Top 5 Reasons Startup Founders Blow Through Money

Markerly, Sarah Ware, Startup Tips, Guest Post, DC Startup, 500 StartupsThere’s a lot of reasons why companies don’t make it, and sometimes it’s not that the idea or product isn’t good — it’s just that you run out of money. Even though we know that blowing through money is a “bad” thing, I’ve been talking a lot with founders and investors about what “bad” means. What have they noticed as common themes when they sit down with founders that exhausted their money too quickly at the seed stage?  So here are the top 5 reasons startup founders blow through money.

Let me know your thoughts and if this aligns with what you’ve personally seen. What have you regretted spending money on, or what do you roll your eyes at as an investor?

1. “I have a business meeting in Thailand!”

We all know these founders. They travel somewhere new every week. Their meetings take them around the world–frequently. They are always tired and busy from travelling, and they make sure to check-in at every luxurious hotel they stay at.

Why this fails: The desire to pre-maturely live a life of luxury through funding raised for business development extends to other poor choices. It goes — fast.

Understanding this entrepreneur: Typically extroverted and commands control of the room. Works efficiently on little sleep and cares a lot about appearances.

Can benefit by: Making sure that meetings are efficiently scheduled. One entrepreneur told me they combat this by making a “day trip” rule. If the meeting is important enough to fly for the day and return, it’s a go. It helped this entrepreneur cut down on meetings that could be conducted via phone without sacrificing quality.

2. “That’s way too expensive!”

This is another extreme–founders that don’t want to spend anything and opt for cheap solutions…cheap everything. This sends bad signals to clients and investors and often costs the entrepreneur more in the form of lost opportunities.

Why this fails: Some founders are very conservative. They need money in the bank–a cushion. They are risk takers with anxiety and they want to ensure that they get the results that they need for the next raise.

Understanding this entrepreneur: Typically introverted and mathematical. Usually overly conservative in their predictions.

Can benefit by: Giving up some control and working with investors and advisors to create healthy budgets.

3. “It’s a marketing spend!”

We all enjoy celebrating successes of startups for special launches or funding announcements. Sometimes startups plan evenings with open bars and chalk it up to a good use of marketing dollars. Chances are this isn’t the best use. Same can be said for overly-spending on trade shows, fancy promotional videos, or sponsoring an event before the time is right.

Why this fails: Marketing is extremely important, but many startups will exhaust their “marketing spend” without focusing on basic things first — like establishing a healthy blog presence, or discovering ways to become “experts” in a topic by speaking at conferences. If you’re spending money on marketing and you don’t have a blog, you’re doing it backwards.

Understanding this entrepreneur: Typically extroverted and creative and full of ideas. Too focused on big picture instead of steps to get there.

Can benefit by: Forcing themselves to write plans about their spends. Marketing is about ROI, so if you are planning on spending money you need to know what a worthwhile conversion will be for you. Are you looking for customers, users, app downloads? What result will make you happy?

4. “We’re going to hire salespeople!”

A great mentor told me that you only need one salesperson. She didn’t mean literally one – but she meant that you, as a founder, need to be able to sell your product yourself before trying to hire others to sell it for with/for you. Managing a sales team without getting your hands dirty in the sales process only makes you disconnected from your product, and will frustrate future early sales employees.

Why this fails: As a founder you are the product, don’t expect to hire and watch the numbers soar. Your product won’t sell itself unless you sell it first. It doesn’t matter how many sales people you hire if you don’t have the sales process down in the first place.

Understanding this entrepreneur: Typically they don’t have a background in sales and think that hiring sales employees will magically make numbers appear on a sales board. Typically technical, sometimes egotistical.

Can benefit by: Selling the product. That’s all there is here. If the founder is technical and won’t be doing sales, someone on the founding team must be a hustler. Founders are either selling or building. Choose one and do it well.

5. “I’ll never work for anyone, ever!”

This entrepreneur is right out of college. They don’t want to get a job, or can’t last at a job for more than a few months. They have great ideas and plans and want to change the world, but need some reality first. These founders just spend money in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons, which could be anything from 1-4 mentioned above. Great mentors seem to make or break these types of entrepreneurs.

Why this fails: If you haven’t had a job before you may lack judgement of certain realities and what it really requires to start a business.

Understanding this entrepreneur: Typically driven, these founders need to get broken in a bit before reaching the point of being able to successfully manage others.

Can benefit by: Getting a job and showing that you can work well with others and under the management of others. The goal is to show that you are able to learn and adapt.

Sarah Ware is the co-founder and CEO of Markerly, next generation publisher tools. Markerly is a recent graduate of 500 Startups. Nibletz has used Markerly’s publisher tools since their launch last year. Right click on anything on the site and see the magic happen.

Last year Sarah appeared on Bad Ass Female Founders From Everywhere Else and the “I Survived An Accelerator Panel” hosted by GAN’s Pat Riley,at The Startup Conference! Find out more about the next here.


Female Founder Spotlight: Jess Butcher CMO & CoFounder Of Blippar

Jess Butcher,Blippar,London startup,startup interview,YECJess Butcher is the CMO and Co-Founder of Blippar, and chief proponent and evangelist for the new verb “to blipp.” Follow her @jessbutcher.

Who is your hero? 

Margaret Thatcher. Like her or loathe her, Britain’s first female prime minister made her way in a man’s world and changed the way we think of women politicians.

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

Stop benchmarking yourself against other successful entrepreneurs or business people – it wastes valuable energy!  Your personality and circumstances are unique and there is no right or wrong way to grow an innovative business.  Yes, learn from others’ experiences and be inspired by them, but also make your own rules and navigate your own path.  Trust your gut instinct as much if not more than the numbers, and surround yourself with people who you respect and enjoy working with.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?

I don’t really associate with the word “mistake,” preferring “learning!”

The occasional error of judgement or wrong move can often move your business faster than the right ones. To be honest, I don’t think we’ve made any big errors of judgement — only wasted time and effort that could have been better spent — but you tend only to appreciate that in hindsight, and re-focus accordingly. Knowing when to stop and draw a line under a particular strategy or approach is critical. About-turns are not weak, they’re strong and demonstrate good leadership, but they need to happen quickly and be communicated decisively.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

A bit of Twitter and industry website browsing first thing on my train commute (to put my head up and check out what’s happening around us), then a good half-hour of writing and rewriting to-do lists and priorities for the day.  The sheer number of balls I’m juggling means I’m constantly scribbling down to-do lists. (And I haven’t yet found a to-do app that is as satisfying as my multiple scraps of paper when it comes to drawing a heavy line through a completed item, a big bold star or a screaming, underlined caps item in red!)

What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?

Don’t pay yourselves until you have to!  That, and hire a good finance director. This isn’t always possible from startup, but having that skill set within your founding team seriously helps. If you’re fortunate enough to have a product or service that you can trade for another, then “in kind” deals can help a lot with cash flow in the early days.

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Possibly a slightly strange one — but if you haven’t already got one, find a good “better half” or at least draw closer to those real friends in your life whose support you’ll need.  The life of an entrepreneur is all-consuming, with a poor work-life balance and a roller coaster of highs and lows. Having one personal, special cheerleader who celebrates your highs with you and brings you out of despondency during the lows makes all the difference and keeps you focused and balanced.

What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?

For us, there’s a simple measure of success: when to “blipp” becomes as ubiquitous a verb as googling or tweeting, and as habitual an everyday behavior.  Everywhere we go in our daily lives, we will be surrounded by physical images and objects annotated with Blippar ‘b’ instructions, which tell you why each is worth blipping and unlocking for a unique content experience.   We will simply look at the world around us through an enhanced Blippar lens — whether via our phone or maybe even hardware we wear — and the world will instantaneously jump to life with additional content experiences.

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.

Check out these other Bad Ass Startup Chicks

Top Cities For Women Entrepreneurs In A Pretty Infographic

diversity,women owned startups,female entrepreneursYou love infographics right? Well lately we’ve been talking a lot about the gender divide and promoting women entrepreneurs from “everywhere else” as best we can. We recently told you about a new Memphis accelerator for women founders. Also in Memphis we highlighted Pink Robin Avenue and it’s founder Danielle Inez who grew her startup out of a 48 Hour Launch weekend, to the finals in the Black Enterprise Magazine Elevator Pitch Contest. We also regularly feature a “Bad Ass Startup Chick”.

Well the fine folks at Intuit, the finance company behind products like Quickbooks, have commissioned an infographic using data from Forbes and nerdwallet, highlighting the best cities for women entrepreneurs.

Coming in at number one was Silicon Valley, however the rest of “everywhere else” faired quite well.

Seattle came in at the number 2 spot with a score of 63. Washington DC, Minneapolis and Portland Oregon rounded out the top five. All five cities had more than 30% women owned businesses.

The survey sample for the data consisted of 552 female business owners. 66% have said they are more optimistic about growth in women owned businesses than they were last year.

Dollars and cents.

The most recent data from 2007 says that 7.8 million women owned businesses in the United States, counted for $1.2 trillion dollars in revenue. That’s up from 5.4 million women owned businesses just ten years prior.

Check out the infographic below provided by Intuit.

Intuit Quickbooks


Check out more women owned startups at The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else.


Memphis Woman Takes Her Startup Pink Robin Avenue From 48 Hour Launch To Black Enterprise Pitch Finals

Pink Robin Avenue, Memphis Startup,Danielle Inez,Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Conference,startupIn 10 days thousands of entrepreneurs will convene in Columbus Ohio for the biggest celebration of African American entrepreneurship in the country. The Black Enterprise Entrepreneur’s Conference and Expo is four days of celebrating startups, and small businesses led by some of the brightest entrepreneurs in the country.

Names like Robert Johnson (BET), Daymond John (Fubu/Shark Tank) and Magic Johnson are staples within the pages of Black Enterprise Magazine and in the halls of the conference in years past, and present.

One of the biggest attractions at the conference is the Elevator Pitch Competition. Entrepreneurs with new startups and small businesses have 60 seconds to pitch a vetting panel and if selected, a panel of judges on site at the conference. 10 semifinalists have been selected from across the country. Those semifinalists will have 60 seconds to pitch the judges. Then, they will eliminate five of the semifinalists and the remaining five will pitch the judges for 30 seconds. After the 30 second pitches, there is a Q&A session with the judges and then one entrepreneur will win $10,000 to help grow their company.

Danielle Inez, Memphis native and founder of Pink Robin Avenue, has been selected as one of the ten semifinalists. Her startup is a tech hybrid that allows users to order everything they need for the perfect party online and in one box. Their favors, decorations, theme pieces, and everything else they need for the perfect event is then delivered to their home.

Inez initially pitched the concept in Memphis at the Upstart 48 Hour Launch in December. Her idea was quickly chosen to develop out over the 48 hour hackathon. By Sunday afternoon she had won the weekend competition. Early feedback recognized how valuable Pink Robin Avenue would be, especially for busy people.

The founder is also key to the success of Pink Robin Avenue. Inez owns a PR company that specializes in high profile, luxury and celebrity events. Inez also spent part of her career as a wedding planner with exquisit taste and is incredibly organized with an eye for design, and detail that many people are just too busy to notice.

danielle2Inez is a busy woman. She spends her days tending to the details of her PR firm, diPR which includes a mixed portfolio of clients that touch the luxury world, celebrities and even non profit organizations. She spends another full time jobs’ worth of hours working on Pink Robin Avenue.

Although relatively new to the startup space, Inez has been an entrepreneur her entire life. She got a taste of entrepreneurism and non profits when she started a company focusing on mentoring with her mother. Inez put herself through college helping people plan weddings, events and eventually pivoting that business to the PR company.

Now Inez is ecstatic that a magazine that’s been inspiring her since high school has selected her in the contest. “I’m amazed! I’ve followed the contest for a couple of years and I’ve read the magazine since high school. I’m so happy to be able to represent my city and my network of entrepreneurs from the main stage.” Inez told in an interview.

Inez brings a well versed pitch with a bubbly personality, and she knows her stuff, but above all she’s a fierce competitor; “I’m extremely competitive, so first and foremost, I wanna win! This is also an incredible opportunity for exposure for my business and myself; I plan to plant the seed for potentially valuable connections. Last – but certainly not least – I hope to inspire someone else to step out of their comfort zone and take advantage of the platforms that can help grow their business.”

Inez is one of the founding members of Memphis’ Upstart program. Upstart is initiative set in place by Launch Your City and focuses on empowering women entrepreneurs. Elizabeth Lemmonds is the Chief Relationship Office for Launch Your City and the Director for Upstart. She’s been working closely with Inez since December.

” Ever since Danielle brought Pink Robin Avenue into the Launchpad and to our female founder 48 Hour Launch, I’ve been impressed with both her concept and her sheer tenacity. This remarkable opportunity is a testament to both. I’m proud to have worked with her and look forward to the huge things ahead for Pink Robin Avenue!” Lemmonds told us.

Inez’ Pink Robin Avenue and other startups like Mentor Me, currently accelerating in the Seed Hatchery program are a testament to the fast success Upstart Memphis has seen.

The finals for the Black Entreprise Elevator Pitch contest are bitter sweet for Inez who will miss Seed Hatchery’s Demo Day while she is pitching in Columbus at the Black Enterprise Event. “I can’t believe I’m going to miss Brittany’s pitch (Mentor Me), Brit’sbusinss has evolved into something that seems incredibly profitable”. Mentor Me was one of the other startups selected to build out at that Upstart 48 Hour Launch event where Pink Robin Avenue was born.

Here’s Pink Robin Avenue’s second ever pitch at 48 Hour Launch.

Check out Pink Robin Avenue here.

We’ve been tracking Inez and Pink Robin Avenue since day 1 find out more here at


David Tisch On The Biggest Bullshit VC’s Tell Women Founders & Entrepreneurs

David Tisch,Women entrepreneurs, women startups,techcrunch disrupt,alexia tstotisAlexia Tstotis sat down with a pretty powerful VC panel at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2013 on Tuesday morning. The panelists were Mike Abbott (Kleiner), Aaref Hilaly (Sequoia), Naval Ravikant (AngelList) and David Tisch (Box Group, former Techstars NY).   Tstotis asked some great questions of the panelists and overall the panel shed a lot of light on the world of VC, especially for young entrepreneurs and startups.

Tstotsis final question revolved around women in technology, startups and entrepreneurship.  Everyone wants to know what will help even out the amount of venture capital going to women founders, as their male counterparts.

Overall the number of women involved in VC and angel backed startups has been increasing. Lot’s of attention lately, has been focused on women run, and founded startups. We even feature a “Bad Ass Start Up Chick” on a regular basis here at nibletz.

At the panel though David Tisch, who’s known for speaking his mind and off the cuff, got applause from the audience when he talked about one of the biggest problems women face when in the meeting, pitching the VC.

“VC’s that tell a woman founder, let me ask my wife…It’s total bullshit” and he’s right. For years there have been women led companies, women focused brands, and women focused technologies, this is nothing new. Tisch felt it was off-putting and a total cop out for VC’s to say this, but as he points out, it happens all the time.

Check out the video clip from this morning’s panel below.

Check out more of our TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 coverage here.


Bad Ass Startup Chick: Mentor Me’s Brittany Fitzpatrick

Mentor Me, Seed Hatchery, Brittany Fitzpatrick,Startup,Bad Ass Startup Chick
Community service and helping people have been what Brittany Fitzpatrick’s life’s work have been about. But what makes this Memphian even more amazing is that she left a position with one of the most prestigious, well known brands in the non-profit space, Ronald McDonald House Charities, to start something of her own, again in community service.

As the communications coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis, Brittany took the passion and drive she’s had since high school and through college at Howard University and Memphis University, and combined it with the tools available in recent day to double the groups social media reach. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis works with the most well known children’s research facility in the world, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Over the last six years,  Brittany has been a mentor and helped other mentor’s in a variety of programs. Through her work with Ronald McDonald House Charities and other stops along the way, she found that mentorship was a great thing, but flawed in many ways.

(Brittany’s first pitch at 48 Hour Launch)

When she first pitched the idea for her startup “Mentor Me” back in December at a women focused 48 Hour Launch, she revealed that most mentor orgranizations spend more money re-placing mentors and mentees than they do setting up original pairs. Brittanny quickly realized if someone could fix the initial matching proces than these programs could focus on their original goals and save a lot of money.

That’s where her startup Mentor Me comes in. Mentor Me is a mentor and mentee online matching service that uses a variety of information given from both parties and an algorithm to make more successful matches. While Brittany is hesitant about using the verbage “e-harmony for mentor”, at the core that’s what it is and that’s why it’s going to be so successful.

(Here’s Brittany’s second pitch from 48 Hour Launch)
But the biggest factor in the success of Mentor Me is going to be a combination of the technology and the founder. Brittany is a dynamic young woman. Back in December, the prize for the 48 Hour Launch competition was a startup village booth at When Brittany came in second place she decided to crowdfund the people in the audience so that she too could have a booth for her startup. Within minutes her mission was successful.

We got to interview Brittany as she prepares for demo day at SeedHatchery, where she tells us about her latest venture into crowdfunding and what she’s learning at the Memphis startup accelerator:

So tell us what is Mentor Me?

There are 3 million kids in the U.S. being mentored. Yet, there are another 15 million waiting for mentors. Sadly, half of all matches between mentors and youth end within months – which does more harm than no mentoring at all. One of the top reasons for these pairs falling apart is poor matching.

Mentor Me provides cloud-based mentor matching and management tools that make mentoring more efficient and effective for both programs and mentors.

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea came from my own experiences as a mentor. I’ve been mentoring for 6 years now and have been through the process of getting matched with a mentee several times. Through these experiences, I’ve learned just how much of an impact mentoring can have for both the kids who are being mentored and for the mentors themselves. But, as with any process, there are things that can be improved and there are ways to use technology to make the process better for everyone.

Who else is on the team?

My Co-Founder and CTO is Sean Lissner.

Sean has a Bachelor’s Degree in both Mathematical and Computer Science from the University of Memphis. Sean’s specialties include: mobile applications, web applications, web services, distributed computing, embedded systems, cloud architecture, machine learning, and wireless sensor networks.

Before joining the Mentor Me team, Sean worked with large-scale, enterprise level application development projects, including FedEx’s Android mobile application. In addition to his passion for improving communities, Sean brings more than a decade of coding experience and a usability-centered design focus to the Mentor Me team.

Our advisors are: Austin Baker, President and Chairman of the Board of HRO Partners and Co-Founder of the University of Memphis MILE Mentoring Program; Jenny Koltnow, Executive Director of the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation; Emily Yellin, Customer Experience Consultant

What made you decide to apply for an accelerator?

I knew that going through Seed Hatchery would give me the best chance for success. With accelerators, you’re given a strong network of support through the staff and through the network of entrepreneurs who have gone through the program before you. The support of one’s fellow cohort-members is also invaluable. And of course the fact that they are mentor-driven is also innately appealing to me.

What have been your three biggest take-aways so far from Seed Hatchery?

My three biggest take-aways from Seed Hatchery thus far have been:

The importance of investing in yourself: I left my job right before Seed Hatchery to go all-in on my startup

You have to practice how you play.

Iteration trumps perfection

While some accelerator startups just sit around and wait for investor day, you’re out there fundraising now, tell us a little bit about your crowdfunding?

We kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to match our $15,000 investment by May 16. We’re about 10% of the way there. Our crowdfunding page is at

What’s the reaction to Mentor Me been so far?

The reaction thus far has been positive. We already have our first paying customer and we’re in the process of getting more organizations on board for our beta test this summer.

One thing you learned about yourself in the accelerator?

I’ve learned so much about myself through this process. I think above all I’ve learned how to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I actually look for those types of opportunities now.

What happens May 17th?

The grind continues. Investor Day is just the beginning.

Here are more Seed Hatchery startup stories at The Voice Of Startups Everywhere Else


ReThreaded The Social Startup That Won The Most Votes At OneSpark [video]

ReThreaded,Social entrepreneurship,social startup,Florida startup,OneSpark,Kristin Keen

(photo: NMI 2013)

Last Wednesday OneSpark, the World’s Crowdfunding Festival kicked off in Jacksonville Florida. It was five days of creators, entrepreneurship, artists and startups. The creators, and entrepreneurs came from all different categories and all different walks of life.

During the opening ceremonies, led by voice of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brian Sexton, we were given a glimpse of what was to come. Sexton invited random creators to raise their hands and come up and pitch their creation, business or startup to the crowd. Each of the five creators had 90 seconds to deliver an on the spot pitch. One of those pitches was Kristin Keen the founder of Rethreaded.

Rethreaded is a social startup that puts women who’ve suffered some of the worst abuse known to humans, sex trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution, and gives them a new sense of life, and worth through business, artistry and employment. Keen spoke to the crowd with a genuine passion. She had spent five years of her life in India where she helped empower women who had suffered the same kind of abuse through teaching them to sew.

Keen told Florida’s First Coast News that when she got back home to Jacksonville she couldn’t sit still she wanted to do something to continue her mission, and that she did.

She started Rethreaded, which crafts children’s clothes out of used t-shirts. So not only is she putting women who need a lift up a place to work and be creative, but she’s also upcycling t-shirts.

Little did she know when she pitched her company on Wednesday afternoon that she would be the runaway vote leader at the end of the week. She also didn’t know what was in store for her just a few moments later.

rethreadedenvelopesAfter all five creators had pitched, OneSpark volunteers handed out sealed white envelopes. Sexton informed the crowd that in those envelopes (which we weren’t allowed to look in) were $1 and $5 bills, $1000 dollars worth. The crowd was instructed to find the creators who just pitched outside of the creator lounge tent and hand over the envelope. Like me, many of the crowd didn’t even look in the envelopes.

I had made a core group of new friends at OneSpark and silently we all took our envelopes and walked over to find Kristin. We weren’t alone. She won that contest by a landslide.

rethreadedhutThe OneSpark staff did daily updates at 5:30pm each evening to inform the crowd of who the biggest movers in voting were and sure enough on Saturday evening Rethreaded was the biggest mover.

Their OneSpark booth was a hut constructed out of used t-shirts, which made a great make-shift shelter when the rain came pouring down Saturday afternoon.

Keen was one of the greatest creators we met. She was extremely kind and humble and we’re pretty sure she wasn’t even expecting the win. I caught a glimpse of Keen in her hut on Saturday afternoon, tearing up telling a group of passerbys that she never expected the outpouring of support she received at OneSpark.

Naturally I was gunning for a tech startup to win the overall vote during the five days of crowd voting, but I couldn’t be more pleased that the top vote went to Kristin Keen and Re-Threaded, a social entrepreneur with a heart of gold. With the most votes, Rethreaded took home $6,768.42 of the $250,000 crowdfunding prize. Event registrants voted for one creator using the OneSpark app and the money was distributed evenly among the top vote getters.

You can see how genuine Keen is in her 90 second pitch below:

Find out more about Rethreaded here.

Here’s over 30 more startup stories from OneSpark.


Memphis Native Kimberly Bryant Named To 25 Most Influential African Americans In Technology List

Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code,BlackGirlsCode,startup,entrepreneur,Memphis


Business Insider published a great list this morning of the 25 most influential African American’s in technology.

We were very pleased to find that native Memphian Kimberly Bryant, the founder and creator of Black Girls Code, was ranked number 19 on such an important list.

Kimberly Bryant is an award winning social entrepreneur, technology junkie, an engineer by trade and a native Memphian. She relocated to Silicon Valley and now she’s launched a program that’s rolling out across the country. That program, Black Girls Code, promotes teaching coding and development to young African American Girls.

Bryant describes the mission for Black Girls Code on her website as:

“to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.”

Like many others, Bryant believes there’s a “dearth” of African American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions. While some may say it’s because there’s a lack of interest, Bryant knows that it’s more like a lack of access and exposure to STEM topics. The Black Girls Code program is about making STEM topics accessible to African American girls and exposing them at a young age. It’s also done in such a way that it’s fun and positive.

Bryant has held programs through Black Girls Code in cities all over the country and some around the world. Black Girls Code has had events in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and even in Johannesburg. Her most recent event was this past Saturday in Atlanta where they taught kids how to develop their own apps using Google’s App Inventor.

Black Girls Code in Memphis debuted back in January at an Open House, they also had booth space at The Startup Conference. The weekend following that huge startup event Black Girls Code Memphis held their inaugural event which was met with great success.

Here is the complete list:

1. John Thompson, CEO Virtual Instruments
2. Shellye Archambeau, CEO MetricStream
3. David Drummond, SVP, Chief Legal Officer, Google
4. Ken Coleman, Chairman MIPS Technologies Inc
5. Kirk McDonald, President PubMatic
6. Lisa Lambert, VP and Managing Director of Software & Service, Intel Capital
7. Malik Ducard, Director of Content Partnerships, YouTube
8. Ime Archibong, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Facebook
9. Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Head of Smart TV, Samsung
10. Erik Moore, Founder and Managing Partner, Base Ventures
11. Tristan Walker, Entrepreneur In Residence, Andreessen Horowitz
12. Kanyi Maqubela, Partner, Collaborative Fund
13. Charles Hudson, Partner at SoftTech VC
14. Michael Siebel, & SocialCam
15. Brian Weston, Analyst, Union Square Ventures
16. Angela Benton, Founder & CEO NewMe Accelerator
17. Tony Guada, CEO and co-founder Bitcasa
18. Jon Gosier, Founder & CEO Metalayer
19. Kimberly Bryant, Founder, BlackGirlsCode
20. Wayne Sutton, Founder & CEO, PitchTo
21. Majora Carter, Founder, Sustainable South Bronx, Startup Box
22. Don Charlton, CEO, Resumator
23. Hamet Watt, Co-Founder MoviePass
24. Stacy Spikes, Co-Founder, MoviePass
25. Will Lucas, Founder & CEO Creadio 

Now see 3 things every new startup should do.

Chattanooga’s CoLab Hosting Women’s 48 Hour Launch

CoLab,Company Lab, Chattanooga startup,tennessee startup, 48 Hour LaunchTennessee is a great state for startups. There are 9 accelerator regions across the state, that draw resources from Launch Tennessee, and one of the most active Startup America Regions.  Startup Tennessee was the second Startup America region launched two years ago.

The major accelerator hubs across the state; Memphis,Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga work very well together and naturally collaborate on ideas and generally help each other out.

That’s why when Memphis held the UpStart 48 Hour Launch for women in December two young women from Chattanooga joined in the festivities and pitched in all weekend long. Next weekend on April 5th, Launch Your City Chief Relationship Officer Elizabeth Lemmonds, will return the favor by taking part in the city’s first women’s 48 Hour Launch.

48 Hour Launch works very similarly to the Startup Weekend model, just a few hours shorter.

Friday April 5th, the community will gather up all the interested female entrepreneurs. At that time the women will pitch their idea to the audience. A voting process will take place and it will be decided which teams will continue on to create a business in 48 Hours.

Saturday the teams will continue to work on their startups and Sunday they will be judged. Danielle Inez, and her event in a box startup, Pink Robin Avenue, won the Memphis event back in December. Inez won a free booth at The Startup Conference.

CoLab has put together sponsor supported prize packages of great business services for the top three teams on Sunday.

For more information click here

4.2% of venture capital funded startup deals go to women. 

When VC’s Hear Entrepreneur They Think “Man”

Women Entrepreneurs, Clayman Institute, Sexism,startups


A new study from the Clayman Institute for gender research at Stanford suggests that there is still a major gender bias in how Venture Capitalists view women entrepreneurs. While we love to celebrate entrepreneurship among women, and have done so with our recently launched“Bad Ass Startup Chicks” feature and by having women focused panels at The Startup Conference, not everyone is quick to recognize the female entrepreneur.

Business Insider has an advance of the study which says that women only receive 4.2 percent of venture capitalist fuunding.

At the heart of the study was a project where the researchers created identical executive summaries for a startup. They then modified the education and gender of the fictional entrepreneur and asked participants to rate the venture’s likelihood of success and their impression of the entrepreneur.

The three key takeaways were:

– Women with a technical education and background raised the confidence in the VC’s and their willingness to meet and potentially invest.

– Women without a technical background received “significantly lower” ratings. Even if they had business degrees, which often help men, they were harmful for women.

– Network ties were incredibly critical for women.

“What we found was that having a technical background helped both men and women,” said Stanford’s Andrea Davies Henderson. “But it helped women more, in terms of likelihood to invest a higher percentage, and likelihood to schedule a meeting with an entrepreneur.”

“Not having a technical background hurt women — it hurt their chances of securing a meeting and securing funding,” Henderson continued. “But it didn’t hurt men.”

Women in startups, entrepreneurship and business have been a hot button topic since the release of Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”. The Clayman Institute was the academic partner for the book.

Find out more here and here.

Check out these stories on women founded startups.

DC Startup Quad2Quad Goes Free Just In Time For Spring Break

Quad2Quad,DC Startup,EdTech,startup

Susan Jones (68) and Elizabeth Van Sant (54) co-founders of Quad2 Quad in their booth at (photo: Allie Fox for NMI)

Two amazing ladies from Washington DC are working on their startup Quad2Quad at warp speed. You would think that these were two twenty something entrepreneurs, young, hungry and ready to work 100 hours per week. Well they’re hungry and working 100 hours per week, but Susan Jones is 68 and co-founder Elizabeth Van Sant is 54.

These two mothers, business women and now startup founders in Washington DC are old enough to be Mark Zuckerberg’s moms. Their startup, Quad 2 Quad, was actually created because Van Sant and Jones have become somewhat pro’s at getting their kids off to college. They know the ins, the outs and “the ropes”.

We’ve interviewed and profiled quite a few college bound startups at We interviewed Cleveland startup CollegeSkinny who’s platform helps high school students transition from high school to college. We featured CiteLighter which is a highlighting bookmarklet app that allows users to easily make citations in their research. Exceleratr, a New York startup, connects high school students to much needed extra-curricular activities outside of the high school campus.  We also  interviewed Swedish startup Studemia, which is a collaboration tool for students as well as CampusShift, a Youngstown startup looking to take a bite out of college debt.

Jones and Van Sant’s startup aims to help parents of perspective college students, simplify the college visit planning process.  Quad2Quad essentially becomes the college visitor’s personal assistant.

Quad2Quad took part in the AppNation conference in San Francisco earlier this year and The Startup Conference. Despite having post college aged children Jones and Van Sant mix it up, network and mingle with the best of the college aged entrepreneurs.

Currently they are looking for avenues to raise money, continuing to iterate on their app and developing as much traction as they can.

Quad2Quad just announced that they are going “free” in the app store, just in time for college spring break. The app currently offers 74 colleges and 12 itineraries. They add more and more colleges all the time.  They plan on adding another 35 schools in the month of April.

You can find out more about Quad2Quad here and download the iOS app here.

Check out these other Washington DC Startup stories here. Returns To The Dolphin Tank At SXSW 2013,California startup,startup,startup pitch,Startup America, SXSW,SXSW 2013Mara Lewis, the founder of California startup returned to pitch her startup in the Dolphin Tank at SXSWi. The Dolphin Tank is a pitch panel session held at the Startup America Live stage in front of influential judges. The reason it’s called the Dolphin Tank is because the judges are instructed to give constructive feedback rather than criticism as seen on the hit ABC show Shark Tank.

This was the second time Lewis has pitches in the Dolphin Tank. After here appearance in 2012 she was able to secure an angel investment. We ran into Lewis while on the LaunchYourCity mission trip to Silicon Valley on Thursday where she told us she’s working on raising another round, it’s time to move her startup out of her apartment and eat more nourishing than Ramen Noodles.

She’s also received a bit of traction for which is a platform that turns users onto the newest sites on the web by recommending sites that friends are using. According to her pitch, over 150,000 websites are launched every 24 hours in the US alone.

Check out her pitch below. For more info visit

Check out more of our startup coverage from SXSW 2013 Here!

KillSwitch, The Ultimate Broken Heart App With A Touch Of Slacktivism [video][sxsw]

KillSwitch,Clearhart Digital,New York startup,startup,startup interview,sxsw,sxswiWe bumped into Clara DeSoto and Erica Mannherz,  of Clearhart digital, in the Startup America Live lounge at SXSW 2013. Clearhart digital is a digital agency and app creation studio out of New York, that just happens to be founded by women.

They told us all about their first app, KillSwitch. This app is for the broken hearted, and does exactly what the name suggests.

After you break up with someone you use KillSwitch in conjunction with your Facebook account. It quickly purges your entire Facebook and gets rid of any references, photos, status updates, etc, of your X. Useful, huh?

Now both ladies are well aware that there are different degrees of breaking up, and KillSwitch allows for those degrees. If it’s a soft break up, you can easily get your photos and statuses back. If it’s a hard break up, and it’s totally over, you can neturalize your account from any reference of your X.

The idea for KillSwitch came about when Mannherz and DeSoto were talking to a third mutual friend. The girlfriend of theirs had just gone through a break up and was doing what most people do when they break up with someone, she was deactivating her Facebook account.

That can really suck for all your other friends though, they can’t tag you in photos, invite you to events or send words of wisdom over the break up on your Facebook wall.

KillSwitch makes it seamless. Now the broken hearted can just move on. And, of course it makes playing the field the next time around, much easier.

As for the slacktivism piece, a portion of the proceeds from the KillSwitch app are going to the American Heart Association so you can help fix broken hearts when you’re broken hearted, pretty neat huh?

Check out the video below. Geeks are going to love DeSoto and Mannherz, who’s agency Clearhart Digital, they liken to a double edged light sabre, you can find out more about that here. For those looking to make break ups suck less, check out KillSwitch here at

See more of our Startup Coverage at SXSW 2013, here

DC Startup Her Corner, Our First Interview With A 1776 Startup

Her Corner,DC startup,1776,startup interviewAs most of you know we are big supporters and partners with Startup America. That’s why when Startup America Managing Director Donna Harris and Startup DC Director Evan Burfield launched 1776dc, a new incubator and accelerator in our nation’s capital, we were very excited.

We’re going to be making a trip to DC to cover 1776 more in-depth. In the meantime we got a chance to interview Frederique Camapagne Irwin, founder of DC startup Her Corner.

Her Corner is a resource for women entrepreneurs who are committed to growth in their companies. We build forum networks (or circles) of women business owners, in a hyper-local (neighborhood based) and face-to-face setting, so that women can come together to collaborate and work on building their businesses. We are a membership-based organization with requirements to join and monthly dues. We are currently DC / VA / MD based with plans to expand outside the DC region in 2013.” Irwin told in an interview.

Check out the rest of the interview below:

In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)

If a woman business owner is at least 1 year into her business, building her own brand (sorry, no stell and dot resellers, or realtors with larger brands,) and fully committed to growth (doing this full time and not also working elsewhere,) we encourage her to apply for a seat in a group near where she lives.

Each neighborhood group meets over dinner, in member’s homes, with a professional facilitator to discuss business growth topics, remain accountable to one another and to help each other with business opportunities or challenges. Outside the group meeting, members receive an accountability partner with whom to work with on a regular basis, as well as an invitation every other month to attend a speaker series where they can meet and network with the other members of Her Corner across the region. We also have a private social network that was built specifically for Her Corner where members and build a profile, include an “offer” to other Her Corner members, see what events other members are attending, and they can also join sub-groups (e.g. women in manufacturing, women looking to raise capital, etc.)

Overall, we create the community and the resources around women to help them grow their business.

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

Our founder is Frederique Irwin, a former management consultant and serial entrepreneur. Frederique Irwin has more than 17 years of management consulting and entrepreneurial experience. She has served as strategic advisor to CEOs of global companies focused on strategic planning, and growth management. Frederique has also built several companies, including an international import company that is still running and several service-related companies. Today she applies her entrepreneurial experience, management consulting background and business operations expertise with a strong network of personal connections to help business owners achieve the next stage of business growth through the in-person business groups offered via Her Corner.

We also have three (3) DC-Area facilitators, women who are also running their own business, but who work for Her Corner to run and facilitate groups. Each facilitator comes from a business background, either an MBA or a strategy or business operations background. They must also be strong personal facilitators and natural connectors. All Her Corner facilitators start as members first.

What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?

Intense. Very long hours, so much to do, a crazy amount of opportunity to pursue; but the most rewarding experience and most fun I have ever had. [Even my kids know and support how much I love Her Corner, and they’ve said that they hope my new baby will be a girl so that she can get involved in Her Corner too! J]

How did you come up with the idea for HerCorner?

I built Her Corner for myself. A few years ago I was building my 3rd business and while I was very involved in local area networking and in some lead-share groups, I was also looking for something where I could meet more women “like me” who understood that women build businesses for different reasons than men do, and that we build them differently too. I wanted to find something near where I lived, at hours that fit my busy life and family, in a more feminine setting – and I wanted to build real relationships. I realized that women naturally will help one another, and that there’s nothing more irritating to us than someone handing us a “deal sheet” to track what we’ve done for others – because we’re going to do it anyway! I ran my own personal Her Corner group, as well as 4 other neighborhoods, for about 2 years before I decided there might be a market for this on a much larger scale.

Why now?

It’s a perfect time for a woman-only business owner network like Her Corner: we’re seeing a rise in women-owned businesses (7.8M in 2007 vs. 8.3M in 2012), interest in starting a business is coming even earlier for women (a recent Sage study showed half of all women 18-24 want to start their own businesses,) the access to capital is beginning to thaw (there are more services to teach women how to go after capital, as well as more women-led funds like Women’s Venture Capital Fund and Illuminate Ventures.) And finally, women are more educated than ever before; they’re looking to share that education and experience with one another to help one another accelerate growth.

Why 1776?

Lots of reasons, really! The energy and exposure to other entrepreneurs is one of the most valuable things a business owner can expose him or herself to. The ideas around the office, the access to speakers, visitors and even potential investors is unique and difficult to find all under one roof. The founders of 1776, Donna Harris and Evan Burfield, are former business owners whom I have known and admired for years – they know what it takes to build a business and they are trying to create that environment for those of us in the development stage today. And finally, as a woman, it is so important to be surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs and colleagues and not to isolate oneself.

What problem does Her Corner solve?

Most women business owners are not fans of networking in the traditional sense; they often feel isolated in their business, and they miss the collaboration and team environments of previous companies. They are very smart and motivated but sometimes they get “stuck” trying to move through a decision, opportunity, or change, and they want to talk though some of the decision points they are facing. Given how busy women are, they don’t have a high tolerance for the posturing and potential bologna that you sometimes find in other peer-group forum settings.

Her Corner creates a positive environment where we encourage our members to think bigger, to collaborate to accelerate the possibilities, and to look at networking differently – rather than coming to a large event and handing out business cards, we ask you to start with your small group and start by asking, “tell me about yourself and how can I help you.” We have created an environment that is intrinsically feminine – we meet in one another’s homes, over dinner, and we build relationships first. This unique approach is driving business referrals, business leads, new business development, and new business partnerships in ways we had never imagined.

What is your competition?

There are lots of competitive networking events available to business owners (for example Chamber of Commerce events,) and also lots of forum-like groups for business owners (for example Vistage or EO.) But we have yet to find a network that is exclusively for women business owners (vs. all women in business,) and a forum-like group that is for women only and run by actual business owners with MBAs and strategy background (vs. information marketers, for example.) We don’t compete with the education seminars or the consultants; we only compete for women’s time and commitments to other groups.

And what’s your secret sauce?

We’re members too! Everything we do in Her Corner was built first for us and every decision we make is based on whether this is something that we would have wanted or needed for our own business. We’re not trying to build something new and hoping that it works, we’re building what we know works and packaging it the way women would want it – the way we would want it!

What are some milestones you’ve achieved?

Since we launched Her Corner, we had to prove that members would be willing to pay for the service, that we could teach others to facilitate and run groups beyond the founder’s ability to run them herself, and that we could recruit, launch, and run groups in neighborhoods that were outside the founder’s personal network.

We launched in August 2012, and within the first 6 months we have interviewed and accepted 125 new paying members (expected to hit 250 by August), hired 3 (soon to be 4) new facilitators to run new groups, we now have 13 groups running across the DC area (planning for 20 by August) and we’ve expanded into areas like Leesburg, VA (and soon Baltimore, MD) where the founder does not have a personal network.

We have also secured sponsorships with organizations like AU’s Kogod School of Business, local area businesses like Xenith Bank, Urban Igloo, Glen’s Garden Market, and La Ferme restaurant.

What’s your next milestone?

Critical for us in 2013 / 2014 will be our ability to implement Her Corner in new cities and to prove the model outside the DC area. This will allow us to build a more robust growth plan with hard numbers and real time frames that will allow us to talk to potential investors about our growth plans.

Who are some of your mentors and business role models?

My mentors are some of the men I worked with in management consulting, the men who taught me how to build, run and optimize a business – but who also taught me leadership skills and the importance of family and values. I also have mentors around me who are women who have built and sold companies before me and who are in my close circle of friends, keeping an eye on what I am building to help me avoid land mines. And my business role models today – Marissa Meyer and Sheryl Sandburg – two women who encourage other women to push forward and not be defined by our personal lives.

What’s next for Her Corner?

These days we’re launching new groups every month, while also filling the few open spots in existing groups. To a certain extent, I’d like to stabilize our growth in the DC area, get my founding members more involved in the improvement and representation of Her Corner, hire a few strategic position, and begin to focus my attention on the development and implementation of Her Corner in new cities.

Where can people find out more:

Online people can find us at: www.hercorner.orgOn Twitter, we’re at @hercorner  And on Facebookwe recently launched a new page (our presence has been private so far and for members only)

Get tickets to 2014 at 2013 prices now, here!