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iStart News

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Congratulations to Cat Wine, “Premium cat drinks with catnip in every sip “for securing first place at the 2015 Jacksonville Startup Weekend! More than 17 Coaches, 3 judges, 4 organizers, 3 volunteers, 5 special guests and 10 sponsors participated in the 54-hour event held Mar. 6-8 at the University of North Florida, Student Union Building.

Event featured 10 ideas pitched, and 6 Teams went to next round working tirelessly over 54 Hrs. Winners received prizes worth more than $20,000 of in-kind services to help them launch their new businesses. The grand finale on Sunday (Mar 8th), attended by Sponsors, Mentors, Judges, Speakers and Participants was well received.

The 3 judges were: Ted Willich, CoFounder/CEO of NLP Logix; Craig Mandeville, Founder/CEO of Forcura; and Doug M Kravet, Principal at Heritage Capital Group.

Yash Nath, president and CEO of local business accelerator iStartJax, also the lead organizer of Jacksonville Startup Weekend, states that participants are trying to solve real world problems by leveraging technology and that explains why the startup themes for 2015 were diverse: Hospitality, Pets, Food/Entertainment, Analytics and Search Engine. Mr. Nath states that he is encouraged with the positive feedback he has received from the judges and mentors on viability of some of the startups pitched during the event.

The top 3 winners are:

1st Place – Cat Wine: Premium cat drinks with catnip in every sip
2nd Place – BrewU: Tap into your inner brewer!
3rd Place – Boomerang:  Customer relationship and brand management tool for servers and bartenders
Boomerang was also chosen as the crowd favorite team.

The top three teams from the 2014 Startup Weekend will receive the following as their prizes.
• Consultancy services (limited hours) for legal and intellectual property(IP)
• Consultancy services (limited hours) for Sales Contract, Entity Formation
• Consultancy services (limited hours) for Business Plan
• Consultancy services (limited hours) for Sales Plan & projections
• Consultancy services (limited hours) for Trademark, design mark, copy rights, licensing agreements
• Tickets to Startup Series Workshop – SBDC
• CoWork Jax membership for top 3 winners (limited to 1 – 2 person)
• Office  productivity software – BinaryNow
• Media opportunities on leading local publications
• Obtain feedback on your ideas (March 12) from Silicon Valley Entrepreneur - Sramana Mitra - 1 M/1M
• Google Cloud Platform - $300 credit
• Free .CO Domain
• Amazon Web Services - $100 credit

Business Journal coverage
Advantage Business magazine coverage


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By Maria Contreras-Sweet
Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

With apologies to baseball and your mother’s apple pie, nothing is more American than National Small Business Week.

Our country was founded by risk-taking pioneers in search of new horizons. More than two centuries later, what sets America apart in the world is the willingness of our entrepreneurs to take risks. Small businesses allow Americans to be their own boss and improve their lot in life through hard work – a core American value.

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation declaring National Small Business Week to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs, who create nearly two out of every three net, new U.S. jobs each year. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it was our small businesses that powered our recovery after the Great Recession.


National Small Business Week, themed “SBA: Dream Big, Start Small,” will be held May 4-8.Special events will take place in Miami/Boca Raton, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York, and Washington. D.C.


Tune in all week for live-streaming, beginning at 1 p.m. ET Monday with a panel discussion on small business financing followed by a conversation with Joyce Rosenberg of the Associated Press. Or join me @MCS4Biz at #DreamSmallBiz. I promise you’ll learn a lot.


America is one of the few countries that give entrepreneurs a seat at the President’s cabinet table. This allows the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to speak with one voice on behalf of 28 million small businesses with divergent interests. 


The SBA also offers an extensive national network of small business lenders and counselors that’s unmatched anywhere in the world. Many entrepreneurs with great ideas and great potential do not begin with great wealth, so they need a great government partner to support their success.


The SBA offers the “three Cs” to help the best and brightest start or grow a business, secure capital, and commercialize their ideas to benefit society:

  • Capital: SBA fill gaps in the commercial lending marketplace so success in the small business sector is based on merit, not family wealth. To inquire about a small business loan, click here.
  • Counseling: SBA provides free consultation and advice to help businesses on Main Street succeed. To find a small business counselor near you, click here.
  • Contracts: SBA levels the playing field with big business by helping small businesses capture new revenue and new customers by winning government contracts, joining corporate supply chains, and exporting beyond our borders. To learn about contracting opportunities, click here.

This year, during National Small Business Week, we recommit ourselves to those fearless entrepreneurs who plan well, work hard, and dream big. Every business starts small. Nike, Apple, FedEx, Ben & Jerry’s, Under Armour and Outback Steakhouse were all once small businesses, until they found an SBA lender or investor to work with them.

I came to this country as a 5-year old immigrant who didn’t speak a word of English. Today, I serve in the cabinet of the President of the United States. My story is possible only because of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Success in business comes one small step at a time. So dream big, but take that next small step today, because the next great American success story could be staring back at you in the mirror.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet started three businesses in Los Angeles, including a community bank, before joining President Obama’s cabinet in April 2014.

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Customer Development Reading List


Solution Interview

Justin Wilcox - Customer Development Labs. A fantastic video by Justin on the are of solution interviews.

Customer Development Data

Kauffman Foundation - Steve Blank. A great video by Steve Blank re: data on the customer development process of hypotheses, experiments to test and what to do with the data post.

Sampler: Startup Next Story

Marie Chevier - Sampler.com. Marie, a Startup Next graduate discusses the importance of the Startup Next program and the customer development process that helped them be successful. Young Entrepreneurs Reading List

Passion, purpose and persistence are key points to making progress in the entrepreneurial world.

Thomas Long, Michigan State University Extension. Young entrepreneurs have many advantageous to become successful. Seasoned veteran entrepreneurs and other young entrepreneurs who have paved the way, provide tips on making progress in your field. They discuss the 4 P's that every young entrepreneur should know.

Young and Entrepreneurial: 17 Year Old DetraPel CEO David Zamarin sold his first startup when he was 15

David Ongchoco, With his first start-up sold at age 15, David Zamarin proves that age doesn't matter. Now at the age of 17, David Zamarin discusses how he has disrupted the start-up world and became CEO of DetraPel. The lessons he provides are priceless!

Young Oakland Entrepreneurs Redefine the Startup With a Local Twist

Tylyn Hardamon, Young Oakland Entrepreneurs in different fields are redefining the start-up world. Apparel, health, and a music community website provide a different twist on what entrepreneurship looks like. And its all done locally on a small scale.

10-year-old lemonade entrepreneur gets loan from Whole Foods

Off the heels of Shark Tank and partnership with Daymond John, 10 year old Mikaila Ulmer receives another investment. Whole Foods Market has agreed to provide a low interest loan for Ulmer's product, BeeSweet Lemonade. BeeSweet Lemonade is currently available in 32 Whole Food Markets with plans to expand in new regions.

Young benefactor blankets region with love

Paul Grondahl, Start-up... Crowdfunding... and Charitable... Zac Halloran has paved the way for other youth, without large sums of money, job, or savings. His fresh outlook on how to be charitable and profitable is everybody's business.

Why 80 Percent of This 22-Year-Old’s Startup Team Are Women

Young women empowering each other in the tech world, is an unusual sight. But, 22 year old Aly Moore, co-founder of Spylight has a different approach, with 80% of her staff being women. And Spylight is a force to be recognized in its own right, with an app that allows users to buy there favorite star's fashion.


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Entrepreneurial Mindset program. iStart Jax put 23 young adults through the inaugural class and has a long-term objective of producing 1,000 entrepreneurial minds, together with Kauffman Laboratories for Enterprise Creation and local corporate sponsors such as Florida Blue and The Jaguars Foundation. An idea conceived by MJ Charmani, Chairman of iStart Jax was put into action in less than 3 Months with the support of the community. “Students have talents but they may not have had an opportunity to express themselves,” iStart Jax President Yash Nath said. “This is the chance to express themselves.” Participating student Monica Myrick, a senior at Andrew Jackson High School, wants to use her passion for acting to create positive entertainment choices for teens. “If I put out something good, you’ll see more people evolving into something good,” she said. The first class culminated with a graduation ceremony at Andrew Jackson High School on May 24, at which participating students Trevor Wright and Shodai Williams received Kindles as prizes for their projects. Wright’s idea revolved around solutions to headphone issues and Williams’ focused on improving student engagement within high school English classes in urban communities and Title 1 program schools. “It’s personal to me because I love learning,” said Williams, a junior at Andrew Jackson High School. “When I don’t see my peers taking advantage I wonder why and think about what can I do to open their eyes.” Nath was the lead instructor for the five-week program, whose topics included empowering choices, creating opportunities, goal setting, growth strategies, wealth creation and brand building. “To be successful, you have to act,” Nath said. “Applying the skills they learned increases their chances of succeeding.” Guest speakers included entrepreneurs Noah Solheim of Fitness Jax and Cherry Dougherty, who also is a corporate trainer at Acosta. Solheim and Dougherty shared how they overcame adversity and persisted with their passions to start their own business. Students Aditi Verma, a fifth grader at J. Allen Axson Montessori School, and Niharika Malviya, a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School, spoke about the power of entrepreneurship and adhering to one’s convictions. Verma also shared how she and three other students started with an idea and converted it into a product applying the same principles as entrepreneurs. “She clearly demonstrated having the entrepreneurial mindset,” Nath said. Andrew Jackson High School volunteers who supported the entrepreneurial education program included Jennifer Crady, Addison Davis and Travis Pinckney. Volunteers from iStart Jax and supporting organizations included Joan Carter, MJ Charmani, Ramana Murthy, Jonathan Raiti, Jon Sykes, Pavan Varshney, Gina Wardell and a young volunteer – Vatsal Nath. “You guys are the beginning but not the ends by any means. This is going to be wildly successful in the Jacksonville area,” Wardell told students, noting how the lessons they learned would help them in their careers. Sykes said, “It’s not impossible. It’s something that can be done by anybody. You just have to work.” Charmani, chairman of iStart Jax’s, urged the graduates to be “ambassadors” for the program, encouraging other students to participate. “This how we can help take the community to the next level,” he said. The next set of E-Mindset classes will be held in the fall and prospective participants, volunteers and donors can get more information at www.istartjax.com. Also, a video, "Did you know?", has been compiled to create an awareness of the State of Entrepreneurial Education for young adults and its impacts.

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YC Apps, here's some general advice

Adrian Sanders

"The goal of your startup is not to get into YC"

Whatever goes up, that’s what we do

Dustin Curtis

"Do you take the risk and proceed with the better   user experience/product at the expense of short term numbers–with no promise   that the better design will actually lead to long-term benefits"

Monte Carlo Simulations of Bitcoin Options

Justin Huang

"This might be a case of the blind leading the blind   but I’ll try to give a short explanation of everything involved."

How I tried to crowdfund my tuition

Vikas Lalwani

"The stall was a major setback for me. With less than   three weeks remaining for my campaign, I hadn’t raised even 20 percent of the   amount needed."

My Bootstrapped Language Learning Web-App

Steve   Ridout

"So   far I’ve been working completely alone, learning a lot about web development,   design and marketing as I go."


Kick Silicon Valley's Butt


Guy Kawasaki


"Aim higher than merely trying to re-create Silicon     Valley. You should try to kick our butt instead. That’s true     entrepreneurship."
    Written almost eight years ago, yet still very relevant, especially if you     are thinking of moving to Silicon Valley to launch your startup.


On Testers and Testing


Sriram Krishnan


"Here's a politically incorrect thing to say.     Several large engineering organizations start hiring testers from the pool     of folks who couldn't cut it as developers."


New Grads: Midstage Startups


Hunter Walk


"If you’re graduating this spring and starting a     career in tech, I’ve got one piece of advice: go work at a midstage     startup"


Sales for Hackers


Alex Salazar


"Just like developers are expected to deliver     features, salespeople need to deliver revenue. "


Ideas We’d Like To Fund


Malay Gandhi


Rock Health, the health startup accelerator, highlights     some major problems/opportunities in the health space. 


The Best PR Advice You’ve Never Heard


Caryn Marooney


“Launching is like the opening move in a chess game. It     doesn't mean that much.”


What I learned about online-to-offline


Justin Kan


"Unit economics matter a lot more than in pure     software businesses."


How We Make Trello


Bobby Grace


"The revelation could result in a rippling     shockwave that knocks you off your seat and may have troubling,     unpredictable consequences for the time-space continuum. Possibly."
    Great find by @philipdesmedt