Tag Archives: startups

Brian Chesky talks about the itch and motivation he had for Airbnb

The one thing that makes being an Entrepreneur easy is saying you want to become an entrepreneur, everything after that is the hard part. Brian Chesky talks about what drove him to creating Airbnb and how it all got started.

 Things to pay attention when reading the interview.

– What he thinks of parent’s and their advice
– Where inspiration really comes from
– The most important thing he had to learn
– The style in which he hires people
– How he looks for creativity
– How he became a leader

Airbnb is one of the most successful startup companies around the world now. It helps people find some of the most unique spaces to rent in the world that wouldn’t be available today if Brian didn’t pursue his dream. The interview covers what Brian was like as a kid and the things he often did with his time.

You will notice that for many people who create things they grew up already trying to improve something after learning all about it. They look at the whole picture after seeing the details. The best part of this all was that he knew what he was after once he found it and never let go it. He has created a special culture within his company and it shows for all the things Airbnb has done now.

Read his interview here

This tool will help you learn the real cost of your startup


It is very rare that you can find an online tool that teaches you about the industry you want to get into. Intuit, in accord with DigitalRelevance, came up with an online tool that lets anyone calculate the real cost of their startup idea using data from Small Business Quickbook users. This is where data aggregation comes in handy. Intuit went through and analyzed tons of data about its users and how most small businesses faired in their industry.

Let’s say you want to start a bakery for morning pastries, then you would enter the industry you want to go into and the sub-type for your business. Then you would first select your industry, so in this case I would select Food Services and Drinking Places. Then I would select the state I want to run this business in. After that I need to tell it the type of setting I want this business to operate as which would be a retail store. The last part now I need to provide is the legal structure of my company along with the number of employees I expect to have in the first year.

If you are unsure what legal structure you this is best for your business then I would suggest looking into the different types and looking at the pros and cons. The nice part is that Intuit provides some help in understanding certain types of business structures. Be sure to look more into that so you can get a better picture of your business costs as you work through the planner.

The nice thing about this planner is that it compares your numbers to other people in your industry and will tell you where you stand, on average, compared to everyone else. You get the full view of your business in relation to the costs of other people’s businesses. You might find, that compared to the industry average, your projected costs are too high so you might need to find a way to lower them. This also helps if you think any quotes you are given are too high as well.

Take Your Time
This tool is designed for people who are serious about starting a business and want to know the real costs of starting any kind of company. It is important that you treat this website as part of doing your homework so you will need to put in a few hours to filling in everything. If you are reading this and thinking, “I don’t have a couple of hours to spare on something that doesn’t help get my business up and running,” then you really do not understand what it means to start a company and should rethink the whole idea.

Intuit has created this tool to make you really think long and hard about starting a company. It is better to put in all the hard work now so you understand the upfront costs you will have to deal with if you are serious. If you are not able to devote a few hours to learning about your business and industry, what makes you think you will be able to handle running day-to-day operations? You need to feel the pain, as least in some form, of sitting down and doing work, before you start signing legal tax forms that hold you accountable for very large things.

Make sure to read the first page very carefully. It will ask that you know how much your permits, if you need any, will be. You will to provide quotes for business insurance, taxes, licensing and more. For those serious about starting any kind of business they will view this as a very valuable resource that will open their eyes all upfront costs for their first year or so.

So when you are ready to get started. Just click on the link below and get to it.

Intuit Startup Financial Planner

News Article

A Planning Tool for Startups

California passes bill to protect consumers when Yelping

Imagine a guest stays at your bed and breakfast over the weekend and, you as the manager and owner, just happen to be out on vacation that weekend they stayed there. You come back to find out any news of anything that happened over the weekend. All your staff inform you that nothing interesting or Out-of-the-Blue happened so you go about your daily routine, one of those being checking out any reviews people have posted about your business online. The first place you check is Yelp.

You find that the nice couple that you briefly met on friday while checking in left a review that casts your business in a bad light. You read their lengthy review about how the room didn’t feel clean, it took forever for room service to arrive, and it always felt like a chore asking for service from people. You find these remarks very disconcerting so you see what other people are saying about your business on other travel websites. You find the average (i.e., “prices were reasonable, friendly service, and nice place.) You decide to look at their profile and see how often they rate company’s as bad as yours. You find that they have a pretty high rate for rating poorly. You read some of their other reviews and find that they are very difficult to please, especially when other companies reach out to them to help fix the problem.

You find that they, themselves, are insulted that they even have to deal with this after leaving because they felt this business should have been worried about meeting their every needs without asking. You begin to wonder if people are going to take the time to look at their profile are just read their review in isolation and compare it with what others are saying or treat it as the latest event and trend taking place at your business.

You decide to have a talk with your staff, which you know won’t do much good because they already know they are doing great, based on the average track record of great reviews. You decide the talk is just a way to remind them of why they work there and who they are working for. You decide not to be hard on them but remind them that negative reviews come with negative dollars. You try and figure if there is any retaliation for the bad review but you also understand the negative media coverage you might get for doing that. In the end you decide, it’s just a couple that is difficult to deal with and let it go.

Review the Moment
All business owners, after reading reviews about their business, go through that whole thought process of deciding what they should do to protect their company’s image after a bad online review. They know going back and having a talk with their staff is important but they also understand that you don’t punish your staff if this is the first time you’ve had a problem because you know they are already working hard. For places where bad reviews are consistent then a change in staff might be the answer but pep talks help but only if they get results.

Not all business owners though will follow the same thought process. Some are very emotional attached to their companies and feel that an attack on their business is a personal attack on themselves so they make an effort to fight back. What some companies have done is charge a penalty fee on their credit card, damage their credit report, and some have even gone as far as suing under the header of defamation. They claim loss of business for damages. This can be a real nightmare, especially when most people don’t read the full terms of service when signing to rent a room, use a service, or buy a product because many companies are adding in clauses that state they give up their right to basically write a bad review about them and if they do the company has a right to sue in order to recoup losses.

Protecting the Consumers
More than 28 states now have passed Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) because companies are going after people and suing them for writing bad reviews. These laws prevent companies now, even if they include it in their contracts, from suing or charging consumers fees, for writing bad reviews. They have a right to free speech and companies who sue are trying to take that away. California can impose fines on any business if they try to pursue anyone for writing bad reviews. This is another great protection for consumers who live in the 28 states that have similar laws protecting them. Be sure to find out if you are one of those states otherwise you still need to be careful what you post online because you might get a letter in the mail.

If you don’t want to end up with having to deal with negative reviews, you can always make sure you are going out on a limb for your customers. Read how other companies do it, like Zappos and why people like buying shoes from them.  Just remember you will not be able to make everyone happy, there are always going to be a few bad apples so if you can handle that and please those that can be pleased then you should do just fine.

News Article

California Protects the Right to Yelp

Entrepreneurship Series Program for the Fall

The fall program has started today. The series is broken up into several topics

How to Write a Business Plan – Sept 2, 9, and 16th
Creating a Value Driven Business – Sept 23 and 30
Pitching to Investors – Oct 7 and 14
Raising Money Through Crowdfunding – Oct 21 and 28
Resources for Entrepreneurs – Nov 4, 11, and 18
Overcoming the Struggles of Starting a Business Dec 2, 9, and 16

You can download today’s Writing a Business Plan presentation file. Everything we covered in class is included in the power point. Please review the slides as we will cover them next week and start on new material. Remember the class starts at noon and ends at 2 and the library opens at 10 am.

If you would like to review the kickstarter that we covered in class today you can click on this link. You can also read about the TIME’s article citing them as the Most Successful Kickstarter campaign ever.

The movie I mentioned in class is called “No Cameras Allowed” you can click on the name to learn more about the film and why you should watch it. You can read what the Wall Street Journal has to say about the film.
You can watch the full film here. Please take the time to watch this film with your family!

The two books I mentioned are here

The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis

These guys became Billionaires by taking other people’s ideas

Article updated: [9/10/2014]

Walk into any entrepreneur conference or brain storming session and you will hear ideas being shared all over. Try and talk to an entrepreneur about their secret idea they have been working on and they just might ask you to sign a Non-disclosure agreement (NDA). You might look at them and think, “why would I want to steal your idea when there are literally thousands being shared all over in this room but also on the internet?”

It takes an average person to put in the hard work to find the next best thing but it takes a certain genius to work smart to find the simplicity of doing business. A smart man might work day and night on his project in his basement trying to figure out all the problems and get it to work right but it takes a genius to pull together talent to do all the work for him. He might create a forum online asking people how they might solve a simple problem. He might write down everyone’s answers and then go back in to the same forum, while creating another forum elsewhere, and ask the question, “what would be the first step to building that thing,” and while people are responding to that question in the other forum he made, he could pose the question, “say someone needs help with <the very problem he posed in the first forum> and this thing that does this and that, what would be the tools he needs to build it?” This man simply took the work of other people and put it together in a way that worked without so much as typing on his keyboard.

That man working in his basement is the image we all have come to know as the American genius who worked out of his garage or basement and created the next great American company. He is remembered for his hard work and dedication but also for his genius of creating something no one else could think of. The second man is today’s business man who is looking to establish himself, not as a hard worker of business or even a genius of business, but as someone who knows how to clone and replicate on any scale. This man views business school as the connecting factor to people of importance but also as a way to focus their view on what everyone else is doing.

Samwer Brothers
If you were to ever meet someone who steals other people’s ideas for a living you might call them a thief but it’s not considered stealing if where you come from it doesn’t exist. All over the world there are people who look into what other countries are doing and then take that company’s idea and create it where they live. In their point of view, no sense in racking your brain over creating the next original business idea, when you can take what already works and build it for your country. You don’t need to know a lot about business to work as an entrepreneur in this fashion just need to know a lot about different companies and how they operate in order to clone and replicate.

Meet Marc, Oliver, and Alexander Samwer who are all about to become billionaires off the very idea of taking American  and Chinese companies and cloning them all over the world. If the idea is successful in America then why can’t it be successful in Germany or Indonesia, after they have made a few tweaks to them? As it turns out it can be a very successful operation for these brothers and that is exactly what they learned in business school. During their time in America studying in San Francisco they ventured out and explored what American companies were doing and studied them. They learned everything about what they were doing, and even wrote a book about it, so that they could then take that and build it back home or anywhere that needed it.

Theses area few of the companies they have cloned and made millions off of and soon to be billions off of.

American Company          Cloned Version
Zappos                               Zalando
Amazon.com                      Lazada
eBay                                   Alando
Facebook                           StudiVZ
Groupon                            CityDeal

Many of the cloned companies have since been absorbed into their American originator after finding out how successful they were in other countries. This helped the American company to expand their operations and then study the clone’s operations of how they matched cultural and consumer interests, which is not an easy thing to accomplish.

If you look at their company’s main website, Rocket Internet, you can see how they show all the companies they have cloned all over the world from companies inside China and the U.S. Their whole business model of entrepreneurship is not to create the next original thing but to take what already works, improve it to the customers you are working with, and sell to them. It’s very difficult to come up with an original idea and almost not worth the effort anymore when you can simply take what someone else has already done and make it your own and then build it.

After their company goes IPO each brother will probably take home close to a billion each or maybe a little more. The important thing to understand about how they did business was that they held majority voting power in their company in order to stay in control. When you study their company, they created a company that has specialized in the art of cloning businesses, something you don’t hear talked about very often. Instead if you were to ask a random entrepreneur what business they are working on, chances are you won’t hear them say, “I take companies that are already successful and clone them to work in other countries.”

What they did was a very smart move. They worked smart not hard, but they did put in the long hours and hard work to make it all happen but they didn’t spend wasted hours trying to come up with the next best thing.

Tips for Entrepreneurs reading this
1. Don’t look at this and say, “oh, well I will just google “companies in Australia” and find one to copy and I too will become rich.” If you read this article and think that is how easy it is, you are forgetting the hard work they put in first. Yes, these guys just copied business models and took them else where but you are forgetting that they studied these companies to understand every aspect of how they worked and why they worked.

2. Maybe you have an MBA and know a thing or two about business and would consider doing what they did. Great, go for it, but how will you raise the funds? The challenge to doing what they did was that they scaled their business clones very quickly to match the demand that was already there. If you think you can clone, let’s say, Amazon again in another country, well just how do you suppose you will be able to meet the demand that will come from it and not only that but how will you manage to survive financially, Remember, even though Amazon is the giant of internet shopping it still struggles to pull in a profit and for the first ten years it was in the red and just recently in the news it posted a negative earnings.

3. Start small and then slowly scale with an idea from another country to see how it works. Just because one restaurant in another country has a long line every night doesn’t the same thing in a country where people don’t even know what half the things on the menu are. Maybe you found how one company has fixed neighborhood crime by installing special lighting at community parks and waling areas to get people out more. It might be a good idea first to see what kind of people make up that neighborhood it works so well in and why.

4. If what you read sounds so easy that it has encouraged you to find an idea and clone it and you have never started a business before then you are setting yourself up for hardship in the end. In the many articles I have written the one thing I emphasis the most is putting in the hard work. What the brothers did was take another person’s idea and make it their own but selling that to investors was probably not an easy thing to do and all the setbacks and hardships they went through showed that they did not give up. Scaling an idea like Amazon on the internet is probably one of the greatest challenges of creating a business online. Read books like How to Get Rich and How to be Rich. They will wake you up to understand just what kind of work hours you will have to put in to get any business up and running, not to mention one that is profitable.

5. If you find a company overseas and you know for sure that it does not exist in your home country and you think you are onto something, do your homework and study that company like  you were in college. Learn how it manages its operations, how it hires people, how it markets and sells, the company culture, where it gets its financing from and anything else you can get your hands on. Read magazine interviews if there are any. If you find out that company is struggling, don’t get turned off by the idea but find out instead why; what could be causing that and if those same problems might occur in your own country.

6. Just because it worked well for one person doesn’t mean it will work the same for another. These guys are the cloners of businesses and that is something they have specialized in. They are the best at it and they have learned to turn it into a lucrative industry.

7. Ideas exist everywhere and it is evident by what people are doing with crowdfunding sites. No doubt someone is on those sites cloning some of the ideas they have found and producing them in their home city or state or even country. But take idea in stride and figure out all you need to know and out of respect, invest in their idea, if you plan on copying it.

News Article

Rocket Internet Seeks to Raise about $967 Million in I.P.O

Germany’s Samwer Brothers to become Billionaires

Inside the clone factory: The story of Germany’s samwer’s brohters

Samwer Brothers’ Cloning Rocket Goes To Warp Speed

Germany’s Samwer Brothers Take their Web Copycat Act Global

Alexander Samwer Wiki Entry

Thinking of Majoring in Entrepreneurship? Here are the top Business Schools

It’s funny to think you need to get a major in something that didn’t exist ten years ago. This is just another way universities are trying to bring in more money while matching demand. If you want a real education study psychology, philosophy, business and throw in some engineering to balance it out. If you just want to make things for people go out and do it yourself, that will teach you more than sitting in a classroom for 5 or 6 years. You won’t get anything out of going to school for 4 years and no company will hire you if you have no work experience to offer so don’t fool yourself that companies will be begging for you to work for them after only 4 years.

So whether you are still deciding if it is smart to even go to business school, take a look at the list of places that made the cut. If you want my advice, use the money for the following

1. Read the following books
How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis
My Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
The Portable MBA for Entrepreneurship by William J. Bygrave
Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
What the Best MBAs know by Peter Navarro
Hacking Your Education by Dale J. Stephens (Study Very Carefully)

2. Start your first business for $100 dollars (that’s the first challenge)
3. Travel and find out how business is done in other places
4. Meet and Talk with lots of people offering to take them out for coffee or lunch or dinner. You can send random emails to people in different cities and see what comes from the experience. This lady did that and it lead her to travel all over the world meeting new people on her blog entitled 52 cups of coffee. (2nd Challenge)
If you have trouble talking to random people read The FIne Art of Small Talk by Debra Fine
5. Travel to a city that is known for being the best for Starting a Business
Best Places to Start a Business

You will learn more in that experience than what state legislative requirements make you take in school. You will probably even save some money considering now that more than 50 universities cost more than $60k a year to attend.

This is the list of schools that offer the best environments for startsup and entrepreneurs. They have incubators, think tanks, and special courses and even majors to help one learn how business works.

1. Standford University
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. University of California, Berkeley
4. Cornell University
Look at what Cornell is doing for Entrepreneurs
5. University of California, Los Angeles
6. California Institute of Technology
7. Brown University
8. Princeton University
9. Pepperdine University
10. Dartmouth College
11. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
12. Yale University
13. Clark University
14. Syracuse University
15. Southern Methodist University
16. New York University
17. Howard University
18. San Diego State University
19. University of Colorado, Boulder
20. University of California, Santa Barbara
21. University of San Francisco
22. University of Southern California
23. The University of Texas at Austin
24. Carnegie Mellon University
25. University of Miami
26. Northwestern University
27. University of Denver
28. Boston University
29. American University
30. Brigham Young University
31. Miami University-Oxford
32. Brandeis University
33. Florida Institute of Technology
34. Harvard University
35. University of Maryland-College Park
36. Hofstra University
37. Southern Illinois University Carbondale
38. University of Tulsa
39. Tufts University
40. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
41. University of Notre Dame
42. University of Pennsylvania
43. University of Washington-Seattle
44. Clarkson University
45. Lehigh University
46. Pennsylvania State University
47. University of San Diego
48. Boston College
49. Colorado State University
50. Rice University

If you get rejected by any one of these schools you can always take yourself down to your local library and get a card. If there is any book you want you can always request for them to purchase it. You will learn more from this method than spending money to sit in a classroom the only thing is that you have got to want it bad enough to make yourself go to the library and sit down and not let yourself get distracted or make any excuse to get out of studying.

News Articles

Startup Schools