Crowdfunding: Ways to Boost Your Campaign Success

With crowdfunding blowing up, in a good way, more and more entrepreneurs are considering jumping on the bandwagon. But before you upload your product video and hit the launch button on your campaign, there are some things you need to know. Traklight CEO Mary Juetten shared her insights during our Safe Crowdfunding: Tips For Your Campaign webinar. Preparing for your crowdfunding campaign The first thing you need to do is to get all your ducks in a row. If you follow breathless media accounts of campaigns that went viral, you might think that the secret to runaway success is luck. That can have something to do with it, as does timing, but really laying the groundwork for a successful campaign involves taking specific steps. Before you go public with your campaign, you need to identify and protect your IP. Some things, like putting simple copyrights in place, are straightforward enough …
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5 Tips for Networking Your Way to Investor Referrals

This guest post was contributed by BJ Lackland, CEO of Lighter Capital. If you’re an entrepreneur looking for capital to grow your business, a key part of the process is getting a face-to-face meeting with potential investors. It’s during these informal coffee meetings or full-on boardroom presentations that you get to pitch your startup and answer investor questions. The hardest part of the process? Getting that first meeting. The reality is that, while many things have changed in the funding world, one thing has remained the same. The process of connecting with potential investors is still largely driven by personal relationships. While this process may feel unfair to the fledgling entrepreneur, it’s helpful to see it from an investor’s point of view. Equity investors get solicited constantly; countless emails and pitch-decks clutter their inboxes, and voicemails clog up their phones. With so many people vying for their time, it not …
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Bits, Bytes, and the Blockchain: An Overview of Bitcoin

Once regarded as part of a libertarian fringe, Bitcoin is increasingly commanding the attention of the world’s major financial institutions, institutional investors, and governmental regulatory bodies. Current estimates put the amount of Bitcoin outstanding at $14.2 million. Though this is tiny relative to other asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and physical currencies, proponents and, increasingly major financial institutions, believe Bitcoin has a major role to play in enabling not only consumer retail payments and a wide range of institutional financial transactions, but all sorts of legal and other routine applications as well. We review the current state of play while discussing key risks (including regulatory and technological hurdles), and share our insights on accounting treatment and tax compliance. We also highlight EGFS clients who operate in this space as well as some of the major companies at the forefront of the industry. Though Bitcoin presents significant growth opportunities, we …
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Convertible Notes for Startup Financing

If you’re planning a seed round raise you need to know your way around convertible debt: what it is, how it works, and what the benefits are. While investors in some less well-developed startup hubs are still largely resistant to using convertible notes and some angels prefer priced rounds, according to SEEDCHANGE’S Kevin Smith, 93% of early-stage rounds in coastal startup hubs use convertible notes. Fill out this form for a free download of a conversion scenario template or read on for more info about how convertible notes work. So what are convertible notes exactly? Essentially, notes are debt that acts like equity. They function as legal IOUs but with repayment in stock instead of cash. That said, convertible notes must have certain debt features such as interest rates and maturity dates. More on those later. Key features of convertible notes: Short agreements — Note purchase agreements are typically three …
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What Your Company Values Say About You

Over the course of my career I have worked at a large number of companies in multiple capacities, gradually progressing to a leadership level. Every company I have worked at has had a distinct value system. Sometimes this was articulated; sometimes it was not but in any case it was usually very evident. Simply put, your company’s core values are“the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions.” —Patrick M. Lencioni, Harvard Business Review When I founded EGFS it was incredibly important to me to create a values-based organization. Our leadership team has spent a lot of time discussing what this means. At the end of the day what we have really landed on is “the good person” litmus test. I know this might sound overly simplistic but it has worked for us. How does “the good person” test demonstrate our company values? What it means is that …
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4 Strategies to Get the Most Out of Your Next Networking Event

This guest post was written by Daniel Heyman, Cofounder of Stack AI. Think back to your last networking event. What did you get from it? How has it helped you or your business? If you are like most people, you are not getting enough value from networking events. You attend, a little reluctantly perhaps; you meet a few people who might be interesting; and you struggle to convert these new contacts into useful professional relationships. Maybe you add them to LinkedIn. Maybe you lose a business card. Maybe you email once and never again. Networking events are opportunities to meet new people, learn about the market and build business relationships that can move both your company and your career forward. Here are four steps to make your next networking event better: 1. Figure out why (and then forget about it) This sounds remarkably simple and straightforward, but it’s crucial. Know …
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Are You Putting Your Business At Risk by Making These Mistakes?

We had a lively webinar with Mary Juetten, Founder and CEO of TrakLight, on major mistakes that could sink your business. So you’ll have no excuses for making these, here’s a quick rundown of the session plus the full presentation deck to 10 Tips to Minimize Risk and Maximize Value. Business Risk #1 — Choosing the wrong form of legal entity Limiting your personal liability is one of the first things you should do. Not incorporating in some form or fashion means your personal assets are on the line. Set up your legal entity on day one. Business Risk #2 — Not protecting your IP Why is having an IP strategy important? IP could account for as much as 80% of your business’ value. You will get a higher valuation and be more attractive to potential investors and acquirers if you own your IP outright. Patents Patents are really important …
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How to Answer Investors’ Toughest Questions

Originally published in Upstart Business Journal. What is the most difficult question that VCs ask and what is the best way to tackle it ahead of time? What is your hole? “The classic VC role is that of an interrogator, trying to break you for a key secret. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Folks who watch the TV show “Shark Tank” know this feeling. Time after time, a well-rehearsed entrepreneur goes through his pitch, and everyone loves it. But the Sharks (VCs) keep poking at the startup until they finally find a hole. Maybe the company has zero revenue, a poor growth strategy or a weak CEO. Know your weaknesses better than your strengths. Before our first VC meetings, my team sat down and asked each other “gotcha” questions until we were all experts.” —Neil Thanedar | CEO and Founder, LabDoor How are you different? “With proper …
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Ask The VC: Make Your Startup Pitch A Winner

Since our first “Ask the VC” session was so popular, we decided to give it another go: this time with Marc Phillips, Managing Director at Arafura Ventures and author of Inside Silicon Valley: How the Deals Get Done. Marc and Gadiel Morantes, Chief Revenue Officer at Early Growth Financial Services, focused on crafting a winning startup pitch. One of their first pieces of advice was to ask for feedback when you get a “quick no” from a VC. It’s important to ask why, so that you understand what factors led to the investor’s decision to pass. Armed with that feedback, you can retool your pitch for the next investor. Here’s our roundup from the Q&A on what makes for effective startup pitches: What’s venture capitalists’ biggest pet peeves when dealing with entrepreneurs? Some founders don’t make the connection for investors as to why they should invest in you. Do the …
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Using Convertible Notes For Startup Financing

If you’re planning a seed round raise you need to know your way around convertible debt: what it is, how it works, and what the benefits are. While investors in some less well-developed startup hubs are still largely resistant to using convertible notes and some angels prefer priced rounds, according to SEEDCHANGE’S Kevin Smith, 93% of early-stage rounds in coastal startup hubs use convertible notes. Fill out this form for a free download of a conversion scenario template or read on for more info about how convertible notes work. So what are convertible notes exactly? Essentially, notes are debt that acts like equity. They function as legal IOUs but with repayment in stock instead of cash. That said, convertible notes must have certain debt features such as interest rates and maturity dates. More on those later. Key features of convertible notes: Short agreements — Note purchase agreements are typically three …
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