by: Todd Nuckols
Original Startup Weekend winner in September, proud members of 804RVA and now first class participants in Lighthouse, Speakeasy is on a roll after winning the 2nd i.e. Competition.
It sure is fun to see a team develop and gain early recognition but I would not be the Managing Director of Lighthouse if I did not say, "The work is just beginning!"
Now you can help them:
Step 1: Go read more about Speakeasy and the competition
Step 2: What restaurant owner do you know that needs better engagement with customers? Tell the team or tell the owner!
Make sure you track down Rob, Joey, Jacques and Jon and give them a well deserved pat on the back!
Congratulations team Speakeasy!
by: Todd Nuckols
I am often asked about the state of investment capital right here in RVA. Well, this is not an exhaustive list by any means but if you are thinking your startup needs a little money for equity support to change the world then hear are a few local organizations of interest (In alphabetical order). If I missed your favorite source of 'dollars & sense' inspiration in RVA please let me know with a quick comment and we will put them on the list! Remember looking for those seed and early stage givers first and foremost!
And just because I can...
804RVA's Lead Coworkaholic
We all know that Larkin Garbee, Chief Imagination Officer at 804RVA, is a little bit crazy.
Crazy about craft beers – her current favorite is Copper Kettle’s Mexican Chocolate Stout.
Crazy about pickles – the best homemade pickles are at Garnett’s.
And of course, she’s crazy about co-working and entrepreneurship in Richmond.
“Richmond is evolving and we’re seeing a creative class of people designing things they’re passionate about that also have a social impact,” Larkin said.
To foster growth within this “creative class”, 804RVA is rolling out a series of mentor programs for start-ups and developing new collaboration methods for the 804RVA community.
“I’ve always loved technology and wanted to be around creative people,” Larkin said, describing her reason for founding 804RVA.
She continues, “We’ve grown to 65 members in 14 months, and within five years, I’d like to see a community of 300 members creating products and technologies that have a significant impact.”
And true to form, Larkin is focused on developing a solution to house her dream. She’s currently working to raise funds for a 30,000 square foot Innovation Hub located at the RVA Power Plant.
Similar to innovation hubs in Portland, Atlanta and other U.S. cities, the RVA Power Plant is meant to engage and retain Richmond’s creative class.
“We’ve had so many entrepreneurs move to other cities because they couldn’t find the resources here,” Larkin explained. “I want the RVA Power Plant to provide education and tools to help support start-ups through their early stages.”
What exactly motivates Larkin to work so hard building the start-up community in Richmond?
“Maybe it’s genetics,” Larkin laughed. “But I’ve been raised with the mentality of ‘if you believe it you can do it’. If I’m not creating something I’m bored.”
Even on the weekends, Larkin is creating.
CityScrapbook, Larkin’s Pinterest for neighborhoods, will let users build Instagram scrapbooks of their favorite neighborhood photos.
“When people talk about their neighborhood, there’s a big sense of connectedness,” Larkin explained.
“People see their neighborhood in a different light and with CityScrapbook they’ll be able to share what’s unique about their neighborhood. Eventually I’d like to overlay real estate searches into the app.”
If you’re lucky enough to catch Larkin during the day, you’ll probably find her holding a meeting at Lamplighter, setting up an 804RVA Meetup, or hosting a business happy hour at The Camel.
But regardless of where Larkin is, she’s always focused on her number one mission: building a stronger community for coworkers, start-ups, and Richmond’s creative class.
As Larkin says, “Together, we can be actively involved in a community with people doing good things to make a difference.”
Connect with Larkin on Twitter @804RVA and @iamLarkin, or meet Larkin in person.
by Brian Bassett
Steve Case addressing audience at Executive Office Building
It's not every day that an 804RVAer gets to go head up to Washington to hang out in the White House! Well, not White House precisely, but the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building is pretty darn close ...
So why were Larkin and Todd Nuckols in our nation's capital on February 5th? After nailing Larkin down for 20 minutes, I'll try and explain ...
In the aftershocks of the financial crisis of 2008, the US government realized just how vital innovation can be to our nation and how much it matters to our economy. No longer could government just expect massive businesses to yield the same results year over year. No longer could the increase in property values be considered a given. No longer could government afford to spend more if they were going to have less in their coffers. So as the nation worked to rebuild from a recession, where was growth strongest? In entrepreneurship.
Since then, government realizes that whether innovation needs to start at home inside government operations, or through the very frameworks they set up for the private sector, government is trying to create an economic culture that fosters runaway growth of new businesses who are delivering new products and services to the economy.
With the help of non-profits like The Case Foundation, The Kauffman Foundation and Startup America, government is seeking to appreciate how innovation, entrepreneurship and a new paradigms for business creation and generation are what will be fuels our economy moving forward.
To that end, a whole day was planned in Washington where ten states like Texas, Arizona, Maryland and Virginia were invited to participate in discussions on innovation and present their regional work and their findings to Todd Park, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, amongst others.
The day started with a breakfast that the Case Foundation hosted where the states represented had breakfast with Steve Case (former CEO of AOL) along with his wife Jean (champion of the Case Foundation's "Be Fearless" campaign) and Startup America's Scott Case in an informal setting. The best part of that event according to Larkin? "It's good to know people around the country now with whom we can share our ideas and roadblocks," Larkin said. "Arizona has some similar challenges that we do in Virginia. Most notably creating density with the resources we do have to spur innovation. So, being able to share what's worked for us and hear what's working for them is a big help."
The State of Secret Sauce
After spending the morning at the Case Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation held their fourth annual State of Entrepreneurship at the National Press Club. The focus of the event was to openly address the challenges and opportunities in financing young companies.
In opening the event, the junior Senator from the State of Kansas, Senator Jerry Moran told the audience that entrepreneurship is vital to the sustainability and growth of the American economy. "When entrepreneurs succeed our communities and our nation succeeds," Moran said. "For the last three decades, entrepreneurs and their young companies have been responsible for almost all the net job creation in our nation ... an average of three million jobs per year."
Even so, Moran warned that unless the nation acted soon, entrepreneurship would become an endangered ideal in the United States. "The state of entrepreneurship is not as strong it once was -- I had someone in my office recently who told me ... [that] .. they know what the American Dream is, but that it's being lived someplace else. We need make sure the American Dream is being lived in America."
Karen's sentiment is one that obviously struck a chord. America has always been about letting the best ideas and the hardest workers rise to the top. Entrepreneurship is the thing that ties everything together and makes it all work. So what goes into the recipe to make secret sauce?
Pitch the Plan
A lot has changed in how entrepreneurship works in the last fifteen years. While harnessing new ideas is what has always powered our economy, the way those ideas come to fruition is changing. Bank debt, regulation, venture capital, IPOs and crowdsourcing are all changing and changing the ways new businesses get off the ground. Startup America as well as the Case and Kauffman foundations are pushing for quick action by regulators to address the hurdles that exist right now, specifically in crowdfunding.
While venture capital is a more traditional model at this point, VCs are looking for more than just a buttoned up business plan according to Jeff Fagnan, a partner at Atlas Ventures. "The business plan is outdated ... I've never funded a startup with a business plan," Fagnan told the audience at the State of Entrepreneurship financing panel. To Fagnan the sum of the parts is more important to successful entrepreneurship team than an airtight five-year plan. "I fund projects on idea, talent and network."
For most venture capitalists, it comes down to ideas, the ability to iterate, and their flexibility to respond to market validation. Even so, funding entrepreneurship via venture capital can't be the only way to start a business. Donna Harris of Startup America told the panel, entrepreneurs should not underestimate the role of large corporations in the startup ecosystem. Corporate procurement of the products and services that the startups can quickly deliver to them can be key to a young business's long-term viability.
After the State of Entrepreneurship, the ten states were all allotted a three minute pitch at the Executive Office Building in front of the new CTO of the United States Todd Park, the head of the SBA, delegations from the Kauffman and Case Foundations as well as many other luminaries.
During Virginia's three minutes, Larkin spoke to the group and told them that the state is working on a number of projects whether in Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Newport News, Northern Virginia or in Richmond in different industries and that as a whole, the group agrees that for entrepreneurship to be more effective in Virginia, everyone "must join forces to treat the entire state like a startup in order to succeed. We are breaking down barriers to connect the commonwealth to collectively improve manufacturing, healthcare, government, cyber security and public education."
On the whole, Larkin said that the day was an exciting and life-changing experience. That it was a chance for her to be encouraged in knowing that other states are dealing with some of the same issues, but also that there are champions working in the halls of power in Washington to effect the same change that she's working on every day here in Richmond.
Learn more about the day:
Kauffman: State of Entrepreneurship Address
Kauffman: State of Entrepreneurship & Financing Press Release
Calling all students and recent graduates from nearby or not so nearby colleges and universities.
Do you have a startup idea, business plan, or a project you are working on? Bring it to jelly day! Join us for a free day of coworking day (AKA-- "Jelly Day"). Come cowork alongside designers, developers, entrepreneurs and consultants. Work alone or with others to brainstorm on your project.
Wednesday February 20th 9am-7pm
By: Todd Nuckols
Back in 2006 when I was considering an ad fueled internet business plan the CPM rates where generally around $10 as mentioned in an interesting post from Fred Wilson. Now the landscape of on-line advertising has grown increasingly complex and less lucrative per impression as pointed out in the Luma Partners slide pictures left and mentioned in the post. Well, the post speaks for itself on what scale needs to mean if you are considering an ad-based model - and spoiler alert - the scale without a niche target audience is huge. So, feel free to hop on over to the post and read it for yourself.
But what struck me about the post was not the world of scaling ads. It was this quote:
The sales leader is a critical hire. There are people who do this for a living, who really understand how to put a team together and generate advertising revenue predictably and reliably, and they are highly compensated and are worth every penny. Do not skimp on this if you are building your own sales force.
When I started the startup game over 10 years ago I could quickly get carried away with the value of my idea, the complexity and elegance of the technology or visions of investment capital paving the way to success. Boy that was fun!
But on the journey I have come to realize the obvious (but is it really). Execution on sales is everything! We can get side tracked by companies who have turned into giants by "building market share first" or thinking about "monetizing later". Chances are your journey will not be so accommodating! So as you build a team and possible consider that sales leadership position head the advice given by Mr. Wilson. "The sales leader is a critical hire."
Who is your sales leader? Are they up to the task? What is your sales plan! Great answers to these questions lead to revenue and investment. Ad-based models or otherwise have a sales plan and a great sales leader -- and if you do not -- well, be cautious about launching into the deep end of the startup pool!
by: Todd Nuckols
The Fall Fiesta for entrepreneurs delivered some heartfelt insight from growing success Intelliject (http://www.intelliject.com/), fancy sales eye candy from NimblePitch (http://www.nimblepitch.com/) and a way for you to make a little coin using your social influence from still in private beta Refersal (http://www.refersal.com/). I can't wait to find out who will join us at the winter party!
But the really BIG announcement was the official joining of StartRVA and 804RVA into one big happy family. So for all you 804RVA fans we are hoping our friends at StartRVA will come on over and help us create on of the largest, wolf-shirt-iest, creative, innovative and startup-happy communities on the planet! Look for lots more news, fun and information about this partnership right here in the future.
A special thank you to SpeakEasy for dropping some cool survey tech on the house and all of our generous sponsors: Dominion Digital, RichTech, Startup Weekend RVA, 804RVA and GroundWorkDesign. Without them we would all have to pay - decidedly not as fun. Until next time innovation fans...
by: Todd Nuckols
Just a few days away from the fall's finest entrepreneur party at the Science Museum of Virginia! With over 60 friends already planning on attending you are sure to find someone to meet and learn from at this largely social, occasionally informative event.
In support of GrowRVA at SMV we will be the beneficiaries of a food truck court before our event starting at 5:00 pm (on your own for that part). Then the big show begins right off the main entry hall to the left for our fiesta starting at 7:00 pm! Add in Intelliject coolness and a couple of 5 minute quick pitches and you have the ingredients for one fun, free night! So come celebrate the spirit of innovation in RVA with StartRVA by visiting 804RVA meetups or StartRVA to secure your spot at this limited space event. (That's a lot of RVAs)
Special thanks to our lead sponsor Dominion Digital and our good friends at RichTech, Startup Weekend and 804RVA for sponsoring all the fun!
See you Tuesday night, November 13th!
by: Todd Nuckols
RVA and greater VA are going startup happy with two new awesome opportunities to build your high energy, high growth, tech startup story to the next big thing! Interested much? Then read on...
$10,000 big ones are on the line, along with free space and expertise from the Dominion Resources Innovation Center for your aspiring high growth, tech startups! Tech Challenge Hanover (that's near Ashland for all you crazy downtown kids) has an open application process ready to reward you. But hurry, you only have until November 1st to rock this challenge! Apply now @ http://dominnovation.com/ and make sure to tell them 804RVA sent you.
Getting serious about building your tech startup passion into a living, breathing story of awesomeness? Then you need the expert help and shared startup living offered this winter just blocks from VA Beach. Yes, you will be packing up for the winter, but you will also be learning, building, growing and talking with people who can help you reach your dreams! Get all the information and apply by November 16th at www.hatchnorfolk.com. Special love to all those who mention 804RVA gave you the insider's tip on this great opportunity!