The mind is not a vessel that needs filling but wood that needs igniting.  -Piutarch
Classically Current Newsletter
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1.1 Classically Current
Classically Current is the sum of entrepreneurial arithmetic where Passion + Learning = Creation.  At least for me, these stories create a momentum that carries forward through my own creative projects and I love to share them.

// Product Discovery _ where classic meets modern ingenuity

2.1 Le Boulangerie Ste Anne, Haiti  
Owner of a bakery in Port au Prince, Haiti is the creator of this truck and cycle hybrid.  Singularly designed and extraordinarily functional for island terrain while the added mobility creates greater access to clients.  The 2010 earthquake thwarted the first effort at launching the commercial bakery but in a demonstration of resiliency the bakery is reinstated and growing again.  In coming months I'll compile some interesting posts of how entrepreneurship lives in Haiti.

"piti piti,nap fe pen ak pate ak bonbon.
poko gen benefis. 
kenbe la."

little by little we making bread and pastries
and sweets. have yet to see a profit. 
hanging in there.

2.2 Innovation in the century old chocolate business
Africa produces 70% of the world’s chocolate and 60% of the world’s vanilla crop, yet the continent makes just 1% of finished chocolate bars. That means the profits are exported to Europe and North America where the finished chocolate bars are wrapped and sold.  Now, an innovative company is disrupting the market by teaching farmers in Madagascar to churn the raw materials into finished chocolate candy bars.

Producing a finished product in a country like Madagascar has brought with it unique challenges. Madecasse Chocolate founder Tim McCollum described what it was like to work with rural farmers in Madagascar to get the cocoa. “The chocolate inside the wrapper is as good or better as chocolate made in Europe, but we’re dealing with farmers in the countryside, not a lot of paved roads or electricity, and most are illiterate.”  
The company works with them to make the beans, and they have to explain nuances in flavor that come down to protocols in drying the bean. “We’re trying to explain what a fruity aftertaste is, and why they need to ferment the beans for 6 days, but most of the cocoa farmers have never even tasted chocolate,” he says.  For packaging, Madecasse works with a local printing press to make the labels for its chocolate, and then the chocolate is wrapped by hand whereas most big chocolate companies use a machine to place each bar in a package.  That machine doesn't exist in Madagascar, says McCollum, but that hasn’t slowed them down. “Our hand-packaging in little envelopes probably sets us apart in sales and branding. And the only reason we made that decision was because we didn’t have access to a machine. The fewer options we have, the more creative we are. Full story

2.3 Best Made Company keeps a strong emphasis on heritage products
These playing cards were inspired by an artifact from the World War II-era.  Anti-aircraft gunners were issued playing cards that illustrated the silhouette and signage of enemy planes.  The cards were designed to instill instinctive recognition of features attributed to various fighter planes while accomplishing the same functionality of a standard playing card deck.  Ultimately, how well the gunmen learned to distinguish the planes as they flew overhead would mean the difference between firing on an enemy plane or one of their own.  The War inspired playing cards are being manufactured by Best Made Company, new motifs like stripes and lightning bolts were used in lieu of the planes.  “I love their dual purpose of teaching aid, and entertainment,” says founder Peter Buchanan-Smith.  After introducing a line of artisan axes in 2009, NYC-based Best Made Company has since expanded into a very giftable collection of pocket knives and other heritage inspired products, and now its latest introduction--Famous playing cards.  
Full story

2.4 PaperlessPost is melding craftsmanship with e-invitations
Paperless post is an example of the convergence of technology and craftsmanship. Designs at the NYC workshop are styled freehand, cut out of textured paper, and scanned into digital content for creating invitations or greeting cards sent via email.  This process is a counter balance existing between the two available mediums of paper and digital.  By creating the physical product and then scanning it to digital, Paperless Post creates textures that are visible in high resolution digital finishes delivered by email or through social networks.  The distinction in quality allows Paperless Post to charge for its product while other digital invitation companies offer free products supported by advertising.  The company was founded in 2008 by siblings Alexa Hirschfeld, 27 and James Hirschfeld, 25.  By June 2010 the two had raised more than $6 million from angel investors who recognized their product as sufficiently different from what currently existed in the market. From September through November last year, five million cards and invitations were sent through Paperless Post, up 70% from the same period in 2010.  In December 2011 alone, users purchased six million pieces of digital correspondence at an average cost of 19 cents.
Full story

2.5 A team of designers upgrade the classic fire fighter helmet to be more functional
The company behind the "C-Thru helmet" is planning an overhaul to the staple firefighter helmet.  The adjacent photo shows designer Omer Haciomeroglu using specifiactions provided by Umea Fire brigade to change the look and functionality of the helmet. Several nuances have to be accounted for when creating a product that is so integral to saving lives. For example, a burning building is extremely noisy, radio communications ideally should be clear and crisp allowing the firefighters to communicate effectively with one another.  However, audible cues competing with communications cannot be completely drowned out as they alert falling debris or cries for help.  The helmet aims to use noise suppressing technology to dull out background sounds at intervals allowing for effective communication while maintaining the ability to perceive important audible cues.  Among other features the helmet allows firefighters to see through smoke via wire frame vision of the interior geometry, in this way, firefighters can identify their surroundings easily and searching for victims can be done more accurately.  
Umea Institute of Design

C-Thru Smoke Diving Helmet

C-Thru Smoke Diving Helmet

2.6 How to be a Retronaut
The Retronaut website is an online warehouse for time capsules.  With an impressive repository of images - old photographs, ad campaigns and magazine articles among others - Retronaut allows you to delve into the past, holding an extensive collection that's enough to satisfy even the most avid vintage vulture.  The below photos for example, depict a virile Fidel Castro visiting New York in 1959 where he lunched with bankers on Wall Street, fed a Bengal tiger at the Bronx Zoo, and spoke to 30,000 people in Central Park.  A New York Times editorial exclaimed, “The young man is larger than life” posted  Retronaut photos tell sparsely known narratives about surrounding important events in history.  By the time of Castro’s next trip, for a meeting at the U.N. General Assembly a year and a half later he had nationalized U.S. companies, executed opponents, and purchased arms from the Soviet Union.  The euphoria seen in these photos had long since died down.  Retronaut continues to build a business from posting these artifacts having recently raised investment capital from two UK based VC's, EC1 capital and Charlotte Street Capital

// Entrepreneur life, tools, and know-how

3.1 How Universities use homework to mold ideas into new companies
Two homework assignments envisioned as real companies.  One assignment asked to create a storyboard illustrating a consumer need.  Another assignment where students propose user testing and computer interface design.

3.2 More free online courses from top universities commencing in the spring.
University of Virginia - Grow to Greatness: Growth for Private Business
John Hopkins - How companies like NetFlix use Data Analysis to recommend movies
University of Maryland - 
Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies
University of Michigan - 
Internet History, Technology, and Security
Wesleyan University - Passion Driven Statistics, a project based course on assessing the pasterns of your choice market

Passion Driven Statistics
Wesleyan University
Mar 25th 2013
6 weeks long

Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies
University of Maryland
Jan 28th 2013 
6 weeks
Internet History, Technology, and Security
University of Michigan 
Mar 1st 2013
13 weeks long

3.3 How much money did blogs make last year compared to prior years
2009 rankings of the 25 most profitable websites compared to 2011. Will Ferrell's 'Funny or die' jostles its way on the list with a value of $27 million.  How is a blog making so much money?  This recent New York Times article breaks down the online advertising platform that segregates readers into niche pockets and allows these sites to bankroll what you are most likely to click on.

Thanks to everyone who shared feedback and our new subscribers,