Archives For Entrepreneurship

This morning I had a chance to have coffee with Lesa Mitchell. She has a knew role at Galvanize.

We had a chance to catch up and talk entrepreneurship, tech culture, pipeline, BuildUp and Galvanize.

Lesa is truly amazing and passionate about making an impact.

She is also looking for some awesome data scientists at Galvanize.

Lesa is one of those individuals that if you don’t know I would suggest you “google her”!

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Originally posted on: BuildUp Blog

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At BuildUp we’re passionate about “building”, hence the name, BuildUp. We encourage founders and developers to build MVPs, iterate fast and release often. With that being said, we’re happy to announce BUILDBox by BUILDUP.

BUILDBox curates the best building resources for technology entrepreneurs, daily..

We look for the best developer resources, design resources, links, videos, frameworks, hacks, icons and inspirational articles for entrepreneurs. We’re also big fans of new mobile apps, themes, PSDs, tech events and technology products builders find useful. Entrepreneurs can up vote their favorite resource after logging in and creating a profile. If you prefer to receive a daily recap of resources in your email inbox from BUILDBox you can subscribe to the newsletter. BUILDBox was inspired by Hackernews and we like to think of it as “ProductHunt meets Launch Ticker” for Technology Entrepreneurs who love to build.

BUILDBox is built using the MeteorJS , a complete open source platform for building web and mobile apps in pure JavaScript. Along with using the Telescope community framework, hacked with with Bootstrap and designed by Wayne Sutton.

As our goal is to find the best building resources daily! We know we can’t do it alone, therefore we’re asking fellow entrepreneurs and developers to sign up and submit resources they find useful. Popular Resources will be approved. You can also suggest a link by sending us a tweet @buildboxapp.

Another goal for BUILDBox is to connect companies that are looking for amazing talent. If you’re hiring we would love to feature your job listing on our Jobs page.  Email us at jobs@buildup.vc for more information on how to list your position. If you’re looking for work fill out our form here and we’ll do our best to connect you with a company in our network.

We’re looking forward to helping more developers and entrepreneurs build world changing solutions with BUILDBox.

Just in case if you were wondering what does BUILDBOx stands for. BUILDBox stands for, BUILDING resources in your email inbox.  Be sure to visit the about page to learn more.

 

Below are some screenshots of BUILDBox.

 

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Also BUILDBox works great on mobile devices!

Photo Oct 29, 11 05 30 AMbuidlbox mobile

Orginally posted on BUILDUP.vc – The Importance of Accelerators / Incubators and Inclusion for Tech Startups

wayne sutton on cctv america

On Friday, July 25th I was asked to join Shraysi Tandon on CCTV America to discuss the role of technology focused startup incubators and accelerators. The interview was part of a story CCTV was covering on the launch of Grand Central Tech startup accelerator in New York.

During the six minute interview we talked about the role incubators play in the success for startups, why so few Women Who Code and tech trends. I was prepared to answer seven questions covering incubators, business school vs incubators, tech trends and more.

You can watch the full CCTV America interview “Wayne Sutton on incubators and their impact on the startup scene” below.


@CCTV_america Interview on incubators and their impact on the startup scene


Below are my full answers and how BUILDUP.vc plays a role in the startup echo system and tech trends.

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1) How important are incubators and accelerators for tech startups?

The role of incubators and accelerators have been key driving force of success for the entire technology startup ecosystem. Both can provide priceless value to various mentors, allow founders to receive expert product feedback, gain relationships with would be hard to access investors, provide funding and an opportunity to pitch to investors.

Depending on the stage of a startup or experience of the founder, incubators and accelerators can extend a timeline for a startup to reach product market fit.

Incubators and accelerators also help prepare founders for the entrepreneurship journey and can reduce the chance of failure.

2) Would it be fair to say that being a part of a tech accelerator is the vital ingredient for startup success?

No, it would not be fair to say being part of a tech accelerator is vital for success because of all the variables in a founder/startup journey. But being a part the right tech accelerator can increase the chance of success for most startups.

For example these are some of the variables that could affect the success of a startup. Stage/experience of the founders
Product / Target audience
Ability to fund raise
The size of the founders network
Running capital
Location

Knowing all the variables of success for startups is one of the reasons why at BUILDUP we’re focused on mentorship and access for early stage founders. Along with rethinking the entire accelerator model to provide the best resources and opportunity for startups to succeed.

3) Some industry insiders say to be a successful tech entrepreneur, it’s probably more valuable to join a tech incubator then go to business school – do you agree?

I’ve heard this debate over and over. If you look at the job market, debt from going to college, the “startup stories” around Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs as dropouts it sounds like joining a technology incubator is the golden ticket to success and you will learn all the skills you need.

That is just not true.

One absolute in the debate of incubator vs business school is that no classroom can give you the same value as real world experience. This is where the debate is formed. The experience you gain from joining an incubator as a founder can teach you “some” the lessons of business school. That is just one of the many reasons it’s becoming more difficult to get accepted into popular incubators and accelerators such as 500 Startups and Y Combinator.

I won’t advise any entrepreneur to not go to business school in place of a technology incubator, even if its my own but I also won’t discourage an entrepreneur if he or she is passionate about pursuing their dream to launch a product and join an incubator. It’s truly a personal and financial decision; a risk decision by the entrepreneur.

4) One of your roles is advisor to an organization called ‘Women Who Code’ – why are there so few women who code?

I’m proud to be an advisor for such a powerful and needed origination as Women Who Code. The work that Alaina, Michele, Zassmin have done to create an environment for women to network and learn to not only increase the number of women developers but also provide other valuable opportunities to for women to excel in tech careers.

The reasons I believe there are so few Women Who Code are:
The American/World History of unfair treatment of women in the workplace for salaries and leadership opportunities.
Tech Culture.
Lack of successful women tech founders/role models
Pattern Matching
Sexism in tech

Data on Women In Tech
Women Make up 25% of the tech industry
11% of VC are Women
Women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market
3-5% of Women receive Venture Capital
5% Women are Tech Founders

That’s why programs such as women who code should exist and also why at BUILDUP we’re focusing on inclusion. We’re proud to have Women Who Code a partner for BUILDUP Events.

5) Is the tech startup industry a boys club?

No, I won’t sit here and say the startup industry is a boys club in 2014.
Not when I know tons of women tech founders building amazing products and solutions such as TD Lowe, Raissa Tona and Lisa Falzone.

The startup industry traditionally has primarily been dominated by men, especially in two categories, venture capital and founders.

I will say, yes that the startup industry over the years been an industry boys club. But that’s also goes back to the history of America, corporate workforce, equal access and opportunities for women and other minorities.

We need more women venture capitals and angel investors to support the growing number of women founders in tech. Along with more tech news sites to cover women founders and for everyone look past historical and personal bias, when it comes to making investment decisions.

Most importantly the tech ecosystem should have a zero tolerance for sexism.

6) What are some the trends you’re noticing in tech startup? Last year was big on big data. Is this year more about the ‘smart stuff’ – smartphones, smart watches, smart homes? What’s the trend?

Bitcoin related startups are a trend and will continue to increase over the next couple of years as more developers learn about the potential of the technology.

The “internet of things” will continue to trend, along with more home connected devices.

Health and fitness apps will continue to be a trend especially with the release of iOS 8 and healthbook.

We’re really just getting started with Drones and it will be interesting to see what Drone.vc invest in.

Startups focused on marketplaces and communities such as ProductHunt will continue to be a niche trend.

We’ll also see more focus on simple feature apps like “yo” despite the need for more innovation.

At BUILDUP, we focus on three categories, Global Impact, Innovation and Inclusion.

7) If you were an investor, what sort of a startup would you place your bets on?

If I was an investor I would take risk on investing into teams that fits the BUILDUP.vc thesis:

Global Impact – solving real world problems for the masses.
Innovation
Inclusive teams

I also would invest in digital currency / mobile commerce.
Startups that has potential to create marketplaces and resources for the growing hardware market
Example would be MadeSolid which provides materials for 3D printers.

I would invest in to Health/Tech startups and companies focused on STEM Education for underserved communities.

You can access more of BUILDUP’s research on diversity in tech here: http://buildup.vc/researchandresources/

Infographic: Successful Growth Hacks To Get People To Your Website

OB-VI126_Sutton_C_20121112110313 Originally posted on the Wall Street Journal, Wayne Sutton: 3 Factors to Keep Emotionally Balanced As a Founder


Startup life is fun, it’s cool, it can be fulfilling, and impactful. Who doesn’t want to build the next WhatsApp or Instagram and have millions of people across the world using their product. Startup life has always been branded as hard and exciting. Founders follow the cult-like traditions of all-nighters to launch their product or practice their pitch to raise venture capital. Almost every part of a founder’s journey can be an emotional roller coaster. Part of the ride can be a small turn or a slow steady climb to an immediate drop or a complete 360 degree loop. The emotional ride from finding a technical co-founder, trying to get press, connecting with an investor, or pitch meeting after pitch meeting…you get the picture.

Throughout my journey of raising capital, building a team, managing personal relationships and at one point failing at each at the same time, three key factors have played a role in overcoming the emotional challenges. The gym, professional mentors and remembering the “why” kept me balanced.

The gym became my sanctuary, a place where I could go and block out everything in the world and focus on one thing…me. The gym allowed me to manage my physical health and emotional health as a way to release stress, manage depression and anxiety. With time being a major factor for many founders, going to the gym may seem like a huge loss in getting work done. Being a “night owl” I would workout late five out of seven days. My suggestion for founders is at least 30 minutes of working out at least four times a week. Always consult with your doctor before working out. If a gym may be too much for you, I suggest starting with an early morning one-mile walk/run or try the 7min workout.

See what other startup mentors have to say about their personal highs and lows.

As I look at the startup culture, if we’re honest, there’s a lot of drinking, smoking and other unhealthy behavior that leads to emotional outburst or breakdowns. These are signs of when a founder may not be emotionally stable to handle the startup life. Depending on the stage of the founder, they may already have a good workout routine, have great mentors, along with a strong reason why they started the company, but they still need to balance their emotions. We’re seeing more founders practice meditation as a way to stay emotionally healthy.

When mentoring founders, I now listen for stress signals in the categories of sleep, fitness, communication and productivity. I’m also having more conversations about empathy, culture and personal happiness. By having conversations on these topics, it allows the founders to open up about how they are really doing. I won’t settle for “killing it” when we all know a founder is one tweet away from an emotional breakdown.

Mentors are an entrepreneur’s trainer. They provide wisdom, previous experience all while knowing the founder has to make his or her own decisions and do the work. My mentors provided me council to overcome some of the challenges I faced along with tips to succeed in life. Finding mentors can be challenging for the first-time founder. If you don’t have any mentors I suggest to start attending meetups, networking events and connect with individuals who may have domain experience in your industry. Also you should connect with potential mentors on blogs, social media and through personal emails.

There is no magic pill that founders can take while on their journey through successes or failures. The emotional highs and lows of startup life for a founder are the equivalent of being a boxer. A founder must train like a fighter, knowing the risk of being knocked out cold and losing it all. The founder must hold on to the “why” and use the why to drive them during the tough times.

During the lowest of the low times, founders must remember the “why”: Why are they sacrificing their time away from family and friends? Why are they spending hours and hours working to build a product that people may not even use? Why take the risk? Whatever the “why” is during this time of rock bottom, founders must keep the “why” near to their mind, heart and soul to keep moving forward.

As for me, my “why” is to empower entrepreneurs to change the world using technology. I love seeing innovation happen. I love working with founders going from idea to launch. I love building communities and products. I’m also passionate about working toward a non-biased, inclusive technology ecosystem. Those “whys”, along with my son, keep me going.

PitchTo
Today I’m pleased to announce the public beta release of PitchTo. PitchTo is a dedicated platform for managing and rating founder pitches and provides a way for entrepreneurs to get feedback on their product or pitch.

While working with founders on their pitch deck either preparing for demo day or investor meetings I saw an ongoing theme. While in person feedback is great, founders would also like a better way to get feedback on their pitch from their network. Two more areas where I saw an opportunity for PitchTo is talking with investors about how they keep track of all their companies they see at pitch events, one on meetings, hackathons and demo days. Ironically, most investors were either using a note taking application like Evernote, google docs or good old pen and paper. The other space where PitchTo could be used is judging hackathons, pitch contest or startup weekends. Surprisely, a lot of the hackathons and pitch contest still use a pen and paper rating system such as in the photo below.
paper-form

With PitchTo investors, pitch event judges can easily rate pitches and share the rating via email and or on social media sites. But PitchTo is not only for investors. For founders looking to get feedback on their pitch deck or pitch video, you can upload one or both to your profile and ask for feedback or if you’re pitching at an event, ask the audience to use PitchTo to rate your pitch. My thought has always been, during a pitch event or hackathon, it would be helpful for a founder to be able to collect feedback from the audience and not just from the judges.

PitchTo also has with a built in pitch score algorithm based off of nine pitch data points. The PitchTo Score is based on my experience working with founders on their pitches and researching with investors, venture capital firms and angel investment groups. The goal is to standardize how individual pitches are rated using all of the same data points in the decision making process of rating pitches and deciding investments.

The Nine Core Pitch Data Points
Founder: Does the founder has what it takes operate a success business?
Business Model: Does the company have a hockey stick style business model?
Presentation: How well did the founder present their pitch?
Competition Scale: Does the company have a lot of competition? It ranges from none to a crowded market.
Has The Company Found Customer Validation? Does the company have traction or are they still figuring things out?
Size of the Market: What is the big opportunity in terms of revenue, or user growth?
Sentiment: How did the pitch make you feel?
Would You Invest: A simple yes or no.
Would You Use This Product: A simple yes or no.

Additional Pitch Data Points
Rate The Concept Being Pitched: What problem are they trying to solve?
Rate The Team: Is it a “A+” team?
Rate The Design: How does the product user experience and user interface look?
Rate The Originality of the Company: Has this idea been seen/done before?
Overall Polish of the Product the Demo: What was the completion rate of the product during the demo?
Rate The Key Differentiation aka the Secret Sauce: Does this company has something special to increase their chance of success?

PitchTo is still in beta and I’m excited to hear feedback on how to make it even better.

You can join PitchTo at http://pitchto.co/join

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