Unless you are independently wealthy or have a line of investors at your door, you’re going to need capital to get your startup going. If you want to steer clear of traditional loans, crowdfunding is an option worth exploring. Crowdfunding is a way of raising money for a project through donations or investments from the public. In the case of startups, crowdfunding can be used to launch or grow a small business.
In 2014, American startups saw the largest year-over-year growth in twenty years. New businesses are on the rise—helping reverse a five-year downward trend in startup activity, according to a Kauffman Index report. With 310 out of every 100,000 U.S. adults building a startup or small business, entrepreneurs make up a small but significant part of the American workforce.
No one appreciates this significance more than Katy Lynch, the new CEO of Techweek, a series of festivals celebrating entrepreneurs in cities across the world.
We caught up with Katy on the eve of Techweek New York to chat about her own experience launching and selling a successful social media agency and what excites her about her new role as CEO.
General Assembly Chicago is turning one! To celebrate we’ve partnered with Time Out Chicago to host “Made in Chicago,” a week honoring the local innovators and trends that make The Windy City second to none—from food and comedy to sports and media to tech and entrepreneurship. Kick things off with our birthday party on November 5th, and enjoy our incredible lineup of free events, panel discussions, and classes running until November 17th. Follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram with our hashtag #MadeinCHI.
“Lean Startup is not a religion,” said Eric Ries, the 37 year-old author of The Lean Startup (2011), which is the handbook for what has become a cult-like movement embraced by entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide.
The core philosophy of the book – and of its practitioners – is to test ideas early and often by getting feedback from potential customers. Before investing very much time and money into a product, the idea is to quickly create an MVP (minimal viable product) and put it in front of potential consumers. This avoids wasting time and money developing products that people may not want.
“Agile methodology,” “failing fast,” “pivoting”—all concepts commonly used in startups—are increasingly being put to work inside the walls of large, well-established companies. This is because executives at Fortune 500 companies have realized that the natural limitations that face startups—limitations on time and financial resources—can actually be boons, resulting in fresh ideas and fast execution.
So a handful of large public companies, including General Electric (GE) and MasterCard, have created startups within their own mammoth companies. In 2013, GE created FastWorks, an internal startup entity. Its mission was to develop products using the “lean startup” approach, codified by Eric Ries in his book, The Lean Startup. (This means constantly experimenting and regularly getting feedback from customers to avoid building products that customers don’t want.)
As an entrepreneur, one of the earliest lessons I’ve learned is that big wins are the collection of many small steps. Many people have asked me how, as a solo founder, I managed to build a company with a customer base of 70+.
I wish I had a glamorous answer, but I don’t. The truth is that my company is the outcome of five years of 13-16 hour days and many, many dead-ends, and a whole lot of hustle. My secret is that I’ve positioned each and every day as a baby step forward—an attitude that is even more critical now, since I’m working with my technical co-founder (and husband) to continue our core consulting and content creation business and bootstrap a series of products.
We stay sane by focusing on the small wins. Here are the tips that have helped us:
Raffi Khatchadourian is a Mathematical Economics major and incoming junior at Colgate University. A self-starter and talented entrepreneur, Raffi has established himself as the COO of indify, an emerging music startup, before many of his peers have even declared their major. Back in January, Raffi attended GA’s week-long Business Accelerator program in partnership with Colgate University. Since then, he and his co-founders have gone on to win $10,000 in funding from Colgate University’s Entrepreneur Weekend Shark Tank and $15,000 from Colgate University’s Entrepreneurs Fund. Read on to learn how this young entrepreneur transformed his passion for music and data into a successful early-stage startup.
Follow Raffi @DeadliestKhatch and his startup at @_indify. Continue reading
Back in January, we announced our landmark partnership with 500 Startups to develop an accelerator prep program designed exclusively for GA alumni. The month-long training program accepted 11 startups, which each received $8,000 in seed money as well as a $2,000 tuition credit from 500 startups to get them on the fast track to triumph.
The partnership is a natural extension of our entrepreneurial roots and aligns with our mission to empower individuals to pursue work they love.
Since the program ended in June, we caught up with the founders, who represent a range of GA courses and campuses around the world. Read on to see what they learned from the experience, and what comes next. Continue reading
Each year, 15,000 attendees and 450+ startups converge in New York City for the annual NY Tech Day, the world’s largest startup event. As a former TechDay intern, I know how much effort it takes to plan and execute such an impressive event. Now, attending as an exhibitor with GA, it was amazing to see how much this event has evolved in just a few short years.
Tech conferences like this can be overwhelming, but as I perused Pier 92 with the GA crew, we thought of a few things that could help any aspiring Silicon Alley mogul at other startup events:
Who knew that a logo design would receive this much international attention? In exactly one week’s time, former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president in 2016, unveiled a shiny new logo, inspired a new font aptly named Hillvetica, and was accused of theft by WikiLeaks. The online feedback via Twitter and other channels was highly critical, claiming the logo looked low-budget (did you get that on Fiverr?), unoriginal (FedEx called and they want their arrow back), and, well, unpresidential.