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When iPhone met world, 7 years ago today

When iPhone met world, 7 years ago today | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Steve Jobs was right when he declared the iPhone a revolutionary product. It redefined the smartphone category and put a powerful computer in the hands of more than a billion people around the world. Read this article by Dan Farber on CNET News.

Seven years ago, on January 9, 2007, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to introduce the first iPhone. "Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone," Jobs proclaimed:

This is a day I've been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years. Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. And Apple has been -- well, first of all, one's very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career. Apple's been very fortunate. It's been able to introduce a few of these into the world. 1984, introduced the Macintosh. It didn't just change Apple. It changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod, and it didn't just change the way we all listen to music, it changed the entire music industry. Well, today, we're introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device. So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone...are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone. Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is. No, actually here it is, but we're going to leave it there for now.

To read the full article, click on the title.


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About ultimate entrepreneurship, how to change the world with world changing products.

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, January 10, 3:32 PM

True, Apple has been making incredible changes that impact a lot of people. Great article.

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Rise of Female Angel Investors Fuels Women-Run Companies

Rise of Female Angel Investors Fuels Women-Run Companies | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Women make up about 20 percent of both the entrepreneurs and investors involved in angel investment deals, up from single digits a decade ago

In 2009, when Amy Norman and Stella Ma started pitching investors on their San Francisco-based startup, Little Passports, both had young children and Norman was pregnant. The overwhelming majority of the investors they met with were men who wanted to know “if we were running this as a ‘lifestyle company,’” Ma recalls. Investors passed and word got around Silicon Valley that “there’s no way women like this could grow a company fast enough” to satisfy venture capitalists, Norman says.

Yet grow it did, to $5 million in revenue five years later. Norman and Ma eventually raised nearly $2 million for their education business, which sells monthly subscription packages to help kids learn about geography. Much of the funding came from a female investor group that saw in the idea potential that eluded many men.

With ‘brogrammer’ culture spreading through the male-dominated world of tech, Little Passports’ experience reflects a contrasting trend: Women are running an increasing number of America’s startups, and they make up a growing share of the angel investors funding them. Today women make up about 20 percent of both the entrepreneurs and investors involved in angel deals, up from single-digits a decade ago, according to the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research (PDF).
 

Women made up 23 percent of all entrepreneurs seeking angel capital in 2013, up from 9 percent in 2005. There were fewer than 20,000 female angel investors in 2005, but that number increased to nearly 58,000 by last year.

The group that funded Little Passports, Golden Seeds, was founded nine years ago, making it an early female investor group. Managing director Jo Ann Corkran says the group has 300 investors, 72 percent of them women. They are committed to investing in companies that have in top executive positions at least one woman who holds significant equity and decision-making power.

All together, members from chapters in New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, and Texas have invested $50 million in 61 companies, Corkran says. The group also holds regular open office hours, giving company founders a chance to meet informally with experienced investors.

There’s no mystery about why women are underrepresented in the investor community, Corkran says. “If you make 77¢ on the dollar and you compound that over a lifetime, you end up with women having a lot less free cash flow.” Corkran is aware of the perception that women aren’t as comfortable with risk, but she doesn’t buy it. “They are as thoughtful and as willing to take a knowledgeable, considered risk as anybody else,” she says.

Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and chief executive of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women, agrees. Since its April 2011 launch, her program has trained more than 80 women, who have committed over $400,000 in investment. Having started in New York, the group has expanded to Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.

The idea came about after Oberti Noguera attended a gathering of nearly two dozen investors as one of two women in the room. “These people were deciding whether or not to invest and they went around the room saying, ‘Well, my wife and her friends say this,’ or ‘My girlfriend says that.’ I realized then and there that women do not have a seat at the table.”

A Silicon Valley pitch-fest at which her all-female team presented to an all-male investor panel provided a further vivid lesson. “We were told, ‘The fact that you’re an all-woman team is too distracting.’ I came out of that realizing that we weren’t taken seriously,” she says.

If women are becoming increasingly influential as angel investors, however, they still have a way to go in the venture capital world. Alyse Killeen is an associate at March Capital Partners in Los Angeles, specializing in the fields of health and life science. Last year, she founded a networking and professional development group called Women In Venture. The group has about 18 members, but only two—herself and one other woman—currently hold jobs at venture capital firms.

The group’s goal is to provide encouragement and professional development that will help keep women in the field and advance them. Women now make up just 4 percent of venture capital partners. “We want to make it at least 20 percent women,” Killeen says.

She feels that along with her efforts, entrepreneurs themselves are pushing advancement for women. Both male and female founders are actively looking for diversity in their investment teams and on their boards and management teams, she says.

“We have had a few competitive deals come in because entrepreneurs who could have chosen from between 20 to 30 firms chose us because they wanted to work with a woman investor. It’s like, ‘Listen, all of our engineers look essentially the same, but we believe you can help us recruit women, and that will give us an edge,’” Kileen says.

Oberti Noguera is also hopeful, but says she won’t back off any time soon. “I tell people, don’t complain,” she says. “Just raise awareness of the issues and disrupt within the system, while creating our own systems. That’s the way we’re going to make progress.”



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Brand Value: a Look at Brand-Focused Startup Accelerators

Brand Value: a Look at Brand-Focused Startup Accelerators | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

If you’re a young startup with a gleam in your eye, a working prototype in your back pocket and very little else, then making the right first step will be crucial for success.

For founders with little-to-no previous startup experience,joining an accelerator makes a lot of sense. Even if you’re a seasoned pro with an exit or two under your belt,  a helping hand might still be useful.

Traditionally, accelerators provide a combination of things; primarily a small amount of funding, a space to work and access to mentors, industry bodies and individuals they would otherwise struggle to gain the attention of.

However, while many accelerators are open houses in terms of their focus, there’s been a growing trend of certain businesses to host their own in-house programs, or take part in accelerators that are designed to connect brands with tech startups.

So, how does a brand-focused accelerator – that is, one that promises startups an audience with relevant world-leading brands in their area of focus, or one focusing a specific segment of industry, differ from a more general approach? We spoke to Brandery, Collider, The Bakery London and Orange Fab to find out what they had to offer.

What do startups get out of brand accelerators?

So, what a startup gets out of a brand accelerator is pretty similar to other accelerators – although the specifics of the funding and other benefits often vary.

For example, Collider – a UK-based organization that works with more than 27 individual brands – gives startups a combination of oversight, cash and mentorship over a program lasting 13 weeks.

Each of the Collider startups this year will get up to £150,000 ($243,000) – increased from up to £70,000 – to help them bring a product to market, its co-founder Rose Lewis explained. However, it’s the focus on a specific vertical and the added exposure Collider gives the startups and brands that really makes the key difference, she argues.

 In the first four weeks of our accelerator, they meet with up to 12 brands – all giving their time to the startups, and all  [based] around the product marketing questions: are these businesses building stuff that William Hill, Unilever, Haymarket are going to buy?


Brandery‘s four-month long program is similar to Collider’s – it provides support for seed stage companies in the form of $25,000 in funding, mentoring and access to a host of discounted or free services (such as IT, HR, legal etc.). Brandery also provides one year of free office space for a year, general manager Mike Bott explained. Collider does not offer physical work space.

“Each startup is paired with a creative agency who has committed at least $25,000 in free work. Specifically, two intensive workshops are conducted during the program to get the startups off to a fast start, Brand in a Day and Growth Hack Day. During Brand in a Day, the startups and their creative agency partner develop core brand architecture: new names, logos, taglines, brand manifestos, visual identity and other core pieces of their brand.

Similarly, during Growth Hack Day, the startups, their creative agency partners, and brand managers from Procter & Gamble hammer out key parts of the startups’ marketing plans, including user acquisition strategies, go-to-market strategies, and other ‘growth hacks’ they can use to keep the startup growing and retaining users as quickly as possible.

One of the startups to come through Brandery’s program – and now a part of Disney’s accelerator is ChoreMonster. Chris Bergman, founder and CEO of the company told us that the experience was “incredible” for the company.

We were able to learn from top mentors in the branding space, specifically about what we should do to create a strong brand, how our technology could benefit their agencies, and how brands at Fortune 100 companies operate. I couldn’t imagine our company without the understanding that we gleaned from The Brandery.

Slightly differently, while Brandery and Collider tend to focus on seed stage startups looking to develop their business rapidly for the long-term, The Bakery London exists solely to accelerate ad-tech and marketing startups to a test market within eight weeks.

Its focus is increasing revenues, not scoring investment, its co-founder Alex Dunsdon explained to TNW.

We focus on markets (revenue) not investors (equity)..ie the objective is a trial market not investment in the company. We start with the problem, ie. what the market wants now. Many of the best businesses are able to carve out products that people can test now.

We find the right tech globally against problems. Think of it like flipping the way it normally works – telling the world of tech companies what the market is.

Dunsdon added that it takes very little time to accelerate a technology to trial stage, so the only real reason you’d perhaps want to look elsewhere is if you were looking for investment to get off the ground, rather than looking for a perfect market fit.

All [the companies attracted to our program] have a product and share a desire to scale. The big problem we solve is product / market fit and the ability to use a brands audience to scale.

For other startups, there are reasons to think twice about joining a specific brand’s accelerator program.


For example, if its technology isn’t particularly well aligned with the brand, or because the startup fears that association would jeapordize its independence. It might also make more sense for a startup to enter into an accelerator program based on a specific topic, rather than a specific brand, such as FinTech or health-oriented programs.

The funding aspect of brand accelerators like these are in contrast to the way in which Orange Fab operates: there’s no systematic cash support, although it does provide a convertible note option for interested startups – up to €15,000 in France and $20,000 in the US. Instead, at the end of the program, Orange’s VC division can choose whether or not to invest in the startups.

Douplitzky said that VC affiliates like Iris Capital tend to make minority investments in startups, but that the program launched too recently to provide details on the percentage that receive follow-on funding.

Ultimately, whichever accelerator a startup enters, they generally provide similar benefits on the surface, and an underlying promise of more closely connecting each startup to a brand, whether that’s a single one or mutliple. In some cases they also provide the potential to add legitimacy to startups simply through their association, which is a slightly less tangible benefit.


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Deliver a Great Business Pitch with These 5 Tips

Deliver a Great Business Pitch with These 5 Tips | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Need some tips to improve your elevator pitch? Hopefully these expert suggestions will point you in the right direction.

1. Know your audience and how much time you’ll have

Make every pitch specific to the person or group you are speaking to. Highlight how your business will match their needs and interests.
It’s also crucial to know how much time you will have to deliver your pitch. Here are some guidelines for what should be included in different pitch lengths: – A 30-second pitch should convey enough information to grab their attention.

  • A two-minute pitch peaks their interest and tells a longer story.
  • A five-minute pitch gives a rough outline of your business idea and implementation.
  • An hour-long pitch gets into the finer details of your business concept and team.
2. Keep it simple, stupid

The widely hailed acronym K.I.S.S. (“keep it simple, stupid,” not the band) is a great motto to follow when you’re drafting business pitches. Don’t get technical or go on tangents: it’s critical to keep on point or else you’ll bore your audience.
If you can address the following elements in 30 seconds, you’re well on your way!

  • In two sentences, describe the problem that exists and the solution you’re proposing.
  • Next, explain your business’s potential for growth, and why you are the one to lead it.
3. Tell a story

It’s essential to weave a story into your pitch, no matter the length. People, even numbers-oriented business folks, connect to stories more than facts and figures. The art of writing a great pitch is telling a captivating story while sprinkling in relevant data.
As the late Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Stories make an emotional imprint: they’re crucial to your pitch.

4. Know your metrics

That being said, you must demonstrate that you understand the metrics of your business and market to convince anyone to support your venture. Here are some metrics you should have an expert understanding of before drafting a pitch:

  • Give best, moderate, and worse case financial scenarios.
  • Be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-related) with your budget goals.
  • Describe your competition and explain how your idea is different and advantageous.
5. Listen to the questions you receive after the pitch

Make sure to write down the questions you receive after your pitch. Usually these questions ask for clarification on something that was not well understood during the presentation. If you make sure to revise your pitch to make these points easier to comprehend, you will get fewer questions after your next presentation and your audience will probably be more excited by your ideas. Score!


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Richard Branson on Finding Funding

Richard Branson on Finding Funding | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Editor's Note: Entrepreneur Richard Branson regularly shares his business experience and advice with readers. Ask him a question and your query might be the inspiration for a future column.

Q: I am a social entrepreneur, striving to develop a business in Africa that makes a difference, but my struggle is the same as that of millions of others: finding funding. I come from Denmark, and potential investors always tell me, “The idea is great, but please prove that your business model works first, and then come back.” Should I look abroad for funding instead? -- Christian Høegh-Guldberg Hoff, Nairobi, Kenya

More and more often I hear from people like you, who are in our field for the right reasons. It’s very encouraging to see enterprising social entrepreneurs prove that they want to help people and the planet by doing good business.

It can sometimes be more difficult for social entrepreneurs to secure funding than for those proposing to run purely commercial, profit-driven enterprises. Getting your message across to potential investors can be particularly challenging, since they may assume that because you intend to solve a problem or help people, you must be adopting the nonprofit model.

Your local community is often the best place to start when looking for funding opportunities, but if you can’t find anyone suitable to work with, the logical next step is to broaden your search to the national or even international level. And if you do have the option of bringing in foreign investors, this may be to your advantage in the long run. Your business could gain some important contacts, while their outsider perspectives on your business may offer some interesting insights. When you’re ready to expand the business internationally, the process will be a lot easier if you have contacts already in place.

There are many organizations aside from venture capital funds or banks that socially responsible startups can try in their search for funding. Virgin has been involved in the Dutch Postcode Lottery for years, and last year I chaired its sustainable competition jury, which provides a lot of funding to green businesses. Included in the prize are opportunities to work with a mentor, which are just as important as cash. On a similar theme, I was also on the jury for the $4 million Zayed Future Energy Prize, based in the United Arab Emirates, which encourages entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions “that will meet the challenges of climate change, energy security and the environment.”

Another option might be the Carbon War Room, which Virgin Unite incubated and which helps to accelerate businesses that aim to reduce carbon emissions and advance the low-carbon economy. While the Carbon War Room cannot directly fund businesses, working with them enables entrepreneurs like you to bring their ideas to thought leaders, industry experts and many more potential investors.

Whatever your business idea, if you look long and hard enough, more often than not you’ll be able to find someone with a shared vision who will want to help you on your way. Online communities and forums about issues in your sector can help you to contact those who will be interested in what you’re doing. Such people are all potential investors.

Another great way to generate excitement about your idea and raise funds is through crowdfunding, an option many startups are choosing. Thanks to websites like Kickstarter and EquityNet, it’s now easier than ever before to drum up interest around your new idea or innovation and find small loans and pledges that supply the money you need to take things forward.

There are other benefits to taking the crowdfunding route. Pitching an idea to a room full of investors can be tricky; while preparing a pitch for an online forum is not easy, it does require a different set of skills -- perhaps this is an area where you and your business idea shine. Gaining momentum is also very important: The crowdfunding process may create a buzz about your business as the money begins to roll in. If things go well, you could soon find people from all over the world hoping to buy your product or service --so make sure you’re ready to provide it.

Entrepreneurship isn’t just about selling things -- it’s also about finding ways to make a difference in people’s lives. Setting up a company explicitly to bring about positive change may be challenging, but keep in mind that enterprises that survive and thrive in the long run are ones that have won the trust and respect of their communities. If you build your mission into your business model, it’s likely you’ll lay the foundation for success. Good luck!.



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5 Ways for Bootstrapped Startups to Get Through the First Year - Entrepreneur (blog)

5 Ways for Bootstrapped Startups to Get Through the First Year - Entrepreneur (blog) | Pitch it! | Scoop.it


In the eyes of an investor, a bootstrapped startup that has proven stable and successful within the first year is powerful.


 It not only raises confidence in the product and the leadership behind it, but also indicates that any invested money will likely not be thrown away.

Ultimately, when it comes to working with investors, it’s important to prove that a startup and the people behind it not only know how to spend money, but know how to bring in additional money.

To successfully bootstrap a company in its first year, it’s important to consider a few things:

1. Cut the nonessentials and focus on immediate needs. There is nothing more important to startup success than the talent that makes it all possible. Avoid any unnecessary expenses, such as office overhead or “frills,” to free up money to invest in better talent.

Virtual offices will allow team members to work together from anywhere in the world and are extremely cost-effective. Ultimately, cutting costs wherever possible will more likely enable worthwhile investment in a larger team, which will be the catalyst to growth for the company.

2. Focus on two types of talent: engineering and marketing. An innovative and savvy engineer knows the ins and outs of mobile apps and understands what users truly want and need. An intelligent and driven marketing professional understands the market and how to reach the desired target audience.

With these two power talents working side by side, any product has a good chance to be successful.

3. Don’t cut corners. Investors need to know the business and its leadership are stable and legit, so do everything by the book. Once they get involved, investors will want to see paperwork, as well as profits and losses and balance sheet reports right off the bat. This should be a priority from day one.

Find an accountant and purchase good accounting software to ensure that records are clear and corners are not cut. This will also allow for extra time to tend to other important matters within the startup.

4. Cover the legalities before it’s too late. It’s critical to ensure the product or app is covered and that there are no loopholes that would allow someone to steal its name or intellectual property once it takes off.

During the planning phases, when speaking to potential investors, partners, or developers, it’s also wise to use a confidentiality agreement to ensure everything stays within the four walls. Additionally, copyright any sketches, mockups or documentation of the product during development stages.

5. Utilize freelance consultants. Skilled freelance consultants offer additional niche talent only when it’s needed. Build and keep a solid list of trusted and intelligent freelancers who can be utilized when the time is right. With the extra cash flow freelancers provide, startups have more ability to hire the best full-time staff needed for success.

It’s no secret that the first year for a bootstrapped startup will have many highs and lows. Despite the uncertainty and exhilaration that comes with those highs and lows, it’s important to stay focused on what’s needed to get to the next step.

Eventually, those steps will likely lead to talking with investors to get the startup to the next level. Cutting no corners from the very first day, bringing on the best talent and preparing for failure and success will prove to an investor that the product and those behind it have what it takes to succeed.



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This Guy Is Launching 12 Startups in 12 Months | Business | WIRED

This Guy Is Launching 12 Startups in 12 Months | Business | WIRED | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Can’t get enough of that animated GIF where Oprah unleashes a swarm of bees on her studio audience? Or the one where some guy gets hit in the face by a trashcan? You’re in luck. Soon, a new startup called Gifbook will sell you some flip books that recreate your favorite animated GIFs, so that you can enjoy them even when away from your computer. Three books will set you back just $25.

That may sound like a gag from Silicon Valley, the spot-on TV parody of the tech world, but Gifbook is a honest-to-goodness internet service. It was founded by Pieter Levels—a 28-year-old Dutch programmer, designer, and entrepreneur—and it’s just one of several unexpected online services Levels has unleashed on the world.

Levels is on a quest to launch 12 “startups” in just 12 months, and he’s a third of the way home now. One, called Play My Inbox, gathers all the music it finds in your e-mail inbox into a single playlist. Another, called Go Fucking Do It, gives you a new way to set personal goals. Basically, if you don’t reach your goal, you have to cough up some cash to Levels. Gifbook, due to launch by the end of the month, is his fifth creation.

Levels represents everything that’s right about the state of the technology industry—or everything that’s wrong.

Launching one product a month would be a major endeavor for anyone, but Levels has ramped up the degree of difficulty. For one, he’s building all this stuff while traveling the world. He has no fixed address. Instead, he lives out of a single backpack and works from coffee shops and co-working spaces. And two, each of these “startups” is a one-man operation. “I do everything,” he tells WIRED from his current home, The Philippines. “I’m sort of a control freak.”

Depending on who you ask, Levels represents either everything that’s right about the state of the technology industry or everything that’s wrong. He’s self-motivated, ambitious, and resourceful, building each of these projects without any outside investment. But on the flip side, he’s yet another young white male making products that solve what many people see as trivial problems for an already privileged subset of the population, while ignoring larger issues like global warming and wealth disparity.

Worse, as a “digital nomad” who has left to West to create new tech gizmos in places like Thailand and Indonesia, some argue that he’s exploiting wealth disparity to his own benefit. But Levels no fool. He’s deeply aware of the contradictions in his work, and he’s trying hard to sort through them. He may or may not succeed.

Levels launched his first business entirely by accident. Five years ago, while studying at Rotterdam School of Management, he started uploading his own electronic music mixes to YouTube. His channel—called Panda Mix Show—did surprisingly well, and soon, other DJs were asking to upload their mixes too.

By the time he graduated in 2012, he was earning enough money from YouTube advertising to support himself. But he didn’t like being tied to some other company’s service—Google’s YouTube machine—and he wanted to build something more ambitious. And he was tired of his home town. So, when a friend pointed out that he could work from anywhere, he left.

In April 2013, Levels sold most of his possessions—everything that couldn’t fit into a single carry-on—and booked a flight to Thailand. It took him awhile to get any real work done. Several ideas fell by the wayside. “I’d work on them for a long time, trying to get them perfect, then I’d move on to the next thing,” he says. “I was always scared to launch.” He settled on the 12 Startups in 12 Days gimmick so that he would actually see his ideas through. This past March, he launched his first service, Play My Inbox.

Levels is a bona fide “digital nomad,” part of a growing community of professionals who travel from country to country, staying for about a month in each—depending on how long their visas last—while working for U.S. companies or running their own online businesses.

This movement was largely inspired by self-help author Tim Ferris and his book The Four Hour Work Week. Ferris encouraged Westerners to quit their day jobs and start online businesses while living in foreign countries where their dollars or euros would stretch further, and many followed his advice.

According to an Associated Press analysis of government data, 53 percent of recent college graduates in the U.S. were either unemployed or working jobs that didn’t require a degree. The situation in most European countries is at least as bad, and even as all these young people struggle to find a footing in the West, the cost of living in major cities is skyrocketing. It’s little wonder that some are seeking cheaper rents in foreign cities, where they can stretch their earnings from the gig economy further.

But some question whether this is a good thing. Though blogger Duff McDuffee, a frequent critic of Ferris and the “personal development” movement as a whole, says there’s nothing inherently wrong with travel, or trying to live cheaply, he argues that nomads like Levels should consider the bigger picture. “There’s sort of a colonial aspect to taking advantage of cheap labor and currency discrepancies,” he says.

Levels has friends who call him “neocolonialist.” And he sees their point. He worries that even though he spends money locally, he’s taking advantage of local infrastructure and government services—such as the protection of local police—without giving much back in the way of taxes.

The Good With the Scammy

Amarit Charoenphan, the founder of the Bangkok co-working space HUBBA, where about half the occupants are digital nomads, says these traveling entrepreneurs are pretty good for the local economy. And more importantly, he believes, they’re helping Bangkok grow its own tech startup community.

“They have the skills and the fortitude and the assets necessary to become a good startup founder or co-founder,” he explains. “They know what they’re doing. They can make money.”

He acknowledges, however, that some digital nomads, particularly those influenced by Ferris, aren’t running legitimate tech businesses. Instead, he says, they’re promoting scammy multi-level marketing schemes and e-books on how to make money online by, of course, selling e-books on how to make money online.

Levels says he has met many nomads that are part of this racket, but he says things are getting better. Many serious startups, such as live translation service Babelverse and link sharing service Buffer were founded by nomads, he points out, and many other travelers work as freelance designers or programmers and have skills they can share.

Minimum Viable Products

How much value are his “startups” are creating? That’s another open question. After all, Levels isn’t really creating 12 different companies. He’s building what people in tech land call “minimum viable products”—simple prototypes that can be used to gauge the level of interest in your idea.

The problem is that these rapid prototypes created by 20-something year old software developers tend to only address the needs of a small group of people—namely other 20-something year-old software developers with money to burn. What we end up with is an endless procession of apps and services with pitches like “Uber for laundry.”

Levels ideas tend to fit this mold. One of his startups is called NomadList, a leaderboard of the cheapest cities to work from for one month. In other words, it’s a site for people just like him. It’s hard to imagine the next General Electric emerging from this bootstrapped approach to building companies—let alone something that solves global issues like hunger or poverty.

But for Levels, this is about learning and experimentation. And it’s working out—at least for him. Just Fucking Do It has attracted acquisition offers and inquiries from investors. NomadList, his most successful product to date, was profitable on the first day, even though he didn’t even know what the business model would be until after launched it. As turns out, people wanted to advertise jobs on the service.

He hopes that, eventually, he can do something that would have a far bigger impact, and perhaps his travels will help him figure out what. “You have to start somewhere,” he says. “I’d love to create more meaningful products that have a significant impact on the world, but how can I if I can’t afford to pay my own rent first?”



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Great story of a digital nomad who is teaching people around him how to get profitable very quickly and pay for his expenses while seeing the world. At the same time he learns about business and finding products that are worth being marketed.

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Stop Confusing Small Businesses and Startups

Stop Confusing Small Businesses and Startups | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Small businesses and startups often get lumped together but they're different ventures with vastly different goals, and that means they need different things to thrive.

The words “startup” and “small business” seem interchangeable enough – startups often start out small, after all – except they’re not.

And the differences have major implications for the best approach to helping San Diego startups thrive.

Many small business owners start a company with the help of a bank loan or their own money and are immediately focused on sustainability. They hire a handful of employees and want to quickly be viable enough to pay their bills.

Startups tend to follow a different path. They start small but they’re bent on explosive growth. An entrepreneur has an idea she hopes will make a massive impact, seeks out multiple investors and potentially, millions of dollars in profits. The payoff may be years away. For most, it never comes.

“When the startup is in that small phase they’re still not structured or acting like or financed like a small business,” said Brant Cooper, an Encinitas-based startup connoisseur who co-wrote the New York Times bestseller “The Lean Entrepreneur.”

Their eye is on an eventual stock market launch instead of simply staying local like most small businesses.

Still, misunderstandings abound. Even publications that are presumably experts on business can amplify the confusion.

Take a March Forbes ranking. San Diego ranked No. 1 on the magazine’s list of best places to launch a startup. The metrics behind that ranking – and the article itself – only referred to small businesses, though. San Diego boosters who touted the first-place finish described the city as the best place to open a startup or a small business. Or both.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer used the terms interchangeably in a press release:

“It’s no secret to San Diego’s entrepreneurs and startup community that San Diego is a great place to start a business. This is just a reminder that we need to continue to foster a fertile environment for small businesses to grow.”

But a fertile environment for small businesses isn’t necessarily a fertile environment for startups.

Startups have a host of concerns that don’t match most small businesses’ needs. They start with an innovative idea and may want office space or guidance from others as they develop it. They need outside capital, a concept that many startup founders have said is a particular challenge here.

Most local government programs aren’t geared toward helping them get these things.

Cities including San Diego have long catered their loan programs, seminars and other offerings toward small businesses.  There are also industry groups that can offer advice to small businesses.

Then there’s the issue of speed. Businesses often bemoan waiting games when it comes to government but startups are intent on growing at a much swifter clip than most companies.

So many small business programs that might be helpful to startups just don’t move fast enough, startup evangelist and consultant Gabriela Dow said.

Startups burn through cash quickly and may need funding or additional office space in an instant. Government entities generally can’t offer that.

“A lot of the programs take too long and the startups just can’t wait that long,” Dow said.

They can work sometimes.

Carlsbad has touted early success with its Bio, Tech and Beyond incubator, a city-owned building outfitted with lab equipment and machinery that’s hosting local startups.

And in 2008, Barrio Logan startup New Leaf Biofuel received a $590,000 loan from the San Diego Regional Revolving Loan Fund, which is supported by funds from the federal government as well as San Diego and Chula Vista.

Deputy Chief Operating Officer David Graham, who oversees San Diego’s economic development department, argued the city has more to offer startups than entrepreneurs realize.

“In many cases, these folks never engaged with the city and never realized there would be something we could help with,” he said.

Much of the city’s startup work thus far has focused on collaboration with other groups. For example, it’s offered grant funding to a few, including EvoNexus, an incubator that offers free rent space for young startups.

Graham said Faulconer wants to step up those efforts. His administration signed onto a White House-promoted Mayors Makers Challenge and is organizing a committee to promote manufacturing entrepreneurship. They’re also directly asking the tech startup crowd how they can help.

The No. 1 takeaway from those conversations? Incentives are nice but promotion is more important, at least for now.

A mayor’s office spokesman said Faulconer will soon announce initiatives to spotlight San Diego innovators and help them grow.

Yashar Ahmadpour, CEO of scheduling app startup CrowdClock, is one of the entrepreneurs offering input to the mayor’s office. He’s also one of a handful of CEOs behind localstartups.co, a group that aims to foster greater connectivity and awareness about the local startup scene.

He’s convinced city politicians’ bullhorns could be key.

Greater public awareness of San Diego’s startup scene could not only attract new companies but also discourage talent coming out of UC San Diego and other local universities from bolting to the Bay Area, he said.  It could also mean greater investment in San Diego startups.

Ruprecht von Buttlar, who leads the nonprofit Connect’s Springboard program for science and technology companies, said the latter need is most dire.

“We need to find a way to showcase our technology in a way that makes Bay Area investors look to San Diego for possible investments,” von Buttlar said.

The mayor might help, von Buttlar suggested, by hosting a large-scale innovation trade show to draw attention from out-of-town funders.

He thinks the city should fund a staffer who acts as a go-to for startups, similar to the city’s small business ambassador. That person could help the city strategize and identify which startups merit city investment as well as answer questions about city resources or incentives.

Of course, opinions vary on how much government should wade in. Some startup founders say they’d prefer the city and state government to stay out of their business altogether.

Others like Ahmadpour want city leaders to better understand their unique needs so they can adapt programs, incentives and promotional campaigns to specifically boost local startups. They’ve also rallied behind a proposal to convert the old Central Library into a startup incubator.

And they point to moves in New York and elsewhere to roll out the red carpet for startups.

New York state, for example, kicked off a program that allows startups and more traditional companies to avoid taxes for up to a decade if they settle in certain zones. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee debuted a high-profile entrepreneurship-in-residence program that aims to have city workers and startups team to improve city services.

Up to this point, Ahmadpour said, the city hasn’t necessarily hampered San Diego startups but it also hasn’t tailored its economic development approach to help them.

“They’re not in our way but they also haven’t been making things easier,” Ahmadpour said.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

It's good to see an article that spells out the exact difference between startups and small businesess. Even though all the hype these days goes to startups, most new businesses starting up are simply 'small businesses'.

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Kickstarter, Indiegogo Are This Era's DEMO for Startups


Back in the 90's and 2000's DEMO was THE event where new companies, products and ideas came to life, generating previously unattainable levels of interest, media coverage and attention from investors that led to funding. And with it, came the anticipation of when the product would come to life.

Now, today, companies no longer need to raise the money needed to go to DEMO or other events "launchpad" like events because they now go the crowdfunding route by launching their ideas and dreams on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. In turn those two companies have disintermediated the entire "startup" model as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become the new launchpad for ideas where those ideas are getting funded.

Even with TechCrunch flattening the "demo" launch model with no fee demonstration costs with Disrupt never opened the playing field up like crowdfunding has today. But the idea of needing to launch at an event around new technology has seen its day in the sun.

Recently, I cofounded Velocity Growth, a company that works with startup to propel them and their ideas, while providing guidance, strategy and direction to enable the idea to actually get launched. Working and watching companies like Spark Aerial get their wings, kick off a campaign on Kickstarter and see the goal get reached in five days is personally heartwarming.

But what we're also seeing is how campaigns really done right generates the kind of publicity and interest from the eco-system that leads to business and corporate development. And we're seeing that already, before the campaign is even over. But when a campaign is executed right a whole lot more will come from it as the news coverage below indicates:

Xconomy San Diego

Re/Code

National Journal

Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch

Here's the Spark Aerial campaign link on Kickstarter:

What this also means is the business plan of yesterday is being replaced by the crowdfunding plan today, so without a proper crowdfunding campaign plan about all that gets accomplished is the same as getting up on stage at DEMO and hoping someone pays attention.



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Crowdfunding is adding a new dimension to business. It's not only the  funding aspect, there is much more to it.

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Mark Cuban’s 12 rules for startups by Illumination Consulting

Mark Cuban’s 12 rules for startups by Illumination Consulting | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Over the weekend Mark Cuban published his thoughts about what it takes to be great in business, boiled down to six fundamental practices. But for startups in particular, Cuban has a few extra pointers.



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Good advice for startups.

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Sixteen Year Old Anaya Tipins Wins First Place for Startup and an Award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at MIT’s Launch Program | Articles | INDIA New England

Sixteen Year Old Anaya Tipins Wins First Place for Startup and an Award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at MIT’s Launch Program | Articles | INDIA New England | Pitch it! | Scoop.it


Sixteen Year Old Anaya Tipins Wins First Place for Startup and an Award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at MIT’s Launch Program

This summer, Anaya Tipnis, a 16 year old rising junior at Needham High School started a company with three other students at a prestigious MIT program called Launch. MIT Launch is a highly selective summer program where 40 talented high school students from all over the world are invited to stay on campus, go through a rigorous 4 week program to learn about entrepreneurship and launch businesses.

Tipnis co-founded Commisi, a web platform that bridges the divide between skilled high school developers and startup companies. Through her venture, teens can gain hands-on experience and earn money working on real world projects. In turn, budding startups utilize the next generation's creative minds to develop their company's products and services. In just 4 weeks, Commisi signed up 10+ interested high school developers and secured 5 letters of intent from local companies, including one affiliated with Museum of Science.


In Tipnis' session, eleven teams competed with one another. They brainstormed ideas, developed concepts, tested the customer and market needs, and executed within a short duration of four weeks. At the end of four weeks, eleven companies presented at the Kirsch auditorium to a panel of judges which included successful and influential business leaders and entrepreneurs. Tipnis's company Commisi was awarded first place for Startup with the Best Execution. Tipnis was the CEO of their team of four; along with Sohom Paul from India (CMO), David Yuan from Texas (CFO), and Alex Yu from Maryland (CTO). Tipnis was also a proud recipient of an award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at the program.

Tipnis was interested in entrepreneurship from an early age. She would often tag along with her father to local WebInno conferences in Boston, where local startups presented their ventures to the community. Learning from her experience, Anaya believes entrepreneurship is a key skill all teens should have. She explains that it allows a student to harness their passion and creativity and solidify them into an actual business.

Through this experience and service, Tipnis hopes to inspire local students to pursue STEM-related activities and find exciting opportunities for work and experience while in school. Her vision is that Commisi would be used as a go-to academic platform for teens to find opportunities, ranging from research and data entry to video and song composition. She plans to bring Commisi to Needham High, in order to give teenagers the creative freedom to find opportunities suited to their interests.

Here is a brief Q-A with Tipnis:

INDIA New England News: How did you get interested in entrepreneurship?
ANAYA TIPINS:
I have always been intrigued by the start-up world. My dad himself is an entrepreneur, so I would frequently see him working in his basement when I was younger, developing a venture with his partners. I thought that his drive to get a company up and running himself was admirable, especially being in elementary school, when we were told without thought that becoming a doctor or lawyer was the best profession.

In addition, Boston is home to a diverse range of startups, and it was inspiring to see that people were able to turn a dream into a tangible company. It showed me that entrepreneurship allows a person to both work independently and contribute towards the community, and I think that this combination is liberating. Originally, I never saw myself as an entrepreneur; I dreamed of becoming a journalist or a neurologist. But once I realized I had the potential to shape my future by pursuing personal, innovative ideas, I decided to look into entrepreneurship as a potential career choice.

INE: What do you want to do after studies?
Tipins:
Although I enjoy entrepreneurship, I definitely want to be able to go to college and learn more about other fields of study. I especially love learning about aerospace and aviation, because I see that space travel is a growing market and an expansive field for innovative technologies. Working for a disruptive company like SpaceX would be a dream come true. In addition, I want to be able to apply the entrepreneurial skills I've learned after my studies. Teaching about the logistics of the startup process in India, Malaysia, and other parts of the world would be a humbling experience. I really believe that by learning how to maintain businesses, especially for young women, people can benefit tremendously in terms of self-sufficiency. I envision a world where everyone can do what they love, and I think entrepreneurship lends that freedom.

INE: What advise you will give to your other students?
Tipins:
My advice to other students is to find your passions. From a young age, we are told how the world works, and to squeeze ourselves inside those limitations and make do with what is available. I say that despite your age, you have the potential to broaden your horizons and do what you enjoy if you love to learn and soak up knowledge like a sponge. It is never too early to explore career opportunities and areas of interest; don't be afraid to put yourself out there and discover what you are happy doing. Steve Jobs once said, "If you don't love something, you're not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much". Go out and challenge the status quo!

INE: When you are not studying or working, what do you do? What are your hobbies?
Tipins:
When I am not studying/working, I love to play and compose music on the piano and guitar. During the Launch camp, we would frequently gather on late nights and pour ourselves into a song. Music is a wonderful means of de-stressing and showcasing passion, and it's definitely a hobby of mine. I also enjoy playing basketball, creative writing, and public speaking. In addition, the entrepreneurs I met during Launch also said that cooking is a great hobby to pursue - so I'm looking into that as well.



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Amazing story.

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3 Energy Companies Investing In Startups

3 Energy Companies Investing In Startups | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

As recently reported, NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) is acquiring Goal Zero, a company that makes portable solar battery chargers.

The deal is just the latest in a growing trend of energy companies acquiring innovative startups, in an effort to diversify and expand their markets. Here are some recent examples.


Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A)

Back in 2010, Shell acquired a stake in Virent Energy Systems -– a Wisconsin-based company that creates chemicals and fuels from “biomass-derived” sugars.

In 2012, using technology licensed from Virent, Royal Dutch Shell built a next-generation biofuels pilot plant at Shell's Westhollow Technology Center in Houston.


The pilot plant “allows us to explore further biofuels options as we continue to actively manage our advanced biofuels pathways to identify a feasible set of commercial solutions,” Luis Scoffone, Vice President, Alternative Energies at Shell, said at the time.

Virent also has partnerships with Cargill, Coca-Cola, the U.S. Navy, the USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy.


SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY)

While Elon Musk is best known for the Tesla electric car and his SpaceX chimerical space venture, he's also chairman of Solar City, one of America's largest installers of rooftop solar power systems.

And this past June SolarCity announced its acquisition of Silevo, a solar panel technology and manufacturing company.

In a blog co-signed by Musk, SolarCity said the company was in discussions with New York officials regarding the construction of a manufacturing plant in the state, a facility that within the next two years “will be one of the largest solar panel production plants in the world.”

“If we don’t do this, we felt there was a risk of not being able to have the solar panels we need to expand the business in the long term,” Musk said during a June conference call.


Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE: PCG)

Also known as PG&E, the company is one of the biggest combined natural gas/electric utilities in the country -- supplying natural gas and electricity to an estimated 15 million people in north and central California.

In 2009 PG&E signed a contract with BrightSource Energy, a designer, developer and distributor of solar thermal technology, to create seven solar power projects that would produce an overall total of 1,310 megawatts (MW) of solar thermal power.

But the relationship hasn't always been to plan. Last year, PG&E canceled a plan to purchase power from two BrightSource plants, citing “uncertainty around the timing of transmission upgrades,”



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Chinese startups get taste of Silicon Valley with TechCrunch

Chinese startups get taste of Silicon Valley with TechCrunch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
San Francisco-based TechCrunch brought a taste of Silicon Valley to Beijing this week, with more than 50 startups showcasing their innovations to tech fans and investors at a two-day event in the Chinese capital.

Beijing (CNN) -- San Francisco-based TechCrunch brought a taste of Silicon Valley to Beijing this week, with more than 50 startups showcasing their innovations to tech fans and investors at a two-day event in the Chinese capital.

The conference attracted some of the most forward-thinking and dynamic Chinese technology wannabees, including ANTVR, a wearable gaming device company.

The startup attracted a long line of visitors eager try out its very first product, ANTVR kit.

Consisting of a headset and a controller, ANTVR claims the kit can provide a "fully immersive experience" by projecting a high-definition image onto users' retinas without distortion and provide an experience similar to an IMAX movie.

During the demo, the player is thrown into a pitch-dark room and told to find the source of a sound, which leads to a pale ghost with blood trickling down her face.

Qin Zheng, founder of ANTVR said the kit is compatible with all major gaming consoles and will hit both Chinese and overseas markets by the end of the year.

The 27-year-old said ANTVR went through the same difficulties as many startups in China — it was hard to find proper platforms to release products and raise funds.

Qin founded the company half a year ago, and to get started raised initial funding of $231,095 on U.S. crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

"Fund-raising is hard (here). I think this is why everybody rushes to crowdfunding sites," Qin said.

Lu Gang, head of Technote, TechCrunch's partner in China said that Chinese startups face a unique set of challenges.

"I think Chinese startups (face) much tougher competition, like copies," said Lu. "We've found so many copycats."

By bringing TechCrunch to China, Lu hopes to bring the originality and creativity that Silicon Valley is known for and inspire Chinese companies to invent something that "really makes a difference."

"I think the TechCrunch brand obviously stands for original work for entrepreneurs, and for creating something out of nothing, which is ideal. I think this is what everybody's striving for," says Lu.

"We want to encourage people here to be truly innovative instead of copying."


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9 startup companies perfect for your family

9 startup companies perfect for your family | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

It’s a new age for startup companies, and your family may reap some benefits from them.

Right now, the United States is adding 20 million new businesses every year, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. And, according to The New York Times, many of these startups — between 25 and possibly even 40 of them — are worth more than $1 billion. So, yeah, they're big.

Which of these startups are the most relevant to your family? Here’s a list of nine startup companies that your family might find helpful:

Pley
For Pley, everything is awesome. The California-based startup company rents Lego sets out to families for minimum prices — ranging between $15 and $40 a month, according to Entrepreneur — giving kids a chance to test out their desired Lego set before making the full commitment with a purchase.

Hubert
This French-Romanian startup is all about helping families interact. Called Hubert, the company helps the elderly connect with their families from across the world, according to expatica.com. This is help for the 37 percent of people over the age of 80 who go online, as the Pew Research Center noted.

Frameri
Frameri is as startup as they come. It began as a Kickstarter campaign, but soon grew with the help of the co-founder of AOL. Now, the company is helping people swap their eyeglasses, according to The Cincinnati Business Courier. You change the frames, and they change the lenses. Simple.

ULTRA Testing
Though ULTRA Testing isn’t exactly helpful because it just tests software, it does accommodate families by hiring those with autism. Business Insider recently ran a rather popular piece about how the company hires employees who have autistic characteristics, since they have natural capabilities and aptitudes that others don't.

Automatic
Want to get rid of that weird sound in your car or figure out when you’ll need gas? The startup Automatic, based out of San Francisco, is helping people do just that. Fox News Business reported this month on how the app helps people save the $3,000 they spend annually on their cars just by informing them of their gas usage, braking and speeding habits.

Jibo
Jibo is just what your family needs to see those old photos or help out around the house. Deseret News National reported earlier this month about the robot that can help you tuck your kids in at night or even help you wash your clothes — perfect for any working parent.

KNO Clothing
KNO Clothing is good for families for two reasons. The first reason: It can get you the clothes you need. The other? Its aim is to help end homelessness. With each purchase, the company donates to a number of organizations that aid homeless people across the country. For the 75 percent of people who are donating, this startup makes giving all the easier.

Kurbo Health
Want to help your child fight obesity? Kurbo Health may be the key. This app helps kids keep track of the food they're snacking on by engaging them with fun and interactive games. This may be a good app for some families whose kids aren’t aware they’re actually overweight — which is a common trend, according to the Centers for Disease Control — and for those who are a part of the ongoing rise in obesity.

Dealflicks
Think movie theater prices are a drag? Well, instead of trying to save on snacks, you many want to try Dealflicks, which offers both tickets and concessions online for lesser prices. The company offers coupons and myriad offers to help you save at the box office.



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Startups don't always have to be tech companies. Here are some great ideas for products/services for families.

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25 Reasons I Will Not Invest in Your Startup

25 Reasons I Will Not Invest in Your Startup | Pitch it! | Scoop.it



What’s the point in losing money on purpose? Here are some telltale clues that your business is not a sound proposition.

Every investor wants to bet on a winning horse. I mean what’s the point in losing money on purpose? But that’s the risk taken on a gamble. And the same can be said about investing in startups.

Over the past month I’ve been putting together pitch decks for my next startup, a free web-hosting company. This got me thinking about the hundreds of startup founders who have approached me and some of the things they did that really ticked me off. (I've invested in 16 different startups over the past four to five years.)

No matter what stage your startup is in, you’re probably going to need some investment dollars. So to save everyone a lot of time, here are 25 reasons I personally would not invest in a startup. Review and address these points for smoother sailing when trying to secure funding from an investor like me and others:


1. Proof of your potential success is missing.

There's no evidence that there's interest in your startup or that it has some traction. Have you sold anything yet? Have you run a successful Kickstarter campaign? Have you launched a startup before? Passing those tests would prove to me that you have what it takes to get this startup off the ground.

Show me that your business is something worth my putting my hard-earned cash into and that this investment will work hard for me as your company starts to have success. 


2. I don’t trust you.

I stalk every company that I personally invest in. I typically invest in people. You could walk into my office and pitch me one heck of a product. Yet I’m not sold on you as a person, so forget about my investing in your company. 

If I can’t trust your character, judgment or leadership skills, then let’s not waste each other’s time.    


3. You have an inexperienced team.

Members of your team seem to lack the experience needed to operate a startup. 

Let’s say that I like you and your idea but not your team. Don’t expect an investment from me. I need to be sure that members of your team have the qualifications and discipline to complete tasks, meet deadlines and follow through on objectives. 


4. Members of your team don’t work well together.

The co-founders or team members of your startup are constantly bickering. So I’m going to become uneasy about your startup. I don’t want to risk an investment in a setup if the colleagues can’t get along. Does everyone get along on your team? 


5. You're keeping things from me.

You're keeping every piece of information from me. I’m not asking you to reveal every little secret regarding your startup. But if I’m investing in your company, I have to at least know the basics of what makes your startup tick.

Investors want to know everything about your startup. Don’t worry: I won't steal your idea. I'm too busy.


6. You don’t have a business model or plan.

You have failed to tell me how and where you expect to take your startup in the next couple of years, though you indicated that there’s interest in your product, That’s why creating a business plan is such an important piece of the puzzle.

If I’m not impressed with your business plan, then I won't invest in your startup.


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7. Evidence that the startup will earn money is scant.

There are no preorders or not many signups for your product or service. So I won't be interested in your company. If you can’t prove that people are willing to pay for your service, then why should I, as an investor, give you money? 


8. I don't believe you can build your product.

A great idea is one thing. Making it a reality is another. You haven't convinced me that your product can actually function. I personally need to see some sort of working prototype. I'd like to also see a few customers using your product.


9. Your company is not the first to enter the market or unique.

I typically don’t invest in startups that are not trying to create something new or that have not come up with a different business model. You must have something different or unique beyond what the competition has. Perhaps create a new idea from an old business model.  

 

10. The founder or CEO is uncoachable.

You're not willing to listen to advice or suggestions and become defensive when I criticize an element of your business. Thus I can’t work with you.

One time when several founders came to pitch me, I made one suggestion and they became offended. Some even went so far as to blog that I didn’t know anything. Their company is out of business now. 


11. Your startup costs too much.

You may think your new company is worth $10 million. But I believe that it’s worth only one-tenth of that.

Figuring out the value of your startup can be a challenge. The value should be based on past accomplishments and the company's potential. If I feel that a startup is being assessed at a value that's too expensive, I’m going to look for another investment opportunity.


12. You handle rejection poorly.

You have come across like those entrepreneurs who gripe and moan about how unfair life is. Sure you'll be rejected by investors. And that’s part of the process. But handle that rejection properly.

Identify what went wrong and make the proper adjustments. What happens after the pitch and rejection says a lot about an entrepreneur. Investors are watching, even after they’ve said no.


13. You cold-called me.

You sent your plan to every angel investor or venture capitalist for whom you could find contact information. Your request is just going to be tossed into the trash. Instead approach investors through referrals or recommendations from people they trust and who can vouch for you.

I only invest in startups when the founders are referred to me or they go above and beyond the call of duty to get my attention. 


14. I’m not the right investor.  

Your company is not operating in my area of expertise. Just like a doctor might have a specialty, so do investors. Do some research ahead of time and locate the investors who are involved in your field.  


15. You don’t focus.

You're trying to launch every single product idea that you have. Instead stay on track and focus on creating the best product that you can release. 

You’re not going to please every customer. But you do have to please the right customers or the situation will come back to burn you -- perhaps in an online mention.


16. You’re way too early for my money.

You wanted to develop an idea that could revolutionize your business niche. But your concept is too far out. I’m going to stay away until there’s been more research, your protect has traction with customers or other investors show interest. Investors typically want to stick with proven technology and industries. 


17. Your company's technology is already forgotten.

Honestly, in the past six months I've received pitches concerning VHS tapes. Business trends, especially in the technology, move extremely fast. Why should I risk my money supporting a startup that makes VHS tapes more efficient, even if in 2012 roughly 13 million blank cassettes and VHS tapes were sold in America? 


18. You’re too slow to launch a product.

Your company is moving too slowly. Whether it’s because you lack confidence or are a perfectionist, the longer it takes to launch your product, the longer it takes for me to see a return. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with releasing a version 1.0 and making the appropriate adjustments at time goes on.


19. You lack a marketing strategy.

Your startup is poised to begin selling a product but lacks a plan for how to boost sales and gain a competitive advantage. I, along with thousands of other investors, can tear your startup apart in seconds. Have you set marketing goals? How will you promote your product? These are crucial marketing questions that need to be addressed before you come knocking on my door. 


20. What problem were you trying to solve again?

When you founded your startup, you did it with the intention of solving a problem. But you, the entrepreneur, have shifted your focus from contemplating an idea to running an actual business, you have lost sight of the original problem. I need to confirm that you’re still addressing a problem that exists and your solution is feasible,


21. You don't understand the industry.

As an entrepreneur, you don't seem to be familiar with the business sector involved so I'm not interested in investing in your startup. If you had experience in a related area, that would at least inform me that you have some knowledge relevant to potential customers or an inkling about how to enhance the industry.


Break down the actual numbers that concern your particular niche of the industry and know them solid. If you don’t have those figures, I’ll assume the worst or even more awful, I’ll come up with my own calculations.


22. You don't understand the word "lean."

You're spending money on things like branded hats, key chains or coffee mugs. Why would I want to invest your startup? An investment is supposed to go a long way toward getting a product ready for launch. That means not spending a ton of money on swag. A couple of T-shirts for promotional purposes is fine, but don’t go on a spending spree.


Also, don’t be paying yourself a big fat salary just because you’re the boss. A study by Compass indicated that 66 percent of Silicon Valley startup founders using its benchmarking tool gave themselves salaries lower than $75,000. The average around the world is $32,000 to $72,000, according to Compass. How much are you paying yourself? 


23. You're not concerned about tomorrow.

Your startup seems to be based only on a current trend. You can’t expect a startup to have longevity this way. I know that we can’t predict the future, but I want to invest in startups whose owners are thinking about the future, not just contemporary trends. 


24. There aren't any other investors.

I'm not finding evidence that others have invested in your business, even a couple of thousand dollars. Unless I’m a fervent believer in your startup, I need to see interest from other investors. The presence of other investments gives me an indication that someone else sees potential in your startup and that other people are support your vision. Having a couple of investors is good as they will help promote your business.


25. You’re oblivious.

Many of above issues apply to you and you haven't realized it. That's a serious problem. I can’t stand dealing with people who can't see flaws and are clueless about trying to overcome them. Remember, no one is perfect. Accept your weaknesses and work on correcting them. 


Let these reasons that I won’t invest in certain startups serve as tips for every startup founder to remember when pitching an investor. 


What other tips would you give entrepreneurs who are pitching startups?  




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Via Official AndreasCY
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

What a great list. Pin this on your refrigerator, use it before pitching your startup. Once you think you're ready, check it.

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Official AndreasCY's curator insight, September 16, 5:32 AM

Review and address these points for smoother sailing when trying to secure funding from an investor.

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Top five reasons why investors don't invest

Top five reasons why investors don't invest | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Fergal O’Mullane, director at retail tech accelerator Eccomplished, looks at the key issues that prevent investors from backing companies.

Professional investors see a constant stream of start-ups telling them that they have developed a unique product that is going to disrupt their chosen market and deliver huge returns. 

To combat this, they will generally have developed a set of investment criteria that nine times out of ten will govern whether they decide to invest or not. To put it into context, a typical VC might review 2,000 or 3,000 plus 'opportunities' per annum and only invest in 10 or 15, while active angel investors might see 200-300 and invest in 4-5. 

The odds are stacked and investors are constantly on the look out for 'red flags', or reasons not to invest. Here are the five we come across the most often – bear them in mind when planning your fundraising activity. They should help improve your odds of success: 

1. Lack of industry knowledge

Investors tend to get involved with businesses they understand and sectors they have experience in, as it is easier for them to assess the opportunity and ultimately add value to the business. Whether you are looking for angel or VC funding, it makes sense to prioritise investors who understand your business and the market that you’re in.

2. Complicated share structure and cap tables 

Many start-ups rely on 'friends and family' funding in the very early stages of growth. This can be an effective source of early financing, but if it's not managed correctly it can create problems when looking for professional investment later. Avoid agreeing to any non-dilution terms on future rounds and try and keep your cap table short and as tidy as possible.

3. Lack of confidence in the team

For investors it's all about reducing risk. Investing in someone with a track record of success or strong skills and experience in a chosen field is attractive. If you lack these, make sure you build a team around you with the relevant experience, have a clear understanding of the gaps in your organisational structure and substitute lack of experience with a boat-load of drive and enthusiasm.

4. Financial stumbling blocks

Once an investor has decided they like you and the value proposition, they will pour over the financials as they offer a mine of information on the business. There are a multitude of potential red flags for investors at this stage and three of the major offenders are:

  • Unrealistic forecasting – Make sure you can support your forecasting with defensible addressable market data and a solid growth plan
  • Exotic loans – Loans with preferential terms over that of the professional investors will always be a challenge, especially if it's a large amount
  • Salaries – Investors don't like to see founders taking big salaries while the company is burning cash
5. Over valuation

Trying to determine what something is worth is never easy and ultimately comes down to supply and demand. If you have an exceptional business and you have investors queuing around the block to invest then you are in the driving seat when it comes to valuation. If your options are limited you need to be sensible and look at the pros and cons of holding out for a higher valuation, versus getting the funds you need to realise your vision.

It is important to remember that whilst there are many investors out there hungry for the next big investment opportunity, none are obliged to invest in your business. Regardless of how excited you are about your proposition, without proper forward planning and the right boxes ticked, finding investment will be a laborious task. On the flip side, get it right now and you could very quickly find yourself a lot closer to achieving your personal and business goals.


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Via marcduke
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Looking through investors' eyes. Find out why they say 'no'!

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Goodbye Silicon Valley: why tech startups are flocking to megacities

Goodbye Silicon Valley: why tech startups are flocking to megacities | Pitch it! | Scoop.it


Not a week goes by in the world of tech without someone heralding the globe’s next Silicon Valley – from New York City to Norwich, London to Lagos, the list goes on.

But the real story here is not the next Valley, it’s the death of the tech cluster as we know it.

To understand what makes a tech cluster we have to first look at what made the Valley a success.

It started with the founders; a concentration of white, middle-class, socially awkward geeks, inseparable from their Macbooks. Academic institutions such as Stanford support the ecosystem and that attracts the next generation of Larry Pages.

If you have ever tried to visit the likes of Apple or Google in the heart of Silicon Valley you will know it is not an easy place to get to.

Back in its heyday, the Valley’s isolation from the rest of the status-quo of banks, big business and city life allowed it to thrive, think bigger and build world-changing companies. It gave us game-changing technologies from the semi-conductor all the way up to Apple’s array of iconic iDevices.

But, in time, disruption became inevitable.

In the new wave of tech centres no other city has raced ahead of the pack with this trend like New York. I recently sat down with the city’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg during London’s inaugural Technology Week where he told me he is bullish about the potential for both New York and London to overtake the incumbent Valley: “To be a leading tech city you need the infrastructure, you need the environment to attract people and you need a diversity of people. London and New York have that. Silicon Valley does not”.

Bloomberg is referring to the big picture. It is no longer enough for tech startups to exist in silos of isolation. Tech businesses now need the energy, talent and diversity of the world’s megacities to thrive.

In the Far East many look to Hong Kong which draws upon decades of experience as a world financial capital. It also boasts unbeatable access to China, the world’s biggest market. In the past few years hundreds of startups have popped up and the city-state is now positioning itself as the leading place for foreign startups to relocate and gain access to Chinese talent and research and development.

This new generation of tech companies outside the Valley are less fixated with first-world problems like taking a selfie that looks like it has been taken with a vintage camera. These companies are disrupting centuries-old systems put in place by the establishment.

The key here is existing industries. It is far easier to challenge an existing industry like finance when it is right on your doorstep. You have access to the experienced talent, networks, suppliers, buyers and the entire ecosystem of that industry around you.

This trend is happening across industries. Stockholm may not have the same level of hype as many of its European neighbours but the figures speak for themselves: 6.5% of the world’s billion-dollar exits between 2005–12 were companies from Sweden. Again the majority of these success stories draw upon the city’s existing strengths in music, the arts and gaming.

This opportunity to apply the best of startup culture to existing industries is where much of the growth will come from in the next tech boom. This can only happen in the world’s megacities, which already attract young people looking to build exciting new companies.

Even in California, home to the Silicon Valley, startups are looking for the next thing and flocking to the big cities. Dating app Tinder has emerged as one of the biggest success stories to come out of Los Angeles’ burgeoning tech scene.

Despite being on the doorstep of the Valley, San Francisco has fast become a magnet for tech talent drawn to the big city. The shift away from the Valley has become so strong that the likes of Google and Yahoo based over 30 miles away operate shuttle buses to move employees back and forth to their campuses each day.

Isolated clusters cannot fight the tide of talent flocking towards the bright lights of cities. San Francisco’s expensive and unpopular commuter buses are perhaps the best sign of the times, while pundits obsess over the next Silicon Valley, the world’s megacities are marching ahead.

Alex Wood is the editor in chief of Tech City News

 

 

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Via lebooster, Edouard Estour, Denis Liotta 
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This is big for startups and the economy in general. Duplicating something like Silicon Valley over the rest of the globe will kickstart even more startup hubs and accelerate the phenomenon.

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How To Know If Your Dumb Idea Will Change The World

How To Know If Your Dumb Idea Will Change The World | Pitch it! | Scoop.it


In 2005, along with colleagues Steve Newman and Claudia Carpenter, Sam Schillace created a browser-based word processor called Writely. A Silicon Valley darling, it was eventually acquired by Google and became the basis for Google Docs. Now the SVP of engineering at Box, a cloud storage and file sharing service, Schillace says that despite today's ubiquity of cloud-based computing, Writely was at first considered a bad idea and a waste of time.

"What I've learned over time is that creative, interesting ideas almost always look stupid at first," says Schillace. "It's really hard once one of these things emerges to think about what the world was like before it emerged. Now it's obvious, we're in the world of the cloud, Box is a cloud collaboration company, this is valued, Google Docs is obviously a good idea and it's hard to think about it not being a good idea." At the time, though, the only real dynamic cloud-based application was Gmail, and Office had essentially killed the competition space for productivity tools. "The road from Office was just completely littered with bodies," says Schillace. "So we were thinking about doing this thing in a browser, with crappy tools that no one has ever seen before, in a competitive area that everyone died when they tried to compete with, why would you do that?"

Schillace believed in the idea and wanted to experiment--but says the key to convincing his colleagues was to get the prototype up and running in a matter of days at almost no cost.

"All of my startups have entailed experiments and trials, and what I've learned over the years is you have to make them cheap," says Schillace. "There's this activation energy you have to get over, and if this energy is very small, if you say I'm not asking you to invest this month, but just a couple of days so we can try something to see how it feels, you have a very different ability to do that experimentation."

To do this with Writely, Schillace says he used pieces of other projects in progress, as opposed to building the idea from scratch. "It's a habit that I have after years of doing this stuff, when my partners and I work on technology, we always try to do it in a way that's reusable--your build environment should be something you're comfortable with, turn an old project into a new project and get it up and running immediately," he says. "We had a lot of pieces lying around that we reused. The first prototype of Writely was up in two or three days. We were working on a distributed bug tracking database, to make a better database for development, completely unrelated to the Writely stuff, but we used that as the basis."

It wasn't until the prototype was built, says Schillace, that they realized, "Oh, shit, because of the server, we can both be working on this document at the same time, that's actually really useful."

Schillace has carried this philosophy to Box, which has regular hack events to quickly activate new ideas that may suck. "It's a way of lowering the organizational cost to experiment, and giving people permission to do something that same day without having to ask or politic, just to see what happens," he says. "We also do these overnight hackathons, which are like sleepover competitions, which is another way to encourage people to take risks and sharpen their tools. You have about 24 hours start to finish, so you want your tools to already be sharp."

If what you get is 80% think it's the dumbest idea ever and should die in a fire, and 20% think it's the best thing they've ever seen, then you've probably got something.

Schillace says that even at companies focused on innovation, it's hard to convince others of the value of truly new things. "Whenever you see something that's truly creative or disruptive, it challenges your worldview. And when you're challenged like that, you have a choice either to accept the challenge, meaning that you are in some way wrong, or reject it, which is saying that the thing itself is wrong. So it's very rare that people will say, 'Oh I must be stupid because I didn't see this,' so usually people's first reaction is to reject them."

But before you give even a few days or dollars to a dubious idea, says Schillace, there are other things to look out for.

"One of the signals is to look for the pattern of how people respond to it," he says. "If you get a lot of 'Maybe that sounds okay,' you probably don't have a great idea. If what you get is 80% think it's the dumbest idea ever and should die in a fire, and 20% think it's the best thing they've ever seen, then you've probably got something."


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Via Raj Nadar, Justin Jones
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

New is by definition opposite of what is known or familiar. There is always resistance. I like the conclusion of this article.

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Incubated: Y Combinator's Approach To Finding And Helping Startups Become Big Winners

Incubated: Y Combinator's Approach To Finding And Helping Startups Become Big Winners | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Y Combinator is the most famous of all startup accelerators out there, thanks to success of companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Stripe, all of which have gone through its program. YC co-founder Paul Graham once referred to the process of finding and nurturing those big hits as “Black Swan Farming.”

But how does YC do it? What sets it apart from some of the other accelerators out there, and why does it seem like its alumni companies are disproportionately successful? With the latest episode of Incubated, we set out to find out.

At first glance, Y Combinator doesn’t look that different from most accelerators in part because it defined the category. Founded in 2005, its success has inspired multiple other programs to copy its 12-week format of weekly meetings, partner office hours, and access to alumni and mentors from the tech world.

But one of the things that sets it apart from other accelerators is just the depth and breadth of knowledge that exists within its network. In part, that stems from running for so long — there are about 1,500 YC alums available to learn from. And many of those alumni end up becoming the first partners or customers for startups in a current class.

While startups are expected to have their own space, Y Combinator companies meet weekly on Tuesdays to catch up, discuss their progress, and learn from famous entrepreneurs who are invited to talk about their own challenges in scaling up their businesses. It also hosts a series of other events, like Y Combinator Startup School, that are open to entrepreneurs who wish to attend.

One other thing that sets it apart is the selection process: YC takes online applications to help screen applicants, but bases its decision mostly on one 10-minute interview with the accelerator’s partners. It looks for founders who have deep domain expertise, and companies that can be big outliers in different technology.

Y Combinator just opened applications for its winter class this week.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Y Combinator has pioneered this approach and keeps on creating success stories.

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28 Mistakes Startups Make When Pitching To Investors

28 Mistakes Startups Make When Pitching To Investors | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
As a venture capital and angel investor who has heard many pitches, I’ve compiled a list of mistakes and things to avoid if you are an entrepreneur seeking angel or venture financing.


Entrepreneurs from early stage startups have to pitch to investors to raise financing, and many entrepreneurs are inexperienced or terrible at making the presentation. As a venture capital and angel investor who has heard many pitches, I’ve compiled a list of mistakes and things to avoid if you are an entrepreneur seeking angel or venture financing.

Mistake 1: Sending me your executive summary or business plan unsolicited

Investors routinely discard or don’t read unsolicited emails. They get hundreds if not thousands of such emails, and they can’t spend the time sifting through them all to find that diamond in the rough. But what they will pay attention to is a referral from someone in their network — a lawyer, an entrepreneur from one of their portfolio companies, or a fellow venture capitalist.

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Mistake 2: Pitching me your company unless it’s clear that you are in a space I am interested in

Some investors only care about biotech. Or mobile apps. Or clean tech. Or Internet and digital media. Do your homework first before trying to pitch me to make sure your company is in my sweet spot.

Mistake 3: Giving me a 50-page business plan to review

I don’t have the time to review a 50-page business plan up front to decide whether it’s worth taking a meeting or following up. Give me a 2-3 page executive summary and maybe a PowerPoint deck.

Mistake 4: Not showing me why the market opportunity is big

Most investors are looking for businesses that can scale and become meaningful. So make sure you address this issue right up front as to why your business can really become big. Don’t present any small ideas. If the first product or service is small, then perhaps you need to position the company as a “platform” business allowing the creation of multiple products or apps. I will want to know the actual addressable market and what percentage of the market you plan to get over time.

Mistake 5: Coming in with your team to a pitch meeting, but only have the CEO speak

Investors want to know that you have a good team. Only having the CEO speak at a pitch meeting is a mistake. How will the investor gauge whether the other team members are any good if they don’t hear them speak? And please don’t have the team members contradict themselves.

Mistake 6: Telling me you don’t have any competition

Telling me you have no competition likely says you are unrealistic or naive. Of course you have competition, whether direct, indirect. or someone who provides a substitute solution. And your analysis of your competitors will show me you have an understanding of the market.

Mistake 7: Showing me uninteresting or unrealistic projections

If you show me projections for the company to become $5 million in revenue in five years, I will have little interest. I want to invest in a company that can grow significantly and become an exciting business. Alternatively, if you show me projections where you are at $500 million in three years, I will just think you are unrealistic, especially if you are at zero in revenues today. Avoid assumptions in your projections that will be difficult to justify, such as how you will get to a 400% growth in revenue with only a 20% growth in operating and marketing costs.

Mistake 8: Asking me to sign an NDA before you will share information with me

Most investors have a policy not to sign non-disclosure agreements. Why would you want to put a hurdle in front of being able to connect with an investor? And if you have something highly confidential, don’t share it with me.

Mistake 9: Giving me confusing or bad answers to my questions

Entrepreneurs should practice their pitch with friends and advisors before presenting to an investor. You need to be prepared to give crisp answers to questions. You have to anticipate the difficult questions you may get. Telling me that “you will get back to me with an answer” seldom leaves a good impression. If I am asking you questions, that’s a good sign that I am engaged. So do your best to answer them right away. Don’t evade the hard questions or tell me that you will get to it later in the presentation. I want to see if you can think on your feet. Expect to get interrupted during your presentation.

Mistake 10: Not telling me what problem your business solves

What problem does your business solve? Does it matter at all?


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


Mistake 11: Presenting unrealistic valuation expectations for your company

If you tell me you want a $100 million valuation when you started the business three weeks ago, or don’t have much traction yet, the conversation will likely end very quickly. Often, it’s best not to discuss valuation in a first meeting other than to say you expect to be reasonable on valuation.

Mistake 12: Giving me clichés

Phrases to avoid:

  • “All we need is 1% of the market” (unlikely you will get that)
  • “We will get huge viral usage” (unless you show me early traction, that will be difficult to believe)
  • “This product will market itself” (no, it won’t)
  • “Google will want to buy us” (maybe, but not likely)
  • “Our projection numbers are conservative” (just once I would like to hear an entrepreneur say, “Our projections are wildly optimistic”).

Mistake 13: Having more than 20 slides in your PowerPoint deck

You will have an hour at most to make your pitch. So overloading your PowerPoint deck with too many slides will cut into the crispness of the presentation, and you won’t have time to get to the slides at the end of your deck. If an investor is interested, you can always provide more detailed information later.

Mistake 14: Forgetting to highlight your team’s experience and credentials

Many investors consider the team behind a startup more important than the idea or the product. The investors will want to know that the team has the right set of skills, drive, experience, and temperament to grow the business. I want to be shown all of this together with a passion to do something truly great and unique. Anticipate these questions:

  • Who are the founders and key team members?
  • What relevant domain experience does the team have?
  • What key additions to the team are needed in the short term?
  • Why is the team uniquely capable to execute the company’s business plan?
  • How many employees do you have?
  • What motivates the founders?
  • How do you plan to scale the team in the next 12 months?

Mistake 15: Not paying attention to detail

Make sure your presentation doesn’t contain typos or inconsistencies. Present a well-written, visually interesting presentation. Include page numbers on each slide so I can easily reference a specific page. For your legal protection, put a copyright notice at the bottom and add the phrase “Confidential and Private.”

Mistake 16: Not doing a demo
A demo is worth a thousand words. Show me a prototype or working demo of your product, app, or website. It will give me a better sense of what you are trying to do. Make sure it works well and isn’t buggy. Impress me with its look and feel.

Mistake 17: Not doing research on the investor and his portfolio

Showing some awareness of my background and the companies I am invested in will facilitate parts of the conversation, and also shows you have done some advance due diligence for the meeting.

Mistake 18: Not looking at other pitch decks and executive summaries

Looking at other pitch decks and executive summaries can help you improve your own. You can ask your lawyer or entrepreneur or angel investor friends for samples. Plenty are available on the Web, such as the deck for Mint.com, a startup that sold to Intuit for $170 million.

Mistake 19: Not understanding customer acquisition costs and long-term value of the customer

I will be interested in your understanding of customer or user acquisition issues. What costs will you incur to acquire a customer? What will be the likely lifetime value of the customer? What channels will you use to acquire that user or customer? What marketing costs will you incur? What is the typical sales cycle between initial customer contact and closing of a sale? Not being prepared for those types of questions will hurt my perception of how well you have thought out your business plan.

Mistake 20: Not understanding the potential risks to the business

I will want to test what you see are the risks to the business. I want to understand your thought process and the mitigating precautions you might take. There inevitably are risks in any business plan, so be prepared to answer these questions thoughtfully:

  • What do you see are the principal risks to the business?
  • What legal risks do you have?
  • What technology risks do you have?
  • Do you have any regulatory risks?
  • Are there any product liability risks?
  • What steps do you anticipate to mitigate such risks?

Mistake 21: Not being able to explain the key assumptions in your projections

In order for me to believe your financial projections, I will want you to articulate the key assumptions and convince me they are reasonable. If you can’t do that, then I won’t feel you have a real handle on the business. I will push back on the numbers in the assumptions and I will want you to have a cogent, thoughtful response.

Mistake 22: Not articulating why your product or technology is differentiated from a competitor

I will want to know why your product or technology is better than or different from what is already out there. You can assume I will know about competitive products or technology, so you need to have a good response. For example, “We are different from Instagram in three important ways: (1) we are easier to use; (2) we have better editing functions; and (3) we are monetizing earlier than Instagram was able to.”

Mistake 23: Not being able to articulate a coherent marketing strategy

Just because you build something great doesn’t mean it’s going to sell or get user adoption. So I will care about your plans to market your product or service. What outlets are you going to use? How can you cost-effectively get to prospective customers? How will you use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.? Will you do content marketing and put sponsored posts on sites like BusinessInsider.com, Forbes.com, and AllBusiness.com? Will you do search engine marketing and can you show it will be productive? What steps will you take to get some rapid sales or adoption of your offering?

Mistake 24: Not telling me what early buzz or press you have gotten

Don’t forget to show me any early buzz or press you have received, especially from prominent sites or publications. Feature the headlines in a slide on your deck. List the number of articles and publications mentioning you.


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Mistake 25: Not telling me what traction or customers you have already gotten

One of the most important things for me will be signs of any early traction or customers. If you have an app, how many downloads have you gotten and how many additional ones are you getting a week? Have you gotten any brand-name customers if you are a software company? How can the early traction be accelerated? What has been the principal reason for the traction? Show me how you can scale this early traction.

Mistake 26: Being unable to tell me how you will invest my investment capital and how long it will last

I will absolutely want to know how my capital will be invested and your proposed burn rate (so that I can understand when you may need the next round of financing). It will also allow me to test whether your fund-raising plans are reasonable given the capital requirements you will have. And it will allow me to see whether your estimate of costs (e.g., for engineering talent, for marketing costs, or office space) is reasonable given my experiences with other companies.

Mistake 27: Not selling me on your intellectual property 

For many companies, their intellectual property will be a key to success. Investors will pay particular attention to your answers to these questions:

  • What key intellectual property does the company have (patents, patents pending, copyrights, trade secrets, trademarks, domain names)?
  • What comfort do you have that the company’s intellectual property does not violate the rights of a third party?
  • How was the company’s intellectual property developed?
  • Would any prior employers of a team member have a potential claim to the company’s intellectual property?

Mistake 28: Not explaining the product or service well enough

The entrepreneur must clearly articulate what the company’s product or service consists of and why it is unique, so expect to get the following questions:

  • Why do users care about your product or service?
  • What are the major product milestones?
  • What are the key differentiated features of your product or service?
  • What have you learned from early versions of the product or service?
  • What are the two or three key features you plan to add?
  • How often do you envision enhancing or updating the product or service?

Conclusion

Not all of these mistakes are fatal. And as you practice and make more presentations to advisors and investors, you will learn what they care about and what doesn’t resonate with them. So make sure to adapt your PowerPoint deck, Executive Summary, and presentation from these learnings.

Copyright ©2014 by Richard D. Harroch. All Rights Reserved.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

From the perspective of an investor: why did they not read your business plan or respond to your email? Excellent information.

Remember my article a while ago? It's still on my site: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/investment-proposal.html

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10 Tips for Getting into Our Next Accelerator Batch

10 Tips for Getting into Our Next Accelerator Batch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

We’re currently accepting applications for our next Mountain View Accelerator class. You can apply here.

We’re kicking off our second batch of companies in the shiny new 500 Startups San Francisco accelerator program, otherwise known as 500 Del Norte. We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about  what we’re looking for and how we select companies.

We started with over thousands of applications for 28 slots. While we’re much more concerned with quality than quantity, if you’re applying to a competitive accelerator you should understand that you will be one of many applications.

Tip 1: Apply Early

We start reviewing applications on a rolling basis as soon as the application window opens. More than half of the applications come in on the last day. If you want us to spend more time on your application, get it in early.

Tip 2: Put effort into your application and give as much detail as possible

 We don’t have the luxury of putting hours into reviewing your application. We need to see something interesting that makes us want to dig in.

We filter these applications with the help of our mentor and founder networks. Our goal is to have at least four people look at every application, ideally with expertise in the space you’re working in. We couldn’t do it without these awesome folks (Thanks 500 mentors!).

We also look extra hard at companies that are referred in by our founders and mentors. A personal recommendation from someone we trust isn’t a guarantee you’ll get an interview, but it’s pretty valuable.

Tip 3: Figure out who you know in the 500 network

Ask them if they would be comfortable recommending your company. If you don’t have this network, consider reaching out to 500 mentors who would understand your business and asking (politely) if they would give you some feedback. Don’t be a creep about it. If they dig your company, you can ask them to give us their thoughts.

Our goal is to narrow the initial applications down to about 100 companies we interview. We do these interviews over 3-4 full days. We split up into teams of two, and each company gets interviewed for 15 minutes. You’ll usually do three interviews.

We do this to avoid groupthink, and to give startups the chance to shine even if one interview doesn’t go well. Interviewers include members of the 500 Investment Team, Distribution Team, other 500 staff, and sometimes 500 mentors.

Tip 4: Come prepared.

You only have 15 minutes. You need to convey who you are, why your business is interesting, and be prepared for us to dig into everything from your unit economics  and customer acquisition strategies to long-term plans and where you met your co-founders.

Tip 4.1: Research the program.

Know what our terms are, know how we work, talk to startups who have gone through the program, and come prepared to tell us what you want from 500. It reflects poorly on you (and is bad business) to consider selling a chunk of your company to someone without understanding deeply what you’re getting in return.

Tip 5: Don’t have a script

Go into the interview with specific questions. We don’t have much time, so remember that your job is to fill in the gaps, not to hammer home what you think is important.

After interviews are complete, we schedule a half-day team meeting to come up with a batch. We start with the companies that we all agree on, either positive or negative, and thi usually gives us the first 10-15 companies. If you have a phenomenal founding team with several exits to your name, a million dollar run rate, 50% month-over-month growth, a beautiful product, and an unsexy-but-giant market – well, you’re almost certainly in. Figuring out the other companies is where the fun (and arguing) begins.

For companies that don’t have all the boxes checked, we look to each other for a champion. We believe groupthink is a big problem in venture capital, so we encourage debate and empower anyone on the team to take a controversial position.

Tip 6: Find a champion

Even if all of us don’t “get” a company, that’s OK. We all have different backgrounds and different interests. Find interviewers who are exciting about what you do, then give them the information they need to be your champion. One ‘hell yes’ usually beats out any other strong negative votes.

After hours of arguing, we end up with a list of 35-40 companies we think are really interesting. We then discuss which companies might be too early.

We believe an accelerator program should help companies refine their strategy, break through concrete bottlenecks in the business, and raise reasonable seed rounds at good valuations once they’re done with the program.

We think a lot about companies getting their money’s (equity’s) worth out of us. If a company is too early to get ready for demo day and achieve their fundraising goals, our accelerator is probably not a good fit.

We try hard to give these companies concrete feedback on what we think they should be working on – then invite them to reapply for our next batch. This isn’t BS. Timing matters with accelerators, and we want you to get the most out of ours.

Tip 7: Tell us what you’ve learned

Markets are Darwinian. The most important skill you can have is the ability to adapt quickly. Tell us what you’ve learned. What were you wrong about? What secrets have your customers told you that give you an unfair advantage? We’re suckers for quick learners.

Tip 8: Tell us how you’ll grow

Startups grow or they die. Where are you customers? How will you reach them? Tell us what you’ve done. Unscalable growth is fine (and reflects hustle), but ultimately we’ll need to see a path scalability. If you’re small you know we can help you grow, that’s really exciting.

Tip 9: Make sure we understand your traction

Traction comes in many forms, with the most obvious being revenue. However, revenue isn’t the only form. This may sound obvious, but we’re looking for people who have executed – not people who will execute some time in the future. Make sure we understand what you’ve done. This is way more important than what you think you can do.

I hope this is helpful. We’re grateful for all the amazing companies we received applications from, and look forward to having some of them in our first San Francisco accelerator. Hopefully this will help you if you choose to apply to our Spring batch in Mountain View. Applications open NOW, so apply here.

Tip 10: Do what’s right for your business.

VCs resonate with simple stories and metrics, so its natural for companies to try to play to the test. But whether you join 500 or not, success comes from being an expert in your business and doing the right thing for it and for your customers. Don’t adapt your business to our needs, but please speak slowly when explaining it. We are VCs after all.



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Via Justin Jones
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Find out what it takes to get accepted in an accelerator. Go prepared.

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What is a Startup...?: 5 startups that show that the future has already arrived

What is a Startup...?: 5 startups that show that the future has already arrived | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
startups that show that the future has already arrived
Hello all Entrepreneurs! How are you?

Today I have selected 5 startups that make us feel (at least they make me feel...!) like the future has already arrived. Please check them out and feel free to comment below.

***

1- AIRWARE: "Hardware, Software and Cloud Services for Commercial Drones".

I have a personal fascination for drones (wow, we are in 2014 and they are already here!), so everything that has to do with drones calls my attention. Well, this startup doesn't need a lot of explanation, they sell hardware, software and cloud (!) for drones. The age of the flying robots is coming, hey!

2- ZUTA LABS: "Pocket Printer"

You type and the small device prints for you. I loved that and I would one in my purse right now! The format remembers me those child stamps and child paper push that we had in our childhood and that seem to be fashionable until now (or maybe children prefer i-Pads, I can't say)!

3- NEW MATTER: "Simple. Affordable. 3D Printing" - MOD-t

Everybody got very excited with the 3D printers, what was missing was something a-f-f-o-r-d-a-b-l-e. This seems to be New Matter's goal (thanks for that!). The device costs 279 US$ and you can already pre-order that. I found it chic!

4- AIQ SMART CLOTHING:

Wearables, the new "must" in tech. This business has wearables useful for heating, lighting, bio-monitoring, anti-radiation, conductive gloves (those I have... I call them social media gloves because they allow me to blog and post on winter time!). On their website It seems that you have to send a personal email and ask for the product (I didn't find a normal "e-commerce" screen). I want a heating shirt for winter!

5- EKSOBIONICS: exoskeleton

The first image from the homepage can speak alone. Super exoskeleton technology made for people with some forms of paralysis. Absolutely amazing. I think that the medical sector has thousands, if not millions, of possibilities in terms of innovations, new technologies, new facilities, new ways to perform the same activity with less pain, less wait, less nuisance and thus helping many people.

***

It's in the hands of the entrepreneurs - brave explorers - to bring to the present what our imagination sometimes puts in a distant future...!

I would like to remember all of you that the technology giants of our time (Google, Amazon, Microsoft) are also developing amazing and world changing technologies (such as Amazon's dronesGoogle's self-driven car etc), but the main goal here is to focus on Startups.


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Via Luiza S. Rezende, Edouard Estour
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Need ideas for startups? Yes indeed, the future is here.

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Luiza S. Rezende's curator insight, August 22, 5:14 AM

I love thinking about the future... Don't miss these 5 startups!

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What is a Startup...?: Why has my startup not taken off yet?

What is a Startup...?: Why has my startup not taken off yet? | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Why has my startup not taken off yet?
Many startups fail. Many entrepreneurs start with a lot of energy (and anxiety), build expectations around the business they are building, launch it, are for a while very happy with it, and after a period of gradual decay, after 6 months or 1 year there is nothing more of them and the members returned to "safe" jobs. But why? What was missing for that startup to become a success? 

*** 

In order not to frustrate expectations: the aim of this paper is not to present micro-economic data, statistics or research on why startups fail. The aim of this paper is to show my opinion on the topic, based on what I see and read every day. 

*** 

As many of you may have already read, failing is part of the innovation and self-discovery process, and it's something totally linked to entrepreneurship. Starting a new business is venturing into the unknown: you can do many previous researches and studies, but there are variables that will be not well measured in advance. Sometimes you will need to launch your startup first and then see what happens when it's running.

Maybe your calculations were sufficiently well-aimed, you have studied the market and the competitors, you had luck and the necessary preparation, you did all on the "right time" and "the right way" and your startup is suddenly a success. Maybe you realize that important variables were ignored in the business plan and things did not evolve as planned. It's normal: making mistakes is human. Making mistakes, in the context of entrepreneurship, is fully part of the learning process. 

The way you go on after a mistake is the key and how you behave makes ALL the difference: you need to continue, understand it is a chapter, not the end of your story as an entrepreneur. Everything depends on how you will assimilate this mistake and go on with your business, with your dream. 

Many entrepreneurs are at this moment launching a business that will need some adjust to be a success (success here has the meaning of being well received by the public and generating sustainable income). Others will launch something that needs to be completely redesigned to be a success. Others will launch something that the market is not yet "ready" to accept or use, and they will have to invest in marketing, partnerships, sponsoring, endorsement and will have to convince the public they are good enough. That means a lot of time and persistence. Everyday believing and acting. For each person and for each business there is a needed time for development/maturation. It's necessary to try, believe, strive, pivot, adapt, follow. You should not be discouraged by an error, failure, or a broken company. 

You tried that way, it did not work. There are others. If you truly believe in your business, you need to continue with it, ask new opinions, study more, seek further advice and seek new paths to follow. 

There is a path to success, a straight shot. But it's not always there, on the first attempt. Sometimes you will need to improve more to reach it. Sometimes you will need to really conquer success, be ready to manage it and make it something sustainable. And that is actually good, that will make you grow. 

Success (and here I am talking about entrepreneurial success) will come, but each one has a journey, each one has a necessary way to go (a way that will enable each person to learn and grow). Do not give up. If you truly believe in your business, it will someday happen, maybe not exactly as you imagined, but it will happen and you will be much stronger when it happens.

You may need to re-create it completely. You may need to study more and harder, listen to other opinions, change partners, change partnerships, teams, sources, resources. If you are really proactive and seek people to help you, if you do not let your pessimistic thoughts or people who do not believe in you convince you, certainly your journey will be successful. 

It may be that the final result has nothing to do with your original plan. It may be that you end up getting involved in an area that has nothing to do with what you initially envisioned. You may conclude that being an entrepreneur is not for you. But certainly this journey of mistakes, successes, attempts (and courage!) will be very positive and will bring you closer to who you really are and what you really believe. 

See you soon!

Luiza



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Top 3 Tips To Cut Your Startup Expenses

Top 3 Tips To Cut Your Startup Expenses | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Never Spend Your Money Before You Have Earned It
I think the most wonderful thing that I started thinking when I started up or which I keep hearing from startups who are in the seed stages isI need funds to spend.

What I learned instead which I now keep telling the startup founders is

Earn money and push it back into your venture, Save, Repeat

An age old saying of money saved is money earned is not wrong. I feel many startups fail to understand that finding smart ways to save money and work is always a better option specially when you are bootstrapped or still better when you have acquired funding.

I threw open this question in Startup Specialist Group on LinkedIn.

What are the 3 tips to cut startup expenses

An amazing entrepreneur Peter Johnston says in the discussion thread:

Generally startups don't need anything near the costs most people allocate to them.
Ask yourself what the funding is for. Do you really need it?
Take the biggest expense and ask "why is it so high"?

You'll almost certainly find you can reduce it by 50%.
It isn't the largest any more.

Next week do the same exercise on what is now the largest.
In a few weeks you have your costs down to manageable levels.

So here are the list of top 3 tips that can help startups to cut their costs:

  1. Rework the expenses. Calculate them again and ask yourself why are the expenses so high, rework them again and try working with your team if you can reduce them by a sizeable margin. Ask this question "Whether you really need that cost " Why Do you need that cost now ? As Peter Johnston says in the thread " You'll know by your pre-orders how many to make - indeed you'll probably have funded production
  2. Hire Human Capital When The Product Market Fit is Validated. Dont jump the gun in hiring human capital even if you have funds. Test the market, customers, TA even if you have funds in place and when the market is established get the critical manpower in place to get into the market.
  3. Outsource & Prioritize : Besides the critical functions focus on your core competence functions. If you are tech guy and and you need HR or legal support, get a cloud HR software to run your system or a legal attorney to create your legal formalities instead of hiring these manpower on rolls. Focus on building your MVP and going to the right customers and getting revenues asap.

What are your thoughts and insights on the same ?

Are there some other critical tips that can help startups ?

I invite you to share your thoughts and feel free to share this thread with someone who may share insights or for whom this thread could be useful.

Bon Voyage.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

That's how to do it. Don't think that the big money will create and fund your startup. Your product will eventually have to pay for all of the expenses.

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Change Impetus's curator insight, August 19, 3:27 PM

I agree 100%

 

Developing the MVP doesn't mean "build the app" and hire developers. Get a mock up and find out what it might cost if a customer were to sign up in the near future.

 

Don't hire a tech wizard, there are cloud based tools that can be utilized until scale or a specialized feature/ function requirement surfaces.

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Microsoft names the 10 startups participating in its home-automation accelerator | ZDNet

Microsoft names the 10 startups participating in its home-automation accelerator | ZDNet | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Microsoft is bringing 10 startups focusing on home-automation into its new home-automation accelerator starting this fall.

Microsoft has named the 10 startups that will be participating in its home-automation accelerator starting this fall.

Microsoft announced in June its plan to create a new venture accelerator focused on home automation in partnership with American Family Insurance, one of the biggest mutual property/casualty insurance companies. Via this accelerator, which will be based on the Redmond, Wash., Microsoft campus, Microsoft will be investing in these home-automation startups.

The 10 participants (and Microsoft-provided descriptions of their businesses) -- culled from a pool of 400 applicants:

  • Chai Energy delivers real-time energy understanding – from the whole house to individual appliances.

  • Heatworks Model 1 is the world's first fully electronic, connected, water heater that conserves water and energy in any application.

  • Neura creates intuitive and intelligent experiences between users and their connected environments.

  • Novi Security is a portable smart-security system to seamlessly track activities across the home.

  • Reemo is a wrist-worn, gesture control wearable, interoperable interface for both conventional appliances and more recent connected homes.

  • Plum is Wi-Fi enabled light-pads, smart plugs and outlets that let the users control lights and electronics from a wall switch or from anywhere in the world using a smart phone.

  • Red Balloon Security is ubiquitous host-based defense for embedded devices.

  • Scanalytics is the centerpiece for understanding consumer behavior in the offline world.

  • Sentri's HD camera and built-in sensors track the home's vital stats and trends, allowing users to track temperature, humidity, air quality, weather and more.

  • Wallflowr is connected home technology that helps consumers prevent and significantly reduce risks related to accidental fires caused by ranges, stoves and oven


Microsoft has been conducting its own research in the home-automation space, with projects like its HomeOS operating system. Last year, Microsoft bought a home-automation focused company, id8 Group R2 Studios, whose technology the Redmondians are thought to be integrating with Xbox. More recently, it announced a partnership with Insteon, which is developing home-automation applications for Windows Phone and Windows 8. 

Microsoft formed its consolidated start-up outreach arm, Microsoft Ventures, in 2013. The company already launched ventures accelerators in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.



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9 Free Business Productivity Tools For Startups

9 Free Business Productivity Tools For Startups | Pitch it! | Scoop.it


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Starting a business can be a daunting endeavor, especially if all you have is a cool product and not enough capital. In the tech world, or in any other niche for that matter, most startuppers fail not because they have bad products but because they are unable to generate enough consumer interest in their products. 

Considering overheads and other back-office expenses, this scenario doesn’t come as a surprise. So if you’re still starting out and find yourself strapped for much needed funding to keep your startup afloat, the following free business productivity tools are worth checking out.

# 1. Bitrix24.com

If you need a collaboration tool your staff are most likely to adopt with relative ease and minimum training, take the social intranet route.

Bitrix24.com is the fastest growing social intranet that’s free for businesses with 12 employees or less. The application comes as a combination of several different work tools like CRM, project management, real-time streaming, activity planner, file sharing, to name just a few. As it is cloud-based, access can be anywhere, whether using your computer or smartphone. An upgrade to unlimited users starts at $99 per month.

# 2. GotFreeFax.com

In this era of e-mail and instant messaging, you’d think fax machines are no longer relevant. But if a LinkedIn survey as reported by Mashable is to be believed, fax machines are still in until 2017 steps in.

As you might have already guessed from the site’s name, GotFreeFax.com is an online service that allows you to send up to three pages of fax for free (maximum of two faxes per day) to any number in the United States or Canada. The site also offers premium pay-per-fax service should you need to send more.

# 3. RememberTheMilk.com

RememberTheMilk.com is an online productivity tool that assists in task and time management. Remember The Milk essentially functions as your all-in-one task manager, electronic calendar and to-do list. Aside from allowing you to share and split tasks with other people, the application can be integrated with GMail, too.

The pro account is priced at $25 for one year and comes with exclusive mobile app features and Microsoft Outlook integration.

# 4. Kolab.org

Kolab.org is an open-source group collaboration server that allows for sharing of notes, e-mail access, calendar organization, task management, address book maintenance, news aggregation, phone sync and journal integration. Kolab is secure, scalable, reliable, mobile and professional, ensuring productivity every step of the way. As a whole, the application requires some getting used to. But once you get the hang of it, the hassle can be all worth it.

# 5. WaveApps.com

Formerly WaveAccounting.com, WaveApps.com is an accounting software that’s fast, simple and easy to use, offering unlimited invoicing and expense tracking. 100% free for small businesses with nine employees or less, it’s accountant-approved and specifically designed for non-accountants. You can also securely connect your bank and PayPal accounts or other sources of data, and your transactions are automatically imported into the accounting software.



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# 6. PRLog.org

To make your business presence known, one surefire route to take is through the distribution of press releases. PRLog.org is a site where you can dispense press releases for free. And if you feel you don’t have the necessary expertise to create a killer press release, the site provides instructions on how to write one, even how to embed videos where necessary.

# 7. Weebly.com

One cardinal business rule is that businesses should have their own websites to boost their market presence online. Weebly.com is a free website creator that doesn’t require website creation expertise. Until you’re ready to go for more complex and/or self-hosted sites that would require monthly or yearly payments, Weebly.com is a good alternative.

# 8. Join.me

For those meetings or web conferences on the fly, Join.me is a simple-to-use teleconferencing application that allows you to review documents and designs, train staff, do product demonstrations – basically to get everyone apprised of company updates. You can do transatlantic web conferences and presentations, too.

# 9. IFTTT.com

IFTTT.com, which is short for “if this, then that,” functions like a computer program repeatedly uttering if/then logic all day long. With IFTTT, you set up “recipes” to assist you with task automation. For a recipe to work, you have to have a channel, a trigger and an action. Examples of channels are Facebook, e-mail, Evernote, LinkedIn, just to mention a few.

For instance, if you’re tagged in a photo on Facebook, you can create a recipe that would automatically download the image into Dropbox.

What other free business productivity tools can you suggest?



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Via Luis Costa
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some more good tools for small companies and start ups. Get free fax, no more fax machines to buy.

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