Imagine you are in front of a venture capitalist, what are you going to say that will convince them to invest in your start-up? In this episode of Bootstrapped, we interviewed Terp alum and executive coach Glen Hellman. Serving as founder, mentor and venture partner for multiple organizations, Glen knows a lot about getting funding. Glen explains that using story-telling to engage the reptilian brain in your audience helps move people toward action and increases your chances of wooing investors.
On this week's episode of Bootstrapped, we talked with Aviva Goldfarb, founder of the Six O'Clock Scramble. This online meal planner offers busy parents health-conscious solutions for the daily scramble of cooking a family dinner. Aviva admits "my biggest competitor is free." Aviva monetized her idea through a membership model, offering dietitian-approved recipes that can be made quickly, along with a mobile grocery list. By requiring customers to submit a credit card to activate their free trial, Aviva has managed to gain a sizable following with a 60-70% customer retention rate.
In this episode of Bootstrapped, we spoke with Brad Sayler, co-founder & CFO/COO of Spotluck. The app is an asset for both restaurateurs and foodies alike offering up discounts to customers while driving foot traffic to restaurants. One might ask-- how did a lawyer get into app development? Brad says, "you don't need to have a computer science degree" to get your product going. He stresses the importance of separating form from function when developing prototypes. He turned to knowledgeable friends and family for the initial bootstrapping of Spotluck. Brad admits satisfying both sides of a 2-sided market is challenging but knowing that there is an ever-changing formula keeps the customer base growing.
Ann Yang and Phil Wong, the co-founders of MISFIT Juicery, started their cold-pressed juice company in their dorm room at Georgetown University with a hundred pounds of peaches and a borrowed blender. A social venture, MISFIT transforms "ugly" fruits and vegetables into visually appealing, delicious juice that disguises its "misfit" origins while combating food waste. Through bootstrapping and a scrappy willingness to ask for help when they needed it, they managed to grow MISFIT into one of the hottest local food startups. After graduating from Halcyon Incubator, they secured funding from angel investors including the Dingman Center Angels, and are currently one of six food startups around the country accepted into the Chobani Food Incubator. In this episode, MISFIT founders Ann Yang and Phil Wong discuss the passion and tenacity required to run a social venture, the secrets of their strong branding strategy and the power of asking for help.
Micha Weinblatt founded his first company, Crooked Monkey, in college at a bar. While sitting at legendary bar Cornerstone, just off campus from the University of Maryland, Micha considered how the traditional college t-shirt could be re-fashioned. Like any true entrepreneur, he started a company that produced cool, graphic t-shirts and called it Crooked Monkey. The shirts are now sold at Bloomingdale's, Urban Outfitters and other chic retailers. Seven years into the venture, Micha got what he calls the "7-year itch" to start something new. That something is Betterific, a platform where ideas and innovation can be crowdsourced. In this episode, Micha talks about how he funded his startups and the one thing every investor or entrepreneur should know before investing in or launching a startup.
Whether you are the sole founder or co-founder of a start-up, equity can play a major role in the growth and direction of your company. Andrew Sherman, Partner at the Seyfarth Shaw law firm, began his career with a successful start-up in aerobic tennis. Today, he advises entrepreneurs on the brass tacks of drafting stock options, exit strategies and aligning managerial responsibilities with equity. Accustom to asking hardball questions like, how to value sweat equity, what are the income needs of the various stakeholders and how to link expertise to equity, Andrew encourages entrepreneurs to do an (often free) preliminary attorney meeting in the early stages of a start-up.
In this episode of Bootstrapped, Ed Barrientos, CEO of Brazen, a cloud-based HR tech start-up, talks about the market for talent. In its initial onset, Brazen aimed to create the LinkedIn for Millennials. Focused on improving product market fit, Ed's team shifted gears and created a communication platform for texting-centric Millennial job candidates to get past the 'apply online' brick wall recruiters often have trouble pulling top talent through. Today, Brazen is used by Deloitte, Nasa, Amtrak, and over 120 universities. Ed is also the Managing Partner of Zeitgeist Holdings, an angel investment firm.
In this episode of Bootstrapped, hear about the crafty beginnings of beloved University of Maryland apparel company Route One Apparel. Founder Ali Von Paris used her vast UMD network and her social media savvy to create an online following for her start-up. Witty, regionally-driven products like the 'Get Loh' t-shirt and Terp-themed tailgate tents were an instant hit throughout the UMD community. Now four years old, Route One Apparel has 40 employees and offers over 1,500 products.
Cold calling was one of Tien Wong's least favorite aspects of his career in real estate finance. Learn how he turned that challenge into CyberRep, Inc. which is valued at $1.7 billion and is now one of the largest call centers in the world operating under XEROX. Tien, a self-proclaimed introvert, is also the founder and host of CONNECTpreneur, a community of 5,000+ CEOs, entrepreneurs and angels. On this episode of Bootstrapped, hear how Tien went from being an entrepreneur convincing his own customers to invest in his startup to becoming an active angel investor.
Bootstrapped turns to coffee talk during this episode as the co-founders of JavaZen take the mic. JavaZen is a one-of-a-kind hybrid that combines the energy of coffee with the health and flavor benefits of tea, in one amazing beverage that's the best of both worlds. Hear how Eric, Ryan and their third co-founder Aaron Wallach, came up with the idea of a coffee and tea blend and what fuels their success. Get the inside scoop on how they tested the market, selected sales channels and how they funded the startup. Stay tuned to hear about their aspirations to build a healthy lifestyle brand. If you’re thirsty for a cup of JavaZen, check out their blends online at drinkjavazen.com.
This episode is about something we don’t have enough of in entrepreneurship: Women. The special guest is Amy Millman, President of Springboard Enterprises, a highly vetted expert network of innovators, investors and influencers who are dedicated to building high-growth technology oriented companies led by women. Amy has been tackling issues faced by women in business for more than 20 years. While she started her career as a lobbyist at Philip Morris, it was during the Clinton Administration that she was asked to lead the National Women's Business Council, a position that placed her at the forefront of women in entrepreneurship. Listen as Amy talks about the challenges present for female entrepreneurs and how Springboard helps them overcome those challenges. She shares what she believes are the biggest obstacles women face and—believe it or not—the issues today are the same as they were in the 1990s. Amy has one simple piece of advice for all the entrepreneurs out there. Listen to see what it is. Stay tuned to play the week’s installment of “Kickstarter or Not?”
Evan Lutz launched his social enterprise, Hungry Harvest, from his dorm room at the University of Maryland. Hungry Harvest believes no produce should be thrown away, which is why they carefully source, hand-package, and deliver these fresh, although not so pretty, items to their customer's doorsteps at a discounted rate. Hungry Harvest was featured on Shark Tank in 2015. In this episode, hear about the rigorous and not-so glamorous Shark Tank experience; how the appearance affected the business; and all he learned along the way. You can also hear why Hungry Harvest is not just about the sales, Evan and his team are passionate about the company's social mission to reduce food waste and provide the more than 50 million Americans who are food insecure with healthy options. Listen to learn about the company's four criteria for their sustainable donation model and play along with another segment of "Kickstarter or Not."
After practicing law for a brief time, attorney Jason Shrensky decided to quit his job and build a software company. It was 2000 and the dot.com bubble hadn't burst yet, so why not? Hear how the imminent burst affected him and his startup. Jason also talks about the process of exiting your company and the reality of starting over as an entrepreneur. You will also hear Jason's his tips on raising money and investing, he's made 12 investments in DC tech. Listen on as he talks about his newest venture, Complex Interests. Play along with co-hosts Elana Fine and Joe Bailey in this week's installment of "Kickstarter or Not?"
After an eight-year career in the military and 20-plus years of experience in hospitality management, Dan Cowens entered the Smith School of Business’ Executive MBA program. He completed the program with an MBA degree and a new startup. The company, Oasis Marinas, provides high-quality marina management services in Annapolis and around the world. When pitching the idea in his entrepreneurship class, Dan was joined by fellow classmates including Paige Holden, who is now the VP of Marketing & Communications. On this episode of Bootstrapped, Dan and Paige talk about founding not one but two startups targeted to boaters. The founding team talks about discovering a pain point experienced by many boaters and deciding whether to buy, build or outsource a solution. In their case, there was nothing to buy so they built Snag-a-Slip.com, which acts as a Hotels.com for boaters looking to book a boat slip. Challenges included building the market on both the supply and demand side; determining a business model that works for both the marinas and the boaters; and ensuring a replicable and scalable model before launching in new markets. Hear their story and play along with this episode's installment of “Kickstarter or Not.”
This episode of Dingman Bootstrapped features a serial entrepreneur power couple: Danielle and Culin Tate. The frustrating process of changing her name after their marriage inspired Danielle to start MissNowMrs.com, a TurboTax style website that streamlines the name change process. Five years ago, Culin exited his own electronics manufacturing company to help Danielle grow MissNowMrs.com to over 300,000 customers across two countries. This year, Danielle published her first book, Elegant Entrepreneur: The Female Founders Guide to Starting and Growing Your First Company. Hear Danielle and Culin's thoughts on serial entrepreneurship, the advantages of bootstrapping your startup and the challenges and rewards of becoming a female entrepreneur. Danielle and Culin also play along with co-hosts Elana Fine and Joe Bailey in this week's installment of "Kickstarter or Not?"
Liz Sara has 20 years of experience in the Washington D.C.-area high tech community as an entrepreneur, business leader, angel investor and philanthropist. In 2001, she founded Best Marketing, LLC to provide early stage software companies with strategic marketing, PR and business development services. In this episode of Bootstrapped, Liz talks about marketing from the perspective of securing customers. She also talks about how to build partnerships with pilot customers and how they can help you make the sell. Listen to learn what she thinks the first step is in marketing a startup. Liz shares her investment philosophy and plays along with co-hosts Elana Fine and Joe Bailey in this week's installment of "Kickstarter or Not?"
Cafés full of cats are uncommon in the United States but are a trend in other countries around the world. This is the quirky story of how a young entrepreneur quit her consulting job to change that and open one of the first five “cat cafés” in the States. Kanchan Singh (UMD ‘12), one of Joe’s former QUEST students joined our show to tell us about how she raised over $35,000 on Kickstarter to fund Washington, DC’s first cat café, Crumbs & Whiskers in Georgetown.
Play along as Elana, Joe, Oscar and Kanchan play "Kickstarter or Not?"
This Bootstrapped episode features Angel Investor Sam Medile. Sam is a University of Maryland scholarship football athlete who graduated in 1980. He is a serial entrepreneur in the parking world. Sam's first valet parking company became the nation’s premier provider of hotel parking services with over $200 million per year in sales and 9,000 employees in over 40 plus cities.
As an investor, Sam works with startups as well as fully developed companies on their growth, direction and recapitalization. Sam has been an active investor with the Dingman Center Angels for many years. He is passionate about mentoring entrepreneurs and structuring deals.
Listen to hear Sam talk about innovations in parking, his tips on investing and his next big idea. Play along with Elana, Joe, Oscar and Sam as they play "Kickstarter or Not?"
In this Boostrapped episode, Oscar Santana, Talk Show Host at the Mike O'Meara Show and current Smith School of Business EMBA student, talks about how he pitched the idea of doing a startup podcast to his professors Elana Fine and Joe Bailey and how it came to fruition.
The special guest is Mark Walsh, serial startup operator and veteran of AOL, who is now leading investments and innovation at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). He will talk about what the federal government can do for startups to prove, validate and scale their businesses. Mark gives some insider tips on the "non-trivial (crappy) government paperwork" needed to get SBIR funding. He'll also cover hot trends in government funding. Finally, find out why Mark thinks pitching a startup is similar to pitching a Hollywood movie script.
Play along as Elana, Joe, Oscar and Mark play "Kickstarter or Not?"