entrepreneurs

Top Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow in 2015

If you're looking for new insights in 2015 for yourself or your business, you might think about following someone new on twitter.  Business List Daily just shared the top twitter accounts every entrepreneur should follow.  One of my close friends, and favorite entrepreneur, Ingrid Vanderveldt is on the list.  Here's a quick preview of the 2015 list. 

"Twitter is a great place to follow breaking news, learn about trending topics, and participate in conversations about practically anything. It's also a veritable trove of information for entrepreneurs and small business owners. If your business strategy could use some help in the New Year, or if you just want some bite-size pieces of startup advice, check out these 15 Twitter accounts about entrepreneurship. @AMAnet (American Management Association)

Management development is an important issue for all business owners. If you're looking for a reliable resource for leadership, business strategy, hiring and more, join the American Management Association's 245,000 Twitter followers. This account shares articles from around the Web on a wide range of business topics to help you succeed. " To read the full list, check out the article. 

Meet 500 Startups’s Female-Led Startup from the Middle East: Silkroad Images

This woman is so savvy. I love that she went full on and incorporated in Delaware, went to Silicon Valley and got into 500Startups. She's found a perfect niche, offering stunning stock photography to meet the needs of the Arab world. She's now back in Turkey where 38% of entrepreneurs are women while we're only 10%. 

Here's her story reported by Kira M. Newman for the San Francisco Edition.

Mahafzah first heard of 500 Startups when she was in Silicon Valley, on the heels of winning the MIT Arab Startup Competition. Scheduled for a month of incubation from Google for Entrepreneurs and TechWadi, she ended up staying six months and learned more about the US startup scene.

So she did what any self-respecting entrepreneur in the US does: incorporate in Delaware and apply for an accelerator. 500 Startups rejected her the first time, but she was in for batch 10.

Jordan has accelerators that Mahafzah could have applied for, but Silicon Valley has something that’s lacking in Jordan: early-stage investment. 

The startup scene in Jordan is not that late behind the Silicon Valley,” says Mahafzah. “We have smart entrepreneurs, great startups, and good accelerators with almost Silicon Valley standards – but what we lack back home or the whole [Middle East and North Africa] region is the right seed funding.”

(And if you’re wondering, Mahafzah didn’t find Jordan lacking in opportunities for women. While Silicon Valley has 10% women entrepreneurs, she says that almost 38% of startups in Jordan have female founders.)

Mahafzah, who spent 13 years in advertising, sees beyond the Middle East market: she imagines expanding first into Turkey and then into Asia as well. And she knows that, while her clients are advertisers and media, she has a broader purpose.

We are aiming to digitally archive the heritage and the image of the East,” she says."

Blackstone Entrepreneur Network - Check out BEN's successes

BEN is based on the premise that density of networks creates economic growth. Based on what they've already accomplished and the people they've brought together, it looks like we'll have many more good years to come...

The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network (BEN) has exceeded expectations and has made 2,000 connections - adding over 120 Advisors, 15 Companies, and 20 Partner Organizations.

 

Entrepreneurial kids – Growing a next generation of masterminds

 

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to speak to some amazing kids who are part of a sleepover accelerator based out of Boulder, Camp Inc. These kids had amazing ideas and some of them were already serial entrepreneurs. Check out Val Weisler who created The Validation Project, a global movement.  

Entrepreneurship is definitely becoming the trendy new thing. And, it's here for good. It's the one thing that will save our planet and make the changes we need to see happen. And here's why, it gets us to think outside of the box. It gets us to think about what can be.

In this video, Cameron sheds light on how entrepreneurs are distinguishable from a young age and should not be forced into the mould required by societal standards.

He then proceeds to mention brilliant methods as to how we can instill the entrepreneurial mindset of being tenacious and opportunistic (among others) to the children of our age.

Women Entrepreneurs Fight for Their Piece of the Pie

By Zoë Schlanger / May 7, 2014 5:47 AM EDT

On a clear Friday morning in April, in a room near the top of the New York Times building with a humbling view of lower Manhattan, the world’s financial epicenter, eight groups of women wait to pitch their businesses.


Women Entrepreneurs to Bet On

Women are pushing their way into the world of venture capital and building their own businesses.

They’re vying for $25,000 in early-stage investment by five so-called angel investors. First up is Miki Agrawal, who speaks casually, convincingly and fast. She has done this before. She locks eyes with the five investors, one by one, as she describes something every woman in the room can relate to—the fear of period leaks.

The line of underwear she developed with the other two women who founded Thinx would end that worry forever, she says, with four high-tech layers of fabric in the crotch. By the time she gets to the part where girls in developing countries often miss a week of school while they are menstruating simply because they lack proper sanitary supplies, and how her company would donate washable pads for every pair of underwear sold, the investors are nodding, totally into it.

The entrepreneurs have just completed something called the Pipeline Fellowship, which is trying to level the playing field for women in angel investing, an increasingly integral part of America’s capital formation. startups with at least one woman on their founding team are roughly 18 percent less likely to attract equity investors than their all-male counterparts, according to 2013 data from an ongoing survey by Emory University. Yet they are almost 20 percent more likely to have generated revenue—and that’s no small distinction in a world where the vast majority of venture-backed startups fail. Data collected by PitchBook found only 13 percent of all venture capital deals in the United States went to women in 2013, a significant increase from the firm’s 2004 data that put the figure at 4 percent. But that still means 87 percent of deals are being given to all-male teams.

The numbers paint just part of the picture. The rest is made up of the experiences—often ranging from frustrating to infuriating—of female entrepreneurs navigating the world of equity investors, where 96 percent of senior venture capitalists are men.

The anonymous confession-sharing app Secret is rife with posts by female entrepreneurs bemoaning the process of finding financial backers. “Just got out of a meeting with a [venture capitalist] who couldn’t stop staring at my boobs. Not sure whether this means we have a better or worse chance of getting his investment,” reads one.

Kathryn Minshew, who co-founded the career advice and job-search tool The Muse in 2011, says women are frequently asked to drinks by VCs who say they might be interested in investing. But instead of a business meeting, it turns out to be a date. Over the course of her company’s first year, Minshew says, she spent “probably 30 hours, maybe more” going on bait-and-switch drinks of that nature.

“One of the very common questions I get from younger entrepreneurs is, How do you very nicely confirm with an investor that something is a business meeting and not a personal meeting, without offending them?”

Natalia Oberti Noguera, the founder of the Pipeline Fellowship and a self-described “LGBTQ Latina and a feminist with a capital F,” has come to terms with that bias. That’s why the crowd assembled in the Goodwin Procter offices for the pitching event is almost entirely women. Just two men are in the audience, to support their co-founder Holly Pressman, who is pitching their finance-education site FinLit.com. Oberti Noguera’s program trains women to be angel investors, through mentoring with seasoned investors and workshops on issues like due diligence and valuation. The five women at the table in the pitch meeting—an insurance executive, a mortgage executive, two magazine executives and the vice chair of a New York City school, were nearing the end of the program, the part where they narrow down eight potential investments to three.

“People will probably invest in people who make them feel safe, and usually that means people who are not different. So if that’s how we work, let’s get more women and people of color on the investing side,” Oberti Noguera tells Newsweek.

In the first half of 2013, according to the Center for Venture Research, just 16 percent of companies pitching to angel investors were women-owned, but 24 percent of that group got funded—a higher rate of success than the deal rate overall. That may in part be thanks to programs like Pipeline Fellowship, Golden Seeds, 37 Angels and others like them. Angel investors back projects they feel passionate about, and that are in their early stages of development, in return for equity in the businesses. They are a different financial species from venture capitalists, who invest institutional money—from pension funds, university endowments, wealthy individuals—in much larger sums, and typically require a seat on the board of the business they back, as well as an equity stake.

In a study released by Harvard in March, investors, both men and women, heard real startup pitches adapted from real businesses. Each pitch was shown in one of four ways to different investors: in one version, a male voice presented the pitch alongside a photo of an attractive man. In another, the voice was male and the photo of the man was less attractive. Another two versions were narrated by a female voice, one with a photo of an attractive woman and one with a less attractive woman.

Investors chose businesses presented by men 68 percent of the time. Only 32 percent of investors chose to fund the ventures presented by women, despite the pitch being exactly the same. The pitches by more attractive men fared considerably better than the ones by less handsome, while better-looking women did slightly worse, by a negligible margin, than their less pretty female counterparts.

You read that right: Both men and women would rather invest in a man over a woman, especially if the fellow has the right look.

“It’s more about intuition than data,” says Deb Nelson, the executive director of Social Venture Network, which connects social entrepreneurs with socially conscious investors. In traditional profit-driven investment, especially with early-stage funding where data are scarce, the decision of who to fund can come down to which entrepreneurs look and sound as if they will succeed. As long as the image we conjure in our collective imagination of a capable business leader is an attractive (likely young, likely white) man, that intuition will look a lot like sexism, racism and ageism. “We need to unlearn how we’ve been socialized,” Nelson says.

Natalia Oberti Noguera founded the Pipeline Fellowship as a way to put more women on the other side of the table, deciding which companies to invest in. Bryan Thomas for Newsweek

PICKING WINNERS

Consider the story of a tech startup called Clinkle. Its 22-year-old white, male CEO, Lucas Duplan, raised $30 million in investment over the past year. Now, the company has laid off a quarter of its staff, lost its chief operating officer and has been christened a hot mess by the tech news website Re/code, all without putting out its product yet, an app to stealthily transfer payments between smartphones.

“I don’t think it was the app that was impressive,” one former employee told Business Insider. “I think it’s Lucas who is so compelling. He sells the vision of what every investor wants, which is a 20-year-old, white, male Stanford computer science major. He fits the bill. He appears to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, and he carries himself that way.” Duplan declined to comment for this story.

Oberti Noguera says there’s a wider lesson to be learned from such stories.

“If a guy has a really great exit, then of course that guy was awesome. And if a guy doesn’t do well, it’s like, ‘Well, he must’ve not had the pricing strategy down pat.’ But if a woman doesn’t end up succeeding, it’s ‘Oh, women suck,’” she says. “We don’t have enough female success stories, so the failure stories end up overshadowing everything. We have so many white–guys stories, but that doesn’t mean that if the guy is white and wearing a hoodie that he’ll succeed.”

If looks aren’t a good benchmark for investors, what is? A 2012 report from Dow Jones found that a company with at least one female executive at the vice president or director level was more likely to be successful than companies with no women at that level. For venture-backed startups with five or more female executives, the report found 61 percent were successful and only 39 percent flopped, compared with a 50 percent failure rate overall. The study did not find any statistically significant relationship between a company having female founders and its success, perhaps because there were so few represented: Of the 20,194 companies in the report, only 1.3 percent had a female founder.

There are those who argue women need to adapt to the system, rather than the other way around—that it’s the women themselves who are to blame. And not all of these critics are unreconstructed Mad Men–era throwbacks.Bryan Thomas for Newsweek

“VCs don’t have a bias against women entrepreneurs; we’re just bad at pitching,” claimed a headline on the website Venture Beat last year. The author, Mauria Finley, a woman who founded Citrus Lane, a subscription service for children’s products, says women don’t think big enough and spend too much time focusing on details. In The Boston Globe magazine, Fiona Murray, one of the authors of the Harvard study, wrote that women should “watch sports” to have something to chat about with male investors.

“Women have to do things proactively against a tide of bias,” Murray tellsNewsweek, adding that “it’s not to say those biases are okay. It’s not just what women can do, it’s what men can do too.”


All the investors Newsweek spoke with say that having something in common does make an enormous difference to winning their support. Having a personal connection with the proposed product also makes a difference.

According to a study of a wide range of corporate firms by the Center for Talent Innovation, 56 percent of employees said the leaders at their companies didn’t value ideas they don’t personally see a need for, “even when there [are] strong data and evidence that it’s a good, marketable idea.”

Jules Pieri, who founded e-commerce site The Grommet in 2008, says she has seen that in action. “Every woman has heard this if her business has a consumer side to it: They say, ‘I’ll go ask my assistant, I’ll go ask my wife about this.’ And you just want to jump out the window,” she says.

Bryan Thomas for Newsweek

BLOWING UP THE MODEL

Projects like the Pipeline Fellowship are focused on getting more women with resources to invest in other women. But such solutions operate within the equity-investing system. Danae Ringelmann wants a better system: online crowdfunding campaigns, housed on sites like Indiegogo, which she founded in 2007. She says 47 percent of the projects that reach their funding goal on Indiegogo are female-led.

“Being able to sell your idea to one person is a dependency that really shouldn’t matter. You’ve changed your whole approach for that one person, what you think that one person wants to hear,” Ringelmann says.

Before Indiegogo, she worked in investment banking. One day, she went to an event in New York City, where people making films and theater productions could meet potential investors, even though she didn’t have the money or influence to fund a project. One director approached her, hopeful that she could help make his production of Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy an off-Broadway reality.

She co-produced a concert reading—where potential investors can attend and consider whether to invest. Ringelmann ultimately couldn’t gather enough capital to get the play staged, partly because she didn’t have a personal relationship with enough theater investors.

“The people who wanted the play to come alive the most didn’t actually have the power relationships to make it happen,” she says. Years later, Indiegogo came out of that sobering experience. “We decided to use the Internet to blow that [model of capital] up,” Ringelmann says.

Indiegogo has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get started. Businesses that want to seek traditional investment later have used the success of their Indiegogo projects as proof of their project’s viability, according to Ringelmann.

For its part, Indiegogo still needed venture capital to get off the ground. Ringelmann says her team was rejected by over 90 venture capitalists before they raised their first VC dollar. But now the funding appears to be flowing: In January, the site announced it had raised $40 million in Series B venture funding, the funding stage meant to speed growth.

CASINO ROYALE

A fact that gets lost in all the bleak reports about the capital gap is that women start many successful businesses without VC funding. Indeed, women own 30 percent of all businesses in the United States. Many choose not to approach investors in the first place. Instead, they grow their businesses at a rate directly proportional to their businesses’ success.

The point of venture capital isn’t necessarily to grow a sustainable business. The point is to make a lot of money. The VC’s investment is worthwhile only if and when the company has a major liquidity event, called an “exit,” by either being bought or going public. Exits are very rare, and most VC-backed startups fail.

When a fledgling business makes a successful pitch and receives a sudden injection of millions of venture capital dollars, it has often made an agreement to grow as fast as possible. Perhaps it moves into offices and goes on a hiring spree. It’s racing toward the exit.

For all their expertise, venture capitalists are basically shooting craps, only with worse odds. Just 2.3 percent of venture capital deals end in a payout of more than $100 million, and 0.18 percent get a payday that exceeds $1 billion, but those are the margins that major firms are gunning for. More than 90 percent of venture capital-backed startups fall short of their projected success, according to Harvard Business School research. Fully 45 percent fail entirely and return nothing to investors, according to data from Sand Hill Econometrics. Another 25 percent might make some money, but fail to return all of the original investment. In both cases, or around 70 percent of the time, the entrepreneur walks away with nothing at all.

MIT engineer Limor “Ladyada” Fried didn’t seek out any investors when she founded Adafruit, her a DIY electronics kits company, in 2005. Adafruit had over $22 million in revenue in 2013 and is expected to double its 50-person staff this year. Fried isn’t opposed to venture capital or angel investment, but with a company that focuses on education and “making more engineers,” rather than short-term profit, Fried doesn’t see how the equity investment model would fit in, at least for now.

Adafruit has more than 1,800 products for sale and is engineering new ones all the time. It recently launched a new children’s show about electronics called Circuit Playground. An investor might consider all those diverse focuses “outside the core business” of shipping out kit orders, but it’s just how Adafruit does things, Fried says.Bryan Thomas for Newsweek

“Had we taken investment and not constrained growth, we could have made some mistakes with hiring and space. It’s given us more flexibility to not have the pressures of a return on investment from an outside group. We’re growing at our own pace and on our terms,” Fried says. “There hasn’t been a challenge that a cash infusion could solve. And we know that taking on investment and investors would take one important thing away that cash definitely cannot solve: time.”

It’s a lesson women and men could take to heart. 

Inc. Mag: How Boulder Became America's Startup Capital

An unlikely story of tree-huggers, commies, eggheads, and gold.   BY BURT HELM

We had barely started our tour of the Chautauqua, Boulder's verdant 19th-century park, when my guide for the morning, local historian Carol Taylor, handed me the packet with the "cautionary tales." They were photocopied news articles, all from national publications, all featuring Boulder and all written--in Taylor's mind, anyway--by superficial out-of-towner nincompoops. "Namaste and Pass the Naan," read one's subhead. "You will be hard-pressed to find one person here, including your 85-year-old grandmother, without a six-pack," read another. Over four decades, as Taylor's packet meant to show, writers had missed the town for the lovely trees (and bike paths and mountain views)--unfairly reducing Boulder to a playground where smug eco-liberals puffed legalized marijuana and compared triathlon times.

"We're so much more complex than that," Taylor said. She gave me a gentle, pleading look. "Don't just go back and write that everyone rides their bikes everywhere."

Out from the gleaming sunlight, a Lycra-clad cyclist whizzed majestically by.

Let me just say, it's hard to keep a straight face when touring this idyllic mountain city--and interviewing its start-up founders and venture capitalists, its coffee-shop denizens and microbrew cognoscenti. It's so tempting to linger on the glorious hippie mane of the organic peanut butter CEO, or quote the impossibly outdoorsy venture capitalist ("I only invest in companies I can ride my mountain bike to!"). But I don't want to be unfair or stoop to caricature. It's not as if they were handing out free joints to everybody on Pearl Street, the city's main drag, on the day I arrived. (No, that was two days earlier. The event was called the Boulder Flood Relief Joint Giveaway.)

But easy as Boulder may be to mock, the city is impossible to dismiss. Boulder is an entrepreneurial powerhouse like no other. In 2010, the city had six times more high-tech start-ups per capita than the nation's average, according to an August 2013 study by the Kauffman Foundation--and twice as many per capita as runner-up San Jose-Sunnyvale in California. This vibrant culture has given Boulder a prosperous economy: Without the help of oil, natural gas, or any monolithic industry, Boulder County (population 300,000) ranks among the top 20 most productive metro areas in terms of GDP. Unemployment is 5.4 percent--almost two points below the national average and a full point below the Federal Reserve's goal for the nation. It is the home to a start-up incubator, Techstars, and a healthy venture capitalist community.

Boulder as start-up haven is not a new development, either. Since 1960, it has quietly nurtured nascent industries, including natural foods, computer storage, biotech, and now Internet companies. It's the original home of Ball Aerospace (one of the first NASA contractors), herbal tea pioneer Celestial Seasonings, StorageTek (later acquired by Sun Microsystems for $4.1 billion), and the biochemistry lab that led to Amgen.

But Boulder wasn't always so affluent, so collegiate, so pretty. The history of Boulder, the start-up haven, is a fascinating story of a community that built itself from scratch through a combination of individual effort, shared sacrifice, and counterintuitive choices (not to mention a near-constant urge to skip out of the office and get outdoors). Its success is a very specific, and in some ways limited, way of fostering a local economy. But it offers an unexpected solution to how cities all over the U.S. could make themselves a welcoming spot for start-ups.

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When the Wall Street day-trading firm where Kate Maloney worked opened a location in Boulder in 2001, she jumped at the chance to move. “We’d wake up at 5:30 in the morning, tackle the market, and then go hiking up Sanitas, or rock climb in the Chautauqua,” she recalls. In 2007, Maloney founded TherapySites, a website design company that now sells Web templates to a wide variety of health care practices. Maloney has 34 employees, a handful of whom work out of her downtown Boulder loft.

Photographed by Matt Nager

When city fathers first laid out Boulder, the city was dry, barren, and unremarkable--a two-mile stretch of road at the mouth of Boulder Canyon that served as one of several mining-supply depots following the 1859 Colorado gold rush. Wrote Isabella Bird, a British travel writer, in an 1879 book: "Boulder is a hideous collection of framed houses on the burning plain."

But a streak of exceptionalism ran through Boulderites. They displayed a deep commitment to city beautification and education. In 1877, just six years after Boulder officially incorporated, citizens persuaded the state legislature to make it home to Colorado's first public university; 104 families donated land and money to build the campus. In 1889, the citizens voted to issue a $20,000 bond to build the Chautauqua, a place where visiting Texas schoolteachers could hike, picnic, and listen to lectures--a sort of bucolic TED Conference of the time.

In 1908, citizens hired landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (the son of the legendary creator of New York City's Central Park) to consult with them on how best to plan the city--a precocious move for a town of 10,000. His recommendations included putting wires underground and keeping streetlights beneath tree level, and he cautioned them about suburban developers, "dirty industries," and pandering to tourists. Above all, he said, Boulder must be beautiful--a prosperous town where people would spend their lives, not just make their money and get out. "As with the food we eat and the air we breathe, so the sights habitually before our eyes play an immense part of determining whether we feel cheerful, efficient, and fit for life," Olmsted wrote in his report.

Boulder might have remained a sleepy pretty college town, were it not for the communists. In 1949, fearful of a Soviet nuclear attack, President Harry Truman issued an order to stop the clustering of major buildings in Washington, D.C. The nation's basic research labs had to expand elsewhere. Boulder citizens, sensing an opportunity, bought up 217 acres of land and beat out 11 other cities to make that site the home of the National Bureau of Standards's new Radio Propagation Laboratory.

At first, the D.C.-based scientists bristled, considered it an exile. "They would say, 'Where do we go to see the Indians?' " says R.C. ("Merc") Mercure, one of the founding employees of Ball Aerospace, who was a physics graduate student at the University of Colorado at the time.

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Alabama native Dale Katechis settled in Boulder in 2004 after he ran out of money on the way to Montana. He knew he was in love when he spotted the Flatirons mountains rising up behind the city, he says. Since then, he has started a brewery, restaurants, and a boutique bike company in Boulder. He has also developed his own take on vertical integration: His brewery’s spent grain feeds the cattle on his ranch, which is located outside the city. The cattle, in turn, provide the beef used in his restaurants’ burgers.

Photographed by Matt Nager

But the move put Boulder on the U.S. government's map. In 1952, the federal government made greater Boulder the site of Rocky Flats, a 27-building nuclear weapons manufacturing facility. After the Department of Defense ordered sophisticated rocket pointing controls from CU's labs, researchers, including Mercure, left to form Ball Aerospace, which filled those contracts and others. Eventually, the government made Boulder the site of theNational Center for Atmospheric Research, and IBM moved its tape drive manufacturing division out there, which later led to the founding of storage start-ups StorageTek, Exabyte, and McData. On the backs of these technology jobs, Boulder's population doubled from 1950 to 1960 and then jumped to 67,000 10 years later.

By the late '60s, scientists weren't the only new people moving in. Across the country, the hippie movement was under way, and as suburban teens and twentysomethings started migrating to beautiful places across the country, many chose Boulder. (In the first half of 1968, drug arrests in the city doubled.) To Mo Siegel, a Colorado boy who had grown up on a ranch 80 miles away in Palmer Lake, the assembled flower children were his kind of people--and, in 1969, a potential market. A health nut already, the 19-year-old began gathering herbs in the foothills surrounding Boulder, filling up gunnysacks with chamomile and red clover blossoms, sewing them into little muslin tea bags, and selling them, in 1969, as Mo's 36 Herb tea. It would become the first year of business of Celestial Seasonings, the brand that became known for teas such as Sleepytime and Red Zinger. (Siegel eventually sold the company to Kraft, bought it back, and then sold it again to Hain Foods for $336 million.)

Celestial Seasonings was among the first of many natural-foods companies, including White Wave, maker of Silk-brand soy milkHorizon Organic Dairy; and Alfalfa's, a specialty market akin to Whole Foods. For these sorts of entrepreneurs, Boulder was an ideal test market. Given its population of affluent, outdoorsy types, brands could test new ideas with a friendly group of consumers in the local markets, work out the kinks at low risk, and then take the successes to a more general market in Denver and beyond.

"I just got so much support. Everybody believed," says Siegel.

With industry picking up and the population booming, the city could have stoked the growth, welcoming developers in to build out new housing and offices. Instead, it did the opposite. In 1959, the city drew a line across the surrounding mountains, above which it would not provide water or sewer services--purely in order to protect the view. In 1967, residents instituted a special 0.4 percent sales tax to purchase "green space" around the city, stymieing developers, heading off major roadways, and preserving nature. Next, the city limited new housing starts to just 2 percent a year. Now the county manages more than 97,000 acres of open space. Boulder is in a bucolic bubble, with the Rocky Mountains on one side and parkland on the other.

Encircling the city with green space has had several implications for Boulder, some expected and some not. Though never exactly cheap before, the limited space has resulted in sky-high real estate prices--with a median price of $431,200, single family homes are 1.5 times as expensive as in Denver. Meanwhile, as the preserved space flourished, so did the deer population--and the hungry mountain lions, which commuted in to eat the deer and, occasionally, attack citizens of Boulder.

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Mo Siegel started Celestial Seasonings in 1969. Back then, he sold his tea in health-food stores in Boulder (at the time, there were only three such shops). “Boulder was really conducive to the natural-foods industry,” says Siegel. “Everybody’s so healthy. If you don’t run or bike or ski--or hike or climb--you really can’t live here.” Now, of course, natural food is as ubiquitous nationwide as Celestial’s Sleepytime tea.

Photographed by Matt Nager

The green border, paired with the city's conservative zoning and development laws, has also meant that national retailers--or any monolithic competitor--have trouble finding good spaces to open in Boulder. Meanwhile, the city's hard line against expansion doesn't really allow its own start-ups to grow much past a certain size. The result? The town has made itself a physical incubator for small businesses. "After companies reach 500 employees, they either have to move out to the other side of the open space or sell," says Kyle Lefkoff, a general partner with Boulder Ventures since 1995.

But for those who can afford the housing, steer clear of the mountain lions, and squeeze into its limited office space, Boulder affords an incredible quality of life--along with a place to do business. The planning strategy, which at first seems antibusiness, simply favors those who are in it for the long haul--those who are thinking about raising families and living in Boulder until old age, and weeds out those that would dive in because of a juicy tax incentive.

There are entrepreneurs like Phil Anson, who came out after graduating from college purely to bum around and climb. A onetime line cook, he started selling premade burritos out of a cooler to support himself. In time, he found he liked scaling that business better than scaling rocks, and Evol Burritos, his 73-employee company, now distributes to supermarkets nationwide and rang up $12.4 million last year.

There were those who arrived in Boulder by accident and fell in love. Matt Larson, founder of Confio Software, moved there because his biggest investor told him he had to as a condition to getting funded (the man lived in Boulder and wanted to be chairman but didn't want to move). Alabama native Dale Katechis ended up in Lyons, the town just north of Boulder, after he and his wife ran out of money on the way to Montana. Katechis started waiting tables. Then he opened his own restaurant, Oskar Blues Brewery, and started brewing beer as a way to get his eatery's name out, and found the beer sold better than the food. (His brewery, which sells Dale's Pale Ale, made $33 million in sales last year.) Little Lyons "was like Mayberry in the mountains," Katechis says, his voice tinged with the last remnants of an Alabama drawl.

There are those entrepreneurs who moved to Boulder when they were older, when they already had money, almost as a reward to themselves. In 2001, the Wall Street day-trading firm where Kate Maloney worked opened an office in Boulder, simply because she and some co-workers thought it would be more fun. Six years later, she started TherapySites, a Web company she runs out of a loft apartment downtown. In 2006, adman Alex Bogusky moved a chunk of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the advertising agency he co-founded, from Miami to offices in Gunbarrel, a town eight miles northeast of Boulder. To Bogusky, outdoor sports lovers and entrepreneurs share a common DNA: "Thrill seekers are drawn to this place," he says. "Once you get out here, you want the ultimate thrill in business, too, and that's start-ups." By the time Bogusky retired from the agency, the Boulder office of Crispin Porter + Bogusky had swelled to more than 700 employees--many of whom had moved from Miami.

After earning three degrees from the University of Colorado in Boulder, R.C. (“Merc”) Mercure became a founding employee at Ball Aerospace in 1956. “Ed Ball took us aside and asked us if we would consider getting into the electronics business,” Mercure recalls. “A few of us said, ‘Why not?’ ” Ball went on to land a contract with NASA and helped put a solar observatory into orbit.    Photographed by Matt Nager

After earning three degrees from the University of Colorado in Boulder, R.C. (“Merc”) Mercure became a founding employee at Ball Aerospace in 1956. “Ed Ball took us aside and asked us if we would consider getting into the electronics business,” Mercure recalls. “A few of us said, ‘Why not?’ ” Ball went on to land a contract with NASA and helped put a solar observatory into orbit.

Photographed by Matt Nager

And finally, there are those who came out of the University of Colorado and couldn't imagine going anywhere else. The most famous is probably Marvin Caruthers, who, as a biochemistry professor in 1980, helped start the biotech firm Amgen. His co-founders decided to put company headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California, but Caruthers kept a lab in Boulder. Since then, the University of Colorado has become a destination for DNA and RNA research. Veterans of his department, of Amgen, and of the university's biology departments would go on to start biotech firms, including Applied Biosystems, Dharmacon, Myogen, and Pharmion, companies that sold for more than $6 billion altogether.

I wish I could point to some municipal entrepreneurship program or other business initiative that enticed these people to start companies in Boulder. But the thing is, entrepreneurs claim the city stymies them more than it helps. Mundane parking regulations hindered business early on, says Niel Robertson, CEO of $12.6 million-a-year Internet advertising start-up Trada. The city, in its efforts to reduce congestion, gave Robertson's 17-employee company just three parking permits. (The company, which now has 15 employees, has since moved to a building with a parking garage.)

Anson, the burrito maker, says it took eight weeks just to get a permit to install a new refrigeration unit at his plant. "They're so conditioned to say no to everything," he says. "It's a massive pain in the ass." But leave town? No way. "It's a dual-edged sword," says Anson. "It's harder for me to run my plant, but it's also why people can't build mansions and block each other's views, so we have a balanced city."

Of course, Boulder's not perfect. Many businesses would struggle to exist there, especially those that require heavy equipment or a low-wage work force. Its regulations, and its constricted land area, heavily favor small companies. In fact, several start-ups, including Internet security firm Webroot and StorageTek, grew out of the town, choosing to move out to a sprawling office across the green space in neighboring Broomfield. But many other entrepreneurs decided to sell out and stay--and join Boulder's growing number of angel investors and venture capitalists, the next step in the city's development. Mo Siegel now invests in other natural-foods companies. Caruthers helped start Boulder Ventures, which invests almost exclusively in Boulder entrepreneurs.

All together, venture capital firms invested $587 million in Colorado in 2012--a far cry from major venture hubs such as Silicon Valley and New York City ($11 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively) but significant. They would rather do that than move to some tony retirement place--because in their minds, Boulder beats 'em all. That's the thing. Pretty much every entrepreneur told me he or she started up in Boulder or stayed in Boulder for that same reason: It's a beautiful place to live. And it's beautiful not because the city forefathers had some nifty pro-start-up policy--but because they had the foresight to plant lots of trees, welcome a university and federal science labs, buy up lots of parkland, and then stay disciplined about preserving the beauty they had created. The idea was simple: Make a city a great place to live, and people figure out how to make a living there.

Correction: Internet advertising startup Trada has 15 employees. An earlier version of this article noted its size prior to layoffs that occurred after the magazine went to press.

FROM THE DEC. 2013/JAN. 2014 ISSUE OF INC. MAGAZINE

The New Guard - Boulder's very own, Nicole Glaros, tops the list

I recently lunched with Nicole Glaros from Techstars.  Nicole's whole focus is on Giving First and that's exactly what Techstars does. They provide seed funding from over 75 top venture capital firms and angel investors who are vested in the success of each startup, as well as intense mentorship from hundreds of the best entrepreneurs in the world.

Nicole said, "I was attracted to Techstars because they utilized a unique model - it leveraged mentors, experienced CEOs and entrepreneurs to help guide and counsel entrepreneurs to success.  The mentors are volunteers, they give freely of their time, without expectation of reward or compensation, to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Nicole gives daily. She teaches things like the How to craft the Perfect Elevator Pitch and offers office hours as a board member of EFCO, the Entrepreneurial Foundation of Colorado, which asks entrepreneurs to commit 1% of their early equity or annual profits to the community. EFCO has given more than $2 million to local organizations on the Front Range since 2008.

After 5 years, Nicole has seen Techstars grow into a global brand. I wanted to see what she's been up to. Wow. Just the usual. Nicole's been Managing Director at the Boulder Techstars from its inception and is now making the Big Apple shine. She just spoke at TedXBrooklyn with Spike Lee among others about why giving is the way to go. She also just made NY's list of top women and Marie Claire's New Guard list.

That list is fantastic and the women are incredible. 

MC@Work: The New Guard

What does it take to earn a spot on our New Guard?

Contacts, lots of them. But even that's only half the story. The women on this list are all masters at converting introductions into opportunities. In their respective fields and beyond, they are hugely influential for their valuable ability to connect—startups with financiers, writers with producers, candidates with voters. Got your own grand plans for world domination? Get to know the impressive women of The New Guard and make it happen.

Check out Nicole on Marie Claire as a successful woman in tech and read more: Successful Women in Tech, Entertainment, Business & Politics - The New Guard - Marie Claire 

Startup Phenomenon 2013: How to Create and Sustain a Vibrant Startup Community

Best-Selling Author Jim Collins and TechStars Co-Founder Brad Feld anchor global event for entrepreneurs, policymakers, financiers and academics

Published: Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 - 3:10 am

/PRNewswire/ -- The inaugural Startup Phenomenon, which focuses on bringing together the entrepreneurs and investors behind the world's most dynamic startup ecosystems, will be held Nov. 13-15 at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder. Registration is now open at www.startupphenomenon.com.

sp13-banner-4.jpg

Rather than acting as yet another startup pitchfest, Startup Phenomenon will dive into how startup communities take root and grow, with the ultimate goal being more and better options for entrepreneurs regardless of where they are.

"We drew the philosophy of Startup Phenomenon from Brad Feld's Startup Revolution books," said Ryan Ferrero, co-founder of the event. "That is, supportive communities are critical for building and sustaining vibrant startup ecosystems." 

Jim Collins and Brad Feld headline a program of nearly 50 startup and finance experts from dozens of cities around the world, including Boulder, Omaha, New York, Jerusalem, Reykjavik, Auckland, and Moscow. Collins has authored or co-authored six business books that have sold more than 10 million copies. Feld is the managing director of the VC firm the Foundry Group; co-founder of TechStars, a mentorship-driven seed stage investment program; and author of several books on startup culture.

The three-day event will feature presentations, discussions and workshops. Other scheduled presenters include:

  • Anil Dash, co-founder, Activate; CEO, ThinkUp; director, Stack Exchange.
  • Donna Harris, co-founder, 1776; Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Georgetown University;advisory board member of Global Entrepreneurship Week and board member of the National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
  • Brian Meece, co-founder and CEO, RocketHub Inc.
  • Vivek Wadhwa, VP, Innovation and Research, Singularity University; fellow, Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford University.
  • Alan Barrell, Entrepreneur in residence, University of Cambridge; International Advisor, Start Up Generation

Tickets are on sale for $995 until Nov. 7. For a complete list of speakers and sessions, or to register for the event, visit the Startup Phenomenon website.

About Startup Phenomenon

The inaugural Startup Phenomenon, Nov. 13-15 at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder, will bring together more than 300 seasoned investors, policymakers, academics and entrepreneurs to share visions for and experiences from successful startup clusters. For more information, please visitwww.startupphenomenon.com.

SOURCE Startup Phenomenon

• Read more articles by Startup Phenomenon


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/03/5790290/startup-phenomenon-2013-how-to.html#storylink=cpy

 

Boulder's Alex & Ana Bogusky Launch Initiative to Create a Million New American Jobs

August 20th, 2013

 Last night, Alex and Ana Bogusky launched the Million American Jobs Project — a YouTube video that mashes animation with Econ 101 to prime people on the power of the pocketbook, illustrating how buying a larger share of American-made goods can positively impact U.S. job numbers.

Sleeves rolled up, Alex narrates the three-and-a-half-minute video, which moves post-WWII-era utilitarian icons —cogs, workers, factories and consumer commodities like sneakers and big-screen TVs — along a conveyor belt to tell the story of how once-great America lost its competitive edge and fell into the Great Recession. Scott McDonald animated and art directed the “Million American Jobs” project.

Buy American, people (or better yet, buy Colorado). It ain't that hard to make change.

 

 

7 Reasons Most People Should Build Lifestyle Businesses, Not Startups

I could go one of two routes. I could take one of my crazy ideas and go the startup path, try and chase down funding, spend 80 hours a week to found a company, and take years off my life while trying to make it happen. Or I could build a lifestyle business, where I was the only employee and made just enough to support myself while having more freedom to do the things I  really  wanted to. A few years back, I wasn’t stoked about my position as a financial analyst, and knew I wanted to run my own business. The problem was, I had no idea what I wanted that business to look like. 

I took off to Thailand and decided to give the latter a shot. Three years later, I’m absolutely convinced that for the majority of the people with entrepreneurial aspirations, you’re better off starting a lifestyle business than pursuing a startup. Here are 7 reasons why:

  1. You are not Instagram. For every startup that sells and makes millions, there are hundreds — if not thousands — that fail or, even worse, continue to just barely make it, sucking the life out of you in the process.
  2. Building a startup is building a 9-to-5. While it’s fun to start up running on nothing but adrenaline and Red Bull, the excitement wanes and the monotony sets in after a few months. Many startup companies turn into really bad 9-to-5 jobs for the founders. They get mired in day-to-day details and work harder than anyone else, but they don’t get the benefits they signed on for as an entrepreneur in the first place. For example, Jun Loayza who, after getting over a million in funding and successfully selling two companies, left his current startup to pursue a lifestyle business.
  3. You won’t wait years to turn a profit. So someone gave you a bunch of money and told you to go build your business — cool, but that doesn’t mean you’re profitable. When you work for yourself, your overhead is limited. Salaries, office space, benefits? That’s all on you. I started my most recent business with less than $500 and it took me three sales to become profitable. Most startups are lucky to be profitable after three years!
  4. You can work from a beach with a Mai Tai. You know that dream everyone had after reading the 4-Hour Workweek where they’re chillin’ on a beach with a cocktail, working from a laptop? That’s really possible. Sure, those haven’t been the most productive days of my life, but a lifestyle business lets you choose when and where you work — generally, all you need is an Internet connection. This year I’ve already worked from places like Vail, Playa del Carmen, Cuba, New York, China and Jordan among others — all without skipping a beat in my business.
  5. You’ll have more flexibility than Gabby Douglas. You say you wanted to become an entrepreneur for increased flexibility and control in your life? Fat chance in a startup, especially when you’re playing with someone else’s money. As a lifestyle entrepreneur, you truly have the flexibility to set your own schedule. Take Laura Roeder, for instance — she moved from Southern California to spend a few months in London, where she got to attend this year’s Olympic games. A lifestyle business is one that promotes the lifestyle you want to live. For many, that’s more time with friends and family; for others, it’s travel and adventure. You get to decide.
  6. Stress is minimized. As an entrepreneur, stress will never go away — it comes with the territory. But you’d better believe that while starting up, it has the potential to be much worse. Thoughts like “How am I going to make payroll this month?” and “Revenues were 30 percent less than projections, what will the investors think?” or “My partners and I have drastically different opinions of where the business should go, what do I do?” are all common issues in a startup. A lifestyle entrepreneur has no one to answer to but themselves, thus reducing the stress that comes with common business problems. Stress of getting started can be minimized even further by running your business from abroad, where it’s cheaper to live.
  7. You can become a modern-day Renaissance person. I can’t focus on just one thing; I’m always all over the place. Being a solopreneur has forced me to learn how to handle all aspects of business — marketing, accounting, sales…you name it, I do it. In this position, you grow your expertise and become a more well-rounded business person, and that will undoubtedly help you in any future endeavors. The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” isn’t always a bad thing.
Boracay Office. 

Boracay Office. 

Are all startups bad? Of course not. Are all lifestyle businesses beaches and daiquiris? Not a chance. However, if you’re looking to maximize your enjoyment while have the freedom and security that comes with knowing you have full control of your life, then a lifestyle business may be exactly what you need.

Courtesy of YEC

Sean Ogle is an expert at helping people turn their passions and skill-sets into sustainable businesses that can be run from anywhere on Earth. As the founder of Location 180, LLC he uses the power of his blog to get the message out on the benefits of location independent entrepreneurship.