Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Get into the Austin Startup Scene

If you have anything to do with the startup scene or entrepreneurship scene in Austin or Texas, then you will not want to miss out on all the amazing stuff happening this week. There will be tons of happy hour parties going on every night this week including a look at all the new companies starting up. And why not? Austin has topped the growth charts in the US by WalletHub in a recent study.

This is the scene to be in for anyone that wants to be apart of starting their own business and connecting with others who will help them do that. Remember if you are a solo leader who is looking to get experience, this is where you want to spend your time since most startup programs favor group startup founders. Use this as the time to find your next co-founder.

Here are a few tips I have to getting the most out of all the events happening this week. If you need more networking tips just click the link.

How to get Involved
Clear your schedule this week and make it a point to throw yourself into all the events. Even if you are still unsure about what kind of company you want to start, everything you learn from all these events will help prepare you for what will be expected of you when you do get started.

2. Don’t wait for anyone, just go. The excuse a lot of people give themselves when thinking about an event as big as this one is that they have no one to go with. You are an adult so you need to make adult decisions on your own and that means going to places on your own. Plus if you get into a great crowd of people and your friend decides it is not for them you will feel obligated (which you shouldn’t) to leave with them. Go and leave all the social pressure of friendships at home.

3. Expect nothing. If you walk into any event this week with that mindset you won’t be disappointed if nothing happens but if you walk away with a few new contacts who can help you get started then that should be a sign that good things are to come. Many people attend these kinds of events with large amounts of pressure to get something out of it and when they leave with nothing they feel let down. Don’t walk in with that mindset except just meeting new people and asking lots of questions.

4. Dress nice and bring business cards. They say the clothes makes the man but in all honesty it doesn’t hurt to dress nice. People feel more comfortable around people who dress nice because it says that they are ready for something. Yes, the startup scene is centered around relaxed clothes but you don’t need to wear an expensive business suit, just some nice pants and shirt should do just fine. Also make it easy for people to contact you afterwards with some professional cards.

5, When in doubt, walk up and say hi. Events like this are hard for a lot of people because of social phobias but the reality is that the only way to meet people is by going up to them and saying hi. If you just attend and leave right afterwards you are missing out on the good stuff that happens after the talk. Stick around and find others who are just standing around and introduce yourself. You might just make a new contact.

6. Visit all the tech hubs. Downtown is the place to be for all the tech hype so while you are downtown make it a point to visit all the top places in Austin for the startup culture. WeWorks on congress, Capital Factory in the Omni Hotel, and TechStars (Open house Tues 9 am) on congress.

The Austin Startup scene is a lot of fun for those without any tie downs. If you can make it, go and attend all the workshops that are free, which is close to all of them. There will be parties, free swag, lots of food and drinks, and best of all, new people to meet and new companies to discover. Click on the links below to look at the schedule, and be sure to get your meetup account and eventbrite account ready because you will need them to sign up for events, plus you will need an account for other startup crawl events.

There is an article that helps you find the top events to attend if you are unsure where to start.

13 Top Picks for Austin Startup Week

Austin Startup Week

Startup Schedule

Sign up and fill your schedule

Capital Factory Events

Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to follow up with all the new people you meet this week!

8 yr old Girl Runs Town’s only Newspaper

Most 8 year old girls are worrying about hanging out with their friends, having sleepovers, and doing well in school. There is one little girl in America who has taken on the job of providing the news for her local town. Why? Well, because her small town of 5,000 people do not have a local newspaper, if anything, they have radio and small media outlets to share the news with.

In the small town of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Hilde Lysiak rides her bike everyday through her small town to find out the latest thing. She takes with her a press badge (that she made at home), a pen and writing pad and jots down anything news worthy. In the case of a tornado that swept through town one time she goes around to neighbor’s houses knocking on doors asking questions about what happened in order to find out how people are dealing with the aftermath. She will even ride out to crime scenes and poke around asking questions. The reason she does all these things is because she understands the importance of finding a good story people want to read about. She is responsible for coming up with all the story ideas, then writing the stories and taking the pictures to go along with those stories. Her dad, who used to work for the New York Daily News as a reporter, helps with the formatting, layout structure, typing, and printing. Together they produce 200 copies each month for the residents who have signed up for the subscription which costs about $2 dollars a year. Not bad for young entrepreneur.

The Roots of her Cause
Her dad worked for a major newspaper and she caught the bug of being a journalist. She loves the idea of being able to go around asking questions and butting into people’s lives to find out what is happening in order to tell other people with the articles she writes. Her father has taught her many of the terms that journalists need to know in order to write a good story, like the terms, nut graph and lede. She understands the importance of these two words when writing any kind of story.

Hilde knows that she has to go out everyday in order to find the most interesting story. She watched her dad do the same thing, he would have to run out to cover the story. She learned that you have to jump anytime something interesting happens otherwise you miss the opportunity to provide your readers with something newsworthy to read. She doesn’t run a blog but the fact that she runs her own newspaper is a perfect example of how she is learning business and what better way is there to learn business than by jumping head-first into the whole experience.

The Making of a Young Entrepreneur
There are many aspects of Hilde’s life that are worth looking at in order to understand how she came to do the things she does now. Young entrepreneurs are individuals who have an inner drive that is not restricted by anything. They are encouraged to follow through on their ideas and made to see that they complete what they are passionate about. Let’s look at a few important traits that make up a young budding entrepreneur.

Freedom to Explore
Hilde is allowed to ride her bike in order to find the best stories around which means she has to be observant and ready the moment she hears about anything in her town. This means she knows all the roads and how to get to places the quickest because all good reporters know that the first one to the scene gets the good stuff. Her passion and curiosity is what drives her to go out and find news events that people want to read about. Good stories happen when you poke around and she doesn’t mind asking questions, and for her sake also getting people to spell things out for her, but the fact that she doesn’t have a fear of doing this is what makes her fearless in an industry that is sinking everyday because of digital news.

The next great thing about her adventures is that her parents don’t restrict her from chasing a good story when she hears about it. If she lived in a home that forced her to only go as far as the front yard or backyard that would kill her creativity right there. Hilde has parents that let her explore on her bike the world around her. She works on her articles both at home and the local cafe when she has deadlines approaching, another tell-tale sign of the life she comes to expect living in this world. She is growing up thinking that all kids her age, 8 years old, get to go out and explore their world whenever they want. Unfortunately, more and more parents are killing their children’s curiosity of exploring because of their own paranoid feeling that something bad might happen to them. The truth is with all the technology kids have today, kids are actually a lot safer than decades ago when kids didn’t have smartphones that can be programmed to do all sorts of things. Hilde has a smartphone that she uses to take photos with, keep in contact with her parents but also to make notes and record video.

Creating Her Own Stage
The newspaper is Hilde’s idea so that means can she put whatever stories she thinks people want to read about, including her own creative-fiction stories she writes. Many people complain that they are not able to get their work out there for people to read or see because they keep getting rejected. Hilde didn’t want to work for some media space or newspaper so she created her own on her terms. She charges people a yearly subscription at a cost that is very affordable to everyone that signs up. This platform she created is her own outlet for expressing the views and stories that she feels are important to know.

Hilde is learning what it takes to run a newspaper because she gave herself the job plus the experience she gets from her dad helping her. Entrepreneurs don’t let setbacks like a little town get in their way of achieving their dreams. Instead they use that as motivation for creating something out of nothing so other people can enjoy the benefits too. Her town didn’t have a newspaper because it was too small to have one so it was filled by a girl who knew the importance of learning about what is happening around town. No doubt she watches and reads the news to learn how to improve what she does.

Entrepreneurs are always looking for a problem so they can provide a solution. Young entrepreneurs have it easier because they have the comfort of knowing that if something goes wrong they have mom and dad to help them. This is why young people need to be encouraged to go and take risks on their ideas while they are still young in order to learn from their mistakes. Being kept at home and sheltered does nothing for a young person, instead that is the recipe for killing creativity.

Hilde knows that she wants to turn this newspaper into something bigger but also is aware that she does not want to work for anyone. This passion project of her’s will teach her the ins and outs of running a business and the challenges that come with it. Most third graders are worried about multiplication whereas, Hilde is facing the challenge of getting more people to subscribe and make money.

Complete Encouragement
Hilde has the support of her family because it was the same kind of work that her father did. She is familiar with the conditions that go along with that job because she watched her dad do the same thing for years before being let go. Kids need to know that they have the support and attention from their parents and who ever else they look up to. That mental safety net is what keeps them going with their idea. Their passion is able to flourish because they know that what they are doing is supported by the people who love them and are looking out for them.

Hilde works on her paper knowing that her dad and mom will fix any mistakes she makes,  a process that she is learning from. She writes her stories because the people who read them encourage her to keep working at it.  That talent takes time to build so with every issue that comes out she gets feedback right away from people, which she can take and use the next time she sits down and writes. Now many writers get feedback in the beginning so this will help and teach her the process of story writing.

Implied Responsibilities
The pressures of running any kind of business are not apparent in the beginning because most are still in the honeymoon phase of their personal project. It is hard to see anything going wrong when you start any kind of enterprise, regardless the size and scope of it. The demands of running a simple newspaper might not seem like a lot but in finding stories to write about a good news reporter has to be where the action is at. Even if that means missing her favorite TV shows or dinner with the family.

In order to write about what is happening one has to be at the right spot at the right time and for a place with as little as 5000 people, it’s hard to find interesting things to write about so Hilde has taken it upon herself to be where the important people are in order to learn about what is happening within her community. She attends town meetings or any meeting that will let her attend. She will ask questions in order to learn more about an issue. This habit will carry her into a lot of areas in life because not everyone is comfortable asking questions. No doubt she attends other meetings around her town for her readers to know about so she really has to ask a lot of questions in order to find out what is happening. In addition to meetings she will show up at crime scenes, take photos, and interview people. This is all done without the permission or help from the police.

Always Learning
Entrepreneurs are people who love learning and they do not need any kind of carrot on a stick to get their attention. They go out and learn everything they can on a subject until they become an expert, or in the case of Hilde, enough to write a story. Her passion to know what is going on around her keeps her constantly learning and asking questions. This means that at home she is asking her parents questions all the time, reading up on stories, and prying into other people’s lives.

The prying part comes at a cost but her drive, determination, and support of her family all keep her going. She discovered that the local high school doesn’t have a printed paper because the costs are too high so she wrote a story about it. The superintendent informed her that people still had the option to get a printed version at home on their own computer and printer. Hilde is learning what it means to deal with people about situations and issues that come up. Sooner or later her cuteness will wean and eventually, like all people, she will be dealing with brick walls that people will put up in front of her because she is digging too deep but as any journalist or reporter knows, that is when you know you have found something worth reporting, when people start giving you trouble.

Chances are she will continue her paper and work on her highschool paper and even college paper to get more experience. That process of learning is what she looks forward too.

True Experience
The challenge that Hilde has for her age is finding the next big story. That is something that keeps her out there everyday asking questions because she knows that she has to give her readers something worth reading. Her family used to live in New York where something was happening every minute. Hilde says that she misses that life but the freedom she has to go out and explore in her small town allows her to learn more about her life and the world she lives in than if she lived in New York where she wouldn’t be allowed such freedom.

Her newspaper is creating a lot of attention and if she follows the direction right could start bringing in more money. People around town have mentioned advertising in her newspaper so with the help of her dad that could be a way to support her project and maybe pay for college later on.

In any case, the story of Hilde is just one of the many young entrepreneurs out there who are creating their own opportunities. They didn’t wait for someone to come and tell them it was ok, instead they took the reins and gave themselves their own speaking platform. In this day and age it is very easy to do such a thing now with zero cost. It takes passion, drive, risk-taking, and determination to make it all happen. If you have the support you need to make it happen then why not go out and do it? Hilde has all the right traits in place so it won’t be long before she starts writing guest articles for major newspapers. Her sister, Izzy, currently writes a guest column for a newspaper in another county where she gets to give advice, which she makes $25 dollars a week. It seems like advice giving, storytelling, and journalism all runs strong in her family.

You can learn more about Hilde and her family in the articles below. Her dad, Matt, wrote articles on the Sandy Hook shootings when he covered it for several months. He ended up writing a book on the whole situation entitled, Newtown: An American Tragedy.

News Articles

8-Year-Old Runs Her Town’s Monthly Newspaper

Is this 8-year-old’s newspaper better than yours?

Here are the steps to becoming a Billionaire

Chine is the only country in the world to have more self-made female billionaires than any other country. That is saying a lot about a country that controls everything their citizens do and say. In any case China pushed hard on gender equality in the uprising of capitalism so many women took their chance on the opportunities given.

The process of being a self-made anything is one of hard-work, strict discipline, and focus-driven mindset on what one hopes to accomplish. There are many cases where people inherit money and waste their time shopping and just playing around. Women in China had to prove their talent and worth to anyone they worked for in the beginning. In this case, Zhou Qunfei, made the decision to drop out of school at the age of 16 to move in with her uncle in hopes of finding a better job. Her school work and study habits were top-notch and many of her past teachers remembered the work she turned in as very talented.

Her travels would lead her to find a job in a watch factory making lenses, which entailed working all day shifts that would many times end well past midnight. It was those conditions that made her quit her job but before doing so pushed her to write a letter to her boss. It was this action that brought the attention of the horrible work conditions to his attention that made him offer her a job promotion if she stayed. This would be the start of many promotions she got in the coming years.

Lesson 1
Make evident what you know to people of power and influence
People in power have control over things and people. They are not always able to be everywhere so when they meet people who inform them on things that are happening around them they gain even more power and control. Influences are always looking to meet people who can help them learn more about what is happening around them. They want to meet people who are very observant because it means they can learn more from them. Ms. Zhou explained in her letter the terrible conditions and long work hours but she did it in a way that was respectful of who she was talking to. It was enough to get his attention and start her on a path that would lead to high achieving success.

Starting on her Own
During her years gaining promotions and learning the whole process of lens making she was saving up money from all her new jobs that paid more. It only took her three years to save up enough money to give her the opportunity to quit her job and start her own company with some of her family members. The important part about is that she had help from her family to manage different parts of her company. She was not doing everything on her own but she did make it a point to learn how everything worked, something she picked up on during her years before in her old jobs.

Lesson 2
Learn everything you can about your industry and how it works, including the machines
Ms. Zhou made sure she knew how to use and operate every machine she ordered in case something went wrong but also so she knew the limitations of the machines. This action enabled her to become the go-to person of everyone she worked with because if something broke down she would be the first to know so it can get fixed right away. She made herself the focal point of her business operation. This behavior would label her as obsessive about her work but also how she gets things done. Anytime a machine is down the less lens get made. In order to have more control she chose to have her apartment connected to her office so that she had access to the factory floor all the time.

Change in Market Demand
Ms. Zhou learned everything there was to know about how to make glass lenses for watches so she knew all the physical properties of glass and what could be done with it. That is why when she got a call from a phone company asking if she could help make glass screens for phones she jumped at the opportunity, something they offered to help her with. It was this action that connected her to a whole other market that would require her to hire more staff, build more factories and take on more clients.

The world of mobile phones still centered around plastic screens but when many phone makers started switching over to scratch-resistant screens with tough glass that is when manufacturing of glass lenses changed. That is when Apple contacted Ms. Zhou and her whole business of operation changed. She went from a regular glass lens maker to the supplier of the top computer company in the world. The demand for high-quality thin glass skyrocketed globally making it hard to find suppliers who were experts in this field. Luckily for Ms. Zhou she was in the right place at the right time.

Lesson 3
Learn to attract the best (aka be in the right place at the right time)
Ms. Zhou used her time to learn everything she could about her glass making business and this got the attention of many phone makers. No knows when something big will happen in the market but for those that are great at what they do and something big happens they will be the first ones called on to do something. She was able to grab the attention of the top tech companies because everyone was switching to tough glass and there were not many glass makers who had the knowledge of how to do that. It was the help of the tech companies that taught her the whole process of what it was they were looking for that propelled her even further.

Expanding the Customer Base
Ms. Zhou, after going public with her company, has spoken at many investor meetings. Investors worried that more and more competitors are entering the market making it harder for her company to stay ahead. She answered a few questions but it was how she interacted with them at her production facilities that showed how enthusiastic she was about what it is she does. She showed a passion for the kind of work she creates but knows that attention to detail is why her two top clients, Apple and Samsung, picked her to work with. She knows every step of the process because she designed the whole operation. Now she checks on the same factory workers at every level, including the bottom where she started, to make sure nothing goes wrong. Many investors are content with how she runs things because they know she is always there checking on everything and looking for betters ways to innovate.

Lesson 4
Have a game plan and figure out how to execute it
The reason Ms. Zhou knew what she was doing was because she had three years after writing her letter of resignation to learn how the whole factory process worked. She gained enough experience to understand what she needed to buy first in order to get started. Once she saved enough money then she could quit her job and start her own business. Many people say they want to start their own business but do not know the first step to make. This is where many people get scared and don’t try. You need to put yourself deep into the industry you want to work in in order to understand what it takes to get going. Ms. Zhou was not afraid of anything because she had family support and working knowledge to know what to do every step of the way.

The company she started, Lens Technology, has an estimated worth of $8 billion.

The process that many self-made individuals have is one of constant iterating – starting something and going back if it doesn’t work and starting over again until they get it right. They had a relentless pursuit to do things on their own terms in order to get started. They are constantly learning and trying to innovate better. If you plan on success then these are a few lessons to help you out before you get started.

How a Chinese Billionaire Built Her Fortune

Teen Entrepreneurship Series Starts Today

Today starts the summer program for the Teen Entrepreneurship Program. This program is designed to teach teens and kids all about the world of business and how to get involved. We will look at ways young people are starting companies along with what areas investors are looking for. We will talk about how to create a brand and market it, both online and in person. Students will have the chance to start their own little “company” to get the practice so they can understand what it means to create something of value that people need.

The schedule and topics for the courses

  • June 2nd: How to Become an Entrepreneur
  • June 9th: How to Find and Build a Great Company
  • June 16th: Inside the Minds of Successful CEOs
  • June 23rd: Creating Your First Company
  • June 30th: How to Find Your First Customer
  • July 7th: Building a Website for Your Company
  • July 14th: Which Social Media Platform Should I Use for My Company?
  • July 21st: Should I Use Crowdfunding to Help Grow My Business?
  • July 28th: The Secrets of Running a Successful Business

Although this program is for Teens and kids, everyone is welcome to attend. In addition to the course material we will also be showing special programs in class to give students a better perspective on historical business titans and how they got started.

Creating Adult niche markets from Childhood Activities

Work slide at Google

There was a post I read online one time that said, “you know school stopped being fun when Elmer Glue, water paints, and crayons stopped being on the school supply list.” It’s true when you think about it. Don’t you have more fond memories from your childhood than you do of your days as a teenager? It was easier to make friends in elementary school all you had to have in common was a favorite color or food and you were instantly buddies for the rest of your school days.

The days of being an adult are completely different. You can no longer make friends as easily by walking up to people asking if you can borrow their glue. Some people instead will take the 5 mile trip to wal-mart or office depot and buy their own instead of looking foolish in front of someone for asking. (Many introverts do suffer from this condition everyday and they will go out of their way to get one small thing than risk looking like a fool in front of someone when all they have to do is ask.) I think this is why so many childhood TV shows and movies are making a comeback because they remind us of how much fun we used to have growing up (plus the audience numbers are already there) and how the world looked so innocent and nice.

Finding Those Niches
There are many things you can bring back from your elementary school days and turn them into full-time passion projects that can make money today. Remember playing in the sandboxes and how they were so much fun at school with your friends? It was the experience of playing with your friends that made it all the more fun. What about when you used to play with water paints and create funny pictures on large pieces of paper on the wall well now there are businesses that cater to this whole new idea for adults. Take a look at the company IdeaPaint, where you can paint any wall and turn it into a dry erase board. That is a lot easier than having to install huge boards in your office, classroom, or home.

Ideapaint at Masschallenge

There is a restaurant called Pinot’s Palette and they took the whole idea of painting and turned it into an evening experience. The idea behind this place is that you come in with a group of friends and paint on a canvas and drink (BOYB). The reviews online paint this place as a way to experience art and food and fun all at the same time.

Why is this business taking off and why not just join a regular painting class in college? Well the reason for that is this place provides a more relaxed atmosphere whereas in college, yes you will learn the technical stuff, in this program you won’t be graded on anything and you don’t have to follow a certain style. You just can paint, eat, and drink and enjoy your time with friends. That is a lot more enjoyable for a night out and you get to take what you made home with you.

Another concept art idea that went viral was the backpack that looks a comic book drawing. The pictures of the handbag and backpack looked like it was just a photoshop joke but they really do look like that. This is what made them such a viral hit on twitter (#thebag) and all over. People liked the fact that they were wearing something that looked like a visual illusion. You can check out their website, Jump From Paper, and see what other cool things they have made.

This is what they look like when people wear them. Pretty cool, right? Click here for more Pics

What if we look at some other ideas that seem a little far stretched but when seen in reality are totally believable. In this instance why not consider, instead of a day bed, relaxing in a giant bird’s nest.

You can see just how comfortable something like that might be. The whole idea behind this nest, what some might call crazy or ridiculous, is to create a place for you to get away and think or relax or just chat with friends. The bird nest comes in different sizes, the 2-3 people nest goes for a price tag of $3,591 and the 16 person nest has a lightweight price of $10,774. The nest really acts as a place for inspiration which is a great idea because your environment says so much about your thinking habits and what you do. Check out there website to learn more about them.

If you want to think in a new way you have to find a new place to be in otherwise your mind will not have any new stimulus coming in. It needs new things in order to create new things, this is why people who work at home eventually go stir crazy from seeing the same thing over and over. Maybe playing on playgrounds for adults might be the thing you need to help get the creative juices flowing again.

You can see how this market of taking kid ideas and turning them into toys for adults is becoming a huge industry with these 42 ideas that adults wish they had and probably do. So why the sudden interest and what other ideas are coming around that seem to be getting a lot of attention?

Creating Peace through Coloring
Coloring, for so many people, is a very personal and fulfilling way of spending their time. Many people remember back in elementary school when they were given time in class to color. This was probably everyone’s favorite time right after nap time with the milk cartons. Everyone was told that the most important rule in coloring was to stay within the lines which, surprisingly enough, was still a challenge for many. I loved this activity and was damn good at it. My thing was to always trace the outline first, since that was how the teacher taught it in class and pretend that the trace were the borders not to cross. I would trace hard to make a bold line and then color softly within those lines. That method earned me a couple of 100s as I remember.

It might surprise you to learn that the activity is still alive and well for adults today. The lives of adults is filled with a constant flow of activities and responsibilities. There are many activities that take the part of slowing down and enjoying lifee but none so much as the act of coloring. Yes there are anatomy coloring books, which many enjoy coloring just for fun, but now there is a new market popping up showing a healthy growth of interest. Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest are two of the latest books to hit the market geared towards adults who enjoy the art of coloring.

The artist, Johanna Basford, has said that it was surprising to find the reception her books have had with people. The reviews on amazon have all been 4 and 5 star ratings with people saying that her latest book, Enchanted Forest, beat expectations.

You can also see that they are very popular in other languages, even though the book is mostly just drawings on each page, something to take notice of when creating your product or service.

Many people have ordered more than one copy in order to test out different styles of coloring on the same image. But why did this take off? Well, one, it helped to have an influencer in the mix. If you have kept up with this blog then you know that most big breakthroughs happen when an someone of importance, or celebrity status, tweets or posts a photo about discovering someone’s work and all their followers spread the news. This happened when Korean pop-star, Kim Ki-bum, posted a photo on his instagram showing what a great job he did coloring in his flower wreath. It was that photo that got other people interested in learning where he got that coloring book from.

The crowd in South Korea took quickly to the idea of adults and teens coloring for fun and why not, its different, you can express yourself, and share it online with your followers. That is exactly what the experience of coloring should be about, expressing yourself and sharing it with others. Many places all over the world are putting together coloring groups which has shown to have a positive reception. The idea of coloring by hand helps increase focus, creativity, and imagination, and for older adults, hand-eye coordination.

Johanna’s luck has been all about people discovering her work. The first time it happened was when a publisher, Laurence King Publishing, found her work online and thought she would be able to find a market in children’s books. Johanna approached her publisher about doing coloring books for adults but they were hesitant at the idea that adults would enjoy doing something that they thought is really just for kids. This was the second reason why this new trend took off. If not for her push to create something she enjoyed doing, and was different, then there would not be a renewed interest in adult coloring books.

The work Johanna has created is different from all the other adult coloring books out there because her patterns are more intricate than the standard adult coloring books. Most are not as detailed as Enchanted Forest or Secret Garden which allows a richer, creative mind to develop. Her illustrations are from pure imagination rather than just standard form as coloring in animals, which you already know the colors for, so it is hard to come up with your own. Her books allow your mind to flow and find new patterns or color designs to work with.

How she got to where she is today is all history now that she has amassed a huge following, not to mention, gotten more followers on her twitter account because of her recent NYtimes article. Now she has had three influencers in her life to help push her work into the mainstream, Korean Pop star, her publisher, and the nytimes article. If she keeps putting out work like that and coming up with more creative ways to color then she will have a very fulfilling and lucrative career as an illustrator for coloring. One of her past jobs was creating beautiful wallpaper designs for hotels so maybe she will be asked to do that again. According to the feedback she has gotten from fans, the next coloring book she is working on now will be of the ocean.

If you would like to see other people who have done adult coloring books you can check out the following below.

Creative Haven NatureScapes Coloring Book – Patricia J. Wynne

Detailed Designs and Beautiful Patterns (Sacred Mandala Designs and Patterns Coloring Books for Adults

Flower Designs Coloring Book – Jenean Morrison

Splendid Cities – Rosie Goodwin and Alice Chadwick

Creating New from Old
The example this article provides is that you don’t have to rack your brain trying to come up with something completely original you just have to find a new way of doing something that has already been done before.

She put in many hours trying to come up with concept art to show to her new publisher that what she wanted to do was worth putting there. She still had to work to earn money which she did as a freelancer during the day but now that she has built the following she has now she can spend more time creating the things she enjoys.

Whether you are trying to build an app or improve a new service, look for the little habits that a lot of people over look just because it might seem “childish,” it might turn out that is exactly what people are looking for.

News Articles

Grown-Ups Get Out Their Crayons

Entrepreneur Series Starts Today!

The spring program starts back up today!

Here is the schedule for the semester. There will be lots of opportunities coming up this semester that I will only be mentioning in class. You will want to make sure you are there to find out all the great stuff happening this spring. I will be talking about a lot of networking opportunities in every class.

The program runs every Tuesday from 12 – 2 pm until the end of May. Please make the effort to be there and participate to get the most out of this program. Looking forward to seeing new faces.

Jan 13, 20 – Legal Issues for Startups

Jan 27, Feb 3 – Hiring to Create a Company Culture

Feb 10, 17 – Gaining Customers

Feb 24 – Understanding CrowdFunding

March 3, 10 – Using SXSW to Grow Your Business

March 24, 31 – Resources for Entrepreneurs

April – Understanding and Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

May 5, 12 – Building a Website for Your Business

May 19 – Does your Business need a Smart App?

May 26 – Start-up Ideas

A Cleaning product with a Social Impact

Gentry Lane got into the soap making business because it was an industry that she felt allowed her to take advantage of her years of experience in manufacturing but to also give something back. Her startup story is interesting for many reasons; one, she self-financed her business to help get it up and running; two, how she built her customer base; and three, creating a product that has a social impact and why that matters today.

Start-Up Stories
This is an interesting story to read and learn about because like many other start up stories, it is not immune from many of the conditions that start-ups face. As you read the story it is important to pay attention to the behind-the-scenes elements when understanding any kind of company. Pay attention to the following areas when reading

– Her Past Experience as a Business Woman
– How funding affects the early stages of a business
– What did she have to do to build her customer base
– Who would be her typical customer
– Can her company afford the social efforts
– Website Design
– Transition from multi-million dollar company to startup company

Proper Soap
Her company is all about creating cleaning products that are safe for your body and provide high quality ingredients to create a very soothing experience in the bath or shower. The idea is to not just make another kind of soap but one that has a very nice smell that leaves the person smelling nice and clean afterwards but also knowing that they helped with a good cause. Ms. Lane wanted to make sure that a small portion of each sale goes towards helping bring about clean water for some areas.

Ms. Lane worked in France for a long time and her experience there creating high quality clothing taught her the importance of only using the best goods in creating her products. After the recession she moved to the States and started a company that had a social impact but it took her awhile to find people who could create a soap with high quality ingredients. Not to her surprise she found some french people in Los Angeles that could help her create the product she was looking for. She was used to creating clothing for women that were very expensive ($98 dollars for a pair of panties) so her line of products tend to gravitate towards those with money, more or less.

The idea of her new company was to take her experience and knowledge and translate it into a company that could have a social impact on others. This is why only .50 cents of each product social is donated to clean water programs in developing areas. She also supports an NGO that helps bring water filters and irrigation systems to entrepreneurs in Africa. Her mission is to match being clean with helping others gain access to clean water.

The Trials and Tribulations of Startups
Every entrepreneur knows that finding your first customer(s) can be difficult. There is no secret to how you do it but the important thing is going out and finding them where ever they are. In this case she found that by offering samples to companies that promote products like her’s she could help build an interest and client base. The company BirchBox offers subscribers sample products every month that they are interested in receiving. This helps women (and men) find products they didn’t know about by having the company send them a package with random products that match their interests. For a company like Proper Soap this is a blessing because it makes it easier now for startup companies like her to get up and running with customers. The best part is that Birchbox has purchased her products to sell on their own website.

In an effort to keep moving forward she has also decided to use that same model of service (that many companies are now switching to), offering a subscription service, where customers can have their favorite product delivered to them every month. People who can afford these convenient services enjoy them because it takes out one less thing they have to do but it also keeps them from discovering new products in the store, making the shopping experience not just a social event but also a discovery program.

The efforts of working with Birchbox has earned her lots of reviews and more promotion through word-of-mouth. This is key to know because people like talking about products they enjoy using. Her next challenge though is trying to get at least 10k subscribers by the end of the year. In order to do that she needs to raise money to help expand. Right now she is self-funded but like with any business they need money for their business in order to grow. The frustrating thing she has found in this new economy is that apps that have hit the market can get millions in funding and she is struggling to raise money, because soap companies are not something people are jumping at to invest in, and second, she is a women with experience in an industry that is more popular in France than in the States so her conditions do not set her up in a positive way but it is her experience that will push through all that. Oh and did I mention, she is doing all of this on her own? Yes you read that right, she has no other employees to help her with any of the work she is doing. She is a true one-woman operation.

If you look at the resources she has provided her self with you will find that she is on the right track to build a very successful business. In today’s age you don’t need to know the technical details anymore about starting a business online you just need to know where to find the right service to help you. In this case she has turned to Shopify to help create an ecommerce website that provides all the tools she needs to create an elegant website. Soap tends to be associated with white because white is pure and clean so having a white website was a smart move on her part. The design was simple and not cluttered. The nice thing about Shopify is that they take all the hard work out of managing an online store. You can select your theme, determine how you want to present your products and then create an easy check out system for your customers to use.

If you visit the site you can even become part of a growing group of people interested in discounts, samples and product news. When she lived in France she ran a fashion company that was worth millions of dollars. Transitioning back to the startup phase and learning all over again how hard it is to gain a base of customers that will help make your business profitable is not an easy task. Her efforts and connections show that it probably won’t be long before we see her soap in stores known for selling high-quality products, just like Clause Porto soap bars.

Social Movement
Many companies today are realizing that if they do not have a social component to their business model they will lose customers. The reason for this is that people want to buy products that do good in this world. If you can make it feel like the customer has an impact on an impoverished nation or people some place in the world they might be more inclined to buy it.

People like doing business with companies that offer a social impact and Ms. Lane feels she has found that balance between cleaning products and providing helping to those without clean water. There is another cleaning product that offers the same solution without the need for water all together called, Drybath, where you don’t need water to get clean. The whole idea is for people to be able to stay clean when they don’t have access to water or clean water for that matter. Many companies are springing up from this idea to help people stay clean because it is so important to our health. Creating a product that makes people feel good after using it and smelling nice are just two added benefits to such a product.

The Entrepreneur Way
Finding a business idea that you want to start is the easy part, like I always say, it is the execution that gets people. You have to go out and make those connections, find businesses that want to help small start-up companies get noticed. You might find your biggest connection online or maybe the next time you are shopping at the grocery store but you have to be willing to reach other to other people and talk to them if you want to get noticed.

Another way that many famous startup companies have done in the past is simply walk in to the stores they want their product in and ask to speak to the person who can make that happen. You may have to jump through a lot of hoops to prove you are worth including in their product catalog but then again no one said being an entrepreneur was easy work. If you walk into a hundred stores and 99 of them turn you down at least you got your first customer and sometimes that is all it takes to get started.


What are you waiting for?


News Article

A Soap Start-Up Looks to Clean Up