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean it’s important.”

For sure who reads it are the 600+ subscribers to the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center e-Newsletter, edited by Shirley Gillespie, sent out an average of once per week.  Posts from Inside VT KnowledgeWorks are included in the e-mail. 

What is Inside VT KnowledgeWorks becoming?  The “Gotta-see-and-be-seen,” “Gotta-find-out-can-find-out” site for local high-tech entrepreneurship, particularly high-tech inventors with great ideas who want to start companies. 

How do people get seen on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks?  They are becoming, have become, or have been member companies of VT KnowledgeWorks.  They’re professional service providers or advisers to the member companies.  Or they share their expert advice on entrepreneurship.

How do people find out what they want to know?  Same way as on Handshake 2.0.  And whether aspiring entrepreneurs become member companies of VT KnowledgeWorks or not, we want them to succeed.  We provide as much information as we can on the site to help them do just that.

If writing Inside VT KnowledgeWorks is a dream gig, why did I start Handshake 2.0

  • Many of the start-ups at VT KnowledgeWorks are not ready for a passionate outpouring of attention from their blogger, nor for the resulting attention from the blogosphere.  They’re still in silent development mode or in quiet mode as they seek funding.  When they’re ready, I’ll be ready to showcase them in Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.  But I’ve got passion to spare.
  • Jim Flowers, Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, said, “What we need around here is a source of high-tech news.”
  • Jim Flowers wrote in an e-mail, “What about a home for you at VT KnowledgeWorks?”
  • Jim Flowers sketched one of his signature whiteboard drawings–detailed circles connected with line segments–showing Inside VT KnowledgeWorks as part of a larger enterprise.
  • From writing the blog on VT KnowledgeWorks by looking inside from without, I discovered an organization of such power and purpose and integrity that I didn’t want to be out any more.  I wanted to be in.  (That bullet point is an excerpt from this post on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.)
  • I’m passionate about local community and economic development.  I’m backing high-tech as the industry segment most likely to create the greatest good in the shortest amount of time.  Given my gifts and resources, Handshake 2.0 is the sweat equity venture capital investment I can offer–with its inherent risk–in service to the greater good of my hometown.

I’ve increased my chances of success, and decreased my risk of failure, by becoming a member company of VT KnowledgeWorks.  I know that’s true.  I’ve been watching thirty-five plus companies increase their chances and reduce their risk for three quarters of a year now.  With Handshake 2.0, I’m in.


  1. We now have an additional forum for advice for entrepreneurs.

    Jim Flowers, director of VT KnowledgeWorks, has started a blog, "So you want to launch a business…"


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