Tag Archives: Startups & Entrepreneurship

The Top 10 Most Entrepreneurial States

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General Assembly Campuses In Entrepreneurial States

Being a small-business owner often means taking bold risks against long odds. According to data compiled by the Small Business Administration, only 34.4% of businesses started in the U.S. in 2002 survived until 2012. But where are the most entrepreneurial states?

There are ways entrepreneurs can increase their chance of success. One way is to go where there’s a bustling local economy with a track record of success for entrepreneurs. Another foundation for success is having enough money to run your business by making sure it is properly funded. When it comes to financing, there are more options than ever — whether it’s through the SBA or a number of online lenders.

NerdWallet analyzed data from the SBA and the U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns to identify the most entrepreneurial states. Although no entrepreneur is guaranteed success, no matter where they set up shop, there are some themes found in our top states.

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Why Are Startups Starting in Denver?

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Mount Evans and Denver Skyline courtesy of Herrera on Flickr.

Mount Evans and Denver Skyline courtesy of Herrera on Flickr.

Denver’s startup community has experienced a rapid increase in size and activity over the last several years. In 2015, it was rated as one of the best cities to create a startup. According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman report on entrepreneurship, it came in number five as the U.S. city with the greatest startup activity, surpassing San Francisco and New York. (Startup activity is based on the number of new startups that are a year or less old.)

Last year, 95 Denver tech startups were funded, raising a total of $683 million. There were also 59 exits, which earned Denver tech companies a total of $2.7 billion. This was even a decrease to a record-setting 2014 in which 140 Denver startups were funded bringing in a composite investment of $758 million. Continue reading

8 Simple Ways to Turn Your Skills into a Profitable Side Business

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In the US alone, there are over 28 million small businesses. Of those, an estimated 22 million consist of a single operating member—solopreneurs as I like to call them.

Many of these businesses got started as nothing more than the intersection of passion and skills that combined to create a side project with the ability to scale into something truly sustainable.

As someone who’s successfully launched four profitable side businesses over the past four years, I’ve learned a lot about how to turn your skills into a healthy side income. From building physical products to selling my consultative services, and building my own suite of digital products, I’ve been able to generate thousands in extra income each month.

If you’re ready to build a foundation for one day becoming gainfully self-employed, here are my top eight ways to get started with a profitable side business today.

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A University Sophomore Discovers His Passion For Entrepreneurship at GA’s Business Accelerator

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Introducing a new kind of alumnus to the General Assembly community. Boris Shou completed the 2015 Business Accelerator Programwhile working hard on his undergraduate degree. 

Last year, GA teamed up with Colgate University for the first ever Business Accelerator Program, now the Tech Intensive. A one-week immersive experience for undergraduates, the program covered the startup world’s most in-demand skills with hands-on lessons and visits from industry experts.

Inspired, Boris put his learnings into starting his own venture. He and a friend are developing an online language learning platform where language enthusiasts can practice speaking with one another. Although it’s a “simple website” so far, the product is complete with a problem to solve and a target user group.

As one of the program’s alumni, Boris talks about his unique student experience, the projects he pitched, and his entrepreneurial goals for life after graduation.

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Students Help Beer App Barly Find a Smooth Finish

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Craft beer rating app, Barly, recently released new features that shift the focus from simple ratings to smart recommendations that learn your taste in beer over time. The founding team at Barly started as a group of musicians who appreciate a frosty beverage, but after one fateful round of drinks, they realized that most beer menus are hard to decipher for the casual beer drinker. Nick Norton, Craig Vermeyen, Mike Weil, and Hunter Knight moved quickly to create an app, sourcing expertise to get their idea off the ground, including help from UXDI students at General Assembly’s Los Angeles campus.

Students in the User Experience Design Immersive work on client projects as part of the curriculum to gain real world experience using their new skills. Aaron Barnes, Samantha Burke, and Ken Sugai were assigned to work with the app.

For Barly CEO Nick Norton, it was an easy decision to go with the students at General Assembly. “They were great. Sam, Aaron, and Ken put in so much work over a short period, and were clearly excited to be working on this project,” he said.

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The 9 Things I Did To Quit My Job and Become a Solopreneur

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It was 2007.

I was an Account Manager for a startup-ish company (read: cool downtown office, lots of young people, OK to wear your pajamas to work) that seemed like the perfect match on paper. Unfortunately, it came with a verbally abusive boss that left me psychosomatic. My breaking point was having to run off a rush hour train to dry heave into a trash can at one of the busiest NYC subway platforms…and feeling fine once I knew I couldn’t go into work that day.

Talk about a wake-up call! Continue reading

How Taking An Online Course Can Kickstart Your Career: Two Student Success Stories

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Last April, Jeff Manabat, one-quarter of the San Francisco dragapella act The Kinsey Sicks, had a dilemma: how to redesign the quartet’s aging website, while balancing touring obligations?

“I do a lot of traveling, we’re on the road a lot,” Manabat said, “I can’t dedicate the time to taking a multi-week classroom course. So taking it online was the obvious choice. I needed the flexibility to learn online. And complete the course material without being in a classroom.”

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How to Write the Best Problem Statement for Your Startup

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The Lean Startup Methodology changed the way we go about starting businesses. Instead of creating a business plan worthy of a Harvard Business School case study, we go out into the market space that we know and find a problem. Then, we validate the problem and see how the market is dealing with, compensating for, or otherwise working around that problem. Next, we determine if the market participants are willing to pay for a solution to the problem. If they are, then we solve the problem.

Of course, it’s never that simple, but that’s the basic process in a nutshell. Atlanta entrepreneur David Cummings recently wrote that this process, from discovering the problem to getting to product market fit, generally takes about two years. Finding a problem is usually fairly clear. Validating the problem takes longer. Finding customers who are willing to pay takes a little longer, and building a product that fits the market takes a long time and usually includes several pivots or small deviations from the original product idea.

At the core of everything involved in creating a startup is the problem. But many times, the best product for solving that problem doesn’t win. Why? Because the makers of that solution are really good at solving said problem, but not good at all at explaining what exactly the problem is. In other words, the entrepreneur who can communicate better usually wins. That is why it is so vitally important to be able to explain the problem you are solving to anyone so that they understand it completely. But how do you do that?

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The 5 Pillars of Your Brand’s Business Model

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A marketing firm in Atlanta, Syrup Marketing, recently wrote a great article about how your brand is the “lead domino,” to quote Tim Ferris. What that means is that, once you create and solidify your brand, everything else tends to fall into place easily. One of those other dominoes that falls into place after you’ve created a fantastic branding strategy is the actual nuts and bolts of your business model.

Any business model is made up of many different moving parts, but they can be boiled down to these five pillars, on which you should build your business.

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How to Master the Art of Bootstrapping Your Startup

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In the world of startups, one fact that is very often glossed over is that most startups do not ever raise any money, much less Kleiner-Perkins venture capital money. Even then, only a very small percentage of companies do raise any venture capital – and the majority still fail.

For the startups who don’t raise venture capital, how do we fund our businesses from startup, through cash-flow positive, through profitability? We bootstrap it. But what does that look like?

Completely simplified, bootstrapping a business is very clear: you use only the money you have and the money you make from the business to start, build, and grow the business. More specifically, here are a few of the things that you may and may not do in order to bootstrap your business.

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