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Forget Inventing New Ideas, Try Improving What's Out There


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While the novelty of creating the next Facebook sounds amazing, the truth is we don't need to necessarily invent a product to bring a new innovation to market.

If we look closely, we'll see that some of the fastest-growing companies out there — Uber, Casper, Dollar Shave Club and dare I say it, WeWork — are all based on ancient business models with a new twist.

Start With This: "What's Wrong With Current Products?"

Look, Uber didn't invent taxis — they just simply asked, "What's broken about the taxi business?" (Well, the limo business initially but who's tracking?) Any of us would be hard-pressed to find an existing product or service that couldn't use a ton of improvement.

What customers care most about is the improvement. Maybe that's ...



Article

Don't Work Long Hours, Work Efficient Hours


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Let me first admit: I am a recovering long-hour champion.

For nearly 3 decades, if you asked me how many hours I work, I would just say "All of them." I wore it as a badge of honor. For almost 20 years it never occurred to me that you could drive to or from work in daylight. For my first three years of my startup career I didn't see my family or celebrate Christmas.

Now let me admit what a colossal flipping waste of energy that was.

Yes, I created great startups and had some success. Yes, a lot of that "hard work" was necessary. But now, with the benefit of history and having watched thousands of startups go from zero to something, I've come to learn something:

Those long hours were a symptom of inefficiency, not a default badge of honor ...



Article

What Should We Teach Kids About Startups?


  

Imagine what would happen if we spent as much time trying to teach kids to become entrepreneurs as we did trying to get them to prepare for the SATs?

Let's remember that a disproportionate amount of our academic focus is around a series of standardized tests designed in an era where homogenizing the workforce was our number one goal (side note: it worked).

Now our goal is the polar opposite: differentiating our workforce. The only way our kids will succeed is if they can stand apart from others and chart their own course.

That's the essence of entrepreneurship, and it's something we can absolutely teach.

Why should we start with kids as entrepreneurs?

Kids are natural entrepreneurs.

They possess the most powerful skill any of us can have...



Article

How Do I "Buy Out" An Equity Holder Fairly?


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Getting equity back from an existing stakeholder isn't easy — but it is possible.

It's a situation that very few Founders have ever been through before, so no one really knows how to go about it. Let's talk a bit about how the situation develops and what we can do to get some of that precious equity back into our coffers.

Remember, Equity is a Promise of Payment

More than anything, equity isn't just a stock issuance. It's a promise that at some future point that stock will be worth cash money — maybe.

When we think about pulling the equity back, we have to think in terms of how to redeem that promise of payment in some capacity. It's not just a matter of "taking it away" per se, it's a matter of trading the terms of the initial agreement ...



Article

How Much Should I Budget For An MVP?


  

App development is not a straightforward process, despite how much "process" developers add to the equation. There are basically 3 things that are never working in our favor:

First, the idea is in our head, not in the developers head, so the translation is a huge, time consuming challenge.

Second, we're building an app that has never existed before, so we don't actually know how people are going to use it or what features are required.

And last, we're assuming that our developer is capable of completing a working app. All of these are giant issues that should give us pause (and keep our cash in the bank for a minute!).

Focus on Milestones

We have to think about building an app in stages — not the whole enchilada all at once. To do that, w...



Article

Will Investors Fund a "Small" Business?


  

Funding doesn't make a lot of sense to first time Founders. In our minds, we think, "Hey, investors want to make money, so if my startup can make money, who cares how big it gets?"

Unfortunately, that thinking overlooks one big fact: that for every one investor check out there, there are hundreds of startups competing for it.

In order to understand how investors look at one deal versus another, we first have to understand how investors look at deals in the first place.

Investors Need Big Returns

There's no absolute rule here, but investor behavior generally follows a consistent trend. Most "professional" investors (people who invest consistently) gravitate toward investments that can yield an exponential return, such as an IPO.

The think...



Article

Everything You Need to Know About Product-Market Fit


  

What is product-market fit?

While the term “product-market fit” gets thrown around a lot in the startup world, it’s not always very well understood. In fact, we can’t even agree on who created it! Some people say that the concept of product-market fit was first developed and named by entrepreneur and investor Andy Rachleff. Others give credit to famed investor Marc Andreessen, who at the very least popularized term product-market fit when he wrote about in a 2007 blog post. He said, “Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

In other words: You could have an amazing, sophisticated, well-thought out idea — and people just don’t get it. (Think: That first focus group for Pied Piper on HBO’s ...



Article

Everything You Need To Know About Pitching Investors


  

The investor pitch. It's feared. It's desired. It's terrifying.

But don't worry: We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about that all-important investor pitch.

What should your investor pitch include?

Invisu.me Co-Founder and CEO Donna Griffit is a master pitcher who has helped countless founders distill their pitch down to exactly what they need — and nothing they don’t. She had the opportunity to sit in on a private pitching event where a delegation of startups had the opportunity give a five minute pitch and receive direct feedback from a group of top-tier Silicon Valley VC’s. (So top tier that she can’t even say who was there but, trust us, you will want to memorize this section before your next pitch.)

Here’s what ...



Article

Is a $0 Founder Salary a Badge of Honor?


Wil SchroterFounder + CEO of Startups.com

  

There's a weird discussion around Founder compensation, especially when the number is a big fat zero. We read about famous Founders from Google, Facebook, and Tesla taking $1 salaries, while earning millions in stock.

For early-stage Founders, we often can't get paid (so it's not much of choice!) but there's also this presumption that if we're forgoing personal compensation to roll all the profits back into the company, then we must be really committed.

It Buys Us Nothing

There's no argument out there that Founders shouldn't be paid, so taking compensation to zero is just a silly move.

The only time Founders or execs get the stink eye is when they take inordinate salaries compared to the rest of the staff or relative to the stage of the ...



Article

How to Get the Best Auto Insurance Quote for Your Startup


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Shopping for personal auto insurance can be a pain, and it only gets more difficult when you’re shopping for your business. It’s almost like playing a game of chess against Bobby Fischer: No matter what you do or say, you still feel like you’re going to lose.

So how can you make it easier? When researching auto insurance options for your business, the first road you should take is one you’ve already been down. Start by investigating the provider you currently use for personal home, auto, and general business liability insurance.

Providers love to offer discounted monthly premiums to people who bundle accounts with them, and while commercial and consumer auto policies are two completely different animals, most companies provide both.

Get add...



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