Tag Archives: startups

Inside the U.S. Defense Department’s New Tech Startup (P.S. They’re Hiring)

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Defense Digital Service Eric Fanning Army Chris Lynch

Former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning (left) announces the creation of the Army Digital Service at a recent event at General Assembly’s NYC headquarters, alongside Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch and journalist Jeff Jarvis. Photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Crisp.

National security and cybersecurity are growing concerns for many Americans, especially as talk of hacking and digital espionage dominate headlines and rattle daily life. Protecting the country and developing tools to keep citizens safe are top priorities for the U.S. government, and, in recent years, it has turned to top tech talent to rapidly innovate, problem solve, and find security vulnerabilities. This is particularly true within the Department of Defense, whose progress its staffers admit has been slowed down by outdated tools and processes that lag behind private tech companies’ capabilities.

That’s where Defense Digital Service (DDS) comes in. Since launching in late 2015, the program — a branch of the government’s tech startup, U.S. Digital Service (USDS) — has worked on projects involving cybersecurity, veterans’ medical records, cutting-edge GPS systems, and more. DDS’ cybersecurity initiatives Hack the Pentagon and Hack the Army (known as bug bounties) invited civilian hackers to search for vulnerabilities within five public-facing government websites, then rewarded them in cash for their findings.

Now the Army has its own dedicated team called Army Digital Service, which launched in December. Continuing the pioneering work of DDS, it will leverage tech expertise to solve inefficiencies related to Army recruiting, veteran affairs, and more. Earlier this month, Air Force Digital Service launched as well, and the team’s agenda is currently in the works.

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How Can Humility Save the Entrepreneur? One Expert Has the Answer

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Michael Dermer The Lonely Entrepreneur Book

Michael Dermer, founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur.

There’s a crushing, isolating pressure that engulfs many entrepreneurs as they try to transform a passion into a profession. Long days extend into exhausting late nights as they wrangle talent, negotiate funds, and wonder just how far away success (or failure) lies.

In the world of business, anything can happen and nothing is promised. No one knows this better than Michael Dermer, a lawyer, author, and life and career coach, who painstakingly built a company over 10 years only to see it collapse in 10 days during the financial crisis. Undaunted, Dermer turned the hard lessons he learned into an opportunity, launching a platform to help people start businesses with the support and knowledge they need.

The Lonely Entrepreneur — a book, website, and global community — is Dermer’s salve for the heartaches of entrepreneurship. Packed with learning modules, community connections, and expert advice, The Lonely Entrepreneur helps budding businesspeople get on their feet and take strides toward success.

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Watch: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Hillary for America’s Digital Strategy Team

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Digital Marketing Lessons From Hillary For America

Last week, General Assembly packed the house — both at our New York headquarters and online — for a conversation with Hillary for America’s digital strategy team. The evening focused on considering the campaign as a startup, and the conversation highlighted digital marketing lessons that strategists and entrepreneurs can use to build a responsive team.

Steph Hannon, chief technology officer, Teddy Goff, chief digital strategist, and Sara Solow, domestic policy advisor, had a lively discussion with General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz about the realities of building tech for a startup that, as Goff noted, is “designed to go out of business in 18 months.”

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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

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

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boris-shou-general-assembly

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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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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Bootstrap

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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How to Land Your Dream Job at a Tech Startup

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This July, General Assembly’s Atlanta campus hosted a panel discussion called How to land a job at a startup. Three in-house recruiter panelists were there from three Atlanta high-tech startups: Ionic Security, InfusionSoft, and Pindrop Security. All the companies have raised several rounds of VC financing, and all are actively hiring tech and marketing talent.

They discussed providing an outlet for the Atlanta tech startup community about how to land a job at a fast-growing, VC-funded tech startup. The lessons we learned from this panel discussion can be broken up into three categories.

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