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A/B Test Tools – VWO

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VWO - MyStartupLand

VWO Is The A/B Testing and Conversion Optimization Platform

VWO is the all-in-one platform that helps you conduct visitor research, build an optimization roadmap, and run continuous experimentation.

Location: India

Funded: 2009

Languages Supported: English

Website

Starting Price: Not Provided

Free Version: Yes

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, 24/7 (Live Rep)

Who Is VWO For? 

This tool is for online marketers, who want to make data-driven optimization and A/B test at a scale, without reducing performance.

What Does It Include? 

VWO is a tool that includes several features to improve the optimization process. The tool can:

  1. Track all activities in one place
  2. Analyze and understand visitors’ actions
  3. Record observation and test ideas

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a 30-day free trial to test basic features and understand the value of the product. Pricing then varies according to customers needs.

A/B Test Tools – Unbounce

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Unbounce - MyStartupLand

Unbounce Is The Solution To Convert Prospects Into Sales

Unbounce lets you build high converting pages with testing and optimization.

Location: Canada

Funded: 2009

Languages Supported: English, German, Spanish, Brasilian

Website

Starting Price: $79.00/month

Free Version: Yes

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, Business Hours, 24/7 (Live Rep)

Who Is Unbounce For? 

This tool is for online marketers, who want to increase their website online conversion with quick yet extremely effective tests. No coding skills needed.

What Does It Include? 

Unbounce is designed to help marketer focus on what they do best, talking with prospects and optimizing campaigns and activities. The tool can:

  1. Build pixel-ready landing pages
  2. Optimize campaigns and boost conversion rates
  3. Integrate the landing pages with over 900 apps

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a 30-day free version for all options available, allowing marketers to really understand what they need.

A/B Test Tools – Omniconvert

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Omniconvert - MyStartupLand

Omniconver is a Conversion Optimization Tool

Omniconvert helps you understand your buyers and optimize your conversation rate at the same time. It has been thought to be the go-to-tool for conversion rate optimization specialists.

Location: Romania Funded: 2013 Languages Supported: Bulgarian, Dutch, English, French, German, Polish, Romanian, Serbian Website

Starting Price: $59.00/month Free Version: Yes Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web Support: Online, Business Hours, 24/7 (Live Rep)

Who Is Omniconvert For? 

This tool is for online marketers, who are in charge of e-commerce websites or digital agencies offering conversion optimization consulting services.

What Does It Include? 

Thought to be the go-to-tool for conversion rate optimization specialists, Omniconvert includes 3 of the most important tools that any CRO should have:

  1. Online Surveys
  2. A/B Testing
  3. Web Personalization

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free version! Limited, but it’s available for you to test. This basic access is suitable for niche businesses or content creators who want to make the most of their traffic. For bigger companies, there’s an option to get in touch directly with Omniconvert and define the cost needed.

A/B Test Tools – Optimizely

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Optimizely - MyStartupLand

Digital Experiments For Growth

Optimizely is the world’s leader in digital experience optimization, allowing businesses to dramatically drive up the value of their digital products, commerce, and campaigns through its best-in-class experimentation software platform.

Location: United States

Funded: 2010

Languages Supported: English

Website

Starting Price: $50,000.00/year

Free Version: Yes

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, 24/7 (Live Rep)

Who Is Optimizely For? 

Optimizely is best suited for enterprise and mid-market companies in the Retail, Travel, B2B High Tech, and Media verticals.

What Does It Include? 

The tool has a full suite for online marketers covering several options:

  1. SEO A/B Testing
  2. Audience Targeting & Segmentation
  3. Split Testing
  4. Landing Pages and Web Forms Testing

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free version! Depending on the level of integration and usage needed, prices vary and can be customized.

A/B Test Tools – AB Tasty

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AB Tasty - MyStartupLand

All-in-one and Expandable Conversion Optimization Platform

AB Tasty helps marketers tailor user- experience and increase conversion rates through A/ B testing and content personalization.

Location: France

Funded: 2009

Languages Supported: English, French

Website

Starting Price: Custom

Free Version: Yes

Deployment: Cloud, SaaS, Web

Support: Online, Business Hours

Who Is AB Tasty For? 

This tool is for online marketers, who want to take advantages of data insights and A/B Testing to improve marketing campaigns and increase personalization for website visitors.

What Does It Include? 

This is an all-in-one CRO solution for marketers. It includes:

  1. User Insights to better understand the customer journey
  2. Experiments to take to the next level A/B testing activities
  3. Advanced segmentation and personalization
  4. Marketing campaigns set up and control
  5. Mobile Apps A/B Testing

How Much Does It Cost? 

There is a free version! However, depending on what needed the price is customized per user.

Content Marketing Strategy For Mobile Apps

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Content marketing is gaining popularity as the days go by. Marketers from different niches are exploring this opportunity to increase brand awareness. As a mobile app developer, you may not see the need to use content marketing as part of your marketing strategy. If you feel this way, however, you need to reconsider your options. 

Just like with other forms of marketing, there is the right and wrong way to market your content. It’s true that content marketing emphasizes the importance of content in promoting a mobile app development company. But is it just about content creation? No, it’s more than that.

See Also: Startup Growth Hacking – The Ultimate List Of Free Growth Tools For Content Marketing

Content marketing involves more than just creating content. The quality of content you create and the methods you use to distribute the content are all part of the mix. If you start working on content marketing with the aim of simply writing blog posts and placing them on web pages, you will hardly see any benefit from it.

What Exactly Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the strategic use of content to promote a brand. It has to do with creating and distributing relevant content to your audience. The keyword here is relevant.

When you’re using content marketing, you will not directly pitch your products and services to your audience. You should provide them with relevant information that can propel them to take action. For example, instead of writing a sales pitch about your mobile app, you can write an informative review or blog post about the app, trying to get the audience to take an action. 

The Complete Guide To Content Marketing Strategy For Mobile Apps

Guide To Content Marketing Strategy - MyStartupLand1. Avoid Stealing

Whether you like to admit it or not, everything online is available to “steal”. Since you probably have millions of marketers in your niche who are also trying to promote their business, you may be tempted to steal their content and paste it on your page.

While this is a fast way to get content on your blog, it is not efficient (and also unethical). Stealing content can land you in serious trouble. You’ll be reducing the rank of your site, and you can get reported by the party you stole from. The original owner of the content could file a DMCA. You might think that this is not a serious issue, but some marketers put in a lot of effort to find thieves and report them.

You can end up spending money on endless court battles and gaining absolutely nothing from the content. 

2. Protect Your Content

You have now understood it is not wise to steal content from others. The best thing to do is to create high-quality content and take measures to protect the content you produced. This is because when a person copies content from you, the person’s site isn’t the only one that will be demoted. Yours will be demoted too.

Search engines don’t care who wrote it first. There are many paid tools you can use to protect your content online. While some tools alert you when someone is trying to copy from your web page to their clipboard, others prevent it from happening entirely. If these don’t work and you notice that your content was stolen, the best thing to do will be to file a DMCA. You may think it’s too much stress, but you will appreciate it in the long run.

3. Do Not Backlink Anyone Who’s Ready

Backlinking is a good way to boost your rank. However, who you backlink or allow to backlink you will go a long way to influence the result of your content marketing strategy.

See Also: How To Start A Successful SEO Campaign

Your audience is also watching closely who you associate with. If you decide to collaborate with a strong and reputable brand, you will build trust. Associating with reputable brands before and after your company publishes an app, will also boost your ranking on search engines. You’ll tap from their popularity, and their clients will be willing to check your app out as well. When working with a dishonest brand or a copycat, you’ll be hurting your content marketing efforts. However, those reputable brand are also careful about who they associate with. It’s a two-way collaboration, don’t underestimate this step. 

4. Post The Truth And Nothing But The Truth

Your viewers are not stupid. They read a lot, crosscheck a lot and remember a lot. If you want to keep loyal followers, you need to provide them with high-quality information that is made up of nothing but the truth. Don’t fake stats or post lies. If you’re not sure about something, do your best to confirm it, otherwise leave it out entirely.

The last thing you want to do is tarnish your efforts because you stated wrong stats or wrote a white lie. News about these things spread fast. Be careful about what you write.

5. Never Underestimate The Power Of Email Marketing

Email marketing allows you to segment your audience in the best way possible. Don’t let the more popular social media marketing divert your attention from using content through email marketing. You can build a list of loyal subscribers who can regularly come and check your content.

Your audience is more likely to take your work seriously if you have a brand-specific email that sends them customized emails from time to time. Email marketing didn’t start today, and it isn’t going to end today either. Don’t overlook its importance.

 

If you haven’t started using content marketing, start now and use this guide to build the right audience. If you have already started content marketing, but you haven’t been getting the results you want, use this guide to fix your content marketing strategy. The sooner you get to work, the better results you will get. 

How do you use content marketing to boost your online brand presence? What type of results have you seen by implementing a content marketing strategy for your mobile app? Share your experience in the comment section below.

[INFOGRAPHIC] How Much Do You Know About Website Speed?

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Website Speed - MyStartupLand

Nobody likes waiting, especially online.

When performing a Google search, you want the results as soon as possible. Getting the information quickly is more important than where you get it. Unless you’re looking for a specific website, faster websites will always be preferred over slower ones by users.

Website speed affects also search ranking. For this reason, understanding this metric becomes essential to performance and online presence.

See Also: How To Start A Successful SEO Campaign

How Website Speed Affects Users Behaviour

Just have to look at the most popular websites. Wikipedia articles, for example, load almost instantly and Google even proudly displays the load time under the search bar (spoiler alert: it’s around 0.4 seconds).

For this reason, the biggest competitor that you need to watch out for is the “back button“. If your website loads too slowly, visitors won’t give you a second chance.

Yet, website speed remains misunderstood by most website owners. Everybody knows a website should be fast, but not exactly how fast.

How Fast Should Your Website Be? 

The general consensus among experts is that load times shouldn’t exceed 3 seconds. Most visitors seem to agree with this statement, as 79% of web shoppers who encounter issues with website speed, won’t return to the same website to buy again.

Admittedly, 3 seconds doesn’t seem like very long. However, statistics show that web pages that take longer lose about half of the visitors right away.

See Also: Top SEO Mistakes In 2018 For Your Company Blog

It is easy to underestimate how long it actually takes for your website to load. Data collected by the Hosting Tribunal shows this. The average load times are 9.3 seconds for desktop websites and 22 seconds for mobile ones. Now, aren’t 22 seconds a bit too long? Even 9.3 seconds are too much in most cases.

Most website owners don’t seem to agree, however. Even if your website isn’t that slow, it could still be losing traffic due to high load times. So how do you objectively know if your website takes too long to load?

There are numerous tools available for checking your website’s speed. For instance, GTMetrix offers various options for testing website speed and also suggests ways to improve it. This tool is very useful for speed optimization as the site gives many accessible techniques for on-page fixes.

Long website load times can kill your online performance. As a website owner, you need to be aware of what steps to take and how to improve your website speed. This infographic gives you more details on what needed.

Infographic Website Speed - MyStartupLand

Sales Follow Up Via Email – A Guide On How To Successfully Do It

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Sales Follow Up - MyStartupLand

Sometimes business owners are so much into the daily business that they might be missing the obvious solutions for opportunity growth. Meetings, investors, employees, product development, among others, come all at the expenses of growth. Startup founders, especially in the early days, need to find a healthy balance among all duties. However, as a founder, you also have the duty to keep your company in good financial shape to provide stability for your employees.

Making sure that new customers keep coming in is crucial to your company survival. Many of us involved in sales, give up on opportunities only after a couple of reach-outs or “no’s”. Being consistent and systematic with sales follow up is what makes a difference between a failing and a successful business.

After spending more than 10 years doing business internationally, I have learned what makes a difference in getting a prospect to reply to your email or just ignore it.

The Ugly Truth Of B2B Sales 

No one will buy from you the first time. There’s a 2% chance that someone will buy something after the first meeting. If you are lucky and come across this 2%, most likely they have done already some in-depth research about your business or they are an existing client referral (well done on that!).

The same applies to inbound marketing. If someone signs up to your newsletter or visit your website, it doesn’t mean they are ready to buy. You will need to interact with them a few more times before the decision is taken.

Marketing, like Sales, is about understanding your prospect and developing a relationship with them. It might take months sometimes before an initial buying interest develops in a closed sales opportunity.

For this reason, understanding how sales follow-ups play a crucial role in your business success is vital for your company growth.

Persistence & Timing Are Key In Sales Follow Up

Sales Follow Up - MyStartupLand

Although not as difficult as winning the lottery, closing a deal at the first meeting, as said, is highly unlikely. Even if the prospect is coming through referral, it is improbable they will agree on signing a contract after one meeting. Negotiation is part of the dance you will need to join.

But how long does it take for a prospect to become a client?

On average, 50% of the sales happen only after the 5th interaction but the average sales rep only reaches out twice to prospects. Do you see the same problem I see here?

On top of that, at any given time, only 3% of prospects are in “buying mood”, while 56% are not ready, and 40% are only ready to begin looking for solutions (source). This confirms that “sales-at-the-first-sight” is not really a thing in a business environment.

Persistency, however, is not the only factor that plays a crucial role in closing a deal. Timing is also something to keep in mind, especially in the online world. In my career, I have come across sales managers who believed it was a good idea not to get back to prospects’ requests immediately. It has been shown, however, how getting back to an inbound web lead within 5 minutes of their request, increases the likelihood of closing a deal of 9 times.

The more you sit on a request, for whatever reason, the more chances a competitor has to get their budget first.

How To Write a Sales Follow Up Email

How To Write A Sales Follow Up Email - MyStartupLand

For these reasons, understanding how to successfully write follow up emails is crucial. Your business growth depends on how well you and your team work on follow-ups.

For most of us, a sales follow up email is a synonym of “just checkin’ in” with a prospect. Because of my job, I am lucky enough to be on both sides of the table. I pitch companies and I get pitches on a daily basis.

A common theme in the sales follow-ups I receive is to see at least one of these sentences:

  • “I was just checking in…”
  • “Just following up on our conversation (previous email/call)”
  • “I wanted to circle back…”

I would lie if I would tell you that I haven’t done this myself as well. It is actually very easy to open up an email with one of these. The problem is that most of the inexperienced reps tend to write just that. Nothing more.

The Inexperienced Follow Up

Hi XYZ,

I wanted to circle back on the email (call) we had last week. Have you had the chance to read (think) through the information I sent?

Let me know

Yours Sincerely,

Inexperienced Sales Rep

What’s wrong with this follow-up? At the end of the day, we actually just want to remind the prospect that we have sent them some more information and we want an answer.

Every now and then, you can also experience something lazier than the above example.

The Lazy Follow Up

Hi XYZ,

Just bumping this up on top of your inbox.

Yours sincerely,

Inexperienced & Lazy Sales Rep

The Key To Follow Up Emails: Don’t Be Annoying

Annoying Sales Follow Up Email - MyStartupLand

The last thing you want to do when chasing a prospect is to be that annoying person your prospect will complain about when talking with her colleagues. Not being clear, just sending meaningless follow-ups, following up with the wrong person (yes!) these are just a few of the things to keep in mind.

If you want to succeed in the follow-up emails game, here is the best guideline to follow.

1. Be Specific & To The Point

When crafting a follow-up email (but also when working on your first reach out), make sure to be specific. Start with the email title. Are you able to attract attention in just a few words? Work on your email title, but don’t “scam” your prospect into opening your email. What’s the likelihood of convincing someone in replying to you, when he thought the email was about something else?

See Also: 8 Ways To Improve Your Sales Email Response Rate

It’s also important to be to the point and don’t waste space (and time). The ideal length of an email should be below 125 words. This is the right amount of words that fit on a mobile screen. After all, 35% of business professionals read emails on-the-go. The more you write, the more distractions they will have while reading your email.

2. Make It Easy For Prospects To Reply

Your prospects get tons of emails on a daily basis. When reaching out to potential clients, it’s important to understand that you are competing not only with companies who might sell the same or different products as yours but also with their colleagues, their managers, their email subscriptions and anything else that get in their inbox.

Depending on the industry you work in, cold email open rate can vary between 15.22% to 28.46%.

Cold Email Open Rate - MyStartupLand
8 Cold Email Statistics that Will Change How You Do Cold Email Campaigns

If you send a wordy email with too many details and no clear directions, your prospect won’t reply. Same as in your initial cold email, in the follow-up, it is crucial to tell the prospect what action you want them to take.

3. WIIFM – The World Most Famous Radio Station

Regardless of the industry, there’s only one thing your prospect really care about, that is – WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?

Yes, prospects don’t care about your shiny technology or amazing solution, if it doesn’t provide them with some value. What problems are you solving for them?

Each one of us has a boss, somewhere, and each one of us needs to solve a problem to please that boss. Are you able to identify the problem your prospect is worrying the most at the moment? Be careful, I am not talking about A problem, I am talking about THE problem, your prospect wants a solution for.

No one more than you know which problems your prospect is worrying about the most. Is it increasing sales? Is it finding new ways to serve their employees? Is it optimizing internal workflow? If you are an entrepreneur, you have created a solution to that problem. If you work in sales, you have joined a company because you believed its solution is the best to solve that problem.

Spend some time with your team to discuss and identify what are the top 3 problems your company can solve and then start designing your reach outs accordingly.

4. Nail The CTA

One thing that I often see missing in sales follow up emails is a strong CTA – Call To Action. What’s next?

By CTA, I don’t mean only trying to set up a phone call for a certain date/time. A strong CTA is a mix of clear directions of what could happen after the follow-up.

Your prospect is busy and has no time to think, really. None of us does, especially when we receive a cold invite to buy something. Make sure to be clear and to the point (again) and don’t just ask for more time for no reason.

Although an old model and to certain extent limiting, the AIDA model (developed in 1898) summarise in the right way what you are supposed to do when following up with a prospect. Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action. What’s next?

5. Track Everything Little Thing

There’s one thing that many people involved in sales often forget and that is the power of tracking sales activities. If you ask any of the people I have worked with, they will tell you that I have a problem with sales reps who don’t track their sales activities properly.

Setting up and using properly a CRM can help your sales team and company reach a whole new level. If you think that investing in a strong CRM and enforcing your salespeople (even the top ones) to use the system correctly and constantly is a waste of time and money, then your company will rely on lucky circumstances to hit numbers and growth.

Tracking everything little thing in a CRM will allow you to systematically plan each step you take when crafting your sales follow-up emails and get you one step closer to your goals.

 

Following these 5 steps will help your team getting higher response rate at any follow-up they send. Remember that there’s no secret formula in getting your emails answered. Each time there will be something different that triggers your prospect in answering. To be successful we need to test different techniques and most importantly don’t forget that we are interacting with humans on the other side of the screen.

 

4 Types Of Startup Pitch You Need To Know About

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The harsh reality that sometimes hit startup founders is that they need to pitch, always. If you want to attract investors, customers, or just get people excited about your idea, you will need to master the art of pitching. The ability to tell in a concise way what your startup does and deliver the message across in the right way, however, is not an easy task. According to GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), there are about 100 million startups launched every year. That’s about 3 startups every second. Before understanding how to craft the message in the right way, startup founders need to realize that not all the startup pitches are the same. Understanding the different type of startup pitch becomes vital for long-term success.

As a founder, you won’t have always much time to design and perfect your startup pitch, for this reason getting ahead of this task is important. The key here is that you learn how to adjust the messaging according to the situation you face. For example, startup competitions require a different type of startup pitch than when you meet someone at an event.

Nailing the messaging is key, but the content of the message is not the only thing to look at. Learning how to pitch a startup is a process that anyone can master and, more importantly, everyone working for you should also know. Every single employee, especially in the early days, should be an ambassador of your company. Making sure that everyone is on the same page, will facilitate your work as a founder.

Before learning how to pitch and what’s important in a pitch, it’s crucial to understand the types of startup pitch you can deliver.

The messaging or the structure of your startup pitch don’t matter if you use it in the wrong situation.

The 4 Types Of Startup Pitch

Depending on you are talking to and the situation you are in, the message around product pitch should be adjusted. Here below, we take a look at the 4 most common types.

The Twitter Pitch

Twitter Pitch - MyStartupLand

This summarizes your whole idea in one punchy sentence. It has become common to create a comparison with well-known companies to facilitate this task for startup founders (and listeners). For this reason, we often hear:

“It’s the UBER of XYZ”

“It’s like Airbnb meets Facebook”

Despite this being still relevant and effective, I suggest you try to add something unique to it. In the last few years, startup founders have been abusing the comparison method, so it’s good to come at it from a different angle.

When To Use It? This is best for when you meet someone at an event and they have never heard of your company. A catchy, punchy line that explains in few words your company, but doesn’t bore to death the listener with useless information. Only at the question, “how does that work?”, you can go on and give more details.

The Elevator Pitch

This is a short description of your company. The idea is that this pitch should last as long as an elevator ride, that is between 15 seconds and a couple of minutes. However, on most occasion, your elevator pitch shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds.

This has become increasingly important among startup founders, as VCs and angel investors get bombarded with startup pitches. The idea is that, once you have identified your target (i.e. an investor) you get his or her attention in as short as 30 seconds.

To craft a good elevator pitch, take the following things into consideration:

  1. Define the goal of your pitch – What do you want to get out of this? Is it a meeting? An opinion? Think about this before crafting your message.
  2. Explain briefly but clearly what you do – Can you be concise and still express the core idea of your startup?
  3. Communicate your USP – Are you able to identify one or two key differentiators for your startup?
  4. Engage the listener with one good question – What is the next step after you pitched your idea? Ask for it!

When To Use It? This could follow your “Twitter Pitch” or can be used when you know that the listener is open for pitches. I personally recommend not to go on for a 30 or even worse 60 seconds pitch when you first meet someone, especially at an event. An alternative, if you feel like the twitter punchline is not enough, is to think about a 15 seconds elevator pitch.

The Competition Pitch

The Competition pitch - MyStartupLand

This is longer than the previous two and it needs to be presented with a pitch deck. The deck you will be building is very similar to the one you would use to send to investors.

A crucial thing to understand is that in startup competition, startup founders have limited time (between 3 and 5 minutes) to explain what their startup does and its traction. In a competition pitch deck, it is crucial to replace words with images.

You will do the speaking, not your presentation.

While pitching at a competition, you might not want to get tangled in details. The pressure is high and you have a limited amount of time to catch everyone’s attention. You need to make the most out of it.

The Investor Pitch

As the competition pitch, you would be using a media deck to deliver your message. The investor pitch is somewhat similar to how you present your startup at a competition, however, the dynamic of the conversation is very different.

You need to do engage the listener, make him or her interested and be ready to get into details. Same as any other pitch deck, it’s best not to go over 10 slides, however, in these 10 slides you will need to give as many details as possible.

When talking with investors, make sure to spend time on the problem, solution (unique technology) and, of course, traction. This is THE pitch that you need to ready for. The people in front of you are the one that could give you money to transform your dream into reality.

 

As a founder, you need to make sure that you clearly understand the differences among these 4 types of startup pitch and work towards perfecting each one of these. Remember, the key to each one of these is the story. Every time you pitch someone, be it an investor or a client, it’s about crafting the right story that attracts interests and triggers emotions.

 

What worked for you when pitching your startup? Do you have any other tips to share with us? Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

What To Have In Mind If You Consider On Buying A Startup

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Buying A Startup - MyStartupLand

Everyone wants to get rich overnight, a very unrealistic expectation, usually made by rookie investors. There is no easy way of getting rich fast since it is a long and hard process which takes a lot of work. “The American dream” is out there, just not as simple as it is depicted in the movies.

Some people have earned fortunes throughout history by simply being lucky, but you should not rely on luck. Investing in a startup is complicated, much more complicated than people think. 

There are many things to consider before doing such an audacious move like buying a startup. Here below, we list some of the most important things you should consider before investing in a startup. 

The Expertise Of The Startup Team

If a startup company you have an interest in is led by a professional in the field, it is more likely to be successful in the future. Sometimes the sheer talent of a manager or other team member can lead to incredibly profitable business cooperation.

The example of this is Marc Lore, who was a leader at Amazon and who later started his own company Jet.com. Their startup was bought by Walmart, and Jet became a huge success.

The Technology Used

Technology Startup - MyStartupLand

Modern and innovative technology can often make the difference between a successful startup and an unprofitable one. A good example would be PetSmart who acquired Chewy and made an incredible mix of good product and online delivery.

A good symbiotic relationship with the startup company can be crucial, that is, if you already have a similar business. Nothing is stopping you from acquiring both parts of the coin, especially if you are well-off.

The Platform Built Upon

With the incredible expansion of technology in the past twenty years, there are tons of amazing tech companies who became famous worldwide exclusively thanks to the Internet. The Internet is not just a place for social media, Youtube and video games. It is much more.

It is a giant marketplace, which does not lack in customers either. You can find a select demographic and tailor your product specifically for their needs with a little help of the Internet. Maybe collect some data through social media, place your ads there and voila. You got yourself a bunch of shoppers, who are willing to spend fortunes on your products online.

However, if you want to succeed, you must have a nicely designed website, have a team of programmers who will work out the kinks for you and get the system running.

The Brand Name

Brand Name - MyStartupLand

Having a good brand name is everything today. I don’t mean just the name, like a catchy slang term, “Buzz” sneakers for instance. I also mean the reputation. If you are acquiring a startup that is already reputable, it is more likely going to be fruitful.

An existent and famous brand can be repurposed, remodeled to become modern and trendy. Today’s trends are changing by the day, but certain experts know how to make products more appealing.

Be Smart About Your Money

Nobody wants to lose money they worked hard for. Neither should you. Investing smartly is the key priority in buying startup companies. There are several ways to be smart about it.

Do not “spray and pray”. Investing blindly can sometimes prove good if you are a lucky person. But, as we mentioned before, you should not rely on luck with your investments.

Strategize and investigate the company you want to invest in. If you are not 100% sure on what you are doing, you can always consult with business agents that help people to make the right decision when they decide to buy a new business.

Spend enough time thinking about your next move. Try to understand the fluctuations in a company’s success. It is even better if you invest in a field you are familiar with. Another smart thing to consider is diversifying your capital. This way you will guarantee to save a portion of money if something goes south.

 

The above considerations hopefully gave you the grounds to start thinking about what is important when buying a startup. Considering such investment is not easy and it is, without doubt, something you don’t do overnight. Have you thought about investing or buying a startup? Would you add any other advice? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

10 Tools To Increase Productivity For Entrepreneurs

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Productivity Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

There is so much to do in the life of a busy entrepreneur and yet, there is so little time. Every entrepreneur must understand the importance of productivity in their lives and also how should they maximize their time. There are plenty of tools, services, and apps available in the market that can help you enhance productivity, save time, and do more in less time.

See Also: 10 Must-Have Apps For Startup Founders

Here below, we gathered a list of some of the best productivity tools for entrepreneurs out there. This list is intended to help you become a smarter and more productive entrepreneur, thus saving your time.

What Are The Tools To Increase Productivity For Entrepreneurs?

1. Asana

Asana - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

Make more time for the work that matters the most with Asana. This tool helps you coordinate your team’s work in one platform. In this way, everyone is aware of what needs to be done, what and when is due, and who are the responsible people for doing it.

Asana helps you plan and structure the work in an easy way, assign tasks and share details and set deadlines and priorities all in one place. Stay on track and follow tasks and projects through every stage. Eliminate roadblocks, pinpoint risks, and create visual project plans to see how every step maps out over time, all with Asana.

2. Calendly

Calendly - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

Calendly helps you schedule meetings without any back-and-forth emails. Setting it up is easy, let it know your availability preferences and it will do the rest of the work for you.

Once you have set everything up, you can then share your Calendly links through email or embed them on your website. It undoubtedly makes for the best-automated scheduling software for you and everyone you meet. It helps you connect with your clients, prospects, and contacts and works with your calendar to automatically check your availability.

3. Trello

Trello - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLandTrello helps you organize any task and activity with anyone. It brings a shared perspective to any life’s projects in a fun, rewarding, and flexible manner.

It enables you to accomplish anything right from collaborating with colleagues up to planning a vacation. It’s intuitively simple cards, boards, and lists helps you go from idea to action in just seconds. Planning with Trello is really fun and its features are flexible enough to fit any team’s styles.

4. Google Docs

Google Docs - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLandGoogle Docs can prove to be a very powerful tool for every entrepreneur since it lets one instantly create shareable documents, presentations, and spreadsheets that can be viewed and edited by any team member.

It is free to use and you can write, create, collaborate, and edit documents from wherever you are. Its smart editing and styling tools bring your documents to life and help you format texts and paragraphs. You can choose from hundreds of fonts and add images, drawing, and links, all for free.

5. Franz

Franz - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

Franz is an all-in-one messaging app which combines major messaging and chats services into one application. It currently supports Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Slack, WeChat, Telegram, Google Hangouts, Hipchat, Skype, GroupMe, and many more.

It is the perfect tool to manage multiple private and business accounts, all at the same time. It doesn’t matter whether you are managing a customer care team or just want to keep in touch with your contacts or friends, Franz got you covered.

6. DerButton

DerButton - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

DerButton is an all-in-one tool for video calls, payments, scheduling, and invoicing. With it, you can save a full working day every week.

As a busy founder, you can manage your business with different tools without any tech skills required. DerButton manages your day to day tasks and helps you run your business hassle-free.

7. Evernote

Everynote - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

Evernote makes you feel organized without any efforts. It helps you prioritize and capture ideas, to-do lists, and projects and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks.

With it, entrepreneurs never have to lose track of deadlines and tasks. Manage everything from personal moments to big projects and capture ideas and inspiration in pictures, voice, and notes. It works across all the devices and in the offline mode too so you can stay organized irrespective of where you are.

8. LastPass

LastPass - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

LastPass simplifies your life by remembering all your passwords so you do not have to remember them all. It removes the obstacles for you and lets you get back to the things that you love the most.

All you need to do is install its extension in your browser for accessing and saving your passwords. You then need to create an account with one long secure master password and LastPass would do the rest for you. You can then explore LastPass vault and view, manage and add items into your LastPass account. Forgetting and remembering passwords will become a thing of the past with it.

9. Zapier

Zapier - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

Connect your apps and automate workflows with Zapier. This tool moves information between your web apps automatically so that you can focus on the important work.

It is basically an easy automation for busy people. All you need to do is link your web apps, pass information between those apps with the help of Zaps (workflows), and get more done and build processes without any coding required. It has a simple fill in the blank setup, completes actions automatically, and lets you start workflows from any app.

10. Buffer

Buffer - Tools For Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

Save your time managing social media for your business with Buffer. It makes it easy for marketing teams and businesses to schedule posts, manage all their accounts, and analyze performance in one place. Instead of going to six different networks you can check analytics and schedule content from just one place for all your social accounts.

 

When you have the right tools in place, you can improve your workflow and get more things done in less time. This list of tools to increase productivity for entrepreneurs has been put together with the idea of helping busy startup founders out there.

Which one among these is the one you prefer the most? Is there any other productivity tool you would suggest? Share your experience and suggestions in the comment section below.

Why Coworking Spaces Are Perfect For Young Entrepreneurs

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Coworking Spaces Are Perfect For Young Entrepreneurs - MyStartupLand

In the latest years coworking spaces have become a natural choice for young professionals and startups. With a wide variety of options to choose from, entrepreneurs and freelancers can easily find what suit best their needs. However, coworking spaces’ perks are just part of the equation. There are several other reasons why co-working spaces are perfect for young entrepreneurs.

First of all, from a business perspective, coworking spaces offer founders and professionals the possibility to meet like-minded people, giving them further opportunities for business. On top of that, on a more practical level, these are a cost-effective way to lease office space. Young entrepreneurs and freelancers can take advantage of standard office amenities while tapping in the human potential of an office.

Let’s take a closer look at why so many young entrepreneurs find coworking the perfect spot for working.

All-Inclusive Features

Coworking Spaces Benefits - MyStartupLand

Having access to all the necessities to run a business is probably the most interesting benefit a coworking space has to offer to young entrepreneurs. With all the options available in the market, offerings vary quite a bit. The basic is obviously having access to a workspace. However, many others give entrepreneurs and freelancer IT services, support staff, conference rooms, meeting rooms and also private offices. On top of these, some co-working spaces offer also lounges, kitchen and in some cases, daycare. Servcorp Australia, for example, has been standing out with some unique options for entrepreneurs to choose from.

Unique Environment

Coworking spaces provide young entrepreneurs with an energetic environment to work in. The community around these spaces, however, is an added value that normal offices don’t have. Interestingly enough, the community is what makes the co-working space. Each space has its own type of community, which means that young entrepreneurs can really look for what suits them best. 

It goes also without saying that all type of professional can benefit from a dynamic work environment and its social interactions. Most coworking spaces support both formal and informal events designed to get professionals engaged and connected to the community. Having also the chance to “hot-desk” while meeting people in other industries can really improve the experience.

See Also: 7 Psychological Ways to Improve Productivity in the Workplace

A Wider Skill-Set

You can have a million-dollar idea, but ideas don’t take off without the help of others. While being in co-working spaces, entrepreneurs can take advantage of the diversity of professionals they can meet. The opportunity is huge for everyone. In 2017 alone there were about 1.5 million people using co-working spaces globally. By 2020, that number is expected to triple. 

Coworking spaces mentors - MyStartupland

These spaces can also be a great way for founders and professionals to find mentors and advisors, who can help to build a stronger business or to expand your network.

The Perfect Setting For Young Entrepreneurs

Coworking spaces are perfect for young entrepreneurs looking to find an easier way to set up an office and at the same time get access to quite a lot of benefits. The possibility to easily access a great community of talented professional as well as a fully-equipped working place is a unique development in today’s work environment. 

In essence, this cocktail of professional autonomy in a more relaxed, energetic environment not only encourages the type of creativity that builds an empire, but it also is a major stepping stone in building valuable business connections.

 

[INFOGRAPHIC] In-Store vs. Online: How 11 Brands Have Mastered Both Channels

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In-Store vs. Online - MyStartupLand

Anyone who has been around for a while knows that the conventional brick and mortar store is being hit by a big disruption wave. To some bystanders, this is beginning to look like an endgame for traditional retailing as we know it.

In fact, the world of buying and selling has not witnessed this extent of transfiguration ever. According to the Fortune, brick and mortar stores have experienced their worst year on record in 2017.

See Also: [INFOGRAPHIC] What’s The Story Behind The E-Commerce Giant eBay?

About 6,985 stores were forced to close being unable to keep up with the competition online stores was bringing into the game. That’s dangerously close to 7,000 closures in one year!

The bad news (or good news, depending on how you look at it) is this trend will continue and intensify even through 2018. Online retailing will continue to chip away at the storefront of brick and mortar stores and maybe not so gradually.

In-Store vs. Online: What The Future Holds

Amazon, as the top dog, is leading the online cavalry. And with no sign whatsoever of letting up, it seems online retailing has only one direction to go – forward.

However, even though e-commerce is growing at a rate that’s three times faster than in-store retail, brick and mortar stores are still holding out for the time being.

For instance, according to the stats, traditional stores sell 10 times more than their counterparts online. Plus 64% of the majority’s shopping cash is spent in stores with only a meager 36% spent online.

But what are the big brands doing about this disruption? The folks at RedBrain prepared an infographic to help you compare the in-store and online footprints of some of the world’s biggest retail kings. We’ve also thrown in a couple of fun facts about these brands we thought you might find interesting.

The 7 Ideal Social Media Principles for Startups

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Social Media Principles for Startups - MyStartupLand

Launching your own business is extremely challenging, regardless of the industry you operate in. Capital is generally low and the time available to achieve success is limited. Despite those challenges, building a strong online presence is crucial as any other task you need to accomplish. 

The online world is constantly evolving. Technology and social media play a crucial role in online visibility. Launching a company that no one can find online is pointless. Working on social media activities can help startup founders reach their target audience and increase discoverability. The best part of social media marketing is that it doesn’t require a big investment to see results. However, due to the high usage among startups, it is important for entrepreneurs to have a sound knowledge of how to increase brand visibility.

We have collected 7 social media principals for startups to help you out. Before starting to acquire followers and increase engagement, work on the basics to ensure success.

Know Where You Are Going

A common mistake made by a number of brands is to have unclear objectives. Setting S.M.A.R.T. objectives is one of the basic activities to ensure your digital marketing strategy makes sense.

What are you expecting from your digital strategy? Can you quantify the type of results you are looking for? You need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with a social media campaign.

If you focus on content generation without a proper planning, you will hardly see any result. Creating content with no objective will not turn into revenue. Working in this way will actually result in a waste of time and resources.

Focus On Valuable Content

Content Marketing Strategy Startups - MyStartupLand

You can often read online to post frequently to have higher engagement. However, posting general articles which don’t add much to what is already online won’t benefit your brand in any way. Take a look from your audience perspective. What value will they have if they come to your website and non-targeted content? After a couple of times, most likely they will not come back.

Startup founders often forget to curate content on their platform. Focusing on high-quality articles, with interesting pictures, will increase your followers’ interest in your brand.

Good Results Are Not Free

Marketing on social media can be free. However, the reality is that if you are launching a new company, no one knows about it. Having “uncontrolled” strategies on social media could have worked a few years back when these channels were not heavily used for content promotion.

Today, paid social media marketing is part of the process. You cannot avoid it. However, posting “sponsored content” on social media will not solve all your problems. You will need to create a funnel strategy to attract the right target audience and make sure they convert into paying users.

Social media marketing does require money, however, compared to traditional channels is cheaper. On top of that, it is relatively easier to calculate performance and ROI to optimize results.

Posting Time Is Crucial

Different social media platforms have different characteristics. For example, Twitter is known to work best during night time. It is also important that you interact with your audience relatively quickly (usually within 30 minutes) to increase engagement. To build proper visibility on this channel, timing becomes crucial.

On the other hand, Pinterest is known to deliver the best results in the daytime.

Social Media Marketing Benefits - MyStartupLand
http://www.brendonmoses.com/index.php/my-blog/51-10-benefits-of-social-media-marketing

Having a complete knowledge of how each social media channel works is crucial to focus your efforts in the right way.

Work On Your Social Media Profiles

Working on social media profiles usually ranks very low in the priority list of every startup founders. However, having complete social profiles will help you increase brand visibility and engagement. Social media profiles will be the very first glimpse your target audience will get of your brand. Are you willing to ignore this factor?

Including detailed information in your social profiles will also help social media users to understand whether your brand and product/service are a good fit for them. On top of that, having the right keywords could also benefit your search engine visibility.

It’s All About Conversion

Social media marketing is not only about visibility. These activities are best also to generate leads and boost sales. Having strong and effective CTAs in almost all social media posts will help you engage your target customers in the best way.

As a startup founder, you need to think about creative and innovative ways to increase conversions on your website. Providing gifts and coupons to visitors can stimulate interactions, however, it should not be overused. Creating an engaging newsletter can help you bring back users that might have forgotten your brand.

A Company Blog Is Crucial

Although your startup is not about blogging, you need to work on a website blog to increase your targeted audience engagement. The blog should be used for publishing high-quality content on a regular basis, perhaps about your product or service, perhaps about industry news. Once you hit publish, make sure to use social media channels to encourage visitors to share your articles.

See Also: Top SEO Mistakes In 2018 For Your Company Blog

Combining a company blog with social media platforms will help you increase visibility for your brands on search engines. Focusing on keywords research will help you understand how to effectively attract potential customers to your website. Good quality blog posts attract users and can generate an increase in traffic.

Promoting a brand on social media is not an easy task. It takes time, patience and a good plan. These 7 ideal social media principles for startups are thought to give every entrepreneur a starting point.

How are you using social media channels to create engagement with your target users? Do you see any specific platform performing best? Share your experience in the comment section below.

How A Digital Marketing Strategy Can Benefit Your Brand

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digital marketing strategy - MyStartupLand

Your digital marketing strategy needs to be established to really work for your brand. The right strategy can help you improve reach and build a stronger relationship with your customers. Research has shown that the best marketers are those with a detailed plan and clear-cut goals. Yet, only 65% of marketers report they have a digital marketing strategy in place.

Start by Developing a S.M.A.R.T. Strategy

SMART Goals - MyStartupLand

In order to create a strategy that really improves your brand and reach, you need to start by figuring out your specific goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are designed to keep you on track and know if you’ve been successful or not within a given time period.

Specific – You need to create defined goals with details that clarify your goals. Rather than say you want to “increase conversion” or “grow our contacts list,” write goals like, “Increase click-throughs by 10%” or “Gain 1,000 followers on Facebook.”

Measurable – With specific numbers in place, you will have a way to check and see if you’ve actually failed by your established deadline. Make sure you have a way to measure your goals and don’t include things you don’t know, like how your audience feels about your brand (unless you plan to offer a survey to measure this).

Attainable – Keep your goals to those that are within your control and have your strategy set up for success. This may mean you need tools in place, like social media managers, email automation or mass SMS service to spread the word and track analytics.

Realistic – Don’t shoot over what is in line with your results. You don’t want to plan to increase engagement by 1000 followers within the month when you only have 300 followers. Look at your metrics and then consider specific ways you can really increase your current metrics to best support your brand.

Timely – Don’t make the mistake of creating open-ended goals. Make sure you have a deadline for evaluation and even establish checkpoints for bigger goals to keep you on track.

Don’t Make Assumptions

You probably have already considered who your audience is, but how much are you actually assuming? Align sales and marketing teams and look at your best customers. Analyze who you are serving and what they are coming to you for. In order to appeal to the right segment of the market, you first have to understand who they are. You may want to use influencer marketing to help appeal to other prospects who share similar positions, interest, needs or traits with your top customers.

Be Regular and Reliable

Don’t get in over your head. Start with one or two social media platforms you think will be most important for your audience and then keep up with them. You want to be quick to respond to your audience and post regularly to gain a solid following that trusts your company. A neglected profile can do more damage than not even having one at all. Once you feel comfortable with meeting the expectations of one platform, consider increasing your reach with a new platform.

 

How are you managing your digital marketing strategy to achieve constant growth? Have you tried using some of the above tips? Share in the comment section below your experiences.

Top VC Trends To Keep An Eye On

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Top VC Trend To Keep An Eye On - MyStartupLand

Startups around the globe rely heavily on VC funding to grow and expand their activities. Many successful startups have raised capital more than once over the course of the years. The VC industry knows no slow down. In 2017, we saw an increase of about 50% in comparison to the previous year in VC activities. It’s interesting to note that the increase was a global phenomenon, not limited to the U.S. Competition among VC funds, especially in the EU market has also increased, seeing about 17.1% of U.S. funds participating in local deals.

VC Trends To Keep An Eye On - MyStartupLand
http://www.nexitventures.com/blog/vc-hottest-trends/

Although the amount invested has increased over time, the number of deals closed in the last few years has decreased.

Many startup founders struggle to understand how VC operates. For this reason, we talked with Iva Matasic, a leading business advisor for many startups and international keynote speaker. At the Oslo Innovation Week, with the support of the Founder Institute, she presented the top VC trends that every entrepreneur should keep an eye on.

See Also: Top European Startup Accelerators 2018

VC Trends To Keep An Eye On

“To understand what will happen this and next year in the VC industry, it’s important to look at the last 8 years of activities,” says Matasic, who has been involved in the business world for the last 15 years of her career.

Starting in 2010 there has been an increase in deals and amount closed in the European market. The graph below by Pitchbook shows the trend.

EU VCs Activities - MyStartupLand
https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/european-vc-trends-in-8-charts

“Obviously, we cannot compare the US and the European VC market and operations. Many VCs based in the US have been active internally for many years. Recently, however, they have started to look into European-based startups, establishing local branches.”

In the past, European-based startup founders had two options: pack their bags and go to the US with the hope of closing a round of funding or find some creative ways into the US VC funds big pockets. “Before the whole Brexit issue started, many founders from mainland Europe used to establish their company in the U.K. as it was easier to access US capitals. This, however, has changed now.”

How Are European VC Funds Evolving?

First of all, European funds have now gathered enough knowledge, and capital, to pro-actively help startup founders through their journey. Although still not at the same level as US (and with a more risk-adverse mentality), in 2016 European funds raised $6.4 billion, matching the positive trend in investments in the region. “On top of this, in some part of Europe, like in the Balkan region, we can see how things have changed dramatically. Six years ago there were no funds of any type. Today we have more than fifteen!” says Matasic, who was born and started her career in Croatia.

With more opportunities coming to this side of the Atlantic, startup founders need to consider whether there are differences between US and European funds and what they need to do to close that gap. “The good news is that what works in Europe, works also in the US. VC funds are looking pretty much at the same things, regardless of location. The team is the most important point. Product and traction come later, depending on the stage your startup is in and what round of financing you are looking into”, says Matasic, who is also actively mentoring startups in the USA and knows well how the two realities compare.

To Raise Or Not To Raise?

The reality though is that nowadays startup founders don’t need only cash, they need “smart money. This is crucial for any startup”, Matasic points out “there are a lot of founders who go out and look for money, but in most cases, they don’t need it. They just need smart advice and good market research”.

Startup founders might think that raising capital is equivalent to a market confirmation. The logical train of thoughts for many first-entrepreneurs would be “If I raise some sort of capital, it means my idea is worth attention and more funding”. However, many miss the point that adding board members only increase the number of activities and voices they will need to hear while working on their startup. It is well known that VC funding does not mean success.

See Also: You Have A Million-Dollar Idea, Now What?

Towards Data Science has gone a bit deeper and looked at the relationship between failure with rounds of funding and exit opportunity. The rate of failure to exit decreases as a startup progress through its journey, which makes total sense as the company matures. It is also interesting to analyze how the rate of failure to raise the next round progress. It seems that startups have more opportunities to get acquired than raising capital passed Series B.

relationship between failure with rounds of funding - MyStartupLand
https://towardsdatascience.com/dissecting-startup-failure-by-stage-34bb70354a36

 

What About The European VC Market?

“In Europe, many founders lack a clear understanding of the VC world”. There are so many options out there for entrepreneurs looking for funding that the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly might not be clear.

Matasic continues telling us about how South Eastern Europe, Balkan region, for example, has been growing exponentially in the last few years. “There are about 20+ million people in the area, however, we can see how some countries are working harder than others to create a sustainable environment for entrepreneurship.

Iva Matasic - MyStartupLand

For example, in Bulgaria, the government is supporting investment in many categories, among which startups.” However, the competition in the area is quite tough, due to the fact that international companies scout local talent with higher salaries”.

Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia are very active when it comes to the startup ecosystem, but generally speaking there are two major limitations in South Eastern Europe: a) too much of a local focus and b) lack of sales capabilities.

For this reason, also the level of investment is not really competitive. “Angel investors in the region are not really “angels”… they take some equity to give you pretty much the equivalent of a return ticket to the States”.

When Is A Good Moment To Look For VC Money?

Depending on the startup, the need for funds might change. Generally, “if your company is service focused, you should get out and sell rather than raising capital. On the other hand, for tech-heavy startups, raising capital is a matter of life”.

As said previously, raising funds is not a synonym of success. “If you raise money and you don’t need it, then you will end up failing most likely. I have seen this so many times. Startups raise capital that is not needed, not have a clear strategy and they start hiring people, rather than focusing on traction and sales. That’s when things go down” Matasic continues.

Among the top 20 reasons why startups fail, as a matter of fact, running out of cash and a weak team take the 2nd and 3rd spot after only a product/market fit issue, according to CB Insights.

Investment Firms Have Evolved Greatly In The Last Few Years

Early stage VCs have expanded their knowledge greatly in the last years. “6 years ago, you could get cash just by having a nice PowerPoint and a strong pitch, but not necessarily traction or a finished product”, Matasic explains. “Today, VCs and startup accelerators are much more knowledgeable. They have invested quite a bit in their own education and today startup founders can’t get away without some proper answers to tough questions, such as traction, product/market fit, and so on”.

Startup founders need to be ready to hustle, “they need to have” what Matasic calls “the entrepreneur DNA”. Entrepreneurs have to adapt quickly to market conditions and customers’ responses.

 

It is clear that VCs are going to invest only more in new startups. In recent years, we have also seen how big corporates have started playing the VC role, creating corporate startup accelerators, for example. For startup founders, it is important to be more focused on important metrics and let go all the fluff. If you get results, you will grow and achieve success.

How To Choose The Best Automated Solution To Manage Employee-Initiated Expenses

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Employee-initiated Expenses - MyStartupLand

Employee-initiated expenses are the second largest controllable costs after payroll. Failing to manage these expenses extend beyond the danger of economic losses. It also put businesses at risk of criminal prosecution for failing to practice effective control over this indefinable spend category. If an organization wants to remain competitive in the long haul, its corporate travel has to be controlled tightly. The major concern is to manage those spends actively but cleverly and get maximum value for the money businesses spend.

Corporate travel is perhaps the most obvious category of employee-initiated expenses, and the most subject to abuse. Advanced expense management results from creating a complete business process that generates maximum value for employee-generated spends. Automated spend management system can be the best solution for managing employee expenses, but the real task only begins with software selection.

See Also: How to Remain Productive While Traveling and Working Remotely

Managing employee-initiated expenses involves more complex detail management than controlling payroll. Organizations need to track continuous stream of transactions and make sure those transactions fall within appropriate cost guidelines, draw on preferred vendors, and truly support the goals of their business. Before managing employee initiated-spend, they need to be able to measure it. A corporate spending accumulates in small, subtle transactions that approvers are often hard-pressed to examine in any meaningful way until it’s too late, if ever. And even when spends can be collected at a useful level of detail, it remains hard to track those costs in context to gain favorable volume discounts with vendors.

Automated Expense Management System

Automated Expense Management System

While employee-initiated spends present the maximum chances for cost savings in many organizations, the difficulty of monitoring those costs presents its own challenge. Business travel alone can involve hundreds of vendors, thousands of trips, and tens of thousands of transactions. Moreover, it’s not enough to find the best price – you need to seek the best value overall. That demands a broad approach to the entire spend management process, from vendor relationships to prior approvals through trip reporting and reimbursement. Addressing all such issues can easily become a trouble that distracts managers from their strategic responsibilities. A robust, online, highly scalable expense management system can help your business better manage corporate travel spend from anywhere, anytime.

Businesses also realize additional savings by acquiring the ability to leverage data in negotiations with vendors to cut future costs. Vendors are happy to offer preferred customer discounts to organizations that generate major business volume. They’re also more negotiable in an economic downturn when the demand to cut costs peaks. Conversely, many organizations whose business volume might give them negotiating power lack the data to make their case effectively.

If businesses have negotiated attractive prices with vendors, they need to make sure that their employees are making reservations with preferred vendors before beginning a trip or event. An all-inclusive employee expense management program ensures and enforces compliance with business travel policies so that employees take all necessary discounts at every opportunity.

To return maximum value, the expense management system needs to do more than serve as a silo for expense data. It offers a roadmap for your spend management program and helps create a hassle-free business process by giving employees and approvers as many methods as possible for making and approving accurate, timely, and complete reports.

The main task of the process begins with selecting an expense management system. Businesses need to give priority to the factors that will continue a growing process of permanent enhancement. A few things to consider are listed below.

Paperless Expense Management

The spend management system should eliminate the use of paper from the expense management process. It should offer tools to store scanned-in receipts and documentation and keep that documentation connected to the appropriate transactions. It not only saves processing time but also simplifies the process of substantiating bills and tax returns when you need them later. Moreover, the software reduces the amount of paper you need to print, store, and discard.

Global Features

Corporate travel involves overseas travel to meet customers or partners and to visit trade shows. There’s no reason to let currency conversion turn into a pain when you can make that part of your original specification. You should also be ready to recover the taxes that many countries commonly assess on travelers; those funds can be hard to reclaim without proof. The expense management software should provide advanced features that support your global needs effectively.

Integrated Credit Cards

The ability to include credit card feeds and direct deposit systems means a significant reduction in processing time, more timely data, and a more satisfied workforce. Credit card feeds allow managers to view employee spend in real time and better manage risks.

Mobile Apps

Companies that manage a mobile workforce tend to be mobile themselves. There’s no good reason to tie approvers to their desks to approve expense reports. The facility to file and approve sped reports using a mobile device will save precious time for your key resources.

Flexible Delivery

Each business has different needs and resources for supporting system. Some prefer to host everything themselves for security reasons. Others prefer to outsource as much IT as possible. Some firms need to blend those two approaches. The solution should support the way you need it delivered, without limiting your decision to a false choice between hosted and licensed systems. The software provider should offer the flexibility to selected dedicated hosting, subscription, or licensed solutions depending on your needs, to help you adjust to new business conditions as they arise.

 

Employee-initiated spends are an essential part of doing business for many organizations. By implementing an automated expense management system, business owners and managers can find a better monitor and even reduce expenses.

How do you manage employee-initiated expenses in your company? Have you implemented a good solution to minimize issues? Share in the comment section below your experience!

Founders Interview: Jackson Cunningham – Tuft & Paw Founder

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Tuft & Pow - MyStartupLand

Jackson and his girlfriend have always had a love for cats. While traveling through South America, they noticed how street cats were treated poorly and decided to create a business that would help homeless cats. This is definitely not your common high tech startup’s story. However, as seen other times, these startups are the ones that find the best way to be successful in the long-term.

Jackson has always been an entrepreneur, although he had a few stops working in a “real job” to make sure he could sustain the different ideas he was working on. He has proved through the years to be a relentless entrepreneur with a can-do attitude that led to his latest venture, Tuft & Paw.

In this exclusive interview with MyStartupLand, we walk through his experience as a startup founder, his successes as well as key learnings for himself as well as other fellow entrepreneurs around the globe.

Tuft & Paw Founders - MyStartupLand

1. Hi Jackson, thanks for having this interview with us today. Let’s start with something easy to get everyone on the same page. What’s the elevator pitch Tuft + Paw?

We make modern cat furniture that both cats and humans will love. We’re rethinking the way cat furniture has been made for the last 100 years and working with amazing designers, engineers, and cat behaviorists to create beautiful new products.

2. Tuft + Paw covers an interesting area that is not so common for startups nowadays, how did you come up with this idea? 

In 2015 we were on a trip to South America and we saw some homeless cats being treated so poorly. As cat owners, we were determined to create a business that could give back to the homeless cat community. A few months later, when we adopted our own cat – we noticed how hard it was to find nice cat products, and the business was born!

3. OK, this is for Tuft & Paw, but what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

For me, being an entrepreneur is an easy choice compared to working for someone else. The fear of needing to get a steady job and find a career drives me to do whatever I need to in order to succeed with my own business.

4. Indeed being an entrepreneur is an exciting way to live and gives you a lot of freedom, but startup founders go through a lot of ups and downs, what keeps you motivated and focused on the target? How do you manage to keep that motivation up within your team?

I think it’s really important to have a mission that you really believe in. That will make it much easier to weather the storm when times get tough – because you know deep down that what you’re doing is important and people care about the results.

5. Mentors and advisors are important figures, especially for young startup founders. However, finding the right help can be challenging. Can you walk us through how you managed to find the right support?

I think lots of experienced entrepreneurs are really open to supporting younger entrepreneurs. I’ve emailed some very successful entrepreneurs with questions (i.e. Seth Godin) and they are usually happy to respond. I think if you find someone local who you look up to, you shouldn’t be afraid to send them an email introducing yourself, the roadblocks you’re facing, and go from there.

Tuft & Paw Cube - MyStartupLand

6. Wow, OK, so successful entrepreneurs do reply to emails! So tell us, what’s the best advice you have got so far?

The best advice I got so far was to just get started and stop the analysis paralysis of reading and researching. You’ll learn so much more by doing.

7. Let’s get to something a bit more complicated, stress. As most of us know, this is a natural companion in the journey to success. Can you suggest to other startup founders, who might be going through some rough waters, what’s the best way, in your opinion, to deal with it?

Being an entrepreneur is definitely stressful. I think keeping a balance is extremely important. Make sure to exercise and meditate daily! I also have a strict no work after 6 PM or weekends policy. Usually, you end up being less efficient when you work crazy hours anyway. I also like to keep a google sheet of my major metrics that I update every 6 months (savings, income, happiness out of 10, major life updates, biggest problems I want to solve). I also find journaling is very helpful to keep perspective. It’s surprising how much of our emotions are patterns that come up over and over again.

8. Has the startup life changed you?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur, but there was a phase I needed to get a “real job” for a few years to keep the businesses alive. That really motivated me to do whatever I need now because I find it way less fulfilling working for other companies.

9. When running a startup, there are several components that become priorities: product, team, culture, funding, and so on… what’s your top priority when running your startup and why?

Priorities are always changing with startups. So it’s just a matter of figuring out what your biggest problems are and making sure they get fixed. I generally believe that product is the #1 priority, but usually, that requires having a good team in place. So probably team, and then, product. But if you need funding for a team, then you should focus on funding. So it really depends.

Cat_Teepee Tuff_Paw- MyStartupLamd

10.  Did you raise venture capital? If yes, what would you suggest to other startup founders that are getting into VC funding? If not, are you going to look for funding and how would you go about it?

I didn’t raise capital and I’m really glad I didn’t because it allows me so much more flexibility. However, if you see a major opportunity for growth that requires lots of capital, it seems like a good opportunity.

11.  How much influence did customers interviews have while building your startup?

A ton of influence. Basically, we’d contact every single customer in the early days trying to understand who they were and why they liked our products so that we could learn.

12. What’s the startup ecosystem in Canada? Do you feel that startup founders get a fair shot at it compared to those in the States?

I think there are probably more opportunities in the States in certain areas where it’s basically part of the culture. But I feel like Canada has some great programs and startups seem to be a growing part of our culture.

13.  How has Tuft & Paw been perceived by the market so far? How does your current growth look like?

We’re growing super quickly, basically doubling sales every few months!

14.  One last question for the fellow entrepreneurs out there. What advice would you give to first-time startup founders?

Just get started. Give yourself a deadline and go. You’ll learn so much, even if you fail.

You can follow Tuft & Paw stories on Instagram as well.

[INFOGRAPHIC] 5 Benefits of Dynamic Mentoring In Workplace

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Benefits Of Dynamic Mentoring - MyStartupLand

According to an article by Park Communications Ltd., 35% of Millennials and 24% percent of Generation Z will make up more than half of the global workforce by 2020.

Although most Gen Z’s are still high school, 15% are already pursuing a bachelor’s degree while 10% are undergoing a vocational training. 3% are pursuing a master’s degree, and another 3% are already a part of the global workforce, according to Forbes. Hence, making it crucial for the older workforce to impart their best practices and experiences to the younger generation.

Benefits Of Dynamic Mentoring For Millennials And Gen Z

As heard multiple times already, salary is no longer the strongest motivator of these generations. Millennials and Gen Z’s perceive regular communication, recognition, and feedback among others to be more valuable than money.

Also Related: How To (Successfully) Manage Millennials

The best mean of providing these to your current and future employees is dynamic mentoring. Aside from the job satisfaction, confidence, and encouragement that it will give your employees, you will be able to monitor their performance and increase your staff retention as well because mentored employees have a higher chance of staying loyal to their company.

Also Related: [INFOGRAPHIC] How To Engage Millennials With These Money Saving Work Perks

Having that said, here are the key takeaways of the infographic from Business Coaches Sydney which details the five benefits of dynamic mentoring in the workplace:

  1. Quality Of Service – Increase company understanding
  2. Time-saving – Improve learning on the job opportunities
  3. Employee satisfaction – Increase productivity
  4. Synergy – Improve teamwork
  5. Personal & Career Growth – Improve future decision-making

To learn more about this topic, check out the infographic below.

Benefits Of Dynamic Mentoring In The Workplace - MyStartupLand

7 Hacks To Get Your Content Seen By More People

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Hacks To Get Your Content See - MyStartupLand

In June 1883, The Chautauquan magazine posed the following question:

“If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound?”

It’s a philosophical question that has initiated several debates about the dissimilarity between sensation and reality.

I’d like to propose a similar question related to digital marketing: “If you create exceptional content, but no one sees it, is it really exceptional?” This is a problem plaguing many marketers today. They’re creating “high-quality” content, but they’re not getting the views. How do you fix this problem? What are the hacks to get your content seen by more people?

Here are seven tips that can help you.

1. Reach Out To Influencers

Influencers Content Marketing - MyStartupLand

Influencer outreach isn’t a secret. According to BrizFeel, “more than 50% of Internet users say they follow some sort of celebrity or influencer account on social media.” And marketers know it. The only problem is, marketers these days aren’t being creative about it. Blindly reaching out to social influencers is the modern-day equivalent of cold calling. If you want to effectively reach out to influencers, offer them something in return. Sometimes, yes, that means paying them. Other times, it means doing something out-of-the-box like mentioning them in a blog post and letting them know you featured them. Get creative!

2. Pursue Cross-Promotion

Speaking of offering something in return, consider co-branding a piece of content with another company. For example, if you’re a marketing agency and you use a certain SEO tool, why not partner together with them on co-branding an SEO e-guide? You already have a relationship with them and there are plenty of opportunities for cross-promotion in the future since both companies are invested in the content. When you co-brand, you’re effectively getting twice as much promotional power.

3. Build Backlinks

Backlinks are another tactic that is well-known by marketers, but the one thing the best “backlinkers” have in common is that they have a documented backlink strategy. Do some researching on the best backlink-building techniques and consider using a tool that will supplement your backlink strategy, such as SEMrush to look for mentions of your brand and Pitchbox to find ideal companies for a backlink exchange. It’s easy to turn backlink building into a mindless game of cat and mouse, but if you’re smart about how you build backlinks, you’ll start to see results.

4. Optimize For SEO

SEO Traffic - MyStartupLand

It may sound simple, but step back a moment and see if your content is even optimized for people to find it on search engines. Are you focusing on a particular keyword? Are you using H1 and H2 tags properly? Is there alt text on all of our images? Are page titles and meta descriptions following best practices? Taking a moment to perform a technical SEO audit can improve your views in the long-term.

5. Write Guest Posts

Speaking from experience, marketers like free stuff. Reach out to companies and offer to write a guest post, host a webinar or contribute content in whatever format they prefer for their site. Just make sure it’s original content, or you run the risk of Google dinging you for duplicate content. Also be sure to take things like domain authority and monthly traffic into account — you don’t want to waste time on anything that won’t make a big impact.

6. Latch on to Trends

Embracing trending hashtags or hopping on the bandwagon for trending topics is a great way to give your content a boost. Remember how Oreo sent out that timely tweet when the power went out during Super Bowl XLVII?

Oreo Tweet - MyStartupLand

You can do the same thing. There are also regular hashtags that pop up every week (e.g. #MondayMotivation, #TuesdayTips, #WednesdayWisdom, etc.) that you can implement in your social media posts that promote content.

7. Build Relationships

Finally, the most important hack you can do to get your content seen by more people is to build relationships. Whether it’s partnering with influencers, co-branding a lead-generation offer or simply participating in regular backlink exchanges with other companies, the more relationships you can develop, the better. So if you win a backlink, don’t just take it as a win. Think about how to maximize that win and replicate it. If you get a piece of content co-branded, see how it performs and whether it makes sense to co-brand another one. The best way to promote your content is to think about both your short-term and long-term goals.

 

There you have it! If you want more people to see your content, you have to do more than create it. Hopefully, these tips will get you started on promoting it more effectively so that more people see it. Want more content promotion and marketing insights? Be sure to check out the madison/miles media blog and subscribe.

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