Business models

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Building businesses from kitchen tables

Posted by | 5 September, 2012 | Business models

Original post by   via Not On The High Street

Our founders, Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish, are currently scaling the dizzy heights of the Amazon bestsellers list with their very first book, Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table. The book, published last week, is their honestly written guide to starting a business from scratch, from home. They cover everything from having faith in your idea to writing a solid business plan, where and how to look for funding, and the art of juggling a family with the demands of a time-consuming start-up. Drawing on their own extensive experience, they recount the early days of notonthehighstreet.com: the great highs and lowest lows, including some of the darkest times when they – not to mention the business – nearly didn’t make it through. Thankfully, they did, and they’re here to tell the story:

“This book, much like our business, is a work of love. It’s something we’ve both passionately pursued since we first had the idea to document our story to help budding entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality. Whether you’re tired of working in a corporate environment and want do something with more heart and meaning, or you’re a stay-at-home parent who’s looking to make some extra income; we want this book to be a bible for anyone who is starting their own business from home.

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We’re delighted to announce we’re holding our second bi-annual Job fair this September in London. Meet NotOnTheHighStreet and many other employers at this event.

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A little note from Megan Claire

Posted by | 5 September, 2012 | Business models

Original post by   via Not On The High Street

The best thing about working at notonthehighstreet.com is that you get to see, first-hand, the success of hundreds of small independent businesses. Many of them are set up by first-time entrepreneurs who are fulfilling a lifelong dream of starting their own creative business, and have a lot more than finance invested in getting them off the ground.

Last week, we were sent an amazing card from one of our sellers, Megan Claire, which reminded us just how much heart and soul is behind every single business that sells on the site. Megan Claire creates a range of distinctive, contemporary and personalised cards, prints and gift tags, all of which are made to order. The card was one of Megan’s own designs, which she had personalised specially for us. The note inside read…

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We’re delighted to announce we’re holding our second bi-annual Job fair this September in London. Meet NotOnTheHighStreet and many other employers at this event.

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Online: the ‘sharing economy’

Posted by | 16 May, 2012 | Business models, Startup, Startups

Original post by NICK CHURCHOUSE via stuff

Elyssa Pallai founded micro-tasking website Pocket.Jobs to match talent to need, skill to shortage, pet feeder to pet feeder needer.

She describes Pocket.Jobs as ”a connection marketplace” linking people to people online, facilitating the delivery of a needed service or talent in the real world within existing communities.

People with a need for curtains can find someone nearby who can sew curtains, for example.  Ditto dogwalking, lawnmowing, housesitting, fence painting and so on.

Outsourcing talent and resources is a common way people are using the web, and provides great avenues for business models delivering platforms for this behaviour tailored to specific communities of users.

Dubbed the ‘sharing economy’ it is home to some of the fastest growth and most hyped web-start-up companies.

Elance, based near San Jose, is an online site that allows companies and individuals to hire and pay independent professionals and contractors online and in the cloud.

The site boasted 80,000 new employers and $43-million in contractor earnings in the first quarter of 2012. And the number of people hiring on Elance grew by 120 per cent in 2011.

Another successful site is AirBnB which advertises people’s spare rooms for rent. There are countless others making huge revenues, as well as those looking to earn.

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Original post by CHANNEL 3000

MADISON, Wis. -

With Wisconsin’s economy struggling to crawl out of a deep recession, the need for innovation and ideas has never been stronger.

A weekend event at Madison College brought together more than 100 entrepreneurs, one of whom might have the next big idea.

The innovation challenge was part of what’s called “Startup Weekend.”

On Friday, participants pitched their ideas and then voted to choose the top 15.

Then, they got to work attempting to bring the ideas to market.

John Detloff was one of the participants. He said he’s trying to develop a mobile app that he’s calling “Find Fresh.” The idea behind the app is to help Dane County Farmers’ Market visitors connect with the food they want.

“We did a lot of brainstorming Friday night trying to figure out what we wanted to do,” said Detloff. “If they come with a product in mind, or a list of fruits or vegetables they’re interested in bringing home, we’re going to be able to direct them to the vendors they want.”

A winning idea, perhaps, but the Find Fresh team isn’t alone.

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Original post by Lauren La Rose via Winnipeg Free Press

DAVE CHIDLEY / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image Chris Bacik, a 22-year-old Western University student flies his remote-controlled helicopter that he modified to carry a camera for aerial photography and video, in London, Ontario. Bacik has used the rig for capturing golf courses and cottages in Muskoka and has been awarded $5,000 in a business pitch competition for student entrepreneurs. He is now building a larger and improved unit for his business.

After playing with race cars and tinkering with toys as a young boy, Chris Bacik has channelled inspiration from his childhood pastimes into a bankable business.

The 22-year-old is owner and operator of Sky Eye Media, a remote-controlled helicopter system that captures aerial photos and video. Images and footage collected are sought by clients like real estate agents and golf courses for promotional use.

And thanks to a $5,000 prize awarded through a business pitch competition for student startups, the Barrie, Ont., resident plans to use the cash infusion to create an enhanced system that will require two people to manoeuvre.

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Original post by MartinZwilling via Startup Professionals

One of the toughest decisions for a startup is how to price their product or service. The alternatives range from giving it away for free (like Twitter), to pricing based on costs, to charging what the market will bear (premium pricing). The implications of the decision you make are huge, defining your brand image, your funding requirements, and your long-term business viability.

The revenue model you select is basically the implementation of your business strategy, and the key to attaining your financial objectives. Obviously, it must be grounded by the characteristics of the market and customers you choose to serve, the pricing model of existing competitors, and a strategy you believe is consistent with your future products and direction.

So what are some of the most common revenue models being used by startups today? Here is a summary, with some of the pros and cons or special considerations for each:

  1. Product or service is free, revenue from ads and critical mass. This is the most common model touted by Internet startups today, the so-called Facebook model, where the service is free, and the revenue comes from click-through advertising. It’s great for customers, but not for startups, unless you have deep pockets. If you have real guts, try the Twitter model of no revenue, counting on the critical mass value from millions of customers.
  2. Product is free, but you pay for services. In this model, the product is given away for free and the customers are charged for installation, customization, training or other services. This is a good model for getting your foot in the door, but be aware that this is basically a services business with the product as a marketing cost.
  3. “Freemium” model. In this variation on the free model, used by LinkedIn and many other Internet offerings, the basic services are free, but premium services are available for an additional fee. This also requires a huge investment to get to critical mass, and real work to differentiate and sell premium services to users locked-in as free.

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Original post by Roland Jones via TheBottomLine

Managers of LinkedIn celebrate as the company goes public in May, 2011.

Shares of professional-networking website LinkedIn surged Friday, jumping 18 percent, after the company reported quarterly sales that more than doubled and passed a major milestone, chalking up 150 million registered users worldwide.

Michael Graham, an Internet analyst at Canaccord Genuity, raised his earnings estimate for the company, writing in a research note that LinkedIn has taken “another step on the path toward becoming the default global hiring solution.”

The growth in users cements LinkedIn’s position as the largest professional network on the Internet. The company’s performance and outlook is keenly watched by investors as an indication of whether the business model of Internet companies is solid — especially in light of Facebook’s filing for an IPO last week.

Facebook’s public offering looks set to be one of the largest and most talked about in recent memory and follows public offerings from other companies in the social media space, including Groupon, Pandora, Zynga and LinkedIn.

Started in the living room of ex-PayPal executive Reid Hoffman in 2002 and officially launched in May 2003, LinkedIn is similar to Facebook in that it connects people but it is much smaller and is geared towards professionals.

It makes money by selling premium subscriptions to its members and by helping companies with hiring and marketing. Its services are also used by professionals seeking jobs or contacts.

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Original post by  via socialmediaexaminer

Policy. It can be a dirty word, especially in social media communities.

Why? Poorly written social media policies restrict, deter and deaden social media engagement–the exact opposite of what businesses want.

However, great social media policies support, protect and empower high-quality engagement. It is about empowerment and trust.

As Beth Kanter writes, “Trust is cheaper than control.”

This article will explain how social media policies differ from other policies and give you10 tips to help create an effective social media policy.

Why Social Media Policies?

Social media policies are different. In most policies and procedures, we document what staff should do in certain situations: “If this happens, do that.” For social media, there is no way to know exactly what situations may arise – or in many cases – how staff should best handle them. Each social media network and each relationship is unique and the social media environment changes daily.

The risks are uncertain. The courts are in the process of interpreting laws in regards to social media. Until that interpretation process is mature – and this will takeyears – organizations operate without definitive guidance. Issues that may arise include: employee and/or client confidentiality, labor relations issues, brand jacking, miscommunication, spamming, etc.

Given an uncertain environment and unclear risks, how do we move forward?

There are hundreds of sample social media policies on the Internet. If you are looking for a starting point, you will surely find ideas here and here.

However, in order to create policies that work – really work – we must first lay the groundwork.

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Original post by Sharon Naylor via Dispatch

A growing number of seniors are going into business for themselves. According to the Ewing Marion Foundation, 55- to 64-year-old Americans have a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those in the 20-to-34 age group.

Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University, looked at a 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics report and found that unincorporated self-employment increases substantially with age, and “incorporated self-employment is four times higher among those ages 65 to 69 than among those ages 25 to 34, and a whopping 25 times higher than those ages 20 to 24.” Shane says, “Perhaps the older generation is more entrepreneurial, or perhaps they have more job skills and thus the confidence to go into business for themselves.”

Anita Campbell — host of “Small Business Trends Radio” and BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses — says: “Many people at age 55 and up tend to be at a stage in their lives where they can afford to pursue long-held dreams of owning a business. They’re empty-nesters and don’t have the expenses they had while raising children.”

In short, Campbell surmises that some seniors have enough financial cushion to take the risk of starting their own businesses. “On the other hand, it may be that those 55 and over are starting their own businesses due to being laid off and unable to get another job.”

According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 63 percent of American adults plan to work in retirement, and two-thirds say enjoyment of work is the key reason.

Launching a startup, no matter what your financial position right now, does carry some risks. If you’re tapping into severance pay or your retirement account to launch your startup, the stakes are higher for your business to succeed. “Because at that age, you have far less time to start all over again if your startup doesn’t pan out,” says Campbell.

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Original post by  Greg Collier via VB Entrepreneur Corner 

As a CEO of a startup, my online voice – a blog called Greg’s Corner — is the place where I share my company news, try to differentiate myself from competitors, and showcase the value I’m offering. But until about a year ago, my online voice wasn’t saying much.

I knew what I wanted to say in these posts but I struggled to find the right words to express my thoughts. I knew my blog needed an objective — a common thread between my posts that would drive home the bigger message. But finding the right chemistry between that objective, the words on the screen, and the tone and attitude that would define my voice was no easy task. Increasingly, it took more time and effort than my schedule allowed.

So I hired a journalist.

Actually, he’s a former journalist; a longtime beat reporter and editor who has worked for some high profile publications and is pretty well-respected for his expertise. Unlike many of his newspaper colleagues, he was not handed a pink slip. Instead, he walked away from a journalism gig that was both high-profile and frenzied, and launched a business that offers “content strategy” services to companies looking to enhance their online voices. I was one of his first clients.

Now, he and I collaborate regularly on my blog posts and other writing projects. We’ve developed a objective that centers around positioning me as an expert on safe online marketplaces. He reigns me in when it comes to tooting my own horn. He helps me practice some restraint and diplomacy when I feel compelled to blast my competitors. He makes sure that I’m not just repeating headlines but focusing my thoughts around particular news events.

He’s making me relevant.

More importantly, he’s charging me a fraction of what a PR firm might charge me for a bunch of other services that I might not really need. Because he’s juggling a number of other clients, he’s not devoting 40 hours a week to my blog strategy and content, and that’s OK with me. My blog is an important part of my business but it’s not a full-time element.

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Original post by Anita Campbell via smallbiztrends

I’m excited to announce that the Small Biz Big Things event, produced by Ramon Ray’s highly respected SmallBizTechnology,  is happening in San Francisco on February 7, 2012.  I would like to invite you to attend.

This all day event includes a “who’s who” of successful entrepreneurs prepared to share their insight on how to grow your business with the right marketing, hiring, leadership and more.

What You Can Expect

  • Insights from Scott Hintz, co-founder of Tripit and founding team member ofHotwire. He’ll share how he grew and profitably sold his companies.
  • Eventbright‘s Tamara Mendelsohn will give you the low down on what it takes to grow a scrappy startup into a national brand and more.
  • Jim Fowler, who sold his company Jigsaw, to Salesforce, for millions will share the lessons he’s learned in hiring, firing and building great teams.
  • Participate in a fast-paced and engaging clinic with Ramon Ray ofSmallbiztechnology on how to get publicity for your business through media coverage.

Original post by LYDIA DISHMAN via FC

Accelerators offer hands-on help from experienced mentors, sources for seed capital, and sometimes even co-working locations, and give entrepreneurs what they need to take a startup from concept to market more quickly and effectively than if they go it alone. Here’s how you can get connected.

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times–to be a startup, that is. On the plus side, recentresearch from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation indicates that startup companies–particularly high-growth startups–are the most fruitful source of new U.S. jobs and offer the economy’s best hope for recovery. On the other hand, newly minted ideas are fighting a sea of competitors for market share and funding, not to mention navigating Sarbanes-Oxley regulations and the still-cautious consumer spending landscape.

The best bet for aspiring entrepreneurs may just be a hookup. One that has staying power. Accelerators, those forums for getting hands-on help from experienced mentors, sourcing seed capital, and sometimes even providing a co-working location, can provide the resources to take a startup from concept to market a lot quicker than trying to blaze a trail independently.

Joshua Hernandez, a founder of Tap.Me, an in-game advertising platform, writes, “Although I had built three other startups and failed another two, I knew we would need to connect locally if we wanted to survive our business concept. The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) became an immediate forum for us to present our startup, which at the time was quite complex.”

Hernandez just happened to live and work in Chicago. However, there’s still hope for aspiring moguls who aren’t anywhere near startup hotbeds like Silicon Valley. Fast Company talked with Rebeca Hwang, cofounder and CEO of YouNoodle, Inc. and a technology partner to the Startup Malaysia conference, Kevin Willer, the CEO of CEC, and Murat Aktihanoglu, managing director of the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in New York City. Here’s what they told us about standing out, hooking up, and getting a brand-new business off the ground.

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Original post by Adriana Lopez  via nola.com

For those who think that our entrepreneurial community lags behind bigger markets like Silicon Valley or New York City, think again. The movement is spreading like wild fire in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Some might even say it has ignited a new era of potential for the growth and advancement of our city.

New Orleans has opened up many opportunities for emerging companies. One notable success is Launch Pad Ignition.

The program was founded by Chris Schultz, Barre Tanguis, Will Donaldson, and Peter Bodenheimer and is the offspring of downtown’s collaborative workspace, Launch Pad.  The accelerator program gives six companies the opportunity to build strong networks of mentors and investors from around the nation within the program’s accelerated platform.

Only in its second year, the program has big changes and news with its impending launch on February 13. Its first entrepreneur class brought successes and lessons, and those  experiences have been leveraged to bring in new advances, partnerships, and changes for this year’s class.

One major addition is new partner Abstraction Ventures, a local family fund that has been actively involved in the early-stage funding of many innovative concepts in New Orleans, including Schedulist and Drop the Chalk. The new partner will be providing seed funding to select companies who are accepted into the program, thus leveraging their credibility and traction within the New Orleans entrepreneurial community. Abstraction Ventures’ funding decisions will be based on their own discretion; however, company co-founder Amith Nagarajan will be joining the Launch Pad Ignition advisory board.

The program has expanded from seven to 12 weeks, and it will be culminating at Launch Fest during the second weekend of Jazz Fest. This season will also take a stage-agnostic approach, giving several startups an opportunity to participate regardless of what stage of development they are in —  accommodating bootstrapped, pre-funding, or angel funded companies.

“Launch Pad Ignition is focused on accelerating early stage startups and so are we,” said Nagarajan. “This partnership combines an excellent accelerator program with access to our seed-stage fund. The combination offers tremendous benefits for both organizations and most importantly for the entrepreneurs with whom we work.

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At PeerIndex, we have gone through an incredible roller-coaster in building our Development Team – finding some of the best talent in Europe. We’ve brought them together using the tools that eliminate (okay, maybe not completely) time and distance as we press on. Our efforts will build a solution that enables anyone to find, manage and OWN the value of their social actions or “influence” on the web.

PeerIndex’s vision is about bringing you the power and control to own your own social influence to your benefit.

How? We have taken a simple concept of figuring out who was the best source of a particular topic (e.g., who do you listen to to learn about <fill-in-the-blank>?) and migrated the insights into an algorithm that focuses on understanding how you impact the social web with your conversations. Rather than listening from a single point of view, we watch how you converse with others and the ripples you create. From those ripples, you can see how people respond and react to you – getting a better understanding of your influence.

Our team has grown in skills and experience by moving from a simple website with a few easy web services and queuing mechanisms to a global infrastructure supporting enterprise-sized caches, extra-large Hadoop clusters and scalable API services. Our websites are focused more on the development of engagement with information for the user’s benefit and away from the standard data wonk’s Excel table.

And we are still growing.

Are you one of the few that wants to come along for the journey? This is not a journey for the timid or the mild – this is about taking bold steps and really making a difference in the growth of a new company. One that has the potential of being the “Paypal of Influence”. If you want to know what that means, ask me at the event.

Come join us this evening – we are ready to change the world.

Are you a Java person looking to extend into Hadoop / “Big Data”? Or maybe you are a PHP Engineer who wants to build incredible products?  Maybe you are a Javascript Front End Engineer that would like to make amazing web apps that help others understand their world?

We are always on the look out for excellent Graphic Designers and UI/UX talent – especially once with an enthusiasm for infovisualisation.

 

-       Sanford Dickert Chief Technology Officer at PeerIndex

PeerIndex

Posted by | 17 January, 2012 | Business models

2011 may’ve been the year of the everyman, with ordinary people being empowered in their back gardens, across social networks, and on global news channels…. but it’s 2012 and the year of the influencer has arrived.

PeerIndex gives you your control of your influence, helps you understand you influence and ultimately benefit from it.

In an industry and marketplace where big data is booming and every company has to consider consumer data, we believe the consumer should be the one benefitting. McKinsey’s “Big Data” report last year demonstrated the transformative power of data. It highlighted how data can help companies become more competitive and grow more. While this is true for companies, we consider it to be crucial for individual’s as well. A person’s digital footprint can make them more successful, profitable, and competitive, if they fully understand it and how to leverage its power. On the one hand we want to empower people to have real ownership of this footprint, of their online presence and profiles. On the other, we want to be upfront about what we do. Many companies mine for the information you publish on the web for their own gains and many of those companies don’t inform you what they are doing with your information.

We’re trying to turn this around, and allow people to control and understand how others and companies perceive them thanks to the content they publish online. The consumer should get the returns from their expertise and their interests. We aim to give people ownership of their online identities. All of this means they can get people rewarded from their online influence. By providing a platform that explains and maps a person’s influence, we hope to let people benefit from their own information and own actions. We’re honest and upfront about how we use your data, and think it’s important to be transparent as a company.

At the moment we’re working at an exciting pace of growth, and are lucky to be recognised in our field by others. We were recently awarded the Grand Prix award at the Europas (the European Tech Startup Awards). We were honoured to take the prize that is voted for by the public online as well as the judges. We’re extremely proud to be recognised amongst one of many innovative tech companies, working their socks off in London to transform the tech industry.

- Azeem Azhar. CEO and Founder of PeerIndex.

Original post by Warren Knight via gloople

Social commerce, helping people connect where they buy and buy where they connect, has been something of Sino-American affair in recent times – as far as headlines go, at least.  The group-buy trend that originated in China ‘Tuangou‘ has spread online to 1,664 group-buy social commerce platforms; Mercedes recently sold a car a minute on one such group-buy site.  In the US, retailers – online and store-based – are increasingly adding innovative social layers to retail.

But in the UK, whilst what could be called ‘social commerce 1.0′ (user reviews, user Q&A) is widespread, there’s been significantly less of newer ‘social commerce 2.0′ – shopping with your social graph. Ebay even made headlines last year saying the UK was not ready for social commerce yet.

Things are changing.

This January, leading online fashion retailer ASOS is opening up a store in Facebook, a store tab featuring its full product line – adding 1,300 products every week.  And because Asos, the UK’s largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer, is something of the UK’s answer to Zappos, offering a best of breed shopping experience, the UK media is all over it.

The ASOS f-commerce store will allow transactions to take place without leaving the network, and will include full product search, as well as like, share, and review tools.  Given ASOS’ gold-standard standing in the UK online retail world, other leading retailers and brands are likely to take note – and take the cue from Asos. Expect to see a 2011 move in the UK to harness Facebook both as an e-commerce platform, and as a social layer to integrate into site-based e-commerce.

ASOS’ move to f-commerce in the UK is anteceded by that of Best Buy’s arrival in the UK.  Best Buy, the leading US electronics retailer was a pioneer in f-commerce, and has recently opened up shop (storefront, no check-out) on Facebook in the UK with Wishpot.  Earlier last year, Procter & Gamble opened up a campaign store in Facebook for its Max Factor line of makeup, teaming up with Amazon for checkout and logistics.

Of course, this activity smells of opportunity for social commerce solution providers – Wildfire, with it’s Facebook group-buy app, has recently set up in the UK; the f-commerce specialist Milyoni (NBA, UFC, HBO, the ONION) opens up today in London though a JV with London-based Punktilio.  And this week, a new one-stop-shop social commerce platform opens its doors in the UK – Gloople.

Gloople, from London agency Browser Creative, with the charismatic social media marketing expert Warren Knight, will offer Facebook store apps, group-buy apps, and social plumbing for online stores (prospectus download).  See presentation below.

The Future is …Social Shopping – Social Media + Online Shopping
Internet Retailer now hails 2011 the year of social commerce in the UK, as does reporting in the UK’s Guardian newspaper whilst the Feb 2011 UK edition of Wired magazine runs with a cover story on social commerce. So welcome to London social commerce; we wish you a prosperous 2011.

Click here to read the original article by Paul Marsden from Social Commerce Today

Gloople will be at the TechStartupJobs Fair on 18th January

Original post by Michael Holland via gloople

UK-based startup, Gloople, is a social sharing e-commerce platform that provides small and medium size retailers the tools to reward customers with discounts for liking or sharing a product on their social networks. The comprehensive social discount module allows retailers to reward brand advocates with instant discounts, effectually leveraging a consumer’s influence on their respective social networks against the value of word-of-mouth marketing to brands.

Merchants get direct customer engagement plus residual hits from their online social communities, and further benefit from having social commerce tools and technologies grouped into one modular e-commerce platform.Swimsuit outfitter Cheeky Beach has seen an 18% increase in sales since incorporating the platform.

Gloople will be at the TechStartupJobs Fair on 18th January

Original post by Arundhati Parmar via MEDCITY

Entrepreneurs often flock to business incubators in search of advice, visibility and capital, but if pursued incorrectly, the association may do more harm than good.

Take it from the founder of a health IT startup in Minnesota who believes he made the right decision when he backed out of joining a local incubator his company had been selected for after initially being very excited. In a few weeks, Rashaun Sourles, cofounder of Qualtrx will instead join Blueprint Health, a healthcare incubator in New York that is part of the Techstars Network. For those who don’t know,Techstars and YCombinator are two successful incubators that are seen as sort of setting the standard for how incubators should function.

Sourles’ experience of applying to incubators, getting rejected by them, being selected to and then bowing out of Project Skyway tech accelerator in Minneapolis and finally getting accepted to Blueprintmakes him a perfect candidate to dispense some advice on engaging with incubators.Based on his experience, there appears to be three mantras founders must live by:

Scrutinize term sheet endlessly

When Sourles got the news that his company Qualtrx — a healthcare social network that moves sales between vendors and hospital systems completely online — had been accepted to the Project Skyway accelerator, he was elated. So much so that he naively sent out the news via email to business associates and friends alike without seeing the actual terms, although he had previously asked to see them.

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Original post by NYconvergence

Wantworthy, an online fashion ‘wish list’ launched in 2010, created a platform that enables users to maintain lists of products they see online but aren’t readily able to purchase. Users can share these lists with friends for feedback and return to the original websites to make purchases. The NY-based start-up, a graduate of the NY TechStars summer 2011 accelerator program, recently raised $860,000. According to Xconomy, the company hopes to raise $1 million in total for the round.

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Original post by Andrew Denham via Startups

The Bicycle Academy’s Andrew Denham explains how he raised £40,000 in five days – and shares his secrets for success

I raised £40,000 in five and a half days but, in truth, the campaign took me almost a year, as I courted what would become my customer base for 11 months prior to launching the actual crowdfunding pitch. Here’s a round-up of the most valuable lessons I learned…

Tell a compelling story that others can write along the way

When I first came up with the idea for The Bicycle Academy I didn’t really think of it as a business, it was just something that I wished existed. From the very beginning I painted quite an ambitious picture of what it might be, then I documented what I was doing, telling the story as I went along. Over time the project picked up more followers, many of whom got in touch to see how they could help. People liked what I was doing and wanted to be a part of it.

Do the legwork before you launch

The crowdfunding campaign was the last push after trying really hard to make sure that people knew about The Bicycle Academy. From the very start I wrote a project blog, kept Twitter and Facebook accounts and created teaser videos. You need to do as much as you can to get your message out there and then you need to keep on updating people. I made sure that there was a build up towards the first day of crowdfunding, so that potential backers knew how important their effort was and how exciting it would be if we succeeded.

Hit the ground running

Some projects try to crowdfund far too soon, with little or no build up. By the time they get publicity for their campaign, it’s likely that very few people will have already backed the project, so the people who would have otherwise been convinced think that they’re in the minority and don’t back it either. People’s opinion of any project will be based at least in part by how well it’s been received by others, so if a lot of time has gone by with little or no money raised, then it will be seen as a vote of no confidence. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to do a lot of legwork beforehand, so you have a base of people ready and willing to back your project as soon as you launch.

Know your customer

The Bicycle Academy project was covered in papers, magazines and on the radio but, in particular, I ensured that the project was covered on most of the cycling websites and magazines in the UK. I knew this would be crucial. Getting mentioned on the right blog can have a far bigger effect than getting onto a nationally-recognised but otherwise irrelevant website. You need to focus your efforts to reach the people who are most likely to back your project.

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6 Startups to Watch in 2012

Posted by | 9 January, 2012 | Business models, Startups

Original post by  via Mashable Business

An Olympic games, a U.S. presidential election and the end of the world are already planned for 2012, but we’re more excited about the startups.

Here are six of them (in no particular order) that we expect to help define the coming year. We chose companies based on the momentum they gained in 2011, promising new takes on old problems and, in one case, the possibility of an IPO.

Did we look at every startup in the world before compiling this list? Nope. Did we overlook some of the startups speeding toward 2012 definition-dom? Yep. Which is where you come in. Let us know in the comments which startups are on your list to watch in 2012.

1. Skillshare

Skillshare is an online marketplace for offline classes. When we spoke to the startup in May, a month after it launched, more than 100 users had posted classes about everything from crocheted jewelery to how to invest your first $10,000. Eight months later, thousands of teachers have used Skillshare to teach more than 15,000 hours of classes. A few have even quit their jobs to teach Skillshare classes full-time.

While the startup began with classes clustered in New York City, it now has budding communities in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and elsewhere. Its site interface is already set up to accommodate more than 70 U.S. and International cities. There are no or few classes offered in most of them, but by the end of 2012, we’re betting there will be.

2. Zaarly, Taskrabbit or Something Similar

We’re pretty sure that the mobile, local version of Craigslist will gain traction in 2012. We’re just not settled on which one yet. Zaarly and TaskRabbit both allow users to find someone nearby to complete odd jobs. Zaarly also lets people request items like a reverse eBay. Both are liable to gain traction in 2012.

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