Month: May 2011

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Denver Mobile Startup Zebra Minds’ Lessons Learned

By Oza Klanjsek (Founder, Zebra Minds) Since I was a little girl, I was taught by my parents that I can be whatever I want to be. My parents never stereotyped me. And when I asked my mom for one piece of advice she said, "Do NOT get easily discouraged." Those words stay with me.

From Software Engineer to Startup Founder

Fast forward 30+ years and 5 different countries and languages, I signed up for the Denver 2010 Founder Institute startup accelerator program.

Before I entered the program, I knew a lot about mobile devices, programming, Java, but very little about Delaware-C corporations, cap table, term sheet, hiring, firing, PR or marketing.

The program pressured me to do all the key requirements of the startup, not just the ones I was comfortable with. It gave me input to numerous other companies and great networking opportunities with the founders and recognized mentors.

Shortly after, ZebraMinds was incorporated with the vision of delivering educational content onto mobile devices. We created a framework to transfer quality children’s picture books to digital media and create games around the stories. The framework provides children’s book authors the ability to turn their books into mobile applications.

ZebraMind founder Oza Klanjsek is hosting Founder Friday Denver on June 3, 2011.

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Bay Area Capital Connections Conference 2011

By Darlene Crane (Executive Director, Alliance for Community Development) Learn how to obtain investment from investors, bankers, and successful CEOs at the Bay Area Capital Connections Conference on June 23, 2011 in Oakland, CA.

Join us for a morning keynote on "The Dynamic Interaction Between Investors and Companies" featuring Nancy Pfund (Managing Partner, DBL Investors) and Kelly Kennedy (Chief Financial Officer, Revolution Foods).

Breakout sessions topics include "Finding the Right Capital and Investors", "Banks are Lending, Are You Ready?", "The CEO Experience in Funding and Growing a Business" and "Driving Revenue Growth through Social Networks".

The event culminates in pitches before Geoff Roach (Angel Investor, Angel Forum), Gwen Edwards (Managing Director, Golden Seeds), Nick Henderson (Director, Internet Securities) and Joyce Chung (Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures).

Women 2.0 members save $15 on conference tickets with discount code "wmn20". Register here.

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Female-Friendly Startup Shirts by a Female Founder

By Gemma Aguiar (Founder & CEO, Design Like Whoa!) It was the end of night at SF New Tech's Belgian Night, the third tech event in Silicon Valley I attended since moving here in December. I still hadn’t spoken a word about my startup, and I was beginning to get frustrated. Just when I thought I would leave feeling unaccomplished, the event organizer announced he would allow 60-second pitches from the audience.

I had never spoken on stage before, but despite my nerves, I stood up and told everyone about my company.

I was the only female to pitch that night. Although my startup isn't new tech per se, it applies to just about every industry, and is especially useful for startups. I make t-shirts.

I didn't start out making t-shirts. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I didn't know what I industry to pursue, so I ended up moving to Los Angeles after I was offered a job in advertising, a job I held for about two years until recently. Having never really enjoyed the advertising industry, I was feeling unmotivated and unfulfilled, so I put my Photoshop skills to use and ...

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The Importance of Pitching Your Early Stage Startup

By Jen Consalvo (Co-Editor & COO, Tech Cocktail) Last year, I hosted 20 events across the United States -- each event bringing together a solid mix of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, investors and other tech enthusiasts to rally 6-14 early stage, local startups. This year, Tech Cocktail is on track to host even more and the number of startups applying for the free demo spots at each event is increasing. Fortunately, the number of female founders applying is increasing too, but not enough. We still see far too many events where only 1 or 2 out of 20 applicants are female.

Because we mostly showcase "early stage" startups, many applicants we get are literally still in alpha or beta phases -- this is the perfect time in your product cycle to demo at an event and get feedback.

At Tech Cocktail, startups demo in an expo-style so you are talking and pitching to individuals, not to a crowd. You get real-time feedback. If you show someone your product and you get blank stares, you can adjust your pitch. If you get interested, potential customers, you can stay connected. It's an amazing opportunity.

If you are working on an early stage startup, I encourage you to apply to be a part of one of our events in a city near you.

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Founder Speed-Dating Focuses on People vs. Ideas at Founder Labs NYC

By Sonia Sahney (Participant, Founder Labs) This past weekend marked the beginning of Founder Labs’ first NYC endeavor. Like many other entrepreneur-support programs, Founder Labs aspires to foster the development of start-ups that will change the world… However, Founder Labs differs from other programs in that it focuses on picking people pre-team, and creating a mash-up of individuals’ unique skills and talents.

Part science experiment and part social experiment, the program combines 8 engineers, 4 designers and 4 business-focused people for 5 weeks. The program encourages the development of 4 person teams, and provides tender-loving-care in the form of mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs, investors and mobile experts.

This is the stuff reality TV is made of, but hopefully ours is the uplifting, happy-ending kind of reality TV like Extreme House Makeover vs. the train-wreck, booze-filled dramatics found on the Jersey Shore or the Real World.

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Angel Investing: Why Young Women Should Care

By Kathryn Minshew (Editor in Chief, Pretty Young Professional) As a female founder of a woman-focused company, I’ve spoken to my fair share of angel investors. My recent venture, Pretty Young Professional, is a smart, career-focused content site and community for young professional women.

So when I heard about the Pipeline Fund Fellowship, which trains women philanthropists to become angel investors, I was fascinated. I got an inside look at the other side of the table, at the people who fund entrepreneurs like us.

How Angels Help Start-Ups

An angel investor is an individual who invests his or her own money -- anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000 -- in a start-up or entrepreneurial company, typically in exchange for a piece of the equity (ownership) in that venture. For a fledging company like mine, this money can be critical in helping get the business off the ground.

The game is risky, but the rewards are potentially huge: remember Peter Thiel, who gave Facebook an early angel investment?

Most Angels are Men

Given women’s wealth, education, and experience -- and rising entrepreneurship -- we would expect to see plenty of female angels. But unfortunately, by most counts, 90% of angel investors are male. So why the disparity?

A variety of studies have attempted to answer this question: Women have different social networks, lack awareness of angel investing, or are less likely to be cashed-out entrepreneurs. Women tend to have social networks that encourage separating friends and money. Women are less comfortable with risk.

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Call for Applications & Nominations: Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women

By Melissa R. Taylor (Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program Manager, Ernst & Young) Are you a woman entrepreneur with big plans, and the vision and passion for growing your company?

Do you know a dynamic woman entrepreneur who is on track to create a multi-hundred million or billion-dollar enterprise?

If so, we encourage you to apply or to nominate an outstanding entrepreneur for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneurial Winning Women program. The competitive award and leadership program is designed to connect high-potential women entrepreneurs with the advisors, resources and insights they need to become market leaders. Winners will:

  • Join an elite network of the country’s best high-growth companies and entrepreneurs
  • Participate in a customized program designed to accelerate and sustain business growth
  • On a complimentary basis, attend the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum 2011, the country’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth companies, November 9-13 in Palm Springs, CA

Eligibility: Applicants are women CEOs who have founded their companies within the last 10 years and have achieved at least $1 million in revenue in each of the past two.

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How to Survive and Thrive Post-Startup Failure

By Kaitlin Pike (Marketing & Community Manager, Web 2.0 Expo) If you’re founding or running a startup, there’s a bit of an open secret I need to share with you: You’re going to experience some painful failures. Not necessarily as dramatic as a complete company shut down, but as you grow into a more experienced entrepreneur, you’ll certainly bump into some awful scenarios.Epic Fail

Thankfully, you’re not the first founder to come across these challenges. I recently spoke with three veterans of the startup scene who offered poignant pieces of advice for up-and-coming founders: Cass Phillipps, executive producer of FailCon and founder of the now-defunct startup Trogger; Leah Busque, founder and CEO of TaskRabbit; and Edith Yeung, founder of BizTechDay and SFEntrepreneur.

Here are six ways to prevent, prepare for, or survive epic failure (and thus keep your sanity) --

Expect some failure – and be prepared for a total flop.

Cass Phillipps of FailCon recommends putting checkpoints in place as an objective means of showing how well (or poorly) things are going. On top of this measurement plan, consider what actions you should take well in advance if things start to slide:

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Frenemies: Why Competition is Good for your Startup

By Rebecca Woodcock (Co-Founder, Cake Health) Two weeks ago, my startup co-founder and I launched Cake Health's private beta on TechCrunch.

Around that time, Cake Health's competition in the healthcare space led us to have a conversation about why such competition was a good thing.

Learning about a competitor can initially feel like impending doom, but having that competition was the best thing to happen to our startup. Here's why:

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