The Space & Wofford College Show Off How Education Should Be With the Impact + Launch Programs


the space at wofford college

There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it

Simon Sinek

It’s advice that’s almost cliche in the startup world now. We hear “tell your story” a lot, and we can all remember that perfect pitch we heard that really to the advice to heart.

I didn’t know what to expect on our trip to Wofford College and The Space this past weekend. We were going to be a part of a demo day event, where 10 students from would present the projects they had spent all year working on. Two programs were presenting their final projects. The Impact Program, run by Courtney Shelton included students who were working on social entrepreneurship projects. The Launch Program, run by Jeremy Boeh, helps students build for-profit businesses.

incontent3Okay, so let’s be honest. College project presentations? Not usually tops on the list of fun things to do.

About 2 seconds into Ashley O’Cain’s presentation of her nonprofit, I knew this was going to be in a whole other league. This was not the college presentations of my past, but it also wasn’t the average demo day populated by seasoned startup people.

As first Ashley, then 4 more teams, talked about the social impact programs they had implemented or were working on, you could feel the energy and excitement. They were all passionately engaged with what they were doing, but it was more than that. Each and every one of them had learned the power of telling a story.

“I have congenital heart disease, which means I’ve had two open heart surgeries in my life,” spunky Katherine Buchanan announced to the crowd as she presented the Purple Scarf Society. “And those experiences taught me that I can do anything I want to.”

The Purple Scarf Society is an organization that Katherine started to prepare women for the work force. She developed a curriculum to help fellow students learn the various skills needed to land a job and move up in their careers.

“Women hold 14.6% of executive positions in Fortune 500 companies,” she said. “And that is not okay.”

The winner of the Impact competition was a kids’ festival called Fantasyland. Organized by Kulsoom Haq, the festival aims to bring the magic of Disney to the underprivileged kids of Spartanburg, SC. Now in it’s 3rd year, the carnival draws almost 800 kids from the area.

“Just remember,” Kulsoom told the audience, “All you need is a little faith, hope, and pixie dust.”

After the 5 Impact projects presented, the event took a break for some catered tacos and mingling with the 33 other projects that exhibited in a nearby tent. I should have known better by now, but I admit I expected most of the students to fumble their way through talking to me.


Not a single stutter.

Every single table I approached greeted me with a smile and a handshake, then launched into their projects. Voter initiatives, jewelry making, campus recycling, the list goes on. Every student had a story, and they were more than happy and able to tell it. They all started with “why,” and even this somewhat cynical tech writer was sold on every project.

Back in the presentation room, the Launch part of the event started. This time we listened to pitches for 5 for-profit companies, but just like their Impact counterparts, every student told their story flawlessly.

1395513585915“I’d hire you in a second,” one judge told Billy Moody, founder of Moody’s Wofford Wash. Because somehow, this 6 foot+ sophomore guy had convinced the audience that a laundry service was just the thing Wofford needed, and he was the guy to do it.

And that’s the magic of the whole program at Wofford. Most of the projects these students work on will be abandoned. As of yet, they aren’t building the next Facebook, Twitter, or Uber. But they are starting real companies and initiatives, getting experience in leadership that can’t be found in a book, and learning to present themselves and their stories with passion and clarity.

The Space at Wofford College, and all the programs they run, is the future of education. These aren’t business students going through a traditional business plan program. These are French and history majors (with a couple of “undeclareds” thrown in). They aren’t pursuing these projects because they have to. In fact, to guarantee they come with the right motivation, the programs don’t even offer credit. The students do a tremendous amount of work for no credit and a tiny scholarship.

They aren’t isolated in a classroom, learning the “theory” of entrepreneurship. They’re tackling real problems that arise when you try to create something from nothing.

And they’re learning to always, always tell their story.

Check out what’s going on at Wofford College and The Space. Trust me. It’s something special.


How I Got Started in Tech: 8 Successful Founders Tell All


Start Starting Line Americorps Cinema Service Night Wilcox Park May 20, 20118

Have you ever wondered how some of the most successful entrepreneurs got their start? We all know Mark Zuckerburg’s story, of course, but what about other founders?

We asked some of our conference speakers how they got started, and the answers are as full of personality as they are. From following a boy into startups to literally being promoted from the mail room of Sprint, these entrepreneurs have some great stories.

paul-singh-circlePaul Singh-@paulsingh

If it wasn’t for an entry-level job at AOL ~15 years ago, I wouldn’t have realized that building companies on the Internet was possible for me.

Jim-McKelvey-circleJim McKelvey-@2000F

I got my start by writing a programming textbook when I was a freshman at Washington University.  The book got published and they asked me to write a second book, which became a bestseller.  By the time I was a sophomore, I had an undeservedly good reputation in the Engineering school, so I added a computer science degree to my studies.  Upon graduation, I worked briefly for IBM and then started a software company, Mira.

nicole-glaros-circleNicole Glaros-@nglaros

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs, so I had the bug when I was a kid!  Started my first ‘REAL’ company when I was in college with my dad.

Gabriella-Draney-circleGabriella Draney-@gabdraney

I got my start in tech purely by accident. I was working as an executive assistant when I was 18 and figured out that I enjoyed going to lunch with the programmers rather than the other office girls. They talked about more interesting things and usually took a longer lunch (I never got in trouble because no one wants to make the IT team mad). When my boss, the VP of Operations, announced he was leaving the company to run an upstart competitor, the lead developer, who I had started dating, said he wanted to start a company that would build the scheduling software for him. So at 19, I quit and jumped on the roller coaster ride. I was in school at the time and switched majors because we didn’t need another technical person (originally wanted to study astrophysics), so I moved to finance.

Funny how these things happen.

naithan-jones-circleNaithan Jones

I got started in tech pretty serendipitously. In my early 20’s I was working in the mailroom at Sprints world headquarters in the late nineties, and this was right before they sold all of their legacy fiber business and became wireless only.

Delivering mail I got to know some of the sales managers for the enterprise 500 group. They liked me and offered me a chance to sell large data pipes to global company CIO’s. I did well selling over the phone and the rest was history.

This led to stints at small SEO companies, small App Sec firms as a business guy, then finally at Gartner and then the Kauffman Foundation in more senior roles.

I left my manager role at Kauffman to start AgLocal

Ryan-Hoover-circleRyan Hoover

Since childhood, I’ve created things and built businesses (in the loosest definition of the word).  I managed gum ball machines, sold handmade video game cheat books for 50 cents a piece, created a joke website, and resold merchandise on eBay.  My motivation came from a desire to create something from nothing, largely influenced by my entrepreneurial father.

Ultimately, those experiences and my passion for tech and startups, led me to an internship at a video game company during my senior year in college.  My unpaid marketing role transitioned to a full-time paid position and soon I moved into product management.  Serendipitously, I landed in San Francisco, surrounded by startups and amazing talent, to join an early stage startup that grew from 10 to over 100 before I left to pursue something new.

As my friend Nathan Bashaw says, “When you look back at yourself six months from today and don’t feel embarrassed by your naiveté, there’s a problem. That means you’re not learning, growing.”  I’ve learned a ton and have infinite room to grow.  Passion to create and learn, and guidance from many generous mentors/friends, is what got me here.  I’m not sure I would call myself a success but I’m happy with where I’m heading.

scott-gerber-circleScott Gerber

Scott got started in entrepreneurship by running a production company in New York City in college. He soon made lots of money, landing gigs on huge budget productions. With little experience, though, he also quickly lost all that money.

With graduation on the horizon and his last $700, Scott started Sizzle It, a much simpler business than the one he’d run in college. After plenty of hard knocks, Scott wanted to help other young entrepreneurs ignore some of the pitfalls he’d encountered. YEC was born from there.

john-hall-circleJohn Hall

I started my first real estate company because I hated typical student housing arrangements and wanted to live in a house rather than the typical crammed student housing.  I went to 33 banks and the 34 bank gave a loan mostly because of a friends personal connection.  I flipped that house and bought two more than built a small real estate company from there.  Influence & Co. started because Brent Beshore, Kelsey Meyer, and myself saw a need for entrepreneurs and small businesses to build their influence by getting authentically engaging with their audience.  We started by doing it for ourselves.  Once we saw some traction, it really picked up and we had a company on our hands.


Packback Ramps Up Before Shark Tank Debut



Tomorrow Chicago-based Packback will face the sharks of ABC’s Shark Tank, looking for investment in their textbook rental company.

We talked about Packback last summer, after meeting them during Chicago Tech Week. The company–begun when the 3 founders were still in school at Illinois State–allows students to rent textbooks by the day, effectively cutting college costs by thousands of dollars.

incontent3What do the textbook publishers think about this? Because the system is effectively rent-to-own, the publishers are actually recouping revenue from the used textbook market, as all of Packback books are the newest version available.

The company is an active part of the Chicago tech scene. They incubated at 1871 before moving to new offices at Catapult Chicago with their growing team.

So, what does a tiny startup do to gear up for a big TV debut? In their own words:

The urgency of preparing for the episode has drawn our team closer than ever as we’ve taken our 2 month product roadmap and have condensed it into the next three weeks.  We’ve launched our new site with new features as we’re hoping to empower students to make more informed decisions when buying or selling books.  Our free sell tool allows students to compare textbook buy-back prices from popular online retailers to find the best offer and maximize their cashback.  Students use our real-time price comparison engine while buying books to ensure they find the lowest prices across the web, and of course our digital inventory of $3 to $5 digital textbook rentals has been growing every month as we continuously sign on publishers.

The recent 16 hour-straight days at the office have been taxing but it’s been awesome to see what we’ve been able to accomplish.  Our amazing cast of investors have been extremely supportive of our appearance and we’ve recently had the pleasure to have spent a lot of great time with our board of directors Mark Achler and Howard Tullman.

The frenzy is justified. According to some estimates, a spot on the show equals $4-5 million in free marketing. Products and apps on the show see a huge spike in traffic and interest any time their episode airs. It’s common for apps to hit the #1 spot in the app store within moments of their segment ending, especially if the sharks actually like the company.

And products the sharks don’t bite on? Even many of those go on to win big.

Either way, there’s no doubt Packback’s 16-hour days will be well worth it come tomorrow night.

Come Party With Nibletz & Centresource in Nashville Next Week



We’re heading to Nashville!

We’ve made some fantastic announcements in the last few days. Miss them? Check out here and here. And we’ve got even more to come!

So, with all this excitement happening, we figured it was the perfect time to take a break and throw a little party. Luckily our friends at Centresource agreed.

On March 27, Centresource is letting us crash their spring mixer. There’ll be beer, wine, and great conversation with entrepreneurs and creatives in Nashville.

Come hang out with me and Nick and let us know what you’re working on. We love startups and will be on hand to talk about your great idea. We’ll also be giving away a free ticket to Everywhere Else Tennessee, so you don’t want to miss that!

The mixer is from 5-8 at the Centresource offices. Click here to register.

If you’re in the Nashville area, we look forward to seeing you there!

Brian Wong, Gabriella Draney, Josh Miller, Ryan Hoover & Mike Muhney Speaking at #EETN


We have some great announcements coming this week. The Everywhere Else Tennessee speaker lineup is growing, and we’re lining up some amazing startups for the Avenue (there’s still time to apply!) Tickets are going fast. Don’t miss out on the early adopter discount, ending on March 31st.

On to the new speakers. Check out who will be in Memphis April 30-May 2.

Brian Wong

brianwongBrian Wong is the co-founder and CEO of Kiip (pronounced “keep”), a category-creating mobile rewards network that is redefining mobile advertising through an innovative platform that leverages “moments of achievement” in games and apps to simultaneously benefit users, developers and advertisers. Backed by IPG, Hummer Winblad, Relay Ventures, True Ventures, Digital Garage and others, the company has raised $15.4 million in funding to date.



Gabriella Draney

gabrielladraneyGabriella Draney is Cofounder and Managing Partner of Tech Wildcatters. Most recently she was with HP Growth Partners, an early stage venture fund in Dallas.  She co-founded an aircraft scheduling software company in 1998 that ended in a profitable exit. She went on to work for Morgan Stanley in private wealth management. True to her entrepreneurial roots, she left to follow her passion for nutrition by opening a specialty foods retail store, and simultaneously spent three years consulting with numerous Dallas-based startups on strategic planning and finance. Ms. Draney received her MBA in Strategy & Entrepreneurship from Southern Methodist University as a Cox Distinguished Merit Scholar, during which she interned for Silver Creek Ventures. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of North Texas with a BBA in Finance.


Josh Miller

joshmillerJust before his senior year, Josh Miller left Princeton University to build Branch, which Facebook bought in January 2014. Currently, he oversees the development of new products for Facebook, and do early-stage investing as a Venture Partner at Betaworks. Originally from Santa Monica, CA, he lives in New York City’s East Village. He’s twenty-three years old and a proud donor to KCRW.



Ryan Hoover

ryanhooverRyan is a product guy with a passion for startups, product design, and personal growth. He grew up in the beautifully green northwest, in a college town named Eugene. After graduating from the University of Oregon, he lived in Portland for a year before making the jump to San Francisco. He’s the Co-Creator of Product Hunt, Creator of Startup Edition, an EIR at Tradecraft, and former Director of Product at PlayHaven.





mike-muhneyMike Muhney

Mike is a recognized relationship management expert, speaker, and author. He’s the co-inventor of ACT!, which is acknowledged as the catalyst of the multi-billion dollar Customer Relationship Management Industry. His co-authored book, Who’s In Your Orbit? Beyond Facebook—Creating Relationships That Matter (2011) includes practical relationship-building techniques and offers a balanced view on social and personal networks for today’s professionals. Today, Mike is the CEO and Co-Founder of VIPorbit Software, creators of VIPorbit Contact Management apps designed for iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Does Fundable + LaunchRock = Crowdfunding 2.0?



Yesterday crowdfunding site Fundable announced the acquisition of LaunchRock, the online service that helps businesses build an audience before they launch. The deal was finalized in an undisclosed amount of cash and stock, and LaunchRock employees will join Fundable in their Columbus, OH, offices. All 42 investors in LaunchRock will now become investors in Fundable.

incontent3With 5 employees, 42 investors, and a free product, the acquisition smells like a LaunchRock bail out. Not saying that’s a bad thing, though. LaunchRock obviously did a great job at building an audience for themselves, with a reported 10 million signups for their service. If an acquisition bails them out and helps them monetize, all the better for the folks that love the product.

Fundable isn’t getting a bad deal, either. In a crowded crowdfunding space, the company has been chugging away at building campaigns specifically for businesses. While Indiegogo and Kickstarter excel at raising funds for projects or charity campaigns, Fundable has been trying to help fund actual businesses. You know, those things with payroll and profits?

“Crowdfunding 2.0” Fundable CEO Wil Shroter told me on the phone.

“The first version of crowdfunding was Indiegogo and Kickstarter,” he explained. “It worked great for projects like albums or for charity campaigns. Projects aren’t when you need to pay payroll. When you start to do it for a product it breaks down, because the more you sell the more you need to be a company.”

Shroter pointed to former Kickstarter successes like Ube, Cregle, and Uncharted Play, who all moved to Fundable to raise expansion capital after their initial crowdfunding ran out.

So how does LaunchRock fit into all this?

For now the 2 services will be completely separate, but eventually they will be streamlined into one user experience. Users will always have the option of using one or the other or both. Shroter sees the 2 services working perfectly together, though.

“LaunchRock builds an audience. People use LaunchRock for validation, which is awesome. Fundable works best for companies who already have an audience.”

The acquisition will also allow Fundable to have a bigger footprint in their market. Many LaunchRock users expressed a desire for crowdfunding, but the company had no way to meet their needs. Now they will be able to seamlessly move on to Fundable. At the moment, Fundable hosts a few hundred campaigns at a time. (The average raise amount is $175k, 12X that of Kickstarter.) Shroter estimates that with the addition of LaunchRock users, the number of campaigns will jump to the the 1000s quickly.


Mark Cuban-backed RECESS Combines College, Tech, and EDM



In the old days, when you wanted to start a business in college you had a few options. You could start on the side, working between classes, maybe joining some business club. Or you could drop out and hope the risk was worth it.

rsz_incontentad2Now, thanks to RECESS, you have an even cooler option. No more choosing between boring career fair and selling knives during the summer.

Spawned from Glowfest–an EDM concert series–RECESS brings together college kids, tech companies, and EDM artists in a crazy, packed day. The conference–deemed a “music and ideas festival” by the company–travels to college campuses across the country and essentially pops up SXSW for one day.

The day is split up into different categories, cleverly deemed the Playground, Study Hall, Pitch Competition, and Concert.

During the Playground, college kids experience a career fair on steroids. They can interact with successful tech companies like, Dollar Shave Club, Doctor On Demand, and WillCall. Internships, jobs, and valuable relationships with startup founders and employees can be made on the Playground.

During Study Hall, the festival moves to a more traditional conference. Speakers come in to talk about startups and the future of the tech industry. This spring boasts some great speakers, including Scott Case and Jeff Hoffman, who have also spoken at the Everywhere Else conference series.

The Pitch Competition is billed as  March Madness-style event where students can pitch their business ideas. They’re working their way to the final competition in Las Vegas later in the spring.

Finally, the concert. Because life’s been far too serious that day. Each event boasts a different show, and EDM artists like deadmau5, Diplo, and Krewella come in for the party.

“RECESS curates the best day of college by bringing together successful entrepreneurs, the coolest new startups and the hottest acts in music to campuses across the country,” said RECESS Co-Founder Jack Shannon. “Our mission is to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs that will change the landscape of tomorrow’s businesses while offering participating brands unprecedented campus access to activate students.”

The company is backed by investors like Mark Cuban. This isn’t his first investment in a live entertainment company; he made the biggest deal in Shark Tank history last October with creepy scare company Ten Thirty One Productions.

The traveling festival kicks off at University of the Pacific on March 21. Admission is free, and you can find the rest of the 6 tour dates on the company’s website.

Jim McKelvey, Paul Singh + 6 More New Speakers Added to #EETN Lineup

Everywhere Else Tennessee is right around the corner, y’all. We’re measuring the venue, scheduling the parties, and ordering the BBQ.

With tickets already on sale, we’re also signing up some exciting new speakers. Tickets are $150 right now, but the early adopter discount is ending very, very soon. This will be a can’t-miss event for entrepreneurs, investors, and creatives outside Silicon Valley.

Jim McKelvey


Jim is a General Partner at Cultivation Capital. In 2009, Jim co-founded Square, one of the fastest growing technology companies in the US, which enables anyone to take credit card payments anywhere using their mobile device. Jim now sits on the board of directors of Square. Jim’s first venture was co-founding Mira Digital Publishing in 1990, which is a leader in electronic publishing for scientific conferences. Jim is an advisor to several startups including Kabbage and LockerDome.

In addition to his business ventures, Jim is a published author and glassblowing artist, and has published several books. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis.


Paul Singh


Paul is the founder of Disruption Corporation which provides tools, research and advisory services to corporations, angel investors and venture capital firms.

Previously, he was a Partner at 500 Startups, a 4 year old “super angel” fund headquartered in Mountain View, CA and has overseen the investments in 500+ companies across 35+ countries. He is currently serving as an Entrepreneur in Residence with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and DHS/USCIS.

Prior to Disruption Corporation and 500, Paul was the founder of a few other startups (two successful exits and a number of failures in between) and spent some time at PBworks, AOL and Symantec. He can be reached at

Nicole Glaros


Nicole got her entrepreneurial start in the 4th grade, orchestrating cousins into theatrical plays and charging neighbors admission. From there, she founded three startups which resulted in one win and 2 losses. Since then, she’s spent over a decade mentoring and funding early-stage web software companies. Most recently, Nicole is a Managing Director at Techstars, a startup accelerator based out of Boulder, Colorado.

She’s been with Techstars since it’s early days in 2009, has run 6 programs and has close to 70 companies in her portfolio.

She was named one of the “Coolest People in New York Tech” and an Extraordinary Woman in New York Tech by Business Insider in 2013, Marie Claire named her one of the “NewGuard”, and Entrepreneur Magazine named her One of the Most 7 Powerful Women to Watch.

Nait Jones


Naithan “Nait” Jones created the AgLocal in late 2011. His dream: to match independent and family meat farms to the wholesale and retail buyers who want to buy their meat directly. Because he is from a family of chefs and farmers, he understands the trials of raising and cooking delicious food. Nait’s professional career is in enterprise technology and technology start-ups including successful stints at Sprint Corporate, Gartner Research and the well- regarded Kauffman Foundation.

We’re also excited to welcome these speakers:

  • Josh Hix, Cofounder, Plated
  • Kevin Lavelle–CEO/Cofounder, Mizzen and Main
  • Tony Montleone–Manager at PERQ
  • Kevin Chick-Dockery–CEO/Founder, Yoddlem

You can see the full list of speakers here, and there are still more to come.


StartupBus Builds Startup Community Everywhere Else


“You know what yous should do?” Nick said to me one Thursday night. “You should volunteer to be press on the Nashville StartupBus.”

2 days later I found myself up at 6:30 AM (for crying out loud!) and heading to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center to catch the bus. This bus, to be exact:


67 hours later, 2 ice stops, and 1 almost-mental breakdown later, we pulled into the hotel in San Antonio. I may or may not have had some colorful things to call Nick at this point.

Still, riding the Nashville bus was awesome. I met some great people, learned a lot on the mentoring team, and got to see some pretty cool companies built. But none of that prepared me for the amazing experience the 2 days at Rackspace headquarters would be.

rsz_incontentad2This is the second year Rackspace has hosted the competition at the end of the StartupBus ride. If you haven’t heard, Rackspace bought an old mall and turned it into office space. It’s pretty awesome.

The teams started preliminary pitches around 9 AM, even though many of the buses got in at 1 or later. Preliminary pitches were done in front of panel of StartupBus judges, while in another room teams prepped for their turn. Lots of pacing, lots of coffee, and lots of people randomly talking to themselves under their breath. Basically, it was startup heaven.

Sixteen teams went on to semifinals, and from there 8 more teams were chosen for the finals (Including Nashville’s On the List). Finals judges included Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble, among others, and they didn’t hold back in their criticisms and advice for the teams. Ultimately Mexico’s SmartHost came out on top.

The competition was fun, but the real story of StartupBus happened after the fact when several people migrated to SXSW. As the weekend wore on, the folks from various buses found themselves together again and again. The annual GroupMe chat had repeatedly have the limit raised because more and more people wanted to be involved.

“It’s like everywhere we go, it’s half StartupBus people,” Roxanne Spielvogel told me. “We just can’t get enough of hanging out!”

That kind of community is no accident or serendipity. The team at StartupBus see it as their number one goal, beyond the competition and the companies built on the buses.

StartupBus National Director Jon Gottfried put it to me this way:

Our community is actually the primary focus of StartupBus. In many ways, the competition is just the induction into that community. So the strength of our group at SxSW is truly our goal – and it has nothing to do with the conference. Those bonds and that support network are permanent. We frequently see Buspreneurs working together, founding companies together, and becoming great friends long after the competition ends. For me, the StartupBus community has had an immense impact on both my personal and professional life in New York tech.

Want to be involved in StartupBus? Check out the website and follow them on Twitter. You won’t regret it.

PS–I would be remiss if I didn’t say thanks to the amazing sponsors both of StartupBus national and of the Nashville bus. Rackspace was a great host, and companies like Elance, SendGrid, and Twilio made the whole thing a great time. For the Nashville bus, thanks to the Crunchfire team for riding along and being great mentors. JumpStart Foundry and LaunchTN were also huge sponsors that provided so much for the trip.

Balance Sheets: the Key to Your Financial Plan

When developing a business plan many find the financial component particularly daunting. This is completely normal. If people were comfortable with fine tuning business finances as a general rule, there would be no tax preparation businesses. With this being said, in their apprehension many also spend unbalanced amounts of time on the different components of the financial plan. An even and equal amount of attention needs to be paid at each level of the planning stage. This portion of the business plan includes an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash-flow statement. By making sure you give each aspect of the financial plan the attention it deserves, you will simplify creating both your business and financial plan.

Assumptions You Need to Avoid

Those who have taken any high-school level business or accounting course probably feel confident in their abilities to whip up a balance sheet. However, your business’ financial plan is not a simple balance sheet, and care needs to be given to how it is crafted. Many times common errors in a balance sheet give prospective investors the impression that their presenter is under-prepared. Why would an investor risk money on a business that the owner does not give enough time and consideration to? Drawing up a good financial plan shows that you care about your business and that goes a long way. In all reality, there are actually very few people that have ever put together a detailed financial plan, according to a study by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

Despite this, many people still race through this important step with little to no actual experience in writing up a good financial plan. One of the most crucial first steps of your business is creating a solid business plan or financial strategy for you company. Rushing it can lead to a variety of different errors and unforeseen traps throughout the development process.

Think of it this way: how would misspelling a position title in your resume look to a potential employer? It would make you look like you’re careless, or worse, incompetent. An incomplete or inaccurate balance sheet can be just as detrimental as a major mistake on a resume. Of the six elements of an organization, business plans often fail because entrepreneurs completely overlook their budget and focus solely on their strategy, according to the Carroll County Department of Economic Development.

Fortunately, with a little care, time and some basic steps, you can but together balance sheets that will enhance your business plan rather than acting as marks against it. The key is not to rush and to make sure you give every aspect the consideration it needs. Once your balance sheets are in order, you can use them to help inform the rest of your plan.

The Categorization of Assets and Liabilities

Keep in mind that a complete balance sheet needs to include all of your assets, this includes but is not limited to vehicles, merchandise, buildings, land, equipment, cash, tools, inventory and even your accounts receivable. Many people tend to overlook this category, but it will end up being a huge mark in your favour. Most people have thousands of dollars tied up in things like cars or offices spaces; if you own these things outright then your debt to income ratio is going to get better.  By categorizing these assets along with your liabilities, you can make them very easy to spot for your target audience. It is recommended to separate your current assets, such as cash and accounts receivable, from your fixed assets, including land and vehicles. Current and long-term liabilities should also be categorized in the same way. The bottom line of your balance sheet should clearly show your equity as being your net profit.

Using a Template as a Guide

When this report has been finalized, your target audience should be able to quickly scan through it to get a firm understanding of your equity. For business purposes, equity is the amount of money that is considered income from the company and from shareholders. There are quite a few great templates you can use as a guide to explore different layouts and formatting concepts that will make it easy for you to maintain a consistent structure for your report. It is important to remember that taking the necessary steps to create an effective balance sheet does not require an extensive background in accounting, just some care with what you produce.

However, it is also imperative for you to never adopt the mentality of these important reports being too easy to take seriously when putting them together. As the old saying goes, failing to plan basically means that you are planning to fail. Use efficient tools that are readily available at your disposal to make sure that you get the job done right the first time around.

America’s Logistics Capital Hosts First Logistics Technology Accelerator, Sparkgap



This summer road, river, rail, and runway will converge with technology in Memphis as Sparkgap makes its first six investments into early stage logistics technology companies.

rsz_incontentad2Co-locating in Memphis with global supply chain giants like FedEx and others will enable founders to tackle the latest challenges with new software and hardware technologies.

Major partners have committed to support Sparkgap including SAP HANA, FedEx, Mosaik Solutions, and Twilio.  Plus our investment friends at Solidus, Crunchfire, Angaros Group, Start Co. Angels, and SAP HANA Real Time Fund are eager to participate and screen the companies for follow-on support at Demo Day.

Sparkgap is operated as an accelerator program which provides founders a 115-day program provides that supplies crucial early-stage funding, intense technical and business assistance, as well as mentoring from some of the top figures in the industry.  It is Global Accelerator Network certified affording the accepted teams access to a wealth of resources to support their launch.

The program is part of the Start Co. platform which brings exclusive resources and services from world-class service providers coupled with regional and national support and engagement of partners and sponsors.  Start Co. mentors are rallying to the Sparkgap platform ranging from Fortune 500 execs to founders and key experts for high-growth startups.

While starting up impactful businesses is our goal, we would be remiss not to take advantage of some experiences that showcase the best of Memphis.  Our Summer of Acceleration in Memphis kicks off in May with The “Burning Man of BBQ,” the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, A.K.A BBQ Fest.  Our programs will culminate at the grandiose and historic Orpheum Theater in a massive demo day and closing party in the heart of downtown Memphis.

We are on the hunt for logistics innovators to join us in Memphis.  In the past, they’ve come from Bermuda, NYC, LA, ATL, Nashville, Carolinas and other fine places.  The gravity, authenticity, and accessibility of Memphis has kept them here — and certainly our rich entrepreneurial culture, both past and present, helps.

If you are a logistics industry innovator, join us in the real-life laboratory of America’s logistics capital. The deadline to apply is March 21.

Learn more about Sparkgap at Learn about Start Co. and our accelerator programs at or email us at

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50 Insane Facts about Bitcoin [Infographic]


Bitcoin, bitcoin coin, physical bitcoin, bitcoin photo

Everyone is talking about Bitcoin. First the crazy high, with Business Insider predicting it could hit $1 million. Then Silk Road imploded and the “Dread Pirate Roberts” arrested.

Most recently Mt. Gox shut down, and a percentage of the Bitcoins “disappeared.”

Despite all this, several mainstream tech leaders are firmly bullish on Bitcoin.

But what does this all mean? What is Bitcoin, and where did it come from? Why has it become such a big deal in the last year?

Bitcoin was created in 2008 by “Satoshi Nakamoto.” At this point, no one knows the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, though plenty have tried to discover it. The technology requires the Bitcoins to be “mined,” a process that produces 3,600 BTC a day. (BTC, by the way, is the abbreviation for Bitcoin.) At the current rate, it’s anticipated that all Bitcoins will be mined by 2140.

Interest in Bitcoin spans all aspects of tech, from drug dealers on the deep web to prominent venture capitalists. Check out the infographic for a few quick facts about Bitcoin. For more information on how it all works, Khan Academy has a helpful video series.

50 Insane Facts About Bitcoins

 50 Insane Facts About Bitcoins [Infographic] by the team at Who is Hosting This


Feeling Left Out of the Startup Bus? Play the Game!


 San Antonio or Bust

San Antonio or Bust

Startup Buses around the country are making their way to San Antonio, ice and border patrol be damned.

There’s so much happening on the buses. We’ve been traveling with the Tennessee Startup Bus, which I’ve gotten pretty partial to. But, there are also buses winding their way from Washington state, New York, Guadalajara, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, and California. Every bus has encountered some issues along the way. (Last we heard, the Mexico bus kept getting stopped at the border.)

But that’s not slowing down the teams.

Every bus has 4-5 teams coding away, building businesses regardless of obstacles. Don’t believe me? Check out the game.

The Startup Bus Game allows you to get to know all the teams and watch their milestones as they travel. You can also pick your favorite (as long as it’s a Tennessee team) and invest in their company.

“The game exists because Startup Bus has a limited number of spots, but people wanted to be involved and know how they could support the teams,” said Jonathan Gottfried, National Director of StartupBus. “So we created the game to give them a way to be more involved and help local entrepreneurs.”

Each team’s performance in the game also affects the final judging. If the judges are on the fence about a team in the qualifying round, a great showing in the Startup Bus Game will help push them into the semifinals.

Don’t miss out on the fun anymore. Head on over to the Startup Bus Game and start investing.

Ice Doesn’t Slow Down the Tennessee Startup Bus



What do you do when you have a bus full of entrepreneurs, ready to work…and stuck?

The Tennessee Startup Bus is finding that out in Memphis this morning. The sleet and ice started coming down last night on the way in from Birmingham, and by the time we pulled up to the hotel in Memphis, we were walking through ice.

But that’s nothing. This morning the door of the bus was frozen shut. Forget the bad roads or sleet still coming down. We couldn’t even get on the bus!

So, we headed down the street to the beautiful new Start Co building and made ourselves at home.

The teams got right down to work, and the momentum is beautiful to behold. One team is even talking about the users they’ll have signed up by the end of the day.

Because the Tennessee Startup Bus is killing it.


(Note: I totally get that I’m breaking by journalistic integrity by being so biased. But I dare any of you to ride along with a group of amazing entrepreneurs from anywhere and not start cheering for them.)

The awesome thing about our being stranded in Memphis, besides the proximity to our amazing conference venue, is that we’re also close to the new Start Co offices. After moving this weekend, we are the first entrepreneurs to fill the space, which was only a short walk from our hotel.

“We’re excited to host and be able to provide hospitality for a longer period of time,” Start Co founder and CEO Eric Mathews told me. “We believe serendipity is a huge part of entrepreneurship, and we’re glad we were downtown and able to bring the Startup Bus to our space.”

It’s getting crazy on the Startup Bus, y’all. Follow us on @nibletztweets for all the updates. You can also follow the teams to get their perspective: