25 Must Read Blogs for Entrepreneurs


Here are Nibletz, where it’s our job to know what’s going on, we spend a lot of time reading. A lot.

We hit all the normal spots, just like you do. Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, and the Andreesen Horowitz crew are all in our feed readers. But, we’ve also found some fantastic VC and founder blogs that don’t get shared quite as often or have growing audiences. These are smart people who have won and lost in the startup game and have lots of wisdom to share with the rest of us.

In compiling this list, we included blogs that update regularly and that have a unique perspective or a wide range of experience. We didn’t include company blogs or VC firm blogs, though they can also be great sources of startup knowledge.

So, what do you think? Do you have these 25 blogs in your feed reader?

01 (330)

Investor Blogs

  1. Above the Crowd–Bill Gurley has been a GP at Benchmark for more than 10 years. He’s been a design engineer, a Wall Street analyst, and a VC. So, he’s seen a lot. His most recent post On Bubbles is a must read for anyone trying to understand the current climate.
  2. Instigator Blog–Ben Yoskovitz is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. His recent post Startup Founders: Why Do You Care About What You’re Doing? should be a wake up call to entrepreneurs struggling with the daily grind.
  3. Passionate Intensity–Kirill Sheynkman has founded 3 companies and been a partner at 2 venture firms. His recent Be a Deckless Wonder flies in the face of all we hold dear about pitching investors. “This year, I will not let companies show their coveted pitch deck at our first meeting.  We will talk, like humans..”
  4. Rob Go–All of the blogs at NextView Ventures are worth plopping into your feed. Rob’s recent post on Seed Round Dynamics sheds light on the process of raising a small seed round. (Ok, obviously. But, it’s a great read.)
  5. Progress Report–The blog of the Collaborative Fund shares the collective wisdom of all the managing partners. Only Good News is…Bad News reminds founders and investors to share the whole truth with shareholders.
  6. Uncrunched–Techcrunch founder Michael Arrington is never shy, and he’s been around long enough to call it like it is. This old post Startups Are Hard. So Work More, Cry Less, and Quit All the Whining will kick your butt.
  7. This is Going to Be Big–Charlie O’Donnell is a partner at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, with previous experience at First Round Capital. He recently wrote an awesome post on The Rules of Inclusion.
  8. Continuations–Union Square Ventures partner Albert Wenger has plenty of experience in the VC world. He and his wife, startup founder Susan Danzinger, also homeschool their 3 kids. His talk on The Big Questions About the Future is worth watching.
  9. Adventures in Capitalism–Like a lot of these, Chris Yeh could fit into an investor or founder category. Many years in the startup world has taught him a lot. Don’t Stay Hungry is so common sensical, and yet many lifetime founders forget the lesson.
  10. BZNotes–Bilal Zuberi has some serious academic chops, with a Ph.D in Physical Chemistry. He’s currently a partner at Lux Capital. His post Capital intensity and cost of capital for “big idea” startups shines a great light on what it takes to build the new technologies.
  11. Hunter Walk–Former Googler Hunter Walk just finished his first year as the partner of Homebrew. “Never Heard of It,Must Not Be Big” Has Never Been More Wrong is a great testimony to how fast things move these days.
  12. Dave Lerner–Dave is an entrepreneur and angel investor. His current project Startup Genome is mapping the startup world. This post on venture capital disruption forecasts changes in the VC indstury.
  13. Haywire–Semil Shah is another entrepreneur/investor combo. Like the rest of us, he’s wondering what’ll happen with Facebook’s new app Paper. He talks about it in Unpacking Facebook’s Mobile Strategy.
  14. Life in Beta–Being a venture capitalist and a marketing/economics nerd, Adam D’Augelli has a great background to manage the blog lifeinbeta.org.  Here you can read about what the market will look like in 2014 or you can see what races Adam will be participating in. Go checkout his Themes to Watch in 2014.
  15. Tomasz Tunguz–While he’s not looking for the newest company to invest in at Redpoint Ventures, Tunguz’ blog covers everything from startup management, SaaS, and content marketing.  You can check out his most recent post here: Do Larger Seed Rounds Lead to Bigger Series As?

Startup life 2010 08

Founder Blogs

  1. Ma.tt–Matt Mullenwag’s resume isn’t that impressive really. He’s just the founder of Automattic, the company behind WordPress, Gravatar, Akismet, and others. His post The Four Freedoms is an awesome defense for free (as in speech) software.
  2. Only Once–Matt Blumberg is the founder of Return Path and the author of Startup CEO. His blog title comes from an old Fred Wilson post about only being a first time CEO once. Check out his post on sabbaticals for a healthy look at work/life balance.
  3. Justin Jackson–Justin is a product manager and host of the Product People podcast. His post on This is Real Life will remind you that everyone–yes, everyone–has real stuff going on behind that avatar.
  4. Ryan Hoover–Ryan is the guy behind the newest craze, Product Hunt. His post Nostalgia: A Product Designer’s Secret Weapon is brilliant.
  5. Alex’s Tech Thoughts–Alex Taub recently started adtech company Modern Mast, but he has lots of experience in the startup world working at companies like Dwolla and Aviary. The Worst Thing You Can Do as a Founder is so true it hurts a little.
  6. Ben Milne–Ben is the founder of Dwolla, in case you’ve been under a rock. The recent 2013. Hard Lessons Learned post will have you nodding and sighing a little.
  7. Making New Mistakes–Adii Pienaar is the founder and ex-CEO of WooThemes and the currently paused PublicBeta. He has so many good posts, but Startups are Getting Easier. Entrepreneurship Isn’t is a must read.
  8. Matt Mireles–Matt Mireles is the CEO/Founder of Buttr a peer to peer grocery shopping service and has experience in cofounding SpeakerText and Humanoid which were both acquired by Cloud Factory. His story about negotiations will have you shaking your head in disbelief.
  9. The Startup Toolkit–Rob Fitzpatrick proudly states that he has been bankrupt twice in his quest to build a startup.  He resides in Barcelona where he helps European accelerators design better startup education programs.  He admonishes the startup world to Ignore posterity; build features.
  10. Marc Barros–Marc is an entrepreneur and creator. His post from last November When I Got Fired From My Own Company is a wake up call to all entrepreneurs.


Entrepreneurship Lessons from the Front Lines


Ben Milne_Instant Launch

2013 was one of the hardest years of my life. It wasn’t the hardest but it was challenging. The hardest, was 1 year as a kid when my dad got Parkinson’s, my mom got sick,NibzNotes17 my mom’s best friend died, and the grandparent who helped raise me withered away like ash with cancer right in front of my eyes.

That’s a different kind of hard. This year was not hard in that way. I’ve been humbled more times than years I’ll live and I’ve been fortunate just as many times.  This image of Forrest Gump seems to incapsulate my life countless times this year.

I meet someone I don’t know. They’re telling me nice things and I’m confused about what I’m doing there and I just have to pee. I realize I drank too much water and then look over and realize that’s a Clinton at the other table and everyone seems to have a story that starts with MIT, Harvard, or Stanford. This is life in 2013. It was a weird one.



Starting Up? Piece of Cake. Entrepreneurship…That’s a different story.


Coworking at Hub Vilnius

From Adii Pienaar, Making New Mistakes

Today, it’s easier to start a startup than any other time in our history.rsz_nibznotes2

And it’s likely only getting easier with each passing month.

We have so much information about what works and what doesn’t. Founders are sharing their stories of success and failure in the spirit of enabling someone else to learn.

Talking about failure… As a society and ecosystem, we have embraced the concept and nobody needs to worry about any negative stigma associated with failing.

We also have the ability the reach out to the best of the best and create our own, virtual advisory board. And that at a couple of dollars a minute.

We have learned validation and testing techniques to mitigate the risk of our new startup idea(s) before we even really start.

There’s more know-how and reasons ever to bootstrap your startup. Bootstrapping has spawned some amazing companies.

If bootstrapping isn’t your cup of tea, you can easily raise external funding online or go the crowdsourcing route.

Technology has enabled us to build remote companies, removing another (very physical and geographical) barrier.

Read the full article here.



18 Surprising Facts About Entrepreneurship


We all have a picture in our minds of an “entrepreneur.” In startup world, that picture usually involves pizza, Red Bull, and a hoodie.

We also have a picture of “success.” If you’re in software, chances are good you’re dreaming of an Instagram-level exit or the infamy of Uber. Most of us rarely dream in miniature, and even when we accept the reality that those experiences are few and far between, they’re still in the front of our minds.

The truth about entrepreneurship is a lot more well-rounded and complex than that. Read on to find out the most surprising truths about entrepreneurship and startups:

01 (42)

Who Are You?

1. According to Kauffman, the number of women entrepreneurs grew in 2013.

2. 95% of entrepreneurs have a bachelor’s degree or higher, despite the recent PR for dropping out of college to startup.

3. And, they aren’t also-rans. 67% ranked their college performance in the top 30% of their undergraduate classes.

4. 70% of founders are married when they start up, and 60% have at least one child.

 Map of the world 280/365

Where Are You?

5. Colorado is the state to watch for tech companies. Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins-Loveland, and Cheyenne, Wyoming are all in Kauffman’s top 10 Metro Areas for startup densitylist, making the 170 mile stretch of I-25 one the most active areas in the country. (Silicon Valley was #3 on the list, behind Boulder and Fort Collins-Lovelace.)

6. The largest region for these companies is the Southeast, particularly Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Louisiana. (I told y’all it’s awesome down here!)

7. California’s share of America’s $100 million tech companies is declining. In the 1990s 35% of new, successful tech companies were in California, but today it’s only 20%.

Will You Fail?

8. Of all startups, information companies are most likely to fail, with only a 37% success rate after four years.

9. The industry with the highest success rate? Finance, insurance, and real estate. 58% of these businesses were still operating after 4 years.

10.   Premature scaling is the most likely reason you’ll fail. Don’t get ahead of yourself!


Random Startup Facts

11. If you charge for your product, traditional marketing (instead of social media) may be the way to go.

12. Tech companies are popping up more rapidly than other small businesses.

13. For the last 20 years, the US has produced between 125-250 $100 million companies a year, despite economic changes.

14. It’s safer to start a business than stay in a job.

15. The average founder salary is less than $50,000/year.

16. Investors are clueless. (Sorry, guys.)

17. Balanced teams of 2 are the best combination. They raise 30% more money, have almost 3X the user growth, and are 19% less likely to scale prematurely.

18. Starting up is hard. Yeah, I know this isn’t “surprising,” but it’s the kind of thing you think you know until you do it. Then you REALLY understand that there are few things as difficult, challenging, and awesome as building a business from the ground up.



Dear Everywhere Else: You Will Not be the Next Silicon Valley


Civilization without Twitter

We hear this a lot: “Such-and-such city is going to be the next Silicon Valley.”

Everyone in the startup space admires and wants to replicate the Valley’s success. After all, a lot of billionaires have been made there.

But, here’s the thing, there will never be another Silicon Valley, the way we know Silicon Valley. What’s going on there is the result of decades of dedicated tech entrepreneurship, education, and financing. Many of the success stories found there happened well before tech and startups were cool.

That’s good for us, though. Because, here’s the other thing:

The world doesn’t need another Silicon Valley.

The world needs Detroit–where they are using entrepreneurship to claw their city back from bankruptcy.

It needs Israel–where they are using tech to find solutions to many of the world’s security problems.

It needs the countless cities across the country who are seeking solutions to the many problems our healthcare system has, from administration to devices.

It needs entrepreneurs who are so focused on solving the problem they’re tackling that they don’t really care if it’s current trend or “it” thing.

Even though we won’t ever be Silicon Valley, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a few lessons from their success.

Innovation, not imitation

One reason Silicon Valley became what it has is because it was full of people who refused to imitate. No one in the Valley has ever said, “We’re going to be the next New York.”

Those of us in startups outside the Valley can take a lesson from this. Ecosystems who know their strengths and wear their differences like a badge of honor will be the next success stories. The ones who innovate in “unsexy” ways may well just find the next billion dollar ideas.

Understand entrepreneurship

There are great entrepreneurs all over the world, from the founder of this week’s hottest app to the women in Africa who make and sell jewelry to support their families.

But startups–truly ecosystem-shaping startups–are the ones chasing the big ideas relentlessly. Silicon Valley understands this, and you won’t find many lifestyle entrepreneurs there. Not that there’s anything wrong with lifestyle businesses, but it’s a completely different game they’re playing.

Successful ecosystems will not only know their industry, they’ll know what kind of entrepreneurs they have. And smart investors and mentors will be able to pick out the truly scalable ones to help grow.

Solve your own problems

There are plenty of articles lambasting Silicon Valley for solving rich, white boy, first world problems.

This isn’t going to be one of those articles, because I don’t think that’s fair to the smart men and women doing amazing things in the Valley.

However, there are other problems to be solved, problems that, for better or worse, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs just may not be aware of. That’s the true power of building your startup everywhere else.

In a recent article on PandoDaily, tech entrepreneur Chris Nicholson says,

People solve the problems they see every day. Even with the million amazing projects getting invented in San Francisco, the tech bubble produces a monoculture in what tech produces–apps that create more apps–and how it thinks.

Maybe the problem that captures your attention isn’t “world-changing,” but that’s okay. Solve it in the most creative, compelling way possible, and you may be surprised what comes next.

Ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley are the next big thing. It’s why we do what we do at Nibletz and the Everywhere Else Conference. We don’t think anywhere will ever be the “next Silicon Valley.”

But that doesn’t mean it won’t be amazing.


The 6 Skills That Made These Entrepreneurs Successful

Profitably ever after

I’m not sure if there are any other occupations out there that require as many skills and abilities as it takes to be an entrepreneur. If you’re a pilot, you need to be familiar with the operation of your aircraft – but you don’t have to source its parts, build it and then sell it to an airline in order to be successful. If you’re an engineer, you might draft plans – but then you pass your designs off to others to see them brought to reality.

That’s not to say that these fields aren’t important or challenging – just that they’re not as all-encompassing as entrepreneurship. When you’re a solo business owner, every aspect of your company’s operation falls on your shoulders. You’re a visionary, yes, but you’re also a project manager, team leader, administrative assistant, sales person and more, depending on what the day calls for.

Given how complex the work of an entrepreneur can be, I want to take the next two weeks to break down some of the skills that you must have to be successful in this type of business. And since I’m a sucker for case studies, I’ve paired each skill with an example from a great entrepreneur throughout history.

Hope you find them helpful when it comes to cultivating your own skill as a business owner!

Never Be Satisfied

The best entrepreneurs are never satisfied with what they’ve already achieved. They’re innovators through and through, which is why you won’t see them stop and rest on their laurels. Even if they experience what the rest of the people in the world would consider to be “success,” entrepreneurs are already scheming away over how much bigger and better their next projects will be.

Entrepreneur: Milton Hershey

You’re probably pretty familiar with the name “Hershey,” but what you might not know is that this entrepreneur didn’t get his start in chocolate. In fact, the young Milton Hershey first experienced success with the Lancaster Caramel Company, based off a unique recipe he developed throughout his apprenticeships. Though the company was successful, he saw a brighter future for chocolate and sold his caramel company for $1 million in 1900 (roughly $25 million in today’s dollars).

Hershey tasted success with his first company, but it wasn’t enough for him. Cultivate this same sense of never being satisfied if you want to make it to the top of your industry as well.

Be Ambitious

Entrepreneurs don’t change the world through small actions – they do it through ambitious projects that radically alter the status quo in their industries. Because of this, the “holy grail” of all entrepreneurs is a product or service that’s so disruptive that it changes the core way people view, interact with and label the world around them (just as we don’t “conduct internet searches,” but instead “Google” for answers on the internet).

Entrepreneur: Mark Zuckerberg

When it comes to ambition, is there anyone better to look towards than Facebook titan Mark Zuckerberg? Zuckerberg didn’t necessarily start out with the goal of changing the way social interactions occur on the internet, but once he realized the potential of his fledgling social network, his ambition took over – pushing the company forward to more than 1 billion registered users around the world in 2013.

When it comes to entrepreneurial ideas, don’t just think small – think global. Think big and shock the world with your outrageous ideas.

Be Fearless

If you want to succeed in business, you can’t let a little thing like fear stand in your way.  Yes, running your own business can be scary at times, but if you let that fear overtake you and prevent your forward momentum, you don’t stand a chance at finding entrepreneurial success.

Entrepreneur: Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely is the founder of Spanx – the billion dollar women’s undergarment company that’s become a household name. When Blakely first came up with the idea for her flagship product, she knew nothing about garment manufacturing, nothing about the patent process and nothing about retail.  But she didn’t let the fear of the unknown stop her.  By researching and outsourcing tasks when necessary, Blakely’s product line took off, making her the youngest self-made female billionaire in history.

If you get scared, find a way around it. Fear, when left unchecked, can seriously impede your process and threatens to derail your business entirely if it isn’t managed.

Take Risks

It’s not exactly revolutionary to say that entrepreneurs need to be risk takers. But the thing is, the best business people don’t just take risks for risk taking’s sake. Instead, they assess the situation and then take calculated risks that are designed to maximize their success while minimizing their overall exposure to unnecessary risk.

Entrepreneur: Mark Pincus

Before founding Zynga, the million dollar social gaming company, Mark Pincus took a major risk in walking away from a guaranteed funding source for his first company, Freeloader. Because the terms of the deal would have required Pincus to hire a CEO of his investor’s choosing, he opted to take a major risk and walk away from the deal – even though he had just a few months of cash left.

In the end, Pincus’s gamble was successful, as he was able to secure funding from another source and then sell off the company in order to provide startup funding for Zynga. It was a calculated risk, for sure, but a risk all the same – the exact model you should strive to emulate in your own business endeavors.

Follow Your Intuition

We all have a certain amount of in-born “gut instinct,” but only those entrepreneurs who choose to hone this sixth sense and rely on it to guide their business decisions will be truly successful.

Entrepreneur: Steve Jobs

Really, is there any better example of intuition at work in entrepreneurship than that of Steve Jobs? What’s fascinating about him isn’t the number of products he sold or the number of sales records he broke, but his seemingly-instinctive ability to develop concepts that consumers didn’t even realize they wanted yet. Before the launch of the iPad, the tablet market was stagnant. So much so that entering the field was a risky proposition. Yet somehow, Jobs reworked the concept to create the iPad, building an immediate fervor for a product that had no initial market interest.

Interestingly enough, Jobs recognized the role intuition played in his success. In an interview with Walter Isaacson published in the New York Times, Jobs attributes the development of his own powerful sense of intuition to time spent wandering around India at the age of 19:

“The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do,” he said. “They use their intuition instead … Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.”

You don’t need to drop everything for an international sabbatical in order to develop your own intuition. Instead, take the time to listen to your inner voice and allow the information it gives you to find its way into your work every so often.

Know Your Vision

Finally, entrepreneurs have a way of taking what they see in the world and twisting it into the visions they have in their heads. They don’t accept reality as it is and work from there. Instead, they see reality and distort it in their minds – allowing them to cultivate visions and make breakthroughs that ordinary people could have never envisioned.

Entrepreneur: Bill Gates

One of the best examples of entrepreneurial vision is Bill Gates – the man who’s widely credited with both launching the personal computer revolution and with developing the world’s first piece of software (alongside business partner Paul Allen, of course) in 1974. At the time, “computers” as we know them now didn’t exist. Gates and Allen actually developed their code by borrowing time on the mainframe computers owned by educational institutions and large corporations.

To make the leap from this type of computing arrangement to the idea that PCs could be owned and operated by individual households around the world was truly an instance of vision at work.

Maybe your vision of the future won’t have the impact of the PC revolution, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be important for you, your business and for the world. Learn to see what isn’t there yet. It’s a critical skill that all entrepreneurs must master in order to experience success.

Do you relate to any of these entrepreneurs in the way you’ve handled your own startup business challenges? If so, share your thoughts below.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog. 

Sujan Patel is the founder and CEO of Single Grain, one of the top Digital Marketing agencies in San Francisco, CA. With more than 10 years of Internet marketing experience, Sujan leads the digital marketing strategy for companies like Sales Force, Yahoo, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

13 Reasons This Is The Best Time To Be An Entrepreneur




“Because this is the first digital generation, aspiring entrepreneurs have an opportunity to use social/mobile software they’ve grown up with to build a network of people navigating their careers together for the first time. This network opens the door for mentorship. Technology has completely revolutionized the traditional mentorship model!”

– Caroline Ghosn | Co-Founder and CEO, The Levo League

“I think this is the best time in history to become an entrepreneur because you can run a lucrative operation right from your home. This is because the speed of communication is lightning fast, and you have the ability to connect with the best resources all over the world. Since you are not bound by location nearly as much, individuals are able to create a stellar organization worldwide.”

– Lawrence Watkins | Founder & CEO, Great Black Speakers

“This generation has abandoned the idea of working for years at one company until retirement, making the flexible nature of entrepreneurship more acceptable. It’s not uncommon to have many clients, short- or long-term, and to continually innovate to retain and attract new clients. Instead of bouncing from job to job, entrepreneurs appreciate shorter term interactions that add value for everyone.”


“Thanks to modern technology and the Internet, the world is now hyper connected for almost anyone with a desire to leverage it. These platforms of information super highways allow knowledge to be obtained, shared, improved up, then re-shared — all within days, if not hours. Accelerated learning means entrepreneurs today will have easier time to use these knowledge to help build their success.”

– W. Michael Hsu | Founder & CEO, DeepSky

“The gap between creativity and technology is becoming narrower by the day. What Web 2.0 has done is given us access to people we might never have otherwise been able to reach before. That’s incredibly powerful!”

– Srinivas Rao | Co-Founder, BlogcastFM

“While it may not be a good thing to be tired and caffeinated to keep going, entrepreneurs have the fuel to keep going like the Energizer bunny. With technology surrounding entrepreneurs, it makes it easy to communicate, promote, and work in the fast-paced commerce world that we rely on instantaneous contact for.”

– Lane Sutton | Social Media Coach, Social Media from a Teen

“Today you can start a WordPress blog, choose and tweak a design, assemble a killer team, craft a meaningful brand, distribute your product/content, fund it, and build an engaged community for basically no money. We did it — and it only gets easier for you to do it, too!”

– Derek Flanzraich | CEO and Founder, Greatist

“The obvious ones are that technology costs are the lowest, and the time it takes to develop your online presence are the shortest they have ever been. However, if you look at Gen Y, you will see a very high unemployment rate. Many have no choice but to create their own living and can easily find others their own age to co-found with them. It all adds up to very low barriers to entry.”

– Seth Kravitz | CEO, Technori

“For many, the hardest part about entrepreneurship is taking the initial plunge. In an economic recession where regular jobs aren’t readily available, people are quickly running out of options. An individual with a goal and only one option to achieve it is a dangerous person to bet against.”


“We live in unprecedented times, primarily due to the Internet. With the right business model, it’s possible to work from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. No longer must we confine and define what we do by where we live. That is a profound and inspiring shift commerce. Carpe diem!”

– Kent Healy | Founder and CEO, The Uncommon Life

“The JOBS Act is going to fundamentally transform the way companies get started, making it easier to obtain startup funding and democratizing the fundraising process to let companies seek capital from investors across the country –not just from Silicon Valley. There’s never been such a user-friendly startup ecosystem, or a better time to become an entrepreneur.”

– Eric Corl | President + Co-Founder, Fundable LLC

“Starting your own business used to be thought of as hokey or not a real job, but now, entrepreneurs earn prestige and are looked upon as doing something “real,” not something made up. You face a lot less pushback from society for pursuing something of your own today, which makes it easier to move forward with it, since others are more supportive of your choice.”

– Stephanie Kaplan | Co-Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Her Campus Media

“Before, failure was the ultimate shame. Today, failure is seen as more of a learning tool, just as long as you bounce back. Your brilliance is no longer based on just your successes, but also how you overcome tough obstacles.”

– Kenny Nguyen | Founder/CEO, Big Fish Presentations


The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons. 

How to Choose Your Own Venture

Entrepreneurship, Guest Post, Startup Tips, YECAs a professor of social entrepreneurship and an entrepreneur, people often approach me with all their ideas. They get overwhelmed with how to start choosing their first venture (or second, for that matter).

How do you start? Whether you are new to entrepreneurship or starting another venture, you begin the same way:

Uncover your strengths FIRST: Research suggests that the most successful enterprises (for-profit or social) leverage each individual’s or organization’s strengths. Begin with your staff and/or board and brainstorm. What do you already have or know? Think broadly about your unique assets. For me, my unique asset was my speaking ability. I was a debater in high school and have always loved to craft a great speech.

Evaluate your strengths: After you identify your strengths, vote on the top five to seven strengths that are most unique, have value to others, and are closest to your mission. Then, walk through the questions below for each strength. Questions to ask:

Is it different and distinct?
Who would value this strength?
How valuable is it? Do other options exist?
What is the market willing to pay for this strength?
Is this a long-term strength?

For me, my strength was my speaking ability. Through these questions, I realized that it was valuable to many different audiences and could present a long-term strength.

Identify opportunities from TOP strengths: After evaluating your strengths, think of all the opportunities that exist for that strength. For me, I could write speeches for others, write and present speeches myself, or teach others how to speak more effectively.

Assess your opportunities: After you identify your opportunities, vote on the top five to six opportunities and then walk through each question below to assess their promise based on ease of implementation, fit, and profit. Questions to ask:

Ease of Implementation:

Do we have the right internal expertise and capacity?
How complex is the opportunity?


Does this fit with existing businesses?
Does this fit with our image?


What are the startup costs?
What is the market demand and/or willingness to pay?
How soon can we expect a profit?

Based on this, you will have an objective assessment of which opportunities have the most promise.

Not every venture is viable. Success requires the right opportunity, the right timing, and the right process. Once you determine that all of these are aligned, take each opportunity and conduct a feasibility assessment. The feasibility assessment allows you to “fail early and cheaply” and helps you decide on a go or no-go decision. If the feasibility assessment is promising, the next step is developing a business plan to create a roadmap for your venture. Once you go through these steps, you will have the confidence that your venture is not only the best opportunity for you, but also a viable business venture for years to come.

A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.

Suzanne Smith, MBA is a serial social entrepreneur and bridges many disciplines, including serving on the National Board of the Social Enterprise Alliance, coaching nonprofits as Managing Director of Social Impact Architects and Co-Founder of Flywheel: Social Enterprise Hub, and educating future leaders as Adjunct Professor at the University of North Texas. She holds an MBA from Duke University, where she was a CASE (Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship) Scholar and continues to serve as a Research Fellow.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.


Skrillex Parallels Art & Entrepreneurship, And Then Interviews Summit’s Jeff Rosenthal

Skrillex,Jeff Rosenthal,Summit,IMS Engage,Entrepreneurship

Summit founder Jeff Rosenthal and Skrillex, interview each other at IMS Engage (photo: billboard.com)

Sonny Moore, who’s much more widely known as electronic artist Skrillex, was part of a fireside chat at the IMS Engage event in Los Angeles last month. IMS Engage is the International Music Summit’s event that bridges music, technology and innovation. To give you an idea of the scope, in addition to this fireside chat with Skrillex and Jeff Rosenthal, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, had a fireside chat with Diplo at the same event.

The interview opened with the usual background story that Skrillex tells, but they spent less than five minutes on the background. Skrillex seemed more impressed with what Rosenthal and his co-founders with the Summit Series have done as entrepreneurs and innovators.

The Summit Series is a series of events created by Elliott Bisnow, Ryan Begelman, Brett Leve, Jeremy Schwartz and Rosenthal. They wanted to create networking experiences for young entrepreneurs, not just run of the mill conferences. Their first event was a free ski trip to Park City Utah and had just 19 attendees.

Now they’ve grown into a global organization with headquarters in Malibu. Tony Hsieh, Russell Simmons, Imogen Heap and Dhani Jones have all attended their events. They were also able to garner support from former President Bill Clinton.

They are now preparing on their next big thing which is purchasing a mountain ski resort to create an innovation city.

Skrillex spent a majority of the interview actually digging this information out of Rosenthal. While Skrillex has also taken on building community and creative space for electronics “in the box” musicians in Los Angeles, he resonated with the entrepreneurial growth inspired by the Summit team.

Rosenthal talked about how he and his co-founding buddies had maxed out their credit cards and gone in debt on their first couple of events. Skrillex said he can totally relate having been in debt $50,000 just 1000 days (three years earlier). Like a true entrepreneur, Skrillex leveraged everything he had to build his artisti base. He had rented a warehouse and lived in it with his buddies. The warehouse space served as studio space and at one point Skrillex was evicted. He finally started making money and had $1 million dollars in the bank and then he made a conscious decision to blow all of that money on production giving his fans “the most incredible shows in the world”.

Skrillex credited Hypem the music blog aggregator and Soundcloud with helping bring him to fame.

Rosenthal and Skrillex both agreed with musicians and entrepreneurs it’s all about a body of work.

Towards the end of the conversation Skrillex asked Rosenthal why they created the Summit Series. Rosenthal replied that at first it was for them, they didnt have a peer group. “We like to connect and inspire the thought leaders of our time” Rosenthal told Skrillex.

Really this is a great interview, Skrillex is so passionately into what Rosenthal is doing, and really this was a fireside chat, not an interview.

Check out the interview video below.

Now check out Ashton Kutcher on the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013.


BizKids And Ernst & Young Holding Social Startup Contest For Kids!

BizKids,Ernst & Young,Entrepreneurship, Social entrepreneurship,startup,startupsThe Emmy Award winning public television series Biz Kids has teamed up with Ernst and Young for a startup contest for kids. Entrepreneurs are getting younger and younger. We’ve seen sixth graders present at major conferences, 10 year olds make hundreds of thousands of dollars in the app store and a plethora of straight from high school to the accelerator stories in the last few years.

What we haven’t seen yet is a targeted entrepreneurial/startup contest for social entrepreneurship. Kids, that want to make a difference.

That’s the theme behind Ernst & Young, and Biz Kids “Build Your Social Biz” contest.

BizKids has put out a call for social kidtrepreneurs to submit their plans for a business that will help the community. While the ideas will most likely be plentiful and abstract Biz Kids reminds interested kids that a social business or “biz” can be anything from a dog walking business to selling cookies. They warn though, that they are looking for a social business not just “fundraising” projects.

There are five cash prizes up for grabs. The grand prize winner will receive $3,000 in cash for their social business along with a mentor from Ernst & Young. The runner up will receive $1,500 along with mentorship from Ernst & Young. There are three “honorable mention” prizes of $500 cash and each also gets a mentor from Ernst & Young.

Participants fill out the online entry form on www.bizkids.com then upload a one-minute video pitch on why their project should win. Entries will not be judged by the quality of the video but by the presentation of the vision for their social enterprise.

Entries are due December 31, 2012. A panel of judges will cull the top five entrants, and the names will be posted on the Biz Kid$ website by mid-February. The winner will be chosen by popular vote, which will take place over four weeks. Winner will be announced by the end of March. First place will win $3,000 and a lunch with a special guest; runner up will win $1,500; and three honorable mentions will win $500 each. All finalists will be paired with an expert mentor chosen to fit the nature of their business.


Here’s a link to the contest page

More startup news from nibletz.com

Have you seen this?


Utah High School Teacher Organizes Entrepreneurship/Startup Google+ Hangout With Shark Tank’s Daymond John

Daymond John the entrepreneur and brains behind the worldwide brand FuBu has been speaking to folks about the trials and tribulations of startups and entrepreneurship for years. Since he took his business from the trunk of the car and made it a recognized brand on every street corner in America and around the world John has been passionate about business. It also helps that he has been one of the panelists on ABC’s Shark Tank for all three seasons.

That’s why Utah High School Business teacher Jeff McCauley was resilient in trying to contact John for some kind of entrepreneurship event with his students. Originally McCauley had wanted to Skype with John and his class however that idea took a pivot in the year it took to nail a date down. What ended up happening was nothing short of phenomenal for the over 100 high school kids around the country that attended the hangout on Google’s Google+ Hangout platform.

McCauley is no stranger to Shark Tank either. He admits to showing the program to his students to show real life examples of the lessons that he teaches everyday.

More after the break
Read More…

BUILD Entrepreneurship Program To Honor Reid Hoffman At Gala Tonight

Reid Hoffman (photo: Crunchbase_

The BUILD Entrepreneurship Program was established in 1999 with a goal of propelling disengaged high school students academically through entrepreneurship. Build started in Silicon Valley. It’s a four year college prep program that helps high school students develop, build and run their own small businesses. The program currently serves 1,000 students  and has expanded to Oakland, the San Francisco Peninsula and Washington DC.  It was initially funded by Franklin “Pitch” Johnson and his wife Catherine.

Tonight at a gala dinner and award reception at the computer history museum in Mountain View California, build will honor Linked In co-founder Reid Hoffman with it’s coveted “Pitch Prize” named after Johnson.  Last year’s recipient, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, will present the honor to Hoffman.

More after the break
Read More…