All Articles Tagged "entrepreneurship advice"

The Phat Startup To Host Hip-Hop & Entrepreneurship Conference, Tech808

November 6th, 2014 - By Janel Martinez
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phat startupTechnology entrepreneurship offers an extensive amount of opportunities. But flip through most magazines and websites that delve into the space and, at times, it seems as though the content isn’t speaking to you, more so at you…and in another language. It’s a concern that The Phat Startup (TPS) team—Anthony Frasier, James Lopez, Jesal Trivedi and Jahde—recognized and aimed to disrupt.

Influenced by Lean Startup methodology and hip-hop culture, The Phat Startup is an integrated media company that develops premium content for new to serial entrepreneurs. Known for their well-attended NYC events, where they’ve brought tech heavyweights such as Reddit founder and serial investor Alexis Ohanian, VaynerMedia founder and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, and Ben Horowitz (a.k.a Nas’ bestie), co-founder and general partner of the venture capital fund, Andreessen Horowitz, the Phat Startup is entering a new chapter, hosting their inaugural Tech808 conference on November 21 at New York University. The conference, which is in partnership with the Clive Davis Institute, will explore the world of entrepreneurship through the view of those who are grinding and hustling to make power moves.

MadameNoire caught up with The Phat Startup co-founders to discuss tech entrepreneurship, starting your own venture and why Tech808 is a must-attend conference.

alleywatchThe Phat Startup merges Eric Ries’ Lean Startup methodology and hip-hop principles. What inspired you to create The Phat Startup?

Lopez: I was inspired to start TPS because I noticed that the similarities between hip-hop and lean were a perfect way to educate aspiring entrepreneurs that resonated with the hip-hop culture. Buzzwords are cool, but if you don’t understand them you cant learn from them, or apply those lessons.

Frasier: What played a big part of me jumping into The Phat Startup is being constantly asked questions about becoming an entrepreneur. When I got together with James, and we began to see we could use the culture as a way to get entrepreneurs interested and informed, it was magic.

How did The Phat Startup go from an idea to a platform to a movement, which entails events and now your conference, Tech808?

Frasier: The blog was the first step. The content was the second. The content played a huge part in our journey. When we wrote resource guides and conducted interviews, we weren’t talking to a white kid at Stanford. Sure, anyone could relate and benefit from our content, but we had a certain demographic in mind. We wanted to ask questions a single mother in Newark, NJ could relate to. I wanted to create a guide that a college dropout in Oakland would vibe with.

As a result, it helped us gain a following. The largest reason people follow us is because we present the same resourceful, quality information you would get anywhere else, but with a cooler voice. It’s less intimidating, and people love that. We love hip-hop, so when we wave our flags we do it like any hip-hop movement would. We wear our T-shirts; we make sure the logo is visible on our products. It makes people want to join the squad and be part of something. Hip-hop taught us that.

What can attendees expect from your inaugural conference?

Lopez: For Tech808, we decided that having people talk about the come up wasn’t as valuable as them telling you how to create your own come up or movement. We wanted to get off the usual background information and have all speakers leave the community with executable advice that they can start implementing the day of in a TEDx style conversation.

We want to educate our community, so Tech808 is pure executable advice, no self-promotion.

Talk to me about the inspiration behind the name Tech808

Frasier: The Tech808 name came from our founding members: Jesal Trivedi and Jahde. The 808 is the most famous bass sound in hip-hop. It has a boom to it that is unmatched. Bringing tech together with that represents the convergence of the two cultures. It also means we not playing games out here!

How will Tech 808 be different from a lot of the other technology conferences happening in other tech hubs such as San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta and New York?

Lopez: Tech808 is different because we wanted to focus on the lessons learned from founders in the trenches right now. People like Mark Zuckerburg are super special, but the tactics they use now can’t be used by a company that is just launching. All of our speakers are building their empires from an early stage and their tactics are the ones our community needs to implement now.

Frasier: I agree with James. What also makes us different are the same reasons we were able to attract our audience. It’s the culture. It’s the comfort level [of] people asking questions and not feeling dumb, or left out. We are for the people. You don’t get that vibe when attending a larger, more popular conference.

For those aspiring to be tech entrepreneurs, what advice would you give them about starting a business in the tech space?

Lopez: As Nike would say, just do it. There will never be a perfect time to start. Start now and learn how to overcome the obstacles that you’ll face. There isn’t a blueprint to follow, but you can learn from how others over came adversity. Do that and grind!

Frasier: My biggest piece of advice for aspiring tech entrepreneurs is to learn and build as much as you can. Learn how to code. Don’t have the time to learn how to code? Learn how to prototype! Learn how to build wire frames. Learn how to communicate your vision to a technical person. But, as much time as you spend learning, you have to start building and making mistakes. Making mistakes is how we get better and, trust me, you will learn to love making mistakes in the tech world. Making mistakes is actually better than reading articles and books.

Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites.

Before You Quit Your 9-To-5, Ask Yourself These 7 Questions

October 3rd, 2014 - By Kara Stevens
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Quit your job



I think we are all familiar with Steve Jobs’ Stanford University commencement speech. Well, at least, excerpts of it. The following quote has definitely been used on Facebook status updates, pins on Pinterest, and in even in the entrepreneurial-speak that I hear from friends and colleagues as they contemplate quitting their 9-to-5 jobs to follow their passions:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 And fundamentally, I believe that entrepreneurship is one of the ultimate displays of courage, belief in one self, and creativity.  I believe that anyone who wants to be their own boss should go for it—after some serious thought and not based on a feeling or a Jobs sound bite.

Jobs was obsessed and committed to what he was doing. He put in years, if not decades, before reaping the financial payoffs. Steve Jobs enjoyed certain privileges that allowed him to create, fail, try again, and innovate for many years.

So, before you quit your job to work for yourself consider the following:

Do you know what you are passionate about? Have you taken the time to sit down and explicitly write down what you are passionate about versus what you really like? Will you still feel this passion when your ideas are rejected and misunderstood?

Have you considered that the reason you love your passion is because you don’t have to depend on it for your bread and butter? I have a real passion for personal finance, black women, and writing. I love sharing my thoughts and whipping up a sentence or two after work and on the weekends. Would my love for writing die with mounting deadlines, the need to pitch to make my coins stack, or chase after editors for my checks? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. Maybe it would come with the territory of living your passion. But it’s definitely something to think about before you quit.

Do you have an emergency fund large enough to offset the lack of income? Money doesn’t sound dreamy, but it is one of those factors what will keep you in business or put you out of it. Have you run the numbers to find out how much money you would need to save in order cover at least one year’s worth of your previous salary? Have you paid off your personal debt so you can have a clean start with your business growth?

Are there more viable alternatives to quitting your job? If you don’t have money saved, perhaps you could get a part-time job and grow your business simultaneously.

Do you have products and/or services ready to sell? One of my fellow blogger friends once told me, “If it ain’t bringing in profit, then it is an expensive hobby.” If you have discovered your passion, you have to find a way to package and sell it. Where will folk be able to find your products?

Do you like to sell and promote? While it would be nice to spend your day creating and living in your passion, the only way to make rent is to make sales. Marketing and sales will be a big part of your life as an entrepreneur. I would say at least 40 percent of your time will be dedicated to this. And if you are starting out with a just few dollars in your company’s overall budget, you won’t hire someone to do this, you will be doing this.

Do you need to go solo to follow your passion? Does working for yourself necessarily mean working by yourself? If you know someone with a skill-set that complements yours, maybe you could work together. This spreads the risks, divides the tasks, and may double your profits.

Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista. Download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.

How to Start an Online Business

August 16th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Entrepreneur) — Before you determine a budget and choose a technology solution for your online business, there are four important questions to answer. Once you are confident in your answers to these four questions, you can use your answers to help choose the type of website you need, the technology solution that can deliver the functionality you want and a budget for development, hosting, maintenance and marketing.

1: What do your customers need?  Websites are too often built with the needs of the business owner in mind rather than the needs of the customer. Talk to some prospects and customers to find out if there are any health and fitness problems that a website can solve for them. Then, build your website with your customer needs at the center of the strategy.

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How to Pick a Partner

July 20th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Entrepreneur) — Perhaps because of the uncertain business climate, more people are deciding to pool their talents and go into business together. Their entrepreneurial impulse is to be applauded. The advantage of going into business with a partner is being able to make the most of shared resources and complementary talents of others in a new enterprise.  But going into business together is more than just two people with complementary talents “teaming up” to work together and there may be legal implications.  Over the course of my career, I’ve been personally involved with a number of good partners, but I’ve also learned some valuable lessons from arrangements that didn’t turn out so well.

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Ask Felicia Joy: How to Find an Attorney and Accountant

May 31st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"Felicia Joy"Dear Felicia,

I am a professional makeup artist and I just started my own online cosmetics company. I would like to know if I need to register with the federal government, in addition to registering with the Secretary of State for my trademarks.  I am concerned about my logo, slogan, catch phrase and my company name. Also, can you recommend an inexpensive lawyer and accountant in my local area?

Eric D.

Los Angeles, CA

via e-mail


Dear Eric,

Congratulations on transforming your business into a product and service company with the launch of your cosmetics line.  That’s a very important step because one of the secrets to long term business success is residual or royalty income.  That’s income you earn by doing work one time (in your case, developing the cosmetics line) and getting paid on it infinitely. High five!

As far as registering your logo, slogan and company name as trademarks–yes, you should definitely protect your unique brand property after you have used it in commerce for at least six months and know for sure that you want to stick with what you have.  Entrepreneurs often tweak and change their logo, slogan and other brand elements in the early days of business because you’re growing into your new creation and you may also get constructive feedback from others that inspires you to adjust.  Don’t worry too much about this because you can always get new trademarks later if you need to. But, at $275 or more, to register a federal trademark, changing your mind can add up.  It’s much better to carefully and strategically think through your brand upfront to be sure it conveys what you intend and you really like what you have.

You can register your trademark with your Secretary of State, as you mentioned. But in California, it costs from $70 to $100 to register a mark.  Since registering with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office starts at $275 — and gives you national protection — you should pursue a federal trademark if you can.  Also, note that each element you mentioned — the logo, slogan and company name — will all have to be separate trademarks unless the “specimen” (a visual representation of what you want to trademark) includes all of those together in one design. Also,  if you submit one design, then only that complete mark is protected, not the individual elements.

I’m glad you asked about an attorney and accountant.  That means you are taking your business seriously.  I don’t have specific people to recommend, but be sure that the attorney and accountant you eventually work with have professional credentials.  You can search the State Bar of California database to make sure your attorney is in good standing and check the California Board of Accountancy database regarding the status of any accountant with whom you are planning to work with.  Since you need someone who will work with you on a modest budget, ask a few local business owners about who their attorneys and accountants are and do your homework on potential candidates before getting started.

Note: All advice offered in this column is for general information only.  Felicia Joy and The Atlanta Post are indemnified against any and all related claims.  Always seek the advice of licensed professionals before making business decisions.

Felicia Joy is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who created $50 million in value for the various organizations and companies she served in corporate America before launching her business enterprise.  She is often called on to discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial success and has appeared on CNN, FOX and in other national press.  Felicia operates Ms. CEO Inc., a company that helps women entrepreneurs achieve more success, faster — as well as Joy Group International, LLC, a business development and consulting firm. Send her your questions at or


Ask Felicia Joy: 3 Ways to Fund Your Business

May 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"Felicia Joy"Dear Felicia,

I want to start my own toy brand. Where can I go to get finances, backers, and a grant within a year or so? Is my goal of having my product to market by the end of next year realistic?

Mechal Roe-Barber

via email

I have a kids fashion line and have just completed a proposal. How do I acquire funding?


Via Twitter


Dear Mechal and @bluejeanbandits,

Eighteen months is more than enough time to get a business off the ground if you’re determined to do so, but life can happen so the amount of time you actually take will really depend on you.

As far as your questions regarding funding, well, that’s on every business owner’s mind—even for leaders of massive, multibillion dollar, publicly traded companies.  I have three ideas that may help you find the funding you need to get started.

1.     Gather money from every source you can think of including family and friends. If your friends and family are willing to contribute to your business endeavor, it may only be in small amounts since people are still feeling the pinch these days. But, little amounts add up. If you could get 50 people to contribute $25 to your business, that would be $1,250.  Before you brush that off as a measly amount, consider the fact that real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran turned a $1,000 loan into a successful real estate company that she eventually sold for $70 million. Or consider David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby.  He and his wife started their business by making and selling picture frames in their garage and at their kitchen table.  Today the business rakes in sales of more than $2 billion.  The key is to invest whatever amount of capital you are able to raise from family and friends — and other sources — into sales and marketing to make more money than you’ve spent and keep repeating the process.  For example, make five or ten of one of your toys or clothing items, sell those and re-up.  Once you’ve done that a few times and can prove that there is demand for what you have, start a wholesale program where stores pay you in advance for bulk orders.

2.     Get a U.S. Small Business Administration (federal government) guaranteed loan. The SBA has launched several new loan programs, including the Community Advantage loan.  The SBA doesn’t actually make the loans; rather, they act as a guarantor for up to 85 percent of a small business loan. This way, the bank making the loan knows that if for some reason the borrower defaults, they will recover at least 85 percent of their money from the SBA.  This makes it easier for small businesses to get loans because it substantially reduces risk for financial institutions.  The Community Advantage loan program was particularly created for not-for-profit and community based lenders to have the flexibility to lend to people who don’t have the typical collateral required by financial institutions, like a house.  Also, these community based lenders may know “the story” of these borrowers.  On paper, the entrepreneur may not appear to be a good risk, but because their business has cash flow and they have a local reputation for being responsible, the Community Advantage lender can make the subjective decision to loan the individual money for business.  The maximum loan amount is $250,000.  Check out the list of approved Community Advantage lenders and call the SBA at 1-800-827-5722 to get answers to your questions before you submit an application.

3.     Become an amazing storyteller. For creative projects like toys and kids clothing, might be your ticket — if you can tell a convincing and compelling story. The ingenious founders of this site, which has been operating since 2009, have created a platform where people who don’t know you can contribute to your project. That is if you can convince them to support you by sharing what you’re working to accomplish, why you’re launching your project, and what they’ll get out of supporting you (you are required to give rewards for each level of support, but the nature of the reward is up to you). Kickstarter has to approve your project before you can post it, but unless you violate their guidelines, most projects will be approved.  Contributors, or “backers” as Kickstarter calls them, can give as little as $1 up to thousands of dollars.  I have personally contributed a fair amount to two projects on Kickstarter, and I didn’t know either entrepreneur I supported. I simply liked their ideas, respected their grind, and I thought the rewards they were giving were cool. Recently funded projects have raised from $14,000 to $121,000. The most funded project ever earned nearly $1 million within 90 days.

I hope one or more of these ideas will work for you.

Grace & Peace,

Felicia Joy


Felicia Joy is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who created $50 million in value for the various organizations and companies she served in corporate America before launching her business enterprise.  She is often called on to discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial success and has appeared on CNN, FOX and in other national press.  Felicia operates Ms. CEO Inc., a company that helps women entrepreneurs achieve more success, faster — as well as Joy Group International, LLC, a business development and consulting firm. Send her your questions at or

Ask Felicia Joy: 4 Ways To Maximize Your Time

April 21st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"Felicia Joy"Dear Felicia,

How does a small business get and stay organized when it comes to administrative and miscellaneous tasks?

Nubia P.

via Twitter


Dear Nubia,

Administrative and miscellaneous tasks are a necessary part of business, but they sure can be big time wasters too.  If you are able to hire an administrative assistant who is primarily responsible for these tasks, or delegate them to a virtual assistant, then this will save you a lot of time — and make you more money — in the long run.  However, if you have to handle them for yourself until your business grows, then get disciplined about scheduling them as part of your day.

Here are four steps for maximizing your time and remaining organized to handle administrative tasks while running your business.

1.     Complete your critical or “must-do” tasks first: Identify your revenue-generating tasks and put them at the top of your daily to-do list.  Keep your list short at seven items or less.  You can keep a master list of to-do items a mile long, but keep that in a folder or Word file somewhere else.  Don’t use your long list as a daily guide because subconsciously, it is not good to end your day everyday with more things left to do than you have completed.  It is more psychologically rewarding to have a short list that you complete or nearly complete each day.

2.     Schedule everything, including breaks for administrative tasks: Schedule your day with a generous amount of time for revenue-generating tasks because they are priorities.  In between these tasks, or as a short break from them, schedule 15 to 30 minutes for administrative or miscellaneous items, such as answering e-mail or returning calls.  Working in blocks of time like this has really helped me.  I have gotten to the point where I schedule everything, including time for interruptions.  I know this may sound a little rigid, but it takes a good bit of discipline and focus to build a business that pays for itself and pays you well so sometimes we have to upgrade our habits.

3.     Start your day with energy and focus: Every day before I start working I take a few quiet minutes to get centered.  I then check my BlackBerry calendar so I know what is ahead.  I also have my to-do list — written the day before — on my desk waiting to be worked through when I get started in the morning.

4.     Be honest with yourself and eliminate or minimize distractions: I have found that e-mail and telephone calls distract me a lot.  So now, I don’t check e-mail or make phone calls until I have done two or three things on my list.  This way I build momentum and it’s easier for me to get back to work after checking e-mail for 30 minutes or taking a call.  I also now put my BlackBerry on silent and leave it in my purse and out of reach while I am working.  If it is there on my desk, I have the tendency to keep checking it every two minutes.  This is so silly, but it’s what all these gadgets and the Internet have done to us!  Identify your time wasting weaknesses and set yourself up for success by getting rid of the distractions.

Unless you are naturally structured, when you first attempt to manage your time like this it will feel odd and you will stray from it. But eventually if you stick with it, you will form new habits and feel great about how much real work (not busy work) you are getting done and that will compel you to stick with it.

Grace & Peace,

Felicia Joy

Felicia Joy is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who created $50 million in value for the various organizations and companies she served in corporate America before launching her business enterprise.  She is often called on to discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial success and has appeared on CNN, FOX and in other national press.  Felicia operates Ms. CEO Inc., a company that helps women entrepreneurs achieve more success, faster — as well as Joy Group International, LLC, a business development and consulting firm. Send her your questions at or

Entrepreneurship Isn’t for Everyone

April 1st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Fast Company) — Entrepreneurship is an Art not a Job:  For the sake of this analogy, think of two types of artists:creators andperformers (think music composer versus members of the orchestra, playwright versus actor etc.)  Founders fit the definition of a creator: they see something no one else does. And to help them create it from nothing, they surround themselves with world-class performers. This concept of creating something that few others see — and the reality distortion field necessary to recruit the team to build it — is at the heart of what startup founders do. It is a very different skill than science, engineering, or management.  Entrepreneurial employees are the talented performers who hear the siren song of a founder’s vision. Joining a startup while it is still searching for a business model, they too see the promise of what can be and join the founder to bring the vision to life.

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Have What it Takes To Be Your Own Boss?

March 1st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Black Enterprise) — Entrepreneurship can lead to a prosperous future filled with wealth, security, job creation, freedom to make your own decisions and more. In the past few years in particular, scores of downsized managers and executives have pursued entrepreneurship as a means of creating a job. But Carol Roth, author of The Entrepreneur Equation says before taking the plunge into business owner, one must first ask himself or herself, “Should I?”

“If you think about the fact that up to 90 percent of business are failing, or failing to succeed within five years, the fact that everyone seems to think that if they get down-sized, then the best option is to go to something with a 90 percent failure rate, is a little bit illogical,” says Roth. “So, that’s why I think it’s very, very dangerous particularly in our current time where somebody says, ‘okay, I’ve been rejected by a company and I’m going to take control of my own destiny,’ not realizing that, okay, you were rejected by one company and maybe rejected by a few others, but you’ve got 306 million potential customers in America that can reject you day in and day out.”  Roth, an entrepreneur herself, suggests a bit of introspection to determine if you’re cut out for the roller coaster ride that is entrepreneurship.

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How to Position Yourself as an Expert

January 29th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Wall Street Journal) — As the creator of your service, you know that you offer your niche marketplace valuable insight and advice. However, simply proclaiming that you are an expert will get you nowhere. It’s not enough to just shamelessly pimp your own service; you also need to become a leading authority for your target customers.

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