mojoTago

Finding Your Mojo With Brian Reed

We had a great time this week with Brian Reed, founder of Mojo Tago, a local food truck company that just recently opened its first brick and mortar location in Powell. Brian’s path wasn’t a straight one, he dealt with several hardships including the loss of one of his dear friend and cofounder. For a while he was feeling like he lost his Mojo and this inspired Mojo Tago, the thrill of this Mexican food truck helped him to find new meaning and pick himself back up from such a tragic loss. Throughout his story there were many twists and turns he encountered before reaching the level of success he has today. Some key lessons from his talk are:

• Having a single focus is really key, if it’s something you have a passion to do, unexpected things will happen out of no where, people will support you if they feel your passion
• Find health in the business on a smaller manageable level before you find growth
• It’s important to know when it’s time to change, when it’s time to adapt
• Strive for that unique edge, what gets you up in the morning and keeps the business alive
• As for the path to finding your own mojo, there’s no clear path, it seems to come in a myriad of ways, just explore your interests and try to follow the signs that you receive

We can’t thank Brian enough for coming out during such a busy time for his business!

IdeaBox

IdeaBox 2015, Ohio State’s Entrepreneurship Fair

The first step before beginning any new venture is to receive feedback. The stone cold truth, what you need to hear from the people you need to hear it from. Hearing the opinions of your peers: good, bad, and indifferent is an essential mechanism in determining if your idea is worth pursuing. Instead of our twice yearly IdeaPitch competition, the BBC decided to focus on knocking IdeaBox out of the park this Spring. Think of IdeaBox as a science fair for startup ideas, a place where like-minded individuals gather to talk business, life, and enjoy themselves. On April 2nd, 2015 in the Ohio Union the BBC hosted its largest IdeaBox contest to date. With more than 25 entries and over $1,000 in prizes at stake, this was no ordinary science fair.

 

We were blown away as an organization with the quality and effort put into the business concepts. Almost all entrants had some sort of minimum viable product already built, some had patents, and others were already selling product. Many of the ideas and concepts that were presented have not been discussed at BBC meetings or related events, this was not only encouraging but refreshing. Approximately 75 people attended this year’s event, making for a lively evening of all things entrepreneurship.

 

All attendees to this year’s IdeaBox event had the option to become “investors” in the competitor’s ideas for their chance at a share of the prizes. We believe that this added a unique element to the event, audience participation. We hope if you were able to attend that you enjoyed this quirky twist.

 

This year’s event would not have been possible without the generous contributions from our many sponsors. First off, thank you NCT Ventures for being the event’s official sponsor. NCT, a local venture capital firm, is helping to make Columbus the start-up hub of the Midwest. Also a huge thank you goes out to Columbus State Community College’s Small Business Development Center, FlashNotes, Metcalf & Associates, Start-Up Weekend Columbus and Fundable. Giving away prizes would not have been possible without these companies and their leaders.

 

We would also like to thank our judges for taking time out of their Wednesday evenings to be with us. Calvin Cooper of NCT Ventures, Rich Langdale of NCT Ventures, Ariana Ulloa-Olavariettta of Columbus State, Michael Bowers of Columbus State, Dan Rockwell of Big Kitty Labs, David Sherry of Death to Stock Photography, and Damon Caiozza of Fundable were all generous enough to take on the intimidating task of judging this event. Again, IdeaBox would not have been possible without them.

 

The Business Builders Club would like to extend our congratulations to the 3 grand prize winners of $500, $250, and $100 respectively. In 1st place, Titan Mixer Bottle, an innovative solution to all of the common problems that protein shaker bottle users have. In 2nd place came Tokeables, a festival accessories company. And in 3rd place we had SolveIt, a crazy cool app that can decode your hand writing of math problems and solve those subsequent problems for you. Thank you to all who competed, it takes a lot of guts to get in front of people and talk about something you are passionate about, especially when you have to do it almost 100 separate times.

 

IdeaBox this year was a huge success and something that the BBC sees growing in the future. Thank you to all who supported this event and made the effort of attending. Personally, as event organizer, I had a blast being able to meet judges, participants, and attendees alike. IdeaBox was nothing but a fulfilling experience. We look forward to seeing you all next year! #BBCMafia

 

Lessons of a Startup Tale with Danielle Walton

This week we had a splendid time hearing from Danielle Walton, founder of BringShare and Adept Marketing. Her experience is extensive, 3 years as a consultant at Deloitte, 2 years as Marketing Project Manager at Lifestyle Communities, and over 8 years in startups, one bootstrapped, and one with venture capital, she learned a lesson from every obstacle and mistake along the way. Here are some of the learnings she had to share:

• If you want to be successful you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else

• You can’t let things get you down, learn how you can get better from each mistake, be optimistic

• Balance vision and reality, there is a point where you can take positivity too far

• Don’t underestimate the value of experience

• Get a job,work for a startup, don’t experience the pain of failure and mistake first-hand, learn through someone else’s pain

• Don’t feel like you have to rush it, the dumbest thing we’ve ever done is quit our job to startup the company with no money

We are very grateful to have Danielle, such a well seasoned marketing mind and entrepreneur, come share her insights with us.

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Recap of the 1st Ever Emerging Entrepreneur Competition

Mark Zuckerburg was 19 when he started Facebook. 17 year old Nick D’Aloisio sold his app Summly to Yahoo! for $30 million in 2013. Brian Wong, at age 19, founded a gaming rewards program called Kiip which earned over $15.4 million in funding and a spot on the DOW Jones FASTech50.

These few examples go to show that when it comes to startups, age is no boundary. These tech-savvy teens have proved that in the 21st century the pups are perfectly capable of playing with the big dogs. Little did we know, Ohio is home to many teens who share the same vision.

At the beginning of the year, the BBC decided we would set out to spark interest and support for Ohio’s youth entrepreneurs. We decided to host the 1st annual Emerging Entrepreneur Competition to take place March 29th in the Ohio Union. We invited high school entrepreneurs from all over Ohio to pitch their products and ideas to a panel of judges for feedback, advice, and the chance to grab a $500 grand prize.

After each entry came in, we were more and more thrilled at how many high-schoolers wanted to come out to OSU and pitch their projects. Students with improved 3D printers, digital liquor control devices, and online live personal training platforms greatly exceeding our expectations. On paper these ideas seemed great, but once we saw the full presentations, we were blown away. Some of these students had spent years developing their products, establishing LLCs, patents pending, and working prototypes. Who knew there was so much talent and ingenuity right here in our own backyard?

Taking home the grand prize was Carson Fox from Saint Francis DeSales for his company Head Hoodies which produces stylish head protectors for lacrosse sticks. The 2nd place prize was given to Matthew Boles, creator of a microwaveable, totable oatmeal. In 3rd place, Sammie Sommerkamp who designed the WorkoutWonder, an easy, simple to use piece of equipment which helps strengthen and tone core muscles.

Overall, the judges and the BBC were more than impressed with the great ideas and products that were presented. At such a young age, these students sure were able to bring their wow-factor! Congratulations to all presenters. We are greatly looking forward to see what the future has in store for you.

We at the BBC would like to thank all judges, participants, and spectators for helping to make a very successful Emerging Entrepreneur Competition.

See you next year!

 

Judges for the Event:

David Comisford

Doug Myers

Brooke Paul

Dan Rockwell

Greg Ruf

Cherylyn Rushton

Guest Speaker:

Steve Gacka

 

Leadership Welcome

2014-2015 Leadership Applications

Deadline: Sunday, April 5th at Midnight

It’s that time again! The Business Builders Club will be transitioning leadership very soon and we encourage you to apply to join the team. Here is a rundown of the positions we think are suitable:

  • President: You ensure that everyone has the right tools to get the job done. The captain of the ship.
  • Vice President: You help create the vision for the future and are chief get-things-done’er.
  • VP of Marketing: You make the world know what the BBC is!
  • VP of Communications: You write about the BBC and share it with our community.
  • VP of Company Relations: You are the point of contact for companies in the community to reach the BBC.
  • VP of Events: You make sure the BBC does what it can do best; run awesome events!
  • VP of Membership: You are in charge of selling membership and are the number one promoter for the BBC.
  • VP of Operations: You make sure the details are not forgotten.
  • VP of Finance: You make sure we don’t run out of money.
  • VP of Technology: You are the techy guru for the club.
  • VP of Design: You make sure that we look pretty.
  • VP of Alumni Relations: You make sure that our older, graduated friends stay in love with BBC.

To apply, simply download this form and return it (typed) to bbc.osu@gmail.com along with a copy of your resume. Leadership Application_2015

Deadline: Sunday, April 5th at Midnight - but we appreciate timeliness

Judge-Gavel

An Oath to Startups

In case you missed it, we had Mark Stansbury of Stansbury Law give us an hour of his very valuable time to answer all our legal questions about startups. Some of the key takeaways were:

• Have the important talks/arguments with co-founders sooner rather than later
• So no one walks away with a chunk of the company in the first few months, the industry standard is becoming 6 years for equity vested which means equity is released to owners over time
• The biggest mistake startups made is not getting professional advice early on, in particular, legalzoom is good for basic agreements but can lead to problems down the line
• If you don’t have a lot of money, do accounting and legal on your own, even if you are audited you’ll probably be okay because the IRS knows you don’t have a lot of money
• The biggest trouble companies get into is not paying withholding tax, always pay any sales or withholding tax, even if lights go out and business goes down, if you don’t pay that the IRS will come after you and won’t settle
• Make sure you’re not signing bad terms when you take capital, be wary of money from the government, there are often strings attached that are not conducive to business
• RocketLawyer is a good resource for cheap legal help, competitor of Legal Zoom
• Brad Feld is a good resource, follow his blog

We are tremendously grateful for Mark’s time taking the stand and all his great advice! If you would like to contact him, he can be reached at mark@stansburylegal.com. He has offered to give a free hour of basic advice to help move you in the right direction if you need it!

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Validating Your Startup Idea

Having an idea for a startup can be really exciting, and sometimes you want to dive right into producing your product and launching your company.  But before you do that, you have to make sure your idea is actually a good one, by validating the idea, or making sure people will actually want your product before producing it.  This way, you can make the decision to launch your startup knowing people will want what you’re making.

It’s easy to assume that people will want your product before you make it.  For instance, at Pufferfish Software we were sure people would want an app that helped their children learn to identify the fifty states of the USA.  We went right ahead in producing it, confident that we could just put it up on the app store and sell to our existing user base of parents and to parents on the iPad app store.  Much to our dismay, we received no sales on an app that cost, if I recall correctly, $800 to make – because foolishly, we didn’t make sure people wanted it before we made it.

Unfortunately, having a few friends say “yeah that’s cool I’d buy that” doesn’t really count as validation.  Think about it – there’s lots of stuff you say you’d buy, especially after an afternoon wasted shopping online.  But you don’t actually go buy any of those things.  The only thing that really counts as validation is a commitment to purchase.

A commitment to purchase comes in two forms – providing contact information for a future purchase, or pledging money for the purchase in the form of a pre-sale.  Since you’re not even sure you want to go ahead with your startup idea yet, you can collect the contact information of people who want to buy your product.  This is easy, free, and only requires a couple steps.

1.  Set Up a Website.

Making a simple website has become amazingly easy in the past couple of years.  Anyone can hop online, and get started for free.  For this, you want to make a website using LaunchRock.    LaunchRock is a service designed exactly for what you’re trying to do, which is build an early customer base to prove your idea is something people want.  They’re free, so if you never get that traction it didn’t cost you a thing.

2. Set up a Twitter.

This is so you can make it easy for people to share your product or idea online.  Make sure to hook this up to your LaunchRock website so people can easily share.  Twitter isn’t meant for broadcasting promotion about your product, but for having conversations with your followers.  It’s called social media, because it’s meant for socially engaging.  But whatever you do, don’t buy Twitter followers.

3. Promote!

Tell your friends about your website, first of all.  Post on your personal accounts saying you’re investigating this idea.  Secondly, get on Reddit, find the subreddits were your potential customers are, and let them know what you’re making.  If it’s tech-y, post on HackerNews.  If it’s crafty, post on Pinterest.

Wherever you post, don’t come off as a broadcaster.  Remember to be a person; ask for feedback on your idea, ask people what they want out of such a product.  This isn’t about you and your awesome company, this is about making a product for your customers that your customers want.  It’s about your customers.

If you want to get more engagement with your product, give them a little taste for free.  Take up to 10 hours producing some content for your customer base, be it writing or a free tool or a free chart or a small game or whatever you can think of, and then give it away in exchange for an email address.  This is a great way to get people on board with your product idea, because they will already know you are going to deliver on what you promise.

4. Assess

After you’ve done this for a month, assess the traction you have.  People might be interested and love your idea, or they might hate it.  They might think it has potential, but would rather you make something different.  Make sure to assess all of the interaction you got, and decide on the course of action best for you and your customers.  Because it doesn’t matter how many customers you have if you’re not making something they want.

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Our Very Own TEDx Original with Ida Abdalkhani

In February, the largest ever TEDx conference at Ohio State University assembled in the Mershon Auditorium to listen to a collection of distinguished speakers share their experience and stories in hopes of inspiring other change-makers in our community. We were fortunate to listen to a Business Builders Club alumni, Ida Abdalkhani, give the crowd a lesson in laughter yoga. As she says, laughter yoga is forcing oneself to laugh, and the silly, forced laughter becomes real laughter that gets blood flowing and endorphins released into the body. In addition to instructing the laughter yoga session, Ida shared the benefits of laughter yoga.

A huge thank you to Ida for venturing back to Columbus to bring laughter to the entire audience. Check out her talk here and #ShareTheLaughter

Of course, this couldn’t have happened without the amazing team behind TEDxOSU! Round of applause.

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The Fear of Idea Theft

Often, new entrepreneurs are afraid of sharing their new company idea because they’re afraid someone will steal their idea.  This is their first, great inspiration, and don’t want to risk it being stolen and copied by someone else.  This is a belief which is counterproductive and sometimes dangerous to the health of a new venture, for a couple of reasons.

1.  You have to tell people about your idea to get feedback.  Feedback is critical to the success of a startup, and if you don’t get feedback and development advice from your customers, industry professionals, and trusted advisors, your startup will surely tank.  You don’t know everything you need to know on your own to make your startup succeed.

Furthermore, you need feedback to validate your startup idea.  If you don’t get this feedback and directional advice, you might launch into a new startup that just isn’t solid enough, and then lose large amounts of money because you aren’t able to get customers.  Get feedback from potential customers early on, so you know your startup idea will succeed.

2. This attitude is not respected.  Because experienced entrepreneurs know how critical it is that you get feedback and support for your startup idea to succeed, they will internally greet new entrepreneurs afraid of idea theft with exasperation or frustration.  Far from being intrigued by your “secret startup idea,” they will just lose interest and move on to something else – not so great for your startup.

3.  You have to make your idea public in order to execute on it.  You’ll have to make a website for your product, you’ll have to share your idea to get into startup accelerators, you’ll have to share your idea to apply for or compete for funds, so on and so forth… the launching of a startup involves actually sharing your startup idea.  If you don’t tell people about your idea, they can’t tell other people about your idea, who can’t tell other people about your idea, and soon you’re missing out on hundreds of people exposed to your new startup.

4. Ideas are worthless.  Startups are all about the execution, not the magic in an idea.  The idea for Facebook, one of the unicorn companies of our time, is no more magical than any other social media website idea.  Had you or I had the idea for Facebook, chances are it wouldn’t have grown into an especially significant social media website, just one among many of the time.  What made Facebook so amazing was the perfect execution of the website, the way Zuckerberg was perfectly positioned for its success.

In fact, your idea is so meaningless that having it doesn’t mean anything at all.  Some people worry their idea will be stolen – well, people will have the same idea, whether or not they’ve heard of yours.  Since there are so many people, with so many ideas, someone is going to have the same one as you.  What makes your startup better than theirs is your execution on the very same idea.

A Quick Note About Idea Theft

Idea Theft is something a lot of people assume is a crime, but isn’t actually a crime in and of itself.  The act of adopting someone else’s idea to be your own is not of consequence in either civil or criminal courts, and you can’t sue over it.  Things commonly treated as ‘idea theft’ crimes, like the theft of Zuckerberg from the Winklevoss twins, rested on the fact that Zuckerberg signed a contract with the Winklevosses for production of ConnectU.  What was illegal was Zuckerberg breaching the contract, not his execution of the same idea.  This means that had they offered him the job and he declined, then went on to make Facebook, the Winklevi would have won much less in their settlement.

Another common example of Idea Theft is Snapchat’s ‘Fourth Founder.’  While Brown did come up with the name and part of the idea for Snapchat, his settlement rested on the fact that he did work for the Snapchat project (creating the logo, graphics, and contributing to construction).  Again, had his suit rested entirely on the idea, his case would have been dismissed for lack of ground.

5. People don’t want to take on obligations.  If you refuse to share your idea except in confidence, with a non-disclosure agreement or some other promise binding them to not share your idea, you’re creating a one-sided obligation where they’re never allowed to tell anyone, for the rest of their days.  Even if this is just an agreement based in honor and not in law, it’s still creating an obligation that the listener has to you.

 

hotchickencover

Entrepreneurship à la carte with Joe DeLoss

This week Joe DeLoss shared his succulent story of Hot Chicken Takeover. After experiencing the hot chicken craze first hand in Nashville, him and his wife thought there may be an opportunity to bring that delicious and scrumptious menu back to midwestern Columbus. Using friends as a test market, DeLoss served up his brainchild every time they came over to watch UFC on pay-per-view. Once validated, they started doing pop-up events outside. Uniquely, they made it a goal to waste no food which meant predicting demand for the whole day and often selling out right before the day’s end. Everything was going well with the outdoor gigs, but as the Ohio winter creeped upon us, Joe realized they needed to change models to support a year-round business. They made their next move to raise money for a food truck on Kickstarter. As support flooded in, it became apparent that managing the campaign, questions, and fulfillment would be a full-time job. Needless to say they were very successful, exceeding their goal of $40,000 by more than $20,000. After giving Kickstarter their share, paying for prizes, and fulfillment of those prizes, they were left with around $40,000. Still, they realized shortly after that a physical presence was necessary for them to better develop their teams and control costs. When they first approached North Market about getting a space they were told the business was still too infant to be placed among the top tier brands that North Market has to offer. But, a few months and 46,000 customers later, they now have their very own space in North Market.

Today, they have 26 employees, all of which they heavily invest in. Their workforce is approximately 40% high school and college students and 60% individuals with barriers to employment. Whether their barriers are their past or their current circumstances, Hot Chicken gives them the opportunity to grow their skills from entry up to management and establish the home and habits needed to maintain a consistent job.

Some key takeaways:
• Kickstarter campaigns are more expensive and time consuming than one may think
• Traction trumps all, if you need money, space, or anything else, numbers make you believable
• If you spend the time to develop your employees, make sure there is room for them to grow within your organization

A big thanks to Joe for serving up a great talk! If you want to check them out they are open Thursday-Sunday, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm at the North Market.