Ask An Entrepreneur: What it is really like to raise capital as an early stage startup?

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Answer provided by: Brad Sams, CEO of Tracour.

Past Employment: Consultant at Clark Schaefer Consulting, Staff Auditor at Kendle International

Featured Recently in: TechCrunch — “Tracour Locks Up $335K To Help Uncover The Best Financial Analysts”

 

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Do you like bashing your head on the table, being told ‘this wont work’ and having to consistently sell yourself, your idea, and how you will execute this plan 100 times a week? If you answered yes to all of those questions, then you are ready to try and raise money for your idea.

My startup, Tracour, is a project that has been in the works for roughly two years and has taken a considerable amount of time to perfect the model and to get our pitch ready for prime time.

There are few people in this world who can walk into a VC office with an idea and get a check for $10,000,000 to kick start their endeavor…the qualifying statement on that is if you can answer yes to “I sold my previous startup and returned a 10x multiple to our investors”, then you are a special breed.

How we pitched Tracour

Here is the funny thing about Tracour, when we went out pitching, we did not show off Tracour, we showed off Sorsed, a project that we had previously built. Sorsed tracks tech rumors and vets journalists to see who is reliable and is crowd-sourced. We built Sorsed out of fun and it’s a lightweight product from developers’ point of view since it is all crowd sourced.

Tracour ranks financial analysts in real time to see who is generating quality investment advice using automated procedures. Hopefully you can see the comparable here and this began our journey to start pitching.

We got our foot in the door with our one-line pitch, “We rate financial equity advice in real time”, at least, that was our goal at the time of the initial pitch.

When we got face time, we showed off Sorsed and this accomplished two things. 1) It showed that we could build a product 2) It offered talking points about how we can turn Sorsed into our new platform and had easy comparable that investors could see at the time.

Here is what you have to understand; when I finally met with our angel investor and got him to invest he told me something to the degree of:

“I am investing more in you and your ability to execute ideas than I am in concept of Tracour. I like what Tracour will do and I believe you can build a product to deliver on these promises. “

When we pitched to VCs, we had a functioning prototype of Tracour thanks to our angel investment, this made it much easier to show that we were capable of building the platform but required additional funds to reach our goals. At this point, it was “we love the idea and know that you can execute on your promises”.

What it is like to pitch

If you are not willing to be a persistent jerk, you will not survive. You don’t have to be a jerk to the investors (I don’t recommend that) but you have to follow-up, get used to having your calls not answered and most of all, you better be persistent.

Here’s a fun fact for you, Tracour does not have a pitch slide deck; nothing, not a single completed PowerPoint. We always pitched demos, a demo goes so much further than static slides. Our entire pitch was a demo of either Sorsed (angel level) or of the prototype (VC level).

Granted, our financials at that time were pretty simple so we didn’t have customer growth charts so slides would have been boring.

What I learned from this process

1) Be ready to be turned down, a ‘no’ is only part of the process and it only takes one ‘yes’ to complete a deal.

2) If this is your first startup, be prepared to talk about how you are able to be ‘that guy’ who can build this product; They are investing in your ability to execute.

3) You cannot do it all, surround yourself with go-getters and divest the work as needed. Focus on what you are good at (hopefully pitching) and drive that home.

4) Prove that you can build something…Sorsed for us proved that we could build a product and got us our first bit of cash.

Not sure if this will help, but it was our journey to raising money. Build something (anything) to show off that is related to your end goal…let them see what you can do, it helped us out quite a bit.

Follow along with Tracour: Twitter and Facebook








Rapid Fire Questions With UP Community Leader Thiago Diniz

Thiago Diniz is from Serra Talhada, a country town, in northeast of Brazil.

“I moved to Recife for college and before finishing I started my first business. As many entrepreneurs, I failed at my first attempt, mainly because of lack of experience and terrible community support. I decided to help to build a better environment for young entrepreneurs. I started hosting meetups for developers and entrepreneurs, then co-organized the first Startup Weekend in Recife and biggest conference called tropicalruby.com.”

https://twitter.com/dinizz

Diniz is an entrepreneur and developer particularly interested in early-stage startups and entrepreneurship. In 2009, he co-founded Code Media while still in college and ran it for almost three years. In 2011 he founded Eventick – an event management platform in Brazil where event owners can sell their tickets within minutes and attendees can use their mobile tickets to check-in on the events. Currently, Diniz is the Web Product Manager at PSafe Technologies.

UP Global Involvement: Organized and brought the first Startup Weekend to Recife in 2011, and has organized 3 others since then; Facilitated his first Startup Weekend in 2012 in Brazilia and has Facilitated over a dozen Startup Weekend’s in total.

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Three words that define your community?
Resilient, Pioneer, Manguebeat 

Most interesting person you follow on twitter?
Elon Musk

startup weekend, up global, elon musk

 

Whats the last thing you searched for on Google?

Goodwill

Favorite Mobile App?
Duolingo

What TV show should everyone be watching?
Mad Men

What is the one food you cannot resist?
Shrimp – all kinds

What music are you currently listing too?
Sugar Minott – Dub music, ya man!

 

Who would you say was an important influencer or mentor in your journey as a Community Leader?
Leo Zeba – Great mind, crazy guy

What is your favorite Startup Weekend or summit moment?
Hanging out at sky bar during Malaysia GEC

What is UP Global good at?
Giving people meaning to work and hope

How can we at UP Global improve in helping you and your community?
Telling more stories about communities

Local Government: Friend or Foe?
Foe – Dilma is not helping at all

What drives you absolutely crazy?
When I hear someone say they are going to be millionaire on the first day of Startup Weekend

Pick one: kittens or puppies?
Puppies

Whiteboard or Post It?
Post it – all sizes, do you guys still have that A4 ones?

First celebrity pick for your Startup Weekend team?
Ashton Kutcher

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And finally, tell us a secret!
I did’t organize two events before becoming an facilitator! =P








UP Global Community Instagrams You Need To See This Week!

Winning Startup Weekend is the best.

Startup Weekend! Quem disse que empreendedorismo é só para adultos?

A video posted by Rogério Morais (@rogerio_newmark) on

 

 

 

#swvarginha #SchoolChallenge

A photo posted by Jeferson Fernandes (@kjefersonf) on

 

ປະສົບການດີໆ ແລະ ມິດຕະພາບ #StartupWeekend #Vientiane

A photo posted by Bea_SVPC (@bea_souchinda_vpc) on

 

L’Amoureux est dans le journal ! #startupweekend #swr2015 A photo posted by @auroreolympe on

When you’ve been infected with the startup virus.

 

 

Showing some love for Google for Entrepreneurs.

 

 

…and for the UP Global HQ team.

 

1 year working at the most amazing organization with the most amazing people. Thanks, everybody! #UPGlobal   A video posted by Aldo Aguirre (@aldoaguirreg) on

 

Just another day chatting about the zombie apocalypse at #StartupWeek.

 

Working together as a team is what makes #StartupWeekend so fun.

 

 

As equipes que nascem no #startupweekend sempre tem muitas boas histórias pra contar! 🙂 Empreendedorismo pra vida toda! A photo posted by Startup Weekend Fortaleza (@swfortaleza) on

 

Project: “gift4lao” su2✌ #workshop#startupweekend A photo posted by Μ☆✕KY (@maxxkyyy) on

Fashion is essential.

 

ປະສົບການທີ່ຫນ້າຈົດຈຳ #morning#startupweekend#Vientiane#SWVTE A photo posted by Μ☆✕KY (@maxxkyyy) on

 

Communities that dance together stay together!

 

As we do at #sxsw. @espreedevora #YEC #startupoasis #upglobal

A video posted by Yohei Nakajima (@yoheinakajima) on

 

Make sure to tag #StartupWeekend #StartupNext #StartupWeek #UPGlobal #EducationEntrepreneurs








Do You Have What it Takes to Open Your Own Pub?

Article written by Anne Bridges. 

The pub industry is highly competitive but, if you get it right, it can also be a profitable and rewarding career choice. It takes a certain type of person to run a pub – you must have an entrepreneurial outlook, in addition to the personal qualities required when working with the general public. It’s hard work!

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Here are some questions to ask yourself first: 

Are you prepared to work long, unsociable hours? 

The most challenging aspect of running your own pub is the long, unsociable hours. Whilst most pubs open around midday, they thrive in the evenings, when people have finished work, and at weekends. Until your business has developed enough to hire a General Manager, it’s likely you’ll need to be present during these core hours. This can be hard work, particularly if you have a family. However, once your business is established, the work/life balance is often restored, providing you with the freedom to take time off whenever you like.

Can you multi-task?

The role of a pub landlord is varied. You’ll need to deal with everything from customer service to stock takes, from accounting to IT. At peak times, you may have a number of tasks fighting for your attention. You must be able to prioritise quickly, and delegate where necessary to ensure you keep on top of everything. 

Are you a confident leader? 

You can’t run your pub along, and must enlist the help of staff – both in the bar, and behind the scenes. To be a successful landlord, you need to lead your team confidently. Make decisions quickly, and provide direction where it’s required. If there’s a problem, you must be able to address is quickly – a weak link in one area of your business can have disastrous consequences, especially as you’ll rely on word of mouth and recommendations to bring new customers through the door.

Are you good with numbers?

Whilst it’s advisable to work with an accountant to keep your finances in order, you still need to have a good grasp of numbers. To ensure the top level of service, stock control is incredibly important. Use sales data to predict how often you need to reorder stock, and in what quantities. If you’re working with a leading pub partner, such as Greene King, make use of their software to keep track. 

Do you understand marketing?

To get new customers into your pub, especially in the early days, you’ll need a good grasp of marketing. How will you promote your business? What would you like your customers to think about your business? What’s your USP? All of these questions are important when you run your own pub. Today, it’s more important than ever to have a solid online presence, so you should also consider how you will use your website and social media networks to increase sales.

Do you like meeting new people?

A key part of running your own pub is socialising with your regular customers. If you can develop a good friendship with your regulars, they’ll be more likely to return and bring their friends. Make sure you great new customers warmly, and deal with any complaints in a friendly manner.

Are you a good problem solver?

In any pub, it’s inevitable that something will go wrong at some point. For example, you may have a plumbing issue, the oven may break down, or you may be unable to take card payments from customers who have already eaten. Whatever the scenario, you must be able to react quickly and come up with a solution to reduce the impact to your customers.








Ask An Entrepreneur: Creating Short-Form Video Content For Brands.

ask and entrepreneurAnswer provided by:  LaDante McMillon, Founder & Creative Director of LDM Film Perspective

Past Employment: Production Trainee for the National Basketball Association, New Media Intern at Fission Strategy, and Production Intern at Brookline Interactive Group.

 

 

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Understanding the influence a creatively told story can have on an audience is why I started LDM Film Perspective.

Everyday, I craft and articulate brand narratives through photography, animationfilm and graphic design in hopes of better connecting companies with their target customer. Through relationships with fashion companies, non-profits, and tech entrepreneurs, I have seen the need for creative content that enhances a brand’s digital and social presence.

My first projects under LDM consisted of producing music videos; from that experience I grew into developing short-form, branding content, specifically, videos less than five minutes long.

Short-form content is consumed quickly. Examples include things like short videos, photographs, gifs, infograpics, and memes.

Below is one video of a ten part series specifically created for Instagram that celebrates the history, present, and future of the black community. See more from this #blackhistory collection.  

Black History #9: Raising the Bar from LaDante McMillon.

People’s attention span is only a matter of seconds, it’s important to create concise, targeted, and useful content. There are numerous uses in which a startup can utilize a short-form video: the launch of a new product, a how-to video, an “about us” video explaining company origins and vision, or simply a creative video that generates curiosity. Short–form video content is easily shared and has no boundary in the amount of individuals it can reach.

Entrepreneurs should look for creativity, quality, and a strong sense of direction within a film company’s work. It’s vital to ensure the process is a collaborative effort and one that incorporates the vision of both parties.

Before approaching a video production company, having a clear vision of what you want accomplished and who your target audience is, will save you time and money. I always ask founders to have their personal and professional stories ready for when they come in.

Remember, you must have a strong team narrative to create an effective call to action!

Find LaDante McMillon on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on the web.








Top Learnings from Startup Weekend London

This post is written by 

Startup Weekend London was one of the most inspiring activities I’ve engaged in a while. Not only did I get to meet talented individuals but also work with them.

My Team

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There was a Spanish HR professional who delegated her two kids to her husband and was the first to remember all of our names. There was a young Englishman who started his own business delivering snacks and nutritious goodies to schools and small organizations. Another talented individual who started his own business when he was 16 and rejected top corporate offers to work for a startup, eventually working his way to head of digital marketing. Then, there was the developer whose work ethic stood second to none and who created the most amazing codes within a couple of days. And finally a biochemist, turned philosopher, turned television producer, turned visual poet, and almost a Steve Jobs lookalike with his own Wikipedia page who was also our team leader.

Learnings

To name a few: disruptive technologies, predictive algorithms, data is not just for nerds, the sheer velocity of change (e.g. when Zuckerberg was receiving accolades as the most innovative person in 2009, Instagram did not even exist). However two important points were my highlights.

Firstly, I learned what startups can teach large companies. I realized how complacency can become a sin. Many established corporates lack the innovation factor and even more so, a platform that encourages creativity. Although big companies can efficiently leverage their resources, formulate objectives to increase their shareholder value (on paper), and standardize their processes, they don’t know how to encourage emerging ideas enough. Large companies will have enough ‘tick boxers’ who make sure you are compliant with redundant company policies, but they won’t have enough executioners who can do new things. Large companies will have executives who can operate, but not enough talent who can create. One of the reasons Apple thrived was because Mr Jobs encouraged new ideas. There is a big opportunity for established companies to create a culture similar to the Startup weekend, not only for the sake of their business model, but to have a healthier work environment.

Secondly, I witnessed first-hand, the importance of agility when you are moving towards your newly formed goals, ideas or projects. Pivot is the key word to look for when starting your team, as there will always be an ‘aha moment’ where you have to rethink almost everything and start from square one. The team has to be agile enough to be flexible and respond to threats via iterative innovation. Our team comprised of the right balance of vision, technical skills, marketers, designers and business people (in other words a good combination of hackers, pirates and hustlers).

If you have an idea that you have always wanted to work on, there are resources available that will help you get there; that’s the beauty of today’s world which has come a long way since the dot com era.

You don’t have to attend a Startup event if you don’t want to; there are other tools such as business canvases, mentors, blogs, networks and analytics. But, if you have the opportunity, I definitely encourage participation as it offers a laid back ambience where you can explore your ever burning ideas.

The collaborative shared office campus that hosted Startup Weekend London had an unlimited supply of beer on tap (but that’s not the only reason why we all look so jolly in the photo above) along with an abundance of other snacks (nutritious of course). More importantly, you will gain the experience of working with people that you might not normally liaise with and develop some solid business acumen (like how to sell your minimal viable product within 60 seconds). And the most ‘innovative’ thing is that you will accomplish all of this within 54 hours!

Happy Startingup 🙂








A History Of Wearable Tech (Infographic)

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Need more infographics? Check out:

 








Late Bloomers Who Succeeded Despite Their Age (Infographic)

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Need more infographics? Check out:








UP Global Community Instagrams You Need To See This Week

Both #StartupWeekend Amsterdam and #StartupWeekend Tehran had selfie sticks.

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This lucky gal got to meet the Mayor of Louisville.

Startup Weekend

It’s a good idea to set the mood for #StartupWeekend on the ride over.

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Who says you can’t be fashionable while attending entrepreneurial events? #StartupWeek

Startup Week Startup Weekend

Portrait-style representing #StartupNext!

Startup Next

The #UPGlobal team is global.

UP Global UP Global

Amazing team selfies take coordination and planning.

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All hard work leads to swag…

Startup Weekend Education

…and to winning the top prize!

Startup Weekend

Entrepreneurs that work together, succeed together!

Startup Weekend Startup Weekend






5 Common Traps that Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

This post is written by, Anais John who specializes in aiding her vast academic expertise to students who often ask professionals, can you help me write my essay. She also runs a blog that talks about fresh grads, freshman career, etc.

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Being an entrepreneur is not easy. You don’t have a “yellow brick road” to follow and at times, you don’t even have a Tinman, lion, and a scarecrow to help you to your destination. It is common to fall into many traps before you reach your point of success as an entrepreneur.

There will be many obstacles in the way! However, learning to recognize them can surely help you get prepared for what could possibly happen to prevent you from reaching your Emerald City castle.

Expecting heaps of cash right away.

It can happen, but not everyone is that lucky. Entrepreneurs have to wait a considerable amount of time before they can experience heavy cash flowing into their pool. Obviously, they have invested a large amount of money which is their “cost” and that cost has to be covered before you can start making any profit. Before you reach the breakeven, you can’t even think about gains and benefits.As an entrepreneur you have to learn to be patientas well as optimistic before you expect immediate returns.

Falling into the pool of “what if’s”

Entrepreneurs are risk-takers. If you fall trap to the what-if’s attitude you’ve just lost your entrepreneurial mindset. Fear can act as a great barrier for entrepreneurs to expand or continue to operate. Fear will hold you back from doing things that you should be doing to further improve your business and get successful in your enterprise.

Expecting amazing responses –every time

Sometimes, you’ll have good days and other times you’ll have really bad ones. Not every client/customer you come across will give you the feedback you desire. Falling trap to reduced productivity and lack of enthusiasm just because of one bad day, is a mistake many newbie entrepreneurs make. No one is perfect and no business is either. There are plenty of people saying mean, angry things to even the biggest and best of organizations, don’t you think? Now, how can you expect yourself to be so PERFECT and satisfy every single customer?

Worrying about reputation

People talk and people will keep talking. A true entrepreneur doesn’t get bogged down by people’s comments. Peoplealways just want something to talk about! If you try to keep your entrepreneurship efforts a secret at start-up, you’re making a huge mistake. Don’t worry about reputation or “what are people going to think about me if it doesn’t work out.” C’mon you have a new business to market! Your networking capabilities are sure to be hampered by this approach — and networking is part of making your business a huge hit.

Being Extremely Confident

As opposed to the second trap where one is extremely unconfident about their abilities, being over-confident is another trap. This is commonly known as the “trap of arrogance”. This actually leads you to under-prepare for what’s to come. Not having a game plan, not following the market trends, not doing your research, or not seeing your competition as a threat are a few examples of these kind of traps. It’s okay to be confident. But being overly confident and reckless is, to be honest – kindadumb.