Profit Minded
  • Fundable: A website that generates $1 million a week in startup funding

    Uncharted Play, developer of the Soccket, raised $500,000 on Fundable

    While crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo were transforming the way artists, dancers, filmmakers, game and app developers, and other creative types get project funding, Eric Corl saw a need for a similar platform that could help everyday small businesses raise capital.

    He’d already had experience at a company that connects entrepreneurs with investors online: as an Ohio State University freshman in 2004, Corl had served on the founding team at Startups.co.

    Corl’s idea eight years later was that, similar to the way projects on Kickstarter and other popular platforms reward funders with branded t-shirts, coffee mugs, and cameos in films and books, businesses could raise money by taking pre-orders for products in development. He would provide the platform for offering pre-orders, as well as for conducting equity crowdfunding with accredited investors (individuals with an annual income of $200,000 or a net worth of $1 million). Businesses would offer shares of company stock

    Read More »from Fundable: A website that generates $1 million a week in startup funding
  • Backblaze: Backing up should not be hard to do

    Gleb Budman is one of those techie types who is religious about backing up his computers. So, a few years ago, when he found out how his girlfriend was backing up the gigabytes worth of photos that she stored on her laptop, he was dismayed. “She had a COB flash key,” Budman says. “I said, ‘that’s only 1 gig. There’s no way all your stuff fits on it, you’re probably not backing up to it daily, and you keep it in your laptop bag, so your backup drive would go with the laptop if it were stolen’.”

    It might seem obvious, but most of us are doing even less to protect our data than the woman who became Budman’s wife. Many people he encounters are uncertain whether their data is backed up or not. “There are a lot of things out there that seem like they’re maybe taking care of it,” Budman says. A reporter he spoke to, for instance, had a vague notion that her iMac was automatically backing itself up to iCloud for free. He set her straight: iCloud’s free storage limit is 5 gigs, and it only

    Read More »from Backblaze: Backing up should not be hard to do
  • Memo to garage inventors who have spent years pitching their brilliant idea but can’t find a retailer willing to put their product on the shelves: pay attention to Eduardo (Eddie) De Arkos and Clark Whitehead, a couple of twenty-something college dropouts from Sonoma County, Calif.

    In 2012, the childhood friends decided to launch a watersports business making colorful pool-toyish inflatable tubes that lock together like jigsaw-puzzle pieces. Within weeks of filing for a utility patent for their unusual invention, which lets groups of friends easily hitch themselves together so they can float rivers and lakes en masse, the pair got a chance to pitch their idea to Big 5 Sporting Goods, one of America’s top sporting goods chains.

    Less than 15 minutes after detailing their product for a Big 5 buyer in Los Angeles, Whitehead and De Arkos were celebrating their first order: a 3,200 unit deal that validated their gamble to start their own company with $6,500 in life savings.

    Whitehead, 23, and

    Read More »from Art of the Pitch: The young entrepreneurs behind Fluzzle interlocking floaties on closing
  • Angie’s (List) lessons for building a great team

    Had her co-founder not noticed her strengths when she was just 22, Angie Hicks might not be the multimillionaire she is today at age 40. Hicks was just out of college when venture capitalist Bill Oesterle offered $50,000 to get her to move from Indianapolis to Columbus, Ohio, and work for a year on his idea to create a neighborhood publication that aggregated reviews of local plumbers, electricians, landscapers and other small service businesses.

    Hicks had interned in Indianapolis for Bill Oesterle the year before she graduated from DePauw. She impressed him as an intern, not just because she was smart, but because, in his words, “She got things done.” He says there wasn’t a job he gave her that she didn’t give it her all – whether it was low level or high. The next year, he had moved to Columbus, Ohio and ran into trouble finding a local HVAC guy and looked around for a service he’d used in Indianapolis. That service didn’t exist in Columbus, and he thought it could work there just as

    Read More »from Angie’s (List) lessons for building a great team
  • Talented people are a company’s greatest asset. Especially for a small business that might only have a handful of employees, finding and keeping the right people with the right skills is one of the most important avenues to success. It’s easy to imagine that the best or only way to do that is by offering above-market salaries. But did you know that incorporating programs aimed toward doing social good as part of your business can help promote an engaged workplace culture and make sure that talented people want to work for you?

    Showing your employees that you care about their values will help small businesses to attract and keep the most talented people. By giving your employees the chance to donate to the causes that matter to them and (in some cases) by matching their donations up to a certain point, you show them that their values are important to you. Establishing a company charitable giving program is a way to show employees that your company is not all about the bottom line.

    Read More »from Social Good Could Be Your Business’s Best Partner
  • When 1 in 10 entrepreneurs work 70 hours a week, it’s a safe bet that business owners have a lot of issues competing for their attention. Making a great product, generating sales, building customer relationships and managing employees are often the most pressing issues for business owners.

    It can be easy for big-picture questions to slip to the bottom of the to-do list. But it’s important to step back and assess the health of your business from time to time. Knowing how great you are at making money or managing resources is the first step in making sure you spend your time and business resources wisely. Failing to recognize shortcomings early on can have disastrous consequences.

    Indeed, a University of Tennessee study found that nearly half of startup failures could be blamed on “incompetence” – a category that researchers said included “living too high for the business,” no knowledge of pricing and “emotional” pricing.

    Looking at financial metrics that are important to business health

    Read More »from How healthy is your business? 6 ways to take the “temperature”
  • People have been talking about the “gig economy” ever since Tina Brown pointed out in the Daily Beast in January 2009 that no one she knows has a job anymore. Giganomics is the term she coined for the strategy of earning an income piecemeal through as many part-time jobs, consulting contracts, or freelance assignments as it takes to meet the monthly financial commitments that a full-time job used to satisfy.

    Brown didn’t make gig work sound like much fun, and she suggested the new economy was turning former salaried professionals into hustlers “doing three things badly.”

    Fast forward nearly five years, and there are many more workers and employers participating in the gig economy, as well as numerous platforms—including Fiverr, Hourly, eLance, and oDesk—designed to help them find each other. (Although it is worth pointing out that some of the platforms have been around much longer than the term gig economy). A recent Harris Interactive poll commissioned by Fiverr asked 1,800 “employed or

    Read More »from Most think entrepreneurship would be more satisfying, but won’t risk it
  • Mega e-commerce sites like Amazon have become the bane of small brick and mortar retail stores. But “clicks and mortar” partnerships being struck up between the giant diamond seller Ritani and a network of local jewelry store owners offers a new model for how e-commerce and Mom and Pops could cooperate to increase sales for all.

    President Brian Watkins says Ritani has been in the bridal jewelry design and manufacturing business for 15 years. He says that retail industry statistics show that “multichannel” shoppers—those who shop thru multiple online avenues as well as by phone and in physical stores—are the most desirable across most consumer product categories. But jewelry sales were an exception.

    For engagement ring purchases, he says, 99 percent of buyers browse diamonds and settings online, but fewer than 10 percent make their purchase there. “When it comes to putting down the credit card, at the last minute there’s a hesitation,” Watkins says. Why? “When you’re buying one of the

    Read More »from Giant e-commerce seller partners with local retailers: It’s “clicks and bricks”
  • How to be a place everyone wants to work

    What does it take to be one of the best startups to work for in America? Wharton School management professor Peter Cappelli has some ideas based on two decades’ experience studying business cultures. So the office furniture and design company turnstone invited him to weigh in as a judge for its Best Young Companies to Work For contest.

    To find candidates, turnstone tapped a wide network of industry leaders and peers, partners, customers, and other professionals who had witnessed small companies’ success in building a place where “everyone wants to work.” Owners or employees could not enter their companies in the contest; instead, outsiders—consultants, venture capitalists, small business organizations, co-working spaces, and members of the media were invited to propose nominees with a “positive work culture, forward-thinking leadership, talent retention, business innovation, community outreach, and an intentionally designed workspace.” Contestants could be no older than 10 years old and

    Read More »from How to be a place everyone wants to work
  • Furloughed? Try freelancing on Fiverr

    It was 2009 and the global Great Recession was wreaking havoc on the job market when Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger conceived the idea for Fiverr. The free agent lifestyle had long been hailed as the future of work, and platforms to enable freelancing such as oDesk and Elance had already been around for years. But Kaufman says their idea was “out of the box and very disruptive.”

    It was to flip the conventional approach to worker-contractor deals. Kaufman and Wininger rejected the “reverse-auction,” whereby sellers try to underbid each others’ prices to win a contract, and the buyer who manages the bidding process often gets what he pays for: the lowest quality for the lowest cost. That process involves “too much friction,” Kaufman says.

    Instead, they “wanted to make this demand for talent come together in a marketplace that is going to eliminate frictions tied to freelancing.” In other words, Kaufman and Wininger set out to build a task outsourcing platform that would simplify the

    Read More »from Furloughed? Try freelancing on Fiverr

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ABOUT PROFIT MINDED

Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

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Owen Linderholm

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