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Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know: Tips To Get Rich Quick!

Aleckson Nyamwaya has his beat on the pulse of the startup world in MN.  He is an Associate at @gener8tor, contributor for @startupgrind, ambassador for @1millioncupsspl and a lover of all things tech & startups. We are pleased to have his monthly insight with our blog “Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know.”  Check back each month for his thoughts, observations and featured companies.

Tips To Get Rich Quick!

There are many ways of getting rich, but even fewer legal ones. As a middle class american, getting rich has always been part of the dream – along with a “white picket fence.” So how do you get rich quick in the next 4–7 years?

“The key is to get on the cap table of high growth startups”

High growth startups are companies such as Snap, Blueapron and Uber on the earlier stage and Google, Facebook and Amazon on the later stage. Imagine if you had equity in the companies listed above from when they were just infants, you’d be a millionaire!

Below I’ve identified four ways to get on the cap table of high growth startups so you can not only get rich, but also quickly! This guide is for both non-accredited and accredited investors alike.


1. Entrepreneur

The surest way to make money quickly, and by quick I mean 3–5 years, is by launching your own company and becoming an entrepreneur! Along with making money, you would hone in on essential entrepreneurial skills needed to thrive in the future. Beware, entrepreneurship is hard, you will fail, but that is how you succeed. If you consider yourself risk averse, 2 & 3 are still viable options for you!

2. Employee

Joining a high growth startup is a great method to get on the cap table especially if you consider yourself risk averse. As an early employee, you will have the opportunity to not only invest in early employee stock options, but you will also have the opportunity to gain expertise in your field allowing you to lead your division as the company scales (i.e. VP, CMO, CTO, etc)! This can be difficult though because the most meaningful (unicorns) startups tend to huddle in silicon valley or Stockholm. You’d have a difficult time in other cities such as New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Austin or Boston.

3. Consultant

If you don’t want to be an employee, you have the option of selling your services as a consultant. A tactic I’ve seen work is to get paid in half cash and half stock options that vest month over month. Be careful though because if done wrong, people will think you’re a “culture vulture” in sinking your teeth into startups. Start with value first by offering high quality unsolicited services. You can easily hit singles and doubles over 5 years of consulting for equity!

4. Angle Investing

With the advent of REG D equity crowdfunding, anyone can angle invest, non accredited and accredited alike! A great way to start is by joining a syndicate on angels list led by an experienced angel! WARNING Invest no more than 5% of your net-worth and be ready to LOSE IT ALL!


Good luck in your journey of chasing the good ol’ american dream! I hope this article was able to shed some light on new paths of attaining your goal!

If you found this useful, please share so others can get this information!


Guest writer:  Aleckson Nyamwaya
To sign up for his monthly tech newsletter CLICK HERE.

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Startup Day Across America: Get Involved

James J.  Hill Center has been supporting Minnesota innovators for 96 years by connecting business, entrepreneurs and community to research, knowledge and network.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firms less than one year old created 1.7 million jobs, or 60% of total employment growth, in 2015. More than half these jobs were from firms with fewer than 10 employees.  The startup companies we support are involved in a variety of industries including technology, retail, healthcare, food and beverage, education and more.

On August 1, 2017, members of Congress have been invited to celebrate the ingenuity and entrepreneurship taking place right in their own cities. Startup Day Across America connects elected officials with startups in their communities so they can learn about the challenges new companies face and meet the business leaders building the future.

This bipartisan, bicameral effort also raises awareness and helps generate support for startup communities across the country.  Last August marked the third annual Startup Day and Minnesota’s Senator Al Franken participated.

Each startup organization has withstood the challenges and obstacles of entrepreneurialism, and many continue to grow, foster job creation and improve our economic ecosystem.

August 1st is an important day for all entrepreneurs – successful, new, struggling or persevering.  This is a time when you get to show them what is needed, what steps should be taken and what change needs to be made.  This is a time for your voice to be heard and celebrated.

If your startup is interested in participating, contact your local representative and request a visit. Work with Startup Day 2017 and make it happen.  We don’t get opportunities like this all the time.

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A Safe Space to Grow

Pew Research Center’s fall 2016 analysis on Internet and Technology finds that “people think that libraries are a major contributor to their communities in providing a safe place to spend time.” There are few public “safe spaces” out there that provide a welcoming, neutral and resource filled environment like libraries. So how does this translate to a space like the James J. Hill Center, where entrepreneurs come to network, research and build their business?

The Hill is historically known as the James J. Hill Reference Library. Regardless of the name change, the heart of the organization has been, is and always will be the library. We are one of those “safe spaces” dedicated to creating a place where business professionals and innovators can make mistakes, test ideas and take risks – a place to grow.

Walk in the door, and you’ll experience the business neutral environment – you don’t need to have an established business to use our resources. We are that safe space for the seed level start-up, and even before then in the exploratory phase. According to Pew Research, there is an increase in the need for those experts or guides (we like to call them librarians!) to identify information that they can trust – in 2016, 37% of people said that libraries play a role in helping to identify this trusted information, up from 24% in 2015. This will only grow, as Google provides a starved environment for data you can bring to a board or potential investor, and boards and potential investors demand more data to support risk taking opportunities.

Starting a business or changing careers can put you in murky territory, but our business librarians at the Hill Center are here to help. Our librarians are on-hand to navigate not only the exclusive databases that can be accessed here for free, but also to help seek out other free resources that can be accessed from anywhere. The Hill is a safe space to try something on for size, reach for your dreams and find your potential – and as your guide we promise to give you our honest, expert opinion.

Written by Lindsey Dyer, Director of Library Services, James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Allowing Gift Cards to Keep on Giving

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Tori Utley. As seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on July 15, 2017.

Gift cards have long been staples of holidays, birthdays, and graduations. Giving gift cards can be a good way to give cash in a way that appears more planned and thoughtful than simply a card with a $20 bill in it. However, many gift cards go partially or wholly unused. A 2015 survey of Canadian consumers by Ipsos found that 28 percent of respondents regularly left money on gift cards, with reasons ranging from not knowing the remaining value of the card to the inconvenience of carrying cards around.

Tori Utley, coming from the nonprofit sphere, realized the potential value of connecting this wasted gift card money with charities and nonprofits in need of funds, and she created Tinua to do just that.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Tori Utley
Age: 24
City you live in: Rochester
City of birth: Sacramento, Calif.
High school attended: Byron High School, Byron, Minn.
Colleges attended: Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: Tinua
Website: http://www.wearetinua.com/
Business Start Date: 2017
Number of Employees: 3
Number of Customers: None yet

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. My background is in counseling and psychology — I’m a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in Minnesota. After working in treatment centers and working with a few human services nonprofits, I experienced a growing interest in the nonprofit sector. I started working for Mayo Clinic on the side but grew passionate about business, went for my MBA, and ended up working in both fundraising and product development at Mayo Clinic full-time. From these experiences, I launched two organizations — More Than An Addict, a nonprofit, and Tinua, a tech startup. My background is diverse with many experiences that don’t seem to mix together; however, it’s been the perfect blend of experiences to help me with what I’m working on today.

Q. What is your business?
A. Tinua is a tech startup building a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform where gift card funds can be donated to charitable causes. We’re building an infrastructure that can be licensed by nonprofits and giving platforms to accept gift cards as a form of donation. We’re launching our mobile app this month to test our platform, though we hope to eventually integrate our technology with giving platforms and donation software so people can donate gift cards wherever they choose to give.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. I’m grateful to have wise mentors who have helped me get to where I am today. I’m also a member of a co-working space in Rochester called Collider Coworking, where we have community managers and other entrepreneurs willing to share advice, resources and connections.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. I was at Starbucks in 2015 and had 17 cents left over on my Starbucks card. There was nothing special about that day because I’ve had unused gift cards for as long as I can remember, but it got me thinking about how many times I’ve thrown away gift cards with a balance — even a small one….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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The Evolution of Embossers

Of the many changes that our library has seen over the past century, one that is easy to overlook is the way we mark our books. When we first opened, our librarians embossed each new book they added to the collection. Labels on the embossing stamps show we were still embossing books into the early 1970’s. Sometime thereafter, we began instead to mark our books using ink stamps.

We recently uncovered several of our old embossing stamps, and our librarians are going to start using them again. There are several benefits to embossing as opposed to ink stamping. Firstly, inks can negatively affect paper, making it degrade over time, whereas embossing only adds an indent or small holes to the paper and therefore does not cause as much long-term damage.

Secondly, embossed books are harder to steal than books stamped with ink, because the skilled thief can laboriously remove traces of ink, but the only way to remove traces of embossing is to remove the embossed page itself. And finally, aesthetics. Embossed books look and feel nice. There is a timeless feel to them, something that brings to mind classic libraries with beautiful old books. In addition, an embossed stamp looks the same every time, whereas ink stamps often appear messy.

For all these reasons and in deference to our history, we are going to bring our embossing stamps out of retirement. Stop by sometime to see some of our new materials, embossed as of old!

The story of these tools and the epic building will be further explored in the Cabinet of Curiosity Tour every third Thursday at 10:30AM. Go back in time in this one hour tour, up and down the catwalks and through the vault in a nooks and crannies inspired experience.  Our June tour sold out, so get your tickets early!


The oldest embosser, which creates a raised impression of our corporate seal.


The corporate seal created by the oldest embosser.


The newest embosser (really a perforating stamp), with a 1971 note instructing librarians to stamp the page after the title page of a book.


The perforated stamp.

The ink stamp currently used by librarians, which marks the date as well as the name of the library.

Ink stamps create a less aesthetically pleasing stamp than embossers or perforators.


Written by Leah Kodner, James J. Hill Business Librarian. If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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“Wait Training”: How it all Started

Junita Flowers is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, mom and the owner of Favorable Treats. With more than 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, she spent her career advocating for families and leading social change initiatives. Junita is starting a blog series with the Hill, called ‘Wait Training’. Over her career, Junita has learned the value of “waiting” with her business and is looking forward to sharing her experiences.


I’ve known I wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was a little girl. I didn’t know all it entailed, but I was always intrigued with the idea that if something didn’t exist, an entrepreneur could just create it. I had several business ideas throughout my childhood, each always associated with food or coffee.

I began my ‘official’ entrepreneur journey in 2006 when I launched Favorable Treats, a Minnesota-based mission driven cookie company. Though the idea of a cookie company is founded upon my best childhood memories, the road to success has been shaped by my most difficult experiences as an adult.

My journey as an entrepreneur is best described as one of resilience, patience and strength. Due to a tumultuous marriage, I stopped and restarted my business three times over ten years. I’ve learned the value of personal hardship, which provided the unexpected benefits of lessons and training that positively impacted my business.

Through this blog, I will share the ups and downs of starting a business, and what it takes to be successful in the hopes that I can translate some of my “waiting” into “training.”  I will share the resources that have helped me, the bumps along the way, the characteristics I have found important to acquire and big decisions made during this process.  All of these stories and personal anecdotes are meant to inspire, invigorate and build this incredible ecosystem of small businesses and entrepreneurs we have surrounding us.  So, join me on this journey and check in the second Tuesday of each month for a little bit of ME and some WAIT TRAINING. 

You can read more about Junita Flowers on her website at favorabletreats.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   In addition we are pleased to have Junita join us at the  James J. Hill Center on August 10th from 9AM to 10AM  as she moderates our TAKING THE LEAD panel discussion focusing on the complex and rewarding ecosystem of women entrepreneurs.  This month’s topic will be on the “Financials of Business.” This program is free and open to the public.  RSVP NOW

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Surmounting a Clothing Barrier for Female Muslim Athletes

Leah Kodner, Library Specialist from the James J. Hill Center, interviews entrepreneurs and 1 Million Cup presenter Fatimah Hussein. As seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on July 1, 2017.

The National Federation of State High School Associations’ report, “High School Athletics Participation Survey 2015-2016” finds that sports participation is growing among high school students.

While male students experienced a 33 percent increase in participation between 1992 and 2016, female students experienced an even greater increase of 66 percent during that same time period.

Sports participation is clearly an important part of student life, but for some students, participation is difficult. Participation can be especially difficult for Muslim girls. It can be hard for these girls to balance their religious and cultural desire to dress modestly and cover their hair while participating in vigorous physical activity.

Traditional hijabs are not designed for strenuous activity and can impede an athlete’s performance. Fatimah Hussein spent years working on ways to get Muslim girls more involved with sports, including setting up girls-only gym time. Eventually, she came up with the idea to create hijabs specifically designed to withstand the rigors of sports while still being modest and fashionable, and ASIYA Modest Activewear was born.

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILE

Name: Fatimah Hussein
Age: 29
City you live in: Minneapolis
City of birth: Mogadishu, Somalia
High school attended: Roosevelt High School, Minneapolis
College attended: St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis

COMPANY PROFILE

Name of company: ASIYA Modest Activewear
Website: www.asiyasport.com
Business Start Date: January 2016
Number of Employees: 3
Number of Customers: 1,000+

 

Q&A

Q. What led to this point?
A. I was born in Somalia and moved with my family to Minnesota when I was 6-years old.  As a teenager, I started volunteering at a local community center, which is where I saw that girls were not going into the gym or trying sports nearly as much as boys were. I formed a nonprofit, the G.I.R.L.S. Program (Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports) to provide girls-only gym time several nights a week. I have continued my volunteer work, focused on helping our community of East African girls gain access to gym time and sports.

Q. What is your business?
A. ASIYA is a modest activewear company created to help enable more Muslim girls and women to be physically active and participate in sports, while upholding their religious and cultural beliefs. We are the first U.S.-based company to create sports hijabs focused on helping more youth get involved in sports.

Our first line of products are the sports hijabs. These products were designed by Muslim girls for Muslim girls, created and tested for top sports performance and intense physical activity.

ASIYA will be coming out with a line of activewear tops and bottoms, and also with swim hijabs later this year.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We have a great group of mentor and volunteer advisers who have been great sounding boards, and they have helped us navigate a variety of business challenges.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. I founded ASIYA in 2016, after spending the prior decade supporting Muslim girls in athletics as a volunteer in Minneapolis. I had formed the G.I.R.L.S. Program. The girls in this program wanted to go on to play sports in their school and community sports teams, and they worked with myself, community members, and community partners to design sports hijabs and apparel that would allow them to play while staying true to their cultural desire to dress modestly….READ FULL ARTICLE

 

You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit 1millioncups.com/stpaul.

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Market Research Pitfalls

An attendee at a recent Database Deep Dive workshop asked a very important question about our resources. Are they biased? This is a question any business researcher ought to ask when pursuing new information. Nowhere is this more critical than when reading and evaluating industry data. Oftentimes companies will publish their own reports on the industry in which they operate. Always tread carefully. They may be motivated to have certain of the details reflect positively on their own company. This is problematic, though equally problematic is the fact that less biased information is not as widely available and not without an often prohibitively high cost involved.

Look no further than the business library at the James J. Hill Center. We offer visitors free access to databases like IBIS World and SimplyMap. These two resources in particular are of interest to those doing market research, a topic on which we will be presenting on July 11th. IBIS World provides reports on more than 700 industries worldwide. In business for nearly 40 years, its reports are written in-house by its own staff of independent analysts and updated annually. IBIS World is solely in the information industry, and with the myriad areas on which it addressed, its information is unbiased. It is also of a very high quality and quite valuable, used by hundreds of Hill visitors each year. Similarly, SimplyMap provides tens of thousands of variables relating to everything from demographics and consumer expenditures to sales and various market segments. Data comes from partners comprising some of the oldest names in market research like Nielsen and Simmons in addition to the United States Census. Users can be sure of the validity of this information.

These resources and others in our collection avoid the pitfalls, some of them recently outlined in a post by Inc. Magazine, of other less vetted products. Our business library staff at the James J. Hill Center is constantly testing our databases and soliciting feedback from visitors on their user experience. If you ever have a question, particularly about the validity of the information or data you encounter, let us know.

Written by Alex Ingham, Business Librarian, James J. Hill Center. 
If you have more questions about the reference library at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or hillreferencelibrary@jjhill.org.

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Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know: Crowd Funding

Aleckson Nyamwaya has his beat on the pulse of the startup world in MN.  He is an Associate at @gener8tor, contributor for @startupgrind, ambassador for @1millioncupsspl and a lover of all things tech & startups. We are pleased to have his monthly insight with our blog “Startup Secrets and Sh#$ to Know.”  Check back each month for his thoughts, observations and featured companies.

How Equity Crowd Funding Is Going To Change The Minnesota Startup Eco-system

“97% of Americans couldn’t invest in early-stage startups, due to the SEC’s regulation on early stage finance.”

Early stage investing used to be reserved only for accredited investors. That is, individuals who have a net worth of $1M, or have an annual income of $200,000. That all changed in June of 2015, when MNVest went into effect. MNVest is a law that allows the average Minnesotan, regardless of their income, net worth or socioeconomic status to invest in early stage startups in exchange for equity. Read more about the MN Vest law here.


This is wonderful news for the Minnesota startup ecosystem because it gives us a fair shot at becoming industry leaders, in solving tough problems that affect the whole of humanity such as space travel, famine and climate change – just to name a few. This has been made possible due to two side effects of equity crowd funding. The first being a vastly diverse pool of investors and second, a low barrier of entry to starting a business. 


“The problem lies within who is giving the money, and who is receiving the money”

Diversity of investor pool 🏊🏼‍

Diversity in startup financing is broken. The problem lies with who is giving the money, and who is receiving the money.

This lack of diversity in investment has measurable economic effects. Mickinsey & Company reports that “companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially.” Social effects cannot be ignored either. 43% of venture-backed startups are in the software industry with biotech following in at just 12.6 %. This is not representative of the problems humans face across the globe. Crowd funding utilizes this potential that otherwise would have been wasted.

Low barrier to starting a business🔐

Crowd funding also lowers the barrier of entry to starting financially. It makes it a great way to raise a pre-seed/seed capital for people such as myself, who may not necessarily have that “friends and family” network. It also serves as a great platform to launch and finance your MVP, all while getting valuable feedback from customers. Small scale & less venture back-able initiatives also benefit from crowd funding in that they now have an alternative to the usual funding sources such as VCs, banks or angels.

Conclusion

I’m excited to see where this crowd funding journey leads us as a community. Hopefully we will see a rise of startups that tackle more challenging problems due to a more diverse set of investors and underrepresented groups getting access to capital.

Featured Resource:

New Lion Labs: a development, design, UX & product strategy firm that will help your new ventures thrive all while being cost-effective. Find more resources like this here 

Guest writer:  Aleckson Nyamwaya
To sign up for his monthly tech newsletter CLICK HERE.

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Bridging Digital Divides

On May 16th and 17th of 2017 the  James J. Hill Center was happy to house an important conference presented by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.  The conference was on Digital Inclusion.  It was an eye opening experience to understand the full scope of our digital world and the work that needs to be done to ensure all people have access and opportunity to grow in our continually growing digital community. We felt NDIA was an important organization for others to know about and took a few minutes to chat virtually with their Director, Angela Siefer.

What do you want people to know about NDIA and what sets it apart?
NDIA is a unified voice representing digital inclusion programs across the country. This role is unique. It is why we exist. Local digital inclusion programs are doing the incredibly hard work of  increasing home broadband access, running public broadband access labs, teaching digital skills and getting appropriate devices into the hands of the most disadvantaged among us.

NDIA does this through:

  • Developing and empowering a community of practice of digital inclusion programs in our communities.
  • Discussing the full definition of digital inclusion, related challenges and solutions with decision makers and partners.

How did your organization begin?
In the spring of 2015, representatives of local digital inclusion programs and national digital inclusion advocates launched the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). We did so because federal policy was being discussed that would impact the work of local digital inclusion programs yet the expertise of these programs (even the existence of these programs) was not part of the discussion. NDIA currently represents over 250 affiliates, most of whom are community based organizations, libraries and local government entities with digital inclusion programs.

What do you feel has been NDIA’s biggest impact so far?

  • Developing definitions of digital inclusion and digital equity that have furthered an understanding and increased awareness of programming gaps.
  • Influencing federal policymaking (including the modernization of Lifeline).
  • Influencing local policymaking, particularly through Digital Inclusion Trailblazers.
  • Strengthening programs through information sharing online and at our annual gathering Net Inclusion.

What has been the largest hurdle and / or success your organization has faced?
NDIA is a bootstrap startup nonprofit program. Starting with nothing has been both a challenge and a strength.

What advice would you give to businesses and organizations regarding digital inclusion efforts?
Look for potential partners.  The most impactful programs are those that work collaboratively in their communities and have trusted relationships with the individuals they are serving.

What do you see for the future of our digital world?
Technology will keep changing and more digital divides will develop. We as a society can shrug our shoulders or we can work together to create solutions that strengthen our communities.

To read more about NDIA and their continued efforts to increase a unified voice for digital inclusion please visit their website at digitalinclusion.org.  

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IMPORTANT NOTICE:

We are pleased to announce the completion of our elevator renovation at the James J. Hill Center. This project was financed in part with funds provided by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society and the F. R. Bigelow Foundation. It will greatly increase our ability to serve patrons with accessibility needs.

Please access our ground floor elevator entrance via Kellogg Ave at the back of the building. Please ring the doorbell on the right hand side of door and a Hill staff member will assist you. If you have questions or concerns please call 651.265.5500. We look forward to having you visit our brand new elevator!

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