Tag Archives: The Startup Garage

Inside The 2016 Tech Coast Angels 10th Anniversary Quick Pitch Event

Inside The 2016 Tech Coast Angels 10th Anniversary Quick Pitch Event

It’s no secret, the Tech Coast Angels is one of the largest, if not THE largest angel investor group in the nation. “Consisting of experienced CEOs, senior executives, current and former entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other professionals, members have invested over $180 million in more than 300 companies and have helped entrepreneurs attract more than $1.6 billion in additional capital rounds,” according to the TCA Website. Regional chapters include: Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Central Coast, and the Inland Empire. Within those chapters, the San Diego John G. Watson TCA Quick Pitch Competition celebrates its ten year anniversary this year.

“The Quick Pitch Competition is one of the most recognized angel investor events in the nation, showcasing talented entrepreneurs who each have two minutes to pitch their business to an expert panel of judges and large audience of investors, business executives and community leaders,” states Qualcomm Ventures. Finalists this year showcased San Diego’s entrepreneurial diversity, showcasing companies in various industries, including life sciences, consumer products, and tech industries.

This year the event was conducted a little differently, instead of the winner being selected by the judges, the audience of 500 were privileged enough to name the 2016 Quick Pitch winner. Another incentive for entrepreneurs was the doubling of last year’s cash prize to $30,000, although the top three winners would have to divide up the cash prize. The ten judges were therefore considered coaches and provided insight and feedback to the top ten savvy startup competitors. The winners were announced following an evening of meet and greet with TCA members, quick pitch finalists, and thought leaders within the San Diego startup community. As one can imagine, these entrepreneurs were eager to hear the results, but they were able to enjoy themselves throughout the entire event.

In The Hot Seat [The Feedback]

With a panel of the top players in the San Diego Startup Community serving as coaches during the TCA Quick Pitch event, there was extensive feedback provided to each presenter. Following each two-minute pitch, judges were given three-minutes to provide constructive thoughts or ask questions to each presenter.

Top 5 Points of Feedback From the Coaches

Credibility – Highlight key experiences and certifications that make you and your team a credible player in your target space.

Traction, Traction, Traction – Clearly present metrics and data points that show how your company is gaining traction.

Customer Acquisition Cost – this is a key metric all investors are interested in. Lifetime value (LTV) is also a key metric in rationalizing your CAC by quantifying your ability to monetize customers.

Optimization – If you are allotted a specific time period, use every second as effectively as possible. Two minutes is short – asking the audience questions, spending too much time on basic company information is not a meaningful use of your time
Growth Potential – Make sure you clearly communicate current revenue as well as the big picture in Year 5; investors want profitable, scalable companies to invest in.

Mark Your Calendars

The Startup Garage is a proud sponsor of the annual TCA Quick Pitch event. For San Diego entrepreneurs, these events not only bring entrepreneurs and major Angel investing groups in the country together, but they provide an open environment to collaborate, learn, and strengthen our startup community. With the increasing number of innovative startups being created every year, these events keeps everyone up to date on ongoing trends and resources. If you are a company looking for funding, please visit the TCA website and check out their application criteria.

At TSG, we believe that entrepreneurs change the world and push the boundaries of innovation, especially when they collaborate. San Diego is an expanding ecosystem of business owners and thought leaders from all walks of life. Be sure to mark your calendars for future events similar to the TCA Quick Pitch event as they bring a multifaceted perspective on industry trends and provide insight into what it means to be an entrepreneur in a time where innovation is ever evolving.

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

How to Craft an Effective Mission Statement For Your Startup

How to Craft an Effective Mission Statement For Your Startup

When developing a business, an important component of your overall strategic plan is a mission statement.

This brief statement declares the purpose of an organization and defines the reason for the
company’s existence. It provides the framework to help guide the company’s strategies and actions by spelling out the business’s overall goal.

Ultimately, a mission statement helps guide decision-making internally, while also articulating what your business is all about to customers, suppliers and the community.

An effective mission statement is clear and concise, yet resonates with both employees and those
outside of the organization. It captures, in a few succinct sentences, the essence of your business’s purpose in a way that inspires support and ongoing commitment.

So, how should you go about crafting one for your business? Here are some helpful tips:

Involve others

The best way to develop a mission statement is to brainstorm with those connected to your business. Ask employees, customers and investors what they see as your biggest strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to see how others see your company and your brand so that you have more than one perspective. Not only will you get a more comprehensive statement that’s reflective of your company culture, but your employees will be more invested in it because they helped form it.

It takes time

Crafting a mission statement of value requires time, thought and planning. Typically, it’s recommended to set aside several hours – a full day, if you have it – to piece together everyone’s ideas and arrive at a finished product. Though time-consuming, this process will solidify the reason for what you are doing and help clarify the motivations behind your business.

Make it count

Even though mission statements are short, every word counts. Your statement should not only be memorable, but it should inspire action, as well. However, there’s no need to make it overly complicated – just state the purpose of your company and your reason for starting it in the first place. Its value only comes from when stakeholders can use it as a guide when making day-to-day decisions.

Spread the word

Once your mission statement is complete, display it internally and externally with pride. Post the statement in the office, print it on company materials and be able to recite it to potential customers who walk through the door. This way, you can ensure everyone who reads it understands the direction of the company and why you’ve chosen that focus.

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

Who Top Startup Founders & Entrepreneurs Follow on Instagram

Who Top Startup Founders & Entrepreneurs Follow on Instagram

We all need inspiration in our life, even successful Startup Founders & Entrepreneurs turn to visual content giant Instagram, for daily encouragement or perhaps a welcomed distraction.

The Startup Garage Team complied a list highlighting a handful of standout accounts they follow on Instagram, and what their personal photo posting style reveals.

Tony Hsieh @Downtowntony

Better know as the CEO of Delivering Happiness at Zappos.com

Follows 102 accounts on Instagram



His personal highlights include:


@Lifeisbeautifual An electric annual a music, art, food, festival in downtown Las Vegas
@Seniorstylebible An 81yr old retired Playboy bunny’s now style blogger
@Natgeo or the long tail version & legend National Geographic
@Tyrabanks professional Smizer Tyra Banks
@Ivankatrump the daughter of The Donald

Tony’s personal posting style is a fun mix of landscapes, art, dogs, with fun photo captions. That being said he hasn’t posted since 12/28/15. We hope to see more from Tony in 2016.

Biz Stone @BizStone

The american entrepreneur best know as the co-founder of Twitter.

Follows 59 accounts on Instagram

Personal Highlights include:

@therock or Dwayne Douglas Johnson outside the wrestling ring

@kevin Kevin Systrom the Ceo & Co-Founder of Instagram

@gregyaitanes Greg Yaianes emmy award winning director of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy

@Sacca Chris Sacca Silicon Valley venture investor, invested in Uber

@Zuck Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook

Biz’s personal posting style is family centric, he’s definitely a family man and loves using the early bird filter. He posts in the range of once a week.

Kevin Systrom @kevin

The godfather or Co-founder of Instagram
follows 619 Instagramers

Personal Highlights include:

@modernoutdoors Modern Outdoors visually storyteller thru exploration

@zachking Zach King is risen to Vine superstardom thru is fun 6 second videos

@Adele Adele chart breaking English singer and songer writer

@victoriabeckham aka Posh Spice

@Domperignonoffical Dom Perignon prestigious champagne

Kevin’s personal posting style includes almost daily posts. He loves his selfies with the interesting and the famous, plus he’s clearly a foodie & cocktail enthusiast.

Sheryl Sandberg @sherylsandberg

CEO of Facebook
follows 1670 Instagram accounts
Personal Highlights include:

@johnlegend John Legend R&B song writer and singer

@goodmorningamerica Good Morning America top headlines live from Time Square
@starwars Star Wars, May the force be with you
@sheplusplus She++ is a Stanford based community for female techies
@benparr Ben Parr author of “Captivology:The Science of Captivating People’s Attention”

Sheryl’s personal post are a mix of global humanity and feminism, with some carefully sprinkled photos of her life outside of activism and Facebook.

Elon Musk @elonmusk

Tesla Motors founder
follows 13 accounts on Instagram
Personal Highlights include:
@nasa exploring the planet and space
@norakirkpatrick an american actress seen in “The Office”
@talulahrm Talulah Riley an english actress seen in “Pride and Prejudice”
@adeo Adeo Ressi CEO of Founder Institute

Elon’s personal posts are best described as coffee, cars, and space, he’s posts are rare and he tends to go on post sprees of similar images.

Ashton Kutcher @Aplusk

TV star turned tech investor
follows 105 Instagram accounts
Personal Highlights include:
@Lauraprepon Laura Prepon better known as Alex from Orange is The New Black
@ddlovato pop singer & songwriter Demi Lovato
@Garyvee Gary Vaynerchuk digital media mastermind
@taylor swift Taylor Swift pop star singer and songwriter
@pk514 PK Creedon NFL Publicist

Aston’s personal style are inquisitive selfies, scenery, and cowboy boots.

Lori Griener @Lorigreinershark

As seen on QVC and Sharktank
follows 34 Instagram accounts
Personal Highlights include:
@kindofwild cute pet videos
@mindykaling Mindy Kaling comedian and star of “The Mindy Project”
@clean_and_delicious Dani Spies Health & Weight Loss Coach
@shanedawson Shane Dawson Youtube celebrity
@kyrenian Altug Galip travel photographer and adventurer

Lori’s personal style similar to Where’s Waldo and in this instance where’s Lori..see her here see her there, where’s Lori today? Along with some splashes of inspirational quotes.

Have your Entrepreneur Instagram questions answered, but still have questions about raising capital for your Startup, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Top 8 Success Tips For First Time Founders

Top 8 Success Tips For First Time Founders

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

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

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

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

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

My Top 8 Success Tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthy founders leads to healthy startups.

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

Know your exit strategy.

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

Planning is critical

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

Take on the student role and always be learning.

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

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

How To Understand Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Acquisition Costs?

How To Understand Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Acquisition Costs?

The Key to Profitability for your business

Understanding customer lifetime value and customer acquisition costs.

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

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

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

CLTV and CAC.

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

Customer Lifetime Value

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

As a result, you can increase your CLTV by:

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

Increasing Average Monthly Spend Per Customer

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

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

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

Increasing Average Customer Lifetime

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

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

Decreasing the Cost of Distribution and Fulfillment

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

Customer Acquisition Cost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Key Business Lessons To Learn From Twitter

1. Embrace change.


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

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

2. Value Consumer Habits.


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

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

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

Here are examples of careful listening and watching:

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

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

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


3. Leverage Multiple Product Streams.


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

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

4. Never Stop Focusing on Funding.


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

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





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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where does your passion education innovation draw from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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