Posted in Startup Story, Uncategorized

‘Shark Tank’ appearance inspires teen CEO Zietz to grow company

Teen entrepreneur Rachel Zietz didn’t secure a deal during her recent appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t win over the Sharks or the American public with her solid pitch for Gladiator Lacrosse.

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“Because I didn’t get a deal, I didn’t think people would remember me,” Zietz said. “But there’s been such a strong outpouring of support on social media and even people stopping me on the street to congratulate me. It’s been amazing.”

The Boca Raton high school student, who started her sports equipment company at 13, appeared on the popular reality show May 13. She sought $100,000 for a 15 percent stake in her company. But the Sharks passed, saying they would be doing her a disservice by taking a piece of her successful enterprise.

The appearance could help propel Gladiator Lacrosse to new heights. Zietz, now 15, is currently negotiating with Wal-Mart for a deal to carry her lacrosse products, working with her company’s brand ambassador on additional products for her line and fielding pitches by investors looking to get in on the action. The company that posted $200,000 in sales its first year, is expected to surpass the $2.5 million mark this year.

“The Sharks were so kind and kept reiterating that I was doing everything right,” Zietz said. “I walked away feeling validated and very inspired. The experience has just fueled my goals to grow my company.”

When asked if she had a favorite Shark, the savvy entrepreneur had this to say:

“I don’t think I could pick a favorite. They’re all so accomplished and had such nice things to say about me and my company. I love them all.”

The teen CEO and avid lacrosse player said one of the most rewarding outcomes of her Shark Tank experience has been the outreach from youths who say she inspired them to follow their dreams. She, dad and TouchSuite CEO Sam Zietz, and her brother Jordan, another budding teen entrepreneur, will be speaking at an upcoming Young Presidents Organization event.

“I’m excited about that because I love talking to other kids to let them know that they can start a business, if they’re truly passionate about it,” she said. “All entrepreneurs face obstacles. You just have to stick with it and work really hard to overcome them.”

Posted in Entrepreneur, Uncategorized

Are you Entrepreneur or Freelancer material

Although both the freelancer and the entrepreneur set out with the thought of ‘being his or her own boss’, there are a few characteristics that set apart the entrepreneurs from freelancers.

The Freelancer

The freelancer is a professional who markets and sells their skills for a steady income. This is akin to doing a job with a specific role but without a boss.

The ultimate aim of a freelancer is to move up the scale both in the fees charged for her services and the quality of clients and engagements.

As the freelancers work alone (or with a small supporting team) it becomes very difficult for them to increase the width of their service offerings. Thus, most successful freelancers have achieved depth in one particular field rather than having a wide-variety of skills or breadth of experience.

The freelancers sometimes coordinate with fellow freelancers to work together on a per-project basis to offer related or complementary services, but they seldom form a permanent team.

The Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs, at the outset, are on a mission to create a business bigger than themselves. They strive to build a team with multiple skills and ultimately create a venture that is profitable and, at the least, sustainable.

The company is, ideally, built to provide solution to a problem or value-add to an existing solution. An entrepreneur might also focus on a single functional area or an industry but the team has a larger breadth of functions such as marketing, sales, operations, etcetera.

Also read The Startup of you

When the Freelancer turns into an Entrepreneur

As part of my venture, I get to interact with a lot of freelancers and small consulting firms. I have found that most of the people with their own consulting firms started out as freelancers — offering the skills that they would have acquired over a period of time.

As their clients grew in number and the engagements they were executing demanded additional skills, they either started collaborating with other freelancers or hired additional team members. This became a stepping-stone to create a business bigger than the freelancer and the first step to become an entrepreneur.

While writing this article I did not check what the academic and dictionary definitions of entrepreneur and freelancer are. I just wanted to share my practical experiences that came while interacting with freelancers and entrepreneurs.

e27 note: For Fun, below are the Webster’s dictionary definition of ‘freelancer’ and ‘entrepreneur’. 

Freelance: A person who acts independently without being affiliated with or authorized by an organization

Entrepreneur: A person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money

Posted in Entrepreneur, Uncategorized

Perfect Pitch idea for Perfect Idea

On paper, your pet project sounds like a fantastic idea — but the people making the decisions just don’t agree.

So why was your great IT project rejected and how can you convince the rest of the c-suite that your initiative is valuable? Here are some essential tips from the experts.

1. Make sure other executives understand the benefits

Less politics, more action: How CIOs can benefit from taking an interim role

Poli Avramidis, CIO at the Bar Council, says some IT leaders struggle to articulate the strengths of technology. He says successful pitching of an idea often varies from person to person, with key differences in receptiveness between businesses and sectors. However, there are common issues.

“The biggest problem is when the CIO and the board don’t talk the same language,” he says. “Some IT leaders can choose to focus on the benefits of technology, rather than thinking about the business challenges the implementation is going to overcome.”

Also Read : How to Fake, Till you Make It

Avramidis says CIOs cannot afford to be waylaid by their own interests and priorities. “You have to see things from other c-suite executives’ points of view,” he says. “You need to understand the thinking processes of others, particularly in regards to how technology makes sense for other lines of business.”

What is straightforward to a CIO might be unclear beyond the IT department. “We all know that if you have an integrated system that will you will actually save the company time and money. But you must make sure other executives can see the benefits of the approach that you’re suggesting,” says Avramidis.

2. Call on project sponsors to do your selling work

Brad Dowden, CIO at recruitment specialist Airswift, says he believes project rejection is strongly connected to the quality of presentation. “You have to think about whether you tick the right boxes,” he says. “Ultimately, you’re doing a selling job and you have to sell the vision.”

The bad news, however, is selling is not a natural character trait of all CIOs. “Generally speaking, technologists are not sales people at all — they see a problem, they see how technology can solve that challenge, but they’re not necessarily good at presenting how that issue is going to be resolved,” he says.

Dowden encourages fellow IT professionals to remember that technology is just a small part of the actual project. “The more crucial element is business buy-in — understand what your stakeholders want to do and make them sponsors for your technology project,” he says.

“If you make other c-suite executives happy by demonstrating a clear return on investment in regards to their challenges, then the CFO and CEO don’t really have a decision to make when it comes to funding. Your peers will have already done the groundwork for you — they are your sponsors.”

3. Focus on the business change technology can deliver

Richard Corbridge, CIO for the Health Service Executive in Ireland, has an interesting take — the board should reject technology projects as often as they are accepted. Rather than feeling negative about knockbacks, technology professionals should embrace feedback and give the rest of the business the service it demands.

He says the modern CIO must ensure that the digital innovation being put forward for a board’s approval is led by the business. The justification of new resources or investments in IT can only be made when the business benefits are clear. CIOs, in short, must be credible in their peers’ eyes.

“By now, IT leaders across the globe should have come to the realisation that any technology project that cannot define its business value really is going to struggle to gain acceptance by the board or its governance structure. Yet we still insist on describing the ‘business’ as separate to IT,” says Corbridge.

“The panacea for the approval of technology projects at board level has to be when we, as IT leaders, no longer look to the business as a separate entity but consider ourselves to be part of the business. The catalyst for a digital project can and should be the business change it can deliver, and not the technological advancement it brings. When we focus on business change, board decisions become easier to make.”

4. Take a pragmatic approach to testing

Andrew Marks, former CIO and now the UK and Ireland managing director for energy in Accenture Technology Strategy, looks back on some of the proposals he rejected as IT leader and suggests a failure to support corporate objectives is a common theme.

“CIOs don’t want to stop creative thinking, but they will want to see investments in innovation tied to business aims, whether driving up revenue, customer loyalty or reducing operating costs,” he says. “As a CIO, I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to testing a well formed business idea, while I would say ‘no’ to playing for the sake of it. You do need to show people how a new technology might add value. Testing allows you to call a halt if an idea does not appear to be doing what was hoped.”

Marks remembers an incident as CIO when members of his own IT team proposed buying a selection of new-to-market tablets to understand their capability. The request was held back until the team could tie the investment to a set of business challenges. The approach allowed room for play and creativity, but the investment had a tangible end in mind.

Marks says any spending decisions regarding technology must be justified. He also suggests that sentiment is as true for IT managers looking to change direction on a current investment, as it is for those looking for financial backing for a new initiative.

“I work with IT leaders who have both an absolute focus on their organisation’s end customer and who are also having to make difficult decisions on systems and services,” he says. “Taking a pragmatic approach to testing ideas can help filter out the weaker ideas and leave only the best — and most likely successful — ideas to be taken forward. That way, you are more likely to create a track record of successful change and to receive future c-suite backing for new ideas.”

Posted in Managing yourself, Uncategorized

3 Task Which Every Entrepreneur Should Outsource

Outsourcing. It is not an unfamiliar word in the entrepreneurial sphere. More and more entrepreneurs are trying to infuse this tactic in their business to be more productive.

 

With books like “The 4 Hour Work Week,” the benefits of outsourcing have been overstated. Many entrepreneurs want to start outsourcing. However, many of them do not know where to start.

 

First, it is important for the entrepreneur to know and plan which areas of their business are better suited to be outsourced to an agency or group of freelancers.

There is no doubt that there are parts of your business that you would prefer not to do, whether it is due a lack of competency or interest. Why spend days or weeks working on tasks that are simply frustrating for you? Would it not be better to outsource those things to someone who has a track record of delivering superb results?

 

If you are facing difficulty in choosing what to outsource, consider delegating these three tasks to increase productivity and free up your time for other activities.

 

Social Media

To many entrepreneurs, it appears that social media is overrated. It is partially true. However, it would be foolish to run a business without having a social media presence.

Social media can easily become time consuming. Every entrepreneur has their own social media addiction, whether that is Facebook or YouTube. There is no doubt that those social media feeds are distracting, but you do not have to overwhelm yourself with it. It is better to outsource it.

 

Depending on your preference, you may find one of the following approaches suitable for your business.

 

1. Hands-off approach — Assign your assistant to create and schedule your social media posts. They can create a HootSuite account and start syncing your social media accounts. Then, they can start creating and scheduling your social media posts via the dashboard.

With the hands-off approach, your assistant will focus on creating and scheduling lots of content while adjusting posts to match themes and trends, when necessary.

 

2. Hands-on approach — Assign your assistant to dedicate a set amount of hours to social media. This approach is similar to the hands-off approach, with the addition of having your assistant to interact with the audience in either real-time or on a frequent basis.

 

3. Hybrid approach — Assign your assistant to create and schedule your social media posts as well as infrequently interacting with the commenters. This approach is similar to the hands-on approach with the difference being the interaction is not as frequent. So, for example, your assistant may check social media for comments and questions twice a day rather than every two hours during their work shift.

I have always advised entrepreneurs to stick to the maximum of two social media channels. However, when you have an assistant, you may find it worth adding another social media channel to your marketing arsenal.

Although, please keep in mind that it is better to put out a consistent feed of content on a few social media channels than to put out an inconsistent feed of content on many social media channels. Make sure that you have a clear social media strategy before delegating it to your assistant.

 

Public Relations

Almost every entrepreneur wants their brand to be on television and in popular publications. It is getting featured that is the difficult part for the entrepreneur. Unless public relations are one of your strengths, it is in your best interest to outsource it to someone who has PR experience (preferably someone who has significantly more experience than you).

There are several free PR services, but the most popular one is HARO (Help A Reporter Out). I would recommend starting there first. I have used HARO to get featured in Fast Company and Inc. Magazine.

 

Website Support

As your brand becomes more popular, this area will become more important.

Your website is your home. There is an adage that says, “Your first impression may be your last.” Wouldn’t you want to assure that website visitors are getting the best impression of your brand?

While website providers like WordPress and Squarespace have made it easier to administer your site, it is probably not a good idea to invest much time in it, especially if your intention is to grow your brand as quickly as possible.

Instead, outsource this area of your business to someone else. Whoever you choose can not only keep your website current with content but can interact with the audience by replying to blog post comments and answering emails.

In an era where competition is at an all-time high, it is pertinent to maximize productivity by leveraging other people’s time. Outsourcing is your most important form of leverage. If you want to grow your business fast or even put your business on auto-pilot, nothing will be more important than outsourcing.

This article originally appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Posted in Entrepreneur, Uncategorized

How To Launch A Startup In 1 Month

If you have read the Founder’s Table series , or the story of any of the startups we featured, you are probably challenging yourself to take steps toward a working on a problem you can solve or a side hustle to call your own startup. Yet, the idea of launching a startup might be frightening, especially without a guide or mentor. But it need not be.

This why the TechPoint team is partnering with Wole Ogunlade; a growth marketer for early stage startups who is also one of our contributors to launch a free email course; “How to launch a startup in 1 month”.

Over the course of 11 days, you will receive free lessons, delivered by email, from already successful experts and you will be joined by thousands of entrepreneurs like you on a mission to launch successful startups and online businesses.

This series is for anyone interested in someday running their own business. Even if you are considering doing this as a side project, you can find this course as a great starting point. You’ll learn how to transform an idea into an operating business. By participating, you will discover the important questions to ask and resources that will be there to help you when the time comes to launch your venture.
The free email course focuses on 3 things:

How To Generate Ideas That Become Meaningful MVP Product.
Strategies to get your product to your customers.
Turn your customer to more revenue and referral.
There are bonuses to be given away before the course ends. One is a free consultation with Dotun Olowoporoku of Starta and a User testing ticket to analyse how real people use your product and to identify problem areas in your user interface courtesy of Test Everything.

Registration ends on 19th June, 2016, you can secure you spot by signing up now .

If you know anyone who will benefit from this course, let them know about it. You can share with them with the options provided below.

This why the TechPoint team is partnering with Wole Ogunlade; a growth marketer for early stage startups who is also one of our contributors to launch a free email course; “How to launch a startup in 1 month”.

Over the course of 11 days, you will receive free lessons, delivered by email, from already successful experts and you will be joined by thousands of entrepreneurs like you on a mission to launch successful startups and online businesses.

This series is for anyone interested in someday running their own business. Even if you are considering doing this as a side project, you can find this course as a great starting point. You’ll learn how to transform an idea into an operating business. By participating, you will discover the important questions to ask and resources that will be there to help you when the time comes to launch your venture.
The free email course focuses on 3 things:

  • How To Generate Ideas That Become Meaningful MVP Product.
  • Strategies to get your product to your customers.
  • Turn your customer to more revenue and referral.

There are bonuses to be given away before the course ends. One is a free consultation with Dotun Olowoporoku of Starta and a User testing ticket to analyse how real people use your product and to identify problem areas in your user interface courtesy of Test Everything.

Registration ends on 19th June, 2016, you can secure you spot by signing up now .

If you know anyone who will benefit from this course, let them know about it. You can share with them with the options provided below.

Posted in Startup Story, Uncategorized

Pune-based startup Amura helps marketers maximise returns via digital marketing

Vikram Kotnis, a serial entrepreneur, introduced Ketan Sabnis, Vinayak Katkar, Pratik Rokade and Kiran Narasareddy, who were working for Fortune 500 companies, to entrepreneurship. Together, these College of Engineering, Pune, graduates founded digital marketing firm Amura Marketing Technologies in 2010. “With digital, we saw a huge opportunity and decided to craft solutions and services around digital marketing,” says Kotnis, Founder and Managing Director.

This Pune-based startup,  ..

Posted in Entrepreneur, Startup Story, Uncategorized

Venture Factory rolls out incubation programme for healthcare startups

Bangalore-based Venture Factory has launched an incubation and accelerator programme for healthcare startups. As part of this, the firm will fund up to five startups in the space by the end of this year.

Christened VF-Healthcare, the programme will incubate healthcare startups and make an initial investment in these. Venture Factory will also participate in the follow-on round when these startups demonstrate business viability and the ability to scale up operations.

“When startups that are incubated by us reach the next level through our selection process, we make a formal investment of $200,000-$500,000. As startups move on after that, we will also look to participate in their follow-on rounds. This will be in the range of $500,000-$2 million,” said Vinay Rao, venture partner, Venture Factory.

Venture Factory has also entered into strategic partnerships with online healthcare platform Practo, hospital chain Cloudnine and Plan India (the Indian chapter of non-government organisation Plan International which focuses on children) to build an ecosystem, which would provide its healthcare-focused startups access to doctors, healthcare professionals and patients as well as services across the healthcare spectrum ranging from on-ground touch points to cloud based services and products.

While digital-enabled healthcare startups are its focus, Venture Factory is open to offline players but only those which have some amount of technology play, said Rao.

Startup incubator Venture Factory is run by i2india Pvt. Ltd, which was founded in 2006 by IIT Kanpur and Wharton graduate Deepam Mishra with $10 million initial capital from a host of investors, including Imperial Innovations, a subsidiary of UK’s Imperial College for technology transfer, commercialisation and investment, UK-based entrepreneurs Chris Mathias and Tom Singh, former Ranbaxy CEO DS Brar and US-based Harbour Ventures, besides Tata Sons.

Established in 2012, Venture Factory saw its first batch of startups graduate last year.

While the first programme was open to startups from all sectors, going forward the focus will be on healthcare and infrastructure (mostly logistics) startups. The VF-Healthcare programme is also an initiative under this umbrella. The second batch of incubees are expected to be on-boarded soon and the screening process is currently under way.

“Given our expertise and the kind of startups we have worked with, we believe these two sectors show a huge scope for growth and disruption,” said Rao.

The firm makes investments in startups through i2india, which is also its external investment arm. Currently, i2india has six startups in its startup portfolio.

In June last year, it invested $500,000 (Rs 3.2 crore) into Bangalore-based Shippr Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs an online aggregator platform for intra-city logistics service providers .

In May last year, it invested $500,000 (Rs 3.35 crore) in parenting and child safety-focused portal ZenParent.in.

It has also backed i2play interactive, a startup that enhances gamified learning for children; GPS Renewables, a waste management solution startup; Tsepak, a tech startup that makes a geo-tracking and analytics product called Busybox; and CL Infotech, an IT education service provider in the higher education space.

Posted in Startup Story, Uncategorized

Startup Breaking Publishing World

When everything is getting digitized than why should publishing industry should lack behind. A recent survey by Nielsen India revealed that India’s book market, currently the sixth largest in the world at Rs 26,100 crore, is likely to touch Rs. 73,900 crore by 2020. The survey says that more than 70 per cent of the publishers in India have digitized their content to produce eBook versions thereby reaching the target customers through a digital medium.

Sensing the opportunity, Mahendra Sharma plans to cater this huge growing market by founding Matrubharti, a self-publishing platform and an app serving eBooks in Indian languages.

It’s first of its kind app from India that takes content directly from authors and publishing it as an eBook. It uses patent-pending low-cost technology for digital rights protected eBooks.

Breaking the barrier for new authors, Matrubharti has given an international platform to publish content to many new and aspiring writers in regional languages.

Money Rolling In

eBook publisher Matrubharti has recently raised a seed funding of Rs. 20 lakh from Viridian Capital. The seed funding amount will be used for investment in technology and expanding the team.

Incubated at the Espark-Viridian Accelerator Centre at GIFT City (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City), Matrubharti has more than 1,800 authors registered and have published 4,350 eBooks, so far.

Speaking on the seed funding and future of digital content, Sharma said, “Investment by Viridian Capital in our firm is a testimony that we have a business model which is likely to grow at a healthy rate. Matrubharti offers a digital platform to new and aspiring writers, which is our unique selling proposition among digital publishers.”

“We have a premium subscription model through which readers can download any number of eBooks during a particular period, which reduces the cost of purchasing an eBook for readers” Mr. Sharma added.

On Future Growth

Matrubharti publishes over 450 eBooks every month with 7.5 lakhs of eBooks downloaded so far. “Our growth rate is 20 per cent month on month and we expect a similar growth over the next one year, as we believe that penetration of smartphones would increase the sales of eBooks going forward,” said Sharma.

Published in six languages so far, Matrubharti plans to publish eBooks in 21 languages.

These platforms encourage authors to write more and spread word of knowledge among the masses.

Posted in Startup Story, Uncategorized

Clean Tech Startup Has Spark To Change The World

The Entrepreneurial ecosystem has witnessed a sudden surge in rising of clean tech startups to address the growing need to clean waste water.

According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. It is estimated that the demand for water will surpass the supply as early as 2025.

Indian startups are emerging to cater this global market. If we go by figures, the overall environmental technologies market in India including goods and services is almost $15 billion.

To cater this huge market, Thinkphi’s, a clean technology company has a long term goal to address a global market for environmental goods which is targeted to reach $1.9 trillion by 2020.  Startup creates sustainable engineered products that intelligently conserve water, energy and waste.

With the growth of urbanization and water scarcity in India, Thinkphi’s “UltaChaata” can become a much-needed solution for smart cities and businesses in India and Globally.

Founded in 2015 by Samit Choksi and Priya Vakil Choksi, Thinkphi mission is to build products that create a positive impact on the environment by using sustainable and renewable resources.

Within a short span since inception, Thinkphi has steadily built a team of engineers with a background in mechanical, computer science and industrial design who believe that simple ideas, inspired by nature, have the power to change the world.

Money Flowing In

The venture has raised an angel round of funding from serial entrepreneur Nimmagadda Prasad an early backer of successful companies such as; Matrix Laboratories, Maa TV, and Care Hospitals. Most recently he invested in Sachin Tendulkar’s ISL team Kerala Blasters.

The angel round of funding will be deployed primarily towards expanding operations, R&D team and starting of sales and distribution activities. With a mission of building a sustainable business the company plans to stay asset light and ensure focused effort and detail is spent on product design, material selection, and manufacturing process.

Commenting on the investment, the Co-founders said, “Thinkphi is an innovative company creating disruptive solutions to environmental problems. We are grateful to have investors who believed in our vision – we are confident that the investment in R&D and good product design will deliver positive results while building company value. We spend a great deal of time in our talent acquisition processes to build the right team who believe in our mission and can bring new ideas and skill sets”

All About UltaChaata

The company’s first product is almost like a smart tree called “UltaChaata”, an inverted canopy looking structure provides potable water by capturing rainwater during the monsoon and solar energy during the rest of the year.

Each unit has the capability to harvest and filter up to 100,000 liters during the rainy season. With a maximum solar capacity of 1.5KW the product also includes an intelligent lighting system which provides various levels of programmable lighting options and a mobile charge unit, thereby making it a completely self-sustaining installation for the outdoors.

Powered by a central operating system called the “phi-box”, the controls help the lighting run for 4 to 5 days on a single solar charge and can provide potable quality drinking water through its inbuilt filter.

The operating system also monitors, captures data, and allows users to communicate with a cluster of units over the cloud. The company has also filed multiple global patents on design and utility which smartly converges water harvesting and renewable energy, ideal for smart cities, industries or large campuses.

Future Plans

With the focus on innovation and R&D, Thinkphi hopes to launch future products around energy saving devices and consumer waste management. The company uses a unique interactive process of product development and enhancement which is closely tied to its proprietary sustainability wheel, staying closely to its goal to become Earth’s most sustainable company.

The company has made some early sales of its patented Rainwater and Solar harvesting product to key customers like Godrej Interio and Rustomjee.

Startups like these are the asset for nature as they are addressing the most curial environmental problems. We need more of such startups so that we can make our mother Earth healthier place to live.

Source : https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/277400