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ESPN founder describes his humble beginnings

NBA champion and Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade at a party hosted by ESPN The Magazine, Sept. 4, 2012.

Diane Bondareff/Invision/AP

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The early days of satellite TV

In 1978, Bill Rasmussen was communications director of the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. The team missed the playoffs that year. He was fired.

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"I was scheduled to tape a local, Connecticut cable TV show about the Whalers," Mr. Rasmussen says in a Q&A with Forbes, "and I called the producer and said, 'you may not want to talk to me – I just got fired.'"

He went in to speak to the producer about his frustration with the short shrift given to sports on the 11 o'clock news. A few days later he met with a number of Conneticut cable TV owners who suggested a satellite package for the 30-minutes sports news show he was proposing.

"Of course, we didn't have any money," but presented with a don't-pay-for-90-days option to run a 24-hour operation, he took the leap. "I called the man from RCA the next day and said, 'We'll take one of those things.' 'One of what things?' he asked. 'One of those 24 hour things.'"

In 1978, he incorporated E.S.P. Network, which became ESPN. And the rest is small-business history.

Small-business folk on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has released new data about small-business professionals who use the social networking tool. There are 579,253 LinkedIn members in Canada defined as small-business professionals, meaning they work at a company with 11 to 500 employees, and their occupations range from accessories designer to yacht broker. That figure ranks the country fifth globally, behind the United States, Britain, India and the Netherlands. Canada has an overall total of six million users.

Canadian companies make a splash

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Five Canadian companies have made the Artemis Project Top 50 Water Tech Listing this year. It identifies the most innovative businesses addressing dire water challenges worldwide. "The Artemis top 50 serves as a lightening rod for startups that will change water management," chair Laura Shenkar said in a press release. The jury considered 125 companies by analyzing their technologies and business potential. It included experts from corporations such as Intel, Archer Daniels Midland, IBM, Ecolab, McKinsey, and Singapore's Public Utilities Board.


Build a profitable lean organization

The Lean Startup Conference takes place Dec. 3 and 4 at the InterContinental in San Franciso. It brings together innovators from startups and established companies to share lessons about building profitable lean organizations. New speakers are still being announced, but registration is open now, with new blocks of discounted early-bird tickets available periodically.

Accelerator expands selection process

Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups is looking for participants for its next incubator program, which will run from October through January, TechCrunch reports. For the first time, it's opening the process up to anyone who wants to apply. The program has historically brought startups on board through referrals. Five to 10 startups are expected to be chosen.

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The latest in digital

BizBOXTV creator and Report on Small Business columnist Lisa Ostrikoff covers the latest research in the digital domain, including the rise of smartphone privacy awareness, productivity in the work-from-home space and the increase in surfing by Twitter users in a new experimental video column.

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