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Financing Your Growth

December 20, 2013 by Jimmy Lewin and Akira Hirai


financing your growth

Believe it or not, this post was inspired by a print advertisement for by BMO Harris Bank in a recent issue of Inc. Magazine. The ad was about “The Five Keys to Financing Growth.” It is an ad designed to promote the Bank’s small business banking products. The ad begins: “Every company should have a strategy in place to finance growth from day one, with at least a rough outline of how you intend to do that included in your business plan.” BMO quotes Patricia G. Greene, the Paul T. Babson Chair [Read More]

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What Not to Say to Investors

December 4, 2013 by Akira Hirai


What Not to Say to Investors

The world is full of advice for what to say and how to pitch to investors, but what about what not to say? Rookie entrepreneurs are often far too eager to try to impress investors, and end up saying things that set off alarm bells. Over the course of my consulting career, I’ve written a lot of successful business plans and spoken with countless entrepreneurs. After listening to so many pitches, I have identified some phrases you should never use with investors, either in conversation or in writing: “All we [Read More]

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The Worst States for Entrepreneurs

November 21, 2013 by Jimmy Lewin and Akira Hirai


What are the worst states for business?

Last March, we wrote a post called If You Could Pick Any Place for Your Business… The post talked about a feasibility study that we did for an international client to assist him in determining where in the U.S. he should establish his business. We discussed how we looked at a number of factors including what states appeared to be the most business-friendly. Business-friendly states seem to be universally defined as states that enjoy such things as a low cost of doing business, low state income taxes, high quality of [Read More]

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7 Reasons to Break Out of Stealth Mode

November 2, 2013 by Akira Hirai


7 Reasons to Break Out of Stealth Mode

The entrepreneurship community thrives on sharing ideas and prides itself on having a mentorship-friendly ethos. As new entrepreneurs get into the game, there is increased demand for established entrepreneurs to share their daily routines and explain how they accomplished specific goals. Alex Turnbull, founder of Groove, recently started a series of blog posts documenting the company’s  journey to $100,000 in revenue. Every post is packed with detailed revenue and membership figures, charts, survey results, and customer emails. Take a look at the comments section below each post and you’ll find [Read More]

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Understanding Market Size, or Demystifying TAM, SAM and SOM

October 21, 2013 by Shyam Jha


Market Share

“How big is your target market?” is a question often asked by investors. Naturally, investors want to invest in large and rapidly growing markets. Most entrepreneurs hesitate when answering this question. What if they are far off from a VC’s idea of the size of a market? In addition, VCs will throw terms like TAM, SAM, and SOM at an entrepreneur in a rapid-fire fashion. There is no need to be intimidated by these acronyms. Here is a quick recap of what these terms mean: Total Available Market (TAM): This [Read More]

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Is General Solicitation Right for You?

October 3, 2013 by Akira Hirai


General Solicitation

After an 80 year ban, a new SEC regulation regarding general solicitation went into effect on Monday, September 23, making it possible to publicly advertise the offering of private securities. The amendment to Rule 506 of Regulation D was mandated by the Jumpstart Our Business Start-Ups (JOBS) Act that passed Congress in 2012, and it is meant to provide startups with a faster, easier path to the capital they need to get off the ground and grow. What exactly does “general solicitation” mean? If you look online there is a [Read More]

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VCs Love Mobile Health Devices and Apps

September 25, 2013 by Shyam Jha


Mobile Health Apps

Venture Capitalists are voting with their dollars, when it comes to products and applications that target the mobile segment. Fifty companies in the mobile health segment have attracted $310 million in VC funding this year from January to August, compared to $229 million raised by 42 firms during the same period last year, according to a recent research report by Rutberg & Co. The mobile health area refers to the marriage of healthcare applications with mobile devices such as wearable monitors and smartphones. It can be further divided into two [Read More]

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Guy Kawasaki’s Social Media Mantra

September 11, 2013 by Akira Hirai


Guy Kawasaki Startup Guru

In a new article on the HubSpot Blog, marketing and tech guru Guy Kawasaki breaks down his personal approach to social media across all the most popular platforms. Interestingly, Guy’s strategy focuses on Google+, rather than Facebook or LinkedIn. Wait a minute… Google+ instead of Facebook? As an evangelist for new technology, Guy sees Google+ as the Macintosh of today; it has a simple interface and deep features, but it is not as widely used. The main advantage of Google+ is its ability to become a platform for both private [Read More]

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Rise of the $3.4 Billion Taxi Service, and Other Valuation Tales

September 5, 2013 by Shyam Jha


Valuation of Uber Taxi Startup

The $3.4 billion uber-valuation that Uber – the on-call taxi and limo service – received recently in its latest round of financing has eyes popping and tongues wagging. Uber is expected to reach revenue of $125 million in 2013, implying a valuation of almost 30 times revenue. A number of other taxi-hailing startups such as Lyft and Hailo are also revving their engines to get into the highly regulated livery service business. Economists tell us that valuation bubbles happen periodically. The Internet Era has shortened the time between the occurrences [Read More]

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How to Create a Compelling Customer Value Proposition

August 27, 2013 by Shyam Jha


Customer Value Proposition

When asked to describe their customer value propositions, most entrepreneurs start reciting a laundry list of product features. Features are near and dear to the hearts of most people close to the product, whether they are software and hardware engineers, marketing folks, or those in operations. But most customers do not care about features. They care about benefits. “Price is what I pay,” said Warren Buffet famously. “Value is what I get.” Value is what a customer derives from a product. Most companies are unable to articulate the customer value [Read More]

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