Top Accelerators and Their Differences

Remote GoatLondon, specifically, is crawly with accelerators. It is by no stretch of the imagination a bad thing, but what are the key differences that set them apart and key characteristics that define them? Well, my friend, you are about to find out!

You see, there are many points to look out for, and to find them you have to conduct a reasonably lengthy search through your friend Google in order to pick out the key players. It boils down to personal preference with resources and functionality as the tipping point in most instances.
You must remember that there is an aspect of scale to the companies also. Some are completely independent and some are backed by major corporations – they’re reasonably easy to distinguish.

A small handful of the top players you need to keep an eye on, and what they are doing in terms of programs is essential.

Microsoft Ventures

Backed by a massive conglomerate company, Microsoft. A strategic partner focused on business growth and development of startups around the world. They pride themselves on aiding in building locally and scaling globally. The three programs Microsoft Ventures offer include: Community, Accelerators and Customer Access. Amongst these programs they offer fully immersive services with partnered companies and globally accessible customers to connect the remarkable startups.

Mass Challenge

Non-for-profit. All the way from Boston, just arrived on the London scene. Their mission is to catalyse a startup renaissance so they definitely mean business. They address the seed stage and investment gaps to promote innovation, collaboration and commercialisation. The educational opportunities readily available to entrepreneurs is substantial and by launching the worlds largest accelerator in to the community mix, they will make it their mission to provide the top solution to startups. Whilst holding prominent locations in Boston, Israel and the UK, Mass Challenge operate an April to October timeframe with various rounds and deadlines as the lead up to the program.

Start up institute

Purely educational. Having recently moved to the London startup scene, Start Up Institute also have campuses in Boston, New York, Chicago and Berlin. Their aim is to bring in and educate their graduates to work in the startup community, to share the specific skill sets and to gain the knowledge they need to adapt. Their programmes run simultaneously together across all locations, and they run between February and April. The selection process is done in rounds with the first round deadline 1st December, second round closing on 12th January and the final round closing 19th February. They also operate two choices of programmes: Part-time and full-time.

It’s interesting to see the diversity that runs through these Accelerator players. While in some cases the main variables are timeframes and the like, their backgrounds with mentors and investors amongst movers and shakers is what can truly define their moves in the communities. Remember to keep an eye out for some friendly faces along the way!

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Does Silicon Valley Have A Diversity Problem?

Remote GoatGender and Ethnic diversity. It’s been an uphill struggle to create equality in the workplace for decades. Just as we thought it was leveling out, Silicon Valley had to go an disrupt it. I guess it’s in the nature of the beast to disrupt certain qualities so, not really a surprise there.
The NY Times goes into more detail surrounding the diversity issue in tech companies. While there are no hard stats, or stats at all for that matter, the article states companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook have all agreed in the seriousness of improving the gender and ethnicity within their companies. This may not be hard evidence or a resounding answer from Silicon Valley as a community/singular economy/independant business hub as these companies, albeit giant companies, are only three to come out of Silicon Valley amongst hundreds more. They all have a burning desire to make in the big bad world and disrupt markets in true SV fashion. What about their employee base? Just because they aren’t in the FTSE 100 their staff base doesn’t count in the world of diversity. Get it right guys!

Moving swiftly on…there have been studies on how a diverse employment crowd can have encouraging effects on the overall business. Claiming to make the workplace more creative and profitable because of the differentiation of opinion and work style, eventually one of those styles helps to progress the business and favour it heavily in the long run.
Elaborating on the creative side, the study mentioned in the NY Times article does reference ideation and innovation increasing along with the prospect of a more thought provoking company. That being said, on the totally flip side of the coin it mentions that in the US big corporates put huge amounts of money in to attracting a diversity in their workplace to only carry on receiving discriminatory lawsuits. That sounds like a good investment of money, doesn’t it? Don’t get that wrong, diversity in the workplace is a very important aspect to consider but, these big companies, they don’t really know what they are doing the social end of a multinational company, do they?

The second study referenced looks at the financial aspect to a diverse cohort. Now, this starts off with the correct analysis in relation to The Big Three SV Co’s. The top fortune 500 companies were regarded in this article to have a significantly higher financial performance, with those that had the highest representation of women board directors, that is. For example, a few stats for you digest would be along the lines of:

– On average, 53% of those with a higher body count of women board directors had a higher return on equity

– And, on average, 66% of those with a higher body count of women board directors had a higher return on invested capital.

This isn’t to say that male directors, CEOs, Founders and other senior members of large companies should be worried for their job. Quite the opposite! They should be encouraging the diversification of their company to aid it, not to hinder it.

This loops right back round to the original article. These huge companies need to start by acknowledging the problem which, apparently they have admitted to start doing. There are many levels of a company that this can benefit from. It’s not only the programmer and developer levels in a tech company but the project side, there are customers and clients and partners, there are a whole heap of staff also. There is no one role for any gender or ethnicity and the scope of the article relays that message. What is needed is for these groups of people to stand strong and gun for those roles because from an employers view, there is great value in confidence, enthusiasm and determination. Not to mention the right qualifications, background, motivation, occupational history, Location and so and so forth!

What are your thoughts, though?

A world of Podcasts

Remote GoatPodcasting is slowly becoming a huge market branching off from the likes of blogging and social media. Effectively, it is the same as blogging except instead of reading some words and looking at some pretty pictures, you actually hear the tone of voice behind the ideas and innovations. With a podcast you can infact truly determine the depth of the conversation and analyse the angles of communication through an individuals mind set. Reading is a huge global culture. It occurs every day from the sight of morning headline news to the vast pages in a legal document and the lunch menu at a team end-of-month munch-fest. You cannot escape it, even as you stare at the pixels on your laptop screen, text is everywhere.

Blogging is very much a big thing in the business world at the moment. It gives you the scope to put fingers to keys and hash out your internal thoughts, processes and levels of opinion. This is great and all but there is no real conversation, right? Some users find it difficult to find a voice for the internet when in fact they have a voice that they carry around with them everywhere. It almost makes it obsolete to write streams and streams of copy when talking about it with someone is actually the best form of getting your opinion heard and count for something. This is where the podcast comes in to play.
If you were looking to get some meaningful information on, branding let’s say. You may conduct several searches a day only to be overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of results, the majority of which aren’t related to what you are trying to find.

A recent top-notch find was the ‘Branding Cow’ podcasts. The fairly new series of podcast injections takes a stance on brand analysis of unexpecting companies. They take a look at all aspects of the business and push their opinion out to the audience.

A feature of the podcast being a pre-recorded piece of content being fundamentally audio and no visual does mean you have to do your own search for what they are talking about. For example the first infrastructure they “dissect” is the Tim Ferriss podcast series. Being a very new series also means that Mr Ferriss may not have gotten around to optimising the bits and pieces they were speaking about but, thats kinda irrelevant right now.
What this did was actually invoke the action of going away and listening to one of the podcasts to get a feel of what they were talking about. Now this can be seen as a downside or a very strong promotional piece of communicating. The reason why it could be a downside is that if you are listening offline and deep underground in London, you can’t simply open up your browser and follow the narration of the analysis. This can understandably turn you off from going any further but it is definitely recommended to carry on. On the other hand, it makes you want to go and view what they are talking about. Therefore, this platform can be seen as extremely powerful in pulling traffic to the point of interest. Are you still following?

The underlying point is this…there isn’t one, frankly.
Any number of platforms can use this method of preaching what they believe in, it just so happens that with the increase of podcasts (especially now it is strongly displayed on the face of the latest iOS update) this may become the next biggest thing for pushing out marketing material. Or any material for that matter.

Big-Bucks Brand Reboot

Remote GoatIn a world where major brands rule the roost, there is just no escaping their marketing campaigns is there, really. All you have to do is turn on your TV at home and when those mid-programme adverts come on it’s like a glaze descends over the eyes of the nation as each and every company tries to win you over with witty, ad hoc campaigns. With branding, our minds have been reconditioned to spot the bad design from the good a mile off. TV advertising acts in a similar way when adverts you have seen time and time again become so old that you no longer need to watch the whole advert, let along past the first 5 seconds, to understand the message they are putting across to you. The old adverts get forgotten about, but whenever a new one comes on your attention is immediately sucked back into the screen as your eyes transfix on to shiny new products and people.

So when Virgin decided to do a brand reboot for their Trains and chuck several million dollars at it, it was bound to be top notch. You may have seen the advert, you may not have. Sooner or later you are guaranteed to have seen the colossal expenditure in all its glory. The full one minute advert brags about the arrival of their customers and the speed at which it happened. The tagline ‘Arrive Awesome’ is the delivering line for the speedy service and is visualised by customers exiting the train in slow motion acting debonair and almost suave. A cheeky selfie is thrown in for good measure among streamlined business men and women and the odd cheeky chappy applying his sunglasses in a closed environment.

Over all the advert is very powerful. But is this because it’s Virgin and they have always appeared to be a very powerful brand or is it the $8 million figure that sets them apart?

The huge figure wasn’t all spent on the making of the video though, that much I may have breezed over. In fact, the marketing campaign that will be running continuous throughout all the Virgin brands will be for the next three years, and was a somewhat celebration piece for securing a further three years to run the west coast service. As ever, the Virgin marketing team have succeeded in making this campaign as irresistible as the last. Even though Usain Bolt doesn’t make an appearance, there is still hope yet for the likes of the Wi-Fi, Tv and Phone brand. Here’s to hoping!

On top of the pazazz of the Virgin trains, they are also looking to provide carriages with services replicated on the in-flight entertainment front. Better Wi-Fi, movies, TV, Beauticians. Yup, Beauticians! It’s no wonder they are one of the best train companies out there. If they had a Virgin train running on the Met line every 12 minutes, the commute to work would be sheer bliss!

$1000 in 24 hours

Is it doable? Evidently, it is!

American entrepreneur and founder of AppSumo, Noah Kagan accomplished setting up a business, finding the right customers and made in excess of $1000 in just 24 hours. Taken on as a challenge, Kagan set out to set up and organise a business from nothing but his laptop and the resources he had readily available to him, and make a small amount of money with it in what might be considered as ‘no time at all’.

Many of us know that starting a business does require a lot of thought, validation and funds in order to get it off the ground. Kagan abolished the traditional steps and instead worked in a very succinct method for identifying his product, finding the solution and implementing the process to gain customers and accomplish the final goal, $1000.

Listen up because this can all be transferred into any start-up of any kind. The challenge made Kagan think about a problem he regularly faces himself. A regular eater of Beef Jerky who doesn’t have enough time to go out every day to buy it decided this would be his service. He provided the people with a Beef Jerky delivery service that could be opted in to for either 3 or 6 months at the low price of $20 per month. That equated to $0.67 worth of Jerky per day. After doing the math, Kagan quickly realised this amount of money was both cheaper and more viable than going out every day and buying singular bags at the local kwik-e-mart. Bargain!

With this in mind, the proposition started to take shape. The idea was forming in his head, he had the fundamentals now all he needed was the execution. He went through the various inception stages any business goes through: choosing a name and getting a website. For a low, low cost he acquired the site and after various name suggestions (noahisajerk.com) he settled with SumoJerky after his company, SumoApp but that’s neither here nor there in terms of relevancy, it’s only a small business, what can you expect with the span of a 24hr business?

Moving on…Kagan was essentially successful with his idea. He went through the necessary validation stages, asking people what they want as opposed to guessing what they need. Working backwards he saw a clear path to what he needed to do and how he needed to do it to succeed. A keen Kagan found that tools available to him such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn proved to be valuable resources for him when sourcing out potentially customers and businesses. He placed a referral scheme with his campaign, asking his friends to share his pre-made post so to reach out to more people. He would ask if the person he addressed was interested, if they weren’t he asked if they knew someone who would be. Never did he ask for that person to spam his or her friends with the business, nor did Kagan expect that to happen. He strategically placed the content in from of them, gave a smile and a cheeky wink and left them to decide whether or not to pass the message on. Simple as.

The end result saw Kagan walking away with over $3000 in revenue that equated to just over $1000 in profit neatly folded and placed in his back pocket. Under 24 hours, nothing but what was a personal problem (a first world problem) and the platforms on his laptop, and the occasional disruptive co-worker or mate, Noah Kagan successfully started and operated a fully functional business. In the end he turned a 24 hour business in to a minimum of 6 months with the packages he was offering. Think about the profit he would have made carrying on that model in a month…by the logic of what he made in a day, somewhere around the $20,000 a month, $240,000 a year, $720,000 after the first three years. PROFIT! That might be pushing it a little but you catch my drift.

 

To round up. Why can’t you do this? I’m not saying solve my personal issue because I’m too lazy to do that myself but, why can’t you make your own success story like Noah Kagan’s? Nothing is stopping you. Create that Side Hustle and hustle yourself some extra wonga on the side. Who knows, you might be the next Zuckerburg, Jobs AND Bezos all rolled into one.

Accelerators Vs Incubators

Remote GoatIf you were faced with the question what is the difference between an Accelerator and an Incubator, would you know the answer? More so, would you know where to start looking if you needed a particular platform?

We are going to take you through the facts and figures that fundamentally set Accelerators and Incubators apart from one another. First of all, you should know that there are handfuls of these companies around you that will help you and your business, should you look to get in to one of their programs. They are extremely beneficial and put your business on a fast track towards mentorship, investment and business progression. Keep your head screwed on, is tip numero uno.

The basic definition of these models are loosely acknowledged in some parts and can have a cross over when talking about them in context. The following has been outlined by the online publication INC.

Accelerator: Fundamentally offer funding. An Accelerator will generally take a single-digit equity ownership in return for small amount of capital [for the start-up] and mentorship. The programs tend to last anywhere between 12 and 16 weeks.

Incubator: Fundamentally offer mentorship. An Incubator will work similarly however, it will bring in an external management team to develop an internal idea. Typically these ideas gestate for longer periods of time while taking a larger amount of equity [in comparison].

Just by those definitions you can already tell there are strong similarities yet there are definitive alterations that set them apart from one another. They both have their merits and will be equally beneficial to your business. It’s up to you to do your research and figure out what’s out there!
Don’t let the vagueness tear you away from making an executive decision. Assess the situation and always keep in mind that the line to get in to either an Accelerator or Incubator can be long and take precious time.

If you’re looking for accelerators or incubators in London, you will not find them difficult to come across, that’s for sure. We have strong ties with a couple amazing platforms that we have engaged with through our seed branding winners and some we will be engaging with in the future with seminar talks and lectures etc. Both Sliide and Sideways6 from our seed branding programme have both been through the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF) which acts as a strong mentoring launch pad as well as help their graduates seek funding and investment further down the line. The accelerator you absolutely need to be looking out for is The Startup Institute. Herder, Emeline has been booked in with these guys to speak at some pivotal events the company is holding. All the way from cities such as Chicago, New York, Berlin and Boston, they now reside in London and we are excited they have done!

There are a few things to consider when taking the plunge into the unknown. So remember, don’t forget your fundamentals! Here are what you need to consider:

1) Workspace

This is where Incubators come in handy. Every busy needs a workspace and whether you do it from a quirky café in Barbican or the desk in your front room, an incubator is where you need to be progressing to. Anything further and wider requires funding, we’ll get on to that! Take a look at spaces such as TechHub or Google Campus. They cost a bit of money but will be well worth it!

2) Funding

Take finances into consideration. If you need funds to take your business further but feel overwhelmed with the investment arenas, Incubators and Accelerators will both offer you the resources to get you going. You also have the crowdfunding and personal funding routes to take if you feel these are better suited. Often, a mentor will help you make these decisions based on experience.

3) Mentorship

Mentors can be found everywhere! Every corner you peer around, every bar you drink at. There will be business men and women sat there willing to give you the advice you so desperately seek. They won’t necessarily seek you out, though, unless you are part of an Accelerator program, for example. The right people will put you in touch with whoever you need to get your head around the business world. And trust us, it takes a keen mind to be able to do that.

 

We have plenty more to bleat about around Accelerators and Incubators, all you have to do is pick up the phone or ping a quick email. Job’s a good’un.

 

Generation ‘Share’

Remote GoatNot too long ago you’ll remember we published a blog about Generation ‘Z’ and how they are mad tech-entrepreneurs and probably the smartest generation of recent. Well now a new generation fad has started. Dubbed as Generation ‘Share’, they are the folks that seek the cheaper and free alternatives to fun and games. We all like a free event, drink, burger or even a generic food sampler from an idle sainsburys employee on the weekly shop, but the population of Generation Share are the real kings and queens of free goods.

The sharing generation have taken to the digital world like a fish to water. It helps to source such cheap, fun things to do, especially in London via apps such as Yplan. The app lists amazing and exciting events throughout London and other cities. Redefining the traditional methods of owning things, there is reason to believe that the whole shareconomy is worth a wopping £22.4bn!!

The title has been coined by the use of social medias and the increase in mobile technology and advertising. There’s no speculation as to how the name came about and there is definitely no doubt as to the results its creating for other economies. Alluding to the free economy and the general national/international economy, it could be said that Generation Share have helped avoid sticky finance situations. It’s a mission to make more funds available for activities that cost more than, well nothing, thus helping economies and local communities thrive, thus making the world a happier place. If only by a little.

So you see, these guys are the ones to pay attention to. They will help you save money for those all important bills that are always looming round the corner, whilst you go out and explore new things on a daily basis without breaking the bank. What more could you want?

Is Isolation Killing The Valley?

Remote GoatThe Silicon Valley that is. Renowned for it’s incubator like state for tech-companies, not only from sunny Cali-forn-i-a but from across the globe also. The remoteness described for Silicon Valley was once a haven for start-ups and an effective way to form disturbances within markets. But, has it come to it’s saturation?

The Guardian writes about how Silicon Valley came to what it is today. The conclusion is in the isolation from corporates such as banks and larger businesses. We have seen immense businesses come from The Valley; Apple, Google, Facebook, the list can go on. Since starting those companies though, the area itself has turned into a tech-giant city. So now, there’s no view over the city landscape to see the little guy. With this being said, Tech companies are seemingly flocking more towards the big cities to gain their influence and traction, once again transitioning in and amongst the bigger, badder companies looking for that ultimate market disruption.

By no stretch of the imagination you could probably name the cities that Tech start-ups are moving into without even thinking about it. The first to come to mind might be New York. The Big Apple, the City that never sleeps. Of course this is a major hotbed for Tech companies, the place is constantly lit up. Geeks are like a moth to a flame, straying off every now and then trying not to get burnt. The second city on the minds of tech-savvy entrepreneurs is, yep you guessed it, Lisbon…nope, LONDON! That’s the one. How could we forget grey, foggy London? The City is a gold mine of new talent with incubators, office shares and hipster Shoreditch cafés everywhere. Literally. It’s not only the traits and locations that are a huge factor in the move but also the diversification a city can offer.

We’re all human beings, a basic human need is that of comfort and amalgamation of ideas and emotions. Being in a room with the same people day in, day out can have it’s disadvantages. Even as this was written the Goats are out of the office and slap bang in the center of the hustle and bustle that is Google’s Campus, London. Yeah it’s loud and full of distractions, but the incremental human interaction is key to get the creative juices flowing once in a while. That’s what makes London so great. Not the grey skies, the hideous buildings (not all) or the distinct lack of conversation on the Tube, but the creativity you can gain by just sitting in a place such as Campus is extraordinary.

What do you think? Has Silicon Valley seen it’s day and moved on, or is it a basic need for survival kicking that inevitably pushes us to take the plunge?

Seth Godin Internship Opportunity

Remote GoatSeth Godin, what. a. guy!

The new internship recently posted by the wonderful Seth Godin has us amazed at what an excellent opportunity it is for anyone who applies! Situated north of New York City, New York how can anyone come up with an excuse to not send in an application and marvel at Mr.Godins being for 6 months. You would be crazy!!

He says this is no donut-getting, sitting around being a stereotypical intern position (and we’d hope it wasn’t as much as the next person) we imagine that if you applied and were to be accepted, you would be let in to a world of pure marketing genius and empowerment. This is definitely no role for the faint hearted or for anyone who wouldn’t go at this running, horns at the ready and several notepads to hand.

Author, Entrepreneur and mass marketer, Godin has his fair share of business expertise. Founder and creator of Yoyodyne and Squidoo, Godin has had his share of attention but continues to get more as the marketing mastermind churns out ideas as if plucked from the sky.

Needless to say, if you apply for this role and get offered the place, you would not be disappointed and far from stuck in the mud in terms of a career. Exceptional individuals, entrepreneurs – we highly encourage you to go for this. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

 

Crowd Funding

Remote GoatInvestment arenas are versatile, confusing and can be super overwhelming. For a new business there are a few options that can be explored to gain investment either through accelerators, incubators, investment houses, competitions or crowdfunding. The latter option is probably the least scary but can be equally overwhelming. When the moment comes to hit the publish button a sudden rush of anticipation overcomes your being as you start to race through life’s uncertain questions. Will it be successful? Will anyone help me? What happens if I fail at getting enough investment? It’ll haunt you but being an entrepreneur means taking the risks necessary to progress your business. Hit the publish button, take the leap of faith.

Orchestrated from the mid-late 2000’s, the earlier iterations included companies such as Pledgie and IndieGoGo and have since then adapted into major platforms with companies such as KickStarter hopping on the band wagon along the way. In many ways, these companies lit the road into investment arenas for entrepreneurs and start-up companies for the past couple generations. The platforms have also opened up the possibilities for social networks and has enhanced the power it can have for early companies. It’s amazing!

So, among all the choices you can find on the web. Which ones do you go for? Well, majoritively it can come down to personal preference. Some may take the platform that looks to have the biggest crowd supporting businesses, others may delve a little deeper and take a genre specific or business-based stance. At the end of the day you need to do what is best for your company. If you fall short of your goal, it’s not the end of the world. You’re an entrepreneur, get up, brush yourself off and move on.

Take a further look in to the business models that crowd-funding has to offer. The three main pillars are: Reward-based, Equity-based and Credit-based. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because frankly, you’re innovative and intuitive enough to figure it out!

Okay so what platforms are out there? Whether you’re a health company, or in tech, movies or games it’s good to do your research. Even if you do the basic research by going on to each platform and gauging what businesses are on there in numbers compared to how well they are doing. Most sites will give you an overview of recent success stories and successfully funded ideas. They might give you a good idea as to how specific types of businesses fair on crowdfunding platforms.
What’s out there is the first exciting hurdle. You can co go to the big names: IndieGoGo or Kickstarter, crowdsource. Or go a little younger and look at platforms such as CrowdCube, Seedrs or Crowd2Fund. Each of them have their merits and differentiating styles of service but will each facilitate your needs to gain funding.

If in doubt, find a goat and hash it out!