Monthly Archives: January 2011

Your Startups Pre-Launch Checklist: Websites (Part 12 of 14)

Websites from the Startup Garage

Your Startups Pre-Launch Checklist: Websites (Part 12 of 14)

What Does a Great Website Look Like?

Now that you have created a stellar logo, you are going to need something to put it on. Once you’ve got a good handle on your brand and what you really want your customers to know about your company, its a good time to think about creating a website. Almost every new company has a website and it is your job as the founder of your startup to determine what yours will do for your business. You can create a website for multiple reasons:

  1. Provide information
  2. Sell your product or service
  3. Create brand awareness
  4. Get new leads
  5. Your website may also be the product or service itself (ex. social networks, Software as a Service, etc.)

What Does Your Website Need?

Once youve determined the core purpose for building your site, you can decide what to include to achieve that purpose. Here are some common pages and elements to consider when designing your website:

  • Key Components: Homepage, About Us, FAQ, Contact Forms, etc.
  • Photos and Videos: It may be clich, but a picture is worth a thousand words. Media content tends to grab a viewers attention more than text.
  • Social Media Integration: Link your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media sites your company has a presence in to drive traffic to your webpage.
  • E-Commerce: If you are selling your product or service on your website, it will be important to include items such as a shopping cart or online banking.

Get a Domain Name

Your startups domain name is the name of the address of your website. Keep in mind that acquiring your desired domain name is going to add to your startup expenses and let us be the first to warn you, getting the domain name you want can be a tough process. Sometimes it feels like all the good ones are taken, so you might want to hire a web development firm to get some advice on the subject if you get stuck. Here are some rules to live by when choosing your companys domain name:

  • If you plan on using internet marketing as a big part of your strategy, makes sure your company name is available as a domain.
  • Picking a domain name that is keyword rich is extremely helpful for Search Engine Marketing. Check out the Google Keywords tool for some help.

Get your Website Hosted

Think of web hosting as renting office space, you are paying someone to place your webpages on the internet so everyone can connect to them. Different websites have different hosting requirements, so again check with a web firm if you have hired one. In our experience, a good hosting company should be affordable and reliable, with fast connecting speeds.

How do I build my Website?

Most of the time, there are 3 options to building a website:

  1. Build it yourself
  2. Hire a freelancer
  3. Hire a firm

Firms will give you the highest quality, but are also the most expensive. Freelancers can give you a high quality site for less than a firm, but they can be unreliable. If you do hire a freelancer, be sure to get recommendations and see examples of their previous work.

Once you have completed all of these steps make sure you test your site thoroughly before you launch. You don’t want any snags or typos when you make your first impression on your future customers.


Whether you have a question about business websites or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Your Startups Pre-Launch Checklist: Logo (Part 11 of 14)

Logo's from the Startup Garage

Your Startups Pre-Launch Checklist: Logo (Part 11 of 14)

How to Create a Killer Logo

Over the past few weeks we have gone over the important legal and financial preparations that your startup needs to take before it launches. Now were going to get into some fun stuff: marketing tools! We will cover logo design, websites, business cards, and fliers. Marketing can be an enjoyable and creative process, but you still are creating some extremely important aspects of your company, so take the process seriously! And remember, we at The Startup Garage do offer Marketing Plans that are specifically tailored to your company, so if you hit a snag do not be afraid to call us for a free consultation.

Why are Logos Important?

The first marketing need we will discuss will be creating a standout logo. If you have written a business plan, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your brand is, and the information you want to communicate. A logo is central to making this work! Your startups logo symbolizes what your company stands for, establishes your identity, helps build customer loyalty, and provides a professional look. There are three different types of logos:

  1. Font based logos
  2. Logos that illustrate what a company does
  3. Logos with abstract graphics that customers link to the company’s brand

How Do I Create a Logo?

Your first step is going to be to gather a brain trust to brainstorm what message you want your logo to send to your customers. Make sure that one person is designated to make the final decision. Here are some helpful things to consider while you and your team are chugging along:

  • See what the competitions logos look like
  • Focus on your message
  • Make sure its functional
  • Keep in mind how your business name will affect your design
  • Illustrate your businesss strengths in the design
  • Dont use clip art
  • Avoid fads

How Much Do Logos Cost?

After you have come up with what you want your startups logo to convey to your audience, the next step is to hire a designer. Keep in mind not to pick a designer solely based on what he or she charges. That will just lead to headaches. Instead, shop around and try to find a designer who understands what you want your logo to say. Most designers have a portfolio, so take a look at that to see if the look and feel of their work fits your brand well.

Things to keep in mind when getting your logo designed:

  • Make sure the logo is high resolution. 72 dpi is fine for the internet, but it should be higher for printing.
  • If your logo has words, know what the font is so you can match other marketing materials.
  • Check to see if your logo prints well in black and white.
  • Keep it simple. Your logo will not be able to convey everything about your brand and company.

Most designers take 20 – 40 hours to complete a project and there are two different types of design companies:

  • Online Logo Companies (Prices From $69 – $1,299)
  • Freelance Designers (Flat Rate of $40 – $3,000 or $15 – $150 per hour)
  • Crowdsourcing Options ($99)

You can start your search for designers by checking the American Association of Ad Agencies and remember, dont settle on a logo that you dont like. This emblem represents not only your company, but you as well, so make sure you are happy with what your designer creates.

Are you interested in working with The Startup Garage to design your logo? Visit the Logo Design Page for more information.


Whether you have a question about your logo or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Crowdsourcing – What It Is and How It’s Done

Crowdsourcing from the Startup Garage

Crowdsourcing – What It Is and How It’s Done

There is a growing phenomenon in the world of startup fundraising known as crowdsourcing. What is crowdsourcing, you ask? Croudsourcing, also referred to as crowdfunding, is when a venture asks members of the general public for funding through many small donations. Notice how Wikipedia has been asking for donations to keep their website ad free? That is a prime example of crowdsourcing.

For smaller startups, there are online communities dedicated to crowdsourcing. is a crowdfunding platform where people with creative ideas can post their story and ask for funds. For example, lets take a current venture on called Newsgrape. This company has created an online-platform that can adapt to a users habits in order for bloggers and readers to effectively share material. Newsgrape needed $12,500 to get started, so they went on, made a video, posted a little something about them and their company, and asked the general public for funding. Note that there are some limits on what kind of startups can ask for funding.

What is surprising most experts, however, is how popular crowdsourcing is. The biggest trend that startups using crowdfunding are seeing is that people are generously donating, even in a tight economy. One of the biggest reasons: the option to donate in small portions. The majority of donators give in the $1 to $5 range, but when you have hundreds of people contributing it starts to add up!

What are the Keys to Crowdfunding?

The biggest idea to keep in mind if you want to go down the crowdfunding path is to make sure that your project is focused. This means you need to tell the crowd your specific goals so they can rally behind you. Also, help people connect with what you are doing by telling a compelling story, giving the potential donator a backdrop to why you do what do and why they should help you out. Dont forget to give your crowd a way to observe the impact your donation is having on your project, too, so they can feel good about contributing their money to you. You never know, they might donate again!

Having a large social network also makes the process easier, so reach out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media sites you, or your startup, have a presence in. If youre still building your social network out, email is a powerful tool and can go viral pretty quickly. Furthermore, consider making video updates instead of a post on your blog or Facebook wall. People will see how passionate you are, which will help the message spread.

According to Kevin Lawton of The Huffington Post, crowdfunding forces entrepreneurs to be open and honest. Investors wont spend time on a project that smells fishy, and its hard to pull the wool over the eyes of the entire internet

While Exciting, Crowdfunding is Still Not Perfect

One major caveat with the crowdfunding movement is the fact that there are only non-equity based options for startups. In other words, entrepreneurs can only ask for donations and not give contributors a piece of their company. This is the result of SEC regulations that ban entrepreneurs from approaching the general public for funding in an effort to protect investors from fraud. Unfortunately, this hurts entrepreneurs looking for funding between $25,000 and $2 million, a range that is challenging for startups because it is usually too high to fund out of pocket and below what VCs and angel investors usually give out.

At The Startup Garage we believe that crowdsourcing can be a valuable tool. Of course, it’s not an end all solution for getting your company funded, but its excellent for projects that arent too capital intensive, and can aid entrepreneurs that need to get from one step to the next.

Overall, if youre a startup that has a need for a limited amount of funding and you have a compelling story to tell, crowdsourcing can be very beneficial. You get money without taking on debt or equity partners, you can reach a new audience of enthusiastic followers, and it is easy to set up.

Whether you have a question about Crowdsourcing or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!