All Articles Tagged "start-up"
When Yahoo announced that it would be buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion, it made a lot of people a lot richer, including CEO David Karp, the company’s 26-year-old founder who stands to get $250 million from the deal. (He never went to college!) But there are some people who are missing out on the windfall, namely, the editorial team that was fired right before the sale.
According to The Atlantic Wire, the company’s 178 employees are all getting something. Those who have been there from the start are getting millions (the first 30 staffers are getting $3.3 million, for example.) Three editorial team members could have gotten $371,000, but they were let go prior to the sale.
The Atlantic Wire makes the point that those staffers worked on a project that only launched last year, so it’s possible it wouldn’t have gotten the stock options to be eligible this kind of a windfall. But the mere fact that it was a possibility is probably making their Memorial Day weekend as gloomy as the New York City weather right now.
VentureBeat offers up five things you should be aware of before deciding to work for a start up. The article notes that three-quarters of start ups fail and the pay isn’t going to be at market value. But there is the off chance that you will be part of a company like Tumblr that takes off and gets mega attention and mega bucks. So if you’re going the start up route, it’s important to take note of the opportunities and the limitations of the business you’re working with. Some of this is fate, which can’t be controlled. But another part of it is being aware of the business you work for, the marketplace, and your passions and contributions to the company. Who knows… what starts as a small operation could turn you into a millionaire.
You can’t create a realistic business plan without knowing how much it will cost to get your business up and running. If you don’t have an idea of your startup costs, you won’t know how long you’ll have to bootstrap, how much funding you’ll need, how quickly to scale. In other words, without calculating your startup costs, you don’t really know where you’re going — or how you’re going to get there. And your company could fail before you even hit the break-even point.
Some entrepreneurs believe that calculating their costs is all about listing and tallying their cash outlays. This is an essential step, of course, but calculating startup costs is much more than a simple exercise in addition. Equally important is to set some milestones and build your financial plan around hitting these goals.
#1: Identify Your Milestones
To determine the major milestones for your company, you need to assess where you are and where you want to be.
To continue reading this step and four more in Black Enterprise’s guest column click here.
Welcome to another “Behind the click” profile! I’ve got another digital entrepreneur to expose to you. Her story is very unique and she’s overcome many hurdles. Meet Asmau Ahmed, founder of Plum Perfect a visual search engine that provides instant personal recommendations to shoppers using their photos. She has a killer educational background but also the tenacity that we all need no matter which endeavor we are currently pursuing. Read on to find out about Asmau’s unique journey.
Current Occupation: Founder, PlumPerfect.com
Favorite read: Bedtime stories with my son
Recent read: The Tipping Point
2012′s ultimate goal: Do more of the things I love
Quote Governing Your Mission or a Quote that Inspires You: “…..we must speak or our ideas and ourselves will remain unheard and unknown” -Faith Ringgold
Twitter handle: @Plum_Perfect
LDC: So, Where are you from, exactly?
AA: Proudly, a citizen of the world. My parents are from West Africa- Nigeria.
LDC: What was it like attending Columbia for business school in New York City for you?
AA: For me, Columbia was a breath of fresh air. It signified new beginnings, a huge playing ground to explore, innovate, learn, network and make life-long friends.
LDC: What led you to combine your interests in chemical engineering and business in what we see as Plum Perfect?
AA: I really did not set out to combine the two. I knew from personal experiences and frustrations of trying to find the right colors and products for me, especially online, that there was a tangible business opportunity. So the engineer in me started exploring, and building, and testing, and building some more… and now we have Plum Perfect!
LDC: What is the site’s key value prop?
AA: From just your photo, we find the perfect colors and products for you. From a photo of your face, we find you make-up that would look fabulous on you. From a photo of your top, we can find the perfect skirt. We essentially scour the web and search through mountains of products to find the one for you, in seconds.
LDC: How did you obtain funding for the venture?
AA: A lot of hard work, perseverance and not giving up. Understanding that a ‘no’ from one investor meant one of two things – I needed to get back to the drawing board (armed with very specific feedback on what was not working) or we just didn’t fall in their sweet spot (happens a lot). My networks were instrumental in getting me meetings. It was up to me and my team to close.
LDC: What advice would you have for other women of color looking to fund tech-based companies?
AA: We are already used to working harder than everyone else. The same applies here. Network with other entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences. Black Founders has a great community of entrepreneurs, so start there. Build a team of doers – effort doesn’t count for anything in a startup, results do. Investors want to see results and a well rounded team they can trust to deliver. Become an expert in the non-tech aspects of your business. Nail down and validate exactly how you are going to make money. Articulate, very clearly, what your go-to-market strategy will be. It’ll change with time and experience — the savvy investors know that.
LDC: Along the funding route, before or after; did you ever encounter what you might consider to be racism and/or sexism? If so, how did you overcome it?
AA: I was pregnant when I started along the funding route. Well meaning friends asked me to wait until I had my baby. I figured I was already black and female pitching a tech company – I had 3 strikes already and that being pregnant wasn’t going to change a thing. Folks also advised me to get a non-black co-founder to round out the team… all well intended but misplaced advise.
I have not encountered racism and/or sexism explicitly but the numbers speak for themselves. Do I sometimes wonder if I would have had an easier time at this (and it has been TOUGH) if I were white or Asian or male? Absolutely. What’s my conclusion most of the time? Yes! Do I dwell on it? Nope! A waste of my time… I work with what I have today, and that’s plenty.
LDC: What has the response been to Plum Perfect?
AA: We started out as color p.i. and rebranded to Plum Perfect. People see it and say — I would use this or I wonder why this hasn’t been done before now. That’s the biggest compliment – to know that we are building something of value. The reception has been great. People appreciate the power of the technology and creativity that went into building Plum Perfect.
LDC: What is your biggest challenge in running the company?
AA: The challenges have evolved over time. First, it was technology and product build – motivating the team at 4 AM in the morning of the next release to not give up. Then, it was fund raising – convincing investors that we need money NOW. Now, it’s growing our market after the relaunch.
LDC: What’s your biggest hope for Plum Perfect in 2012?
AA: That we grow beyond anything I can possibly imagine – and I imagine huge! That we become a household name because we deserve to be. That we continue to provide breakthrough technologies that people love.
Be sure to watch for the next tech industry profile! In the meantime, keep up with the latest digital developments by following me on Twitter @mediaempress, and stay up on tech conferences via my site at www.ldcoleman.com
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- The Career Freshman Part II: Getting To The Next Level in Your Career
- Crisis Management Lessons: Handle Scandal Like Your Name Is Kerry Washington
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Occupation: Founder & CEO of DocPons Inc.
Favorite Read: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Recent Read: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
2012′s Ultimate Goal: Revolutionizing Healthcare in America
Quote Governing Your Mission: “Every spirit that inhabits a human body can have access to affordable care with DocPons Coupons”
Twitter handle: @docponsceo
We continue my Behind the Click series with a remarkable start-up founder. Meet Susan Nicholas, MD MBA of the high tech start-up DocPons Inc. It is fitting that I add Susan to the profile series of colleagues particularly at this time given that she is beautifully blending healthcare and technology; and of course healthcare is at the top of our minds given the debate regarding President Obama’s healthcare agenda. The Supreme Court decision will affect us all and depending which way the chips fall, start-ups such as DocPons may have greater and greater relevancy. DocPons offers an online platform for purchasing quality outpatient healthcare services in America. Read on to learn about how Susan began this endeavor. No doubt, her story and outlook will inspire you!
LDC: So, Susan, tell our readers where you attended college and obtained your MD/MBA.
SN: I attended college in my hometown of Morgantown, WV. I obtained a bachelors in Biology from West Virginia University. I earned my MD degree from the University of Iowa and my MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta. My post graduate medical training was toward a career in Cardiothoracic Surgery where I did a clinical fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University. I did my MBA with a concentration in private equity finance.
LDC: What led to your interest in pursuing this particular educational route?
SN: As a young girl, I had always thought that I wanted to be a doctor so going to medical school was second nature. I went to business school more than a decade later during my career transition from practicing Cardiothoracic Surgery to becoming an entrepreneur.
LDC: So obviously you are applying it well to your start up. What gave you the idea to create this venture?
SN: I got the idea to start DocPons™ while co-instructing a physician entrepreneur event in Atlanta in late January 2011. A healthcare provider in the audience spoke anecdotally about placing an offer on Groupon® that generated both revenues for his business and recurrent patient volume during the most recent economic recession. I thought at that time “Now what would I call my company that created revenue and patient volume for all types of healthcare providers” that was both targeted and sensitive to the unique nature of the healthcare industry. I came up with the name DocPons, a play in Doctor Coupons. I purchased the domain name the following day and was incorporated two weeks later.
LDC: How is it funded?
SN: To date, the company has been funded by friends and family, essentially “bootstrapped”. However, I have been promoting the company around the country and the world over the past several months. DocPons was featured as one of the nine most innovative start-up healthcare companies in the world at the Doctor 2.0 conference in Paris, France in June of 2011. In addition, DocPons is a member company of both the Start-up America initiative and Start-up Health in NYC. Most recently, DocPons was featured in Silicon Valley at the Women 2.0 Pitch Competition in February 2012 and won the prize for the “Product Most Likely to Change the World”. Despite the early recognition and accomplishments of DocPons, raising the next financing round has proved challenging. The playing field is not level when it comes to women led start-ups receiving venture funding. At the end of the day, I hope DocPons changes this antiquated paradigm once and for all.
LDC: What suggestions do you have for other women of color looking to fund start ups, by the way?
SN: Though every individual path is unique, I would suggest applying for everything that you think you can even remotely quality for. Casting a broad net is essential. There are several women-only initiatives addressing the inequalities women entrepreneurs and CEO’s face. These resources are a good start. At the very least, women led initiatives can level the field when gender is the issue. Racial bias, however can be yet another obstacle that many investors and potential partners have to overcome. Attitude changes, like paradigm shifts take time. I would suggest pushing through the glass ceiling inch by inch, never giving up and always believing in yourself.
LDC: During the funding process and overall journey, have you encountered any situations that you have felt were race/gender based that were negative? If so, how did you overcome them?
SN: Of course. However, when I feel that gender or race has played a role in a decision that was not in my favor, I recognize it and move forward. Dwelling to long on gender and racial bias issues is draining and at times downright depressing. I manage to get up the next day and start anew. I cannot dwell there. I just think that somewhere out there the perfect investor and strategic partners are waiting for me. I just keep it moving, as they say.
(Entrepreneur) — You’d probably need to get the prototype built before you go to a manufacturer, unless you have a previous relationship with a company who is willing to work with you. There a lot of opportunities overseas for these types of projects, and you can also find “freelancers” who could take on the project. You can go to elance.com and see how that portal can match your request with people who are willing to take on these types of jobs. Before you do that, however, my question would be: What’s your overall plan for your product? How is it competitively different than products that already exist? Is there a market for it? Who’ll buy it?
(Entrepreneur) — Friends and family remain the best shot that many entrepreneurs have to raise outside money to launch a business. In 2010, 5% of U.S. adults polled said they had provided funding to someone starting a business in the past three years, according to a survey by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a research consortium which includesBabson College. Of those respondents, 32% said the funding went to a friend or neighbor, 26% to a close family member, 11% to some other relative and 8% to a work colleague. While preserving important personal relationships with people who fund your business can be a daunting prospect, clearly some entrepreneurs have figured it out. If you’re thinking about asking friends and family for seed money, here are five tips for doing it right.
In the fall of 2007, Stanford students were exposed to a profitable idea: create a simple app and make millions. The 75 students who were enrolled in what was called “The Facebook Class,” were part of a landmark class that popularized the idea of the lean startup. Remember, in 2007, the iPhone had just launched and android phones had not yet arrived on the scene.
The idea of the class was to encourage entrepreneurship and motivate students to create a simple app, without heavily investing time or money. More than two dozen students ended up making some type of money from their apps – some sold their businesses for six figures and some sold for millions. Working in teams of three, the students created apps that collectively had 16 million users in just 10 weeks, according to The New York Times.
One of the most notable success stories is that of Dan Greenburg. Remember the app that allowed you to throw pillows? Yup, that was him and a business partner who started it all.
The then graduate student created an app that would allow FB users to send hugs to one another. It took he and his partner, another grad student, five hours to create the app. Needless to say, the app took off and they went on to create apps that allowed users to send kisses, engage in pillow fights and do other virtual things provided by their 67 other apps.
Greenburg decided to drop out of his program to manage the business which was soon bringing in $100,000 per month in ad revenue. Today, at 25, he is CEO of his company, which employs 3o people.
The tech revolution has taught the world a lot of things about innovation and entrepreneurship, especially that big ideas can go a long way. But what was remarkable about this Stanford class is that it demystified the process of making it big in tech. You don’t have to be the next Zuckerberg to strike gold, but just have to have the wherewithall to take your imperfect idea to market and tweak it to perfection along the way.
Although the market has changed drastically, making it harder for new app entrepreneurs to enter the game, the idea of simplicity still guides the forays of young techies.
(Wall Street Journal) — For acquisitions of private companies backed by venture capital, it’s becoming increasingly complicated to collect cash after the deal has been signed. In contrast to a decade ago, when many such deals went through with little trouble, today’s venture-backed acquisitions are fraught with landmines that can result in delayed payments and reduced purchase prices long after the deal has been struck, say venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and deal attorneys.
Such complications were evident in the $125.2 million acquisition of privately held surveillance-technology firm Era Systems Corp. by SRA International Inc., a tech supplier to the federal government. While the deal was struck in mid-2008, Era’s shareholders took a haircut on their purchase price and didn’t collect their reduced amount until last year, partly because of a disagreement during the escrow period.
(Inc) — Dear Norm, Can I ask you a follow-up question? How many add-ons can I have before I start looking desperate and willing to do anything? For example, I’d like to offer swimming pool maintenance — balancing chemicals, scrubbing walls, cleaning skimmers, and such. And I could also do light pet care, such as walking or brushing a dog or taking pets to a vet. I could offer basic plant care as well, and light home maintenance such as cleaning lint filters, dealing with air and water filters, and replacing toilet seats. How much can I offer without appearing to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none?
(Read Write Web) — In a post last week about how to measure the effectiveness of startup employees, we mentioned that perhaps the number of hours worked isn’t the best metric. With that said, this weekend was Labor Day weekend in the U.S., one of the more popular get-out-of-town weekends of the entire calendar, but does that apply for entrepreneurs and startups? Certainly there were some die-hards out there that refused to leave their desks this weekend, but we still wanted to know – do startups labor on labor day? I polled Twitter over the weekend and got some interesting responses. Here’s what you had to say.