Tag Archives: Guide to the Startup Phase

TSG’s Highlights from the Connection Innovation Report: San Diego

TSG’s Highlights from the Connection Innovation Report: San Diego

CONNECT, a San Diego non-profit helping to create and scale innovation companies, assists entrepreneurs by providing resources that allow them to grow their business. Since 2005, they have measured the growth in economic innovation in San Diego. We highlighted the key findings of the report to showcase the advancement of San Diego’s entrepreneurial growth. We recommend that all San Diego entrepreneurs read the full Connect Innovation Report to stay up to date with startup trends and growth insight of the community!

San Diego Created 405 New Innovation Startups in 2015

Over 1,600 new jobs were created in San Diego by just innovation startups alone. The various industries include: Software (255), Life Sciences (82), Communication, Computer & Electronics (50), Aerospace, Navigation and Marine Tech (8), Environmental Technology (7) and Recreational Goods (3).

Ranked First in California For New Innovation Life Sciences Startups Created in 2015

According to the report, over 3,700 new tech and life sciences companies have been created between 2005-2015. San Diego also ranked second in the number of communications technology, recreational goods manufacturing and environmental technology startups in 2015.

Innovation Economy Grows To An All-Time High

2015 proved to be a historic year for innovation economy, creating nearly 149,440 high-paying jobs. That’s 11% of total employment in San Diego County with the city of Carlsbad arriving at number one, having the most new innovation startups created, a total of 63. Downtown San Diego (54) and Sorrento Valley (52) weren’t far behind.

Top Ten U.S. Metros for Startup Activity and Growth Entrepreneurship

San Diego ranked 7th using the Kauffman Index of Growth and Entrepreneurship, which gives equal weight to the rate of new entrepreneurs, opportunity share of new entrepreneurs, and startup density of a region.

VC Funding in Software Sector Surged in 2015

Invested in 28 deals, the total venture capital funding for the software sector was $240 million in 2015. This is an increase of 150% from 2014.

Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) Closed More Than $31 billion in Technology and Life Sciences Where a San Diego Company Was Either a Target or Buyer

The M&A area is dominated by life sciences companies. Medical devices sector accounted for 12 deals totaling $15.4 billion. This is almost half of all M&A deal value for San Diego’s innovation economy.

Research Grants

More than $1.29 billion in various grants were awarded to San Diego research institutes and companies. This ranks San Diego county 2nd in California behind Los Angeles County for NIH and NSF grant funding received in 2015.

We encourage all of the startup savvy founders in San Diego to read the full report on the CONNECT website.

The continuous growth and increasing number of startups in San Diego, calls for the need of a support structure and foundation crucial for success. TSG serves as an invaluable source of information into the startup environment, and in particular, the San Diego startup community. We take pride in providing critical information, tailored business plans and financial projections that propel companies forward to sustainable growth. Please continue to follow up with us on social media and reach out to us with your startup questions and inquiries of your business or idea!

Rise Up Radio Interview with Tyler Jensen Founder of The Startup Garage

Rise Up Radio San Diego with Tyler Jensen

Rise Up Radio Interview with Tyler Jensen Founder of The Startup Garage

You are listening to James Carmody and Jared Kelley here, in studio for SDriseup.com

We are looking to hear stories in your life about local leaders in San Diego.

Whether it is the small business owner, your Pastor or leader of your church, your kid’s school teacher or maybe it’s their Little League coach.

James:

With us in the studio now we have Tyler Jensen, who is the owner of Startup Garage. I am super-excited to hear about Tyler’s background, his journey in life and how he is making a difference in the community.

Tyler:

James, I like start ups and I love my garage. I am just so excited to dig into combining those things two things…

James:

Or maybe use it as a guide to combine.

Jared:

I think the play on it is that we are taking start ups out of the garage but that’s where they start. I know I am tinkering on toys in there and stuff, there are 360 video cameras in my garage and having fun…

Jared:

That is why I love start ups too, I have to say that. I am fascinated with that game.

James:

Yes, taking a risk and getting things off the ground.

Jared:

Tyler, welcome to the show; welcome to the fun we are going to have here. Tell us a little bit about your journey and what you are doing with Startup Garage.

Tyler:

Yes, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here and to share all the good that you are doing in the community. So, I launched Startup Garage about 5 years ago, as a result of having some struggles earlier on in my previous company. I really made a lot of mistakes earlier on in my first company.

Jared/James:

Yep, we all do that

Tyler:

And I realized that I made a lot of silly mistakes that I could have avoided and so that inspired me to help other people who are starting companies. People who have great ideas and passion and motivation, with ideas that can help improve the community, their families and themselves. So, that really gets me up out of bed every morning.

Jared:

Not only does it get you up out of bed. You have helped over 200 companies, non-profits and social enterprises. That is not light work.

Tyler:

It doesn’t feel like work, honestly. So, I think that’s the key. I wake up on Saturdays and sometimes I don’t have anything committed and sometimes I just start working again because I love it and it’s really fun, and people are coming up with some amazing ideas. People are really amazing when they are given the time and creativity to put something into action.

James:

Give us the background on Startup Garage. I know you started it back in 2010, so you are about 6 years in, what does it look like when someone comes to you, as you engage someone? What are you helping them with?

Tyler:

Typically, we have two different types of entrepreneurs who will come to us: one who we call the Lifestyle Entrepreneur and one we call the High Growth Entrepreneur.
The real difference is the high growth entrepreneur is looking to start something technology and really looking to scale really fast, maybe $100M in revenue within 5 years. They are going to need a lot of capital.

The Lifestyle Entrepreneur is really your traditional small business owner, maybe they are a sole proprietor, maybe they want to start a coffee shop or something like that and they just need help. So, on the high growth side we help them through the fund raising process and we do that through helping them build business plans, financial modeling, investor decks and we coach them on the fund raising process because as an entrepreneur we think certain things are important and investors almost think the exact opposite.

On the lifestyle side, it is really about education. On the small business side a lot of people have these great ideas and just really don’t know what the next steps are. They are really not that difficult but without access to someone who has gone through it before, it’s even more challenging and they make a lot of mistakes and sometimes even get stuck. So, we have an accelerator program on the lifestyle side that we just launched and I’m pretty excited about as well.

Jared:

Wow!

James:

Really cool!

Jared:

I think that it would be beneficial to sit down and have a conversation. Not on the radio, I probably need to break out my financials and see…because I personally fall more on the lifestyle side, that I just love being involved with people and I know a couple of venture capitalists, so I think that’s probably the point that most of them look at…everyone thinks it’s all about profit and that’s important, it is important to have revenue but I think that most partners are also looking on like “who is this guy, what is his story and what’s happening?”

I think again, that is more my passion, the lifestyle side, as it’s about just empowering and encouraging people to say: who are you, what are you doing and you have some passion around there right? Passion drives efficiencies and it drives innovation, and when you are sitting there doing the grind (and that’s important to have some grind and hustle) but if you are just doing a 9 – 5 to get a pay check, then look at that and see if that is really what you want to do.

If you have that entrepreneurial spirit it is just inspiring to sit down with people like Tyler who will tell you “I’ve been through the struggle and you could probably do a pretty sick billion of a widget company yourself.”

He said: “I’ve got these talents how do I help other people and how do I multiply this?” I commend you for doing that and I know that that space is not an easy one. So, it’s fun and you like to work on your Saturdays but you probably get some notes once in a while in the finance space and growing through that.

James:

Sure. Speaking of passions folks, one of the things that you may be very familiar with if you are listening here is that Tyler Jensen is also the founder of VAVi Sports. I know firsthand I’ve played in multiple VAVi leagues in my 13 years as a San Diegan.
I’m sure Jared has, I know my wife has and my friends and clients have. Tell us how VAVi got started? It’s such a thriving, amazing organization now. Where did you get it started and how did you guys come to San Diego and where we are at today?

Tyler:

I’m originally from Virginia

James:

An East coaster like myself. I’m from Massachusetts.

Tyler:

Okay, nice. I went to University of Virginia and moved back right after I graduated in 2008, with big dreams (most 21 year olds are full of ego and full of confidence). I came out with that and ran out of money in about 3 weeks after I got here – the 21st day.

James:

Where did you go, to the beach and the bar?

Tyler:

I was looking for a job. So, I came out here and I got offered a job to run a political campaign. I ended up running a U.S. congressional political campaign for about a year. One of the women and I on that campaign started talking about wanting to start a business. I had just moved here and I saw the need to start building a community beyond just the bar scene.

At 21 I was living in Pacific Beach and you just went to bars and that is how you met new people but I wanted something different than that. We came up with the idea to have that community built around sports. I certainly wasn’t very good at sports, I’m okay…I’m average at best and so was my friend. So, it wasn’t about the super competitive sports, although VAVi does have some competitive leagues now. We just got started right after the campaign. We printed 5000 flyers.

James:

What year was this?

Tyler:

2002 – right after the campaign we printed 5000 flyers, set up a one-page website and we bought vavi.com. The day we launched and got the flyers in the mail, VAVi.com expired and we didn’t know that. A Chinese company bought it and so we had to launch govavi.com. We went around the beach and handed out flyers to get it started. We started with one volleyball league and now it’s got about 35,000 members here in San Diego. I sold it back in January 2008. So, it’s been quite a journey.

Jared:

I’ve also played in those leagues and I’m just like you, I’m not the super-competitive, achiever mentality person but I know my role, I’m not the greatest out there on the field but it was a great place to go play those sports and have fun. I think that’s why entrepreneurs are needed and leaders are needed, just to see those gaps and fill them.

So, if you are sitting at your desk or in your car having that thought in your head: “man, there is something here that can I can help do,” that’s what your role is, if that’s your passion find a way to do it. I’m not going to get `Gary Vaynerchuk’ on us right now but if it’s good – do it…make it happen.

James:

Tyler, it’s such a pleasure having you on air, someone who this entrepreneurial mindset and you have made such a difference here in the community. How many people play in VAVi sports nowadays?

Tyler:

I’m not sure exactly what it is anymore because I sold it a number of years ago. I’m trying to think…

James:

Ten…twenty people maybe?

Tyler:

Probably. There were probably 3,000 people in a given week playing in some sort of event when I sold it.

James:

Right, that’s amazing. That’s the adventure, right? And at Startup Garage, you are impacting local entrepreneurs in a major way and they are impacting their communities.

Tyler:

Yes, and that’s really what motivates me, to contribute entrepreneurs of impact to the community. So I am impacting the entrepreneurs. I’m not, like you who said you like to network and get out there and do all that. I’m a kind of introverted guy, so I figured out how do I make the biggest impact if I don’t have to go out and be in big crowds all the time? I got enough of that through my VAVi days. I moved up to Encinitas and hide out up there.

James:

Oh, that’s fantastic. Tyler Jensen making a big impact, empowering others through entrepreneurship to give back to their communities.

Jared:

Tyler, let’s go into Startup Garage just a little bit more, and maybe you can say some of the companies or maybe not. What does it look like for a couple of companies that are coming in and talking to you, and what are you doing with them?

Tyler:

I will give two examples: one for the high growth type company and one for the lifestyle type company because it’s a little bit different of a process. On the high growth side I will be kind of vague about all the details because of confidentiality.

I’m working with a company that came to me about a year and a half ago wanting to get into the solar space and had a concept and really needed cash, lots of cash to be able to execute on that idea he had. We helped cultivate that idea and put it into a business plan and through a really complicated financial model (as it turned out to be pretty complex for this particular one) and crafted the investor deck so that investors would respond to the story as well.

When an entrepreneur goes in they just want to talk about their product or service because they are so product/service-centric and they think that’s the best idea ever as they are putting their lives into it. It may be a great idea but investors want to know more.

So, we crafted all that together and put that investor package together. He went out to investors and has successfully raised several rounds of capital now. After the first round I continued to help as a part-time CFO on the team. I think he is nearing about $2 million raised, and really seeing a lot of traction and solar going in a lot of homes.

Jared:

Wow! You are like the Shark Tank Prep Crew.

James:

Folks, if you are at home, we’ve got the red beard and red haired Mr. Wonderful

Tyler:

You are hired as my branding consultant.

James:

I could run with that.

Jared:

And then for the lifestyle side what does that look like?

Tyler:

The lifestyle side was really motivated because to work one-on-one with myself and the team it costs a good chunk of change, and on the lifestyle side we found all these people, a lot of whom are my friends, coming to me and saying: “I really need your help…I want to get this off the ground.” I just didn’t have the band width to help them for free, and the finances just didn’t make sense.

So, I finally came up with the idea to do a group setting where we created this accelerator where we can take this whole group of people and teach them a lot of the same things but in a way that is going to be more beneficial to them.

They are not going to need to raise money from angel investors or venture capital but they are really going to need to get their service and their target market dialed in and all those pieces figured out, and learn the basics of business because a lot of them in this group do not know the foundation of business which can really catapult them to the next level.

So, they come and they sign up for a class. We are just finishing our first ever Lifestyle Business Accelerator class; we are in week 9 of 12, so we have 3 weeks left: Marketing, Sales and Small Business Funding. Then we are going to another class which (I think) starts on May 17.

It is a 12-week program and whenever there are 12 weeks we do 12 classes where you are going to learn and be interacting with others about the basics of business and getting your business plan done. There is also going to be 7 co-working nights, so you get together with your little pod within this group and work together.

So, there is learning and support, you are developing this little community of entrepreneurs that you can lean on. There is going to be 5 other nights of guest speakers where you are going to get to go and see other entrepreneurs talk about a number of different topics that are applicable to someone getting a new business up off the ground.

So it’s a 12-week program. We’ve made it really affordable, it’s only $1,500 for that whole program and so you end up with a business plan that you have created yourself, plus your business idea has changed from the idea into a real business that you can communicate to others and sell and make money.

Jared:

I think I’m an entrepreneur because my heart is just beating like it’s on fire right now…

James:

It’s so exciting!

Jared:

…and I can speak for myself; but if you are sitting in the same seat of: “what do I do next? I’m kind of lost in this thing…I have a great idea…” This is a solution that will provide high-tech coaching, have consultants come in and $1,500 is like a drop in the bucket – that is very affordable.

James:

Absolutely. And maybe you are sitting at home listening to us right now and you are working for a corporation and you are not stoked about it…you are not excited about it and you’ve had this passion project rolling around in your head, and you are like “how the heck do I even do this?” For $1,500 you could really play around with that idea, get some good training from Tyler and his crew and see if that has legs.

Tyler:

All the events are planned for in the evening as well, so if you have a full time job it’s after work. We definitely did it with that in mind, like “hey, if you want to get out of a job…” We just advise people “hey, don’t quit your job.” [Laughter] It’s going to take some time – not yet.

Jared:

So, please reach out. You can visit us on www.sdriseup.com, we have all of Tyler’s information there and how to get a hold of him and the company.
You have events all the time.

Let’s go into another event which I think is really really amazing and putting out that flag on the ground of rising up and being different, being part of your community. You are going to be talking about building a business to create impact, so the title of the business is very simply: Build a Business to Create Impact and that’s on April 12.

Again, we have information on that on our website, but Tyler, tell us more about what that event is.

Tyler:

That event is going to be a sampling of this lifestyle business accelerator. We are going to have a number of the different contributors coming in to do 5 minute instead of doing a whole class so you can get a flavor of who is going to be a part of this accelerator program and see if it’s a fit for you.

To be really fun, we are going to get that running up and moving and then we are going to dive into some business where we are going to be introducing the Business Canvas Model, which is a one-page business plan. You will do some actual learning which will move your business idea forward even if you decide not to take that class.
It’s from 6:00 – 8:30 in the Del Mar area.

Jared:

That one-page business plan that I looked at on your website, www.startupgarage.com, it is very clean but a very powerful tool. There’s a lot of information on that one-pager. So, if you’ve enjoyed this, please understand that you’re an entrepreneur and you’re a leader.

If you haven’t enjoyed it and you are just saying “hey, I know a lot of people like this,” be a leader in your space. If you are walking your dog wave to your neighbor, that’s leadership. Be a part of the community that you are in. That’s what this show is about.

James:

Folks, thank you so much for tuning in. Let’s continue to empower others, empower our neighbors, family, friends and co-workers. Tyler Jensen, with Startup Garage, it’s been a pleasure having you on.

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!

5 Excellent Startup Tips on Securing a Bank Loan

Bank Loan Tips From The Startup Garage

5 Excellent Startup Tips on Securing a Bank Loan

It’s no secret that securing bank funding for your startup is difficult these days – but it’s not impossible.

Give yourself better odds with these 5 simple
Startup tips:

Write a clear and convincing business plan.

Business owners must build a strategy from the very beginning around being “lendable,” so a business plan helps lay that proper foundation. Focus especially on the financial estimates and offer well-researched documentation for those estimates.

In addition, be sure to illustrate in your plan how you will generate revenue, how
much you’ll generate and how long it will take to get to positive cash flows. (Side tip: you may
want to have a CPA look over your financials beforehand).

Boost your credit rating.

A solid credit score lends legitimacy to your request and shows you’re less of a financial risk to the bank. They’ll want to see that you have a history of paying bills on time, as well as your history of minimizing outstanding debt. Have a less than desirable credit score?

Seek out smaller, more local banks, since large banks typically are pickier as to the kinds of businesses they want to work with. Smaller ones may be more forgiving of new businesses and may have less stringent credit requirements for opening accounts and lines of credit.

Launch your business in a solid industry.

Certain industries, such as food service and apparel,are considered extremely risky by potential lenders. Thus, if you are determined to get bank funding, consider an industry that doesn’t depend on fluctuating resources (such as oil prices) and has a relatively large profit margin.

Once selecting that industry, be sure to demonstrate your experience in it: offer real, measurable examples of your expertise in your chosen industry or of your experience of running successful businesses. Banks back those with a track record of success, so you’ll have to convince them you have the skill set, drive and experience to make their lending decision a successful one.

Owner’s equity.

If you expect lenders to put their “skin in the game,” they’re going to expect
you to do the same. As a general rule, you should personally invest 20% of the total projected
loan request. Your willingness to risk a sizeable portion of your own capital (and not just capital from their bank loans) shows your commitment to the venture.

Relationships are key.

Ultimately, securing a bank loan is about building a relationship with your bank, and if done correctly, your banker can become your biggest ally. If the banker knows you, your business operations and that you have good employees and a stable customer base, they
will be more likely to go out on a limb for you.

Having a good relationship with your bank can
make running your business a lot easier, so don’t underestimate it!

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!

5 Reasons to Attend The USD V2 Pitch Competition For Entrepreneurs

5 Reasons to Attend The USD V2 Pitch Competition For Entrepreneurs

On Thursday April 28th University of San Diego School of Business will hold an exciting competition in a “Shark Tank” like setting.

Top student entrepreneurs from USD and Tijuana will compete for a total of $100,000 in cash and invaluable mentorship and support.

The Startup Garage Team Compiled The Top 5 Reasons this is a must attend event:

1. There’s 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 had the opportunity to spent time with like minded entrepreneurs in a beautiful setting at no cost?
Register here

2. Absorb expert advice and insights from keynote speaker Tim Suski.

Tim co-founded one of the fastest growing boutique fitness franchise in Southern California, (The Rush Cycle Franchise) and also launched a technology platform used by 500+ businesses across the globe.

3. Fuel your entrepreneur inspiration.
The students pitching include a unique blend of entrepreneurs, each with their own innovative story and journey to share.

USD Current Student Entrepreneurs includes:

Lacy
Lacy is a bra washing machine (patent pending) that carefully protects bras and
delicates from the damage they normally endure during traditional washing methods.

FoldedColor
Technology company FoldedColor is an e-commerce solution for custom printed
packaging, offering standard and customizable folding carton options through a web-
to-print interface that includes instant pricing, an intuitive design editor, virtual 3D
proofing and online checkout.

TechMeetsTrader
This free social community for stocks and options investors, TechMeetsTrader
makes it easy to capitalize on investment opportunities and to learn from
experienced traders.

Like Cats and Dogs
Like Cats and Dogs produces a safe pet toy for both cats and dogs.

Bi-National Track Entrepreneurs Include:

AGROSOL
AGROSOL offers a fertilization, fumigation and geographical scanning system
performed by drones.

Baja Saver
Baja Saver generates clean and cheap energy through a product as small as a home
refrigerator that is 100 percent self-sufficient, more effective than wind and solar
systems and a better return on investment.

Ñapanga
Ñapanga produces and distributes a microbrew with a female focus.

FXR
FXR is an app used to request certified professional services for home repair and
maintenance.

4. Learn the art of pitching a Startup first hand.
Feel the presenters emotion and techniques when listening to a pitch, and tune into the panelist (potential “investors”) asking hard hitting questions.

5. Anyone can benefit from attending the V2 Pitch Competition.
Networking is key. “Meeting the right people and making connections to the San Diego start-up community is key to the success of any venture. We are lucky to bring in a unique crowd to the V2 Pitch Competition filled with investors, Entrepreneurs, alumni, and community partners. V2 has become an evening to connect, celebrate, and support our thriving San Diego and CaliBaja start-up ecosystem.” Regina Bernal, Entrepreneurship and Experiential Learning USD

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

We’ll have a table set up from 5-6pm at the Venture Fair prior to the event to answer any burning Startup Questions

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!

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!

Business Plan Writer vs. Business Plan Strategic Consultant

Business Plan Writer vs. Business Plan Strategic Consultant

People often ask me, “What are my options for writing a business plan?”

At the highest level, there are two options, writing it yourself or hiring someone else to do it for you.

The benefits of writing the business plan yourself are that you will save money and you will learn a lot about your business by going through the research and financial modeling processes.

However, this can be a risky option if you haven’t written a business plan before and/or if you haven’t raised capital before.

It is important to have a solid understanding of the way investors see value in a company as well as the milestones they care about if you are going to be successful writing the business plan yourself.

Furthermore, even if you have a good grasp on the investors’ perspective, you often miss out on objective, third-party pushback that can elevate your business plan to the next level. Lastly, as a time-strapped entrepreneur, spending several hundred hours writing your plan probably isn’t the best use of your time as you should be focusing on developing your product, expanding your team, and establishing
awareness with your customers.

While hiring someone to write your business plan for you will save you a lot of time, the capital outlay may or may not be worth the time savings – who you hire to write your business plan will make all the difference.

Hiring a Business Plan Strategic Consultant that can elevate your plan and strategy to help increase your chance of nailing the first impression with investors is money well spent. However, hiring a Business Plan Writer that merely saves you time but doesn’t add value to your pitch is a waste.

Below we’ve provided the differences between a Business Plan Writer and a Business Plan Strategic Consultant.

Business Plan Writer

A Business Plan Writer can be half the cost, or more, of a Business Plan Strategic Consultant. Typically, these savings come at the expense of the quality of the final product (you get what you pay for type of thing).

A Business Plan Writer typically completes a business plan in far less time simply because they can only put a limited amount of time into the plan in order for their business model to be profitable.

The problem with this model is that a business plan isn’t complete once a certain amount of time has passed; a business plan is complete once all red flags and issues have been identified, addressed, and overcome.

At the end of the day, a Business Plan Writer will require you to present the content, solutions, and answers that they will plug into a cookie-cutter template. While a Business Plan Writer can certainly save you time, the plan will ultimately only be as good as the information and strategies you provide them.

Business Plan Strategic Consultant

Hiring a Business Plan Strategic Consultant is certainly more expensive than hiring a Business Plan Writer or writing the plan yourself. However, the result will pay off in the long run when it comes to providing yourself with the best chance possible of successfully raising capital.

First a foremost, a Business Plan Strategic Consultant brings specific experience and education in the startup sector beyond expertise in broad business writing.

Second, a Business Plan Strategic Consultant understands what it takes to attract capital. They have an intimate knowledge of the capitalization timeline, who invests at the various stages, and what investors need to see at each stage. They will be able to coach you on the milestones and accomplishments you should be focusing on while crafting the investment story.

Third, a Business Plan Strategic Consultant takes a holistic approach to assessing your business including monetization strategies and business models, target markets and competitive differentiation, management team and personnel plan, sales and marketing communication strategies, and more.

Fourth, a Business Plan Strategic Consultant identifies red flags and gaps in your model by asking tough questions and challenging your assumptions in a way that is constructive and educational.

Finally, a Business Plan Strategic Consultant will compile all of this information in investor friendly documentation (business plan, executive summary, pitch deck, financial projections, one-page business plan, etc) based on your specific needs and audience.

The Startup Garage is a recognized Business Plan Strategic Consultancy that helps founders raise capital and get out of the garage through proven business plan writing and startup strategy consulting services. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

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

Furry Innovation: Pets Are Startup Businesses New Best Friends

Furry Innovation: Pets Are Startup Businesses New Best Friends

It’s no denying it, we love our pets and we’re willing to spend countless amounts of money in order to enhance their health, happiness, and even appearance.

According to the American Pet Products Association an estimated $58.5 billion was spent on pets in 2014. With nearly $330 million on pet costumes for Halloween alone.

From OnDemand Pet Adoptions to “Furspray” the newest way to decorate your pet for special occasions, Pet Startups combine the love of animals with a high-growth business opportunity. However, along with business opportunities comes fierce competition.

Currently listed on Angel List, there are 490 Pet Startups with an average valuation of $3.7 million across a pool 1,012 Investors. Leading the pack and setting the investment stage are DogVacay and Bark&Co.

DogVacay offers an on demand approach to petsitting near home, having securing 4 healthy funding infusions since 2012. Including: $1 million dollar seed round in May 2012, $6 million Series A round in Nov. 2012, $15 million dollar Series B round in Oct. 2013, and $25 million in Oct 2014.

Bark & Co. leveraged an untapped business model of a monthly subscription box of dog goodies with BarkBox and continued to expand across several other major properties:

BarkPost: Your daily dose of doggy news
BarkShop: Spoil your pup with the very best
BarkBuddy: Find fluffy adoptable singles in your area
BarkLive: Amazing experiences for you and your dog

Also securing a steady funding infusion including: $25,000 in Jan 2012, $1.7million in July 2012, $5million Series A round in April 2013, and $15million Series B Round in July 2014.

Funding is so red hot for Pets Startups, if the U.S. pet products industry collectively was a Fortune 500 company, it would be bigger than Google, Dell, UPS, or Coca-Cola.

Meanwhile, like any high-growth industry, it’s attracting a new breed of startup entrepreneurs with furry ambitions.

Here are a few “underdogs” that captured our attention here at The Startup Up Garage.

XcDogs: Based out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and it connects people who travel with their pets to locals willing to pet-sit short-term who is actively seeking funding at this time.

CleverPet: a local San Diego Startup which with a “Smart” pet gadget that educates and interacts with your animal companion in your absence. CleverPet had a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign of $180,623 and appears to have a variety of undisclosed funding in Sept 2015.

Urban Leash: offers on demand dog walking and cat-sitting services from anywhere at anytime, who a secured a $99,500 seed round in Nov 2014.

AllPaws is OkCupid for Finding Pets to Adopt, Swiping left and right and sifting through profiles is a regular practice for people looking for love nowadays.

Through the website and app AllPaws, the same approach is being used for those looking for a four-legged soulmate. AllPaws raised $1 million in capital in April 2013.

Will the Pet Startups above disrupt the pet industry as we know it?
Only time will tell, if they’re barking up the right tree.

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!