Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship’

By Marielle VokseppRingsThink of your relationship with a VC as a marriage

At last week’s Entrepreneurship 101 lecture on raising money, leading venture capitalists divulged the secrets of successfully pitching to an investor. The secret is in the relationship.

The panel discussion, led by Barry Gekiere, Managing Director of the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), featured high profile folks from the VC industry:

And what advice did these top investors have?

When preparing to approach an investor, speak to advisors and other entrepreneurs who have worked with them to find out as much as you can.  Still don’t know where to look for an investor? Read: How to identify an investor for your business.

It takes five minutes for an investor to decide if they are interested in you. Once you have chosen someone to approach with your pitch, make sure you have the right tools. (What tools, you ask? Read: Tools you need to raise money.)

Watch the rest of the lecture video on “Raising Money” to learn more from this Q&A session and hear it first-hand from leading venture capitalists.

Downloads and Resources:

Reposted from MaRS

Marielle works as part of the education team at MaRS. She helps entrepreneurs get access to business resources both online and in-person.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

By Mark Zimmerman

Lean start-up: Not a mantraOver the last couple of years the “Lean Startup” movement has taken the start-up world by storm.   It’s rare now for me to meet with a web or mobile client who isn’t at least using the jargon; they are all building a minimum viable product, “getting out of the building” and are prepared to pivot.

As I get to know these founders and their businesses better I find that some of them have missed what I think is the key insight of the model. A start-up is a series of experiments.  Or, as Eric Reis more elegantly put it, “The ultimate goal of a lean startup is to identify where its vision intersects with what reality can accommodate.”

These founders have built a prototype, they are showing it to potential customers and they are prepared to change the prototype based on customer feedback.  What they haven’t done is design an experiment that will yield “validated learning“.  In order to achieve that they need to borrow from the scientific method and break their business idea into a series of hypotheses and experiments to test them.

One effective way to do this is to use Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas (a variant of the Business Model Canvas) to document a business hypothesis and then design experiments to test the assumptions in each box.

Until a start-up has a documented model to test, “Lean Startup” is more mantra than method: A bunch of tactics instead of a strategy.  Don’t get me wrong, getting outside the building and talking to customers is a good use of time for most founders, most of the time.   Talking to customers to test a key business model assumption is a great use of time.

Mark advises entrepreneurs in the information technology, communications and entertainment practice at MaRS. He specializes in B2B enterprise software, SaaS business models as well as security and privacy.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By Joseph Wilson
startup americaWhat are we doing to help kids start businesses? 

I’m working from home, buried under a foot of snow, as two kids, maybe 13 years old, ring my doorbell.  With the schools closed, the pair decided to get up in the morning and make some money shovelling driveways. It’s noon and they’ve already made $100.

With images of the collapse of Egypt’s dictatorship streaming through our media 24 hours a day, it’s a reminder that the freedom to start your own business, to become a self-directed entrepreneur, is central to a functioning democracy.

Those kids are learning skills at least as valuable as what they might learn in a high-school business classroom. They are not only learning the basics of how to run a business (initiative, negotiations, first-mover advantage), but their experience making money could serve to increase their self-confidence and leave them with the “entrepreneurial itch.”

In contrast, Mubarak’s Egypt relies on a system where new business ideas are often crushed under the weight of bureaucracy and nepotism.  Furthermore, proper business education is reserved for the elite, with only 7.5% of Egyptians reporting ever having taken any type of entrepreneurship course.

In our current economic condition, it becomes imperative for developed countries to remember this fact and do whatever we can to encourage would-be entrepreneurs to start companies. This is not a plea to lower income taxes, or make it easier for giant corporations to expand their hold on our fragile economies, but to empower the most vulnerable in our society to explore their business ideas and create jobs and wealth in the process.

On February 1, the Obama administration announced the launch of Startup America, a massive partnership of private and public organizations devoted to “to help entrepreneurs finance and commercialize innovative ideas, start new businesses, and create jobs.”

Over 20 corporations, including tech giants Google, Intel, Facebook and HP, have contributed resources and money to allow organizations like the Kauffman Foundation increase the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship education.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is a new non-profit supported by Startup America that provides entrepreneurship education for at-risk youth in low-income communities. The effect of such education will go well beyond creating immediate jobs in neighbourhoods and keeping kids in school. If done right, these programs will instill in kids the skills and confidence needed to become life-long entrepreneurs and idea-chasers.

Here in Toronto, grass-roots entrepreneurship education is alive and well in our most vulnerable communities.  At the yearly pitch competition run by the Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada in November, the winner was Jam Johnson, Director of the Neighborhood Basketball Association (NBA). Johnson’s program, which is a “free or low-cost” basketball program for kids in the Kingston-Galloway neighbourhood, sought to raise money for the program by selling NBA-branded t-shirts.

What impressed the judges was not Johnson’s social mission, but his insistence that the kids themselves organize the design, marketing and finances on their own.  “My goal is to teach the kids to run a business, learning how to carry themselves on a professional level,” Johnson tells me.

Charlie’s Freewheels is a program devoted to teaching kids how to fix bikes and then sell them for a profit. Twenty-eight students from the Regent Park neighbourhood have been through the program, a number sure to increase as the organization opens its own student-run store on Queen Street East later this year.

Not only do these programs serve to empower kids in poor neighbourhoods, but they help the economy as well. More and more data is being collected to show that supporting entrepreneurship education is one of the best things a government can do in a recession.

A study released last summer by the Kauffman Foundation shows that start-up companies provide the vast majority of new jobs in a community. From a period spanning 1977 to 2005, the report found that, in aggregate, start-ups contributed 3 million new jobs to the American economy every year, while companies older than five years were net job destroyers, to the tune of 1 million jobs lost every year.

A recent report by the UK’s NESTA Foundation confirms this finding.  Their paper, “The Vital 6 Percent,” shows that half of all new jobs in the UK between 2002 and 2008 came from only 6% of the total companies registered in the UK. These 6% were almost exclusively high-tech, “high-growth” start-ups.  The big question is how to turn our current crop of high-school students into the CEOs of our next big start-up companies.

In Ontario, the quality of entrepreneurship teaching is dependent on the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Textbooks are aging, resources are scarce and computers are not nearly as ubiquitous in classrooms as the average person thinks. If we’re serious about addressing our current economic woes, and providing opportunities for our at-risk youth, we should consider investing in entrepreneurship education, framing it as a fundamental freedom in a democracy like ours.

Reposted from MaRS

JosephWilson is currently an education advisor at MaRS. He also writes on issues of technology and culture for NOW Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Spacing and Yonge Street. He is the Executive Director of the Treehouse Group, dedicated to fostering innovation by hosting cross-disciplinary events.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers pro vide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By Marielle Voksepp
Murray Hogarth, CEO of Pioneer PetroleumsMurray Hogarth, CEO of Pioneer Petroleums

“I was not born an entrepreneur, I learned to recognize opportunities to take advantage of and had the courage to act… the rest is history.” – Murray Hogarth

Looking for the main ingredients to becoming a successful entrepreneur?  Learn from those who have done it best.

According to Murray Hogarth, founder and former CEO of Pioneer Petroleums, leadership is the only force that can move ideas from concept to reality. Other driving forces that have lead to his success as a leader in the petroleum industry: always put the customer first, turn off the lights, work hard and save, save, save.  Murray attributes these early Depression-Era habits as becoming an important part of what he did intuitively later in life.

Taking advantage of an opportunity, Pioneer’s first independent venture was located just outside Hamilton city limits – this location allowed the station to stay open 24 hours a day and avoid the city’s early closing by-laws. This took place on November 29, 1956 and Pioneer has never been closed since. 54 yearrs after opening, Pioneer Petroleums has over 300 service stations and sales of almost $2 billion a year.  The business has also spread in other directions: amongst these are real estate, car washes, dry cleaning, Snack Express stores and even swimming pools.

Do you to think you can change the world? Read on to see if you have what it takes to be a leader…

Murray’s 8 secrets for success
1.    Succeed in what you can do
2.    Recognize an opportunity and act on it
3.    Communicate both good news and bad
4.    Accept reasonable risks
5.    Hire & keep only the best people
6.    Stand out from the crowd
7.    Run a flat, lean organization
8.    Instill a sense of urgency

His best piece of advice? On your business card there should be listed three things: founder, CEO and janitor.

Downloads & Resources:

Reposted from MaRS

Marielle works as part of the education team at MaRS. She helps entrepreneurs get access to business resources both online and in-person.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

By Av Utukuri

Canada has an amazing record in innovations that have changed the face of the world, from the more obvious and well known ones like insulin and the light bulb to everyday items like frozen food and the zipper. These days though, it is much more difficult for an idea to become successful. As you know then, I’ve talked in the past about Nytric’s sponsorship of the Great Canadian Innovation Competition, an attempt by Nytric to promote Canadian innovation and entrepreneurship. Now I would just like to mention a few of the ideas that have come out of the competition.

There has certainly been no shortage of ideas, some of them wacky to say the least, but mostly they have been thoughtful and innovative.

They include a simple device that clamps around the wheels of a standard wheelchair in an emergency situation, allowing for rapid evacuation down otherwise inaccessible stairs when the elevators are unusable; or an equally simple and self powered water purification system that is portable and uses the power of the sun.

Somewhat more complex, one competition winner was an improved system for the homogenization of laboratory samples. The device cuts down preparation time significantly, reduces the chance of contamination and helps the environment by reducing the amounts of chemicals needed in the preparation phase.

The most recent winner is a device which, once miniaturised fully, will allow for fast and inexpensive field analysis of various medical conditions, including HIV and Malaria, thereby making this type of testing more readily available to those who need it most, but can least afford it.

Past winners of the competition can be found at www.nytric.com

Av Utukuri is a graduate from University of Toronto’s Engineering Science program, specializing in Electrical Engineering.  For the past 12 years, he has researched, developed, and commercialized many products in diverse industries.  Av is presently the lead judge and lead sponsor (through Nytric) in Canadian Business Magazine’s Great Canadian Inventor competition.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »