Startup Opportunity, Win a Chance to Pitch Your Idea

The Onswipe CEO and new Author Jason Baptiste is giving away a chapter from his fantastic new book The Ultralight Startup: Launching a Business Without Clout or Capital and an opportunity of a lifetime for one entrepreneur to meet four of the best venture capitalists today to pitch their idea.  The venture capitalists include Andy Weissman, Partner at Union Square Ventures, Alex Finkelstein, Partner at Spark Capital, Brad Feld, Parter at Foundry Group, and David Tisch, Managing Director of Techstars NYC and Angel Investor. To enter, go here and fill out some simple information about your startup. The winner will be selected by April 20th, 2012.

The following is an excerpt from Onswipe CEO Jason L. Baptiste’s new book The Ultralight Startup: Launching a Business Without Clout or Capital.

If you pay attention to the headlines about startups getting millions of dollars of funding from investors, venture capitalists, or partnerships, you might think the fund-raising process happens overnight. It all sounds so easy: Some entrepreneur with a thousand dollars in his pocket creates a great PowerPoint investor presentation, secures a few meetings with important people, and bam! A handshake, some signatures, and the deal is done.

The reality is a little trickier. Fund-raising is a process, and although the right pitch might come in handy, in this chapter I’ll discuss the practical start-to-finish way to think about fund-raising that will get you the money you want in the end.

The Real Purpose Of Raising Money And Why it Might not Make Sense For You

More often than not, entrepreneurs raise money at the wrong time and it destroys their startup. This is an understandable mistake, because the press, the outside world, even your peers put a lot of emphasis on raising money.

If you pitch investors too soon, they may get the wrong notion about your business and decide to pass. Although they have the option of coming back to you at a later date, that is highly unlikely. But even if another opportunity does come along later on, they’ll always remember you as the one they passed on the first time around.

There is no one reason why an investor passes, What matters is whether they pass on you based on a full picture of what your company really does. But on the off chance that a startup is able to raise money at the wrong time, it will certainly have a negative impact on fund-raising at a later date.

When is the right time to Fund-raise?

There are seven questions you should ask yourself when deciding if you are ready to fund-raise:

  1. Do you have a technical cofounder? If you have a technical cofounder or someone who is focused on product, you are far more likely to raise money. Product drives the growth of a company; having a product-driven founder can generate growth.
  2. Do you have a demo? If you have a working demo, then you are much more likely to raise money since you can show an investor what your company does. Onswipe was able to fund-raise because we could show investors firsthand exactly what we do. Show, don’t tell.
  3. Do you have any customers? Companies with customers are more likely to raise venture capital than those without. If you don’t have customers yet, you should make this a priority, as it shows proof of traction in the market. It’s not about the amount of traction, but the proof it shows in your model.
  4. Are you ready to bring more people on board? You need to be ready to manage other people and expand your team. If you are not ready for this, then you are not ready to raise venture capital. Venture capital lets you do one thing in the beginning: Hire more manpower.
  5. Have you rid yourself of other obligations? If you are not 100 percent committed to your startup you should hold off on raising money. Many entrepreneurs try to fund-raise while still at their current job. Though it’s good to begin a startup before you quit your job, it takes a whole lot more time and effort to raise money.
  6. Is your business large enough? Most companies are not large enough to be backed by venture capital. To raise venture capital, companies should be in multibillion-dollar markets or have the potential to make revenues of more than one hundred million dollars a year.
  7. Are you able to devote the majority of your time to fund-raising? Fund-raising is a time-consuming process that will completely slow down all other fast-moving aspects of your company. Be prepared to put business development, product development, and any marketing you may be doing on hold, or at least slow them down for a while. Put together a strategy for keeping operations going while fund-raising. I suggest spending 50 percent of your time on fund-raising and 50 percent on continued operations and product development. One founder should still be moving product development forward.

 

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Baskin Robbins Announces Winner of Its Online Flavor Creation Contest

Thousands of ice cream enthusiasts throughout the country competed to be named the winner of Baskin-Robbins’Second Annual Online Flavor Creation Contest. After tallying the online votes, Baskin-Robbins today announced that Kelsey Lien of Santa Clarita, California has won the Online Flavor Creation Contest with her innovative ice cream submission, “Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie.”

“Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie,” the November 2012 Flavor of the Month, is a flavorful combination of chocolate fudge ice cream swirled with a cream cheese ribbon, combined with walnuts and fudge brownie pieces. To celebrate her winning flavor, Kelsey visited Baskin-Robbins’ corporate headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts on January 31, where she worked alongside the Baskin-Robbins’ culinary team to create the very first batch of her new flavor.
“On behalf of everyone at Baskin-Robbins, we are happy to congratulate Kelsey Lien on creating such a fun and delicious new ice cream flavor,” said Dan Wheeler, Baskin-Robbins U.S. Vice President of Brand and Field Marketing. “This year, we received an incredible number of inspired Online Flavor Creation Contest submissions and we are thrilled to see so many ice cream fans getting involved in not only entering the contest, but also participating in the voting process.”
“All of the flavors created sounded delicious, which makes being chosen as the contest winner even more of an honor,” said Kelsey Lien, a student at University of California, Irvine, whose area of study is economics and public health. “‘Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie’ was inspired by my love of baking and is meant to bring family, friends and loved ones together to enjoy a modern twist on the traditional brownie. I’m very excited to share my flavor creation with ice cream lovers everywhere when it debuts this November in Baskin-Robbins stores nationwide.”
The Online Flavor Creation Contest began in October 2011 and asked consumers to mix and match their own ingredients to create a signature ice cream flavor from 31 base flavors, a variety of ribbons such as fudge and peanut butter and a copious amount of mix-ins including candy pieces and cookies. Ice cream fans voted for their top 10 favorite flavors and chose the winning flavor, “Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie.” For more information on the contest, please visit http://baskinrobbins.com/flavorcontest/.
About Baskin-Robbins
Named the top ice cream and frozen dessert franchise in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine’s 31st annual Franchise 500® ranking, Baskin-Robbins is the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops. Baskin-Robbins creates and markets innovative, premium ice cream, specialty frozen desserts and beverages, providing quality and value to consumers at more than 6,600 retail shops in nearly 50 countries. Baskin-Robbins was founded in 1945 by two ice cream enthusiasts whose passion led to the creation of more than 1,000 ice cream flavors and a wide variety of delicious treats. Headquartered in Canton, Mass., Baskin-Robbins is a subsidiary of Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: DNKN). For further information, visit www.baskinrobbins.com.