Posts Tagged: "Startups"

Using Journalists For Cheap PR

- - Adam Kidan

Using journalists for cheap pr by adam kidanGood PR can help you position yourself, create a powerful brand story, and connect you with the right outlets to continue with the exposure of your company.  Essential as this is, when you’re a company starting out with limited funding, then a top-notch PR firm is often way out of your price range.  But the fact of the matter is that you don’t always need it.  I recently read an article online about using journalists to experience the benefits of a PR firm at a fraction of the price of actually hiring a leading firm.  Here’s what they had to say:

Establish relationships: Start out by building strong relationships with journalists, who can help you tell your story.  Many of these journalists can often offer valuable advice and insight.  

Identify your niches: Understand your potential audience, and how your story is valuable to them.  For example, if you have a tech startup, you should establish a relationship with a journalist working with TechCrunch as opposed to Elle.

Provide intros and ideas: If you can provide journalists with new and interesting stories, and it’s beneficial to everybody if you can offer those to your journalists.  If they see you as a great source of content, that’s a great relationship.  

Keep track of journalists: Keep a database tracking the info of every journalist you meet; their employers, their contact information, etc.  Most of this is pretty easy to find online.  

Stay relevant: You want something that is both remarkable and culturally relevant.  Journalists might want to help you, but that won’t happen if you can’t offer them fresh content.  Your pitches need to be able to pique their interests and those of their readers.  

The Top Cities For Startups

- - Adam Kidan, Business

The Brighton School of Business and Management recently released an infographic that reveals the top 10 places to launch your startup, which was published in the Swiss company Seedstars World.  I recently found an article where a writer in Forbes interviewed the founder of Seedstars to get her take on why each of these cities is such a good place for a startup.  Below are the cities listed in the infographic, and what incentives they have to offer:

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur: The cost of living in Malaysia is a lot cheaper than in neighboring Singapore, so there’s been a trend of startups that are incorporated in Singapore but based in Thailand or Malaysia.  Malaysia is also a good test market with three different nationalities present.  So theoretically, if you can make it in Malaysia then you’ll have a shot at making it in the Chinese, Malay/Indonesian and Indian markets.

Beijing

Beijing: Although Chinese culture doesn’t foster entrepreneurship, this is changing fast and success stories are making it a more and more valued career path.  China has also been focusing on higher-end and more advanced manufacturing.  China has a tax relief program for startups that have been established by previously unemployed workers and recent college graduates.  Earlier this year, China set up a USD 6.5B VC fund for startups, with a particular emphasis on seed stage startups.  The country now runs at least 1,500 incubators.

City of Warsaw

Warsaw: Due to its bigger internal market and strong history of entrepreneurship, Poland is considered a much better entrepreneurial market than its Czech and Slovak neighbors to the south.  They already have a few success stories under their belt, and have been attracting some of the top tech companies around the world, including Google.  Apart from Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk and Wroclaw are all becoming major startup hubs in Poland.

Red Square Moscow

Moscow: Although failure is feared and condemned, Russia still places a strong value on entrepreneurship.  The legacy of the Soviet Union means that there’s a large number of both quality engineers and hardware companies.  However, political tension and currency devaluation has meant there’s a clear brain drain.

Bangalore India

Bangalore: In cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Chennai, entrepreneurship is strong.  There’s a huge market, and the number of engineers that graduate every year is impressive.  Bangalore’s startup scene is traditionally focused on engineering and tech development, which means it can be difficult for founders to find good business development or design counterparts.  Although there aren’t any incentives for startups and it can take several months to set up a business, the cost isn’t too high.  In the city itself, there are at least 10 startup events happening every week, which fosters a strong startup culture.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney: Being an entrepreneur in Sydney is well-respected, although most people still tend to seek the comfort of corporate employment.  Most startups are still focusing on their local market, although there has been a shift in mindset where they start to think more globally.  Unfortunately, the government doesn’t tend to allow for any special tax incentives for entrepreneurs.

Tunis

Tunis: The recent Arab Spring served as a turning point for the entrepreneurial spirit of this small North African city, and things are still very very new here.  One of the most pioneering startups here is Tunisia Live, an English-language news portal that was originally set up to transmit live images and report breaking news during the Arab Spring.  Startups here tend to use and create tech products to mobilize communities, often engaging them in political discussions and working for the collective good.  To better support the local entrepreneurship market, policy makers have started to implement new strategies and programs to boost incubators, accelerators and education programs.

London

London: In the first quarter of 2015, investors pumped a record-breaking £459m of venture capitalist funds into London’s digital sector.  This is augmented by seed enterprise investment schemes (SEIS), the British Business Bank, R&D tax breaks and government startup loans.  Tech is now regarded as the lifeblood to powering Britain’s economic recovery, with Britain’s fintech players being worth an estimated £20bn in annual revenues collectively.

Cairo pyramids

Cairo: A mass of young and educated graduates in Egypt means that a whole bunch of startups have been popping up.  Entrepreneurs have been fighting setbacks to exploit the birth of various new accelerators and crowdfunding campaigns.  Thanks to the quality of local universities, Cairo is also home to some of the best engineering talent in the area.

Sofia Bulgaria
Sofia: Although it isn’t a well-known fact, Sofia has one of the lowest income taxes (10%) and one of the fastest internet speeds in the world.  There are some very successful companies coming out of the scene here, and Sofia has become a strong regional hub by accessing the EU’s structural funds to create three separate funds: LAUNCHub, Eleven Startup Accelerator and Neveq.

Healthy Habits to Increase Productivity at Work

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Adam KidanA productive work week is always reflected by how you choose to prepare, and starts with the development of healthy habits. Entrepreneurs especially tend to have a jam-packed work week and often forget the power that maintaining a healthy lifestyle has on their bodies and minds. Here are some tips to make sure that you have as productive a day as possible so you can effectively lead and grow as an entrepreneur:

First, make sure you prepare for the coming day the night before. This means knowing what’s on your calendar. If you have important meetings or any calls the next day, be sure you have your notes ready and have done your research for how you want to lead the call or meeting before you tune out for the night. This does not have to be done in depth, because you should have time at work the next day to prepare, but it just gives you more notice of what you expect your schedule to be like the next day.

In addition, you should prepare what you need for the morning so you don’t leave anything important at home. And yes, this includes your lunch. Make a healthy lunch the night before so that you have food to fuel you throughout the day and so that you don’t rely on the office vending machine to cure your 11 am hunger.

Adam KidanSleep plays an important role in determining your productivity for the day. As you probably already know, when you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, your brain tends to be foggy and you most likely won’t be as productive as you would be after a good night’s sleep. In order to ensure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, turn off your electronic devices that can be extremely distracting before bed. We all know that Netflix can be addicting, especially if you’re in the middle of a great show. But turn it off, it’s not worth the fatigue the next day.

Another great way to start your day off right is by getting up and moving – this could mean working out, walking your dog, or even stretching in your living room. According to an article published on Entrepreneur.com, “Getting out of bed and making your body move gets the blood flowing and the brain synapses connecting again. If you aren’t in the habit of moving first thing when you get up, this may feel a little strange at first but trust me, it works,” (7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day). You will notice a near automatic surge in energy and a clearer head if you start moving first thing after you wake up.

Last, learn to tame your brain. As an entrepreneur, you will probably experience increased levels of stress and feel that you are overwhelmed at certain points throughout your week. To stay healthy and happy, learn to meditate. Meditating is scientifically proven to help people deal with stress and improve mind fluidity, allowing your brain to become more adaptable.

Overall, staying healthy is the most beneficial thing you can do in order to increase your productivity rate throughout the workday. Make sure you are eating right, sleeping well, and getting enough exercise each day so that you can feel well-nourished and balanced for your brain to function properly.

Staying Proactive at Work

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Let’s face it – we all get off-track at work sometimes. From unexpected client phone calls, to catching that unique strand of flu that comes out once a year, trying to meet a deadline can catch up on you. But luckily there are many ways to stay proactive at work so you can be on top of your game and show your boss how hard you truly work. Here are some tips for getting back in the work-groove, meeting deadlines, and being an overall great employee:

Adam KidanFirst, write down a to-do list, don’t just make one in your head. To-do lists are great because they allow you to see everything that should get done either daily, weekly, or monthly. Seeing the work that’s in front of you will give you a better grasp on which tasks you should prioritize, and which you can get away with spending less time on.

Next, once you’ve sorted out which tasks should be weighed more heavily over others, focus on those. There will be time to get the little things done later. In order to focus on your priorities, you must close out of all other screens, stop checking texts, and tune out whatever else it is that distracts you. An article published by Entrepreneur.com states:

“That email inbox on your phone/computer screen is like crack. Once you check on, you just can’t stop… or compulsive deleting kicks in… So minimized distractions by not even going there so you can focus on the things that you have deemed more important,” (Chan, 7 Habits to Work Proactively, Not Reactively).

Adam KidanIn addition, you should practice getting in the habit of putting your personal phone on airplane mode in the morning and only checking it at lunch. This will help immensely when it comes to distractions.

Last, stop overthinking things – just get them done. This may sound way more harsh than it actually is. Think about how many times you sat at work thinking about what you had to write or get done, gradually becoming more distracted as each minute went by. Just start writing, don’t think as much about it – there will be time for you to edit. Whether it is a 5 minute email that you’ve stretched to 30 minutes, or an hour-long report that you’ve taken all day to write – getting into the habit of just starting without thinking too much will help avoid future distractions so you can get more done and stay caught up at work.

If you need more advice on how to stay proactive at work and get what needs to be done, done – check out Entrepreneur.com’s article here.

The Importance of Transparency in Business

- - Adam Kidan, Business

Transparency is a key element to successful businesses that is often overlooked. Everyone who plays a role in a company should know the who, what, when, how, and why of big decisions so that they can continue to feel important, because the truth is – they are. When employees and others involved with certain business endeavors feel like they are not being included when important decisions are made (or not made), they are less productive. Clarity leads to productivity, and nobody likes to feel like they are being left in the dark.

Adam Kidan

Being transparent is vital to running a company – no matter how big or small. Your customers will also immensely appreciate honesty. An article written by Chuck Cohn and published by AmericanExpress.com created a great analogy; he states:

“Think about the last time you went online to book a plane ticket. Was it annoying to arrive at the last page and then discover all the extra fees that were added on to your final price? It would be simple to put that information at the beginning of the process so the customer feels less ambushed,” (4 Ways Transparency Can Boost Your Business).

That being said, transparency should not be limited to in-house operations (meaning, what goes on internally), extend your business’ transparency to all those who are involved – customers, investors, etc., and your business will sure to have a positive improvement.

Adam Kidan business

In addition, in order to run a strong business, make transparency one of the company’s biggest priorities. According to Chuck Cohn, “Communicate that the more everyone knows, the better you can work as a team. Line up goals with your vision of the company and let everyone see it,” (4 Ways Transparency Can Boost Your Business). This is especially important from a CEO’s perspective so that all employees – new and old – can be on the same page and know that they are working for a singular vision. Transparency creates unity, and vice-versa, so make sure everyone knows they are on the same team, working for the same goals.

For more information on why transparency is a key aspect for running any successful business, please read Chuck Cohn’s article on AmericanExpress.com here.

No Jerks Allowed

- - Adam Kidan

Quite possibly the worst thing that you can have in an office is somebody who rises fast Adam Kidan Jerk Storethrough sucking up to people, taking credit for the best ideas they can steal or pointing the blame for failures on the weakest links they can find.  Namely, a “jerk”.  The storage startup Tintri, afraid of jerks in the workplace, have enacted a “no jerk” rule in their company, and they’ve grown 140% this year alone.  The company believes that the best way to avoid jerk-like behaviors is by setting clear boundaries, open communication and forming a strong company culture.  The company is clear about behavior that’s acceptable and unacceptable, and when somebody crosses the line, other employees let them know.  Furthermore, nobody is immune to the “no-jerk” rule, and employees are encouraged to let anybody, even the CEO, know if they’ve acted like a jerk.

Of course, high-stress situations, unfortunately common in the workplace, can bring out jerky behavior.  You can’t expect to completely eradicate jerk behavior, but what’s important is how you recover from a moment of jerkiness.  At Tintri at least, they believe that most employees have good intentions and aren’t trying to act like jerks, and most of the time, employees self-correct when such behavior occurs.  What’s interesting about Tintri is that its culture is made up of more than just words, with the company incorporating mechanisms such as a culture board (a team of managers who reinforce its values) and training on communication that helps motivate its staffers to act according to the company’s values.

Identifying a company’s culture is an important step, and ignoring this step can mean unwanted turnover and low morale.  Creating and managing a company’s culture is part of the CEO’s job, and is critical in making an organization filled with highly talented and productive people.  Indeed, culture answers questions about who the people at a company are, how they think, what they believe, what kind of people they hire and don’t hire.  At Tintri, they believe in creating a company based on the acronym “CEEIT”: creating a customer-centered, excellence-fueled, execution-driven, innovation-obsessed, team-oriented company.  While there’s nothing especially unique about these values, the most difficult part is making them a reality.  This would probably require keeping a close eye on how people behave and using incentives.

The First Question Every Aspiring Business Owner Should Ask

- - Adam Kidan
Business Owner

Make sure you’re passionate about your business idea before opening your doors.

When starting a business from the ground up, there are seemingly innumerable things to consider.  Is there a demand for my product or service?  Is someone else already doing it?  If so, can I do it better?  At what point, if ever, will it become profitable?  These are just a few of the things any aspiring entrepreneur should think about before attempting to launch a business of any kind.  While these are all extremely important questions to ask, there is one you should ask yourself first.  Am I passionate about this?

Dave Lavinsky of Forbes.com recently wrote a piece on the subject, which makes some valuable points.  The example he uses is a hypothetical scenario in which you had two friends both trying to start a fitness company.  One has had personal experience struggling with weight loss and the other is simply doing it to cash in.  He argues that all things being equal, the friend with the personal connection and passion for the project will persevere.  This is an argument, that’s well, hard to argue with.

Starting a company takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication.  The early days of a new company are marked by long hours and heavily dosed with rejection, failure, and frustration.  Even though you may have an idea you think can make money, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are passionate enough about your project to dedicate the necessary time and effort to make it successful.

This is one of the reasons getting a business off the ground can be so difficult.  Not only do you need to come up with an idea that can make money, but it has to be something you are willing to spend almost every waking hour shepherding from your vision to reality.  In short, if you want to launch a business, start with what you’re passionate about.  Then, figure out how to make it profitable.  If you do it the other way around you’re likely to quit when the going gets tough.