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The Femaleprenuer: Exclusive Q& A with Four Influential Female Founders

The Femaleprenuer: Exclusive Q& A with Four Influential Female Founders

1975 may have been the year in the United Nations declared “International Women’s Year.”

Now 40 years later 2015 is shaping up to be momentous year for female founders, with over 9 million women-owned companies in the United States.

The Startup Garage interviewed 4 diverse femaleprenuers on the state of entrepreneurship today, practical advice, and what they believe the future holds for entrepreneurs.

Do you Feel the business world is shifting for female entrepreneurs?

Travis Loring Co-Founder ofMonthly Express:

I believe the world is shifting in general and gearing up for a major adjustment in the rise of female entrepreneurs. I feel that in this area of business it is more acceptable for a woman to start her own company rather than rise to the top of a corporation. Even though we have seen a dramatic increase in women occupying the c suite level. When a woman decides to start their own company, they are paving their own road, not conforming to a more traditional route with traditional ideals. This is true however for all entrepreneurs, so I believe it is only natural for women to take this path as well.

Ana Bermudez Founder of TAGit:

Absolutely! In the past 10-years, there have been many successful female-focused businesses like Hera Hub, Chic CEO, and Geek Girl who empower, educate, and provide resources for female entrepreneurs.

Delara Fadavi CEO and Co-Founder of MeegoTech:

While there is still a huge discrepancy in the number of women vs men actively involved in business and entrepreneurship, I think that the increasing number of women in influential roles, like Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, Lori Greiner on Shark Tank, or even Jessica Alba who co-founded The Honest Company, are role models who are challenging the status quo of a male-dominated business world. Because of these role models and the Female Entrepreneur support networks more and more women are seeing the opportunity in pursuing entrepreneurship. I think that the business ecosystem is changing as is the entrepreneurial culture, which is indiscriminately focused on achieving results , rather than following an existing business structure. Revolutionizing how the general public sees business, and I making it more enticing for women to jump in.

Natacha Gaymer-Jones Founder of LegalTap:

Yes, I do feel that the world is shifting for female entrepreneurs slowly but surely. Regardless of gender it’s all about who you know. Networking is key.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Travis Loring Co-Founder of Monthly Express:

Success means travel. My wife and I became entrepreneurs to be able to provide for our family and travel. We wanted no restraints and no bosses. Both of us dreamt up our company on our honeymoon in Capri and right then and there decided we could do this. Like a Doctor or a Lawyer goes to school for years, we decided to put in time to grow our company for the freedom it could provide.

Ana Bermudez Founder of TAGit:

Success is subjective to a person’s personality, and I believe a successful person is one that finds joy in what they do.

Delara Fadavi CEO and Co-Founder of MeegoTech
:

Success to me is creating something that improves society or helps people live happier and healthier lives, and being able to see the project from start to finish.

Natacha Gaymer-Jones Founder of LegalTap:

Success to me isn’t the amount of money you have in your bank account, but it’s the knowledge you have gained. It’s cliche to say but it’s all about the journey.

Who’s your go to source for business advice and inspiration?

Travis Loring Co-Founder of Monthly Express:

My aunt Laura Slatkin, founder of NEST Fragrances in NYC. She has always been my source of inspiration, but now serving on the board of directors of MonthlyExpress she has provided me with guidance and invaluable advice. Being a successful entrepreneur herself is incredibly inspirational and makes me think less of the gender gap and more about just working hard. I believe that to be successful and or woman you have to want it. Also having like minded people around you for support and advice is necessary, no matter who you are.

Ana Bermudez Founder of TAGit
:

Family, friends, mentors, and former business partners have become my pillars of advice and inspiration as I trek through this entrepreneurial journey. Different entrepreneurs have different personalities and styles. I enjoy surrounding myself with people who challenge me, provide a different perspective, and aren’t afraid to tell me the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular the truth may be.

Delara Fadavi CEO and Co-Founder of MeegoTech:

I don’t have a single person or source I go to for business advice; I like getting multiple opinions and extracting my own conclusions. With regards to my current startup, Meego, which is a simple motion-based security alarm to prevent laptop theft, I have been getting a lot of advice about how to from seasoned entrepreneurs and individuals, who have manufacturing experience from large tech companies. For more general advice and inspiration, I enjoy listening to Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast and watching ABC’s Shark Tank.

Natacha Gaymer-Jones Founder of LegalTap
:

I have several female mentors around me. One is a good friend of mine and business associate Suzanne Abate, who is the Founder of MyTimeBlocks, she gives me the straightforward no BS advice that always seems to hit the nail on the head when I need input. I also am the director of a women tech organization here in LA that has also been invaluable.

What female would you like to see on the $10 bill in 2020?

Travis Loring Co-Founder of Monthly Express:

First let me say that there are many women who belong our currency. I do wish that it was the $20 dollar bill because it is a much more common denomination. Who really has $10’s in their wallet? Harriet Tubman comes to mind as well as Wilma Mankiller. I think often we loose sight of our countries history. Both Native American suffrage and Slavery (suffrage). We see our founding fathers all the time but we are hardly reminded of the very real struggles of our nation. I think it makes us forget our founding principles and keeps us hostile in many ways. A reminder of the fight will humble most of us.

Ana Bermudez Founder of TAGit:

Any female! The U.S. is the largest economy in the world, and it didn’t reach that coveted position with a single gender, race, culture, belief-system, etc. Our currency should reflect the melting-pot that founded, and continues to push the U.S. economy forward.

Delara Fadavi CEO and Co-Founder of MeegoTech
:

While currency typically features political figures, I would love to see a female scientist like Barbara McClintock on the $10 bill. Her discoveries of mobile genes in maize were foundational to modern genetic engineering, which is hugely important in today’s most cutting-edge medical advancements. I believe that honoring a scientist on our currency will also show how important STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields are in the advancement of our country.

Natacha Gaymer-Jones Founder of LegalTap:

Marrisa Mayer of course! Favorite quote by her, “Search is an unsolved problem.”

What Is A Must read book or movie for entrepreneurs?

Travis Loring Co-Founder of Monthly Express:

“The Art of the Deal” this is not because of the author, but because of his relentless nature. I also read a lot of leadership books. Entrepreneurs are leaders, they are not bosses, or managers. Leaders have the ability to inspire and build confidence, it’s a trait I believe is within everyone but needs to be refined. My favorite book is George Washington,” Lessons in Leadership.” In this book Washington teaches us how to build relationships, think outside of the box, and not be afraid to fail. The book is not as straight forward as the Entrepreneur books that are out on the market today, but his lessons are practical and easier than you think to put into practice.

Ana Bermudez Founder of TAGit:

I have read many books throughout my career that have inspired me to be a better student, leader, business executive, and entrepreneur. I encourage entrepreneurs to always read, and to read diverse material. Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist, is a popular, highly-inspirational, and easy read.

Delara Fadavi CEO and Co-Founder of MeegoTech
:

“inGenius: A Crash Course in Creativity” by Tina Seelig–This book isn’t the typical ‘how to be successful in business’ text, but I believe creating something memorable, or being someone irreplaceable requires you to be different, and that’s where creativity comes in. This book helped open my eyes to concrete ways to encourage myself to be more creative.

Natacha Gaymer-Jones Founder of LegalTap:

“Thinker Toys” by Michael Michalko, an amazing book that teaches you how to think about creativity and how to apply it in your daily life! Such a good book when you are in a rut and you need some inspiration! There are a lot of Aha moments as you turn each page!

Who’s in your business network?

Travis Loring Co-Founder of Monthly Express:

My network consists of a variety of people from tech geeks to beauty founders. Being from NY helps open my network and quickly, but living in Florida helps me make a difference on a local level. I am a past president of South Florida Interactive Marketing Association and that has absolutely helped MonthlyExpress get the right vendors in place to make our company successful.

Ana Bermudez Founder of TAGit:

Only the most amazing people, of course! Businesses rely on relationships (customers, investors, partners, etc.), and I enjoy growing my business network by becoming friends with individuals who are as motivated, driven, and trustworthy as I am.

Delara Fadavi CEO and Co-Founder of MeegoTech:

Dr. Jay Kunin and Kim Davis-King who I met through startup accelerators at the University of California, San Diego are my primary business strategy advisors. I also communicate with Mike Krenn, President of the San Diego Venture Group, for financial advice. I also have met with Nick Woodman, CEO of GoPro and UCSD alumni, for marketing advice, and he has been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about our laptop security product.

Natacha Gaymer-Jones Founder of LegalTap:

Great question, in my business network are some of the most talented web developers, VC’s and entrepreneurs. I never separate work and play because I find it important to align all areas of my life with people that will stimulate growth. I never put my pencil down if that makes sense.



What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to other female founders?

Travis Loring Co-Founder of Monthly Express:

Be confident and know you can do it. You will fail a lot, and you will feel like the world is caving in, but keep going because it’s worth it. Be yourself too. Don’t think that its a mans world…it isn’t, its just the world. You may come across some adversity but chances are you won’t. And if you do, push through because thats the struggle everyone has. Also, be a woman. Don’t be a man. And don’t let anyone tell you to “man up” or “think like a man”. You are a woman so be one and be proud. You got this!

Ana Bermudez Founder of GetTagit:

Prepare yourself for one of the most arduous, challenging, and most rewarding journeys of your life! Commit to the process that it takes to reach your goals, and surround yourself with people who care about your success. Most importantly, enjoy every step and every milestone in your journey.

Delara Fadavi CEO and Co-Founder of MeegoTech:

I don’t think that female entrepreneurs need different advice than men; in order to be successful as a founder, you need to be working on something that you 100% believe in. Money should not be a driving factor in why a founder pursues a project; rather, I think that financial success will come as a result of creating something that betters society, and that can be scaled to make a sustainable profit.  However, as a woman walking into a male-dominated meeting or conference, it can be intimidating at times, and my best advice for these situations is to stand tall and be confident in yourself and your knowledge. I have sensed that it can sometimes be more challenging to gain credibility in these types of situations, but that’s why I think it is always important to carry yourself like you mean business.

Natacha Gaymer-Jones Founder of LegalTap:

Finish what you’ve started! So many people I’ve come across have amazing ideas but their execution is poor. If you really want to move up in the world and compete side by side it takes diligence, patience and above all heart.

Thank you to all the female founders above, as well as those unmentioned. We applaud you for your courage, dedication, and entrepreneurial spirit..

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!

4 Reasons Why Startup Week San Diego Is Good For Your Life & Your Business

4 Reasons Why Startup Week San Diego Is From The Startup Garage

4 Reasons Why Startup Week San Diego Is Good For Your Life & Your Business

Celebrating and participating in local innovation has never been cooler for San Diegans, thanks to Startup Week San Diego.

Located in the heart of downtown SD June 14th-20th.

This action packed 6 day event is designed to be the premier catalyst for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism.

If you haven’t decided to attend, volunteer, or showcase at the event yet, here’s 4 solid reasons why doing so is good for your life and business.

1.Cutting Edge Information and Education Resource:

Have you ever wanted to be in the know, while helping to create the future? Welcome to the innovation and information highway. #SDSW is the ultimate platform to learn from leaders in Software as a Service (SaaS) including mobile tech, consumer internet, hardware, and defense technology.

Here’s a sneak peak of a few speaker’s topics you won’t find elsewhere:

    “$h!T Founders Don’t Talk About” speakers Mel Gordon Co-founder of TapHunter along with Bryan Hall Co-Founded his own engineering services company, and David Warren CEO of the mobile app LIA, share honest, raw, and insightful stories from the front lines as a Startup Founders.
    “How to Launch A Product on Kickstarter” crowdfunding your business has never been easier and in some cases more complicated. 3 San Diego Startups share with you their journey and the how to’s of launching and successfully getting funded on Kickstarter.

2. Explore & Enjoy San Diego Venues Like Never Before:

San Diego Startup Week doesn’t believe in stuffy conference rooms or returning to the same boring location day after day.

The roster of venues includes: the newly constructed $185 million library, the Broadway Pier which is located directly on the harbor, Mission Brewery where craft beer is their passion, and a handful of cool Startup incubators and accelerators where you’ll experience startup work culture firsthand.

If you’re ready for a real adventure we recommend the “Startup Crawl” on Weds June 17th from 7-9pm.
Groups will trek or crawl to various San Diego Startup and Tech companies for office tours, product showcases, and samplings of local craft beers.

3.Exceptional Networking Opportunities

You’ve heard it before “Your Network is your Net Worth” Startup week promises to infuse a community of thriving business and creative minds together with fun relationship building
activities.

The Startup Garage Team recommends showing off your stellar networking skills at Startup Week Launch Fest on Sunday June 14th from 3-6pm outside on the Broadway Pier, featuring food, live music, and even LED hula-hooping!

4. Great Way To Invest in your Education, Yourself, and San Diego Businesses

Whether you’re an SD local or visiting for your first time there’s no denying the entrepreneurial spirit is thriving with in this beach city. There’s never been a better time to invest in those things that matter most.

All access passes for the entire WEEK tickets are only $50 per person, and current students can attend free of charge. And if you find yourself wanting to assist, and gain a more behind the scenes perspective, sign up to get involved as a volunteer here>> Volunteer

Now that we’ve giving you our Top 4 for Reasons to check out #SDSW, we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy San Diego Startup Week and all it’s unique offerings.


The Startup Garage Team looks forward to hearing about your experience at #SDSW tag us in your social media posts #TheStartupGarage and share with us any tips or lessons you may have learned throughout the week. Enjoy!

Looking 3 Steps Ahead: What Comes After the Startup Ideation Phase

Looking 3 Steps Ahead: What Comes After the Startup Ideation Phase

What are the next steps after you come up with an idea for a new business?

After the ideation phase of a business, many teams loose focus. Fortunately, there is a tried and true blueprint that successful companies in all industries have followed in order to take a business entity from a spreadsheet into the real world.

Here are the three steps that all would-be Startup companies should consider after the initial visualization.

1 – How do you evaluate the current target market and market saturation? 

Identifying competition should be first on the list of any start up. This will help a company to more accurately define its own role in the marketplace, narrowing the sales funnel and eventually increasing the ROI of all marketing efforts. 

A high percentage of the first funds that you receive for your business idea will likely be earmarked for a highly detailed differentiated market analysis. Google Trends and the Google Keyword Tool are a great place to start, but the search should definitely not end there.

A startup company should consider geographic and demographic data from across the board in order to identify the audience that is making the current purchases of the products that it is considering selling.

More than 50% of businesses now include Facebook and Twitter commentary in their overall assessment of market saturation. If there are many comments about a product or industry trend, but most of the comments are negative, this means something much different than commentary that is overwhelmingly positive.

Researchers should be attuned to the fact that Facebook is prone to be much more negative than Twitter regardless of issue.

2 – How do you determine if your idea is profitable and scalable?

Profitability is a function of the perceived market value of your product, which can be approximated by a price/value industry matrix, minus the expenditures of your company per unit produced. With a volume that outpaces your fixed costs, you have a viable business structure, at least in theory.

Scalable ideas must incorporate variable costs such as taxes, marketing, promotion, distribution and government compliance into the equation. These kinds of calculations may require some professional assistance, but they should be determined before the initial start of production.

50% of businesses, and 60% of investors, want to see some sort of breakeven analysis in an initial business plan in order to help determine the overall viability of a would-be company. This should definitely be included; however, it should not be the end of the marketing analysis. Although it can be quite difficult to project profitability without a round of sales, every company should attempt to do this without exaggerating results, especially if multiple rounds of funding will be required to retain viability.

3 – How do you secure the flow of your marketing information to your customer?

One of the first things that an embryo company should consider is its niche in the marketplace. This is incredibly important in order to solidify the proper distribution of the marketing message. No matter how big or small a company, compliance with the current flow of information is critical. Business no longer runs the world of business – telecommunications does. This will only become more apparent as time goes on.

Currently, less than half of the Fortune 500 is mobile compliant by the standards of Google. 70% of those companies barely pass muster. 100% of these companies are spending millions in order to become fully compliant.

As of April 2015, any company that is not fully compliant by Google standards will begin to
lose visibility within the search engine, especially within the mobile search market. If this is a priority to a multibillion dollar company, this is a virtual death sentence to any high growth start up.

Guest Blogger Cameron Johnson is a business consultant and entrepreneur.
Over the course of his career he has conducted case studies on both social media optimization and non-profit marketing. Cameron has also had the opportunity to speak at international business conferences and was recently recognized as one of the world’s top 100 advertising experts to follow on social media

7 Lessons Learned From A Vegas Tech Startup Conference

Collision Con From The Startup Garage

7 Lessons Learned From A Vegas Tech Startup Conference

“ It’s A different kind of Vegas.”

Collision Conference invaded and innovated downtown Las Vegas, Nevada Cinco De May and 6th.

The 48 hour “crash course” included 7500 attendees representing 89 different countries, with a legendary guest-list that included: 200 WorldClass Speakers, 1000 Startup Businesses, 451 Tech Investors, and countless “smart” entrepreneurs.

Equally as interesting to the individuals that attended the conference, was where the event took place, “The Downtown Project” (Psst..If you haven’t heard this name get familiar with it, you’ll be hearing a lot about it.)

It’s there, just 6 miles from the infamous Las Vegas Strip, a small Startup town is brewing. The cutting edge urban revival project was heavily invested ($350million) in by Zappos frontman and startup cultural icon, Tony Hsieh.

His business model; to create a community of happiness, in an other wise depressed and dilapidated city centre… which leads us into lesson #1.

Lesson #1 Recognize potential and invest in it’s possibilities.

Startups Entrepreneurs are familiar with taking risks and getting comfortable in the uncomfortable. Tony Hsieh didn’t see the “Fremont Experience” and think let’s avoid this rundown area at all costs. Instead he said let’s immerse our company, culture and entrepreneurial energy into the infrastructure, and make old bones dance.

Lesson #2 Conferences, especially tech. conferences, need female minds in attendance.

Collision Conference acknowledged the fact that tech conferences tend to be sausage fests, and did something Different. They invited the top 150 females in technology to attend the conference complimentary, there by subtly shifting the dynamics of a male centric space.

Lesson #3 There’s an organic type of networking, it’s called Collision.

A Collision with another person, moves away from the hunt and gather mentality of standard networking events, and allows for the natural serendipity of individuals paths to cross.
Colliding with the right people at right place, and the right time, can become a natural and common occurrence.

Lesson #4 Never underestimate the power of food and lasting impressions.

Each morning upon entering the “event” attendees were treated to freshly baked blueberry muffins. The DoubleTree may have started this trend with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, but the result remains the same… A feeling of being welcomed, comforted, and wanting to return for more.

Lesson #5 Collaboration is the easiest way to breed successful innovations.

In the chaotic sea of 1000+ Startup Businesses prepping and pitching to investors and want to be investors for funding and mentorship. I found myself wondering, how many of the Startup entrepreneurs conversed and collided with one another to exchange ideas and information? (please tweet us @startup_garage if you have a great Startup to Startup Collision story)

It seems that Collision Conference was the perfect landscape for new startup business ideas to emerge, and preexisting ones to flourish with new insights. However, my experience was everyone was there with laser focus in the hopes swooning the VC or Angel.

Lesson #6 You can’t talk Marketing without the other M word… Millennials.

#Millennials isn’t just a trending hashtag, they’re a population of 77 million people, 1/4 of the American population, who are socially and economically savvy. Millennials have big brands via-ing for their attention and approval. As a generation with an insatiable appetite for quality content and the Tinder mindset (swipe left and move onto the next) marketing power is shifting into the hands of the consumer.

Lesson #7 Innovation never sleeps.

Innovative ideas and solutions have no On and Off switch, they’re a constant switching in the mind of Startup entrepreneurs. It’s not enough that there’s a solution, the questions remains whether it’s the smartest and most effective solution possible.

There’s Startup towns brewing, do you hear it percolating?

A Tech Startup conference shifted my perception of Vegas from an epicenter of gambling, strippers, and intentional debauchery to a sustainable community of like-minded entrepreneurs, that when colliding together, have ability to transform even the most unsuspecting places.

Building Online Brand Presence as a Startup

How to Build Your Online Brand From The Startup Garage

Building Online Brand Presence as a Startup

Launching a new high growth startup is a way to build a business from the ground up.

Whether you are providing content, products or even services to potential customers.

Knowing how to build an online brand presence when getting a startup up and running is essential.

Especially when working in competitive fields and making a professional name and reputation for your brand.

Build a Creative Team

One of the most important factors to keep in mind when building an online presence for a startup company is the ability to cultivate a creative team to work with each day. Having a creative group of individuals who are dedicated to the vision you have for your startup helps with streamlining plans and moving forward in the right direction in any industry or field.

Get Engaged With Social Media

In order to ensure customer retention putting social media and social media marketing to use effectively is essential. Not only is it important to share updates on various platforms but it is also vital to communicate and get engaged with users who are also potential customers. Ask questions, request input and be sure to speak directly to those who want to know more about your startup to build a proper reputation while getting noticed in the industry you represent.

Use the Power of Influence

Using the power of influence both online and off is another way to spread the word regarding your startup business. When you have team members who engage with their online fans and followers it is much easier to share news, information and even product releases with hundreds and thousands of users simultaneously. Utilizing the power of influence is also a way to establish a professional reputation, helping others to gain trust in your business and brand, boosting sales and increasing generated revenue and profit.

Host Contests and Giveaways

One way to help build an online brand presence for a startup you are launching is to do so by hosting contests and giveaways. Giving away free branded merchandise and relevant gifts gives you the ability to spread your company’s name to promote loyalty and to keep customers coming back for more.

Using social media to host contests and giveaways is another way to build momentum for your brand with the use of sharing and spreading the word with other family members and friends of the current fans, followers and customer base you have. Giveaways and contests also showcase your dedication to delivering high-quality products and services to those who want to know more about your brand and business model, ultimately generating sales and additional income.

Consider Fundraisers and Crowdfunding

Getting a startup company off and running with success requires a bit of capital, which is not always easy to obtain based on your history as an entrepreneur and any experience you have in the field you represent.

Consider the option of launching an online fundraiser or working to create a crowdfunding campaign to spread the idea of your startup while gaining loyal fans and supporters of your business and its plan altogether.

Crowdfunding could be an option if you are not familiar with taking out business loans or seeking additional assistance from venture capitalists. Using a crowdfunding campaign is often free of charge and provides you with total control of the amount you need to raise and what the money invested is likely to be used for in order to continuously build the products you want to sell and share with the world. It also acts as a source for social validation. If consumers are unwilling to buy into your big idea then it may be a sign to rethink your business plan.

Get Creative with Press Releases

Any time you have a startup you want to promote gathering the interest of the media and press is stressful and at times, nearly impossible. Crafting creative press releases gives you the ability to appeal to local news, international news stations and even online blogs and communities who follow startups and products that are relevant to your own.

Understanding all aspects of building a brand presence for a startup is a way for you to get more out of the potential exposure required to continue experiencing success. With the use of the right tools, marketing and communication it has never been easier to garnish interest while attracting potential customers who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Guest Blogger
Cameron Johnson is a business consultant and entrepreneur.
Over the course of his career he has conducted case studies on both social media optimization and non-profit marketing. Cameron has also had the opportunity to speak at international business conferences and was recently recognized as one of the world’s top 100 advertising experts to follow on social media.

How to Launch 13 EdTech Startups in 54 Hours

How to Launch 13 EdTech Startups in 54 Hours

Sound like an impossible task?

Step inside Startup Weekend NYCEDU, a 3-day event that occurred March 27- 29th 2015 in New York City.

Within the four walls of The World School, teams of entrepreneurs, educators, developers, and designers collaborated to bring education technology concepts into creation in a mere 54 hours.

#SWnycedu kicked off Friday night with an open mic in which 42 individuals pitched their Startup business ideas to an audience of 150 Edtech enthusiasts in efforts to join their team and bring once novel ideas to life. Pitches included statements like “This isn’t just a weekend thing, I’m looking for co-founders for the company.” A statement, that evoked both present opportunity and future possibility, for those bold enough to believe in the concept.

Upon conclusion of the pitches, teams formed (in this instance 13 teams) based on the most popular Startup ideas. The rest of the weekend was spent deep in the trenches of Startup brainstorming sessions, product development and execution.

Edtech product developments ranged from more traditional learning apps like Poly, a parent to teacher translation tool, to those WizArt, which connects the art curious to the art educated for a unique educational experience.

In the spirit of competition breeding innovation, the 13 newly formed teams raced against the clock in order to present a viable business model to a panel of judges on Sunday evening. Also evident with the 54 hour Edtech journey was the comradery amongst event attendees and the formation of longstanding business and personal friendships.

“ I was personally blown away by not only the quality of the work (in speaking to one of the sponsors during demo night, he thought a number of the companies could turn into viable businesses), but also the depth of relationships built. By Sunday night, it was clear to me that many meaningful connections had been made. I also think we had the right space and the right people to produce some really thoughtful and potentially influential prototypes.” Said Laura Patterson Communications and Marketing lead for NYCEDU 2015.

Startup Weekend NYCEDU grand finale included a 5 minute pitch given by each of the 13 Startups with a 2 minute window for Q & A from the panel of 4 judges. The judges included: Preeti Birla from Innovate NYC Schools, Wiley Cerilli from First Round Capital, Christy Crawford from Bronx Community Charter and Jason DeRoner from TeachBoost.

As a witness to the 13 pitches, all were inspiring and shined a new light on game changing education hacks that certainly have the power to transform our educational institutions to various degrees. However, only 1 Edtech Startup reined supreme, Mr. Cesar App, which captured 1st place at SWnycedu.

The Mr. Cesar app was inspired from the following problem:
“The average student guidance counselor ratio in the US is 470 to 1. For minority, low-income students, that ratio doubles to 1000 to 1. In this environment, many high achieving, under-resourced students who might have a fighting chance at highly selective schools end up placed at local colleges with lower graduation rates and quality of education.”

Be sure to keep Mr. Cesar App. on your radar along with the 12 other Startups that launched over March 27th weekend as this won’t be the 1st or last time they’ll be reinventing education on and offline.

Do you have a Startup Business Idea or want to support those that do? Startup Weekends powered by Google for Entreprenuers have hosted over
1,500 events to date, spanning 726 international cities, yielding over 13,000 startups created by over 123,000 entrepreneurs. Check out the event calendar, get involved and launch a Startup in 54 hours there’s never been a better time in history to do so!

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!

7 Common Tax Mistakes Made by Startup Businesses

7 Common Tax Mistakes Made by Startup Businesses

A common misconception among many entrepreneurs is that their startup will not face any tax filing requirements while in the early stages of the business.

However, this is not the case.

If you incorporate your business or form an LLC you have tax and other government filings that are due, even if you had little to no financial activity.

As a result, it is important to understand the tax laws associated with your startup’s legal entity as they may differ depending on whether you are a sole proprietor, a partnership, or some form of corporation.

There is no “right” type of entity that can be applied to all startups. Rather, there is the type of entity that is right for you and your startup.

Below are a few common startup tax related mistakes that can save you time and money in the long run:

1.Proper Record Keeping

It is important for a business, no matter how big or small, to have its own set of books. If the startup team lacks a solid bookkeeper or someone with financial expertise it can be very inexpensive to hire a bookkeeper on a part-time basis. You can also hire a consultant or accountant to help you setup a system that you can maintain going forward.

2.Quarterly Taxes

While you are exempt from paying quarterly taxes in your first year it is still a good habit to get into. First and foremost, you don’t want to get sticker shock when it comes time to pay taxes and you haven’t been setting aside cash every quarter. Secondly, you are going to have to start getting in the habit of paying quarterly taxes sooner or later so you might as well start now.

Additionally, set up separate accounts for anticipated taxes like self-employment and employee withholding. The biggest problem for many business owners when it comes to tax season is having enough cash on hand to pay for taxes.

3.Record Your Startup Costs

Almost every cost you incur when starting your business is eligible for a tax deduction – think market research, travel, customer surveys, prototypes, advertising, branding, etc. All startup costs up to $5,000 are deductible in full in the first year. Furthermore, if your costs go over $5,000, you
can potentially roll out the deduction for up to 15 years.

4.Track Expenses Correctly

While many of your startup costs are deductible be sure that you are recording these expenses correctly to ensure protection if audited. For travel and entertainment expenses over $75 you need to maintain receipts and a recorded reason for the expense. When using your personal credit card be sure to write an expense report to the business shortly after incurring the expense. Track your miles if you plan to deduct car travel to and from your office.

5.Know How To Classify Employees

Many startups think they can avoid paying payroll taxes by classifying their employees as independent contractors. However, the IRS is cracking down on this misclassification and this is one penny that is not worth pinching.

There are a lot of nuances surrounding the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. The biggest factor has to do with how you control this person’s time. If you are telling them when and how to work they are most likely an employee.

6.Blending Business and Personal Finance

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of neglecting to claim certain expenses as business expenses, such as a home office. On the other hand, many entrepreneurs fail to separate their personal finances from their business finances and often get sued or are forced to pay additional taxes. Be sure to maintain a clear line between your business and personal finances.

7.The Difference Between Equipment and Supplies

Typically, equipment expenses are amortized over the lifetime of that piece of equipment and therefore face unique deduction eligibility requirements. Supplies on the other hand, such as pens, notepads, and printer ink, have a lifetime value that expires far more quickly. In order to get the most out of your deductions be sure to track your expenses accordingly.

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

Recruiting a CTO Co-Founder for Your Startup

Recruiting a CTO from The Startup Garage

Recruiting a CTO Co-Founder for Your Startup

Many technology based startups are founded by entrepreneurs without technical backgrounds.

The tech companies that are successful,
quickly realize the importance of bringing on a technical co-founder.

The biggest mistake that a non-tech entrepreneur can make when launching a tech business is to neglect bringing on a tech savvy co-founder very early on. Otherwise, it is like launching a bakery or restaurant without a chef.

The benefits of having a CTO as part of your founding team are extensive:

  • A CTO can put together a technology plan with technical specifications, high level system architecture, wireframes, timeline, and budget.
  • A CTO can hire a development team to build the idea and determine if an in-house or outsourced development team would be best.
  • A CTO understands the code and backend features that will allow him/her to update your technology going forward.
  • A CTO significantly reduces risk for investors and therefor increases your likelihood of successfully raising capital.
  • The biggest challenge with finding a qualified CTO (i.e. experienced developers and/or engineers with strong project management skills) is that they are in high demand and have many employment options in front of them.

    Below are a few tips to help you successfully recruit a CTO co-founder:

    1. Be a leader. Whether you are bringing on a CTO co-founder, an investor, or an employee, people like to rally behind leaders. Your passion for your product, your financial and time commitment to your company, and your ultimate belief in the solution that you offer will go further towards rallying people for your cause than anything else.
    2. Demonstrate the opportunity. Surely a co-founder wants to be compensated for their work, either in equity, salary, or a combination of both. However, a co-founder is more interested in the potential impact the company can have. Similar to investors, co-founders want to know that your product solves a major problem in the marketplace, that you are differentiated from your competition, and that you have tested and proved your assumptions. In many ways, your business plan is as useful of a tool for attracting talented team members as it is for attracting investment.
    3. Constantly be searching. Similar to applying for jobs, you cannot leave any stone unturned when searching for a co-founder. Start by leveraging your LinkedIn network. First, look for people in your network that might be potential candidates. Next, look into your network’s network and ask for introductions to potential candidates. You can also look into sites that match entrepreneurs with sought after talent such as Startup Agents or CoFounders Lab. Lastly, attend as many startup networking events, meetups, and conferences as possible. You never know who will be that next person you exchange business cards with.
    4. Define Your Criteria and Evaluate Candidates. It is important to understand what you are looking for in a co-founder before you begin your search. Start by determining minimum expertise and skill requirements, desired personality traits, and key roles the person must be able to perform. You may want to start this process by looking at yourself and identifying your gaps and weaknesses. Additionally, you will need to have thought through the compensation plan for this individual. Are they receiving equity, a salary, a mix of the two? Is their equity position vested based on key milestones and company benchmarks? If so, what are the terms of the vesting schedule?
    If you have a question about your Startup or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

    The Startup Garage’s Top 10 Best Blogs of 2014

    The Startup Garage’s Top 10 Best Blogs of 2014

    2014 was a momentous year for entrepreneurs and startup companies around the globe. Through out the year The Startup Garage has shared our knowledge, resources, and insights with you in efforts to skyrocket your success.

    Below our Top 10 Best Blogs of 2014, we hope you find them invaluable and worth referencing time and time again.

    How To Evaluate Your Startups Business Model

    The business model is the means by which your company makes money for the value that you deliver to your customers. Learn how to create a strategy to monetize your product or service. Find out more here: How To Evaluate your Startup Business Model

    What Type of Funding is Best for My Company?

    There are three main sources of funding, family, friends, and founders.
    Learn to how determine which funding source is right for you.
    Find out more here: What Type of Funding Is Best For My Company

    How To Raise Startup Capital In 120 Seconds

    A quick pitch should serve as a teaser of what’s exciting and noteworthy to come next. The intention of a 2-minute pitch is to deliver a heavy dose of substance, content, and sizzle regarding your Startup’s investment potential.
    Find out more here: How To Raise Startup Capital in 120 Seconds

    Infographic What’s Your Entrepreneurial Vision?

    Behind every entrepreneur or startup founder there is vision, mission, and purpose on how to serve the world at large.
    What’s your vision?
    To Make the World More…
    Beautiful? Smart? Fun?
    Find out here: Infographic What’s Your Entrepreneurial Vision

    How To Determine Market Traction For Your Startup

    Market traction is proof that somebody wants your product; it communicated momentum in market adoption. The more market traction you can demonstrate the less risk there is in the investment.
    Find out more here: How To Determine Market Traction For Your Startup

    Social Media A Startup Must-Have

    5 Reasons why Social Media is no longer optional for your Startup Business. Find out more here: Social Media A Startup Must-Have

    How To Define a Small Business Vs. A High-Growth Startup

    A startup company, also referred to as a high-growth startup, is a company with a business model that is designed to be repeatable and scalable. This is directly opposed to a small business,
    Find out more here: How to Define a Small Business Vs. A High-Growth

    How To Write a Term Sheet For Your Startup

    Technically speaking, a term sheet is a non-binding agreement that demonstrates a basic set of terms and conditions under which an investment is made, typically by either an angel or venture capital investor.
    Find out more here: How To Write a Term Sheet For Your Startup

    How Long Does It Take to Raise Capital?

    The average time is somewhere between three to six months for both you Angel round and your Series A round. It really breaks down into three major steps.
    Find out more here: How Long Does It Take to Raise Capital

    Why A Business Plan Is Essential When Crowdfunding Your Startup

    Letting the crowd fund your startup doesn’t mean allowing your business plan to go unwritten. In the business world, approximately 543,000 new businesses get started each month and funding those businesses comes from a variety of sources. Find more here: Why a Business Plan is Essential When Crowdfunding Your Startup

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

    How To Determine Market Traction For Your Startup

    How To Determine Market Traction From The Startup Garage

    How To Determine Market Traction For Your Startup

    The major thing to know about the first few years of funding a startup business is that in order to attract investor capital you must accomplish certain milestones.

    Accomplishing milestones helps to reduce the risk associated with the startup venture.

    Investors are constantly assessing risk when evaluating a startup and obviously prefer those that assume less risk. Additionally, accomplishing milestones allows you to raise capital at a much higher valuation because you’ve thereby improved the risk-to-return ration (i.e. the riskier the business the more equity the investor will need to compensate the level of risk).

    There are seven main categories of milestones that most investors assess when evaluating a startup
    investment opportunity:

    Business Planning

    – Team Building

    – Market Traction

    – Legal

    – Operations

    – Product Development

    – Founder Leadership

    The specific milestones that you need to achieve within each categories varies depending on the type of business and the stage of capital that is being raised(startup round, seed round, series A, etc).

    In this post, we’ll be focusing on the milestones that demonstrate market traction.

    What is Market Traction?

    According to Naval Ravikant, the Co-Founder of Angel List, market traction is simply defined as
    “quantitative evidence of market demand.” Traction is proof that somebody wants your product, it communicated momentum in market adoption.

    Why is Market Traction Important?

    Per usual, it all boils down to risk for an investor. The more market traction you can demonstrate the less risk there is in the investment.

    How Do You Demonstrate Market Traction?

    Adequate market traction will vary at each round of capital simply because you have limited resources
    to demonstrate it. Furthermore, one of the major reasons that you are raising capital is because you
    want to grow your current traction.When raising capital from Friends, Family, and Founders in the Startup Round the amount of market traction that you can demonstrate is limited. You likely don’t have a product developed that is ready for market, so traction in the form of sales is not attainable. However, you can show potential traction by demonstrating the size of the market and trends that support your product claims and solutions.

    Additionally, you can conduct primary research such as surveys and conversations with potential
    customers and/or partners to help validate your value proposition. Lastly, you can put together a clear marketing plan to demonstrate how you will reach potential customers.

    When raising Seed capital from Angel investors you will need to take your market traction to the next
    level. This includes obtaining some Beta testers and ideally, some paying customers. You’ll need a full scale marketing plan that proves a significant market opportunity exists based on what you’ve learned about the market to date.

    Ultimately, you need to prove that you understand the sales cycle for your business.

    Lastly, when raising Series A capital and beyond from Venture Capitalists or institutional investors you need to show how you will scale the business. By this point, you want to deploy the capital raised in earlier rounds to not only show that there is a demand for your product but that you can scale the product. In order to demonstrate this you need to understand what it costs to acquire a new customer and what the lifetime value of that customer is.

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