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Why R.O.H.O. is the New R.O.I. (And How To Prosper, Disrupt and Have More Fun in the Land of Geekdom)

If you’re an investor thinking about investing in an early stage startup, and not quite sure what to do, or which company you like, I would like to recommend that you put away your checkbook and make an initial investment of a different type:  your time.

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Just in time for Fiesta, get your own Geekdom sticker.  You too can be king or queen of the world without having to pretend you’re royalty.

 If you really want to get what the heck is going on at with these companies or what is going on at Geekdom, the best R.O.I. on your money might be something that I call R.O.H.O. – better known as Return on Hanging Out.

Over the last 4 months, I’ve been observing some very compelling companies as they come to life through the TechStars Cloud program that were housed at Geekdom. 

While they may be categorized as “tech” companies, the reality of what they are doing has nothing to do with technology in the literal sense, but rather the application and integration of technology to create new forms of products and services that are changing the way we are, or will be doing business in the Cloud.  GigaOm’s Stacey Higgenbothom really nailed it in her story here highlighting the companies.  (Great job, Stacey). 

In order to really understand what these companies are doing, you need to spend time with them.  And that means hanging out, spending time with the founders, sharing some of your wisdom in business and learning about the disruption and opportunities.

Forget the Companies, Ignore the Technology:  You’re Investing in People and Teams

One company may be sexier than the next and the next and the next.  But rather than investing in a sexy company, chances are they will pivot (nerdo-speak for change their business model) and even greater chances are they will fail.

So rather than investing in what you think (or what you have been told) is the next best and biggest thing, think about investing in the people you are hoping into techbed with.  Even if the company fails, maybe this team could help you build something else, or improve upon something you have your hands in.

I Know The Oil Bidness.  I Know The Land Bidness.   I Know They Syndication Bidness.  But Not The Tech Bidness.

Bidness is, well bidness regardless of what bidness you are in (oh… for the uninformed or the non-Texans reading this post, bidness is Texan for businesses.)  And remember, you’re not investing in a technology company, you’re investing in people.

Love those Cavaliers outfits, don’t you?  Well guess what?  At Geekdom, we got a dress code of our own too!  Spring fashions are in full swing at The Weston Centre, with cut-offs, company t’s, and flip-flops.  Far more trendy and a whole lot more comfy wear.  Now that’s what’s really trending at Geekdom.

 And if you want to try to figure out just what the heck this potential bidness idea is all about, then get your children and your grandchildren involved.  If you’ve supported your kids or if you find them dipping into their trust funds, maybe it’s time to get them involved in one of the startups at Geekdom. 

I’ll bet big money your children and your grandchildren are wired, and some of you may have geeky offspring that could serve as your R&D department.

Ditch Your Membership to the San Antonio Country Club and Join Geekdom

Now, while I am not positive on how much it costs to join, let alone maintain a membership at the San Antonio Country Club, I do know one thing:  $50 per month gets you a basic community membership and an open desk at Geekdom. 

You don’t have to come from a good family, and you don’t have to had married well to join.  

You just have to be nice, passionate about learning and willing to take part in the community.

Let’s assume it’s a minimum (and I mean a minimum) of $15,000 per year to keep you and your loved ones in the good-old-boy-network at the Country Club, and you spend another $10,000 per year on having fun with you buddies in the Texas Cavaliers, or you could take this money and do something much more interesting, and possibly more profitable.

And Geekdom has a free soda machine, plus free beer to members (over 21 ).

But Wait – There’s More:  Ditch Your Membership To The Argyle Club As Well,  And Really Save Big

Now just to make matters even better, there’s another way to reinvest your money in something that seems like its purpose has run its course in life. 

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I know it’s nice to have a private dining club, but come on folks – wouldn’t you rather eat great food from a cool food truck and invest the difference in a startup at Geekdom?  

I’ve been a guest of some members of the Argyle Club and all I can say is that while it’s certainly a charming place to hang out, eat and be seen, you can get equally good (and really much better food) downstairs at Page Barteau’s restaurant in the Weston Centre and bring your viddles upstairs to the 11th floor where some serious brains are doing the real cook’n around here.  Page not only has great food, but she also does fancy catering, and chances are she’s catered for one of your fundraisers or charity events.

Old Money Is Doing New and Cool Things

Everything I am describing here is nothing new. 

It’s happening everywhere.  Here’s a story in The New York Times entitled Heirs To Old Money Plunge Into Tech.  Read it.  And share it with your friends.  This stuff and this tipping point is real.

Startups As An Asset Class

So what to do?  Take stock of where you are financially, where you are in your life, and what’s important. 

If you own real estate, stocks, oil, commodities and few other things, consider the legacy you want to leave behind to your family. 

Investing in some of these startups may (or may not) work out as your hoped, but like anything, if you diversify and invest in a few assets,  much like gold, oil, or gas, there’s bound to be some real gems that are currently being born on the 11th floor at Geekdom.

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