Are Daily Deal Sites a Good Idea for Your Business

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Daily deal sites are gaining more and more traction with savvy customers looking for the most bang for their buck. With millions of consumers using sites like Groupon and Living Social, many businesses are taking the plunge into the deal-a-day world. While there are many advantages to this marketing tactic, a poorly planned discount can have adverse effects on your business. Take a look at the inherent benefits and disadvantages using a daily deal site can have for your business and determine whether or not this strategy works for your individual aims.  

The Benefits

If used correctly, partnering with a daily deal site could mean huge profits for your company, as the advantages can be manipulated to further a company’s inventory movement, customer base, and demographic utilization.

Inventory Movement

If you have slow-moving items or unutilized services, offering them at a discounted price on daily deal sites can see a surge in profits. If your aim is to move product in this way, offer your product on daily deal sites only occasionally for specific reasons. This is especially true for a low-cost or fixed cost expenditure business, as you’ll gain income without putting out more money.

Expanded Customer Base

Groupon enables companies to expand their customer base and direct traffic to their business websites. Take Shari’s Berries, for example. This fruit and dessert company offers their product on Groupon with savings of up to 50 percent—an enticing bargain. About 80 percent of the daily deal clientele are first-time customers, meaning the company will see a higher amount of traffic on berries.com as these new consumers seek to cash in their deal purchases.

Different Demographics

By and large, the daily deal demographics include younger, smarter purchasers. Sixty-eight percent of Groupon users are between the ages of 18 and 34, largely female, and almost 80 percent have a bachelor’s degree. Understanding the faces and wants behind the Groupon interface (and other similar daily deal sites) means better chances of capturing your target audience. If you are seeking to get your product and company name into the hands and minds of younger consumers, then a daily deal site could be the answer.

Bolstering Email Campaigns

Sites like these can help your company bolster email campaign efforts. CanvasPop was able to further their specified business aims through Groupon sales. The photo-to-canvas conversion company chose to capitalize on email captures during their time spent on the deal site. In order to redeem the voucher, customers were required to input their email, an ingenious way to quickly grab consumer information. These recorded email addresses could later be used for designated email campaigns to further encourage customer retention.

The Drawbacks

Choosing to offer your product on a daily deal site isn’t without its risks. Using a website like Groupon or Living Social can have negative consequences on your business aims.

Brand Reputation

If you do choose to offer your product at a discount on one of these sites, you’ll need to be sparing with your promotional efforts and the frequency at which you offer these lowered prices. Price promotions can inadvertently hurt your brand name and identity by associating your products and services with cheap offerings. It can also make these customers price sensitive, leaving them less inclined to pay full price for your other products.

Not Necessarily Profitable

Depending on the site you use, you’ll see a portion of your profits disappear. Groupon keeps 50 percent of the earnings from each deal, meaning you will have to gross margins in excess of 50 percent to make the promotion lucrative.

Low Conversion Rates

Groupon isn’t known for its conversion rates, and many customers that try your product might not be so inclined to return, whether because it was a one-time item purchase they don’t need again, or based on the fact that they refuse to buy your product full price without a coupon. Only an estimated 19 percent of voucher redeemers become repeat visitors.

Devaluing Existing Loyalty

If you are a small business and have built your business upon a foundation of personal relationships with loyal customers, then a Groupon could do you a disservice. When offering a discounted rate to new consumers, you’re devaluing the loyalty that has made you successful in the past.

5 Cities Where Start Ups Are Thriving

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Start ups aren’t just thriving in New York and San Francisco.  There’s other lesser talked about cities where businesses are doing great.  In these cities you’ll find:

  • Great transport links.
  • Plenty of local customers and suppliers.
  • Thriving technology hubs.
  • And a lot of skilled employees.

So let’s talk through some of these now.   You may even find you completely change your mind about where to start your business!

Salt Lake City

With a population of just over a million, low unemployment, and a very good percentage of graduates, Salt Lake City is thriving.  Particularly for tech businesses.

The average home price is quite reasonable too, and the average income is slightly above the national average.

One important aspect of this city is there’s a lot of investors in the area. In fact, over a billion dollars in venture capital was invested into businesses, in 2014 alone.

Baltimore

Baltimore has a population of just under three million.  And with a high average income, and a surprisingly low average home price, consider Baltimore for your next business.

In fact, the area has quietly become a bit of a hub for education businesses.  Or more precisely – for education technology businesses.  Also known as “Ed-Tech”.

Nashville, Tennessee

There’s a population of one and half million and a low average home price here.  So why not consider Nashville for your next business?

Okay, traditionally the city is famous for its musical roots.  And that influence continues to this day.  The city has in fact become somewhat of a phenomenon in the media industry.  Visit the area and you may be surprised to see a new media or creative business launching each day!

And in Nashville, and all the other cities listed, office space can be found inexpensively, if you look.  Consider shared or temporary offices like Level Office to get a great working environment quickly.

Sacramento, California

This city has a population of just over two million, a reasonably high home price, and an average household income.  Unemployment however is surprisingly high (compared to some cities listed here) at 6%.

First of all, it’s worth noting that this area is very much farming focused.  It used to be jokingly known as Cow Town for decades (for obvious reasons).  And that focus on agriculture remains.

In particular (even with California’s recent drought) there is a focus on growing almonds.  They require a huge amount of water to grow, but they generate a very high revenue per acre compared to many other crops.

So food and agriculture businesses are a natural fit here.  But that said, there’s also some high tech start ups growing in the area.  Especially technology startups focused on the agricultural market.

Los Angeles

The City of Angels isn’t just about Hollywood (even though every waiter is of course an undiscovered star).  With a huge population of 13 million, and a high proportion of graduates, this city has many other thriving industries.

One in particular is apparel.  And surprisingly, when it comes to fashion, LA is even beating New York.  One reason for this is when compared to the Big Apple, businesses can rent more space for far less money.

In fact, more than a third of US apparel and textile jobs are in LA.  Plus, it even has its own fashion district with factories and wholesalers galore.

Former VP Speaks at Southland, Comments on Edward Snowden

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This morning the Southland Conference in Nashville, TN kicked off with a bang. Former Vice President Al Gore joined Pando CEO Sarah Lacey on stage, starting the morning right with local Belle Meade bourbon.

Lacey opened the interview with what I assume is Al Gore’s favorite question:

“So, did you invent the Internet?”

It didn’t take too long, though, to start talking politics. When asked about the NSA, the former Vice President got fired up.

“You don’t find a needle in a haystack by bringin’ in more hay!” he said, moving to the end of seat to emphasize his point.

He also pointed out that as scary as government surveillance is, corporate surveillance is even scarier. He called out Google in particular, which is interesting considering his position as a senior adviser to the search giant.

“What about Edward Snowden?” Lacey asked. “Hero or traitor?”

After a little hemming and hawing about it not being that binary, the former politician finally said it:

“On the spectrum of traitor to hero, I would put him more on the hero side.”

He went on to talk about how Snowden broke laws to reveal what he did, but the actions he exposed were so much worse that they justified the civil disobedience.

There’s a ton more to come at Southland. Follow us on Twitter to keep up with all goings on in Nashville.

 

Southland Takes Fireside Chats to A Whole New Level (+ Promo for Nibletz Readers)

Southland Logo (1)The second annual Southland Conference kicks off in less than a month, June 9, in Nashville.

We reported in October that Sarah Lacy and PandoDaily were teaming up with LaunchTN to produce this installment of Southland. After a trip to Nashville for last year’s conference, Lacy was positive Pando needed to be involved with Southland going forward.

“I’ve always known that designing the next three day tech conference would inevitably be a big part of our business,” she said in a post announcing the partnership.

The schedule looks mostly like an interviewing bonanza for Lacy. The “speakers” will all sit down for onstage interviews with the PandoMedia CEO, a format she’s perfected during the PandoMonthly series.

Attendees to Southland will get to hear insights from folks like

  • Al Gore–former Vice President of the US and native Tennessean
  • Christy Turlington Burns–supermodel & founder of Every Mother Counts
  • Aaron Levie–CEO of Box
  • Phil Libin–CEO of Evernote
  • Andy Dunn–CEO of Bonobos
  • Bill Lerer–Managing Director of Lerer Ventures & CEO of Thrillist

As a nod to the South, the CEO of Acumen Brands John James will talk with Lacy about how to build an ecommerce powerhouse in Arkansas (when most of the competition comes from New York and the Bay Area.)

Lacy is well known for not babying executives too much and asking tough questions on stage. Like when she recently asked Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, “How much of a fuck-up was losing Instagram to Facebook?

You can imagine the questions for Al Gore. Perhaps something along the lines of green energy investments and Kleiner Perkins?

Southland isn’t only about Sarah Lacy grilling top tech talent, though. Each day will also include “Salon Sessions,” smaller gatherings that allow attendees to ask questions of the speakers.

And, of course, the Southern flair that made Southland a great event last year: whiskey tastings, Southland Village, a makers’ area, and nightly concerts from artists like J Roddy Walston and the Business.

Nick and I will be in Nashville for the big event, and LaunchTN and PandoMedia are offering Nibletz readers a deep discount on tickets to the conference. You can get your tickets at the Southland website and use the promo code SL-NIBLETZ to knock $1000 off the price.

Are We Seeing The Second Big Tech Bubble?

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There has been a slew of media attention in the last few years  on the question of whether or not we’re seeing the next tech bubble.

In the last 6 months, experts are weighing in with everything from data to personal anecdotes. Here’s what some of them are saying:

Ready to Pop

Data firm CB Insights insists that we are not in a bubble.

And yet, they’ve published 10 charts that prove otherwise.

Last month hedge fund manager David Einhorn stated in a letter to his investors that “there is a clear consensus that we are witnessing our second tech bubble in 15 years.”

Then, last week Fortune editor Adam Lashinsky compared the current atmosphere to 1999–and definitely saw the connection. His evidence doesn’t come from IPO valuations or amount of VC doled out in Q1. Nope, he points to things like social invitations to showcase the potential for a bubble. Maybe not the most scientific, but still an interesting way to look at it.

I can also gauge the tech bubble by the flow of dinner, drinks, and other social invitations in my inbox…

This isn’t new, either. During the last bubble — when I was younger and had fewer responsibilities outside of work — I pretty much stopped going to tech-related dinners because they were all the same. The stories were the same. The people were the same. The restaurants? The same.

After the bubble popped, the invitations slowed down dramatically. It was a relief.

Bubble? What Bubble?

For every pundit that cries “bubble!” at least one other insists we aren’t seeing one–yet anyway.

Over at Quartz there are still more charts, these pointing out why we shouldn’t worry just yet.

Back in January, Marc Andreesen told the Wall Street Journal that people who were calling the current climate a bubble “didn’t know what they were talking about.”

In my opinion, there’s nothing broad-based that’s happening. There’s no bubble, per se. Bubbles are a very specific phenomenon where you’ve got mass psychology and you’ve got every mom and pop investor and every cabdriver and every shoe-shine boy buying stock in whatever it is—going all the way back to the South Sea Bubble all the way through to the dot-com bubble.

There’s nothing like that. We’re talking about a fairly small number of companies. And then, we’re talking almost entirely on the private side. It hasn’t really affected the public market that much.

Just a Little Frothy

And then there are the folks who want to play it safe.

Analytics firm Mattermark recently published a post looking at the IPO trends and comparing them with the 90s. Their take on a bubble?

  • Pubic markets–No
  • Private Equity & Late Stage VC–Possibly
  • Venture Capital–No
  • Angel Investors & Seed Funds–Possibly

Also in January, Bill Gurley cautioned that while we might be in a bubble, we shouldn’t get too concerned just yet.

Even though things were frothy enough that the head of the federal reserve felt the need to talk down the market, the top was in fact many, many years away. And the venture capital firms that pulled back in 1996 missed the best three years of return in the history of venture capital industry. All of which makes predicting market tops a delicately tricky business.

How to Survive Bursting Bubbles

The other big question to ask is, “If there is a bubble, how do I survive it?”

Because companies do survive bubbles. Google and Amazon both pulled through the last one, and whenever the cycle goes down again, there will be companies that emerge strong.

How can yours be one of them?

  1. Secure profits–Companies that survive bubbles are the ones with the most cash reserves. This is good news for startups everywhere else, because companies outside Silicon Valley are used to maximizing for profit.
  2. Solve real problems–In a brilliant piece, Om Malik stated it simply: “Avoid the spectacle of technology and instead focus on technology and science solving real problems.”
  3. Focus–If you’re solving real problems and seeking out revenues, you stand a good chance of surviving a down cycle. The other key ingredient is to focus on your core values, but be willing to adapt to the times and data. Amazon, Ebay, and Netflix all survived crashes by insisting on solving their customers’ core problems.

Missed Everywhere Else Tennessee? Check Out Some Highlights

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There’s nothing quite as exhausting as a conference. Adrenaline, people, music, advice…everything goes by in a blur and suddenly it’s over. It can kinda leave you wondering what exactly happened.

(Psst: it’s that way for the organizers, times a million.)

Everywhere Else Tennessee is in the books, and it was a great one. Nick and I want to thank all of our sponsors, speakers, startups, volunteers, and attendees. You all made it an awesome show, and the two of us were really just along for the ride.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, you missed an awesome conference. From the opening party through the closing happy hour, the speakers kept dishing great advice on starting up everywhere else.

Little tidbits like:

It turns out size doesn’t matter. (Who knew?!)

Joel Andren’s talk on startup PR had every reporter nodding along. We want to talk to founders, y’all!

Jim McKelvey lied to the audience (repeatedly), and Paul Singh suggested we stop calling ourselves “startups.” And while we’re at it, we’ve got to figure out how to communicate our worth to people, because for every tech job created come 4.6 jobs in other industries. That’s powerful job growth.

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Techstars Patriot Boot Camp hosted a panel consisting of 4 veterans, all who founded companies after they came home.

“Veterans are generally overeducated and underemployed,” Taylor McLemore, founder of the Patriot Boot Camp, told the crowd.

Nicole Glaros popped onstage with a beer, after a long flight in from Boulder.

“It’s 5:00 somewhere, right,” she quipped to the crowd.

Glaros then spent 40 minutes giving 12 practical tips on starting up.

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A common theme throughout the show was handling failure. We all have failures big and small that are paving our way to success, and the #EETN speakers were no different. But, turning your failure into your strategy can help you push through anyway.

Nait Jones and Chris Lyons finished things off with a great fireside chat on the realities of starting up and the trends they’re both seeing in startup world.

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Throughout the conference, our 10 startups in the Startup Avenue competed for votes from the attendees. The top 3 presented onstage to the crowd and a panel of 3 judges.

Wannado, Wedding Worthy, and Overdog all pitched their startups, giving impressive stats, plans, and growth.

In the end, Nashville-based Overdog walked away as the Heavyweight Champion of Everywhere Else.

Oh, but there was so much more! You can catch some of the talks over on Ustream, and Ryan Hoover has an awesome podcast with fellow speakers Josh Miller and Ben Yoskovitz you should definitely check out.

Join Us for The Everywhere Else Tennessee Opening Party!

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We’re Beale Street Bar Hoppin’ tonight, starting at Silky O’Sullivan’s at 8PM. Then we’re hitting a few more Beale Street hot spots before the night’s over. Find out more here.

The Bar Hop is open to the public, no badge required. But, if you still want to join us for the whole conference, we’ve released just a few more tickets. Register now and don’t miss out on our awesome lineup of speakers and 2 more killer parties.

According to New Data, Women Make Up The Highest Number of “Mobile Addicts”

Flurry, a mobile metrics and advertising network, has released some very interesting data about the mobile landscape.

The rapid adoption of smartphones has correlated to a lot of predictions about human behavior, but Flurry has been able to tell a story based on data about what is really going on worldwide.

Flurry noticed that  “mobile addicts” have increased and, the segment growing the fasts is very interesting. A “mobile addict” is classified as a smartphone user that checks apps 60 times or more a day, a group that has grown by 123% from 2012 from 79 million to 176 million.

 

Simon Khalaf, CEO of Flurry, during his keynote at Source14 stated this makes the smartphone a ‘wearable’ in regards to the phone being with us all the time like a wallet or watch.

The interesting thing is that Flurry also realized that females make up more of the mobile addicts” than males. Female and male users aged 18-24 and 35-54 have the highest concentration of “mobile addicts”.

There are plenty of more interesting statistics offered in the slides available here:

http://www.slideshare.net/FlurryMobile/source14-the-age-of

TL;DR: Things that I personally found interesting from the presentation.

  • Between 2012-2013 there has been a 316% growth in messaging apps. It’s creating overnight Telco companies without the cost.

  • Mobile commerce grew 60% in the US from $20.5mil in 2012 to $33mil in 2013.

  • Mobile travel and logistics revenue grew at 168% from 2011 to 2013.

  • Mobile has absorbed all users in social platforms. Example is 98% for Instagram.

  • Paid audio streaming hit $1 billion in revenue. Mobile has disrupted it’s own industry. Instead of downloading music to put on our phones like the past, we are now paying to stream it.

  • The web is definitely alive, but apps have taken control. The browser inside Facebook app is the most used browser.

  • China has 330mil unique active devices each month. The United States has 285mil. The US is losing its lead in software development. It is now 34% in the US and 66% for the rest of the world. Last year 0% of the time spent in apps made by China in the UK, now it is 16%.

  • Mobile has become addictive. People that launch apps more than 60 times a day are:

    • 8% more female

    • 18-24 and 35-54 (age) are the highest groups of addicts

    • Sports fans, gamers, parenting & education , and moms are the typical female “mobile addicts”.

  • Mobile gaming is only 14% of the total gaming market. Console is still king at 47%.

There are plenty of more interesting statistics offered in the slides available here:

http://www.slideshare.net/FlurryMobile/source14-the-age-of

 

Dallas-Based VentureSpur Launches Spinoff Accelerator in Oklahoma

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Earlier this week Dallas-based VentureSpur accelerator annouced LaunchOklahoma, as a dedicated Oklahoma accelerator. VentureSpur accelerator has launched 11 high-tech startups in the last two years, all of which are continuing to grow and 4 of which have raised more than $1.7M on multi-million dollar valuations.

LaunchOklahoma retains VentureSpur’s Managing Director, Kraettli L. Epperson, who is joined by prior VentureSpur board members Gabe Bass and Mike Whitaker on the LaunchOklahoma board of directors.

The VentureSpur accelerator will continue in Dallas as VentureSpur Texas, and will be operated by VC fund Trailblazer Capital, with a focus on mobility and technology for restaurants, retail and hospitality.

Dallas is a major hub for national restaurant, retail and hospitality headquarters and more than half of Trailblazer Capital’s portfolio is in these areas, creating great opportunity for an industry-focused accelerator. As a spinoff, LaunchOklahoma will be focused on recruiting tech startups in Oklahoma.

“In a very short period of time and on a very lean budget, we have been able to create a national profile and to launch multiple thriving startups that are attracting clients, hiring staff and raising money,” said Epperson, “We will be carrying that effort forward, with a distinctly Oklahoma flavor.”

LaunchOklahoma is currently reviewing all startup applications not related to VentureSpur Texas’ focus area and will be making program admissions on the announced 2014 schedule. The program will include a Pitch Day in October, at which participating startups will have an opportunity to pitch their company to potential investors and clients. The accelerator is targeting 3 to 4 companies for 2014, in line with prior years’ programs in Oklahoma.

“Our mentors, sponsors and investor network are happy to see a new effort dedicated to Oklahoma. There is a smaller local capital market in Oklahoma, but we have great entrepreneurs and startups. A lot of our focus will be on supporting the innovators here with outreach to our national capital networks while also developing crowdfunding strategies. Startup investment is rapidly democratizing and crowdfunding is quickly becoming the most accessible source of early-stage seed funding. Our acceleration strategy will be geared towards those new opportunities,” said Epperson.

LaunchOklahoma Board Member Gabe Bass, managing partner of Bass Law and president of the Entrepreneur’s Organization of Oklahoma, said, “Successful tech startups, especially ones that raise significant early stage capital, rarely emerge from a vacuum. They require an ecosystem of experienced entrepreneurs, advisors, and capital sources willing to engage and mentor them. This was the reason that VentureSpur was launched, to help create that ecosystem in Oklahoma. LaunchOklahoma will build on that effort and momentum.”

LaunchOklahoma will also serve as a testing ground for new technologies including a mobile app dedicated to managing the intensive coordination, networking, scheduling and especially the accountability required for acceleration success.

The accelerator also plans a future presence in other cities in the state.

LaunchOklahoma Board Member Mike Whitaker, a successful Oklahoma entrepreneur and investor, said, “We’re very interested in working more closely with the great startup efforts in Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater. The development of a robust entrepreneurial community must be a state-wide effort. Bringing Oklahoma startups investment capital from outside Oklahoma is what puts us on the entrepreneurial map.”

For more information visit www.LaunchOklahoma.com or follow www.Twitter.com/LaunchOklahoma on Twitter.

How Entrepreneurship is Different in the South–And Why That’s Great

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memphissky1Entrepreneurship is entrepreneurship, right? Wrong.

Sure, no matter where you are, you have to have an idea, get some money for it, and grind it out. But what that looks like is different from region to region. Different investors and different amounts of money require different strategies from startups trying to get their businesses off the ground.

The South provides a particularly interesting case of this. There’s less capital available to startups, and what is available is pretty conservative money. As a result, startups can’t afford to spend 8 years building a user base before earning a profit. So how do companies survive and thrive in an environment with scarce resources?

It all starts with a business plan built with the knowledge that capital is scarce, and you can’t rely on million dollar seed rounds. It’s not enough to have an idea; founders must build on that to create a strong, viable plan to get profitability, not just ubiquity. Usually, this comes from iterating on a scaleable minimum viable product as quickly as possible to provide value from the start, placing the company in excellent position to capitalize on early revenue potential. Such a plan involves pivot points with opportunities to fail early and iterate in order to succeed.

We call this Southern style of entrepreneurship the Jumpstart Way. It leads to fundamentally sound businesses, and gives founders the opportunity to own more of their company if it succeeds.

ChangeHealthcare provides an excellent example of the Jumpstart Way. ChangeHealthcare, a Nashville company, provides price transparency services to consumers and employers in order to reduce healthcare costs. Castlight Health in San Francisco provides similar services.

ChangeHealthcare raised 1 million dollars to start and immediately built the first version of their product, working in close collaboration with the healthcare companies that would be its ideal users. Adjusting as they went, they were able to build a truly valuable minimum viable product from the start. This visible progress from the outset and the promise of early revenue traction was enough to convince angels to invest another 3 million in the company.

In contrast Castlight Health raised 20 million dollars in their first round and built a user base first, and a board of directors shortly after. By now, both companies have products on the market, but ChangeHealthcare is losing significantly less money on comparable levels of revenue.

This is not to disparage entrepreneurship on the West Coast; we love and admire the grit and grind it takes to get a company off the ground, no matter where it is. The South just happens to need a minimum viable product earlier, and a plan has to be in place to accelerate that as a priority. You have to take what you can get and make something great from it.

Isn’t that what entrepreneurship is about?

Chris Poole is a managing director at Jumpstart Foundry, a Nashville-based accelerator. Jumpstart Foundry is the southeast’s premier accelerator and exists to empower innovators in the South to succeed in creating products, jobs, wealth & economic growth for themselves and the region. Find out more about Jumpstart Foundry at jsf.co.

Nebraska Accelerator NMotion Announces 7 Startups Chosen for Summer 2014 Cohort

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NmotionadNMotion announced the seven startups accepted into the 2014 Summer program last week.

Four of the teams are from Lincoln, where the accelerator is based. The other 3 will be moving to Lincoln to participate in the program.

“We’re excited about working with this group of strong and diverse founders. Applications were up 80% from the previous year and included applications from all over the world, so it was tough making the final cut.” said Brian Ardinger, managing director of NMotion.

Because of Lincoln’s growing list of sports-related startups and mentors, including Hudl, opendorse, Lockr, EliteForm, Hail Varsity, Bulu Box, Powderhook and others, NMotion actively targeted sports-focused startups to bring into the program.

“We think density is important in a growing startup community since it allows for greater collaboration and connections. At NMotion we wanted to actively look for ways to capitalize on our community’s strengths and build on them,” Ardinger said.

Co-founder of Turnstile Cards, Zach Sanderson, “We’re excited to come from one supportive Silicon Prairie community (Iowa City/Cedar Rapids) to another, especially one with a sports startup legacy.”

NMotion’s 2014 cohort also includes startups in agriculture, music, and digital marketing.

Like other accelerators, NMotion startups receive seed capital, coworking space, and access to a pool of resources including over 100 mentors, training, and developer and designer talent. This year’s program starts on June 2, and each startup will use the 100 days of the program to work with teams and mentors to test and validate the market, build and prototype their solutions, and prepare for a demo day showcase to be held on September 9th at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln.

Companies also receive $15,000 of seed capital in exchange for a six percent equity stake. This funding was provided by Invest Nebraska Corporation along with members of the Nebraska Angels organization and individual accredited investors. Program sponsors include the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, Union Bank and Trust, NUtech Ventures, Nebraska Innovation Campus, and the University of Nebraska along with many other companies and organizations.

NMotion’s 2014 Summer cohort includes:

Adolade – Location-based mobile rewards platform: Ryan Cooper, founder of Golf Status, is creating a location-based rewards company that helps app and device makers monetize their users’ moments of achievement, loyalty, and influence.

Athletepreneur – Online network & marketplace for athletes: Co-founder Mike Fingado is coming from Seattle and his co-founder Brian Dzingai, who is a former Olympian from Zimbabwe, will be coming from Chicago. They are building a professional network and lifestyle brand for collegiate and professional athletes.

Commissioner.io – Sports league management platform: Kunwar Gill and Richard Bansal are coming from Toronto, Canada and are working on a sports league management platform for recreational leagues and their players.

DigiWidgets – Plug-in graphic editing engine for websites: Fresh from their win at the JumpStart Challenge, Lincoln entrepreneurs Stacy Carlson (Gotta Pixel) and Carl Steffen (Stone Fin Development) formed DigiWidgets as a plug-in graphic editing engine for websites that empowers users to create, manipulate and sell digital media.

MusicSpoke – Music publishing platform & marketplace for composers: The Lincoln startup MusicSpoke founded by Jennifer Rosenblatt and Kurt Knecht is a cloud-based platform where composers, conductors, and performers can connect and share new sheet music and performances.

PixoBot – Software platform for robotics in agriculture: Vishal Singh heads up Pixobot, a software platform utilizing drones and data to improve agricultural efficiency.

Turnstile Cards – Mobile fan loyalty platform: Zach Sanderson and Jason Kristufek represent Turnstile Cards. Turnstile Cards won a recent Startup Weekend competition and are coming to NMotion from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Turnstile Cards is recreating the nostalgia of the baseball card in a mobile marketing platform for sports teams to connect with fans outside the stadium

How Tech Startups Are Like Major League Baseball [Infographic]

Chances are good that you won’t ever win the World Series.

But, our friends at Your Green Pal realized that developing a tech startup from idea to IPO is a lot like training for the World Series.

First, you have an idea. Or, in baseball terminology, you start t-ball. At the beginning it’s all new and exciting, and you have lots of time to learn and figure things out.

As you grow, you progress things get more intense and difficult, but also more rewarding. High school and college baseball look almost nothing like t-ball. By the time you get to the beta stage of your startup, it’s probably looking very different from the initial idea. But you should also be better.

After beta, you can move on to market fit, and it’s time for the growth. First the farm leagues, then the majors, and finally, the World Series. An IPO may or may not have all the fanfare of the World Series, but for the entrepreneur reaching that goal, it sure feels the same.

Check out the infographic below to see how much your startup journey is like winning the World Series.

3 Quick Lessons from the Startup World Series

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Last weekend in Houston, TX the best young entrepreneurs in the world gathered for the annual Rice University Business Plan Competition (RBPC), called the “Super Bowl and World Series for student entrepreneurs” by FORTUNE magazine. Since the competition began in 2002 it’s helped launch over 150 businesses that collectively raised $850 million. One of those businesses, Auditude, was started by SIVI co-founder, Nik Seet, and the company became the largest exit in the RBPC’s history when it was acquired by Adobe in 2011. The RBPC is not another academic exercise for “wantrepreneurs”; it’s the real deal for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The RBPC is also the spark that started SIVI. SIVI’s founders, Nik Seet and Ashok Kamal, met as RBPC alumni after returning to the event as sponsors and speakers. This year, Nik and Ashok also organized the inaugural RBPC Alumni Award as a way for former competitors to give back to the current crop. For more history and some startup advice watch the SIVI team present the Alumni Award at the RBPC’s culminating gala.

SIVI with Alumni Prize Winner, GestVision, from Yale University

Photo by the awesome Shau Lin Hon of Slyworks Photography

Events like the RBPC provide a real-time case study for startup success. Here are 3 lessons distilled from this year’s competition:

  • ABC (Always Be Competing) – When you’re at a competition, conference or informal event, always be on. That doesn’t translate to annoying people with your pitch or requests for a meeting; it means treat everyone like a potential asset and every situation like an opportunity to connect. Be alert and respectful whether you’re presenting, eating lunch or going to the bathroom (keep your hands to yourself!). A former RBPC company, Scan, loves to tell the story of how they were waiting in the lunch line when they met the girlfriend of the guy who led them to raising several million dollars. This year, BetaGlide, a team from India, missed the finals of the competition but still turned a $100,000 prize into a $1,000,000 syndicate by networking with investors at the RBPC.
  • Move The Crowd – When pitching your startup, explain it in simple, concise and, dare we say, fun terms. Nobody likes a complicated, mechanical or canned pitch. People tune out fast if you don’t keep the language short and relatable. Practical references and visual aids also help to rise above the noise. The Elevator Pitches at this year’s RBPC ranged from amazing to dud. The most memorable ones were clever, clear and clean. Everyone remembers the pitches featuring the coin flip,banana and spit cup (seriously). For better or for worse, pitches are like gladiator fights; entertain in order to win.

Are You Not Entertained?

  • Be Agile Without Being Wobbly – The more you present the more you get feedback. It’s critical to listen carefully and make adjustments. However, lots of feedback can lead to chaos, not clarity. The more people you speak to the more opinions – often contradictory – you’ll hear. To avoid whiplash look for patterns and listen most to your potential customers and the people who know your market.

Cheers to all of the 2014 RBPC participants and aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere!

Ashok Kamal is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of Bennu and SIVI. Connect with him on LinkedIn to discuss all things entrepreneurship, sustainability and fantasy baseball.

3 Bonus Speakers + Your Startup Avenue Fan Favorite

T-minus 15 days until the kickoff of Everywhere Else Tennessee.

And, like all great events, we have a few surprises in store!

First, we’ve added 3 new speakers to the lineup.

Danny Boice, CTO/Cofounder Speek

danny-boiceDanny Boice is the Co-Founder & President of Speek.  Speek lets users do conference calls with a simple link (speek.com/YourName) rather than using phone numbers and PINs.  Danny attended Harvard, is a Forbes columnist, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown and was recently named a Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine. You can find Danny on Twitter @DannyBoice or LinkedIn here.

 

 

Steve Repetti, Managing Partner Crunch Fire Ventures

steve-repettiSteve has more than 25 years’ experience as an executive, inventor, investor, software developer, and technologist in the computer industry. On top of being the author of several award-winning programs, he is also the managing partner of the startup fund RadWeb Technology Partners, investor member of New World Angels, board member of the Miami Innovation Fund, and sits on the board of the Silicon Valley-based non-profit International Data Portability organization. He is also a member of the OpenAjax Alliance and the OpenWeb Foundation and frequently speaks on topics related to startups, crowd-funding, financing, advanced technology, Web 2.0, open source, data portability, and the real-time web. He also rode, and made the first investment in, the very first Startup Bus.

 

Jon Carnage

 

 

 

Startup Avenue Fan Favorite

There are some amazing startups in the Startup Avenue at Everywhere Else Tennessee. You met them last week, and spent the week voting on your favorite.

And, man, did y’all vote! 24,000 votes were cast, and it was a tight race. Congratulations to Wannado for being chosen as the Startup Avenue Fan Favorite. Wannado will join 3 other startups in a Pitch Competition on Friday, May 2.

We’ve also added one last startup to the Avenue.

Musistic is a Memphis-based music technology company whose product allows musicians to record with anyone, anywhere, anytime regardless of which recording software is being used. And the forthcoming Co-Lab, will allow musicians to expand their musical network by creating a global market place for musical talent and collaboration.

Meet all of our speakers and startups in just 2 short weeks. Grab your tickets here, if you haven’t already.