Entrepreneurship is emerging as a critical workforce development initiative across the nation. The Career Center’s entrepreneurship program benefits all Colby students, regardless of major or career path. The Entrepreneurial Alliance educates and mentors Colby students on the principles of entrepreneurship and works in partnership with Colby alumni and parents as well as the local community to prepare students for Colby’s Spring Business Competition.
Thank you so much to everyone that came out on Saturday! A special thanks to our judges, MTI, and Roger Woolsey and Erica Humphrey!!
Joe Tagliente, Gopinion
Tucker Crater, All Campus Delivery
Matt Boyes-Watson, an alumni of the Entrepreneurial Alliance
Shaquan Huntt, Support My Rise
Jonathan Kalin, The Better Announcements
Congrats to Joe and Gift!
Thank you to all our student entrepreneurs who worked hard all year long to make Saturday a success!!
To view their platforms and support their ideas: http://colby.launcht.com/
Photography by Jack Cohen
Our competitors this year are:
Malcolm Kerr; Jemarley McFarlane
Nick Trepp; Brendon Bourgea
Maine Technology Institute and Blackstone Accelerates Growth have teamed up to announce the support of our business competition with an additional Technology Growth Prize awarded to the top finalist who is using technological innovation as the basis for creating a new business in Maine.
The Technology Growth Prize includes:
-Individual coaching from MTI to connect them to resources needed to bring their new product or service to market.
-Up to $2,500 in services from Maine Business Incubation System (MeBIS), or any of the University of Maine’s commercialization accelerator programs and technology laboratories.
- A two-hour coaching session to discuss future funding options with some or all of the following:
- Joe Migliaccio, MTI’s Director of Business Ventures (MTI offers grants and loans)
- Don Gooding, Maine Angels Vice Chairman and Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development Executive Director (Maine Angels offers equity investments, while MCED provides coaching to entrepreneurs including coaching on developing a pitch to equity investors)
- Investment professional from Small Enterprise Growth Fund (SEGF offers equity investments)
- Coaching from Blackstone Accelerates Growth
The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) is an industry-led, publicly-funded, nonprofit corporation that offers early-stage capital and commercialization assistance in the form of competitive grants, loans and equity investment for the research, development and application of technologies that create new products, processes and services, generating high-quality jobs across Maine.
The Maine Technology Institute was established by the Maine State Legislature in 1999. MTI, working with partners across the state, “shall encourage, promote, stimulate and support research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products and services in the State’s technology-intensive industrial sectors to enhance the competitive position of those sectors and increase the likelihood that one or more of the sectors will support clusters of industrial activity and to create new jobs for Maine people.” MTI is one element of the State’s economic development strategy to contribute to the long-term development of a statewide research, development and product deployment infrastructure.
Every $1 of MTI funds received generates an additional $14 in non-MTI funding. MTI funded has been critical to their commercial success.
To date, MTI has funded nearly 2000 technology projects in Maine with an investment of $142 million. Of those companies funded 37% have commercialized. MTI’s current portfolio is $94 million.
Thank you for your generous support MTI!!
Check them out at: http://colby.launcht.com/
If you read the last post about the attributes of a good entrepreneur, then you know leadership skills are crucial. Show future investors and employers you have what it takes by applying to be on the EA Board.
Submit to email@example.com by Oct. 28th.
- David S. Rose (founder of New York Angels) has founded six startups, and funded 80 others says he looks for:
- Large and growing market
- Real domain expertise
- Provable product need
- Scalable business model
- Competitive advantage
- Platform/partnership/bizdev/API strategy
- External validation (ideally traction and/or passionate customers)
- Viable business structure and cap table
- Reasonable valuation
- Proven team (tech/product/design/marketing/sales/domain/etc.)
But most important of all, it must have an entrepreneur on whom I’m willing to bet on. And the attributes I look for in that entrepreneur are:
- Startup experience
- Personal domain expertise
- Operating skills
- Leadership ability
- Commitment to the venture
- Long-term, extensive vision
- Realism and pragmatism
- Even temperament
- Alignment on vision
Image taken from: NYTimes
All entrepreneurs are bosses, of themselves, and of others. Make sure you are not an average entrepreneur, but an EXTRAORDINARY one!The information below was taken from: http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/8-core-beliefs-of-extraordinary-bosses.html. All rights belong to Inc. and the original author– I did not write any of the below.
The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right.
A few years back, I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the “best of the best” tend to share the following eight core beliefs.
1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.
Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.
Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.
2. A company is a community, not a machine.
Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”
Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.
3. Management is service, not control.
Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.
Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.
4. My employees are my peers, not my children.
Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.
Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.
5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.
Average bosses see fear–of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege–as a crucial way to motivate people. As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.
Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it. As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.
6. Change equals growth, not pain.
Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change … until it’s too late.
Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.
7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.
Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.
Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.
8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.
Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.
Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.
If you are wondering about the logistics of forming your own company (the best state to form in, how to raise capital, etc), then come to our next workshop to get your questions answered by Jeffrey D. Bears, Esq. Details below!
Workshop: Business Law
Presenter(s): Jeffrey D. Bears, Esq.
Organization: Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP
Date: Thursday, October 25
Time: 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Location: Lovejoy 205
Description: Please join us for an in-person presentation by Colby alumnus, Jeff Bears, of Gunderson Dettmer’s Corporate & Intellectual Property Group in Boston. His presentation will cover broad business law issues that start-up companies must consider in forming and running a company. Topics to be discussed include the different types of entities that can be formed, where to form a company, raising capital, typical documents you sign and intellectual property considerations.
COLBY STUDENTS: >> Please RSVP in the COLBY CAREERLINK system (RSVPs are critical; if attendance it low, workshops will be cancelled.)
After an intense competition, this year’s winner is
Matt Boyes-Watson, the CEO of RentPrefs
For more information, please visit
Matt Boyes-Watson wins startup funds in pitch competition
WATERVILLE — At least one college student won’t have to worry about finding work after graduation this spring.
Matt Boyes-Watson, a senior at Colby College, will serve as CEO of his own company, an Internet startup called rentprefs.com, based in Boston.
Earlier this month, Boyes-Watson received $15,000 in seed money for his company during Colby College’s second annual Business Pitch Competition. At the event, Boyes-Watson competed against four other student entrepreneurs to present the best five-minute business pitch in front of judges and an audience of peers and area businesspeople.
Organizers said the annual contest is just one event in central Maine that is meant to foster a growing community of entrepreneurs. During the past two years, businesses in the area are sprouting up at a promising rate, they said.
Two years ago, Boyes-Watson, a native of Cambridge, Mass., got a Realtor’s license and entered the fast-paced apartment rental market in the greater Boston area. Soon after, he discovered a need to streamline the arduous apartment-hunting process for potential renters.
The idea grew into the website rentprefs.com, which asks renters to fill out a survey describing their ideal living quarters. The site then generates lists of apartments from area rental brokers.
“It’s a match.com for apartments,” Boyes-Watson said.
Boyes-Watson worked on the project for two years. Last summer, he launched a beta version of the site that served Cambridge, Mass. Then in March, the site expanded to include more of the metro area.
To run his business, Boyes-Watson stays at Colby just two nights a week. He leaves every Thursday after classes for Boston. Then he returns to Waterville on Tuesday morning.
Boyes-Watson submitted his business plan for consideration by a panel of judges at Colby’s Business Pitch Competition. His plan was one of five finalists chosen from a group of nine entries.
On April 12, Boyes-Watson made his presentation. Mike Duguay, co-founder of Kennebec Valley Entrepreneurial Network, said he attended both annual events. He said he has seen a lot of business pitches during the past two decades.
“Those are some of the best business proposals I have heard in my career,” he said.
Roger Woolsey, director of Colby’s Career Center, said the center provides career counseling to about 1,800 students per year and organizes programs like the Entrepreneurial Alliance, the group that hosts the annual competition.
Woolsey said the prize money is raised by alumni and parents, and the standards to achieve the prize are lofty. For starters, competitors must have a real business. All five finalists had business licenses and are either operational or close to it.
“The seed money provides winners with an opportunity to take their businesses to the next level,” he said.
The money could be used for website development, marketing or to buy materials.
Danny Garin is a junior at Colby. Last year, he and two fellow students won $10,000 for their Waterville-based business, My Fresh Maine.
“Before the competition, we were more or less an idea, and the $10,000 turned it into a business,” he said.
The students used the money to build a website, buy advertising and more. The money has lasted; a year later they still have about $1,000, which can be applied to operating costs, Garin said.
My Fresh Maine serves as a online store for fresh Maine produce and other local products. Their website processes orders for a statewide network of farmers and artisans, provides customer relations and marketing. They also provide My Fresh Maine-branded packing materials to participating farms, so producers can ship their goods directly to consumers.
Garin said he expects the business, which is somewhat seasonal, will gain momentum during the upcoming growing season. Last year, the site wen live toward the end of the growing season, but, one month after its launch, the site racked up 25,000 hits and $5,000 in sales.
Garin said he expects a boost in sales late this summer when Entrepreneur Magazine publishes a feature story about the business, slated for July.
“That will hit about 9 million eyes, which is very exciting for us,” he said with a laugh.
A new era?
Woolsey said the contest is solely for Colby students, but other events hosted by the Entrepreneurial Alliance are inclusive.
“All of the workshops are open to the entire community,” he said. “We want to educate high school students and adults on entrepreneurship.”
Duguay said the Kennebec Valley Entrepreneurial Network, which has about 100 active participants, is interested in fostering an entrepreneurial spirit throughout central Maine, including Mayflower Hill.
“We’re trying to get our more seasoned entrepreneurs to interact with students — give them a sounding board, give them mentorship to help them as they launch their companies,” he said. “We want our veteran entrepreneurs in the audience hearing these pitches, supporting them, coming up to them afterward to provide feedback or advice.”
Duguay said new businesses like My Fresh Maine and Downeast Cider — a company that produces hard cider at the Hathaway Mill — could be signs of new era.
“We’re seeing some entrepreneurial activity in central Maine that I’ve not witnessed it in the last decade or two,” he said.
He added that networking with other businesspersons can help pave the way for more startups, because cooperation could quash long-standing beliefs that central Maine is unreceptive to new ideas.
“It’s very difficult, culturally, to come out with a different idea. And, if it’s an entrepreneurial idea on top of it, the perception is the community would ridicule a new idea,” he said. “That’s no longer the case.”
Ben McCanna — 861-9239
Is a 5-minute Business Pitch Worth $15,000 in Seed Money?
Come support young Colby entrepreneurs as they embark on their entrepreneurial dreams!
When: Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Where: Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building, Colby College
Showcase of businesses begins at 8:00 PM
Download program details at Spring 2012 Competition-Final
Colby students enrolled in the Entrepreneurial Alliance who complete all required workshops, information sessions, and collaborative programming are eligible to participate in the Spring 2012 Business Competition. Either individually or as a group, students will present a 5-minute pitch for $15,000.
There are currently five (5) student presentations competing with proposed businesses—corporate in nature—in Maine and beyond. The ideas include a web-based “matchmaking” service for renters, property inventories, and realtors; a customizable GPS wristband for children; a virtual marketplace for college students to buy and sell goods including textbooks; an alternative to the conventional bar scene focused on healthy lifestyles for young professionals, and an organization dedicated to raising awareness of local establishments to college students in the Greater Waterville area.
The criterion within the Spring 2012 Business Competition will focus on integrating both critical and creative approaches to entrepreneurship. The winner(s) of the Spring 2012 Business Competition will be the entrepreneur(s) who have demonstrated, through real world accomplishments that their project/idea is the most “fund ready” business in the alliance for this year.
Who will be the next My Fresh Maine?
The Colby Entrepreneurial Alliance
One of the many challenges associated with building a business is finding investors or alternative sources of funding. The EA Venture Capital Program is designed to help entrepreneurs gain the knowledge necessary to capture the attention and funding of Venture Capitalists. In order to accomplish this goal we will examine ways to differentiate business plans and promote unique skill sets, which will allow us to compete with older and more experienced entrepreneurs. We plan to stress the competitive advantage that comes with being a young entrepreneur in a marketplace that demands cutting edge knowledge of emerging and future trends. We will hold a series of workshops, beginning this Thursday evening at 6 PM in Lovejoy 215. We hope to see you there.
-Dennis Gallagher and Ben Darr
Bruce Maxwell is a professor at Colby College and a successful entrepreneur. He held a workshop for the EA about intellectual property and the various ways to go about protecting it. The purpose of intellectual property law is to encourage people to continue to develop and promote new ideas. There are four categories of IP: trademark, patents, copyright, and trade secrets.
Trademark - A trademark is a logo, name or phrase that identifies a product or company. the TM symbol is used before you have researched/claimed the trademark, and once your trademark becomes registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you can use the registered trademark symbol.
Patent – A patent claim must: be allowable material (a process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, etc.), have utility, have novelty, be non-obvious, be adequately described, and be claimed by inventor in clear terms. You can NOT patent abstract ideas, laws of nature, physical phenomena, etc. Professor Maxwell informed us that making sure your patent claim deals with the allowable material can be the biggest hurdle.
Copyright – A copyright is used for expressions of creative work. A copyright gives you the right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, and to perform the work publicly. There are exceedingly long time limits on copyrights; it can last the life of the author + at least 70 years from creation.
Trade Secrets – Trade secrets have no limits and are very important before you have established any other IP. Trade secrets are not useful for sellable items, such as software. The rules for a trade secret are that it must have novelty, must represent economic investment, must involve effort in development, and the company must make an effort to keep it secret.
Thank you so much to Professor Maxwell for all the incredibly useful information!
-Lauren Harris ’12
With the current job market not offering any promises for students with graduation on the horizon, some are taking matters into their own hands. Today, small businesses are becoming increasingly popular as people tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and create businesses of their own.
This trend has not been lost on students at the College. The Entrepreneurial Alliance, a Career Center initiative now in its second year, encourages students to create business plans of their own and fosters these ideas into legitimate proposals that students often present at the end of the year in the club’s business competition.
Victor Chen ’12 joined the club last year, functioning as the group’s president and only member. Realizing that more people were necessary to make the Entrepreneurial Alliance a success, Chen began recruiting more members through the Club Expo and word of mouth.
Currently joining Chen in running the Entrepreneurial Alliance are vice president Lauren Harris ’12, chair of the leadership committee Dennis Gallagher ’12 and additional underclassmen board members. “Once we had a board, our first main goal was getting more members,” Harris said. The board then created a website, organized an e-mail list and set forth on an aggressive advertising campaign. They put out table tents and flyers and reached out to students via tabling in Pulver Pavilion and general announcements.
“This has been the most exciting part,” Chen said. “We started with no specific roles and no direction, but we were able to draft our own roles, our own committees, our own board.”
Chen feels that the Entrepreneurial Alliance is a group that any student at the College could become a part of. “Entrepreneurship is representative of a liberal arts education; students from any discipline can become entrepreneurs,” he said. It involves many different aspects, including marketing and business law, for starters. Before the group was created, students on the Hill were not able to explore the possibility of launching a business of their own.
“Entrepreneurship has become very popular, especially after 2008. Entrepreneurs are the ones making jobs, and if you become a successful entrepreneur you don’t have to find a job—and you get to provide jobs to others,” Chen said.
The Entrepreneurial Alliance is best known for its year-end business competition, a contest that was first launched last spring. This year, the competition will be held on April 19; entrants will present a detailed business plan to the panel of judges, including trustees and faculty. There are two $10,000-$15,000 grand prize winners, one in entrepreneurship and one in social entrepreneurship.
Last year’s winners were the creators of My Fresh Maine, who used their winnings to launch the business.
And it was the business competition that led the Entrepreneurial Alliance to create the “flea market of ideas.” The flea market of ideas is a social program that encourages the members to discuss their business ideas as they work on developing their business plans, with the hopes that the members will enter these ideas into the business competition. As the chair of the leadership committee, Gallagher is in charge of running the flea market.
“The flea market helps provide constructive feedback,” Harris said. “The members can ask questions and get answers, and have others ask questions about their business plan to get feedback.”
The flea market meets every other week, and the board meets often to prepare for these meetings. “The flea market is the most productive when it turns into conversation,” Harris said.
The board members are in charge of researching topics regarding members’ proposals. “Our research includes resources in topics, such as links, worksheets with information and questions to think about [when designing proposals],” Chen said.
Both the Career Center and a variety of alumni have aided the Entrepreneurial Alliance in its first two years. Career Center Director Roger Woolsey and Associate Director of Employer Relations Erica Humphrey are the program directors and have worked closely with the Entrepreneurial Alliance board.
“Alumni have been very supportive as well,” Harris said. “Many are entrepreneurs themselves.” These alumni often serve as mentors for the participants of the business competition, helping students complete their business plans.
Chen and Harris cite two specific alumni, Brian Sharples ’82 and Mark Johnson ’96, as being extremely influential to the group. They both speak with members and help guide entrants in the business competition.
When it comes to this year’s business competition, the two spoke of a variety of ideas that members have discussed at the flea market that will be presented at the competition. Ideas range from reinvented, more high-end Croakies, disposable GPS bracelets for children in amusement parks, foldable bikes and more. One business idea includes opening a bar serving only low-calories beverages. Many other ideas center around smart phone applications.
Entry into the competition requires a lot of time and energy spent on researching and developing product ideas. Some of the students entering into the competition spent upwards of 40 hours a week on their proposals over JanPlan.
“A significant number of people have dropped out of the competition because they don’t have the time,” Harris said.
To prepare entrants for the competition, the Entrepreneurial Alliance offers many opportunities other than the flea market. “In the fall we had weekly workshops,” Harris said. “There were lectures about specific topics, including proposals, business law and distribution channels, and visits from entrepreneurs, alumni and small business owners.”
With the three leading members of the group graduating in the spring, Chen and Harris have recently spent much of their time searching for underclassmen to keep the group going. “We just recruited a group of ‘venture capitalists’ to join the Entrepreneurial Alliance, one first-year and one sophomore,” Chen said. The venture capitalists serve as professional investors, who will research as much as they can regarding the market for the members’ ideas and check the demand for that product. They will then ask questions that a real venture capitalist would present to companies.
Chen hopes to become a successful entrepreneur himself someday. “Working with the Entrepreneurial Alliance board has been one of the best experiences at Colby,” he said. “People are from all different departments, friend groups and interest groups. It’s amazing how many people have one common interest.”
While Harris may not have immediate plans of becoming an entrepreneur, she acknowledges the skills she has learned will help her in any job market. “This was my first experience working with a board like this—it’s very rewarding and fulfilling. I may not be an entrepreneur right now, but it provides tools for if I decide to pursue it in the future,” she said.
“I hope that students could be aware of [the Entrepreneurial Alliance] before they come to campus,” Chen said when he spoke of the future of the club. “I hope people will gradually see that anyone can be an entrepreneur with passion and good ideas. The training and resources may be more valuable than the actual grand prize.”
From the Colby Echo Entrepreneurs find popularity
Thomas Avery Whidden II ’70, president, CEO, and co-owner of North Marine Group, visited Colby Wednesday, February 8th, to give a presentation on entrepreneurship. Tom is one of the most experienced America’s Cup sailors in the modern era. He has sailed in eight America’s Cup challenges and made it to the America’s Cup five times, having won the race three times. North Sails Group is the most successful sail maker in the world.
In his own words… “When I graduated from Colby in 1970, I wanted to try for the 1972 Olympics, I wanted to be in the sailing business, preferable a sail-maker, and I wanted to sail in the America’s Cup. Were these goals too lofty? Perhaps, but I have had a wonderful, productive, and extremely rewarding life, in so many ways, as a result.” –Thomas Avery Widden II
Tom is yet another fine example of a Colby entrepreneur. “When opportunity knocks, catch it.”
Our third flea market offered members of the EA an opportunity to give feedback on
real business ideas. Three members of the alliance shared information on aspects
of their products that they were hoping to further develop. Over the course of our
discussion, members of the EA were able to offer insight for the business plans in
areas where they had past experience, including product development, advertising,
web design and marketing. We are looking forward to the continued growth of these
flea markets, and the exchange of ideas that come about as a result.
Please join us for our next Flea Market on December 2 at 2:30 PM in Lovejoy 319.
- Dennis Gallagher
With a lighter course load and a rapidly approaching deadline for business plan
submissions, January was perhaps the most critical month for idea development
and discussion. Contestants used the Jan Plan Flea Markets to focus on specific
aspects of their business plans, including target markets, product differentiation
and distribution channels. In our roundtable discussions, students were able to pose
questions to their peers and learn from fellow contestants’ past experiences in these
areas. Along with the feedback contestants received during these meetings, many
were able to take major steps towards completing their business plans.
We look forward to continuing our Flea Market series in the coming weeks. The
focus of Spring Flea Markets will be preparation for Venture Capital criticism.
Special feature of a KVEN event, Idea Factory.
What is an ‘Idea Factory’? An ‘Idea Factory’ is a forum of people that are passionate about Entrepreneurship and where individuals with a concept for a new business, product or service would like to address the group and get their reaction and support.
· Each presenter has 3 minutes to make their best elevator pitch
· Presenters can use whatever means they wish in which to make their pitch (PowerPoint, etc.)
· Ideas have to express something new (If in existence, then less than 1 year)
· Pitches can be made for the creation of a non-profit or social enterprise
· The first 20 who sign up get to present! Everyone else gets to watch!
WHEN: February 23, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
WHERE: Colby College, Diamond Building, Ostrove Auditorium
The Kennebec Valley Entrepreneurial Network (KVEN) is a network made up of Entrepreneurs, Colby College, Thomas College, UMA, Unity College, KVCC, Chambers of Commerce and those committed to Entrepreneurship throughout Kennebec and Somerset Counties
Those interested in being a Presenter, please contact Mike Duguay at 626-2336 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out this article from the Boston Globe, all about female entrepreneurs!
Does this look familiar to you? The Entrepreneurial Alliance launched a campus-wide marketing campaign. Huge thanks to the leadership team! If you are interested in joining the EA and have a chance of winning $10,000 at the annual Business Competition, please email Lauren at email@example.com.
Flea Market 2 focused on manufacturing and marketing of the idea for a smartphone app we came up with at Flea Market 1. We split up into 2 groups, one to research manufacturing and one to research consumer market analysis.
Here are some example research questions each group was asked to answer:
- How much does it cost to hire a programmer?
- What materials do we need?
- How do we make a test prototype?
Consumer Market Analysis
- Who are our customers, how do we provide them value?
- What differentiates our product?
- Who are our competitors?
After answering these questions we had a role play presentation and Q & A session where each group got the chance to present their research as well as act as the buyer/venture capitalists when the other group presented their research. Some questions we addressed about the smartphone app were:
- Why is this product helpful to us?
- How does this fit into our budget?
- Will this product have fast growth?
It is always a good exercise to practice researching manufacturing and marketing, and putting yourself in the shoes of those funding or your product/business or considering buying your product can provide new insights and answers. I hope everyone who attended got a lot out of the Flea Market!
Chris Bradley, class of ’78 gave a very informative lecture on how to choose a distribution channel for your business. Mr. Bradley is the President and CEO of Cuddledown, a manufacturer of premium down bedding, based in Portland, Maine.
What you need to know…
1. “It’s the merchandise, stupid.”
The product is the MOST important focus for a business and if a business does not have a good product, it will not succeed.
Mr. Bradley surprised us with a pop quiz: What no-tech new product was sold to hotels across the country during the Great Recession? (See the answer after the jump).
Answer: The curved shower rod.
Hotels across the nation swapped out their straight shower rods for curved rods because they give the customer a more spacious shower experience. Such a simple product and yet so incredibly compelling!
So before you even choose a channel, be sure your product is worth selling! It seems like a no-brainer, but it is very easy to forget.
Now for the meat of the presentation…
2. Choosing of the distribution channel
When choosing a distribution channel, you have many options. Mr. Bradley’s list consisted of:
- Retail stores
- Multi-channel retail
- Institutional (such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, offices)
- Pure play (meaning the company has no brick and mortar store; it conducts business solely through the Internet)
To choose the best channel(s) for your business, it is best to do SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses to see which one best suits the needs of your business. Below are just a few examples:
Multichannel SWOT: Weakness: success requires deep product selection. This means that in order to show your customers you are a credible business, you must invest in a huge variety of products to show the customers that you are seriously in the business and can hold your ground.
Retail Pure Play SWOT: Weakness: Hard to drive traffic/ hard to see “billboards in the basement.” The World Wide Web is a huge place and a business that only communicates to the outside world with a website will have low visibility. A business has to invest in advertisements, Google search placements, and so on to get customers to come to their site– an even that might not be enough!
Viral Marketing: The Holy Grail of all businesses. If you can get people to get their friend to go to your business– that is free advertising. Referred friends are also more likely to make purchases that those without the recommendation.
3. Financing Your Business
- Angel Investors
- Venture Capitalists
- Conventional lender
- Asset-based lender
- CBDC (Community Business Development Corporations)– a free resource! They will critique your business plan, help you get started, etc– but remember you get what you pay for, so don’t feel obligated to follow their advice if it goes against your passions and gut feeling.
- State agencies
- SBA (Small Business Administration)
And remember, you don’t have to stay within your industry for help! To get your ideas flowing, try talking with people from other industries and attending conferences outside of just your industry’s, and see how they are solving their problems and maybe you’ll learn something new!
If you have any questions, Chris Bradley kindly gave us his email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much to Christ for such a wonderful and informative workshop!
Jeffrey D. Bears, Class of 2002 joined us to present on the basics of business law and related concepts on Thursday the 27th. Jeffrey is a corporate and securities associate at Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian Boston office. Jeffrey specializes in representing emerging companies and entrepreneurs. He represents a wide range of technology companies, from biotechnology and medical devices to consumer internet, software, telecommunications and entertainment technology industries.
Jeffrey discussed with us typical considerations entrepreneurs should take into account when starting a business. Entrepreneurs should know each states rules and how they feel about them, the flexibility and “user-friendliness” of the jurisdiction’s laws & administrative agencies, and the administrative cost. For these reasons, Delaware is actually a very popular state for emerging companies. In Delaware there is a good understanding and flexibility of corporate law, and the judiciary has a rich and practicable body of case law interpreting and applying the laws.
Additionally, Jeffrey explained that the trade name is the name used by a business to identify itself. Entrepreneurs should reserve a trade name. A trademark is used for a business’ products or services and should be distinctive. To protect developed intellectual property trademarks, copyrights, and patents should be registered. Jeffrey stressed the importance of keeping trade secrets secret, which can be done by using confidentiality agreements. In terms of raising funds, a few options are common stock, which has the greatest risk but the greatest expected return, preferred stock, and debt, which is the least risky but has the least expected return.
Thank you so much to Jeffrey from the EA for your time and the valuable information you taught us at the workshop!
Many discussions have been going around about entrepreneurship and its positive effects on unemployment. Last Thursday, Our very own alumni Bob Diamond, Tom Riley, and Eric Rosengren talked about the state of economy in the Diamond building. Riley, who was an entrepreneur and conveniently seated in between a banker (Diamond) and a regulator (Rosengren), said that “ his two health-care-related companies have hired 500 people during the last three years. He said job-creating entrepreneurs will be key in the recovery, as will investments in education.” I figure I should share this especially to my fellow seniors. Maybe we can give ourselves a job.
For the complete Morning Sentinel cover on the “State of Economy,” please visit http://www.onlinesentinel.com/news/Colby-forum-explores-economic-crisis-solutions.html
This weeks workshop was led by Peter K. Osborn Esq., a Colby almnus of the class of 2003. Peter is now senior associate at Wilmerhale, a leading law firm. As a practicing attorney, Peter represents the entrepreneurs behind start up companies of all ranges of industry and of all sizes. His representation of these companies means that he works with founders pre-incorporation to help them understand the best way to grow a successful company. For the most part the companies Peter represents are looking for fast (3-7 year) growth. Founder equity is just one of the many issues Peter deals with in his work.
As an entrepreneur, it is vital to understand founder equity concerns, as you need to know how you are going to split up your equity and the potential issues you will run into in the process. Having a knowledge of the benefits of being a stockholder, the process of issuing stock, and allocation and dilution concerns are all points Peter stressed at the workshop.
Stockholders have control because they can elect and remove members of the board. In comparison, option-holders don’t vote and there fore have no control until they become a stockholder. To issue stock first a board of directors must be named. This board of directors approves all of stock to founders. A fair market value must be created. Make sure you know and trust your stockholders! Remember, they can now vote in electing and removing members of the board.
Beware splitting equity 50/50! This leaves no majority, and can lead to confusion down the line. Someone needs to have even a slight majority. Plan in advance for what you’re going to be giving to new hires. Corporations should avoid thinking in percentages rather than share numbers; having a “smaller piece” of a “bigger pie” is a good thing!
Thank you so much to Peter for his time and for a very informative workshop!
A small group of EA members got together last Friday and came up with a basic business model for a smartphone app. Our idea stemmed from wanting to create a consumer product, and to work with a $10,000 budget. We discussed who the target market would be, and then broke into smaller groups to do research online. We looked to determine if other products similar to our idea already exist and how we need to differentiate from these products. We briefly worked on a breakdown of the budget, factoring in expenses such as hiring a programmer. We would love to have a larger group at the next flea market, so we can split up into groups and have a “flea market” of ideas! Please contact us if you have any ideas for the next flea market event.
On Thursday John Kenneally, of Kenneally and Company, led an enthusiastic workshop on how to develop a successful business model for a new venture. Mr. Kenneally founded Kenneally and Company, a certified public accounting firm, which provides tax planning, financial planning, management consulting, and strategic planning services to a varied client base.
During the workshop at Colby, Mr. Kenneally went over the essential elements of creating a business model. Coming up with a strategy that allows you to maintain success and finding an ideal target market segment size are crucial. Questions to ask yourself include: How do you create value for your customer? How do you capture that value for your company?
In terms of strategy, Mr. Kenneally focused on differentiation (distinguishing your company’s offering from others, to attract your target market). Some examples of the many ways to differentiate that we discussed in a group brainstorm at the workshop are customer service, durability of products, brand name and attractiveness of products. It is important to recognize that change is constant, and you must have dynamic capabilities to deal with this. We went on to discuss how strategy is supported with competitive tactics, such as collaborating with the customer. Maintaining customers as long-term customers will in turn lead to greater revenue and lower costs.
A huge thank you to Mr. Kenneally from the Entrepreneurial Alliance for his time and enthusiasm in teaching us this week!
On September 22 we were very excited to have our first workshop of the year. Pamela Kick, the President of Pinnacle IT and Vice President of Waterville Development Corporation came to Colby’s campus to speak about idea development. Pam told us how Pinnacle IT came to be, stressing the idea of taking opportunities that may come your way.
Pinnacle IT is a software development company based here in Waterville, providing programming services to many companies throughout the state of Maine, and beyond. Maine is an excellent location to be an entrepreneur!
Waterville Development Corporation aims to actively promote the creation of new permanent jobs by developing facilities and properties for new or expanded businesses to operate from. Pam shared many interesting (sometimes surprising) facts about Waterville that express the many niches in Waterville that could be filled with new businesses, and the benefits the business growth could provide.
Idea development tips from the workshop:
- Take ahold of opportunities!
- Know basic financial accounting, especially balance sheets
- Stay out of debt as much as possible
- Be aware that having employees is a huge responsibility
- When conducting market research look at ideas from the company, customers, competitors, and collaborators
Thank you to Pam from the EA for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience with us!
To new and old members, I want to thank you for your interest in the Colby College Entrepreneurial Alliance. Smart and creative minds are our biggest asset. Although the EA is only two years old, we have accomplished quite a lot. Two Business Competition winners from last year took away $15,000 to start their own venture. Check out the Groupon feature on My Fresh Maine here. Due to an increasing interest in social entrepreneurship, the business competition this year opens a distinctive track for social entrepreneurs. In addition, we are working very closely with the Colby Social Entrepreneurs club on many collaborative events.
Shout out to whom attended our Colby Entrepreneurial Alliance and Kennebec Valley Entrepreneurial Network 2011 Kick-Off Dinner. We had a great panel of speakers.
Mike Duguay, Director of Development, City of Augusta
Roger Woolsey, Director, Colby Career Center
Erica Humphrey, Associate Director, Colby Career Center
Karen Heck, Co-Creator, Hardy Girls Health Women
Bill Card, Business Development Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration
Marcus Josefsson, Co-Founder, MyFreshMaine
Mark Johnson, Senior Director, Conde Nast
Just want to quote Mark on the value of entrepreneurial experiences, “Some people call us pirates…since we are pirates, we should only care about the venture we take.”
Again, thanks for joining our pirate ship. We are looking forward to taking adventures with you.