Competitive Edge
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Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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Seven Tips For Starting A Tech Company Without Venture Capital

Seven Tips For Starting A Tech Company Without Venture Capital | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Just because you haven't raised a round doesn't mean you can't bootstrap a thriving business.

When starting a tech company, it can be tempting to make venture capital a priority, but finding it shouldn’t be what drives your business decisions. I knew I wanted to bootstrap my business, BuySellAds, so that I could follow my own goals. By following these next few tips, I was able to achieve success for my business without raising VC money. Here’s how you can too. Read more: click image or title.

 

FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Dave...I downloaded your business plan template...It is great!!!...My tax consultants say your plan is amazing. Thanks Dave!!!

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Making the right choices when creating your #tech #startup.

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Beware the pitfalls of Silicon Valley

Beware the pitfalls of Silicon Valley | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

A recent article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung titled “Will Facebook Enslave Us?” captures a sentiment prevalent among companies around the world: admiration for Silicon Valley — albeit, with a dash of fear.

International media outlets eagerly cover disruption developing in labs up and down the San Francisco peninsula. Boards of directors are spending hours debating how to react to the next wave from Silicon Valley. Today’s common conclusion is an old one: If you can’t beat them, join them. But for many, that is easier said than done.

The obstacles to joining forces

Many global business leaders want to experience Silicon Valley firsthand to understand what makes this hotbed of technology so unique, to uncover its secret recipe and to tap into potential collaboration opportunities. Read more: click image or title.

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

How to find your way in #SiliconValley and find the right way to cooperate. 

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Surviving Whatever Comes Next - Mattermark

Surviving Whatever Comes Next - Mattermark | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Don’t want your company to die? Here’s what to do. The startup fundraising environment is in flux, and over the past two weeks the pace of change has accelerated rapidly. Throughout the ecosystem, blogging VCs and entrepreneurs alike are urging that it’s time to raise, even if you can’t get the valuation you hoped for. Others … Read more: click image or title.




Learn more about funding, find great funding sources, get a free business plan template, post your funding request for free, and more:

www.Business-Funding-Insider.com

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

#Startup #Funding is changing rapidly. Read this article to be better informed and find out what to do next.

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Important Financial Indicators for Startups at Every Stage of Growth | Mattermark

Important Financial Indicators for Startups at Every Stage of Growth | Mattermark | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Learning to read financial documents is one thing, but learning to use themas tools to guide the business and ultimately communicate clearly to 100+ investors has shown me just how nuanced our non-GAAP startup companies can be. In this post I’ll walk through the three phases of financial indicators in startups, and point out some common misunderstandings. I hope this will help founders and investors clarify what they mean when they talk about money, and I’ve used my company’s financials to give you real examples. Read more: click image or title.





Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Hello Dave,
You are a treasure to the Business community.
I have completed my business plan on the second day with your template.  And I had tried and failed for a year before."
Dawson


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Here is some clarity regarding cash, #RunRate and #Revenue. Accountants have different ways of reporting. Double talk?


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Planning Is How You Survive These 5 Common Startup Killers

Planning Is How You Survive These 5 Common Startup Killers | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Startups are launched with boundless optimism but only succeed through unsentimental realism.

By definition, every startup is predictably unpredictable, since new solutions have no proven track record, startups are usually building a new market, and the world around them is changing faster than ever. Yet, as an advisor to startups, I see some common disasters, and recommend some anticipation and recovery moves that can save every entrepreneur some painful time and money.

Five major elements of every business include your people, product, opportunity, money and marketing. While every entrepreneur needs to remain upbeat and optimistic on all of these, it is also smart to anticipate the worst case scenarios that are possible with each. Prepare ahead of time to prevent or head them off quickly, before it is too late, as events unfold:  Read more: click image or title.



Discover how to raise capital on your terms, by legally soliciting and selling securities to angel investors in the United States.

Check out…    http://bit.ly/1Lr9RrI


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

These five reasons are very real. Prepare yourself. The funding issue: take control of it from the start, take a look here:

http://www.business-funding-insider.com/FinancialArchitect.html


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I spotted an Apple Watch on the train this morning, and now I'm a believer | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Mark Sullivan

I spotted an Apple Watch on the train this morning, and now I'm a believer | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Mark Sullivan | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
http://snip.ly/rBYH

The watch has the effect that other blockbuster Apple products have had on casual observers. When you see it, something somewhere in the corner of your mind clicks on, and then you realize you want one.


The man to whom I gave a gentle push so that I might fit inside the crowded commuter train this morning was wearing an Apple Watch.

As the train stopped in a tunnel, the man apparently received a reminder on his wrist, and when he raised his wrist I got a clear view. No, it wasn’t one of the knockoffs they were selling at CES. This thing looked like a luxury item, and it had the now familiar “bubbles” Watch user interface.

I saw a text reminder on the screen, and then, briefly, a map. It appeared that the guy had been using the Watch for some time and was pretty used to it. The product is supposed to go on sale in April, but Apple gave Watches to a number of its employees to gather feedback and fix bugs. Read more here: http://snip.ly/rBYH




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"Thanks for your note....KEEP THE ADVICE COMING!



I studied the Truth About Funding program (video)...and it really helped me focus on the steps we need to take to move and expand our business into LA."



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Apple has the edge combining design and finding ways to deliver what people want.

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The smart creative: How to spot them, how to use them

The smart creative: How to spot them, how to use them | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

The term “smart creative” is often heard today in the hallways and conference rooms of some of the nation’s leading tech companies.

Not surprising, since it was coined by Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. But the concept is not necessarily unique to Google, or even to the tech world.

Smart creatives (SCs) can be found almost anywhere, from the corner coffeehouse to the corner office.

  • How can you tell if you are a smart creative?
  • How can you spot a smart creative?
  • How can you maximize smart creatives’ potential in your organization?

Here are four key characteristics to look for:

Read more, click on the image or title.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

"I have been receiving "Growing Your Empire" newsletter for about a year, and I appreciate the advice that you have been sharing on entrepreneurship - I have leveraged the information you've provided many times."
Alex Stolyar



Via Ken Cooper
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Are you a smart creative? If you are, you'll be looking to add on the skills and experience you need to become one.

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The 30 Best Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs in 2014

The 30 Best Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs in 2014 | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/Da7e

First Round is a seed-stage venture firm focused on building a vibrant community of technology entrepreneurs and companies.

Early last year, I found myself sitting across from Caryn Marooney in Facebook's cafeteria talking about how startups get noticed. What is that ineffable quality that separates the successful media darlings from the companies no one ever hears from again? It's a huge question, and Marooney — now head of Facebook's tech communications and past founder of the OutCast Agency — had good answers. She's been at it for a while, getting press that has distinguished dozens of startups (including eventual giants like Salesforce). Talking to her, it hit me how special this situation was, and how valuable the advice — based on real experience, wins, losses and lessons.
In the last year, I've had the privilege of speaking to nearly 100 people like Marooney who are among the very best at what they do — from hiring designers to building technical teams to increasing employee happiness. They hold the puzzle pieces for how to build startups from the ground up, and here, on The Review, we're assembling them for an ever-growing audience.

Read more here: http://snip.ly/Da7e


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"Thanks for all you do to encourage entrepreneurship! You and your team have successfully created a road map that most could follow to completion and exit strategy. Yes, it is possible to do these things on your own, but it can be short-cutted by using your strategy."
Jay Ed Moore

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Lots of wisdom here. Great tips. Ongoing education.

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Here's What I Learned from Working with 50+ PR Firms

Here's What I Learned from Working with 50+ PR Firms | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
First Round is a seed-stage venture firm focused on building a vibrant community of technology entrepreneurs and companies.
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How To Tell If You’re Burning Money Too Fast | TechCrunch

How To Tell If You’re Burning Money Too Fast  |  TechCrunch | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Editor’s Note: Joe Floyd is a venture investor at Emergence Capital. Emergence focuses on enterprise cloud applications and has invested in market leaders including Yammer, Box, Veeva Systems and Salesforce. 

Questions about cash burn have blazed through Twitter like wildfire. Entrepreneurs are asking us: How do I know if I am burning money too fast? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for an entrepreneur on what level of burn is appropriate for their startup. However, every entrepreneur should consistently assess their runway and revise spending against their strategic goals.

I have designed this short quiz to help enterprise cloud startups analyze their spending levels. It’s critical to monitor your company’s burn rate so you can make those quick adjustments to increase your chances of success.

Select the answers below that best describe your company.

1. Market Dynamics: Does your market have network effects?

a) Each sale is independent. If we sell to one customer it does not impact the likelihood of sale to another customer.

b) Economies of scale are important in our market and we believe that only three or four solutions will achieve scale. Early movers have a small advantage.

c) Every new customer increases the value of our product and becomes a source of new potential customers. Early movers have a major advantage.

2. Competitive Intensity: Who are your major competitors?

a) We are in a dogfight with a number of well-funded startups and large incumbents. Our sales team consistently sees competition for new customers, and we win as often as we lose.

b) We are competing with one or two large, entrenched companies. Our sales organization sees competition more often than not, but we win most of the time.

c) We are carving up a green-field opportunity. We sometimes face competition for new business but it is usually from consultants or internal teams building custom solutions.

3. Customer Retention: What is our churn?

a) We estimate that we turnover 1 out of every 4 customers each year. We haven’t really started tracking churn yet, but I would guess that our net annual MRR churn is ~20 percent.

b) We track churn and we know we retain 85-90 percent of our customers annually. We have increased our average sales price by 10 percent over last year. We also have a customer success team that upsells our most engaged customers, so our net annual MRR churn is only 10 percent.

c) We track each cohort of customers on a monthly basis and our customer success team excels at deploying new customers quickly and getting them engaged. We have negative MRR churn, and each monthly cohort continues to grow over time.

4. Sales and Marketing Efficiency: What is the return on every dollar of sales and marketing spend?

a) We spend $1 – $1.5 in sales and marketing for every dollar of total bookings (new and renewal). We do not worry about gross margins because we know they will increase with scale. We collect some contracts monthly, quarterly and annually.

b) We achieve a 1:1 ratio of sales and marketing spend to new annual contract value (ACV) bookings. We analyze customer acquisition costs (CAC) by channel, and we tend to payback CAC with gross profit in 9 – 12 months. We try to get cash payment up front for annual contracts.

c) We consistently receive $2+ dollars of new ACV bookings for every dollar of sales and marketing spend. We optimize CAC by allocating marginal spend to the highest performing channels. Gross profit pays back CAC in less than 6 months consistently. Our customer success team is deploying signed contracts quickly, and we always collect cash up front for our contracts.

5. Fundraising Capability: Who is in your investor syndicate and how easily can you add new sources of capital if you need to fundraise quickly?

a) We have a group of angel investors or constrained institutional investors. It feels too early to pursue debt. We are heads down focused on sales and product right now and we will think about the next fundraising when we need to raise more money.

b) We have one institutional lead investor with dry powder, and we think we can secure a small debt facility. Our investor can introduce us to venture firms so we can start a fundraising process pretty quickly if we need to do that.

c) We have two or more institutional venture investors and we have a small debt facility with our bank that we can draw down if we need it. We keep a steady dialog going with investors that we would like to involve in future financings so we could start a process tomorrow if desired.

What’s your score?

Give yourself one point for each “A” answer, three points for each “B” answer, and five points for each “C” answer.

0-10 points: Pull the ripcord. You need to evaluate your spending immediately and consider pulling back drastically. You may be too early in a nascent market, and it would be wise to conserve capital until the market develops. You may be facing too many competitors which is forcing everyone to spend inefficiently. You may want to scale back sales and marketing while you pivot your product to find a more attractive competitive position. Lastly, you may not be able to raise additional equity if the current venture environment sours. You should look to secure a debt facility and reduce burn to give your team the longest possible runway to succeed.

11-18 points: Pump the brakes. You are not in trouble yet, but you should quickly assess your situation. If you are targeting a large enough market, then you may be justified in continuing to spend on sales and marketing even if you are not that capital efficient. However, you should drill down and figure out why you are not efficient.

Do you have a churn problem? Do you face too much competition? Do you have too many sales reps? Not enough good sales reps? Are you marketing in the right channels? Is your pricing right? Is your product truly solving a customer pain point? Once you understand the drivers of your current business, you can reduce spend in the areas that are not efficient.

For example, if you do not quite have product-market fit, then you can reduce sales. If you do not have sales functioning perfectly, you can reduce marketing spend. Lastly, you should consider raising a top up round to give yourself 18 months of runway while the venture fundraising window is open or securing a debt facility to give yourself an extra 6-9 months of cushion.

19-25 points: Burn baby burn. Your sales and marketing engine is firing on all cylinders and you have proven you know how to engage customers and keep them renewing. Now is the time to pour fuel on the fire to attack your market while there is little competition. The viral effects are strong enough to justify the investment now, and investors will reward you for your efficient growth. Remember to keep monitoring your SaaS metrics so you can adjust your spend if your business slows down. Lastly, you should consider raising additional growth equity early while the venture window is wide open and valuations are aggressive.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km



Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Here is the response to the latest issue for startups: burn rate! This article includes a great survey.

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New $140 Million Early-Stage Fund Launched in Europe Called Mosaic Ventures

New $140 Million Early-Stage Fund Launched in Europe Called Mosaic Ventures | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Three well-known tech investors and execs announced today that they had launched Mosaic Ventures, a new $140 million fund aimed at early-stage investments in Europe. It was created by Mike Chalfen, Simon Levene and Toby Coppel, all of whom have worked across a range of venture firms and Silicon Valley companies over the years. On its website, the group said: “We love renegades who take a fresh look at the world and want to shape it their way.” Bokay, boys!


Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Yet another seed fund in Europe. Startups are moving all over the world!

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Lauren Maillian Bias: Cracking The Female Entrepreneur Code

Lauren Maillian Bias: Cracking The Female Entrepreneur Code | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

I recently caught up with Lauren Maillian Bias, who is the author of the new book "The Path Redefined: Getting to the Top on Your Own Terms". Bias is the Founder and CEO of Luxury Market Branding, a strategic marketing and branding consultancy where she brings her firsthand knowledge, expertise and passion for marketing to her clients. She is also the Founding Partner and Director of Operations for Gen Y Capital, an early stage venture firm. Prior to Luxury Market Branding, Lauren was the Proprietor, Creator and Chief Operating Officer of Sugarleaf Vineyards, the only African-American owned and operated winery in Virginia. The Winery became an award winning brand under her leadership within five years and was sold in 2011.

"You stand out naturally when you consistently exceed expectations, whether you are a man or a woman. Women who consistently exceed expectations and have other roles in life such as mother or wife, and in my case, being a single-mother, stand-out because it’s remarkable that the juggling act can be so graceful."

To read the full article, click on the image or title.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Via Alldens Lane
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Have you ever doubted yourself? Of course. Take a look at what this woman accomplished, and how she did it.

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malek's curator insight, May 21, 2014 5:15 PM

I like the holistic approach to face the challenges of integrating work and family life.  A great  example of everyday reality

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My 9 rules for building viable startups: Advice from a startup studio

My 9 rules for building viable startups: Advice from a startup studio | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Startup studios are a relatively new type of business.

You might have heard of them before as “venture builders” or “startup factories.” There are only a dozen or so of them in the world, including the original one, IdeaLab, and others likeExpa and BetaWorks. But I believe we’ll see more and more of them in the future because the model works.

The people behind these organizations are seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, and makers. They don’t get pitches, there is no Demo Day, and they don’t make investments in external companies. For the most part, ideas are in-house, built from scratch to validate a business idea and spin it off as an independent startup, with the studio retaining a portion of the equity. Read more: click image or title.

 

FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

#startup studios or #accelerators help startups to evolve and get #seedfunding.

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Dear Startups:  Here’s How to Stay Alive

Dear Startups:  Here’s How to Stay Alive | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Dear Startups: Here’s How to Stay Alive

There are storm clouds gathering over Silicon Valley – and it’s more than just El Nino. As a venture capitalist, I see a lot of data points within the private company marketplace.  Every Monday, I sit in a room with my partners and we discuss dozens of companies, both portfolio companies as well as those we are considering for investment.  When a market turns, we tend to see the signs earlier than the entrepreneurs working on the front lines.

This market?  I’d say it has turned.

It is going to be hard (or impossible) for many of today’s startups to raise funds.  And I think it will get worse before it gets better.  But, hey, my entrepreneurial friend, who ever said it was going to be easy?  One of my favorite expressions is: “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

So which is it going to be for you?  Tougher?  Or dead. Read more: click image or title.



Learn more about funding, find great funding sources, get a free business plan template, post your funding request for free, and more:

www.Business-Funding-Insider.com

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Another great article on how to make it through this pullback on #startup #funding. This is more in depth and complete. Very good advice.

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9 Top Venture Capitalists Share Their Best Advice for Entrepreneurs

9 Top Venture Capitalists Share Their Best Advice for Entrepreneurs | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
When it comes to fundraising, it's a good idea to listen to the men and women doling out the dollars.

Pitching venture capitalists can be a fraught enterprise, particularly for entrepreneurs who have never done it before. With that in mind, we’ve asked leading venture capitalists at firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners and GE Ventures to share their best advice for startup founders seeking capital.

From specific tips on hiring to more general strategies on maintaining focus, this is your shot to learn from the pros. Read more: click image or title.



Learn more about funding, find great funding sources, get a free business plan template, post your funding request for free, and more:

www.Business-Funding-Insider.com

Marc Kneepkens's insight:
When it comes to fundraising, it's a good idea to listen to the men and women doling out the dollars. Isn't that the truth!
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Raising Money? Seek These Investment Funds In Singapore

Raising Money? Seek These Investment Funds In Singapore | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Raising Money? Seek These Investment Funds In Singapore
If you want to feel nervous, excited and thrilled all at a time then be an entrepreneur and raise capital. Yes, capital raising is the most crucial and challenging phase of building a business. If you are already running a fundraising campaign for your newly-started business, then you are definitely one of the luckiest persons on earth because no matter if you succeed or fail to convince the investors, the effort itself is an achievement as it teaches you a lot many things.
 
So, if it is the city state of Singapore where you are looking for suitable investment funds, there is no dearth of options for you. Today, there are more than 100 venture capital firms in Singapore aiming to invest in high-potential startups with an innovative approach.
 
If you think you are ready with what it all takes to convince a VC, below are some of the best names for you from which you can choose a suitable investor for your dream venture. The investors differ in their sector preference and stage of investment so it is best to first identify the right investors and then start chasing them. Read more: click image or title.


Learn more about funding, find great funding sources, get a free business plan template, post your funding request for free, and more:

www.Business-Funding-Insider.com


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Great list of #VC funds in #Singapore.

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Six Reasons Why VCs Reject Good Startups - Entrepreneur

Six Reasons Why VCs Reject Good Startups - Entrepreneur | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
The factors that affects why venture capitalists often decline to work with startups.

In one sense, successful entrepreneurs seem to say “no” more than the average person. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, gave this advice to entrepreneurs on HuffPost Live: “The temptation all over the place... is to do more. The brutal reality of trade-offs is you cannot.” He urged entrepreneurs to “narrow their focus.” Entrepreneurs tend to have a vision and must avoid all distractions in order to achieve it. Someone who says “yes” to many things is probably saying “no” to more important things. In another sense, entrepreneurs often hear many “no’s” along the path to success. Young Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went on to build a creative media empire. Steve Jobs was fired from his own organization and returned to build Apple- turning it into one of the world’s most valuable companies. Oprah Winfrey lost her job as a reporter because she was “unfit for TV.” These three visionaries have all probably looked back on their “no’s” and said something to the effect of “Suckas!” Despite your own familiarity with the word “no”, rejection still hurts. As a venture capitalist, I have to say “no” to a lot of good startups and founders. It’s just the nature of the game- a firm can only invest in so many companies. In order to prime your expectations, and hopefully lessen the blow, here are the six main reasons why venture capitalists often decline to work with good startups. Read more: click on title or image.




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"It has been an absolute delight working with you and this will be just a beginning in my relationship with Growthink.
I am very satisfied with my business plan and financial plan. Your work is outstanding."
Michael Mundi
Mundi Homes





Via ventureLAB
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The 6 most common reasons why VC's reject your startup.

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Paul Graham's Startup Survival Rules 

Paul Graham's Startup Survival Rules  | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Based on Y Combinator's cofounder Paul Graham's "Startups in 13 Sentences" we shared startup survival tips for startups

When things get difficult, sometimes you have to whip out the old survival guide to make sure your startup gets through a challenging phase in your business. That’s why we are sharing this guide with entrepreneurs, based on Y Combinator’s cofounder Paul Graham‘s “Startups in 13 Sentences“.  He shared 13 tips you every entrepreneur should live by:

Pick Good Cofounders

Sometimes the problem lives within. Finding a good cofounder is not always easy, and just like finding a partner in love, finding the right business partner takes time. Graham says that, “the success of a startup is almost always a function of its founders,” and we couldn’t agree more.

Launch Fast

You don’t really know what your customers want until you launch. Launch before you get used to not being useful.

Let Your Idea Evolve

Many successful startups changed their ideas fundamentally. Pivoting is part of your startup growth, and sometimes you just have to let that initial idea go.

Click image or title to read more...


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Growthink really understands how to create compelling business plans and raise capital, and Growthink's Capital Raising Products succeed in infusing this knowledge.
-John Morris
Managing Director, GKM Ventures,
Board of Governors, Tech Coast Angels


Via StartupYard
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Live by simple rules, Paul Graham understands that.

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Biggest Mistake Startups Should Avoid - Business Insider

Biggest Mistake Startups Should Avoid - Business Insider | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
http://snip.ly/fhWZ

Paul Graham says talking to corporate development before you're ready to sell your company can be a big mistake, and founders do it all the time.

If there's anyone you should trust when it comes to advice on how to build a startup, it's Paul Graham.

He co-founded the renowned Y Combinator startup school that produced successes such as Dropbox and Airbnb, and he has a piece of advice regarding a common mistake among startups.

According to Graham, too many startup founders spend time talking to corporate development executives from larger companies.

That's the department you'll usually hear from if someone is interested in buying your startup.

This is a bad thing, Graham wrote in a recent essay on his website, because many founders talk to corporate development at the wrong time.

You should only talk to corporate development if you're ready to sell your company right now and believe you're going to get a sufficiently high offer, Graham writes.

So, this means you should only engage in these discussions if your startup is doing really poorly or really well, since you'd either have nothing to lose or know that the offer would have to be high.

Graham writes that too many founders talk to corporate development when their company is in that middle stage. This is bad, according to Graham, because it poses a distraction to the founder. Here's what he wrote:

Distractions are the thing you can least afford in a startup. And conversations with corp dev are the worst sort of distraction, because as well as consuming your attention they undermine your morale.

To be clear, Graham isn't saying you should never sell your company — he's just saying you should have a clear idea of whether or not you'd want to sell and avoid being manipulated. More here: http://snip.ly/fhWZ




Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

"Growthink took our ideas and put them into a business plan that fit with our objectives. They also gave us ideas on how to better our strategies and streamline our procedures."
Holly Follows
CEO
Bella Tierra Properties & Investments


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Graham's wise words always ring through.

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7 Venture Capitalists Predict What Will Happen In 2015

7 Venture Capitalists Predict What Will Happen In 2015 | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

From cloud wars to the certainty that there will be hacks, venture capitalists believe that 2015 will be a year of tumult and (in public markets anyway) triumph for the startup world.

Here are the visions that the general partners, managing directors and partners from firms such as NEA, IVP, Cue Ball Group,General Catalyst Partners and MDV have when they gaze into their crystal balls.

Together these firms have more than $22 billion under management, so they’re not only seeing the future, they’re often shaping it.

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Via Enzo Calamo
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent predictions of some VC insiders in the tech world. Definitely shows what lives there!

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Chris Shern's curator insight, January 2, 2015 11:46 AM

Unbundling of legacy software, wearables not quite there yet, an empowered workforce segment thriving on independent and flexible work are but a few of the predictions that will make 2015 a year filled with opportunities for tech start-ups, innovation and entrepreneurs

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Why I Look for Obsessive and Competitive Founders

Why I Look for Obsessive and Competitive Founders | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
  Obsession. The drive to succeed at all costs. When second place isn't good enough because we live in winner-take-most markets. The desire to be better

This blog started from a series of conversations I found myself having over and over again with founders and eventually decided I should just start writing them.It would often make my colleagues laugh because they’d hear me like a broken record and then the next week read my ramblings in a post.

Last week’s obsession was about obsession itself.

10 days ago I saw the film, Whiplash, which is one of my favorite films of the year. I would be shocked if it doesn’t win at least one Oscar. I won’t have any spoiler alerts here, don’t worry.

The protagonist in the film, Andrew, is a drummer and the story is his experiences in his freshman year of one of the most elite music conservatories in the country. He wants to compete to be the lead drummer in the competitive ensemble and study under Terence, an obsessive instructor who is hell bent on winning competitions for the school.

I absolutely loved the film. I loved the music. I loved the intensity. I loved the drive to succeed, to compete and to be one’s best. As you can imagine – all great films have conflict and the tension is this – what is an acceptable level of obsession to put into success, whether instructor or student?

The rest you should see for yourself.

But the film has my brain buzzing all week about obsessive and competitive people. Think about Kobe Bryant. Kobe is famous for waking up crazy early every morning and practicing for longer and harder than nearly anybody else in the NBA. Kobe isn’t Kobe just because he was born naturally tall and athletic – although that is a sine qua non.

Kobe is kobe because he practices more than even the most elite professionals in a hyper competitive industry and because he is simply more dedicated to his success than many other people are.

In our society we revere athletes. We revere musicians. We glorify their successes and we marvel at their achievements.

Yet somehow many people think that startups intended to operate at massive, Internet scale can be casual affairs. I see founders who think they can be at every conference, advise multiple companies, do side investments in angel deals, leave the office at 6pm and have a balance life. I don’t believe it’s possible to compete at Internet scale and have balance.

I’m not making a qualitative statement that I believe obsession in startups is necessarily a good thing. In fact, I have written about the negative health consequences and sometimes mental consequences of doing so.

But I would make the observation that if you stumble on to a really important idea that has the potential to be really valuable know that others will enter into the market precisely because markets are competitive and a lot of money and prestige is at stake. In fact, think about it. Even MORE money is at stake than what Kobe or even the best rock bands in the world can make by being at the top of their game. Zuckerberg. Larry / Sergey. The founders of DropBox, Airbnb, Uber – you name it.

So if you’re going to raise venture capital and compete in large, growing, winner-take-most markets you had better be prepared for other people to want to knock you off your stool, steal your limelight, grab your customers and muck you up.

I don’t know Mark Zuckerberg. But I’m willing to bet (and certainly from the profiles I’ve read) that he was pretty obsessive and all in at Facebook for many years (if not still) to drive their success. It isn’t as if there weren’t other people trying to dethrone Facebook all along.

I write all this because I am constantly asked “what I am looking for when I make an investment” and the most honest answer I can give is that I’m looking for maniacally driven individuals who are obsessive in their pursuit of an idea and who are so competitive and driven that they can’t accept failure.

I know it sounds cliché.

But I would ask you this. If it takes compulsive individuals to be at the absolute peak in sports or music – why wouldn’t it take the same to create a disruptive product or service that can change an industry. It’s not a 9-to-5 job. It’s not for people with soft elbows or compressed egos.

I look for many things. I’ve even written about the Top 12 attributes of an entrepreneur here (each number is clickable).

But I’ve also got to be able to observe the inner Whiplash.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Creating a startup, or even simply your 'own' business, does not come easy. This blog from a world renowned entrepreneur illustrates that very well.

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Gene Simmons to Entrepreneurs: 'Unleash Your Inner Rock God'

From a Kiss rock 'n' roller to an entrepreneur who oversees a record label, a sports team, and a restaurant chain, Gene Simmons is all about building brands. Here's what he has learned along the way.

Best known as the bass guitarist behind the legendary rock band Kiss, and more recently for his family's reality TV series, Gene Simmons is also an entrepreneur who owns a record label, a sports team, and a restaurant chain.

Now he wants to teach you how to "build an army of one, unleash your inner rock god [and] win in life and business."

So reads the subtitle of his new book, Me, Inc., a plainspoken riff on Sun Tzu's The Art of War with 13 principles that Simmons dubs "the art of more." In an interview with Inc., Simmons shared some of the lessons that he has learned over the years while building his portfolio of ventures.


1. Self-confidence is your greatest business partner
Self-confidence isn't genetic or inherent, Simmons argues, but learnable--and essential for success.

"You are the resume," he says. "You better stand up straight, look somebody in the eyes and--if you're not confident--fucking fake it. It's the only way to survive."

2. Learn from the masters
Who are your role models? Your idols? What can you learn from them--if not in person, then through a book?

"I was a voracious reader and still am," says Simmons. "I read all sorts of things I'm not interested in, and therein lies something important: In order to learn something, especially something new, it might not be that you're interested in it... The library, as far as I'm concerned, is the house of God."

3. Find partners who complement you
Entrepreneurs who try to go at it alone are destined for a small, limited venture, according to Simmons. Partners can help bring in new ideas and help with expansion plans, though he notes the key is not to trust those individuals. It's trusting your judgment of people that is most important.

"I don't trust anybody," says Simmons. "I believe and I verify."

How? By spending time talking to others who know the potential partners, having a legal team research them, and watching them in action. In business terms, do your due diligence.

4. Know when to pull the plug
Failure, in Simmons's eyes, means "nothing," and a crucial, learnable skill is having the ability to fail then picking yourself back up.

"I fail every day in my life, in business and in decision-making," he says. "So what? You know who else failed? Henry Ford went bankrupt. Oprah Winfrey failed. I've failed. All the big guys failed--many times--and that's what made them succeed. You're in good company."


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Learn from the experienced.

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5 Reasons You Should Work For A Startup At Least Once

5 Reasons You Should Work For A Startup At Least Once | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

They say in business you should think big. But when it comes to your career, have you considered thinking “small”? In my experience, a startup is a roller-coaster ride that can offer you incredible career experiences and teach you some invaluable life lessons.

Startups can make you more efficient than you’ve ever been, and they can help you expand your responsibility and knowledge and learn how any business, despite challenges, can effectively get off the ground.

  1. Start Doing Real Work

The feeling you get when you work for a startup is rather hard to describe. In some respects, it’s a little like taking the red pill and getting ejected from the Matrix. Everything you do in a startup makes a difference. No longer are you surrounded by a safety blanket world where you’re a small cog in a large machine. In a startup, everything you do will contribute to the ultimate success or failure of the business.

In my experience, leaving a large organization and heading to a startup felt liberating. In the early days, it felt like every piece of code I wrote was making a difference. In fact, startups actually push you to identify and focus on what’s absolutely critical, forcing you to think more creatively about how you approach projects and create value. And best of all, you’ll often get to see results first-hand and share in the rewards and glory.

  1. Learning and Responsibility   

I unequivocally say I learned more in my first two months in a startup than I did in the previous five years of my professional career. The reason for this is that everyone in a startup is expected to wear multiple hats. A startup forces you to adopt new skills and responsibilities to make up for the small-sized taking on the huge challenges of building an empire.

In startups, fast learning can also lead to increased responsibility and multiple opportunities to both utilize and accelerate talents and knowledge. All of this can translate into powerful position in the business world and means you’ll have much more to offer as an individual, particularly when it comes time to move on or even start your own business.

  1. Shape the Culture Around You

One of the areas that I’m most proud of at DesignCrowd is that we have built a culture where talented people come together and make work fun (work doesn’t feel like work). There’s nothing more rewarding than feeling excited to come into the office in the morning to tackle the next challenge the world has thrown at us.

You will also find that in startups, you get to shape the culture around you. Entering a larger organization usually means that you’ll be stepping into a predetermined culture, set with existing practices, customs and values. Joining a startup, on the other hand, often means that you can directly contribute to the creation and growth of the business culture, offering ideas and practices that can help shape the working philosophy of the company.

  1. An Environment of Innovation

One of the most rewarding things about startups is that you can find yourself working with a team that is highly passionate and enthusiastic. This can spark inspiration on every level, leading to truly innovative ideas and developments that can help the business stand out against competitors in the greater industry.

Being part of an entrepreneurial team is also a wonderful way to learn how to innovate. Entrepreneurs are great people to learn from — they identify a problem and need to find a new efficient way to solve it.

  1. Starting Your Own Venture

Joining a startup gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss. While they take personal and financial sacrifice, startups pay you back in opportunities and knowledge on how to take charge of your own venture.

If you’re toying with the idea of one day being your own boss, working in a startup is the ideal place to educate yourself on how to set goals, execute strategies, take your product to market and implement strong business operations. You can also be required to take on other, more administrative business tasks, which can actually equip you with great business know-how.

“You learn that there are lots of details in any enterprise,” says CEO Richard A. Moran. “You might have to name the company, design a logo, find office space, figure out the legal entity, find an insurance carrier and all the thousands of mundane activities that one takes for granted in a larger company.”

The key startup lesson in all of this is to never underestimate the power of working for a startup organisation. Startups can equip you with invaluable hands-on tools and experience, growing your skills, knowledge and even responsibilities rapidly – and that’s something that’s difficult to come by in a medium or larger-sized organization.

Editor’s note: Adam Arbolino is co-founder and CTO of DesignCrowd.com, a logo, web and graphic design marketplace.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Haha, "Start doing real work"! I like this article.

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