Be Like LeBron: Build Your Business at Home


Where we grow up influences our ideas, imagination and relationships. Our home communities are the launching pads from which we explore the world, most often leaving to find the perfect place to live and work. This usually means moving to the city, leaving rural and small communities to slowly decline.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. We can build our communities to be the ones we want to live in. LeBron James just accepted this challenge, and you can too.

The Decision to Lead

LeBron James gave hope to communities everywhere by announcing he was returning to Ohio to play basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Interestingly, his decision was to return home first and play basketball second:

“Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can.”

In his open letter to Sports Illustrated, LeBron articulated a certain feeling of responsibility that many of us feel when thinking about our homes. Usually, we are too afraid to act upon this feeling:

“I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.”

The Perfect Place

It’s easy to find the perfect place. You can quickly search the top cities in the world and shop for homes the way you would shop produce in the grocery store, choosing the one that is just the right size, color and flavor for who you want to be. However, it’s much harder to create the perfect place. Looking around your community and raising your hand to create change takes time and work. But it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Knowing that you were there when no one else was, sweating and creating change, creates your legacy and forces you to work harder than you thought possible. In doing so, you make more of a difference than you could have imagined.

The challenge of returning home and building your community is that it never ends. You never quite get things the way you want them; but that’s the fun part. When you take ownership in your city, you join an organic creation that is continually moving and changing. You are one of the leaders driving that change.

LeBron admitted as much when he said:

“I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that.”

The Prodigal Path

LeBron’s decision highlights the prodigal path we hope our own children will take: exploring the world, mastering a craft and returning to share.

First for LeBron was the disastrous decision. As he admits in his letter, he would have done things differently if he’d had the chance, but he still would have left:

“These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go…Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”

Explore the World

Building a community does not mean you can’t leave. Quite the contrary. Our communities are best when new ideas are brought into them. It is thus essential for us to first explore the world and discover what is possible. For LeBron, this meant heading to South Beach.

For the un-athletic, this might mean going to college, traveling the world, working in the Peace Corps, volunteering for an organization, working a variety of different jobs, dating a variety of people, playing in a band, learning to surf or studying a new language.

Whatever your curiosity calls you to do, do it. Learn from it. Then, use your time in the world to master your craft.

Master A Craft

Once we discover our passion out in the world, we then need to work on it. It’s difficult to start something in your own community until you have perspective and experience on how it works.

LeBron needed experience working in a world-class organization so he knew what he wanted to build when he returned home. You might need time in a certain job, place or relationship before you have an idea of what you want to dedicate your time to building.

Share Your Discoveries

The final step of returning home is always the most difficult. Most of us believe it’s not possible. Fortunately, now more than any moment in history, we can live anywhere and connect with others everywhere.

This presents a new opportunity for communities around the world. The top talent can live in your city and still work with clients anywhere or learn from colleagues and collaborators everywhere. What’s more, these returnees come with a wealth of experience. They have explored the world, discovered a craft and now they have returned to share what they have discovered.

As we master a craft, we need to ask ourselves: Can I bring this skill back to the place that matters to me? How can I share my knowledge and passion with those who matter most?

Some industries pose interesting challenges. There are only 30 NBA teams, so we can’t all return home to play for our local one. The vast majority of us, however, have no excuse.

  • If your community doesn’t have the business or industry you want to work in, build it.
  • If your community doesn’t have the cultural scene that you long for, nurture it.
  • If your community doesn’t have the people you want to spend time with, invite them to join.

What’s amazing is that a tiny number of people who care about their community can inspire massive action.

By returning home and building the community you want to be a part of, you are showing others that it is possible. You are proving that it is not hard to start. Your bravery in starting means that others will follow suit. This is how change happens and this is how movements are started.

The Return Home Revolution

LeBron may not have single-handedly launched the return home revolution. He has, however, validated the desire many of us feel: the calling to return home and make our community better.

As in Northeast Ohio, so is it in communities around the world:

“In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”

Fortunately the hard work is part of the reward, and the amazing things you build will influence the generations who follow. As LeBron said: “I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.” Are you?

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

Scott Meyer is the “brofounder” (co-founder and brother) of 9 Clouds, a digital marketing and education firm that improves the digital literacy of businesses. He writes and hosts the Digital Homesteading blog and podcast focusing on growing rural business and community and is the author of “Navigating Social Media: A Field Guide.”

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Start Where You Are–The Clock’s Ticking




Do you hear that?

The clock is ticking down!

TODAY is the last day to grab tickets at the early bird price of $150.

incontent3If you’re reading this, you’re probably an entrepreneur outside Silicon Valley. “Everywhere else.”

  • Feeling a little lonely?
  • Like you can’t find quality education?
  • Like there’s never enough capital?
  • And no one understands you?

Imagine being able to solve these issues in just 3 days.


Silicon Valley-level mentorship…

You don’t have to go to a tech hub to find startup experts. They’re coming to Everywhere Else Tennessee!
Jim McKelvey cofounded Square and changed the way we do payments.
Josh Miller sold Branch to Facebook in January. At age 22.
Paul Singh has mentored hundreds (thousands?) of founders through 500 Startups and Disruption Corporation.
Nicole Glaros is part of building Techstars, arguably the best accelerator outside Silicon Valley.

And they’re all coming to Memphis in 30 days! (Btw, so. are. these folks.)

…No pretension allowed

Sure, listen to the kick ass speakers.
But you can also track them down in the halls or at the after parties. Attendance is capped at 400 people, so you’ll be able to find them easily.
EETN speakers and presenters are there for YOU, to help YOUR company grow.

Hunt down capital

Have your elevator pitch ready.
Investors are coming in from around the country. And they’re looking for great companies like yours.

Find your tribe

Looking for a cofounder? A mentor? Maybe just a friend to walk the road with?
EETN is THE place to meet founders and entrepreneurs just like you.
Talk startup shop during the day. Then see their true colors at 3 memorable parties after hours.

It’s all happening in Memphis April 30-May 2.

And, today, you can still do it for only $150.

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Just a Few #EETN Early Adopter Tix Left & First 4 Speakers Announced


The countdown is on! Have you gotten your tickets to Everywhere Else Tennessee yet? We only have about 12 early adopter tickets left, so don’t miss out on the best price we’ll offer.

Okay now. For our first round of speaker announcements!

scottgerberScott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs,  and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job. He is also a serial entrepreneur, internationally syndicated columnist, and the host of Founders Forum on Scott has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Fortune, TIME, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Reuters, Mashable, BBC, NPR, Forbes, The Daily Beast, CBS News, US News & World Report, Fox News, Inc. and Entrepreneur, and has been honored by NASDAQ and the White House. Follow him on Twitter at @scottgerber.



John Hall is the co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co, where he helps companies position key individuals as industry influencers and thought leaders. Their clients range from startups to fast-growing companies on the Inc. 5000, as well as Fortune 500 brands. John writes a weekly column at Forbes and has contributed to sites like Business Insider, Inc., and The Washington Post, and many other reputable publications. He’s also the co-creator of Contributor Weekly, a weekly newsletter for contributors, keeping them up-to-date on tips and trends for writing, publishing, and sharing their content. He loves speaking and sharing my expertise on thought leadership, content marketing, and entrepreneurship.


Think Big Partners

Blake Miller, Partner of Think Big Partners, began his entrepreneurial path as an adolescent. At the age of 14, he had already developed his own web design company, creating web pages for friends and family with local small businesses. Miller attended the University of Kansas, where he studied Marketing and Entrepreneurship, furthering his startup education and fueling his ambitious ideas. Currently, Blake manages many of the technical initiatives at Think Big Partners and is the Managing Director of the Think Big Accelerator.



c.f98.Jake-StutzmanJake Stutzman is the owner and creative director at Elevate LLC in Omaha, Nebraska. Elevate focuses on helping clients create consistent design across the web. Jake has 14+ years of experience in design for both mobile and the web, working with large companies and startups alike.

Nibletz And Everywhere Else Are Moving Out Of Beta

Nibletz Everywhere Else

It’s hard to believe its been almost a year since I came on as Nibetz CEO. In that time, you’ve helped us host not 1 but 2 national conferences, tell thousands of your startup stories and foster countless new friendships.

Like any startup though, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. We’ve constantly been striving to get better. Your feedback has played an invaluable part in helping us make the necessary changes to continue to improve.

I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and the way our team has dealt with obstacles and adversity.

The support I’ve received from those closest to me and from all of you that make up the heart of this new, bustling community has been nothing short spectacular.

Looking back, I’ve come to view the first two iterations of our conferences as our alpha and our beta.

Everywhere Else Memphis taught us the importance of community engagement and rallying behind the local support. Everywhere Else Cincinnati taught us how to deliver great programming and facilitate meaningful connections.

Neither event was perfect, but I am grateful to the advisers and all of you who continued to believe in our mission over the last few months. Your insight has been a driving force to the direction we take take going forward.

With our alpha and beta behind us, I am excited about the coming changes to Nibletz and The Everywhere Else Conference Series.

In order to provide the caliber of experience you would expect from a finished product, we will be moving Everywhere Else Memphis back a few months. You will notice a new emphasis on quality connections and startups over quantity. We will also be highlighting those things we all love about Memphis: Beale Street, blues, and BBQ

Lots more details, including something I’m super excited about (and I know you will be to!), will be released in the next couple of weeks. If you’ve already purchased your tickets, thanks, and we look forward to seeing you at the new and improved event.

The conferences aren’t the only change we’re making, though. Monica Selby has joined me on the founding team as editor-in-chief. Monica is passionate about highlighting the best startups everywhere else, and she has some great ideas for new ways to do that. In the short time I’ve worked with her, I’ve realized that Monica is a great teammate and a huge asset to this company. I am really pumped to call her a partner.

One of the first things she will be spearheading is our new weekly newsletter, which will keep you up to date on our very best startup features as well as our conference plans. Go ahead and sign up on the right, takes 2 seconds.

Like I said, we’ve learned a lot in the last year. I want to thank all of our readers, friends, and partners for all of the support and encouragement. We sincerely would not be where we are without you.

I could not be more excited about the next year and all the changes it will bring. As we continue to learn and grow, we are better able to fulfill our mission as the voice of startups everywhere else.

See you in Memphis.

Startup Communities Guru Brad Feld To Kick Off Early Stage Symposium In Madison

Brad Feld, Startup Communities, Everywhere Else, Madison eventThe Wisconsin Technology council has booked Startup Communities Author/Guru, Foundry Founder, and Techstars Co-Founder Brad Feld to kick off their “early stage symposium” event on November 5th in Madison. Feld will be speaking to the group of entrepreneurs and innovators via telepresence at 8:30am the morning of Tuesday November 5th.

As an added bonus all of the attendees to the early morning kick off lecture will also receive a copy of Feld’s book Startup Communities, which serves as the unofficial bible to building and strengthening your startup community/ecosystem.

Feld has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he helped start Mobius Venture Capital and previously co-founded Intensity Ventures. Feld’s role in TechStars began in Boulder and has since spread to six other locations while helping to spark the growth of tech business accelerators nationally.

In addition to his investing efforts, Feld has been active with several non-profit organizations and is chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, co-chair of Startup Colorado, and on the board of UP Global. Feld writes the widely read blogs Feld Thoughts, Startup Revolution, and Ask the VC.

“We’re excited to have Brad Feld address this year’s symposium and to help set the tone for a continued conversation about Wisconsin’s evolving startup scene,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the two-day conference.

The rest of the event will feature:

• Presentations by more than 20 companies selected for the Wisconsin Angel Network investors’ track. Investors from across Wisconsin and beyond will attend.

• The annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, which provide 90-second presentation opportunities for 15 or more additional companies. A panel of investors will judge the contest.

• More than a dozen panel discussions or plenary sessions featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.

• “Office hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts on a variety of topics in small discussion groups or one-on-one.

• SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past year.

• The annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based technologies.

• Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.

• A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.

More info on the event can be found here.

More on Brad Feld can be found here.


CB Insights: Silicon Valley Is The Only Relevant Market For Venture Capital

VCstory2Top research firm CB Insights released some very relevant and interesting data last week. The firm has been diving into their VC data to better understand fund performance and syndicate. In what they call one of their “more polarizing” briefs, they revealed that even today Silicon Valley is the most relevant market for venture capital. Silicon Valley is still producing the most exits.

Their latest data, measuring deal flow across the country, Silicon Valley still represents 52% of VC backed exits, leaving “everywhere else” with an improved, but still less, 48%.

VC, Silicon Valley, Everywhere Else, Rise Of The Rest, Everywhere Else Conference

When purely looking at the value of exits, Silicon Valley is still far ahead of everywhere else. When CB Insights analyzed the valuation of the top 50 exits in the country Silicon Valley companies accounted for 86% to the top aggregate exit valuations of those top 50 exits. In 2012 Facebook’s IPO accounted for a tremendous chunk of the 86% but once removed Silicon Valley still accounts for 54% of the aggregate exit valuations.

New York, Southern California, Massachusetts and Illinois trail behind Silicon Valley.

There are even investors who believe that New York is a waste of time.

CB Insights reports that at a recent dinner in NY hosted by Silicon Valley firm Lowenstein Sandler one VC said “New York is an irrelevant market for us as a venture capital firm. They went on to say that from the investor’s perspective allocating his firm,s time to New York or any other market outside of Silicon Valley was a waste of time.

But there’s hope.

Late last month AOL founder Steve Case announced that his Revolution Venture Fund had raised $200 million dollars that they were specifically going to use to back companies everywhere else. Case’s big mantra is “Rise of the rest,” and that is exactly what’s going on now.

There have always been investors and startups everywhere else. One of the fundamental problems we’ve found since launching Nibletz and the Everywhere Else conferences is that entrepreneurs and investors exist everywhere. The problem lies in the fact that the entrepreneurs believe that it’s best to move to Silicon Valley or in some regards New York City to grow their company. At the same time the investors either don’t know that there are good deals in their own neighborhoods or it’s just flashier to find an investment in a larger city or participate in rounds with Silicon Valley.

Investors like Mercury Fund’s Blair Garrou, Dundee Venture Capital’s Mark Hasebroock, and Drive Capital’s Mark Kvamme all see the value in finding startups worth investing in everywhere else, thus contributing to the rise of the rest. These investors are not alone. At our recent Everywhere Else Cincinnati conference, we had over 40 investors from across the country that represented over $1 billion dollars in deals across Everywhere Else. (Note we still consider New York Everywhere Else and obviously many others do too.)

Events like Big Omaha, Big KC, UpGlobal’s startup summit, and the Everywhere Else Conference Series all unite entrepreneurs from everywhere else to continue developing their own market.

The notion that innovation only happens in Silicon Valley is quite ridiculous. Cars were invented in Detroit. Air planes were invented in North Carolina (some may dispute that). The overnight package was invented in Memphis, Tennessee. In the overall landscape of things, everywhere else far outweighs the rest of the country as far as large corporations being founded and continuing to produce.

What Does It Cost to Run a Startup? [Infographic]

There are many costs associated with running a startup. Designers, developers, office space and supplies, and travel all add up. While each company will have costs unique to them, it’s pretty safe to say that starting a world-changing company is expensive.

We’ve always said location makes a difference, though. It’s expensive to live and work in big hubs like San Francisco and New York. Investor money can go further in the flyover states than it can on the coasts.–a startup that connects companies with talented remote workers–produced an infographic outlining the costs of starting up in different cities worldwide. They calculated to the cost of office space and the salaries of 2 developers and 1 designer to find which city was most expensive to start up in.

Surprisingly, New York came in third, behind Zurich and Sydney. San Francisco was only marginally cheaper than New York, and Manila came it at the least expensive. In the Philippines, you can apparently start up for $45,000 a year, which is half the salary of 1 developer in Zurich.

Of course, not every startup needs office space, or 2 developers and designer. Coworking can make office space less expensive, and these days a lot of things can be outsourced. Regardless, it’s interesting to see the numbers support the idea that starting up everywhere else has financial benefits, too.

Check out the infographic from below:


What Does It Cost to Run a Startup? Infographic – Connecting Great Companies with Global Talent

Four Rules Every Female Entrepreneur Should Follow

ericanicoleWhile many business challenges are common for all founders, there are unique lessons that women entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to learn in business. Here are several essential lessons I’ve learned as a successful female entrepreneur and what every female founder should know along the way:

  1. Own your success.
    There are several things that, as a woman, you should never apologize for, and at the top of that list is your well-deserved success. The apologetic undertone of some women entrepreneurs is subtle, laced with an excuse, chocked up to ‘luck’ or a dismissed congratulatory pat on the back. Many of us aren’t outright asserting, “I’m sorry that I am successful,” but a lack of confidence and all of the above are bedfellows of the same notion. Ladies, we already face an uphill battle in some cases. Don’t pack more unnecessary personal baggage on your rise to the top. When you earn a congratulatory remark from your peers, embrace it gracefully and confidently. And according to leadership consultant, Rachelle J. Canter, Ph.D., “If you can’t own this success for yourself, then own it for all the other women who look up to you and emulate you.”
  2. Never underestimate your value.
    We have all read the headlines that insist women still earn less than men. According to ThinkProgress contributor Sarah Glynn, in the U.S., “women on average make only $.77 cents to every dollar earned by men. Some of that wage gap is the result of women being more likely to work in certain industries or occupations, but about 40 percent of the difference in men’s and women’s wages cannot be explained by any measurable factor.” As a woman, this pay gap may have haunted you in corporate America. But it should no longer hold court in your business. Consider this: you are in complete control of your earning potential. In order to make a shift in your business you must be aware of your gifts and talents, understand what you have to offer within your industry, and monetize your products and services to reflect what the market will bear. Couple all of this with your unique value creation. Tell yourself a positive story about what you have to offer the world. No more excuses. As Albert Einstein notably suggested, “If you put a small value on yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”
  3. It’s lonely at the top, so bring others with you.
    By nature, the front-end of innovation is lonely, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “You do something no one else has ever done and leave everyone else scratching their heads and howling in protest. As the saying goes, ‘You can tell who the pioneers are from the arrows sticking out of their backs,'” suggests MACPA contributor Bill Sharidan. An article published by the Harvard Business Review echoes this notion —  it’s isolating at the top. For founders, it can be unsettling. The survey found that “half of CEOs report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role, and of this group, 61 percent believe it hinders their performance. First-time CEOs are particularly susceptible to this isolation.” Much of the loneliness that entrepreneurial leaders will face is connected to the growing pains of personal development. Or as Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, has said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
  4. Be unapologetically authentic.
    Authenticity is a bankable currency. It can define your business and set you apart from the clutter of a cookie-cutter marketplace. You (and your customers) are not well-served by haphazard attempts to be someone else. According to organizational development professors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, “Leadership demands the expression of an authentic self. Try to lead like someone else and you will fail. Employees will not follow a CEO who invests little of himself in his leadership behaviors. People want to be led by someone ‘real.’” The same can be said for your business and its customers. Authenticity in business is a baseline of belief in what you say and in what you sell. It is the courage to offer unique value and market yourself in a way that is consistent with your brand. Being everything to everyone sets you up to be nothing to no one.

Erica Nicole is the founder and CEO of YFS Magazine, the definitive digital magazine for startup, small business news and entrepreneurial culture. As an entrepreneurial change-agent, Erica Nicole been featured in national media outlets including, Upstart Business Journal, Fox Business, MSN Business on Main, The Huffington Post, Black Enterprise and more.

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.

4 Steps To Find The Right Mentor For Your Startup

Everywhere Else, Startup Tips, YECPeople often say that finding a mentor is essential as an entrepreneur, especially if you’re young. I am a junior at Duke University and the co-founder of Star Toilet Paper, so the experience I had prior to starting this company includes camp and caddying work. How do I even know what steps to take or how to develop a business?

While many people within the realm of entrepreneurship are willing to help, there is a big difference between someone who answers a few questions for you and someone who is genuinely interested and invested (not monetarily) in both your company and in you as a person. To me, the most important aspect of a mentor is the latter; your mentor must have a vested interest in learning more about you and what you wish to do to change the world with your new company.

But how do you go about obtaining this type of mentor, and how do you know if they are the right person?

Where: In college, I have access to both people and resources. But you don’t need to be a student to access the people and resources you need. In any major city, there will be a variety of incubators, accelerators and universities which are hotbeds for innovation and centers of knowledge. That does not mean that you need to find the entrepreneurship professor at the closest university. See what is around you and how you can make the most out of those resources. I have found that it is often the third or fourth degree of separation that leads to the best person for you.

When: ASAP! Even if you have thousands or millions of dollars in revenue, a mentor can be helpful. It is important to know that, no matter where you are in your business, there is always room for improvement and a sounding board. The advantage of having a mentor as that sounding board rather than an employee or co-founder is that they come with a consumer perspective. When you work on something 24/7, you begin to lose touch with the thoughts of those who will actually be using the product. Having someone outside the company is a great way to get back in touch with that side without having to test or survey.

How: Just ask. Having access to people and resources is helpful, but the relationships do not go as far as mentorship. Generally someone interested in mentoring will send emails saying things like, “Hey, wanted to catch up and see if there was anything I could do!” They recognize how valuable their time is to you and thus, you need to do the same. Tell them what you are looking for and why you specifically want them to mentor you. Demonstrate the value that they will have in the company. And just ask.

So…Who?: Of course, there is no easy answer to this question; it depends on personal preference and what you are looking for help with specifically. For example, in our case, there are multiple possibilities. We are looking for people with expertise in the toilet paper field, in the marketing field, and in the business development field. Chances are, just one person doesn’t embody these characteristics.

That being said, it is better to have different people with different types of expertise so that you know the question you are asking will be answered by somebody with years of knowledge and experience.

Furthermore, when you find someone you believe could make a valuable mentor, ask yourself whether you are comfortable sitting down for hours and talking with that person, both about the company and yourself. Your mentor should love what you are doing and love your passion. Make sure that they are interested in you at least as much as they love the business.

Bryan Silverman is the co-founder of Star Toilet Paper and a junior studying neuroscience at Duke University. His company utilizes a two-ply business model: they first obtain a large public venue to receive toilet paper at no cost, then reach out to advertisers who pay half a cent per ad to target that demographic. He is a New Yorker at heart, a diehard Yankees, Giants, and Nets fan and of course, a Cameron Crazie.

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.

10 Best Blogs For Business Advice

YEC, Everywhere Else, Startups, Startup TipsQuestion: What’s your favorite blog for Internet-based business advice?

Start with SEOMoz

The Daily SEO Blog from SEOMoz is filled with articles on marketing, brand building, community management and more. The company embraces transparency and often shares their own strategies and metrics to better help other online companies. Using the advice from the SEOMoz blog, we’ve managed to increase our traffic by 10 times in the past year. Thank you, SEOMoz!”

Opt Into Unbounce

“What Oli Gardner and his team have built with the Unbounce blog is amazing. This is my favorite because they have incredibly useful infographics on the process of internet marketing. Very few blogs go as in-depth on internet marketing as Unbounce. Make sure you check out their “Noob Guide to Online Marketing,” which is a great cheat sheet to continuously grow your company’s brand online.”

Make Use of Mixergy

“I love these targeted interviews from Mixergy that I can watch with Andrew Warner and his guests. Generic advice just isn’t as valuable, and being able to watch the guest adds another dimension. The interviews are inspiring and always leave me with ideas, tactics and strategies to implement in my business.”

Learn From @ASmartBear

@ASmartBear is a really insightful blog for startup entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs with a focus on marketing and customer acquisition. Jason Cohen, the author of the blog, previously built a multi-million dollar company without VC money, and then sold it for cash.”

Anita Loomba for More Media

Anita Loomba has created a fantastic social media and online marketing blog that displays visual infographics and provides relevant and valuable information for anyone looking for ways to get a handle on their social media. You can subscribe to her blog through email too, which helps when you’re on the go and not at your computer!”

Stacey Ferreira | Co-Founder and Vice President, MySocialCloud

The @KISSmetrics Marketing Blog

The @KISSmetrics Marketing Blog has some of the best Internet marketing advice I have ever found. They are wonderful about breaking down complex techniques into step-by-step instructions. It’s one of the few business blogs online where I don’t feel like I have wasted 10 minutes of my life, reading the same old advice rehashed over and over again, like elsewhere!”

Find Fred Wilson on AVC

“Fred Wilson, a VC and principal at Union Square Ventures, has a daily blog called AVC that he has written for years. His posts are insightful (check out the archives too!), but even more valuable is the comments section, which often runs hundreds of comments deep. Each post is a dense discussion of savvy Internet-based business advice from entrepreneurs, VCs, marketers, sales folks and more.”

Aaron Schwartz | Founder and CEO, Modify Watches

Vin Vacanti’s How To Make It as a First-Time Entrepeneur

“Yipit co-founder and CEO Vin Vacanti writes a blog that is full of thoughtful, honest, actionable and inspiring lessons. Especially relevant to the first-time entrepreneur, but really relevant to just about anyone, each of Vin’s posts is a winner.”

Derek Flanzraich | CEO and Founder, Greatist

Peek Into PandoDaily

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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.


From Conference Volunteer To Startup Founder, Audrey Jones Is In The Zone

Everywhere Else, Kids360, Startup, Audrey Jones, Everywhere Else Startup Conference, startupLast February I had no idea who Audrey Jones was. We were preparing for Everywhere Else Memphis and knee deep in getting ready. diPR consulting’s Danielle Inez was recruiting volunteers and handling many of the pre-show logistics.

When the conference time finally arrived, we met up with all of the onsite volunteers. Audrey Jones was one of them. She told us in an interview that she had heard good things about the conference and was curious about what it was all about. She received an email from one of the civic groups she works with for volunteers and decided she would sign up for one shift.

That day, she took control of registration and front end organization and then stayed on throughout the entire conference, never missing a beat. It was like we had planned and rehearsed her role for months, but for Jones, organization and execution come naturally. It’s one of the qualities her full time employer, Memphis based AutoZone loves about her.

In fact several people from AutoZone’s marketing and IT departments attended at least some part of the inaugural conference in Memphis. At some point during the conference an AutoZone employee came up to me and congratulated us on a job well done. He then said that we could have Audrey for the remaining two days of the conference, but not only that she wouldn’t have to take time off, AutoZone was paying her to work for us.

Marston-1But this story isn’t about a great conference volunteer or a great company in Memphis. The story continues.

Jones was so intrigued by what she witnessed at the Startup Conference that she started spending her free time with Start Co, the Memphis organization that serves as an umbrella for many of Memphis’ startup efforts. Jones stayed in touch with many of the people she met at the conference from across the country and started to work on an idea.

What intrigued Jones most about Start Co and their various startup initiatives was Upstart Memphis, a women’s startup initiative that included a women’s only 48 Hour Launch and a women’s only startup accelerator.

Jones’ preliminary idea revolved around the way that parents, loved ones, family members, and caregivers communicate. There’s so much technology out there now that phone trees are pretty much dead wood.

“It’s a platform that allows parents to list their children’s emergency contact information electronically. It’s the alternative to the cluttered file cabinet in emergency situations. Parents can grant access to whomever needs access, like sittrs, tutors, daycare and childcare providers,” Jones told us.

Jones had no idea she was an entrepreneur or a startup founder in January of this year.  By spring she was talking to people about this idea. Then Start Co put a call out to women led startups to apply for their inaugural summer cohort for their women’s accelerator. Jones admitted she felt like she didn’t think she would get in, but went forward with the application process, even citing Nibletz as a reference after her work with the conference.

Kids360 was one of the four startups selected for the women’s only cohort that puts the women founded startups through a bootcamp-style, intense business and entrepreneurial accelerator. The hope for Start Co co-presidents Andre Fowlkes and Eric Mathews is that founders will be launch ready at the end of the accelerator, which is really just the beginning.

For Jones it’s been non stop since the accelerator kicked off at the beginning of the summer. She continues to work full time for AutoZone and spends another 40-50 hours a week on Kids360.

“Audrey is a great example of the type of entrepreneur we find here in Memphis. She is constantly grinding whether it’s her own startup, helping others or on her job. She’s putting the resources of StartCo to work for her every chance she gets,” Mathews told us by email.

It helps that Audrey works for AutoZone, a company founded by serial entrepreneur Pitt Hyde. The company was very supportive during those few days of the conference and continues to support Jones with a little extra flexibility in her schedule while she is going through the accelerator program. This isn’t the first time that AutoZone has supported one of their employees going through one of Start Co’s accelerator programs. In fact it’s their third go round and they would continue to do it over and over again, Jones tells us.


“Because entrepreneurs make the best employees,” Jones told us. She is very open about her startup and what she is doing in the program. Everyone on her team all the way up to Pitt Hyde knows that she’s in the program. “Whenever I see Mr. Hyde in the halls I smile with my AutoZone uniform on and re-pitch him again,” Jones said.

“We’ve seen quite a few entrepreneurs come through the ranks at Autozone, which is very supportive of our young entrepreneurs and Start Co.  Audrey markes the third time that we’ve been able to help an Autozone employee hone in their inner entrepreneur,” Mathews said.

Hyde is also very supportive of entrepreneurial efforts in Memphis. He is a major supporter and director for Memphis Bioworks and their Zeroto510 accelerator, which is run in partnership with Bioworks and Start Co.

So now with just weeks to go before demo day at the UpStart accelerator, Jones is gearing up to have a booth at Everywhere Else Cincinnati’s Startup Avenue. She’s looking forward to real life pitch practice, talking to investors, and of course helping out the Everywhere Else team.

You can find out more about Kids360 at

It’s not too late to get your own booth or attendee ticket for Everywhere Else Cincinnati.

Startup Phenomenon: The Conference for Ecosystems Everywhere Else


As you know, we are fast approaching Everywhere Else Cincinnati. We’re gearing up for an awesome two days of speakers, networking, and pitching. We’re focusing on educating the early stage entrepreneur everywhere else. Have you gotten your tickets yet?

It’s true all of us at Nibletz are working hard to bring you the best conference everywhere else. But, when we heard about another event happening in November, we couldn’t help but take notice.

Startup Phenomenon is hoping to catalyze startup communities. I think the quote on the home page says it all:

For all the talk of disruption, the startup world has started to look a lot like any traditional industry—a geographic consolidation of power where just a few established players hold the keys. It’s time for a change. It’s time for the rest of the world to get in the game.

That’s what the Startup Phenomenon team is hoping to do: inspire the rest of the world to get in the game.

“We were working with Brad Feld to create an event this November about startup communities (all based on his Startup Revolution books). But in the course of planning that conference, we’ve realized that it was too big for just one event,” said John Bradley, Senior VP, Content and Strategy, for the Van Heyst Group.

Absolutely. Why do one event when you can do a bunch? We at Nibletz totally agree!

Earlier this month, the Startup Phenomenon kicked off with a women’s event in Boulder. 500 men and women gathered for the one day conference at the University of Colorado, and they heard 42 speakers talk about the different issues surrounding gender diversity in the startup world.

But, of course, that’s not all. After the flagship event in November, the team will move on to planning events in Omaha, Reykjavik, Nairobi, Auckland, and Moscow. There is even talk of a Middle East event, though there are few details on that at the moment.

Brad Feld and Jim Collins will anchor the main event in November. Feld is a huge advocate of startups everywhere else, and he writes a lot about what it takes to creates a successful ecosystem. Collins has authored several books, including Built to Last.

That event boasts hundreds of speakers or panelists and a pitch contest. At the conference, there will also be “hubs” in which leaders from several industries will get together and talk about the various challenges they are facing in the startup world. Leaders in the fields of entrepreneurship and leaders, food, earth technology, capital, health and wellness, and science and arts hope to come away with new ideas about how to tackle innovation in their own spheres.

Lately, it seems there is no shortage of conferences and events for startups. Each good event, though, has its own value proposition. Startup Phenomenon is for those entrepreneurs who are passionate about building their communities, who are making the commitment to grow the startup cluster where they are.

That’s a value proposition Nibletz and its readers can get behind! Learn more about Startup Phenomenon here.

Make sure you have your ticket or Startup Avenue booth for this national startup conference.


CincyTech Closes Biggest Fund To Date

CincyTech, Funding, Cincinnati startups, Everywhere Else

CincyTech, the public/private partnership, seed stage investor, and pillar of the Cincinnati startup community, has reportedly raised it’s largest fund to date. Earlier this month The Cincinnati Business Courier reported that CincyTech has closed on a $10.8 million dollar fund.

CincyTech Fund III, LLC combines a $5 million Ohio Third Frontier investment with $5.9 million raised by CincyTech from Southwest Ohio partners.

Like CincyTech Funds I and II LLC, Fund III will invest in companies focused on information technology and bioscience that are based in or willing to move to Southwest Ohio. The fund has the capacity to invest in at least 15 companies.

“Over the last five years there has been a significant increase in seed stage investment activity in the Cincinnati region. CincyTech Fund III will enable us to continue to invest in entrepreneurs in Southwest Ohio to create jobs and wealth to propel our region forward,” said Bob Coy, president of CincyTech.

CincyTech has a variety of investors that have participated in Fund III, including eight local institutions and 51 individual investors.

“The number of individual investors in Fund III represents a dramatic increase from the nine individual investors in Fund II. These individuals are the foundation of the larger seed stage investment syndicates that we organize for our portfolio companies. Based upon our past investment experience, for every dollar invested in a startup from Fund III, an additional $3 will be invested by other investors in the seed round prior to an investment by an institutional venture capital fund,” said Coy.

Local institutions that have committed to invest in Fund III include Castellini Foundation, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, The Christ Hospital, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

CincyTech has invested in $15.3 million dollars in 43 portfolio companies, including ChoreMonster, Impulcity, Lisnr, VenturePax, Ahalogy and many more.

Speaking of Cincinnati, this huge national conference for startups everywhere else is in Cincinnati Sep 29- October 1.