Going to Market and Key Concepts for Entrepreneurs

Going to Market and Key Concepts for Entrepreneurs

Why do some startups succeed while others fail?

What are some of the most common mistakes made by entrepreneurs?

How can you reach your market?

If you couldn’t be there when start-ups first got started, this interview might be the next best thing…Software industry veteran Godfrey Hiltebrandt shares gems of wisdom from decades of bringing tech startups to market. Hear about changes in the field, key mistakes to avoid making, and the core principles to success in entrepreneurship.

Host: Katya Margolin, Multimedia Storyteller
Guest: Godfrey Hiltebrandt, Marketing/Sales/Operations

Music Credits:
“No Qualms,” Dynamic Syncopation
“Nostrandt,” Ratatat

This Week: March 29 – April 4, 2015

Friends,

This Wednesday at District Hall, in collaboration with Microsoft’s Innovation & Policy Center, we’re hosting another Civic Innovation Conversation: Innovation for the Neighborhoods.

Join us Thursday for a cleantech-focused Café with several Feature Events including TCN UpStart Roundtable, Cleantech Entrepreneurs from Greentown Labs Panel, and a special Sustainability Collaborative with Massachusetts State Senator and Chair of the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, Marc Pacheco.

Also, get advice and feedback during 3 sets of Office Hours and find resources to grow your startup at 5 Info Tables located around the Café.

And, like every other Thursday, please remember that how you contribute to the community is in your hands. Whether you choose to pay it forward, share connections, listen to stories, provide feedback, or simply clean up after yourself; we hope that you’ll help us help you.

Until Thursday,

cropped-venture-cafe-logo.png

 

 

Pic of the Week: Last Thursday’s Keynote Speaker for The Veteran Entrepreneur Series, Coleman Nee, former Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services, being interviewed by Bloomberg Business Radio. See more #VeteranEntrepreneur photos on our Facebook page, and, while you’re there, like us to stay up-to-date.

Thursday – Apr. 2, 2015

3:00 – 8:00 P.M. | Venture Café in Session

Feature Events

4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | TCN UpStart Roundtable

TCN UpStart Roundtables are monthly gatherings at the Venture Café that bring together Boston-area early-stage startups and seasoned entrepreneurs. This free series with The Capital Network, Venture Café, and Silicon Valley Bank is a great opportunity for you to ask burning questions about starting a company and meet other like-minded entrepreneurs in a casual Café setting. This Thursday, hear from Greg O’Keefe, Founder and COO of MyEnergy (acquired by NEST which was subsequently acquired by Google).

Please reserve your spot here.

5:30 – 6:30 P.M. | Cleantech Entrepreneurs from Greentown Labs Panel

Join the conversation with the founders of companies in Greentown Labs as the panelists discuss the environment of building Cleantech companies in Massachusetts.

Moderator

Sean Becker – President, Sparkplug Power

Panelists

Eamon Carrig – Co-Founder and CTO, Autonomous Marine Systems

Gabe Blanchet – CEO, Grove Labs

Alex Pina – Founder, Avalanche Energy

Ben Glass – Co-Founder and CEO, Altaeros Energies

6:30 – 8:00 P.M. | Sustainability Collaborative

To kick off Earth Month, they are thrilled to welcome Marc Pacheco, Massachusetts State Senator and Chair of the MA Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and Emily Reichert, Executive Director of Greentown Labs, to lead the Sustainability Collaborative. Senator Pacheco will frame up current state and national sustainability policies, share thoughts on ​challenges and opportunities for the Commonwealth, ​​and facilitate a discussion on how we as citizens can do more to strengthen local and national policies in favor of a healthy climate and future. Please join the conversation!

What: EcoMotion‘s Sustainability Collaborative takes place in mini-unConference style​ monthly at the Venture Café, a weekly innovation gathering at CIC in the heart of Kendall Square. Innovators are invited to share and participate in a unique discussion around rotating sustainability innovation themes.

Where: Havana room, 5th floor of CIC (fka Cambridge Innovation Center)

When: Thursday, April 2nd from 6:30-7:30pm

Questions and RSVP​: Sierra sflanigan@ecomotion.us

Office Hours

3:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Joe Caruso

For the last 20 years Joe Caruso has served has been an “Advocate for entrepreneurs” as a mentor, coach, and personal advisor to CEO’s and entrepreneurs. In recent years, he has served an investor, advisor and active director with dozens of companies, public and private. He also maintains an active consulting practice dealing with structuring and negotiation of acquisitions, strategic partnerships and financings, and issues related to dispute resolution.

Reserve 30 minutes with Joe here.

3:30 – 6:30 P.M. | Joe Rife

Test your pitch! No fault practice sessions.

Dr. Rife developed and wrote due diligence protocols for early stage investment by the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. No part of the process is more important than the initial “pitch”.

As an entrepreneur, academic and consultant, Joe is especially interested in helping you craft a strong presentation for your venture. Take advantage of this opportunity to practice your pitch with no downside!

Sessions are 30 minutes. Bring your collateral materials and team members as appropriate.

Reserve 30 minutes with Joe here.

4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Mitch Tyson

Mitch is a former CEO and is currently helping to build the cleantech ecosystem. He coaches entrepreneurs and serves on corporate, non-profit, and governmental boards. He is Chair of the New England Clean Energy Council, a partner in Clean Energy Venture Group, and serves on the boards of both Venture Café Foundation and Greentown Labs. Starting and growing a company is exhilarating but it is hard in many dimensions. If you want to talk to someone about the challenges you’re facing as an entrepreneur he’d be glad to chat.

Reserve 30 minutes with Mitch here.

Info Tables

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | ACTION

The Association of Cleantech Incubators of New England (ACTION) is the region’s leading network of cleantech incubators sharing the common goals of accelerating the growth and success of early-stage companies, strengthening the regional cleantech cluster, and creating more green jobs in New England.

ACTION is a nonprofit organization. Their network of incubators provides diverse resources and a highly- supportive hub in which entrepreneurs, business leaders, government agencies, community leaders, investors, universities, and other interested organizations can collaborate toward the successful commercialization of enterprises that will build a prosperous green economy, improve the quality of life, and sustain the health of the environment.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Cleantech Open

The world’s largest cleantech accelerator, Cleantech Open finds, funds, and fosters entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental, and economic challenges. Meet staff from Cleantech Open Northeast at their info table and learn how entrepreneurs, potential mentors, and interested volunteers can get involved in their 2014 accelerator.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Cleanweb Hackathon

Hosted by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in partnership with Greentown Labs, the Boston Cleanweb Hackathon is a weekend-long technology challenge to create user-friendly web and mobile applications designed to help consumers and businesses use energy and natural resources more efficiently. Teams will compete for cash prizes.

For the past three years, the annual Boston Cleanweb Hackathon has spun out successful businesses including past winners Somerville-based Crowd Comfort and Beverly-based Water Hero. Join them April 10th!

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Greentown Labs

Greentown Labs is a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating game-changing energy technologies that transform the way we live, work, and play. Located in Somerville, MA, Greentown Labs is the largest cleantech incubator in the Northeast, operating a 33,000 sq. ft. facility that enables entrepreneurs to solve today’s biggest energy and environmental problems. Greentown Labs hosts a constant stream of events and programs for the cleantech community and tours more than 5,000 visitors from around the world each year. Its mission is to enable a vibrant community of entrepreneurs to realize their visions by providing access to the space, resources, and funding need to thrive. For more information, visit www.greentownlabs.com, or find them on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | MassCEC

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), a publicly funded agency dedicated to accelerating the clean energy industry in Massachusetts.

Their Annual Boston Cleanweb Hackathon currently has 180 people registered and is coming up April 10 – 12, a weekend long technology competition where students, entrepreneurs, programmers, and energy experts are challenged to create a new user-friendly web or mobile application to help consumers and businesses use energy and natural resources more efficiently. There are big cash prizes and several companies have developed out of the Cleanweb Hacakthon in previous years.

This Week: March 22 – 28, 2015

Friends,

This Thursday’s theme night, #VeteranEntrepreneur, is the first event in our new series, “The Veteran Entrepreneur”, created in partnership with Suburban Integrated Facilities Resources.  The Feature Events are TCN UpStart Roundtable with serial entrepreneur and veteran Win Burke, now of iGetBetter; Keynote Speech from Coleman Nee, former Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services; and “The Veteran Entrepreneur” Series Panel.  Meanwhile, get advice and feedback during four sets of Office Hours including veteran Bill Madden (now at Seraph Group), and learn about supporting organizations at six Info Tables around the Café.

And, like every other Thursday, pay it forward while making new connections and  finding resources to grow your startup.

Hope to see you Thursday,

cropped-venture-cafe-logo.png

 

 

 

Thursday – Mar. 26, 2015

3:00 – 8:00 P.M. | Venture Café in Session

Feature Events

4:00 – 5:30 P.M. | TCN UpStart Roundtable

TCN UpStart Roundtable, a monthly gathering at Venture Café, brings together Boston-area early-stage startups and seasoned entrepreneurs. This free series from The Capital Network, Venture Café, and Silicon Valley Bank is a great opportunity for you to ask burning questions about starting a company and meet other like-minded entrepreneurs in a casual setting. This Thursday, connect with U.S. Army veteran and serial entrepreneur Win Burke of iGetBetter.

RSVP here.

5:30 – 6:30 P.M. | Keynote Speech – Former Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services

Former Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services, Coleman Nee, will join us for our inaugural event of The Veteran Entrepreneur series to share his remarks as a military veteran, entrepreneur, and long-time advocate for veterans. Coleman Nee spent many years as Undersecretary and Secretary of Veterans’ Services where he championed efforts to provide veterans and their families with earned benefits, access to workforce training, and healthcare services. Mr. Nee was also instrumental in the State’s progress to eliminate homelessness among veterans, and he oversaw the Massachusetts Women Veterans’ Network, which supports over 28,000 woman veterans.

RSVP here.

6:30 – 7:30 P.M. | “The Veteran Entrepreneur” Series – Panel

This panel discussion will dive into the entrepreneur’s experiences, decisions, and lessons learned surrounding the launch and initial growth of their companies. More specifically, along the lines of: What propelled them to take the leap into entrepreneurship? What did they feel their greatest risks and challenges were and how they overcame them? What role, if any, did their military experience serve in their efforts to start their companies? And perhaps, why and how do military veterans make successful entrepreneurs?

Panelists:

Moderator: Chris Pratt, Executive Vice President, Suburban Integrated Facilities Resources

RSVP here.

Office Hours

3:00 – 5:00 P.M. | Bill Madden

Bill Madden: Director, Business Development for Seraph Group. Bill is a former Captain in the Marine Corps, serving from 1994-1999 as a Platoon Commander in infantry and reconnaissance platoons. He graduated from Harvard before serving in the Marines, and earned his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth afterwards. Bill has spent time in consulting with McKinsey, and as a financial advisor with Goldman Sachs before his current role at Seraph Group.

Seraph Group is a structured angel fund that seeks strong entrepreneurs looking for seed stage funding, and accredited investors looking to invest in an innovative alternative to traditional angel investing. They have a nine-year track record of strong returns, and an outstanding network of over 200 notable, seasoned investors from across the country.

Reserve 30 minutes with Bill here. Bill’s Office Hours tomorrow are full.

3:00 – 5:00 P.M. | Investors Collaborative

Investors Collaborative (iC) provides venture capital to select early stage companies in a wide range of industry sectors including software, IT, biotechnology, clean technology, healthcare, energy, communications, hardware, and professional services. They seek to help individuals developing innovative technologies build world class companies.

iC Office Hours this Thursday are full. Their next available appointments are on April 9. Reserve 15 minutes with iC here.

3:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Joe Caruso

For the last 20 years Joe Caruso has served has been an “Advocate for entrepreneurs” as a mentor, coach, and personal advisor to CEO’s and entrepreneurs. In recent years, he has served an investor, advisor and active director with dozens of companies, public and private. He also maintains an active consulting practice dealing with structuring and negotiation of acquisitions, strategic partnerships and financings, and issues related to dispute resolution.

Reserve 30 minutes with Joe here. Joe’s Office Hours tomorrow are full.

3:30 – 5:30 P.M. | Marty Sack

Marty Sack has mentored more than 200 start-ups over the last two years as a volunteer for SCORE. He brings with him the mentoring resources of more than forty additional successful executives, CPAs, small business owners, and other experts in diverse areas of business and non-profits–all volunteers offering free mentoring services.

Marty is the now retired co-founder of LunchDates Dating Service. He also founded and led a national job publication for 26 years, and he was the executive director of a Cambridge based non-profit for 18 years.

Reserve 30 minutes with Marty here. Marty’s Office Hours tomorrow are full.

Info Tables

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Association for the United States Army (AUSA)

Come speak with the Association of the United States Army which is the advocate voice for the Army in Congress and the Department of Defense. Membership in this patriotic, worldwide association based in our Nation’s Capitol allows you to contribute your support to defending our national security. Many of us would love to serve in uniform but, for various reasons, can not. This is your chance to be marching in step with the greatest fraternity in the world!

For more information about AUSA and how to join, go to www.ausa.org.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | MassChallenge

MassChallenge is the world’s largest startup accelerator and the first to support early stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Every year, MassChallenge selects 128 of the highest impact ventures from every industry and any stage to participate in a four month startup competition where they receive free office space, mentorship, professional education, opportunities for fundraising, and more – all with no equity taken.

MassChallenge has supported Veteran founded companies like RallyPoint and Sword and Plough.

Startup applications for MassChallenge 2015 are open until April 1. Visit MassChallenge.org for more info and send inquiries to contact@MassChallenge.org.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Northeast Veterans Business Resource Center (NVBRC)

Northeast Veterans Business Resource Center (NEVBRC) is a nonprofit organization which assists veterans in starting, operating and maintaining small businesses. We provide expertise together with their resource partners to train, mentor, and assist our nation’s veterans in this regard. As a Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) covering the U.S. Small Business Administration Region 1, their service area covers all six New England states.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | RallyPoint

RallyPoint is the only online military community dedicated to helping service members and veterans achieve success in their lives and careers. Founded by former Special Forces officer Yinon Weiss and Army Captain Aaron Kletzing, it is the premier military network run by veterans in the USA.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Small Business Administration (SBA)

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) provides veterans, and their dependents, info on programs, resources and organizations to assist them with starting or growing their business. Their programs include business advisory services, access to capital, government contracting and exporting.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | VetsinTech

VetsinTech is a national non-profit organization that supports our current and returning veterans with re-integration services and by connecting them to the national technology ecosystem. ViT is committed to bringing together a tech-specific network, resources, and programs for their veterans interested in Education, Entrepreneurship, and Employment – the 3E’s!

 

Building The Craic and Blonde – Irish roots for Haitian food

Skye Flanigan interviews Blonde Beauchamp, a food entrepreneur specializing in Haitian Pikliz. Blonde started her business, The Craic & Blonde, (Definition: the craic) after moving back from Ireland to build off her passion for food and a love for her Haitian culture. Hear about her successes and challenges, as well as recommendations for budding food entrepreneurs in the Boston area and beyond!

The robot ate my homework: physical robots that motivate kids to learn.

Horst interviews Dr. Deepti Suchindran of Robotix Learning Solutions. Robotix is a startup that is launching a robot that inspires K-12 students to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) topics. Deepti shares a story about how the movie “Jaws” inspired her to pursue biology and science from an early age as well as the journey of  being woman technology entrepreneur in India.

This Week: March 15 – 21, 2015

Friends,

Gather at Venture Café this Thursday to learn how to properly handle labor and employment issues during Nixon Peabody’s Labor & Employment 101: What New and Growing Businesses Need to Know.  Then, join attorney Jerry O’Connor for a deep dive into crowdfunding as he hosts Massachusetts Crowdfunding: A Discussion.  Meanwhile, get feedback and advice during Office Hours with seven adept advisors.  Then, learn about upcoming innovation-related events and find resources to grow your startup at five different Info Tables around the Café.

Hope to see you Thursday,

cropped-venture-cafe-logo.png

Pic of the Week: A few participants from this month’s Sustainability Collaborative.  Organized by Sierra Flanigan (middle, behind the sign),Venture Café Volunteer and mastermind behind Sustainability unConference, which returns to District Hall on April 22.

Thursday – Mar. 19, 2015

3:00 – 8:00 P.M. | Venture Café in Session

Feature Events

3:00 – 4:30 P.M. | Nixon Peabody’s Labor & Employment 101: What New and Growing Businesses Need to Know

Proper handling of labor and employment issues is critical for startups and other young enterprises, because just one misstep can make the difference between profitability and failure. Please join Nixon Peabody for this interactive seminar designed to provide entrepreneurs with basic knowledge about best labor and employment practices for new and growing companies. They’ll discuss:

  • New Hire forms, including tax forms, Form I9 compliance and employment-related insurance programs
  • Pre-hire and interview risks and best practices, including meeting legal requirements for background checks, reducing the risk of discrimination claims and avoiding disputes with the applicant’s prior employers
  • Forming and documenting employment relationships, including employment-at-will, offer letters, employment contracts and restrictive covenants
  • Wage and hour issues, including payroll, minimum wage and overtime, the use of “interns” and the risks of misclassification of workers
  • Workplace policies, including compliance with applicable employee-notification and leave laws, depending on the size of your business

RSVP here.

6:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Massachusetts Crowdfunding: A Discussion

Crowdfunding Comes To Massachusetts

Did you know that crowdfunding regulations, long awaited under the federal JOBS Act, were quietly promulgated in Massachusetts earlier this year?

Startups, early-stage investors and members of the Massachusetts startup ecosystem are asking questions about this new funding pathway:

  • Who can use it?
  • How much can I raise?
  • How does this relate to federal crowdfunding? To existing funding strategies?
  • What are the risks?
  • Is state-based crowdfunding the right solution for my startup
  • How do I participate as an investor?

Join Jerry O’Connor for a discussion in which he will explain the new rules and answer any questions.

Office Hours

3:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Joe Caruso

For the last 20 years Joe Caruso has served has been an “Advocate for entrepreneurs” as a mentor, coach, and personal advisor to CEO’s and entrepreneurs. In recent years, he has served an investor, advisor and active director with dozens of companies, public and private. He also maintains an active consulting practice dealing with structuring and negotiation of acquisitions, strategic partnerships and financings, and issues related to dispute resolution.

Joe’s Office Hours this Thursday are full. Reserve 30 minutes with Joe next Thursday here.

3:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Steve Davis

Meet with Steve Davis, a business growth strategist who has been a mentor and advisor to entrepreneurs for over 20 years. He’s Founder of CXO Advisory Group, a company that works with businesses, entrepreneurs and service providers to accelerate revenue growth. Steve helps you strategize to build a profitable, efficient business capable of growing to scale.

1 appointment remaining: 4:00 P.M. Reserve 30 minutes with Steve here. 3/15 update: Steve’s Office Hours are full.

3:30 – 5:30 P.M. | Brad Curley

Brad Curley is an experienced angel investor (Boston Harbor Angels), board member (Sialix), and advisor (CPA, KPMG) to early stage companies. He will be available to discuss fundraising alternatives and also strategies about raising seed stage, angel, and VC capital.

Reserve 15 minutes with Brad here.

4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Brand Institute’s Hermann Spicker

Are you interested in learning how to name your start up, product or service? Brand Institute (BI) can teach you about the naming process and how to create a unique and resonant brand name.

Brand Institute is the global leader in brand name and identity development. They have an office in Cambridge and 16 other locations around the world to help startups, tech, and consumer packaged goods companies with their naming and identity needs.

RSVP by emailing Hermann here.

4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | George Mabry

George is an active consultant, mentor and angel investor in the Harvard, MIT, and Boston entrepreneurial communities. With degrees in computer science and business, George co-founded a biotech market research company that was acquired by a global bio-pharmaceutical service provider in 2008. If you are seeking feedback on your business concept, come prepared with high-level materials to explain your idea, including information on the market, team, and how you are addressing the problem / opportunity.

Reserve 30 minutes with George here. 3/15 update: George’s Office Hours are full.

4:00 – 7:00 P.M. | SABIC Ventures

SABIC has recently grown to be the world’s second largest chemicals company. They’re are interested in learning about new technologies that could be relevant to their continued future growth.

Two representatives from SABIC Ventures will be available for Office Hours. They’d like to speak with startups that are developing technologies relating to new materials, components, devices, and chemical manufacturing processes that have potential for finding widespread use in the future. They’d also like to identify new technologies of interest for SABIC’s future and would be delighted to provide helpful advice to startups.

Reserve 30 minutes with SABIC Ventures here. 3/15 update: SABIC Ventures’s Office Hours are full.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Dr. Sheldon Borkin

Get advice from Dr. Sheldon Borkin on growing and funding your company. Sheldon leads Strategic Angels which helps larger software companies become involved in the innovation economy. He is a mentor at both Techstars Boston and MassChallenge, and also a member of both Launchpad Venture Group and Investors Collaborative. Sheldon has done three startups resulting in two IPOs (including WebMD) and one acquisition. He is particular interests in enterprise and SMB software companies across verticals, and those with IoT and/or digital marketing technologies..

Sheldon’s Office Hours this Thursday are full. Reserve 30 minutes with Sheldon here.

Info Tables

4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Catalyst Program Awards

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, invites you to apply for MassCEC Catalyst Program Awards. The Program stimulates the commercialization of clean energy technologies developed in Massachusetts by awarding up to $40,000 to help entrepreneurs to demonstrate the feasibility of clean energy technologies. More information on the awards is available here. Applications are due March 30. Visit their info table to learn more.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | MassChallenge

MassChallenge is the world’s largest startup accelerator and the first to support early stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Every year, MassChallenge selects 128 of the highest impact ventures from every industry and any stage to participate in a four month startup competition where they receive free office space, mentorship, professional education, opportunities for fundraising, and more – all with no equity taken.

Startup applications for MassChallenge 2015 are open until April 1. Visit MassChallenge.org for more info and send inquiries to contact@MassChallenge.org.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | French American Chamber of Commerce

Should your company receive a French-American Business Award? Tell them why.

At their annual Awards Ceremony in May, they’re going to recognize and showcase companies that demonstrate excellence in international business. Why not yours?

Enter the French-American Business Awards. Previous winners include LoopPay, recently acquired by Samsung, and Neolane, now part of Adobe.

There are three categories:

  • Digital Media & Technology
  • Healthcare & Wellness
  • Environment & Sustainability

The deadline is March 31, and there’s no entry fee. Why wait? Enter now.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Sustainability unConference

Got Earth Day plans? Bring them to District Hall for the 3rd annual Sustainability unConference on Earth Day, April 22, from 5-10 P.M. This interactive event provides a platform for diverse sectors to riff off each other and collaborate on the intersections of sustainability and innovation. Stop by their Info Table in the Café to learn how to get involved.

Get your free tickets before it sells out again.

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | MIT CIO Symposium Innovation Showcase

The MIT CIO Innovation Showcase is a great opportunity for the Top 10 IT solution startups to participate in the Conference and get exposure to several hundred CIO and IT Executives.

This Week: March 8 – 14, 2015

Friends,

Youth CITIES Mini-Hack returns to the Venture Café this week so stop by to help youth tackle local community issues.  Learn how to better advocate for yourself during A Discussion: Your Personal Brand.  In addition, attend the presentation on Everything You Always Wanted To Know About 3D Printing, But Were Afraid To Ask.

Meanwhile, get advice during 4 sets of Office Hours with our adept advisors.  Also, chat with Startup NEXT, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and MassChallenge at their Info Tables.

See photos of last Thursday’s Café on Facebook. Check out our blog for summaries of the three highly interactive panels from our recent #FemaleFounders night.

Check out and register for our next Civic Innovation Conversations: Innovation for the Neighborhoods on April 1st at District Hall.

Hope to see you Thursday!

cropped-venture-cafe-logo.png

 

 

Pic of the Week: The packed room for Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton’s Series A Financing Panel with Luke Burns, Rob Go, and Paul Flanagan.

Thursday – Mar. 12, 2015

3:00 – 8:00 P.M. | Venture Café in Session

Feature Events

4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Youth CITIES Mini-Hack

Monthly Mini-Hacks, organized by CIC, Youth CITIES, and Belmont High School teacher Josh Goldfine, aim to build solutions to local community issues. Each session addresses one topic by employing a range of decision making and problem solving styles. Join this month’s Mini-Hack at Venture Café. After a collaborative discussion, each participant will share an elevator pitch version of what is believed to be the best solution. Mini-Hacks are open to middle or high school teens, college students, entrepreneurs, educators, and other professionals.

Please RSVP here.

6:00 – 7:30 P.M. | A Discussion: Your Personal Brand

Branding experts Paige Arnof-Fenn and Rita Balian Allen (author of Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself) will share their stories of building their personal and business brands along with lessons learned, challenges encountered, the importance of marketing and advocating for yourself, the role of mentors, and networking as a key ingredient for success. They’ll have a focus on the entrepreneurial perspective throughout the discussion.

Join them for an open and informal discussion around this very important topic!

6:30 – 7:30 P.M. | Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About 3D Printing but Were Afraid to Ask

If you’ve been hearing all sorts of fantastic 3D printing news and don’t know how it applies to your own work and life, then this live demonstration will explain how you too can get started in 3D printing. With so much misinformation in the mainstream media, Fab Lab Hub’s Sarah Boisvert, who has worked in digital fabrication since 1986, will cut through the hype and give you a realistic view of what is possible today. Plus, you’ll be able to see a 3D printer in action.

RSVP here.

Office Hours

3:00 – 5:00 P.M. | Investors Collaborative

Investors Collaborative (iC) provides venture capital to select early stage companies in a wide range of industry sectors including software, IT, biotechnology, clean technology, healthcare, energy, communications, hardware, and professional services. They seek to help individuals developing innovative technologies build world class companies.

Office Hours for Investors Collaborative this Thursday are full. Next openings are April 9. Reserve 15 minutes with iC here.

3:00 – 5:00 P.M. | Bill Larrenaga

Bill is a Director with The CFO Center, the largest international provider of CFO resources, services and solutions to the small and medium sized enterprise sector. Bill was previously a Partner of KPMG LLP, one of the Big Four CPA Firms. He has extensive experience working with senior management and Board of Directors in high tech, manufacturing and retail and distribution industries. He has led client service teams in providing risk based, process driven internal audits that provided value. He can help you organize your financial operations and business plans. Please be sure to bring your business plan including your high level pitch document, the problems you are addressing, the size of the market, your team, the product offering, etc.

3/6  update: Bill’s Office Hours are now full. Next available appointments are on April 9. Reserve 30 minutes with Bill here.

3:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Joe Caruso

For the last 20 years Joe Caruso has served has been an “Advocate for entrepreneurs” as a mentor, coach, and personal advisor to CEO’s and entrepreneurs. In recent years, he has served an investor, advisor and active director with dozens of companies, public and private. He also maintains an active consulting practice dealing with structuring and negotiation of acquisitions, strategic partnerships and financings, and issues related to dispute resolution.

3/6  update: Joe’s Office Hours are now full. Next available appointments are on March 26.  Reserve 30 minutes with Joe here.

3:30 – 5:30 P.M. | Marty Sack

Marty Sack has mentored more than 200 start-ups over the last two years as a volunteer for SCORE. He brings with him the mentoring resources of more than forty additional successful executives, CPAs, small business owners, and other experts in diverse areas of business and non-profits–all volunteers offering free mentoring services.

Marty is the now retired co-founder of LunchDates Dating Service. He also founded and led a national job publication for 26 years, and he was the executive director of a Cambridge based non-profit for 18 years.

3/6  update: Marty’s Office Hours are now full. Next available appointments are on March 26. Reserve 30 minutes with Marty here.

 

Info Tables

4:00 – 6:00 P.M. | Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Catalyst Program Awards

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) in partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center, invites you to apply for MassCEC Catalyst Program Awards. The Program stimulates the commercialization of clean energy technologies developed in Massachusetts by awarding up to $40,000 to help entrepreneurs to demonstrate the feasibility of clean energy technologies. Additionally, for the first time, under the Catalyst Water Challenge, MassCEC will provide funding and technical support for projects that deploy water innovation technologies or innovative combinations of existing technologies. More information on the awards is available here. The deadline for submitting a proposal is March 30, 2015. Visit their info table to learn more.

4:30 – 7:30 P.M. | StartupNEXT

The #1 startup pre-acceleration program in the world is in Boston now!

Whether you want to get accepted into a top accelerator program or raise a seed round, Startup Next’s hands-on mentorship program and our network of accelerators and investors can help you get there.

Startup Next has helped dozens of startups get into top accelerators and raise millions of dollars in seed funding.

Application Deadline is March 18, 2015!

5:30 – 7:30 P.M. | MassChallenge

MassChallenge is the world’s largest startup accelerator and the first to support early stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Every year, MassChallenge selects 128 of the highest impact ventures from every industry and any stage to participate in a four month startup competition where they receive free office space, mentorship, professional education, opportunities for fundraising, and more – all with no equity taken.

Startup applications for MassChallenge 2015 are open until April 1. Visit MassChallenge.org for more info and send inquiries to contact@MassChallenge.org.

#FemaleFounders Night Recap 3 – Founding a Start-up as a Woman: Finding Solutions – Panel

This is the third and last of three recaps of the panels addressing issues founding a company with fourteen wonderful women deeply involved in the startup community written by one of the co-organizers of the night, Annika Khan.

Founding a Start-up as a Woman: Finding Solutions

Female Founders PhotoThis powerful group of founders included Jules Pieri (The Grommet), Beth O’Sullivan and Mary McGowan (Science Club for Girls) and serial entrepreneurs Bettina Hein (Pixability) and Stefania Mallett (ezCater) moderated by Jennifer Jordan of Mass Ventures.

“My profession is overcoming obstacles…” when asked what the biggest obstacle is as a founder. It’s difficult to point to just one because it is a daily challenge moving from one obstacle to the next. Funding is one of the biggest challenges; money tends to follow good ideas that are market ready. Businesses that get funded are those with high return; those tend to be big businesses in a large market, so go for the big business.

Over time family has helped shape and morph the way these women approach business. It is up to us as female founders to make sure family is important that it’s not something that is not talked about at the office. Founders with children become more understanding of employees needs to take care of family. It can also shape the way you approach employee development in the sense of the long game; what you can do for your employees today that will help them succeed long-term.

How are these women creating change in their companies? Gender diversity—seeing a gender diverse team at the C-level is encouraging for all employees to think they can achieve that level. In addition, teams with at least 30% gender diversity are more successful overall. Diversity of gender, culture, background, etc. has become a strategic advantage in recruiting talent. Investment returns from gender diverse teams is higher.  Additionally, women can call each other on behavior that is counter-productive, such as taking blame and apologizing.

 

#FemaleFounders Night Recap 2- Founding a Start-up as a Woman: Overcoming Challenges Panel

This is the second of three recaps of the panels addressing issues founding a company with fourteen wonderful women deeply involved in the startup community written by one of the co-organizers of the night, Annika Khan.

Founding a Start-up as a Woman: Overcoming Challenges

Female Founders Photo2This passionate group of founders included Manijeh Goldberg (Privo Technologies), Melanie Berger (Mariwear), Mimi Evans (Fast Turtle Ventures), and Sarah Boisvert (3D Microfactory and Fab Lab Hub) moderated by sponsor Jane Mason  of the Cambridge Trust Company.

Only 9% of venture backed start-ups nationally are founded or co-founded by women. The question came up whether funding depends on pattern recognition and is there a specific pattern that women in particular fall into. The panelists for the most part agreed with the first part of the question that yes, venture capitalists and angel investors tend to look for something that has characteristics of a prior successful venture; however there was consensus that gender alone is not a reason for not being able to fund raise. Funding depends on a strong track record and if you are trying to do something that has never been done before it is going to be difficult to raise money for anyone. If the industry is on the rise, for example 3D printing, it will be easier to obtain funding. There was some sentiment that investors tend to look for a younger version of them. The key in fundraising is to be strong and confident and believe in the idea.

When it comes to work life balance the reality is that both can rarely ever be in complete balance; there will be days where family needs more attention and when work needs more attention. However, the key here is to prioritize and make sure over the long run all areas get the attention they need. In addition, when starting your own business friends and family may think because you work from home you have more free time and you can go to lunch or help run errands but it’s important to say no and stay dedicated to certain working hours.

In terms of leadership style everyone has a natural leadership style and yes, women tend to be more emotional than men but that’s not necessarily a bad thing- it’s just different. It’s important to stick with your natural style because that is who you are and it’s the way you’ll be most effective. In a male dominated industry you may need to learn to fight in order to get ahead, but that doesn’t mean changing who you are.

 

#FemaleFounders Night Recap – Building Strategic Partnerships to Transform Your Business Panel

We would like to thank our amazing panelists, event holders and sponsors (Cambridge Trust and IBM Cambridge) from  A Night with Female Founders. The Cafe hosted 530 guests but more importantly had some frank conversations and great connections.  Please email info@vencaf.org if you have a story you would like to share from the Cafe.

This is the first of three recaps of the panels addressing issues founding a company with fourteen wonderful women deeply involved in the startup community written by one of the co-organizers of the night, Annika Khan.

Female Founders Photo3

Building Strategic Partnerships to Transform Your Business

To kick off the panels for A Night with Female Founders IBM hosted a discussion about building strategic partnerships. On the panel was Sam Hammar, Director of Strategic Partnerships of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, MassIT, Bobbie Carlton, Founder of Mass Innovation Nights, and Irina Mladenova, President and EVP Product strategy for Rifiniti.

Finding the right partner is a lot like dating, it is important to get to know them and ensure it is a good fit for both parties. The keys to fostering a successful partnership are to know what you want before you partner, ensure the goals of both sides are aligned, define the agenda early on, and having specific success criteria. A pitfall of not knowing what you are looking for is wasted time and effort taking meetings with the wrong parties. In cases where the start-up is so new the product may not be clear and there’s no client traction potential partners may be reluctant to engage.  Larger companies and organizations look for partnerships that are sustainable and scalable.

The reason to partner depends on the focus and stage of the company. Partnerships have evolved over time from the early 90s to 2000 partnerships were based on money; often times  a smaller company was given a space to work in exchange for services. Today partnerships have evolved to become more data based, where one company has data and another partners in order to gain access to do something with the data. Risks

There are inherent risks in entering into a partnership. One of the biggest challenges is protecting intellectual property. It is hard to get executives at large companies to sign a non-disclosure agreement. There is a fine line when deciding how much information to hold back without hindering the pitch. In addition it may be difficult to get to the c-level executives to get buy in and it’s not always necessary, there may be an active field member that can engage in an informal partnership. Another risk on both sides of the partnership is the possibility of employees being poached. Also, when partnering with a large organization it is important to know there is usually a champion (just one) at the company whose job it is to look out for you, these positions tend to have high turnover so it is important to leverage that relationship from the outset to make as many connections as possible.

Looking to find a partner? The large companies that host start-up events and those with internal incubators are the best places to start.