Tag Archives: Startup Team

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

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!

San Diego High-Tech Startup Scene Booms

San Diego High-Tech Startup Scene Booms

In March of last year Forbes Magazine named San Diego the best city to start a business in 2014.

Apparently the magazine was onto something, as demonstrated in the recently released San Diego Innovation Report by Connect.

According to the report, which tracks and compares economic data in the region from the past year and a half, the strength and impact of the Innovation Economy in San Diego is growing and strong.

1h 2014 report saw the most new innovative Start-Ups ever created in San Diego in a 6-month period. SD entrepreneurs started a record high 228 high-tech companies, which secured $470 million in funding in the first half of last year.

The startup growth spurt includes:

• 128 Software Startups

• 43 Communications Computer & Electronics Startups

• 39 Life Science Startups

• 7 Environmental Technology Startups

The $470 million dollars in Venture capital funding was raised among 53 San Diego companies, and includes the following breakdown:

• $234 million to 20 Early Stage Companies

• $14 Million 3 Start-up Stage Companies

• $17 million 11 Connect Springboard and graduate companies

In addition to venture capital funding, companies raised $200 million in initial public offerings, $620 million in private placements and $1.6 billion in follow-on public equity offerings.

“We are delighted to celebrate the new start-ups born in San Diego, as well as the growth and expansion of the start-ups that attracted $470 million in venture capital to our region. These first half results demonstrate a thriving economy fueled by the growth of knowledge-based industries. More start-ups were founded in San Diego in the first half of 2014 than any other period in our city’s history. Additionally, more jobs were created and innovation economy jobs are higher-paying than the average job, which is great news for job-seekers.” stated Greg McKee, CONNECT’s chief executive officer.

Great news indeed, 885 new jobs at an average annual salary of $114,730 were created by San Diego start-ups created in the 1st half of 2014. This was a 40% increase over the number of new jobs created by innovation start-ups in the 1st half of 2013, and more than 50% increase over the 2nd half of 2013.

2014 marks a tipping point for San Diego, a notable time of reshaping the technology startup scene both locally and globally.
San Diego is no longer simply a vacation destination. It is a destination for dynamic startup businesses, which are invested in assembling and transforming a community of entrepreneurs and the innovation economy.

The Startup Garage team is committed to serving our Startup Community of San Diego. We are dedicated to helping make the world a better place to live, work, and play.

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!

    Startup Weekend San Diego Powered By Google for Entrepreneurs Kicks Off

    Startup Weekend San Diego from The Startup Garage

    Startup Weekend San Diego Powered By Google for Entrepreneurs Kicks Off

    Google, which began in a garage nearly two decades ago, celebrates the entrepreneur in all of us in community events throughout the world.

    The objective of these events is to encourage entrepreneurs to learn, connect, and create companies that will change the world.

    Today, Friday November 14 2014- Sunday Nov 17th is time for participants of Startup Weekend San Diego to turn innovative ideas into reality. Over a mere 54-hour period teams of individuals will turn cutting edge ideas into newly launched companies that will be pitched to a panel of judges on Sunday evening. Participates will also be part of the Global Startup Battle, a virtual competition, where founder teams go toe to toe against nearly 200 cities. A feat, which will require various talent pools, excellent communication skills, and the ability to move at startup speed.

    This year’s event MEGA event will blend Web, Mobile, and Maker innovation. Tackling both hardware and software into makeable products. The first Startup Weekend San Diego ever to include hardware prototyping. Physical product or inventions will have the opportunity to gain hands on experience in using 3D printers, a laser cutter, electronics prototyping equipment, along with expert coaching

    There perhaps has never been an environment more appropriate to do so.
    This year #SWSD will be held in the new downtown San Diego library.
    A $185 million dollar modern construction, designed by esteemed architect Rob Quigley. Toped with an iconic steel and mesh dome, the structure promises to be the ultimate thinking cap for creative discovery.

    With Forbes Magazine naming San Diego the best place to launch a Startup in 2014, there has never been a better time in history, to immerse yourself and your business within the local Startup community. The Startup Garage is passionate about entrepreneurship and dedicated supporting the San Diego and Global Startup Community. We are proud to be sponsor, and coach at the event.
    Please stop by our booth and introduce yourself.

    Cheers to a Successful and Empowering Startup Weekend San Diego Powered By Google for Entrepreneurs.

    Whether 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!

    3 Southern California Universities Are Awarded 3.75 Million Dollars to Stimulate Technology Innovation

    Southern California Universities Get Funded from The Startup Garage

    3 Southern California Universities Are Awarded 3.75 Million Dollars to Stimulate Technology Innovation

    The fall 2014 semester has started for college students across the United States.

    However, for a select group of USC, UCLA, and Caltech students, September 1st will mark the beginning of a new type of curriculum and collaboration.

    Thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF),
    USC, UCLA, and Caltech students will have the opportunity to join an exclusive technology hub,
    The Innovation Corps program or I-Corps.

    The I-Corps is an entrepreneurship network for scientists and engineers.

    The 3 year 3.75 million dollar joint grant into the 3 Southern California Universities encourages instruction and communication beyond University laboratories. The program fosters a collaborative education system and research infrastructure, allowing for scientific discoveries to be adapted into the commercial marketplace.

    Ultimately, transforming research studies into useful product and services to positively impact the social and economic landscape.

    “The NSF I-Corps initiative is a paradigm shift, that will facilitate cultural change in universities and research centers. It is no doubt one of the nation’s signature programs for promoting entrepreneurship and startup creation.”

    The new Southern California innovation hub or “node,” joins five pre-existing I-Corps regional nodes located in New York City, Northern California, Washington, D.C, Michigan, and Atlanta, along with fellow newcomer Texas.

    “NSF expects the new Southern California node will draw upon the deep well of talented people in that region, strengthening an already robust national innovation network.”

    I-Corps Southern California is anticipating partnerships between the schools of medicine, business, and engineering.

    If accepted into the program, participants will join a three-person team, which includes a NSF- funded researcher, a business mentor, and a graduate student. The team then receives a 6-month $50,000 grant, to turn an idea into a real world product or service.

    I-Corps have been around since 2011, with roughly 50% of the 319 student faculty research teams going on to create a Startup.

    Anticipate Fall 2017 to be a revolutionary time in Southern California’s Startup history.

     

    Whether 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!

    Where to find market, industry and competitive analysis?

    Competitive research from The Starup Garage

    Where to find market, industry and competitive analysis?

    Welcome to video Fridays
    from The Start Up Garage


    A place where Tyler Jensen, The Startup Garage’s founder, answers questions directly from viewers

    Key Take Aways From Video:

    1) One of the first places I start with is industry associations or trade associations for that particular industry that you’re going to be in.

    2) Google search — really getting into google and searching for the data that you’re looking for is a great place to start, especially on the competitive analysis because your competitors are going to be online most likely, or they’re probably not a competitor.

    3) The library has access to a lot of databases. These databases cost a lot of money, but if you go through your library you can get free access to them.

    4) Build a team of advisors These are probably the best resource.

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

    Building a High-Tech Startup Team

    Building a Tech Startup Team from The Startup Garage

    Building a High-Tech Startup Team

    Aligning the Startup Team Strategy with the Capitalization Strategy

    The single most important factor to raising capital for any tech startup is the management team.  This is true for early stage funding as well as venture capital funding.  A bonafide team is the assurance that the idea can be executed and that the business can scale when the time is right.  Furthermore, when faced with adversity only great teams can respond to competitors, markets, funding environments, staff departures, PR disasters and the like.

    Importance of the startup team from The Startup Garage

    When building the team, avoid these common myths and mistakes:

    • A team is not one person and investors rarely want to invest in one-man shows.  While some investors will be willing to help you build your team, they will not be willing to invest in your startup if you are not willing to distribute responsibility and bring on diversified expertise.
    • Never confuse the number of years worked with experience.  Credibility is based on accomplishments and relevant experience.  Furthermore, a startup works differently than a large corporation.  Try to build a team with startup experience as these individuals will be far more likely to understand the importance of flexibility, perseverance, collective success and team playing.
    • Have a diversified team.  One recipe for failure (business failure and capital raising failure) is building a lopsided team weighted to one function of the business.  Don’t hire people with skills and qualifications similar to yours.  If you have a technical background and you are focused on product development, consider a co-founder with a sales and marketing background that can focus on selling your world class product.
    • Hire based on functionality and avoid having too many C’s.  Rather, give titles such as VP of Engineering, Product/Technology, Sales, Marketing, Finance, etc.  This helps to better divide the work, make people accountable, and show investors just why each founder/hire is key to the organization.
    • Don’t make everyone a founder.  Be sure to leave plenty of equity for investors.  You will likely need to raise more rounds of capital than you originally anticipated.  Having too many co-founders will only lead to your eventual dilution.
    • Hiring the right people at the right time is key.  You shouldn’t hire a senior executive from an established company for an early stage startup.  On the flip side, when it comes time to scale the company, the founder and CEO may need to relinquish their CEO title and hire a CEO with the ability to drive efficiency, make incremental process improvements and expand on the established market presence.  Below are some tips for aligning the startup team with the capitalization strategy.

    Early Stage

    With little to no revenue, many early stage entrepreneurs turn to the Co-Founder model to build credibility for their startup when raising seed capital.  This is not a bad strategy when done correctly.  The reality is that over time most founders will have their differences.  While you should be prepared to give up a large portion of the company’s equity to a co-founder, it is important that one founder maintains a majority share and creative control.

    Additionally, be sure your co-founder is well diversified from your skill sets and traits.  Investors understand that you wont have all the pieces to the puzzle at this early stage.  But, the more business functions that you can divide among the original team the better.

    Seed to Series A

    For most tech startups, the Series A round allows the team to expand by making some key hires.  Typically, these hires fall into 2 buckets: product development and sales.  The CEO of the company will be in charge of leading the company by making these key hires, product managing, driving sales and understanding the companies financial situation.  This leaves the CTO / Senior Architect to focus on product development and managing the recently hired engineers.  On that note, it is important for high-tech companies to keep tech development inhouse.

    Series A to Series B

    Series B capital signifies that the company is ready to scale.  Key hires at this stage should reflect this strategy.  First, hire an office manager that can double as an admin assistant thereby allowing founders to not get bogged down in minutiae and focus on growing the business.  Hire a VP of Finance that can increase profitability by monitoring operations, legal fees, HR expenses, office space and the like.  Hire a diversified base of sales reps.  While consultative reps are key to building new business with big accounts, relationship managers are key to retaining those accounts.

     

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

    Hiring an Independent Contractor or Employee

    Hiring an Independent Contractor or Employee from The Startup Garage

    Hiring an Independent Contractor or Employee

    It is important that you know the difference between hiring an independent contractor vs. an employee so that you can determine which is best for you and your business.  Before reviewing the pros and cons of each, start by gaining an understanding of the differences between the two:

    Independent Contractor

    • Operates under a business name other than your own
    • Operates as an employee under that business name and therefore limits your ability to control the contractors tools, processes, hours, etc
    • Maintains a separate business checking accounts
    • Represents the contractor’s business name and advertises his/her services as such
    • Invoices for work completed
    • Likely has more than one client
    • Keeps separate business records

    Employee

    • Performs duties and responsibilities as dictated by you and your company
    • Requires added responsibility such as training, support, health benefits, management, etc.
    • Works for only one employer, your business

    With a brief understanding of the differences between independent contractors and employees, you can begin to think of the benefits that each present.

    Independent Contractor

    • Often cheaper in terms of associated labor costs and overhead
    • No health benefits are required
    • Flexibility in regard to only hiring when works is demanded of your company, especially for businesses that are seasonal or experience fluctuating streams of business
    • Reduction in liability
    • More flexibility in regard to hiring and firing

    Employee

    • Stronger sense of loyalty and dedication
    • Employees can perform a variety of roles
    • Improved work flow, especially for businesses that experience a steady stream of business

    It is important that you take the proper legal steps when hiring an employee or independent contractor and ensure that you hire them under the correct legal classification in order to avoid costly legal consequences down the road.

     

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

    What to Consider When Starting a Company With Your Spouse

    What to Consider When Starting a Company With Your Spouse from The Startup Garage

    What to Consider When Starting a Company With Your Spouse

    Starting a business can be a risky endeavor (quitting your job, spending your savings, good potential for failure, and the list goes on).  Starting a business with your spouse can be even riskier when you consider your shared finances, your retirement funds, your relationship, your mental health and happiness.  Before you risk everything, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Are you willing, able and ready to work together?  For any successful business, you must have a proper business plan.  Part of this plan should outline ownership, roles, responsibilities, etc.  Be sure that you and your spouse have a very clear understanding of each of these areas of the business.  The more that you can divide your roles and responsibilities in different areas of the business, the better you will be able to share power and minimize arguments.
    2. Can you mesh your personal and business lives seamlessly?  Be sure to draw boundaries so that you maintain some semblance of your romantic life.  Furthermore, make sure that you both have enough room to work so that when one is working with clients, or needs personal space or room to think strategically, there is not a conflict.  Lastly, make sure that you have developed an effective way of airing differences and resolving disputes.  You certainly will not see eye-to-eye on all aspects of the business.  The better system you have for managing these discrepancies, the more successful you will be at doing so and the happier you will be with one another.
    3. Are you clear with one another on what financial risks each is willing to take?  There is a good chance that you will not see eye-to-eye in terms of when it is time to call it quits.  By discussing your financial runway with one another and having a mutual understanding of when it is time to quit, you will save the headache and potential fallout down the road.
    4. Lastly, ask yourself, what comes first, the relationship or the business?  If and when times get tough, one of you may face the decision of having to lose the business to save the relationship.  Determine when enough is enough.

     

    Even if you think you know your answers as well as your spouse’s answers to all of these questions, it is wise to sit down together and have an open discussion.  Whether you determine that you are on the same page and ready to push forward, or you find that you have too many differences and that it would be too risky to go into business together, this is a worthwhile practice that will help mitigate any potential risks associated with starting a business with your spouse.
     

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