Startups Use Crowdfunding Platforms for Marketing

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Jason GrillCrowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become an essential tool for established startups and entrepreneurs trying to understand the reception of their products and find support for their brands. While these sites still house many proposals dreamt up in bedrooms and garages, they have seen an influx of products from venture backed companies which don’t seem to be using these sites for funding.

“If we simply wanted money then we could cut out Kickstarter,” said Proud, referencing his company, Hello Inc.’s 5% cut of all funds raised by any project. ”It’s not the most efficient way to get money. But it is the best way to reach people.”

In late July, Proud used Kickstarter to debut his company’s first product, a sleep-tracking device that sits next to your bed called “Sense.” Addressing a crowd before the product’s debut, CEO highlighted a main dilemma for fledgling consumer electronics startups: how do you generate public interest in your product if your company only just got going? Trying to launch a product after just announcing your company is impossible.

Jibo, a Boston-based social robotics firm, had a similiar experience with Indiegogo last month. CEO and founder Cynthia Breazeal noted that partnering with Indiegogo allowed for the company to test the market readiness of its product and get the word out to potential developers. Jibo has already raised more than $1.4 million in three weeks, crushing its original $100,000 goal.

Since Indiegogo’s founding in 2008, CEO Slava Rubin noted that there has been an evolution in the types of projects listed on the site. These days there are more “expert” companies.

“The spirit of these crowdfunding campaigns have become a tremendous accelerator,” Breazeal said. ”These are not just cash desiring guys in garages, who need the money to build, that are doing it.”

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Improving Your Public Relations

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Regular press coverages can have an impact on data-analysis companies visibility and growth. There are necessary things to remember when trying to be successful in the entrepreneur world.

Having a “call to action” is a must. Do not spend resources to increase your traffic until you know exactly what you want the traffic to do and how it will bring you success. If you are prepared to invest resources to drive traffic to a certain web page, make sure it has a clear call to action, like filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, or buying a product.

Do not have an unrealistic idea of how interesting your company is (yet). Do not be discouraged when your company news doesn’t draw a tremendous amount of attention. This is normal for small businesses and creating content that delivers a specific message to a tiny audience is fine. Generating leads just requires more innovative tactics.

When company news does not get enough attention from the press on its own, try to make the company part of a bigger story. For example, use software to conduct data analysis on well known companies like Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Pick these companies because the ratio of press attention to fresh information is very high.

Much of your content will fail at first. Blog posts you have poured your heart into might attract zero audience. In the end a strategy that works won’t develop overnight. Remain resilient and find something that works for you.

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Experiential Learning Key to Entrepreneurial Success

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A traditional model of sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures is no longer the way to teach about entrepreneurship. The future is about experimenting and practicing.

“It’s like learning to ride a bike, you push the pedals, you fall, you get back up, you adjust and try again,” says Juris Ulmanis, Latvian-based co-founder of global entrepreneurship educational platform Experiential Simulations. Students in the program learn how to be entrepreneurs by behaving like them.

A former senior manager at Motorola and founder of two companies, Ulmanis has been a university professor teaching entrepreneurship in Latvia, Germany, Poland, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark for the past decade.

“Typically, what happens is teachers have their students write business plans. I used to do this all the time, but it was a waste of time. Teaching by writing business plans is not realistic; it is just a guess, not based on facts.”

The program, which is made up of 18 rounds, takes students on a journey through a stimulation that challenges them with multiple business variables and demonstrates how every decision can cost time or money.

“The purpose is to give the sense of reality, and a birds-eye view of the marketplace in a way that a classroom can’t do. You can talk about it in a classroom, but you can’t experience it. The simulation is not real life, but is as close to real life as we can make it,” says Ulmanis.

He believes that education is one of the most important parts of global economy. “If you teach entrepreneurship, it should be measurable; how many of your students were able to go out into the world and create successful businesses for themselves?”

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Jason Grill featured on Syracuse University’s iSchool Blog

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Jason Grill was recently featured as a guest contributor on Syracuse’s iSchool blog. In his article, Jason discusses how two new social networks are taking a different approach to user experience. These social networks are actually paying users for the content they are generating. For more information and to see the full article, click here.

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Google setting aside millions for European startups

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Jason GrillGoogle has established a $100 million euro investment fund to back European companies. Created in 2009, Google Ventures is the branch whose focus it is to provide venture capital by funding companies to help them get started. Currently, Google Ventures invests over $300 million annually and manages $1.5 billion in assets from its offices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Boston and New York.

The new European venture has a starting fund of $100 million to spend. Tom Hulme, Peter Read and Eze Vidra, are the partners in charge of the fund. It is planned to be set up in London in the center of Tech City, also known as Silicon Roundabout.

Not only is Google Ventures good news for London, but is also good news for startups throughout Europe. “We believe Europe’s startup scene has enormous potential,” says Google Ventures managing partner Bill Maris. “We’ve seen compelling new companies emerge from places like London, Paris, Berlin, the Nordic region and beyond: SoundCloud, Spotify, Supercell and many others.”

Other European startup successes include the Gaming company, Mind Candy, and Skype which was acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion in 2011. “The European tech startup scene is booming,” says entrepreneur Kate Unsworth, co-founder of wearable technology jewellery company Kovert. “With a multi-national talent pool and an inherent understanding of contrasting markets and cultures, European startups think globally from day one. I have no doubt they’ll back some future rockstars.”

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Public Relations vs. Advertising

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It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the difference between public relations and advertising. While there are numerous quality articles that explain the difference, even professionals have a hard time determining the difference between the two.

Advertising is paid media while public relations is earned media. By convincing reporters or editors your organization is worth talking about, they can write a positive story about your company or client, brand or issue. This media and publicity is earned. This attention has more credibility because it was independently verified by a trusted third party.

A recent study found that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising. On average expert content lifted familiarity 88% more than branded content. With advertising, you brag about how wonderful you are while with publicity, other people sing your praises.

The best analogy for public relations, is gift wrapping, If you gave a woman a gift in a Tiffany box, it would have higher perceived value than if I just gave it to her plain. We live in a culture where we gift wrap everything, our politicians, TV stars and even our toilet paper.

Almost every article you read is careful crafted by a public relations agency. Most stories were rehearsed in front of publicists, staffers, speech writers or corporate experts before being sent to reporters who processed the information and edited it to its perfection.

With the creation of social media, a single story can last forever with emails, posts, tweets and instagrams. However simply throwing up a post about your favorite brand of toothpaste simply will not have the same affect.

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Venture capital fund gives entrepreneurs a piece of the pie

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Venture capitalists promise lots of advantages when they are courting technology entrepreneurs. Things like being able to offer expert advice and claiming they have a network of contacts are how they try to rope in potential clients.

Kent Goldman, former partner at First Round Capital, left this year to start a new venture capital fund. One that promises the start-up founders something a little extra, investment profits.

Goldman on Thursday announced the establishment of his new fund, Upside Partnership, and said that it would come with an unexpected twist. The founders of the companies that Upside invests in will receive a generous cut of the profits earned by the fund.

“I want to build a really strong founder community,” he added. “I thought one way to encourage that would be to make it so every founder felt as though they were an investor in other businesses in the portfolio.”

Goldman said that his new firm had already raised a little more than 30 million to make seed-stage investments in young companies. An early investor, Josh Kopelman, a partner at First round, was the provider of a good chunk of the investments. However much of the capital came from institutions, such as endowments or other funds.

“It stuck in my mind this idea that when you see an investor announce an investment in a company, it’ll say, ‘We look forward to partnering with founder X as they build their business,’” Mr. Goldman said. “One day I thought, what if they really were a partner?”

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Jason Grill on About.me

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Find out more information regarding Jason Grill and his experience working in public/media relations.