The 2 Step Startup

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Let's face it. Startups are hard. From big things like naming your business and crafting a brand to more mundane tasks like figuring out taxes or how to market through email newsletters, there's always more to do. It's very easy to lose sight of the straightforward goal that you started with: starting a business. After years of striving to help entrepreneurs succeed, I've developed a simple formula that gets straight to the point. It's called the "2 Step Startup Formula". If you can stay focused and boil your core process down to this, you'll be on track to succeed in the startup arena. The formula is as follows: 1. Get one person to give you money for something. 2. Repeat. I wasn't kidding when I said it was simple. Believe…
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An Entrepreneur’s Quick and Easy Guide to Authorizing and Issuing Shares

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Picture this: you have just come up with your million dollar idea. Snappy Name? Check! You're ready to take the next step in creating a brand new legal entity so you can start distributing shares to potential investors. You have also decided that you don't need the flexibility (or the legal expense) of an LLC, and have yet to be given any reason not to be a YADC (Yet Another Delaware Corporation). You've gotten halfway through the BizFilings process (or something similar) when you come across a question. How many shares would you like to authorize? And what should the par value be? You have no idea. You're stumped. Luckily, we've helped hundreds of companies with this exact process. Here's what you need to know. Make no small plans Most advice out there…
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Flashstarts Announces Cleveland200 Fund

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Flashstarts Announces Cleveland200 Fund: Gateway to $100 million in Seed Stage Funding Flashstarts, Inc., a startup accelerator, is pleased to announce the launch of The Cleveland200, a $5 million micro-venture fund focused on high-growth startups. The Cleveland region has recently witnessed the launch a new group of seed stage funds totaling over $100 million. The focus of the Flashstarts accelerator program and the Cleveland200 fund is to equip startups for follow-on investment from this $100 million regional investment pool over the next 3 years.This $100 million in newly available funding is the result of the Ohio Third Frontier Program’s recent commitment to seven Cleveland-area funds focused on seed-stage investment.  This is the largest regional seed-stage investment pool in the world. The funds are to be deployed between 2017 and 2019.  With…
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Brilliency: The Entrepreneurial Mindset

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As entrepreneurs continue to build businesses throughout their professional lives, they are bound to take lessons learned along the way and apply them to their next effort. Laura Steinbrink, president and CEO of Flashstarts 2015 Accelerator company Brilliency, has experienced both sides of the coin throughout her entrepreneurship career: startups and larger businesses, for-profit and nonprofit work, being her own boss as well as working for others. Even in different spaces, she has found a way to apply many of the same best practices across the board. "I found myself starting my own businesses because I am wired to see opportunity, to chart out solutions, and dive right into action. Those entrepreneurial qualities help get non-profits off the ground just as they do for-profit ventures," she said. "My personal mission is to…
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Science United: Managing Money

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Money matters. No matter what a startup's ultimate goal may be, managing finances is a crucial component in ensuring success. The first step toward accomplishing this goal may simply be realizing that "everything costs money," according to Deval Desai, Finance and Operations Director for Science United. Identifying and prioritizing business needs will help entrepreneurs develop a budget. "Specifically for Science United, targeted marketing is very expensive. Some of our ads that we want to do in high-impact science journals cost way more money than we’re expecting," Desai said. Similarly, it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of each co-founder and plan accordingly for trial and error, which can also affect budgets. Desai said that the biggest challenge for Science United was product development, as none of the co-founders had…
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Colign: Building a Successful Team

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Establishing a solid team of co-founders is crucial to any startup's success. 2015 accelerator team Colign is doing it right: not only do the three co-founders - Kevin DeFranco, Phillip Wong and Dan Yakobian - all work well together in a business sense, but they're best friends outside of the office as well. DeFranco started the business, which was originally called MaterialHawk, with a childhood friend who worked remotely on the other side of the country. After a while, though, it became clear to DeFranco that the other co-founder's heart was not in it. "You kind of get the sense when somebody starts to not be as interested in the site as you are and you begin to feel like you’re pulling a lot more of the load," he said.…
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inTouch: Navigating the Early Stages

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https://vimeo.com/133081154 Every business has to start somewhere. In the earliest stages of a startup, it can be hard to know where to go next - or even where to begin. If anyone knows that, it's the three co-founders of inTouch. Alex Bernot, Jesse Kracht and Rob Walker formed the company after working on other early-stage startups, bringing along a wealth of prior experience and lessons learned. One of the team's biggest takeaways, both from their past experiences and from inTouch, is that entrepreneurs must be prepared to wear many hats and assume responsibility for anything that may go wrong. "The effort that you put into your company directly relates to the success of your company," Bernot said. "You have to deal with every issue that come up, whether it’s the…
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Free-D: Marketing Never Stops

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Creating a product or service is one thing. Successfully marketing it to the correct target audience is another. Spencer Nicol started 2015 accelerator company Free-D as a way for 3D printing factories to gain access to new potential customers. At the same time, brands who need 3D printing services can be matched with the factories that best fit their needs. Although Free-D is based online, Nicol said that marketing efforts for tech startups should not be restricted to the web. "A lot of your marketing efforts will have to be done in that online space, but you also have to take the industry into consideration," he said. "With something like manufacturing, we actually have to go to companies and talk to users. We sell the product in person so that we can gain users and…
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Team Gemma: Creating Collaboration

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If the rise of social media has taught us anything, it's that internet users want to share their ideas and creations with other like-minded people. The same is true in the music technology industry. In the past, developers who created digital instruments and other music creation apps were unable to share them with the world, and music producers had access to a limited variety of tools. One of our 2015 accelerator teams is working to change that by giving developers and musicians a place to come together. Zack Lee and Matthias Sperling created Gemma, an application that serves both groups of users by giving developers a space to build music apps that can be accessed by the end user on the same platform. The ability to cross-collaborate benefits both user types and gives Gemma a unique…
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Virtual Compass: Streamlining the Development Process

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There's much more to software and web development than endless lines of code. If anyone knows that, it's 2015 Flashstarts accelerator team Virtual Compass. With two developers (out of three co-founders), Virtual Compass creates virtual tours for colleges and universities, with plans to expand its business offerings to cities and small municipalities. Web developer Jonathan Fox and mobile developer Daniel Sullivan originally came up with the idea while working on a capstone class project at John Carroll University. According to Fox, having two developers has been a plus for Virtual Compass and is ideal for any technology startup. "If you have two or three people who can at least read code or know how to develop, your startup is going to do a lot better," he said. "It's helpful to have someone…
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