Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sanjay Nasta Talks about Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

Sanjay Nasta Talks about Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

Where are you from originally?

Mumbai, India but we moved to South Bend, Indiana in 1977 (in time of one of the worst blizzards of the century).   Moved to Austin in 1983 (driving through Hurricane Alicia in Houston).   We don't have a good history when we move so we're staying put!

What university did you go to?

Notre Dame and then University of Texas at Austin

What brought you to Austin?

Warmer Climate and the University of Texas

What is your group’s mission?

The Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) is a global business network of 9,500+ business owners in 131 chapters and 40 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables small and large business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life. Our vision is to build the world's most influential entrepreneur community, which aligns with our mission of supporting entrepreneurial education and engaging entrepreneurs to learn and grow.
As a global business owner network and association, we help transform the lives of the entrepreneurs who transform the world. 

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization also operates the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), the premier award program for undergraduate students that own and run businesses while attending a college or university; and Accelerator, a series of quarterly, high-impact learning events designed to provide top business owners with the tools, knowledge and skills they need to grow their businesses to more than US$1 million in annual revenue.

What need does it fulfill?

EO provides a safe forum to learn from each other.   

What exactly does it bring to startups?

The GSEA awards are focused on startups run by undergraduates.   Past applicants/award winners have said the biggest benefit is the inclusion into the EO community, interaction with business peers.  The award does have $10,000 worth of prizes.

What type of startup would benefit from your group?

A business run by an undergraduate students

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Learn from your peers, from groups such as TexasOpen Angel Networks.   Interacting with your peers expands your ideas, gives you solutions to problems you will face.

Claude Aldridge Talks about Trellie -- a Women's Wearable Tech Lifestyle Brand

Claude Aldridge Talks about Trellie -- a Women's Wearable Tech Lifestyle Brand

How did you start the company?

The company was formed when longtime friends, and now cofounders, realized their families shared a common problem…important missed calls. After realizing they weren’t the only ones, they set out to do something about it. When they came across some Nokia research that said women miss 50% of their calls because there phone is buried in their purse, the light bulb went off.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?

That point where your heart and mind are 100% focused on building a company and successful solution but you haven’t fully transitioned out of your other obligations.

What is your company’s mission?

Trellie is a Women's Wearable Tech Lifestyle Brand that enables women to simplify and prioritize their busy lives. Through wearable technology and elegant design, Trellie seamlessly empowers women to filter out the noise and focus on what is important in their lives. 

What need does it fulfill?

Trellie solves two main needs. Wearable technology was invented because the mobile phone is not a very practical user interface. We want to be connected to people and things that are important to us but it is simply not realistic to carry our mobile phone around in our hand in order to stay alert. Wearable tech bridges this gap of our reliance on the power of the mobile phone with the stylish, practicality of technology that subtly fits into your active lifestyle. Secondarily, in this day and age, we are inundated with emails, texts, social, calls, etc. to the point where we need a way to filter out the noise and refocus on what’s important.

What is the next step for your company?

We are deep in R&D on our second product which is taking all of the learnings of our first product and baking them into a complete redesign that is sleeker, smaller and not just for the handbag.

What are your core three values:
  1. Women’s wants in technology (very different than men) have historically been overlooked in product design.
  2. Wearable technology is the first true opportunity to marry fashion with tech in a practical, feasible way.
  3. Staying true to our female target market will help us differentiate and allow us to build “the” lifestyle brand for womens’ wearable technology.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs today?

Just keep pushing forward. By doing this, opportunities that you never could have imagined will magically present themselves. Capitalizing on the right ones is what will separate the successes from the failures.

What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

Our advisory group and investors have been immensely helpful. Besides the early capital support, the opportunities that they have helped create for Trellie are amazing. The knowledge and experience is invaluable but pales in comparison to the strong encouragement they consistently provide.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crowdfunding Campaigns -- Will They Become the Criteria for Loans in the Future

I recently spoke about the additional benefits of crowdfunding with Broderick McClinton of EquityEndeavor a new portal focused on Austin and New Orleans.  It's a rewards site similar to Kickstarter, despite the name.  He indicated he plans to change the name to match their method of crowdfunding.

We discussed the concept that a crowdfunding campaign can tell one a great deal about a startup or growth company.  If the campaign has a clearly defined product, a demand from the market, and funding from backers, then it's probably a strong company.  On the other hand, if the campaign doesn't receive any interest from backers then it's probably going to have a hard time making it in the market.

In fact, lenders could use the results of a crowdfunding campaign to determine if the startup should receive a loan or not.  A campaign clearly outlines the core product/service.  Market demand can be determined by the fund raise trajectory -- how much and how fast  the raise take place.  Finally, did the startup deliver on their promise from the campaign.  The last one determines if the company can execute on a project.

As the business world moves transactions to performance-based models, this is another example of "prove to me you can do it and then I'll do my part."  In working with investors, I found they over weight what they see entrepreneurs do while on their watch and underweight whatever the entrepreneur did previously. In the same vein lenders are trying to determine what the startup can do currently and running a crowdfunding campaign while on their watch is a great way to determine ability to payback rather than historical credit reports.

It's an interesting idea.

Best regads,
Hall T.