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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.