Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

How Does A Convertible Note Works For Startups?

How Does A Convertible Note Works For Startups?

A convertible note is an investment instrument intended to provide a startup company with early stage financing.

It’s a compromise of sorts, blending the downside protection associated with a loan and capturing the upside potential of selling equity shares.

Why are they used?

It can be very difficult for investors and entrepreneurs to agree on the valuation of an early stage company. Valuations are complex, and require a considerable amount of time and data that early stage startups just don’t have. A convertible note for startups allows the valuation conversation to be delayed until later down the road when a valuation can be more easily determined. Typically, this occurs at the next funding round. At which time, the note will convert from a loan to equity.

What’s the “discount rate” and other terms?

Early stage investors that invest in the form of a convertible note expect to be appropriately compensated for the extra risk taken by investing at such an early stage. As such, when a valuation is determined at a subsequent round of investment, the early stage investors typically receive a “discount” on that valuation where their investment gets converted at a cheaper valuation. The discount rate is predetermined and agreed upon at the time of signing the note. 20% is a common discount, but it can range widely from around 10% on the low end to 35% on the high end.

Here’s an example of the convertible note process:

Joe Angel invests $500K in a seed round investment
Startup issues Joe Angel a convertible note for $500K that has an automatic conversion feature at the next round of financing with a conversion discount of 20%
Startup closes a $1M Series A round with a VC at a pre-money valuation of $5M
VC receives 16.67% equity
Joe Angel’s note will convert to equity at a 20% discount on the pre-money valuation for 10% equity

The above return does not account for interest on the loan, which typically ranges from 5-7%. It’s not paid out like a regular loan, but instead accumulates and then the interest is added to the conversion amount at the end of the Series A startup funding round.

Main benefits:

Convertible notes are attractive for both the startup founders and potential investors. The startup needs this type of early funding to prove their concept and build momentum, and it gives savvy investors a way to gain significant discounted equity in a potential rising star.

Other benefits include:

Relatively simple to create, especially when compared to the preparation and legal resources needed for later funding rounds. The negotiations around valuation can be deferred, so the founders can focus on initial strategy and refining their service offering
Early investors should receive discounts because they took a chance on the firm at its earliest stages and they then often remain as loyal long-term investors.

Some caveats:

With the discount, the startup does give the investor a bigger stake in the company compared to the same money received by other investors, but this early-stage investment is often required in order to reach any growth.

On the investor’s side, they need to look very closely at the startup to be sure they are not taking on outsized-risk. The risk involved is higher than what is reflected in the typical 20% discount of the convertible note. This simply boils down to the challenges facing startups to actually move forward from seed to Series A funding rounds. Less companies are able to do it as they don’t build enough momentum to warrant larger-scale VC money.

Another risk for convertible note financing can come if the convertible note is too large. The problem can come when it converts to represent a big portion of the next round, which might discourage other investors from coming on board because they’re limited in the potential equity stake.

If you have a question about pursuing a convertible note strategy for your Startup or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Top 8 Success Tips For First Time Founders

Top 8 Success Tips For First Time Founders

As a Startup entrepreneur it’s easy for your work to become your life, and 8 years to effortlessly slip by.

I founded what has become The Startup Garage in January of 2008 with passion for helping entrepreneurs start and launch companies of impact.

Our business, team, and services have evolved, transformed, and changed many times over. Yet, throughout the years the fears, issues, and struggles seen amongst first time founders have remained the same.

As a Startup founder, regardless of where you are geographically or financially, there appears to be common threads, and snags all of us face at one point or another along the journey.

In 8 years of service, The Startup Garage, has helped over 200 companies, non-profits, social enterprises, find success. In celebration of our 8 year anniversary, I’d like to share with you.

My Top 8 Success Tips:

Startups take time. Create a plan that avoids too much false or unnecessary urgency.

Having a false sense of urgency can keep us from putting our energy into the right things at the right time. It’s true, success doesn’t just happen, it requires careful, detailed planning and action. Be sure to enlist the help of business plans, checklists and project management platforms, to prioritize and stick with daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals.

Don’t focus too much on the product/service. Balance your focus.

All to often entrepreneurs become so excited over their product or service, that they get lost in their own enthusiasm. The core of the business might be the problem the product solves. But, it’s imperative to give equal weight to other key comments of the business like, the team, the marketing strategy, business model and customer feedback.

There is plenty of investor money out there for companies who reach the milestones investors care about. Know what investors care about and focus on that.

Remember as an entrepreneur your perspective and mindset, often times differs from that of an investor. We’ve designed a helpful infographic here>> Achieve Investor Milestones
to keep you visually in tune with achieving the milestones investors care about, to communicate with them in a language they understand.

Founders are the biggest problem for most startups. Get out of your own way.

We call this the founder’s dilemma, and it’s a big one. Founders don’t let go easy, surrendering control, delegating tasks, and learning to be a leader rather than a micro-manager can take time. Recognize the dilemma and start delegating tasks even if it feels uncomfortable.

Healthy founders leads to healthy startups.

Founders are the core of a business inspiration, motivation, and success starts with you, then ripples out to the organization at large. Your business is your responsibility, treat it with care by caring for your health and well-being. To be efficient and firing at a high caliber it’s essential to embrace a healthy physical routine, and check in with your mental state. Moderation is key, working non-stop leads to startup burnout, and doesn’t help anyone within your startup.

Know your exit strategy.

Knowing your end game, makes every decision easier. Having clarity on on your exit plan, whether it’s not exiting, Merger & Acquisition, or IPO affects how you run your business day to day.

Planning is critical

The lifecycle of you startup depends upon planning, documenting, and communicating even the most mundane tasks.

Take on the student role and always be learning.

The smartest founders, are the ones that don’t know all the answers. Being a lifetime learner, evokes greater innovation and creativity. Knowledge is power and will help increase awareness of the world around you.

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

14 Key Insights From The Lean Entrepreneur Author Brant Cooper

14 Key Insights From The Lean Entrepreneur Author Brant Cooper

The Startup Grind San Diego hosts monthly fireside chats, featuring successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors.

The Startup Garage Team had the pleasure of attending Dec 10th event featuring San Diego Startup pioneer Brant Cooper.

Brant is the author of The Lean Entrepreneur, which supports organizations in jump-starting their innovation practices. He travels the globe helping to teach and educate entrepreneurs and intraprenuers,
through the simple objective of empowering individuals to make the change they want to see in the world.

We found Brant to be humble, entertaining, and very inspiring.

The TSG team couldn’t help but share 14 Key Insights we picked up from his talk.

San Diego Startup Community Verse Silicon Valley

The comparison needs to stop. We’re not Silicon Valley, we’re never going to be Silicon Valley. We don’t want to be Silicon Valley or we would be living in Silicon Valley.

Women Entrepreneurs

We’re one generation away worldwide from woman dominating entrepreneurship.

Women Entrepreneurs
are now economically empowered to start their own businesses.

Large Enterprise & Startups

Help Larger Enterprise by teaching entrepreneur skills. Make large enterprises value creation machines, so that they can give back new value to customers, as opposed to just being focused on wealth.

The Transformation to Value Creation Machines

It’s fun to be in a startup, but you can start being this way in a large organization too by being more entrepreneurial, closer to their customer, faster, and more agile.

College and Entrepreneurship

The real unicorn is someone who drops out of high school and hits it big.

Incubators and Accelerators – Mentorship

The biggest difficulty around the world aside from Silicon Valley and maybe NYC is the mentors, finding quality mentors that really know how to do startup mentoring is really hard.

Most Eco-systems are pulling people from large businesses, their heart is in the right place, and they can give great advice on a particular industry, but when it comes to founders issues, entrepreneurism, specific technologies, a lot of mentors don’t know what a startup is all about.

Entrepreneurship Best Practices

Top Ten Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Do…Read a Top Ten List.
The thing that’s overlooked the most is hustle.
It is the relentlessly pursue part that is actually going to make your idea a success.

We’re in a Customer Centric World

The rise of UX & Design.
The productivity gains we’re going to find are on the end user side.
You’ve build a satisfied customer experience, now you need to surpass the threshold and build passion, not with your product.

Crowdfunding a Book

It’s a great way to get a marketing budget, while helping build a community around the value proposition of the book. Be cautious, taking money from people that aren’t in your market segment is always a big no no, and actually dangerous.

Lean Principles

The idea around lean is the elimination of waste. Don’t waste your time, money, resources, creativity, inspiration in building products nobody wants.

Emerging Industries in SD

There’s a lot of people that think an eco-system can choose what industry to develop. Rather An eco-systems gets chosen, industries are chosen based upon who exits.

Entrepreneur Complaints

Entrepreneurs no matter where they are alway complain over a lack of money.
You can build your startup here (SD) and not have to move if you build out your business model.
You can complain about a lack of seed money, but if you build a successful business model you can raise money, bottom line.

Government and Startups

There’s a lot of mythology around the government money and innovation. The government even in the US has funded in some way almost all innovation we have ever done.

Startup Marketing

You should be able to see some organic growth that shows that there’s some buzz around the product, without spending any money on marketing.
Too quickly we’re into building the product and all the features, then now I need a marketing budget, and I need to spend a bunch of money on marketing in order to create a buzz.
Rather, the product better start the buzz, marketing is for amplifying the buzz the product creates, not for creating it’s own buzz.

Watch the complete interview here>>
Brant Cooper at Startup Grind San Diego

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

Why To Take Caution With Investor “Finders”

Why To Take Caution With Investor “Finders”

There are many service providers that offer to help startups with attracting investors, colloquially referred to as “finders.”

While they prefer to be called business brokers or consultants, most finders are either CPAs, insurance brokers, retired executives, or former entrepreneurs. They mostly operate in the Angel landscape, targeting deals between $100K to $2M.

Typically, they will either require a large retainer, an upfront fee, a percentage of capital raised, or some combination of all three.

The service they provide ranges from screening investors and setup meetings to developing a list of high-net-worth prospects for entrepreneurs to call on.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of controversy when working with finders. First, a sizeable majority of finders are not actually licensed as a securities broker by FINRA and are therefore in violation of federal and state security laws, whether they know it or not. Second, many finders are not capable of delivering on their promises or simply disappear as soon as you hand them a retainer check.

How This Affects You:

The issue that Startups face when working with unlicensed finders is that their legal problems can quickly spread to the startup as well. Payments to an unlawful finders can cause an entire transaction to violate securities law, giving investors a right to undo the deal as well as sue the Startup for damages.

Even if an investor does not undo the deal, these unlawful transactions can come back to haunt the company if and when the company decides to sell or go public as it may be forced to disclose the violations, thereby jeopardizing the pending deal. On the other hand, working with less than honest finders will clearly be a waste of time and money.

Advice:

Retain a good corporate securities attorney before you engage with a finder. Your securities attorney should be able to:

A) help you understand the full scope of risk of using finders in financing transactions.

B) help you verify that your potential finder is licensed with FINRA and your local state’s regulators.

C) ensure that your finder does not have any substantial complaints against them.

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

How To Understand Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Acquisition Costs?

How To Understand Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Acquisition Costs?

The Key to Profitability for your business

Understanding customer lifetime value and customer acquisition costs.

It comes as no surprise that a company must earn more revenue over the lifetime of any given customer (referred to as Customer Lifetime Value or CLTV) than it costs to acquire the customer (referred to as Customer Acquisition Cost or CAC).

While there are additional overhead and operating expenses that affect profitability, the first step in building a profitable business is to implement a scalable business model where your Customer Acquisition Cost is lower than your Customer Lifetime Value.

In theory, this seems rather obvious. However, putting this concept into practice can be difficult as your CLTV and CAC aren’t always extremely apparent. Additionally, it takes seasoned marketers and business leaders who understand how retention rates, sales & marketing channels, and business models affect

CLTV and CAC.

In this blog I’ll be discussing the factors that affect CLTV and CAC as well as strategies for increasing CLTV and reducing CAC. While much of what’s presented below is generally true across most industries, there are certainly caveats for every industry and business model.

Customer Lifetime Value

Before we discuss strategies for increasing CLTV, let’s wrap our heads around what CLTV is and how it is calculated. In its simplest form, CLTV is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. CLTV is calculated by forecasting the average customer lifetime (the number of months the customer purchases your product), the average monthly spend of your customers, and the average monthly cost of distributing your products.

As a result, you can increase your CLTV by:

1) increasing the average monthly spend
2) increasing the average customer lifetime
3) decreasing the cost of distributing your product.

Increasing Average Monthly Spend Per Customer

The most immediate way to increase your average monthly spend is to increase your price. However, an increase in price will often lead to either a reduction in conversion rates (the number of total customers) or a reduction in retention rates (the number of repeat purchases from a given customer).

You don’t want to increase your average monthly spend only to decrease the total number of customers or the average customer lifetime.

You can also increase the average monthly spend through upselling and cross-selling techniques. Think of Amazon suggesting additional products and services bought by other customers looking at the same item. Additionally, you can implement increase average monthly spend by implementing loyalty programs, improving conversion rates through website optimization, and streamlining the sales process.

Increasing Average Customer Lifetime

CLTV can also be increased by improving retention rates, or the percentage of customers that remain customers over time. Companies with low retention rates are required to draw the majority of their profits from just one purchase per customer while companies with high retention rates benefit from spreading their CLTV over numerous purchases.

Retention rates can be increased by improving customer satisfaction through strategies such as customer service and support centers, sending periodic discounts and promotions, offering loyalty programs, and enhancing the overall customer experience.

Decreasing the Cost of Distribution and Fulfillment

Every business’ cost structure will vary but some of the more common ways to decrease the cost of distribution and fulfillment include: purchasing inventory in larger amounts, utilizing cheaper vendors and suppliers, substituting lower cost materials, decreasing base salaries and increasing commissions, utilizing independent reps over in-house reps, and reducing waste.

Customer Acquisition Cost

Developing a business model that results in a low CAC and that is scalable is difficult and where many startup businesses fail. In a world of data overload, it is challenging to attract and successfully sell products and services to people that have never heard of you. Every product and service is different, but for most companies the customer goes through several stages before making a purchase.

First, they have to become aware of your product or service through PR, advertisements, word of mouth, social media, reviews and blogs, etc. Next, they often need to be courted by sales reps and go through some sort of on boarding process.

This process from start to finish can be costly. Naturally, you have options as to how you allocate your marketing and customer acquisition dollars. Strategies such as SEO are typically low cost but usually don’t offer a strong degree of control, targeting, and results. Unlike strategies such as direct sales which are typically very costly but come with a strong degree of control, targeting, and results.

It is important for businesses to research standards in their industry and then benchmark themselves against those standards in order to pick the appropriate channel mix for their business. Additionally, companies can get creative with low cost channels that will help to reduce the average CAC across all channels.

For example, referral and word of mouth programs (such as business that offer one month free for every 10 friends referred) are a great way to acquire new customers at very low costs. While you cannot rely on these strategies exclusively, they will help reduce the average CAC across all strategies.

Optimizing the CAC and CLTV ratio is crucial to the success of any business. The earlier the business can figure out the right mix the sooner they can begin scaling in a profitable way.

Here at The Startup Garage, we help entrepreneurs devise the appropriate business models and sales and marketing strategies that will enable them to scale a profitable business. Contact us to learn more.

Ready to win over $10,000 in Prizes for your Brilliant Business Idea?

Ready to win over $10,000 in Prizes for your Brilliant Business Idea?

The Startup Garage is excited to co-sponsor in “The Ideator December Challenge.”
A challenge designed to bring your business idea into conception.

Submissions currently open now until Dec 13, 2015 at 5pm (PST) entering is easy and done completely virtually.

Enter here today >>>December Challenge Idea Competition

The winner will be walking with $10,00 plus advisor board access, key mentorships, investor relationships, and specialized tools and resources from challenge sponsors:

SalesForce.Org
box.Org
Google
Pledge 1%
Crunchbase
Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center
BandofAngels
LegalZoom
Perkinscoie
Listhunt
SplashU

All ideas at any stage are welcome, this challenge is designed to bring your idea to life!
Judges are looking for the biggest idea with the best-defined roadmap to success.

The Top 5 idea will be notified on December 14th and selected to pitch in the finals on December 15th at 5pm PST.

5 questions to answer when entering to optimize your pitch are:

How big of a problem does the product solve?
How well does the product solve the problem?
How well do the docs, if any, support the idea?
How has collaboration helped the idea?
Do the goals and tasks adequately outline a roadmap to success?

Remember to structure your pitch in a colorful story with a beginning, middle, and end.
Let your personality shine through without being too salesy, vague, or abstract.

Ideator was created to foster global innovation and entrepreneurship, while also making them easier.
The Startup Garage Team, know’s it’s ideas like yours that continue to shift the landscape of business innovation.

We look forward to hearing your ideas and helping launch them to the world!

How To Measure and Achieve Product/Market Fit

TSG_ProductMarket from The Startup Garage

How To Measure and Achieve Product/Market Fit

Product/Market Fit is a term that was coined to define the process of creating a product that resonates
with a specific target market(s).

Taking this definition a step further, Product/Market Fit is proving sufficient demand within a target market segment to justify the spending of capital (human and financial) in order to begin scaling the company.

The definition of Product/Market Fit is fairly straight forward, achieving it is far more abstract.

How do you know when you’ve achieved Product/Market Fit?

When do you transition from a bootstrapped startup focusing all your resources on product development to an accelerated startup that is ready to begin scaling?

Answering these questions correctly can be the make or break for any young company.
Most startups don’t get second chances to scale the business, so timing is everything.
As a result, it is crucial to start measuring Product/Market Fit as early as possibly, to measure it often, and to continually fine-tune your product until you’ve gotten it right before you consider scaling.

Measuring Product/Market Fit is a bit of an art and a science. On the one hand, you can feel when Product/Market Fit is or isn’t happening.

Answering some of the following questions can help you assess the Product/Market Fit Feeling

– Are you getting new customers with little to no marketing strictly through word of mouth?

– Does your sales cycle take too long?

– Are your conversion rates above/below industry standard?

– Are you getting exciting press reviews and interviews?

– Are you struggling with holding sufficient inventory?

– Do you need additional sales and customer support staff to satisfy new customers?

On the other hand, you can use data from customer surveys as a way to measure Product/Market Fit.
Essentially, you are gathering information that will allow you to gauge how much value your customers are getting from the product and how disappointed they would be without having access to your product.

If half of your customers or more could live without your product then it is a safe bet that you haven’t achieved Product/Market Fit (disclaimer: this benchmark will vary from industry to industry based on average churn rates, customer lifetime, customer lifetime value, cost to acquire new customers, etc).

Achieving Product/Market Fit

Once you’ve achieved Product/Market Fit, you are ready to begin scaling the business. In order to scale,
you need to implement a business model that allows you to acquire customers at a profit while still
delivering on the customer benefits and value that got you here in the first place. Continue to test and
tweak your business model until you’ve developed a well-optimized and scalable customer acquisition
process.

Then, you are ready to pour gasoline (sales and marketing dollars) on the fire (a startup with
proven Product/Market Fit and business model).

Taking the time to fine-tune your product until you’ve achieved Product/Market Fit will greatly improve
your likelihood of strong conversion rates and successfully scaling the business. It will also allow you to
reach scale with less capital (giving up far less equity in the meantime).

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

Tweets. Hearts & Pivots: 5 Startup Business Lessons To Learn From Twitter

5 Startup Business Lessons To Learn From Twitter from The Startup Garage

Tweets. Hearts & Pivots: 5 Startup Business Lessons To Learn From Twitter

As Twitter shares plunge 13% and user growth & revenue pale in comparison to other social networks.

Investors, shareholders, and tweeters alike fear the legendary tech startup is doomed. #TwitterTurmoil

Founded in 2006 by by turning “moments of panic into moments of inspiration”
Twitter is no stranger to the art of the pivot and is taking fast deliberate actionable steps to ensure a successful future.

5 Key Business Lessons To Learn From Twitter

1. Embrace change.


“Expect the unexpected. And whenever possible, be the unexpected.”

Jack Dorsey 
knows when it’s time to hold to true to traditional strategy, and when it’s time to evolve. Twitter doesn’t fear change it leverages it as a discovery tool. Actively re-evaluating what’s working, what may have been overlooked, and to re-imagine what’s possible.

2. Value Consumer Habits.


A product only as valuable as the the User Experience. 
Over 300 million people use Twitter on a monthly basis, however over a billion people have tried Twitter and decided it’s not for them.

Recognizing there’s the potential to appeal to an additional 700million people, Twitter continues to simplify the platform to enhance the user experiences.

Twitter closely studies their customers’ broader behaviors around the use of their products and services.

Here are examples of careful listening and watching:

  • More Visual Pizzaz – Twitter Feed Looks More Like Your Facebook Feed

  • While you were away feature– Recap of tweets you may have missed that have high user engagement
  • Moments– lets users quickly find the best of what’s happening on Twitter at any given time.

  • Hearts replaces Stars– “The heart is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. It is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people. And in our tests, we found that people loved it.”
  • Polls -people can weigh in on all the topics they care about.
  • Unlock 140 Characters– still undetermined, there are talks of Twitter tweaking it’s character limitation limit beyond 140 characters.


3. Leverage Multiple Product Streams.


Twitter doesn’t rely on one product stream, like most successful Startups, their business model includes and integrates a variety of products/platforms.

Apps like Vine and Periscope are social media moguls individually, however their integration with in Twitter is the startup “Secret Sauce” and perhaps the most crucial ingredient to growth.

4. Never Stop Focusing on Funding.


1.16 Billion dollars in 8 funding rounds later Twitter, knows that seeking and raising capital is a constant battle. There’s not a mysterious funding plateau a startup reaches where investors and investments no longer matter, even for Unicorns.

There’s always a song and dance for funding, with investors scrupulously looking for the highest potential return on investment, with little risk.





5. Choose a CEO that is both a leader and a visionary.

Twitter announced that it was bringing back its co-founder, Jack Dorsey, as permanent CEO. Jack is a lead product visionary at the core, and aims for his products to help society work more efficiently and humanely.

“My role as an observer and as a technologist is to show everything that’s happening in the world in real time and get us to that data immediately, so we can change our lives even faster, with better knowledge.”


People invest in people, a good leader is someone who guides people and empowers it’s members to make big decisions. If I have to make a decision,” Jack says, “we have an organizational failure.”

Whether or not the 5 business lessons above will save Twitter, only time will tell.
It’s a critical time in the history for one of the most mainstream media platforms of our time.


Twitter was born out of a Pivot in 2006 …will it Thrive on a Pivot in 2015?

Tech Focused ‘Super Schools’ to Rethink High School Education in the U.S.

Tech Focused ‘Super Schools’ to Rethink High School Education in the U.S.

XQ: The Super School Project infused with $50Million Dollars of Steve Job’s fortune intends to redefine traditional U.S. high school education.

The team based competition encourages applicants to reimagine and modernize public education.
“To create the future, we must first imagine it.” 

The project intends to build and support 5-10 Super Schools to better fit an innovative-focused society, levering critical thinking and collaboration within the largely unchanged U.S. institution.

The Startup Garage Team spoke with 4 innovative educational leaders to share their keen insights and perspective regarding the XQ Project, and the future of entrepreneurship.

David Fu: An education community builder and the head of 4.0 Schools in NYC, an education incubator for early stage entrepreneurs launching innovative companies, nonprofits and schools.

Where does your passion education innovation draw from?

My passion for education innovation draws from two areas: first, this is a common refrain, but I am a first generation immigrant and it is clear to me how much I have benefited from opportunities I was afforded growing up in the U.S. as compared to in China. I believe firmly that we cannot know everyone’s potential without affording them similar opportunities, and I believe education is one of the best ways to do so. Second, I believe education is far from that ideal state, and that we must find innovative ideas that can help bridge from the current state of the world.

What you’re overall perspective of the XQ: The Super School Project?

I am excited because I think this project draws attention and brings funding to an area in need of innovation, in education the current school model (and high school model, in particular). I like the parallel between the overall process (team, discover, design, develop) and lean startup or design thinking; I also love the focus on users (students in the 21st century) in the discover phase and the focus on student agency & engagement in the design phase. I think this is a key mindset shift that still needs to take place in education across the country: how might we enable students to own their own learning? (and how do we then measure that learning; I do not believe standardized testing helps achieve this goal)

Two potential concerns:
First, are they partnering with local organizations to build the pipeline of talent and then screen it? The large marketing campaign and names (and roadshow / local events) should surface a lot of amazing people and ideas, but how do they plan to sift through them all and identify both great ideas and the right people to bring them to life (and right location with the right environment to do so)? There is some concern in the press around these ideas / process being too local, but I’m worried it’s not local enough.

Second, I’ve seen the value in making small bets and testing core components of a school model before opening the doors to the school (tiny schools) — I’m worried that this is potentially a large bet made too early. I hope that they plan to incorporate testing and many cycles of discovery, design, development to iterate on and launch truly innovative high school models.

How do you feel high school students today could be better prepared for Entrepreneurship?

I feel that one big challenge in school is that there is no culture of risk-taking and failure (either for students or teachers). There is such an emphasis on results (academic, grades, getting to college; test scores and value add) and concepts like leadership and service, but not enough emphasis on valuing the process itself.

For example, let’s say a project was to build a rube goldberg machine to put bread in a toaster and set it to to toast the bread with the constraints being a certain time frame and certain materials.

If a failure to accomplish this goal by your rube goldberg machine results in a low grade automatically, then the incentives are to take as few risks as possible and make sure that what you do works. Instead, grading based on the process and reflection on what students learned in project-based learning would enable this shift.

What advise would you give to give to a high school student interested in becoming a Startup founder?

First, most technology startup founders that are successful either have deep technical expertise – coding, web/app/software development, engineering OR deep industry experience / passion — understand the problems faced by consumers or businesses in a particular industry like education, healthcare, etc. Second, find something you are really passionate about, and become a problem hunter to understand the challenges people face in that area/field/industry — it takes passion for you to stick to it through the tough times you will face as an entrepreneur, and it takes a deep understanding of a problem first to come up with a great solution.

Regina Bernal: Entrepreneurship and Experiential Learning Coordinator a the University of San Diego, empowering entrepreneurs to turn their venture ideas into a reality.

Are you familiar with the XQ: The Super School Project? What is your overall perspective of the concept?

I am extremely impressed with this concept, I would have loved be part of a more more innovative high school experience

How do you feel high school students today could be better prepared for college?

High School students need to “Get out of the Building” learn more in the world, not just in the classroom. There is so much learning that comes from interactions, experiences, and situations. The more that high school teachers are able to tie in real world situations to their curriculum the better prepared students will be when they come to college. There is not a perfect handbook to help guide your way through college, but knowing how to tackle difficult situations in creatives and innovative ways would be a game changer for a future college student.

What are 3 elements of the USD entrepreneurship program do you feel could be beneficial to high school education?

Know your pitch! Learn how to effectively communicate your ideas, and get the buy-ins from those around you. At USD we are heavily focused on the “pitch”. A great idea can be lost in the inability to effectively communicate it, Get out there and actually test your ideas! You may think you have the best ideas in the world, but unless other people agree and get excited about it then you eventually hit a wall Grow your network! Even at a High School level, you need to think about those around you and how they can help build on your ideas.

Entrepreneurship and life is about collaboration, knowing great people that you can reach out will be an advantage in anything that you decide to do.

What advise would you give to give to a high school student interested in becoming a Startup founder?

It is never too late to start! There are no rules to being an entrepreneur and everyone has a different path. If you have the slightest inspiration or inclination to be a Founder get out there and start testing your idea. Do not be too in love with your original idea and be flexible to change

Shana Tessenholtz: Assistant Principal of English/ELL for a large comprehensive high school in Queens NY grades 9-12.

Are you familiar with the XQ: The Super School Project? What is your overall perspective of the concept?

Not familiar. I think I saw a sign for it at a bus stop but don’t really know what it is.

How do you feel high school students needs today differ from when you were a high school student?

The world is a very different place from when we were high school students. Teachers need to infuse more technology into their classrooms as students use technology every day of their lives. Also, the attention span of students today is much shorter. Teachers constantly need to mix things up to keep students interested. There is also much less accountability for students then there was when we went to school. If students are not doing their work, parents say “you are not challenging my kids, you don’t like my kid….” Also, deadlines are often guidelines instead of hard and fast due dates.

What are 3 elements you would implement to better prepare students for college, jobs, and life after high school?

To prepare students for life after high school: more internships, students MUST learn another language (Chinese is a good pick – not just Spanish or French anymore), financial awareness (students have no concepts of how much money is costs to go to College and to live in the real world)

What advise would you give to give to a high school student interested in becoming a Tech Startup Founder?

There are a lot of great internships and programs available for students who are interested in this field. I think the #1 piece of advice would be to get an internship and immerse themselves in the field. Talk to people who are already in the field and doing what they want to do and find out what it takes. How much money will they need? Business plan? Who will they talk to when their product is complete? Having an idea is simply not enough anymore in this competitive market.

Deborah Chang: Education Entrepreneur and Community Organizer, building scaleable solutions that take down systemic barriers to education innovation.

Are you familiar with the XQ: The Super School Project?What is your overall perspective of the concept?

In this era of high-stakes end of the year tests being used to label schools and evaluate teachers, educators, particularly those teaching the most disadvantaged students, are feeling the pressure to teach in ways that may not encourage student creativity, empowerment, and collaboration. In addition, teaching that is projects-based, hands-on, real-world is hard. We need to provide real support as a nation in the form of training, community building, and finances in order to truly transform education.

What XQ: The Super School Project does is provide the political cover and resources necessary for educators to create schools that truly meet the needs of their particular community of students. Perhaps even more importantly, it is catalyzing conversations around the country on what education really needs to look like, sound like, and feel like In a connected world. It is these ongoing conversations leading to real action by committed teams of people that will ultimately lead to positive collective impact for our nation’s children.

How do you feel high school students today could be better prepared for Entrepreneurship?

65% of our students will be working in jobs that have not been created yet (Source: US Labor Report). So, let’s not pretend to know what kind of world our students will inherit. Instead, let’s teach our students to create the world that they want to live in.

What advise would you give to give to a high school student interested in becoming a Startup founder?

Learn how to learn. Learn obsessively. Learn quickly. As you’re figuring out your life’s purpose, don’t sit in a room and stress. Just throw yourself into projects over and over again to learn more about yourself while building skills that will make you invaluable. Quit projects if you need to in order to have the freedom to discover what you truly love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what’s financially sustainable. And, have the courage to quit because you trust in your ability to learn, no matter what life throws at you.

Finally, commit. As long as you commit to uncovering that purpose you’ll forever
live your life by, you’ll find it, and when you do, even if it looks different from anything else that has ever been done before, your life will have completely changed for the better.

Ready to #RethinkHighschool?  Applications are being accepted until November 15th Enter Today here> Project XQ

6 Reasons You’ll Want To Attend The USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference

USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference From The Startup Garage

6 Reasons You’ll Want To Attend The USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference

On Thursday Oct 8 2015 The University of San Diego School of Business Administration and the Center for Peace and Commerce proudly present the 3rd annual USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference.

If you find yourself sitting on the fence, debating whether or not you should attend this premier networking and coaching opportunity for entrepreneurs…

Here are The Startup Garage Team’s Top 6 Reasons Attending is a MUST.

1. The Financial Times recently ranked USD’s School of Business Administration’s MBA Program Number Three in the World for Entrepreneurship. An honor that undeniably showcases USD entrepreneurship know how.

The esteemed ranking is based on criteria included the percentage of graduates who created their own company, the percentage of companies still operating at the end of 2014, whether it was their main source of income and how the school and the alumni network helped set things up.

2. USD Entrepreneurship’s purpose is to empower change makers through entrepreneurship.

The event was purposefully created to evolve and sustain a community of aspiring as well as seasoned entrepreneurs/business owners. Ultimately, bringing together students, alumni, investors and entrepreneurs for an interactive evening of coaching and collaboration.

3. Anyone can benefit from attending the conference.
“The USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference is one of our biggest events at USD for Entrepreneurs.It is incredible opportunity for anyone who has ever had an inspiration to be an entrepreneur to get the “real” behind the scenes story from some of San Diego’s top Entrepreneurs.

Participants will network with people who have done it before and can share their stories of “If I started my venture today, how would I do it differently” and “What I would tell my 21 year old self”. Making mistakes as an entrepreneur can be very expensive, and an event like ULEC gives people the opportunity to ask questions, get feedback, and gathered some lessons learned from top entrepreneurs.

It is also a great opportunity to meet our current innovative students and the thriving USD startup community. social entrepreneurs who are changing the world and want to share their stories will also be on the panels adding a “changemaker” perspective” Regina Bernal, Entrepreneurship and Experiential Learning

4. There is no cost to attend. It’s a completely FREE event, although space is limited.


*HINT sign up early to reserve your seat.*
When was the last time you got to network in a beautiful setting with highly successful individuals ready and willing to share with you their knowledge and insights at no cost?

5. Conference panelist include a blend of unique entrepreneurs, each with their own story and journey to share.

USD Current Student Entrepreneurs include:

 Nathan Resnick ’16 BA, founder of Yes Man Watches and Corked

USD Alumni Entrepreneurs Include;
 Alex Pascal ’07 BA, co-founder and CEO of CoachLogix

 Cody Nenadal ’08 BA, vice president of Silicon Valley Bank

 Lynn Hijar ’98 BA, ’06 MSGL, founder and CEO of iBz247

 Siyamak Khorrami ’06 BS, president of Skyriker IT

 Teresa Smith ’13 MA, CEO of Dreams for Change

Guest Entrepreneurs include:
 Silvia Mah, founder and CEO of Hera Labs

 Phil Blair, president and CEO of Manpower

 Sneha Jayaprakash, CEO of Giventure

 Ned McMahon, CEO of Primo Win

6. At the conclusion of the event you’ll leave with actionable deliverable information and results in order to turn big ideas into reality.

You’ll leave with 3.5 hours of solid startup advice, tried and tested by successful entrepreneurs.
Plus you’ll have a newfound community of entrepreneurs you can easily connect with online and offline #USDENTREPRENEUR for further discussions.

Now that you’ve decided to join us be sure to say hello to The Startup Garage Team!

Tickets can be reserved here>> USD Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference