Posts tagged with "startup"

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Georgia Tech Wins Entrepreneurship Competition

Georgia Tech Team Wins at Global College Entrepreneur Pitch Competition

Insight Optics, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, won third place at the Third Annual TiE University Global Pitch Competition held on May 15-16, 2021.

Representing TiE Atlanta, the Insight Optics team consists of Dr. Aaron Enten and TJ Lagrow. Their business venture delivers a mobile-adapted platform which enables primary care physicians to efficiently detect early signs of avoidable blindness before permanent damage is done. The team was mentored by Greg Cory, Neeti Dewan and Eric Ensor from TiE Atlanta.

The team received a $5,000 cash prize sponsored by the Naadam Foundation, and a $4,000 grant from the REAN Foundation. Insight Optics was “best in class” at the Startup Bootcamp hosted by TiE Silicon Valley in early May.

Insight Optics competed with 27 winning teams from across the globe including teams from TIE Chapters in seven countries across three continents. The teams were mentored by local TiE chapters and supported by global workshops, startup bootcamps and mock sessions. There were 526 startup teams with 1432 students that participated in local TiE chapter college competition rounds.

First prize went to TiE Toronto’s ALT TEX whose founders are from York University and the University of Toronto.  Their venture focuses on sustainable textiles engineered from food waste by tackling two serious issues — food waste and the high levels of pollution caused by the fashion industry.

The second prize winner was TiE Dallas’ SURVIVR whose founder is from the University of Texas at Dallas.  The company aims to make communities safer by providing immersive and humanized police training using virtual reality.

Chapter winners went through a semifinal round on May 15. The virtual event was viewed by over 500 audience members from around the world, and TiE Atlanta’s executive director, Amyn Sadruddin, was instrumental as the MC for a semifinals track.  Worldwide teams pitched diverse business ideas such as bio-toilets, career fulfillment tools for higher education, technology-enabled artificial limbs, and tech kits for 21st century education, among others.

The event also featured a fireside conversation between Prof. Jagdish Sheth from Emory University in Atlanta and Mr. Ronnie Screwvala of Mumbai. The co-founder and chairman of Upgrad, an online edtech startup, Mr. Screwvala inspired young entrepreneurs to take risks.  His book “Dream With Your Eyes Open” is a commitment to champion entrepreneurship and learn from failure.

This year, TiE University extended the concept of entrepreneurship to form a stronger ecosystem, even more strategically focused to dovetail multiple enablers, said Dr. Paul Lopez, Founder and Co-Chair of the TiE University Program. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, this year’s total cash prizes were $65,000, plus in-kind awards of over $600,000 to empower college entrepreneurs.

Eight university teams made it to the finals of the global pitch fest.  In addition to the top three winning teams, the other finalists were TiE Austin’s Clocr, a digital legacy management and emergency planning platform; TiE Chennai’s Kitab, a digital PDF-Reader that redefines the way technical literature and textbooks are consumed; TiE Dubai’s Small World that connects NGOs and high school students; TiE DC’s Early Intervention Systems that builds software and algorithms to enhance elder-care; and TiE New Jersey’s Sulis, a low-cost water sanitization device.

The keynote speaker on Finals Day was Sheel Tyle, Founder/CEO of venture capital global firm Amplo. Interviewed by TiE Coimbatore’s Pradeep Yuvaraj, Tyle has some advice for entrepreneurs, Whether you spend time doing something small or doing something big, it actually takes the same time. If you’re going to spend your precious time on something, do it where your time has the greatest impact on the world.

About the TIE University Program

TiE University, an initiative of TIE Global, aims to foster entrepreneurship among college students. University startup teams gain access to learning resources, mentorship by successful entrepreneurs and opportunities to participate in Hackathons, Startup Bootcamps, and Pitch Competitions. These interactions and experiences help startups take their business from a campus idea into a viable business.

About TiE Atlanta

TiE Atlanta is a top five chapter of TiE Global, a nonprofit consisting of 61 chapters in 14 countries, that generates prosperity through development of entrepreneurs in all stages by creating community and beneficial relationships to support them. TiE Atlanta develops entrepreneurs and startups through mentoring, education, investment, and networking. Learn more at their website.

Briefcase illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Highest-Valued Startups

Three Highest-Valued US Startups Now Worth $208 Billion Following Stripe’s $95 Billion Valuation

Following its most recent funding round, Stripe became the most valuable private company in Silicon Valley. According to the research data analyzed and published by ComprarAcciones, the digital payments giant raised $600 million at a $95 billion valuation. That was close to triple the $36 billion valuation it had in April 2020.

Based on rankings published by Pitchbook, it is now the most valuable private company in the US. It sits ahead of Space X ($74 billion) and Instacart ($39 billion).

Worldwide Unicorns Total 603 with Cumulative Valuation of Over $2 Trillion

The top three US-based private companies are now worth a cumulative $208 billion, up from $149 billion prior to the Stripe funding.

On a global scale, Stripe is now the second most valuable unicorn. It is second only to ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, whose valuation was $180 billion during a December 2020 funding round. Space X is third, while Chinese ride hailing giant Didi Chuxing is fourth at $69 billion. Instacart sits in fifth place.

Among US fintech companies, Stripe is the most valuable. It is almost 10 times the value of second-placed Robinhood, which is worth $11.7 billion.

Stripe is also more valuable than all euro zone banks with the exception of HSBC. HSBC, which is currently the largest European bank, has a market capitalization of $118 billion according to Marketwatch.

Additionally, Stripe’s valuation is higher than Facebook’s $80 billion valuation prior to its 2012 IPO. It is also ahead of Uber’s $72 billion valuation in 2018, prior to the 2019 public listing.

According to CB Insights, there were a total of 603 unicorns worldwide as of March 2021 valued at a collective $2.005 trillion.

In the public market, Saudi Aramco still holds the record for largest IPO of all time, which raised $29.4 billion. Snowflake holds the 2020 title after its $3.9 billion raise at a $33.2 billion valuation.

The full story, statistics and information can be found here.

Computer illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

VC Pitch Deck Advice

­­14 words to take out of your VC pitch deck

By: May Habib

170 seconds. Weeks or even months of working on your pitch deck could come down to the 170 seconds (on average) that investors spend looking at your deck. “Investors see a lot of pitches. In a single year, the classic general partner in a venture firm is exposed to around 5,000 pitches…and ends up doing between zero and two deals,” writes VC and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

With all that pressure to make an impact quickly, founders spend an incredible amount of time on the design of their slides. Less consideration, however, is usually spent on the words on the slide. That’s a mistake, especially when you only have 170 seconds. When not used intentionally, the words in your deck can be distracting or downright off-putting. We used what we know about language and healthy communication from the millions of documents we’ve processed at Writer to come up with 14 words and phrases to remove from your VC pitch deck:

Negative Association

Runway”

  • Pitching VCs is a balancing act: you want to position your idea in the best light, but also show that you’ve thought things through. However, volunteering for certain types of information can have the opposite effect. Don’t write: I’m seeking $X in funding to provide Y months of runway. You certainly need to show how you’re going to use the funding you’re asking for, but you don’t want to frame things in terms of runway in a pitch deck. The word is associated with a looming cash-out date, which can put an investor in a negative state of mind.

Exit strategy”

  • Don’t write: Our exit strategy is…Yes, thinking through your business means knowing how you’ll handle worst-case and best-case scenarios. But putting exit strategy in your deck can only get investors thinking about the inherent risks. You want them focused on the opportunity. You need to know what to say when the topic comes up — just don’t volunteer the information on a slide.

Cliches

Just one percent”

  • A pitch deck is a tool to show VCs why your idea merits an investment. Using cliches can work against that goal. Don’t write: If we could capture X% of the market… It’s not only a cliche but also wishful thinking rather than a plan. Keep the text on your slides grounded in relevant facts and figures. Other cliches to cut include: the Amazon of X, imagine a future, and moving Y to the blockchain.

 Absolutes

Everyone”, “always”, “never”, “no one”

  • A great pitch requires nuance. Using absolutes to talk about your idea fails on that count. And, if you look closer, chances are there will be exceptions to the absolute that’s being set up. When discussing your TAM, target customer, or product value, your words need to reflect a thoughtful and measured approach. Using absolutes, such as everyone likes X falls short of that goal and casts doubts about the validity of your plan.

 Imprecise Language

Unique”

  • Precise communication makes it easier to bet that a business has the potential to succeed. But imprecise language is one of the top no-no’s we see in pitch decks. Take the word It may seem like an ideal word to show differentiation, but it’s imprecise as to the nature of the uniqueness. Just describe the uniqueness directly, or better yet, the plan to execute on the uniqueness. Ideas are important — but the plan is what gets companies funded.

“Intend”

  • Good intentions aren’t the same as a plan. Using the word intend in your pitch deck makes the discussion conceptual and somewhat nebulous. An intention is easier to reject than a plan backed up by compelling storytelling.

No competition”

  • Don’t write no competition anywhere in your deck. Like, anywhere. At best, it will be seen as an exaggeration: if there isn’t direct competition, there may be indirect competition to consider. And, at worst, it could make investors think that you haven’t fully explored the market, meaning your entire premise could be flawed.

“Good”

  • Investors don’t want good ideas; they want the best Using the word good to describe any part of your plan (for example, good growth) lacks specificity and lowers your pitch’s believability.

Qualifiers a.k.a Intensifiers

“Very”, “so”, “quite”

  • Brevity is key when you’re working with a visual format, like a pitch deck. Qualifiers not only clutter your slides with unnecessary text, but they’re also less precise. Don’t write: very, so, and quite. Ask yourself one question: What does very fast growth look like? Your answer would likely be different than someone else’s. Instead, you might say the growth of X% a year so there isn’t confusion. Again, you want to be as precise and fact-based as possible.

Other things to keep in mind:

Readability

  • In an analysis of successful decks, we found an average readability level of Grade 10 or 11. For unsuccessful decks, that number was higher — Grade 12 or college. Never use jargon, keep your sentences simple, and include a maximum of 1-2 sentences per paragraph. To analyze your own deck’s language, try out Writer’s readability

Humor: Just don’t

  • Cracking a joke on a slide can easily backfire. The last thing you want is to have a failed joke make your pitch awkward or throw you off. That could derail the entire process. So, it’s best to skip the deck humor and get to what really matters: your plan.
Back to College by Mina Tocalini

Tips to Keep Finances High as a Startup Owner

One of the primary challenges of running a brand new business is trying to keep finances as high as possible, while also taking risks to ensure that the business remains relevant in a competitive industry. To a startup, just about every decision made is a potential risk, as there are plenty of ways for things to go wrong. Thankfully, the potential reward is often high enough that the risks tend to even out as time goes on.

That said, a startup needs a steady stream of finances to keep going — though not every inexperienced startup owner is prepared to keep a stern eye on their finances. In such cases, preparation is the name of the game. Here are some top tips to help keep finances as high as possible as a startup owner.

On the topic of covering your bases

They often say that to make money, the first order of business would be to understand how to spend money. There are few things that encapsulate such a saying more than the use of insurance options for the company. No matter the chosen industry, it is crucial that you have a firm understanding of the insurance you need for your business.

For example, as a realtor, it is all about matching clients up with the perfect home. But, it can be extremely challenging to accomplish that without the necessary real estate agent insurance, found at Next. Small businesses have to take note, as there are specific types of small business policies that can help startups keep a solid level of coverage, without losing too much money.

The benefits of hiring an experienced accountant

Those looking to manage their finances as tightly as possible would do well to hire a professional such as an accountant, as startup management can often mean a mountain of paperwork for the unprepared. That being said, the idea of hiring an experienced accountant is not just to keep the paperwork and finances in order — it is also about understanding which moves to make next as a company.

Not only do experienced accountants have years of practice under their belts, but they can also provide valuable advice based on their wealth of business knowledge. It always pays to utilize experienced professionals to fill the gaps.

Maintain consistency with social media

To obtain a steady stream of revenue as a startup, one of the best ways to get the job done would be to show prospective clients and supporters that the company is worth supporting. For example, maintaining an active account on social media shows online users that the company is always willing to interact with their audience. Even if the services might not be quite there yet, a company that remains consistent in its desire to make improvements based on feedback is often what wins the day.

While keeping finances out of the red while simultaneously taking risks as a startup can be a challenging tightrope to balance on, it doesn’t have to be a miserable process. Making use of the best practice methods above is enough to guarantee a solid foundation.

Vice President of VEVA Sound, Casey Taylor, feature for 360 Magazine

VEVA Sound × Music Collaboration

Why it’s more important than ever that musicians get credit for their work

By Casey Taylor Vice President of VEVA Sound

If you have the hobby of collecting records, then you’ve probably spent time perusing album liners; you’ve learned all about who played drums on or who produced each track on an album. There was a time when even non-audiophiles would appreciate the collective talent which brought a piece to fruition.

The most valuable asset any person in the entertainment industry can have is a platform. As with everything, the more things change the more they stay the same. Now, everyone has the ability to promote their work on social channels. Fans follow producers, musicians, or engineers on social platforms and have the opportunity to be exposed to their work on projects outside of the mainstream.

But what happens when someone hears a new song in a playlist and wants to know more about it? Streaming platforms are rolling out features which allow listeners to view complete creator credits. This is important because someone might find that a certain producer made music with other artists they would enjoy. And as the producer, he/she/they may bring more value to a production as more and more people follow their work.

In order to have your credits included wherever music is distributed, it’s important to understand how credits are collected. The best way to ensure that your credits are accurate, is to collect them as the music is being created – to keep accurate records of everyone who worked on a project. That’s why we developed VEVA Collect – to empower creators to Collect While You Create™.

Of course, the added benefit to accurate credits is that they are the only way to get paid for your work on any song or recording. But what about the work that you do on projects that may not experience large-scale commercial success? It’s equally important. The bottom line: no matter what work you do, you should make sure you get credit for your work.

As the technological landscape changes, the way that people find music is going to transform as well. It’s hard to remember the time before streaming platform recommendations when you had to listen to terrestrial radio or buy compilation albums (any of my 90s friends remember NOW That’s What I Call Music!?). Coming soon are the days when we will be able to say “Hey Siri, play every song where Shelly Fairchild sang background,” or “Alexa, play every song Reid Shippen has mixed.”

Every evolution in the way music is consumed is driven by data. As important as your follower count and engagement numbers, make sure you’re listed in the credits, so that the community can continue to find you in new ways.

About Casey Taylor

Casey Taylor is Vice President at VEVA Sound. Leading teams in London, New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles, Casey has productized validation, verification, and archival services to expand VEVA Sound’s reach into live recordings, legacy collections, and back-catalogs. His initiatives have contributed to future-proofing the work of artists from Johnny Cash to Jason Isbell; Garth Brooks to Taylor Swift. For nearly 20 years, since his first job as a PA on a local television show, Casey has worked in all facets of the industry spanning multiple disciplines. He has seen firsthand the importance of creatives getting credit for their work: whether it’s a fiddle player on a regionally known album, or an artist on the Billboard Hot 100. Casey is a member of the Music Business Association and a contributor to the MusicBiz Metadata Summit. He also leads the Advisory Committee for VEVA Collect, VEVA Sound’s newest cloud-based platform for music creators everywhere.

Virgin Pulse, Health, 360 Magazine,

Tech Companies To Watch Out For In The Next Year

By now we should all be familiar with the pace of technology, one of the last great frontiers for the entrepreneur. Even though it doesn’t occur to us in the moment, new innovations continue to shape our world from year to year.

Compare the year 2020 to the turn of the century. In the first two decades of the 21st century, we’ve gotten used to social media, 3D printing, blockchains, eBooks, CRISPR gene editing, online streaming video and the wide-scale adoption of mobile phones. Likewise, we started the new millennium not knowing the names of Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Uber, AirBnB or Twitter.

What do the coming years bring? Our best economic and technological forecasters have picked a few rising stars in tech innovation who just might sculpt the next horizon in industry.

StartApp

We’ve all heard of marketing companies collecting data on mobile users to use as research on user behavior, but StartApp simply has more data than anybody else. Tapping a billion active mobile users every month across 350K apps, StartApp anonymously logs this user data and then packages it for sale to companies to help them make better decisions about development, user interface design, and marketing. Having grown from $200K to $37 million in revenue, StartApp is poised to be the Amazon of customer service information.

Nauto

While we were all anticipating the advent of driverless cars, still a hazy future promise, it occurred to our AI scientists that the experience of driving just isn’t documented enough to teach it to a robot. Nauto is one company helping to fix that, by building an autonomous driving data platform. Using cameras both exterior and interior, Nauto systems track both the road conditions and obstacles and the driver’s reactions, showing us what we respond to and how fast. It’s also aimed at reducing driver distraction and fatigue. With over $1 million in investor funding raised so far, the company aims first to enable better driver-assistance technology, before aiming at removing the need for a driver completely.

Evisort

Evisort is simple to explain: It’s “Google for contracts.” Except, rather than just automating text search, it’s an expert system trained for the legal profession, allowing it to parse out key dates, names, provisions, limitations, dollar amounts and legal clauses. This turns out to be a huge part of the day for anybody working in the legal profession, where the average lawyer might handle dozens of contracts numbering 30 pages or more per week. Human contract review is costly, time-consuming, and prone to errors, so an automated AI for contract management is something every legal worker wants. Evisort has raised over $5 million in investor funding and been praised in both Forbes and Harvard Law Review.

CloudBeds

The hospitality industry has been late to the party of industries changed by technology, but its turn has come. CloudBeds is a smart business management software for hotels, with an end-to-end platform that handles the unique challenges of property management and booking together with business management. The result is that hotels run better and make more money. Hotels, being a future-proof industry that online commerce can’t replace, are going to be around for a long time, and CloudBeds raising $20 million in investor funding shows that they’re going to be offering something every hotel wants.

SnapChat

The most senior member on this list, SnapChat has been in business for most of the 2010s, but it’s the social network platform with the brightest future. Just as Facebook took the crown from MySpace, everyone’s been counting the days until Facebook finds itself left behind by the next generation of web users. But which social network will it be? With a user base approaching 210 million people across 22 languages, SnapChat is a social network geared for the mobile platform and more favored by younger generations.

Conclusions…

Much of the technology in recent years is driven by the advent of large data and deep learning methods in artificial intelligence. There are many more industries that can be innovated to the same degree that the above list has been – aspiring entrepreneurs take note!

Three Things To Consider When Setting Up Your Wellness Business

The wellness industry is currently booming: more and more people are forgoing traditional medicine for holistic therapies, natural remedies and a more planet-friendly lifestyle – so there’s never been a better time to set up your own health-based business. Like all businesses though, there’s plenty to consider before you take the plunge and announce yourself open for trading – we’ve come up with three of the most important things to think about, so if you’re thinking about anything from teaching yoga, to writing self-help courses, read on!

Consider Your Speciality

The first thing to do is decide on your area of expertise; if you’ve studied for a specific career path such as aromatherapy or herbalism, you’re already set – but if you’re thinking of writing courses or e-books, or hosting workshops, then you’re going to need to know your subject inside out. If you’re interested in a variety of wellness topics, consider which one you find most interesting – and think about what you can offer people; they’ll be expecting knowledge and guidance that they can’t find anywhere else on the internet.

It’s also worth noting that you legally can’t provide medical advice or practice any form of therapy unless you have a formal license to do so – so reading books might not be enough of a background!

Decide On Your Premises

For any business, you’re going to need to think about where you’re going to be trading from; if you’re writing courses or blog posts, all you’ll need is a laptop and a desk – but if you’re going to host workshops, offer physical treatment sessions or manufacture your own products, you’re going to need more space. A spare room is a great place to start, but if you’re already at maximum capacity with family members, then why not consider adding a large shed or summer house in the garden?

Once equipped with light and power, they can be just as comfortable as professional premises – and the bonus is that you won’t have to travel far for work! You could also look into pop-up or co-working spaces – these are provided with a shorter term lease, so they’re ideal if you’re just starting out and testing the water.

Look Into Expenses

Although it’s easy to focus on the profit margins, any business comes with a long list of expenses – so it’s important to sit down and calculate these before you commit to anything. The best way to do this is to research everything from materials and equipment to postal costs, internet fees and lease prices – make a note of everything and then look at forecasting your potential income to provide an accurate estimate for profits.

Even if you’re going to be working from home, it’s worth looking into business accounts for your energy supply, and getting some business electricity quotes – this could save you a lot of money in the long run. You should also look into what you can deduct as taxable expenses, as there might be some things on the list that surprise you (and there might be some things you’re expecting to see that don’t appear!) – so it’s definitely something to take some time over.

My Wine Society

My Wine Society is a global wine app that provides a community for wine enthusiasts to interact, share, and get rewards. The ground-breaking wine app is run by a team of inspiring, passionate, and driven leaders.

This March, My Wine Society would like to recognize their dedicated and hard-working women entrepreneurs who help keep the company alive. Kristin Whitaker, Lynne Gerde, Brianna Lamb are just a few of the amazing women who help run the robust wine app.

“The most inspiring part of being on the MWS team is that we are exploring uncharted territory in the wine and tech space and we are writing the map as we make discoveries along the way.” – Lynne

Lamb is MWS’ Director of Community Management. MWS is a global wine community and it is her team’s responsibility to nurture the current community and to continually expand upon it. Lamb works side by side with our CEO Sean Evens to ensure that every wine enthusiast is getting the ultimate experience. This is Lamb’s first time working at a start up global app, but she has taken the challenge to help create the groundbreaking community for wine lovers.

“I have never been involved in a startup company before or been daring enough to be an ‘entrepreneur’ so for me this is an exciting thing because of the inherent risk we are all taking.” -Bri

Whitaker’s role is the Channels Coordinator. Channels is a feature on the app meant to serve as entertainment for end users by way of brief, fun articles. Whitaker works hard to find unique articles and news for app users to read about wine. Whitaker is driven to make MWS like no other app before. Her goal is to set an example to all women around the world.

“Over the years and across industries, I have learned that directing is easy, but leading is a whole different ball game.” – Kristin

Gerde, the Creative Director, works with her team to gain brand awareness and credibility for MWS in the public eye. She leads the creative side of MWS, including videos, PR and socials. Gerde helps her team through whatever bump in the road that may come, and handles it with confidence. Gerde loves to explore uncharted territory in the wine and tech world. She believes that technology connects us in ways that were once unimaginable, but leading through change while staying connected to your people is the challenge.

“When I put my head on the pillow each night I think about 3 things; what did I learn, who did I impact, and how can I be better? It’s this level of awareness and humility that shapes and guides the women of tomorrow.”

My Wine Society is lead by an inspiring group of women that are passionate about the wine community. These women are full of amazing ideas and are excited to bring these along to the team to create new and exciting projects to wine lovers across the world.

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