Dublin, Ireland is considered the land of hospitality – spend a few days with the locals and you’ll feel as though you’re a part of the community. The welcoming nature of the environment makes Dublin a great place to get connected quickly — and if you’re a local startup, it’s a great place to take root and find the resources you need. Here are just a few more of Dublin’s ecosystem strengths:
- In terms of total numbers of startups, Dublin boasts roughly the same number as Amsterdam (around 2,250), a city with more than three times the population.
- Dublin-based started received $300M in funding in 2015.
- The smaller size of the region makes Dublin a great place to test and build a young company.
If you’re interested in connecting with or supporting the Dublin startup community, here are three events you don’t want to miss next month:
Startup Dublin’s Friends + Startups Brekkie | June 3, 2016
If you’re curious about Dublin’s startup scene and not sure how you’d like to get involved yet, start small and get connected. On June 3 (and every first Friday of the month), the Office of the Dublin Commissioner for Startups – aka Startup Dublin – hosts an informal “brekkie” for Dublin’s tech community. According to the Startup Dublin site, “dozens of scones and cups of coffee later a speaker takes the floor for 15-20 minutes to share their story and answer questions.” The event is free and the perfect low-risk opportunity for anyone wanting to learn more about Dublin’s startup community. Startup Dublin is an independent, not for profit established in 2014 in an effort to support innovative companies that are born, bred, or adopted in Dublin. Learn more here.
Startup Angels’ AngelSummit EU | June 8-9, 2016
Curious about how you can invest your time, talent, and funds into your local community? Aspiring or experienced investors or curious community leaders are encouraged to attend the upcoming AngelSumit EU — a gathering of tech leaders from across Europe to discuss and develop best practices in angel investing. Guest speakers at this year’s EU Summit include Dave McClure of 500 startups, Niamh Bushnell of Startup Dublin, Anne Ravanova of Global Invest Her, Jason Ball of Qualcomm Ventures, and more. “Angel Summits and investor workshops are key components to ensuring that the relationships and outcomes between startups and angels are successful,” says Marc Nager of Techstars. “If we can get a predictable, repeatable model to people that helps open their eyes to the possibilities of high quality angel investing, well, that unlocks unimaginable opportunities.” Learn more and register here.
Startup Weekend Dublin | June 10-12, 2016
If you’ve attended a Startup Weekend before, you know that they’re a great way to get plugged into your local startup community. This June’s Dublin Startup Weekend features guest speakers from the startup scene including Russell Banks (CEO, Investor Sheet), Jade O’Connor (Founder, HiBeam.co), and David Bowles of Delta Partners VC as well as a great line up of experienced judges. Check out this video from a previous Startup Weekend Dublin and sign up for the event here.
Everyone at Transpose HQ is so excited to to be helping entrepreneurs compete in Global Startup Battle this year that we’ve already started putting together some resources to help teams succeed. Anyone can sign up here to access their custom GSB toolkit and get a feel for the Transpose platform, which is designed to help entrepreneurs organize everything in one smart workspace.
To get attendees prepped for upcoming Startup Weekend events during GSB, we’ve also put together a few tips below to help you maximize your experience.
Mistake #1: Friday Night Tunnel Vision
The Startup Weekend model doesn’t favor ideas; instead, it emphasizes teams.
A lot of people come to Startup Weekend with a startup idea that they’ve been developing for a long time. Startup Weekend is the perfect low-risk atmosphere to test out an idea and see if it has staying power or solves a real problem. However, it’s all too easy for attendees to get hyper-focused on their idea — which may not sound that problematic, but can actually hinder entrepreneurs at Startup Weekend.
Those who put all their faith in an untested idea often come up short. At Startup Weekend events, idea-attachment can prevent you from building a great team, and it can blind you from uncovering an even better idea with the help of others. That’s why Friday night at any SW event is built around organic team formation. The agenda on Friday evening doesn’t even allow for everyone to work on their own pitches — and that limitation ends up helping entrepreneurs to get more creative anyway.
Resources (click here to access)
To help you get and your team organized off the bat, we’ve created a simple team contact form and a team task manager designed specifically for GSB teams.
Mistake #2: Staying “Heads Down” On Product
Attendees should keep in mind that during final presentations, what a panel of judges wants to see more than anything else is solid customer development.
A finished prototype or product? That’s a cherry on top, sure, but it means very little if you haven’t proven that the product is actually desired by paying customers or that it solves for a real-life problem experienced by lots of people.
There is only one way to check this box: talk to people. The most important thing a team can do during a Startup Weekend is talk to customers. Organizers tell attendees this piece of advice constantly, but no matter how many times it’s encouraged, it seems like a number of teams always opt to focus on product instead of customer.
Startup Weekends are fast-paced and there isn’t a lot of time to spare, which leaves attendees feeling like they need to spend most of their energy creating something tangible — but that isn’t a winning strategy. Fight the temptation to roll up your sleeves, put your head down, and work for hours on end.
Getting Customer Development Right
It helps to read a bit about customer development beforehand if possible, and entrepreneurs should carefully craft questions that go beyond, “Do you like this or not?”. Valuable customer questions sound more like, “What’s the hardest part of your day?”, “What are some unmet needs you have?”, or “What tasks take up the most time in your day?”. If you can get a potential customer to reflect on these types of questions, you’ll have a much better sense of what product(s) they’ll be excited to use or even willing to pay for.
Resources (click here to access)
Use our customer development form to help you get started with customer interviews as well as the customer leads tracker so you can organize your most engaged potential users and stay in touch.
Mistake #3: “Winging” the Final Presentation
Many teams think they’ll be fine without practice, but once there’s a full audience and a panel of influential judges waiting to hear a seamless pitch, things can fall apart quickly.
Even the most impressive prototype or “Minimum Viable Product” at Startup Weekend won’t perform well competitively if it can’t be pitched in a powerful way. Teams should spend a few hours on Sunday to decide who the primary presenter(s) will be, what assets are most needed to put together a great deck (company logo, screenshots, etc.), and then do numerous run-throughs of the presentation.
When it’s down to the final hours on Sunday before presentations kick off, stress levels are high on most teams. Instead of developing your product or your new company website until the last moments before final pitches, do yourself a huge favor and remember that a seamless pitch can illustrate great potential (even if the product isn’t ready yet), and that a great startup with a bad pitch won’t take you far.
Resources (click here to access)
To help you focus on the most important pieces of your presentation and hone in on your baseline product needs, we’ve created a GSB-specific judging criteria checklist as well as a guide to managing those short 54 hours at Startup Weekend.
Be sure to check out all of the GSB templates by signing up here. Have an idea for a tool that would help you at Startup Weekend? Email email@example.com to suggest a resource and we’ll build you a custom template.
Why we’re committed to diversity:
Regardless of who you are or where you are from, there is an UP program for you (and if you think there isn’t, we want to help you create one).
Recently, there’s been an ongoing dialogue around UP Global’s efforts to draw a more diverse population into the UP community. We realized there may be some confusion around the goals of these efforts and programs, and we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify our goals and to advance the conversation.
UP Global exists to empower and serve entrepreneurial communities around the world. A critical piece of this mission involves supporting the growth of more diverse networks, communities, and startup teams – because we know that more diverse communities are stronger and more innovative. At the company level, it’s been found that a more equalized gender distribution yields a 30 percent higher return on IPO’s. A 2011 Forbes study found that “diversity breeds creativity and innovation. Of 321 large global enterprises surveyed, 85 percent agreed or strongly agreed that diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in the workplace.”
We believe that this same philosophy can and should be applied at the community level as well. More backgrounds with better representation will result in a greater sense of innovation; with more perspectives at the table, we’re confident that new solutions and ideas will be fostered and made possible through entrepreneurship.
Thriving, diverse communities must be built intentionally. Diversity can mean anything from a more balanced gender ratio, a broad spectrum of ages, and it can mean that a variety of backgrounds and skills are well represented. When one of our programs has a lack of designers or developers, for example, we would consider this a deficiency in diversity. Diversity in the broadest sense at a Startup Weekend, for example, means having a balance between Developers, Designers and Business People. Diversity also includes Race, Gender and Age. This is why we are working to create balanced, diverse events – whether that means we are encouraging more designers to attend, or creating safe spaces for underserved attendees to get involved.
One of our most recent efforts to encourage diversity at the community level is our Startup Women initiative. A key piece of this initiative is the rollout of over 30 events focused on bringing more women into the entrepreneurial space – commonly known as “Womens Edition” events. These events focus on bringing in more women entrepreneurs, but they are also reliant on the presence of men in order to create a collaborative, diverse environment. Historically, these events have succeeded in bringing more female founders and entrepreneurs into the UP community at large, and both men and women have benefited from this increased level of diversity. Womens Edition events generally draw between a 60-75% female attendance rate, as opposed to the typical 20% at most Startup Weekend events. Wendy Santiano, an attendee from a past Womens Edition event, remarked, “Without Startup Weekend Women’s Edition I would still be completely lost. It was great to work with so many talented women as well as the men who accented the team perfectly.”
Our Startup Education events also rely on a type of diversity: a powerful blend of educators, entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and policy-makers. We’ve tested other events with an emphasis on veterans, African-American youth, and high school students. Each of these events takes on a very intentional stance designed by the local community itself. UP Community Leaders understand the needs of their community best, and they work to create the right type of events – with the right tone and focus – that will most benefit the growth of the community. We think our approach of empowered communities and specialized programs is working, based on new communities established and event attendance.
Regardless of where you live and what your professional or personal background is, we believe there is an UP program for you. If you’d like to attend or organize an event that encourages community-level diversity, let us know! We will help make it happen.
Our next Startup Women event is in Seattle this weekend. You can purchase tickets here. We hope to see you there!
Nishika de Rosairo is an active member of this year’s Startup Women Advisory Board. As a CEO and Creative Director, she hopes to bridge the business world with the art world and make entrepreneurship more accessible for artists. She serves on the Advisory Board alongside Ling Wong, Amy Stursberg, Daymond John, Angela Benton, and Mary Grove.
My father was a Chartered Mechanical Engineer on an expatriate assignment, so I was born in Zambia, a country that borders Zimbabwe and Angola. At the time, Zambia boasted the largest copper mines in the world, and as a result, contained a substantive expatriate community. My older sister and I grew up attending international schools governed by the British schooling system, and immersed in extra-curricular activities including ballet, tap dancing, gymnastics, piano, sewing and more. My mother, a true lover of fashion, would design and sew these beautiful, matching dresses for my sister and me. It was around the age of six that I vividly recall dreaming of becoming a fashion designer, with a label following my surname, de Rosairo. But my parents were of Sri Lankan descent and anything that was not along the lines of medicine, law, accounting or engineering was given the automatic kibosh. Later in life, I appreciated this perspective immensely.
“A part of me that was not yet fully discovered was starting to flourish. Entrepreneurialism felt very real.”
After eight years of my life spent in Zambia, my parents moved us to Sri Lanka for six years, followed by a move to New Zealand in my mid teens where I continued my high school and university education. By the time I reached my early twenties, my life was about to take a turn with an unplanned adventure. I received a scholarship to study as an exchange student in the MBA program at the University of Washington in Seattle. Even with 23 countries under my belt, the experience of studying in the US opened my mind on a whole different level. A part of me that was not yet fully discovered was starting to flourish. Entrepreneurialism felt very real. Upon completing my masters program, I returned back to New Zealand for a short period until I found myself back in Seattle on a work visa sponsored by Deloitte Consulting.
I spent nine years consulting and working for Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley companies including Deloitte Consulting, Apple, Cisco, Levi, Chevron, Salesforce and many others. The type of work and experience was phenomenal, especially because I actively played a role in uncovering the complexities of these large organizations, advising the senior leaders on their talent strategies, and transforming these companies to enable them to stay relevant and innovative in their current and new markets. It was all very fulfilling, but it still wasn’t enough for me. And through that deep desire for more, dE ROSAIRO was born. A childhood dream coupled with a strong business background was starting to become part of the fashion industry.
“This creative place became an escape for me”
Despite what seemed like a structured career, my soul frequently yearned towards things that were more intuitive and subjective. I spent most of my life sketching and having dressmakers sew what they referred to as complicated designs. In my 20’s, I trained to become a Latin dancer, and soon after, I was performing, competing and teaching dance. At the same time, I also discovered a passion for abstract art, where I started to complete custom pieces and display my work at intimate art events. This creative place became an escape for me. I was frequently amazed by the power of “movement” I experienced through creativity and expression. I would spend countless hours with other creatives chatting about expression and what inspires each of us. Then my mind would sway back to the world of business that I also felt very passionately about, and I would wonder what the world would be like if we had no artists and creatives around us.
Re-imagining an iconic symbol of American culture
Ironically, dE ROSAIRO was born not because I wanted to launch a womenswear clothing brand (which was my ultimate childhood dream, which I waited 28 years to launch), but dE ROSAIRO came about because the timing was right. I reached a point in my life where I was armed with the business knowledge, resources, connections, and confidence to build my own dream. What differentiated me was “re-imagining” an iconic symbol of American culture- the hoodie, yet for the modern woman, designed so that she is able to incorporate it into her professional and contemporary wardrobe. I started to reconstruct the fit, silhouette, and fabrics of this much-adorned symbol with a degree of finesse, and as part of a collection. This “re-imagined” hoodie has now become, and will continue to be, a symbol of brand identity for dE ROSAIRO.
“I questioned if my lack of experience in the industry would place me at a disadvantage”
During this entire time of entrepreneurial discovery, I questioned if my lack of experience in the industry would place me at a disadvantage. As I started carving roads, I soon realized quite the contrary, and just how much I was leveraging my business expertise to build and manage the dE ROSAIRO brand. I was able to lay a solid foundation, which included business processes, financial and inventory models, and supply chain methodology. I also discovered that there were far too many designers who either loved the industry so much that they were willing to run their businesses for what was almost free, based on very low and difficult margins, or they simply didn’t know how to manage the varying components of running a sourcing business, coupled with cash flow liquidity that needed to survive 18 months out. I’m still learning myself.
Startup Women Advisory Board
Now, as an Advisory Board Member for the Startup Women Initiative, designed to promote female entrepreneurship, my goal is to help Creative Entrepreneurs bridge the gap between left and right-side brain thinking. It’s important (yet sometimes difficult) to connect the creative process with business operations, where the real strength of being a Creative Entrepreneur lies. dE ROSAIRO is only eight months post industry launch, yet we’ve enjoyed strong sales and strategic partnerships simply because of the parallels we are able to draw from the business world and apply to the fashion world. We truly haven’t mastered the combination in any sense, but through a series of strategic trials and errors, our goal is that we will eventually take more steps in the right direction.
Ask yourself the right questions
I don’t think all designers require a solid understanding of business to survive in today’s world, but I do believe that having a business background is what makes a difference in a very complex and fragmented supply chain and costing model. There are many successful designers who have built multi-million dollar global brands without any sort of business background. I do believe, however, that the industry has changed, and what worked even a few years back does not necessarily work today. Consumer spending habits influenced by social media, eCommerce models, and consumer choices have shaken up the entire industry, which is why the question we have to ask ourselves today as Creative Entrepreneurs is not “how do I launch a fashion brand?” but instead “how do I launch a fashion brand with a view to longevity?” Those are two fundamentally different questions, and the answer to the latter question is where I believe success in the industry lives.
By Lloyed Lobo
Over the past year I’ve been running the Startup Next Pre-accelerator in SF, which is a 5-week program by UP Global and Google for Entrepreneurs that helps early startups prepare for an accelerator (or simply crash) by validating their ideas and building prototypes to test with real customers.
Startup Next is run in many cities around the world and our graduates have not only been accepted into accelerators such as Techstars, 500 Startups, AngelPad, Plug and Play Startup Camp and more, but they’ve also raised funding from big-name investors. And many have dropped their ideas after 5 weeks and are thankful because they were able to determine it was going nowhere without spending too much time and money.
We have a rigorous application process because the program is mentor-driven and our team works hard to connect founders to accelerators. We’ve had some awesome mentors from Google, Intel, Airbnb, Dropbox, Verizon, and Stanford to name a few. So it’s important for us to understand that the founders are committed and will continue to make progress over the 5 weeks.
Here are some tips from the Startup Next team based on conversations with accelerators as well as entrepreneurs who’ve been accepted.
1. Building a startup is a team sport and something that all investors tend to agree on. You’ve probably heard of the phrase “hacker, hustler, hipster”. What that means is you need to have a solid cross-functional founding team that has a good working chemistry and can build product, create great user experiences, and acquire customers at breakneck speed.
Sam Altman of Y-Combinator said in a recent interview at the Pre-Money conference “it’s really hard for accelerators to pick good companies at the early stages, so all your efforts should be towards getting awesome founders. Ideas often change from when you start out, but good founders will have the grit and determination to see it through.”
Team chemistry is a key factor because if the founders have worked together in the past, the risk of founder break up is mitigated. Co-founder disputes early on are a major reason why startups fail to raise capital post acceleration or even continue building the company.
Three co-founders tends to be a magic number for many accelerators. Having too many founders can give the impression that you’re not as confident plus the diluted equity could lead to motivation issues.
2. Show that you can be a big company. One of the values of going through an accelerator is they can help you raise your initial seed round. It is well documented that only a small percentage of investments lead to the majority of the returns for a VC fund, so VCs try to determine if their investment in your company has the potential to be worth more than their whole fund.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and a reputable VC with a portfolio that includes massive success stories like Facebook, Palantir, Spotify and SpaceX, says entrepreneurs should ask themselves “What great business is nobody building? In business, every moment happens only once. The next Mark Zuckerberg won’t be building a social network.”
3. Have a prototype or minimum viable product. It doesn’t matter if you’re not working on your idea full time yet, just get something out there that can be tested. Justin Kan, Partner at Y-Combinator stated in an Entrepeneur.com article “The best way to get the ball rolling on an idea is to leap off of a cliff and force yourself to make incremental progress.”
4. Get traction in the form of money or users or both. This will significantly raise your chances of getting in. Accelerators want to see that you can accomplish what you say and can execute on the plan. Show that you’ve validated the market with real customers. If you get an interview, demonstrate how you’ve progressed from the time you submitted the application. Accelerator programs last only a few months, so it’s important that the teams they invest in can maximize the resources provided to the fullest.
5. Build a strong network and leverage it. Getting a strong referral is the best way to get in. For example, if you’re recommended by a well-known entrepreneur, investor, alum or pre-accelerator.
Take this further by creating a complete profile on AngelList and keeping it updated with information about your team, product, traction, press etc. Get references and followers from your network. Read this post by 500 Startups on the basics of AngelList, this one by Naval, founder of AngelList, on how they pick trending startups, and this one by Justin Thiele on how he got his startup to trend on AngelList.
6. Be concise in your application. Accelerators go through 100s, if not 1000s of applications, which means you have very little time to catch their attention. Avoid buzzwords and remember less is more. Before you submit, get feedback from those who’ve been through an accelerator (or experienced investors and entrepreneurs if you can’t get to someone who’s been through an accelerator). Make sure you apply early and not on the last day. And once you get a call for an interview, practice your pitch and responses. Be well prepared before going in as interviews can last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Accelerators see a lot of companies, so they start to understand what may or may not work rather quickly (aka, their BS meter). You want to be educating them during the interview, not the other way around.
7. Do your homework before you apply. Research accelerator programs to see what value they can add to your business and talk to some startups that have graduated from the accelerator programs you’re considering. You want to get a real view of their accomplishments during and after the program. Make sure to ask questions that help you get a good understanding of the accelerator’s resources, mentorship and connections. Be sure to add vertical-specific accelerators to your research, for example hardware, health or enterprise-focused, as they might be able to add more value depending on the type of business you’re in.
If you’re a first-time entrepreneur, taking the initial step can be the most difficult. You might want to look into attending a local pre-accelerator program as a first step.
Lloyed Lobo is the co-founder of Boast Capital, which specializes in R&D Tax Credits, Plug and Play Canada, a subsidiary of Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech Center which invests in early-stage startups, and The Cloud Factory, a premiere enterprise tech conference. Lloyed is very active in the tech startup community in Silicon Valley and Western Canada – he runs the Startup Next Pre-accelerator in the Valley, facilitates Startup Weekends, is on the board of Startup Calgary, and writes a weekly column called Startup of the Week for the Calgary Herald. Previously, Lloyed was the Head of Sales and Marketing at two venture backed software companies – TicketLeap in Philadelphia and AL Systems in New Jersey.
On June 19th, 150 Gazan women and men gathered for the fourth Startup Weekend Gaza – but this particular event promised the presence of at least 50% women, as one of the events participating in this year’s Startup Women initiative.
One woman in attendance was Mariam Abultewi, winner of the previous Startup Weekend event for her startup Wasselni, a taxi-ordering/carpooling app. Notably, Mariam is the first Gazan woman to receive startup funding– a feat that may offer inspiration to other young women evaluating the entrepreneurial leap.
The journey of the entrepreneur is a difficult one, and though her startup has been moving forward actively for about four months, she continues to face unique challenges including the eight-year, international blockade of the region following Hamas’ ascension to de-facto political control of the Gaza strip.
Additionally, Mariam has also faced difficulties that are largely tied to the basic fact that she is female; it took a long time to convince her father to approve of her decision to focus on her startup, but Mariam’s persistence led her to have her first solo traveling experience and convinced her father of the value of entrepreneurship – so much so that he is now considering starting his own venture, and has encouraged Mariam’s siblings to do so as well.
The Organizing team for Gaza Startup Weekend 4.0 (Mohammed AlAfranji, Nadine Badereddine, Alaa Saqer, Said Hassan, Iliana Montauk, and Mohammed Skaik) focused on marketing and outreach that welcomed more women to the event, and their efforts were successful: over 650 applications were received with 150 attendees selected, 71 people pitched and 26 were women, 25 startup teams formed, and 16 were led by women.
Since the launch of the Startup Women initiative, we’ve seen “Womens Edition” events take shape in communities all around the world; from Tokyo, to Kansas City, to Kiev. This year’s Startup Weekend Womens Edition in Kiev was made possible by a dedicated Organizing team who dealt with ongoing political upheaval and violent protest in the midst of preparation for the event.
“My story is about how one weekend changed my life,” Tetiana Siyanko, Co-Organizer of the Kiev event, said. “I want to help others make this leap.”
Equally encouraging is the constant support from men in communities around the world for a greater emphasis on welcoming women into the world of startups – or simply highlighting the stories of female entrepreneurs more intentionally. As Akram Dweikat, Gazan Startup Weekend Organizer, says: “My top priority is empowering women in my community.”
Stories like Tetiana and Mariam’s have altered the scope and potential of the Startup Women initiative significantly. Given the demand and passion of women in the entrepreneurial space, UP Global aims to seed 1,000 thriving startup communities internationally by 2016, and to focus on the unique barriers to women throughout this growth.
Taking on this goal also means that we are working to define thriving in tangible terms. Through initiatives like Startup Women, UP Global recognizes the critical challenge of ensuring that early-stage communities integrate diversity into their conception of “thriving.” This challenge demands an evolving dialogue around the value of diversity in innovation, and its solution stands to solidify the socio-economic legacy of start-up communities internationally.
- Article: E-ship in Gaza (Startup Weekend + Mercy Corps) http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/06/25/tech-entrepreneurship-generating-hope-galvanizing-new-opportunity/
- Article: http://www.wamda.com/2014/06/startup-weekend-gaza-4-turning-point-ecosystem
- Photos: http://america.aljazeera.com/multimedia/photo-gallery/2014/6/photos-pitching-atgaza40startupweekend.html#
- Startup Sisterhood article: http://america.aljazeera.com/features/2014/6/gaza-s-startup-sisterhood.html
- 1st place team: Lilac for innovation design https://www.facebook.com/LilacForDesign
- The first Gazan woman to be funded: Mariam Abultewi, founder of Wasselni, a taxi-ordering and carpooling app (launched 4 months ago)source: http://america.aljazeera.com/features/2014/6/gaza-s-startup-sisterhood.html
This year we kicked off a new initiative – Startup Women – in an effort to support more female founders and entrepreneurs across all of UP Global’s programs (Startup Weekend, Startup Next, and Startup Digest). By the end of 2014, we aim to have inspired more than 1,500 female-led startup teams, hosted over 15 Startup Weekend Women’s Edition events in the US alone, and captured numerous female founder stories from across the globe.
As part of this initiative, we are putting together a small advisory board of influential leaders and advocates – both women and men. Our vision for the advisory board is to align our initiative efforts with the input and feedback we receive from the board, as well as seek new opportunities throughout the year for advisors to get involved with our programs, events, and storytelling.
Please join us in welcoming these passionate leaders who have signed on to help us bring more women into the entrepreneurial journey.
Amy Stursburg, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation
Amy Stursberg has served as Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, where she has overseen and led a five-year, $50 million Entrepreneurship Initiative, bringing four innovative programs to twenty states across the county. Prior to joining Blackstone in 2008, Ms. Stursberg served on the transition team for Governor Eliot Spitzer. She also managed the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s award of $35 million in cultural enhancement grants and $30 million in community grants in Lower Manhattan. Previously, Ms. Stursberg served as the last director of the September 11th Fund and held various positions at the Office of Management and Budget at the Office of the Mayor in the City of New York, as well as at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. She has also served as a university administrator and foundation officer. Ms. Stursberg received her B.A. with honors from the University of Michigan and her M.A. in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Daymond John, Shark Tank
The Startup Women initiative’s commitment to bringing more women into the entrepreneurial space and inspiring real startups that are led by women aligns with my own belief that diverse startups are stronger startups. I’m excited to be a part of a mission that is poised to make a real impact.
An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, Daymond John has come a long way from taking out a $100,000 mortgage on his mother’s house and moving his operation into the basement. John is CEO and Founder of FUBU, a much-celebrated global lifestyle brand, and a pioneer in the fashion industry with over $6 billion in product sales. He is an award-winning entrepreneur, and he has received over 35 awards including the Brandweek Marketer of the Year, Advertising Age Marketing 1000 Award for Outstanding Ad Campaign, and Ernst & Young’s New York Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
His marketing strategies and ability to build successful brands has made him a highly influential consultant and motivational speaker today. In 2009, he joined the cast of ABC entrepreneurial business show the Shark Tank by acclaimed producer Mark Burnett. Millions of weekly viewers tune into the show as John demonstrates his marketing prowess and entrepreneurial insights.
Angela Benton, NewME Accelerator
My passion for inclusive communities is what first inspired me to found NewME, and I’m thrilled to join an initiative that I believe will truly change the typical demographics of common startup events and communities. As an advisor for the Startup Women initiative, I’m excited to share my experiences in a way that will hopefully inspire more women to become entrepreneurs, which will be a benefit to all of us.
Technology expert and entrepreneur, Angela Benton, is the founder and CEO of NewME, a platform whose mission is to accelerate minority and women entrepreneurs in building thriving businesses. Since launching in 2011, NewME has accelerated over 300 startups and helped them raise over $10 million in venture capital funding. Starting out as a 12-week residential mentorship program for eight in San Francisco, NewME has evolved into a customizable platform for entrepreneurs to plug into the expertise, people, and resources when they need it most.
Mary Grove, Google for Entrepreneurs
Mary Grove is director of Global Entrepreneurship Outreach where she leads Google for Entrepreneurs, the company’s programs and partnerships to support startups and entrepreneurs in over 100 countries around the world. Mary joined Google in 2004 as part of the legal team working on the company’s IPO then moved to New Business Development where she spent 6 years focused on a range of early stage product incubation and partnerships. Mary has led dozens of strategic technology partnerships across products including Gmail, Google Docs, Search, Chrome, and Social. She is an active leader in entrepreneur and developer outreach efforts both in the US and internationally, spanning initiatives in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. She has led exploratory trips and efforts for Google in Pakistan, Afganistan, Iraq, Gaza, and the West Bank. Mary earned her B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University and sits on the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Since the early days of Startup Weekend, we’ve relied on a model that we call “The Entrepreneur’s Journey” as a way of communicating our mission, the experience of the entrepreneur, and where other programs and support come into play. This simple model has become critical in conveying what we do and why we do it. Like every model, it’s not perfect, but like some models, it’s very useful. Beyond talking about Startup Weekend, we’ve used the “EJ” more and more over the years for a much broader conversation.
NOTE: The Entrepreneur’s Journey has been updated to include the whole Techstars family.
NOTE: The Entrepreneur’s Journey has been updated to include the whole Techstars family.
This year, Marc Nager, CEO and President of UP Global, came together with fellow entrepreneurs and supporters of the global entrepreneurial movement at Google’s “Trailblazer” Summit. At the summit, he gave a talk about The Entrepreneur’s Journey. The video below covers the entire EJ model step-by-step, describes the best ways of using the model, and why we rely on it so much.
We’re honored to announce that Coca Cola will be continuing to support the global community into 2015 by sponsoring Startup Weekend globally. This year, the Coke Innovation team is joining forces with glacéau vitaminwater team to bring new opportunities to Startup Weekend Organizers and local entrepreneurial communities.
Coca Cola has always been a company that stands for innovation. Through this partnership, Coca Cola will be welcomed as a more integral force within UP Global communities around the world and will focus on supporting Startup Weekend Organizers everywhere. We’re thrilled to support the Coca Cola and vitaminwater team as they take on a direct relationship with startup communities and leaders and seek out new ways of supporting their journeys.
Across 23 international markets, glacéau vitaminwater strives to ‘enable the entrepreneur within us all,’ because glacéau vitaminwater was once a startup too. Local glacéau vitaminwater teams around the globe will be collaborating with Startup Weekend Organizers to create unique experiences, hydrate events, and mentor new entrepreneurs as they begin their journeys.
Partnering with Startup Weekend offers a platform for glacéau vitaminwater to provide support to entrepreneurs as they take their ideas from napkin to the next big thing. “The partnership is a great opportunity for us to capture the cultural movement that is entrepreneurship, and reinforces our commitment to support it,” says Kevin Burke, Senior Brand Manager for glacéau vitaminwater.
Both Coke and vitaminwater hope to learn what it takes to be innovative and continue grafting a more entrepreneurial spirit into the DNA of their very large company. Ultimately, much as they are here to support leaders and entrepreneurs with mentors, beverages, access to expertise, and a spotlight for communities everywhere, it is also very much about learning from the real experts of entrepreneurship and localized innovation – the Community Leaders.
What does this mean for you?
As an attendee:
You’ll be hydrated all weekend with delicious beverages*
You’ll have access to experts and mentors of all kinds at Startup Weekend via Coke and vitaminwater’s global network of talented team members
As a Community Leader (Organizers):
You’ll get easy access to local vitaminwater and Coca Cola team members around the world
Have the ability to tap experts at Coca Cola and vitaminwater to be judges, mentors, coaches, attendees, etc.
The opportunity to save on beverage expenses and have Coca Cola and vitaminwater keep your attendees hydrated all weekend.
How do I get connected with Coca Cola and vitaminwater in my area?
Easy! As an Organizer, you can fill out this form to be connected with the right person in your area. From there, it is up to you to work with the local team and make arrangements for your event.
Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Attend a Startup Weekend in your community.
Sign up to Organize an event.
Follow us on Twitter: @COCACOLACO / @CarieDavis2 / @Kevn_Burke
At my first Startup Weekend event, I distinctly remember Brooke Martin standing up to pitch her startup idea. Brooke was probably the most memorable pitch, but not because she was 12 at the time: she spoke with confidence and certainty in her concept, a skill that many experienced entrepreneurs still find challenging. Now, about two years later, her startup – iCPooch – has been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times. Her company has raised over $30K from their Kickstarter campaign and “several hundred thousand more from angel funds,” her father says. Brooke also took second place at a National Science Competition. We caught up with Brooke in an interview – see what she has to say below about being a new entrepreneur and launching her company.
My name is Brooke Martin, I’m a 14-year-old freshman at North Central High School in Spokane, WA. When I was 12 years old, I was working on an 8th grade independent project for school on entrepreneurship. I heard about an event called Startup Weekend Spokane, an entrepreneurial extravaganza where people pitch ideas for products or businesses and develop them over a 54-hour period, and I was very excited. I wanted to participate, so I had to come up with an idea. I know that necessity is the mother of invention, so I started brainstorming everyday problems and possible solutions. When we first adopted my golden retriever, Kayla, she suffered from awful separation anxiety, which is a common issue in canines. When my family was at work and school, Kayla would become very upset, depressed, and even destructive. I wanted a way to connect with her while we were gone to relieve her anxiety. I got to thinking about different methods of communication, and video chat came to mind. I enjoy video chatting with my friends and family, so I thought, “Why not your dog? And why not give them a treat while you’re at it?” The basis of iCPooch was born, and I pitched the idea at Startup Weekend. My idea received the most number of votes, so I was fortunate enough to work with a team of developers and designers to flush out the product concept. After the event, I started constructing prototypes in my garage with my dad, and then sought the advice and support of a variety of professionals in my community. And now, a year and a half later, iCPooch is ready to go to market.
When did you first self-identify as an entrepreneur?
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart! Whether it was running lemonade stands to earn money for a good cause or organizing fundraisers for my school, business has intrigued me since a very young age. My parents tell me I first showed signs of my determination and fearlessness selling Girl Scout cookies outside the grocery store at age four. I also love learning and creating new things. I definitely get my entrepreneurial spirit from my dad. He is a visionary and has taught me tenacity, and he has given me courage to push beyond what is expected and strive for what is possible.
Share a bit about your company and some of the highs and lows associated with your entrepreneurial journey.
About a year into the creation of iCPooch, with many of our initial startup challenges behind us, we launched our first crowd-funding effort in the form of a Kickstarter campaign. The key to a successful crowd-funding effort is to set your fundraising goal high enough to satisfy your immediate needs for capital, but at low enough levels that they are attainable – because it’s an all-in or all-out proposition. If you don’t raise funds to meet or exceed your stated target, your project sees none of the money. Buoyed by the incredible support around me, I strategically, and somewhat arrogantly, set my goal and the campaign was off and running. The initial response was amazing. In a matter of hours, we were well on the board with pledges rapidly accumulating… and within days, iCPooch was being featured in the national press on such amazing venues as Geekwire, Yahoo, and the NBC Nightly News. And just as it seemed there would be no stopping us, our Kickstarter campaign completely plateaued! By the end of the campaign, we’d raised a respectable amount of funding, but only 30% of our target goal. And that’s where my real education began – at the painful juncture between the highest highs and the lowest lows – where I was forced to dig in, refocus on my dream, and begin again. I realized I still had a viable product, an incredible team of support, and an awesome opportunity to succeed. As I moved into refining the project, and as my determination grew along with my humility, I learned the value of perseverance in entrepreneurship. I was fortunate that not too much later I received a sizable amount of investment capital and the ball kept rolling forward. In February of this year I decided to launch another Kickstarter campaign to incorporate some of the lessons I learned in my first attempt. We more clearly focused the message of our video, lowered our financial goal, and leveraged social media more effectively. This time around the climb towards success was consistent and after 28 days we reached 150% of our goal. For me I think the most exciting part of my journey so far was attending Global Pet Expo in Orlando in March. We had a chance to share iCPooch with pet product buyers and distributors from around the world. The positive response we received was totally amazing. I can’t wait until I’ll be able to walk into a store and see iCPooch on the shelf!
What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in entrepreneurship?
I think one of our biggest challenges as a society is our lack of focus on STEM education opportunities in general, and especially for girls. I am fortunate to have the amazing opportunity to attend a ground-breaking public high school that has a state of the art Science and Technology program, but I’m the only girl from my middle school who chose to attend. I think we need to embrace and promote that the STEM programs are “cool,” and that academic success is as well. At my school, we have the opportunity to “letter” in academics, and I think more schools need to embrace the power of that message, especially for girls.
Growing up, or now, did you have one particular mentor that inspired you or helped you get to where you are today?
I have to say that my parents are my biggest inspiration. Not only is my mom extremely smart, but she always gives all of her effort into everything that she does. She puts others ahead of herself and is the best leader that I know. She is so supportive and is always there for me. She challenges what I think I know to help expand my knowledge and broaden my perspective. She is a very strong, successful, wise, kind, and beautiful inside and out, and I strive to be just like her every day. And, again, I inherited my entrepreneurial spirit from my dad. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched him bring amazing things to fruition, things that others would only dream of. He models for me the rare entrepreneurial qualities of fierce determination and a work ethic that centers on “sweat equity.” He’s taught me to roll up my sleeves and jump in, and not to sit in the background waiting for something to happen.
What are you reading now – or what have you read previously – that inspired you, that you’d like to tell others about?
I really love to read and find inspiration from lots of different genres. I’m currently reading a mix of books, ranging from To Kill a Mockingbird which really frames for me a deeper appreciation of human decency in the face of evil, to the Divergent triology, which features a strong female protagonist. The book that inspired me most as an entrepreneur would have to be The Automatic Millionaire, which is a terrific introduction to financial success from an early age. My parents required that I read it and pass a test on it as a condition to having my first debit card and it definitely has taught me money management principles needed to be a success in business.
If you could offer one piece of advice to other emerging entrepreneurs, what would it be?
I would encourage other girls and aspiring female entrepreneurs to find their passion! Figure out what you really love to do or what really interests you. Once you have, there’s nothing holding you back. Do everything you can to improve your skill or advance your understanding. Hard work can do amazing things that may sometimes seem impossible. Sure you’ll face obstacles, but the best successes come from failures. As cliché as it sounds, follow your dreams, but more importantly, make them happen!
Check out Brooke’s Kickstarter video here:
This year and moving forward, UP is dedicated to finding and sharing more stories of talented female founders, entrepreneurs, and leaders as part of our Startup Women initiative. If you know an inspiring female entrepreneur, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can tell her story.