The $400 K Exercise

The idea of creating a SaaS based project management platform for the construction industry came from Todd Robertti while speaking to his father, an industry veteran.  Todd who is also well versed in the construction industry, as well as in software development, knew there was a lot of potential for improvement.

In developing Linkd, Todd and his team had a goal of completing their MVP in time to demo it at the Startup Grind SOCAL Regional Conference.  Although they got accepted into the conference, they did not make the top 20 startups which had the opportunity to pitch to investors.

However, Derek Anderson, Startup Grind CEO, liked their product and offered to put the WireFlare team in front of investors if they could get 5 potential customers to write $5k checks each for future services (the checks could be voided and were only to prove market validation).   A funny thing happened during this exercise; the potential customers actually offered to invest in WireFlare and they inadvertently raised $400 k.

Since then, WireFlare has hired 5 developers, was accepted to the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program, Oracle’s Velocity Program, and Amazon Activate.  In addition, WireFlare was one of the top 50 companies to present, and pitch to investors, at Startup Grind Global 2017.  In May of 2017, WireFlare raised another round of money, expanded their relationship with IBM and introduced plans for incorporating AI through the use of Watson. WireFlare’s platform, called “Linkd”, will be released this September.

The take away from this tale is that ideas, help and guidance come in all forms.  Listen to those around you that want to help, and believe in your product.  More importantly, listen to those who criticize, accept setbacks and be ready to pivot.  Validate, understand and thoroughly research your market. If you build something with expertise and true demand you might even get your potential clientele to invest in your ideas.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

How to Introduce Your Brand New Company to the World in 5 Easy Steps

Compared to established companies, startups often have to play by different rules. They are just starting their journeys into the business world and face additional challenges to conquer early on.

One of the biggest challenges is marketing. Because startups have little to no brand recognition and often offer a niche product or service which might be difficult to explain to outsiders, a foray into marketing has to be carefully considered. Whereas other companies may make use of tried-and-true techniques, startups have to be more creative in order to succeed.

5 Key Steps to Market Your Startup

1. Identify your key audience and influencers

Before you take one step, first identify where you will market your product. A staggering 42 per cent of founders cite a lack of market need as the number one reason for failure. Even if you have an outstanding product or an excellent service, it is absolutely useless unless people actually want to use it.

Of course, that’s not to say you should only cater to an existing audience. Steve Jobs famously said that people don’t know what they want until you give it to them.

For instance, smartphones were adopted extremely quickly, yet few people could have predicted their popularity. Even so, you must understand exactly who your product will be marketed toward so you can create relevant content and marketing campaigns that will actually interest your audience.

2. Analyze and plan accordingly

Entrepreneurs often hear that the majority of startups are doomed to fail before they are even conceived, a notion that is supported by hard statistics. In fact, 90 per cent of startups inevitably fail for one reason or another; that’s a fact every person in the business has to face.

The first step is to make a cohesive plan. As any entrepreneur will tell you, plans are also prone to failure. The turbulent nature of business will render a lot of them useless by the time they are supposed to come into fruition.

Even so, studies have shown that setting challenging and specific goals is linked to more effective performance and increased motivation. When you have clear objectives in sight, you work slowly toward achieving them.

Even if you fail in some steps along the way, keep working toward fulfilling your purpose. Hurdles and obstacles in the entrepreneurial world are not just common; they are to be expected at nearly every turn.

Once you carefully lay out your plans, it’s time to make an in-depth analysis of what makes your startup tick. Before you go into market and start promoting your product, it’s vital to properly understand what your startup is made of. It’s only when you can safely answer all the questions that may be thrown at you that you are actually ready to go out and meet the world.

3. Craft targeted and engaging content

Some of the most effective B2B marketers spend 39 per cent of their marketing budgets on content, and there’s a general trend toward creating relevant, targeted content for specific audiences. That’s why ignoring content creation is a bad idea. After all, the majority of consumers learn about a company through content rather than ads. Though this takes into account a number of different services and ways to serve content, as a startup you may be limited on the type of content marketing that you can create and push.

Blogs, however, are fantastic and inexpensive, and the vast majority of companies employ blogs for marketing purposes. Marketers who prioritize blogging see increased search-engine traffic, build their company’s authority in the industry, improve conversion rates, increase leads, and more. It’s not hard to see the benefits of such a practice, particularly because you have full creative control over what’s happening in your company’s blog. It’s a great way to create a brand identity, reach out to potential consumers, and create much-needed awareness for your brand, your product, and what it entails.

4. Make sure you’re on social media (your competitors already are!)

In this day and age, you have no excuse for not keeping up with social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites provide a free way of directly reaching out to your target audience. They are great places to promote your brand, explain how your product or service works, and keep your startup in the spotlight for as long as possible.

When you first start, social media management can easily be done by one person—often you, the founder. As you grow, you can always delegate social media marketing to other people within your company. Of course, first educate yourself in how social media marketing works. What you may think is simple and obvious might turn out to be a difficult lesson indeed.

5. Maintain engaging and interactive social media presence

In addition to being social, being interactive is of equal importance. If you maintain a social media presence that is faceless and cold, consumers will turn their backs on you. In the digital age, users expect their questions to be answered and companies to interact with them on a personal level.

As long as you respond immediately (or within two hours), 34 per cent of customers are more likely to complete a purchase with your company. In addition, about 43 per cent are much more likely to recommend your product or service to friends and family as well as promote it through social media. On the other hand, failing to respond may result in customers feeling indifferent about your brand, which means you won’t receive word of mouth advertising and a positive image in social media.

Common Mistakes Made by Founders When Marketing

  1. Putting too much trust in the idea of their product, not its real-world applicability. Since entrepreneurs live and breathe the products and services they offer, they often (mistakenly) think everyone will feel the same way.
  2. Failing to connect with customers and listen to their feedback. No one can offer a service without customers, and it’s the general population that largely defines the market.
  3. Failing to work out a personal, tailor-made plan for the company. Just because something works for another startup doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
  4. Managing the budget poorly. Though investments are necessary, they should be carefully thought out and executed since money is tight, especially in the beginning.
  5. Failing to identity the actual target market, and thus creating a completely irrelevant campaign. As mentioned before, in-depth research is absolutely necessary before attempting to reach your target market.

Take a Cue from other Entrepreneurs’ Successes

Shopify may be an incredibly successful Canadian company, but that wasn’t always the case. According to CEO Tobias Lütke, there are some key elements that all startups should take into account when they are trying to launch their business and introduce it to a wider audience.

First and foremost, a startup that fixes an existing problem is much more likely to be successful. Even better, if you create something that you need for yourself, it means that you will be that much more connected to the product. You’ll also have an easier time identifying the right market.

Find the right team. This can mean a number of different things, but in essence it boils down to finding people who share your passion for the product and who are also able to help with its growth. A team of engineers might create a fantastic product, but if no one else can use it, then it has no value in the market.

Expect to do everything at once. When you are just starting out, you may need to conduct a range of jobs that you’re not well-suited for—and that’s perfectly fine. Though you may just want to create a product and leave everything else for other people to handle, you’ll most likely need to address those issues by yourself. This also applies to marketing. No one knows your product better than you do, and creating a brand should and most likely will be your responsibility.

Be visible, both to your target audience and to any potential investors. For example, you may find that the product you offer will do great in another city, but if you’re not prepared to move, you may risk everything else. If you don’t have a presence, users who may have been interested in your product will simply be satisfied elsewhere, with another product.

Stay focused and true to your purpose. Once you start marketing your product, you will face a lot of challenges. You’ll also be confronted by a lot of distractions and failures. Being distracted and inconsistent is a surefire path toward failure because your users need to identify stability in your product. A company that doesn’t know what to do with itself is harder to trust.

By guest writer, Jonha Richman  who is a marketing strategist with over 9 years of experience advising tech startups. She’s also a staff writer at Small Business Trends and her works were featured on The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Business Insider, among others. You may connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

2017 Google I/O Keynote Highlights

Google hosted their annual developer’s conference, Google I/O on May 17 in Mountain View, Ca.  CEO Sundar Pichai broke down the latest insight on Google’s activity and how their focus will be further defined later on this year.  Here are some of the highlights of the 2017 Google I/O Keynote:

2 Billion Active Android Users

Google’s Android OS continues to stake its claim in the tech industry with 2 billion active users and Pichai threw out even more impressive quantitative data; they have nearly 1 billion active users on Google Drive per month along with 500 million users on Google Photos accumulating 1.2 billion uploads on the daily.

Google Assistant & Google Home Updates

Google Assistant is now not just exclusive to Android but will be available on iOS as well. In addition, Google Home is allowing users to make phone calls directly from the device with a blocked number as default or your personal phone number. For now, they’re only allowing outgoing calls to prevent issues with privacy. But that’s not all, Home can now become a Bluetooth radio and interact with a plethora of apps like Hulu, HBO Now and Soundcloud. Lastly, its debuted “visual responses” can communicate with smartphones, smart TVs etc. enabling your requests to be displayed on preferred outputs.

The Google Lens Puts Life into Perspective

Now with the aid of your smartphone camera and the company’s own AI software, Google Lens, can more accurately perceive the environment around you. Their newly announced “Google Lens” interprets what is detected through their screen while connecting related information useful to its users. For instance, by scanning a Wi-Fi’s network login, Google Lens will automatically sync the data with your Android.

Android O Beta

Although this isn’t the official name of Android’s latest OS, they released the beta with previews of their newest features such as notification enhancements, pic-in-pic abilities etc. It’s recommended to try it out with a compatible Pixel or Nexus device.

Google’s TPU Chip

Acknowledging that AI is the future of Google’s innovation, their new Tensor Processing Unit could effectively merge AI and Cloud as one. This specially designed machine learning chip will operate with the TensorFlow platform in hopes of making Google the leader in AI-based hardware and software.

Android Go

This entry-level device is intended to close the gap between them and 1 billion more users. Google intends to offer more while still using less than 1GB of memory. Aimed at multilingual demographics with lower access to connectivity, Android Go wants to provide users with a quality smartphone experience free from limitations.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

500 Startups’ Batch 20 Demo Day:  The Summer of Love

The 41 companies of Batch 20 proudly graduated from 500 Startups three month Accelerator program by pitching to an auditorium full of investors on their Demo Day held on May 12, 2017.  The startups fell mainly into the categories of Digital Health, FinTech and Civic Tech.  With a flair for fun, the theme for the event was the “Summer of Love” and Dave McClure and the 500 Team were dressed up in their groovy getups.  In no particular order, here are some of the startups that I found hip.

 

Outta Sight!

I have two Amazon Echo’s in my house and use Siri often with my iPhone.  Consequently, Mycroft AI was my top pick for the batch.  They’ve developed an open source voice assistant platform that allows companies to create their own voice assistant interface.

Bummer…You Need a Lawyer

The only thing worse than going to a dentist is having to find a lawyer.  Having personally done this in the past, it’s really not fun.  Court Buddy helps consumers find solo practicing lawyers that offer flat rates.

Keep on Truckin’

 Preteckt has developed a platform that uses both hardware and software to provide real time data for big rigs and effectively predicts needed maintenance and minimizes on down time for the trucking industry.

Flashback: It’s Been Done Before But…

With Printivo, you can make business cards, custom stationary, banners, posters via their web site.  Hmmm….aren’t there a ton of companies like VistaPrint and Shutterfly that already do this?  Yes, but Printivo is the only online service that does this in Africa which is green territory worth an estimated $8 B.  I personally like startups that do functions that we find mundane in areas that are underserved.

Head Trip:  Why Hasn’t This Been Done Yet?

BenRevo has developed a sales automation platform for the health insurance industry.  This essentially provides the ability for health insurance to be purchased online.  Why is this head trip?  I don’t know why the insurance companies do this themselves.  Kudos to the Benrevo team for recognizing the need and developing a solution.

It’s Hip to be Square

Combine the most boring topics, government, big data, and urban planning and you get the startup, UrbanLogiq.  UrbanLogiq has developed a platform where they aggregate big data into a usable format which really helps out city planners.   A yawn fest for me but, if you’re a city planner, UrbanLogiq is pretty hip.

Nark and Get Paid

Sacramento based Text To Ticket has developed an app where you can report texting drivers.  A good video that catches the culprit will nab the nark $5 (Text to Ticket gets a lot more when they forward the video to the appropriate enforcement agency).

Groovy:  A Fun Startup

Win-Win has developed a platform where athletes can engage their fans by hosting games while raising funds for their charities.  I found their CEO, Mike Tauiliili, pretty interesting.  He was an NFL Player that played for the Indianapolis Colts.  Afterwards, he learned to code and joined the Silicon Valley startup world.

Join Batch 22

How well the Batch 20 companies do remains to be seen, but 500 Startups does have an excellent track record. Producing three unicorn startups (with a fourth, possibly on the way). 37 Centaurs, (valued $100-999 M), and over 300 Ponies ($10-99 M).

If you’re interest in 500 Startups, they are currently looking for applicants for Batch 22.

A good candidate should have:

  • Balanced Team
  • Product Launched
  • Traction with Good Metrics​

If your startup is interested in applying for Batch 22, find the application here.

After applying, be sure to ask your local Startup Grind director for a warm referral!

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

SupportPay Founder Sheri Atwood: Almost on Food Stamps

Sheri Atwood, founder and CEO of SupportPay was named #5 out of the top “50 Women in Tech Dominating Silicon Valley.  In her interview with Startup Grind Sacramento, Sheri discussed her entrepreneurial journey.

Chaotic Childhood.

Sheri’s childhood was chaotic having to attended over 20 schools by the time she received her diploma. After graduating from UC San Diego, she started working with Sun Microsystems and later attained an MBA to sharpen her business skills. Shortly after having her daughter, she parted ways with her husband and put her best forward to end on a good note. She quickly realized that despite her efforts, the side effects of a divorce can complicate things. One day while doing an expense report for Symantec, Sheri started to imagine how such a report could be used to benefit her child support dilemma. She quit her high-paying VP position, learned how to code and started to build her application. Within a year she was able to get her first 100 users and gained valuable insight on the most-needed features and ideal price point.

“The Bigger the Pain, The More They’ll Pay”

It didn’t take long to discover that some divorcees would pay virtually any amount to automate their childhood affairs. But when in the room with Valley VC’s, many had doubts and solidified the price point at $9.99/month. After continual pitches and little response, funds started to get low and Sheri needed to find an investor and fast. Almost miraculously, 2 of the biggest Silicon players, Marc Benioff and Tim Draper gave the greenlight on a $100 k investment. If Sheri wouldn’t have received funding at that precise moment, she planned to apply for food stamps the following day.

SupportPay

Since then, SupportPay has successfully raised an $4 M Series A round and have moved their operation to Sacramento. You can watch her Startup Grind Sacramento Interview here.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

CAL FIRE Ready for Wildfire App

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) fights over 5600 calfireiconwildfires that plague California annually.  CAL FIRE has a new weapon in their arsenal to help prepare the public for when the next wildfire strikes, it’s their new mobile app called CAL FIRE Ready for Wildfire.  The app is currently available on both the iPhone and Android platforms.  The app has three primary functions:

  • Providing Educational Content on how to prepare for and help protect property from wildfires
  • Notifying citizens of wildfire incidents with custom alerts
  • Providing incident information and maps on California wildfires

Education

The main purpose of the app is to help educate residents and property owners in high risk wildland areas on how to prepare for wildfires.  The app has a series of checklists that is broken down as follows:

  • Ready (Maintain Defensible Space and Hardening Homes)
    • Create Defensible Space
    • Harden Home
    • Prepare for Bark Beetles
  • Set (Create a Wildfire Action Plan)
    • Wildfire Action Plan
    • Emergency Supply Kit
    • Design a Family Communication Plan
  • Go! (Evacuation Guide)
    • Pre-Evacuation Guide
    • When to evacuate
    • What to do when trapped

 

The app has nine separate check-off lists that also provide educational material in the form of articles and videos.  The videos can be viewed as part of the checklist or in the video library.

Cal Fire education

Notifications

The user can sign up to receive custom wildfire alerts for a physical address and/or for the user’s device location.  The user can opt-in for push notifications and/or SMS messages for wildfires that are reported in selected California counties, or within 30 miles of the user’s device, using location services.

Push Notifications

Push Notifications require the user to have the app.  The push notifications are generated using integration with Urban Airship.

SMS

The user can also opt to receive text messages about latest wildfires.  The advantage of using this option is that the user doesn’t need the app to receive the notification.   The SMS messages are generated through integration with Twilio.

CAL Fire alerts

Information

Basic information from CAL FIRE can also be found on the app.  The app has embedded CAL FIRE’s mobile website for incident information, and there’s a feed from CAL FIRE’s Twitter account.  In addition, there’s a Statewide Fire Google Map that displays all the active wildfires in California.

Cal Fire Info

CAL FIRE launched a campaign to promote the app that directs residents to this resource as tool to prepare their Defensible Space in advance of the 2017 wildfire season. The campaign also includes an incentive for user downloads through an App Sweepstakes that is available now through May 21, 2017. The Sweepstakes offers users a chance to win a home hardening prize package. The Sweepstakes is co-sponsored by Apptology and iHeartRadio. No state funds are used for promotion or prizes. The CAL FIRE app was developed by Apptology as a contractor to CAL FIRE’s marketing agency, Sagent. For more information on the Ready For Wildfire Campaign, visit www.readyforwildfire.org

2017 Aging 2.0 Sacramento Startup Competition

Sacramento-CA-USA

Aging 2.0 held its third annual Startup Pitch completion April 18th at the KVIE Offices.  The mission of Aging 2.0 is to accelerate innovation that improves the lives of older adults.  From a pool of 12 companies that applied, 8 startups competed in this event this year.  Here are the results:

Envoy America

1st Place

First Place went to Envoy America which is a ride sharing platform for seniors.  They train seniors to provide rides for other seniors.  Their service can be described as non-medical care for seniors.  Envoy America will go on to compete at Aging 2.0 Optimize event in San Francisco on Nov. 14 for the $10,000 grand prize.

funeral360

2nd Place and Audience Choice

Second Place and Audience Choice (determined by votes from the audience goes to Funerals360).  Funerals360 is a resource for end to end planning for funerals and it also is a market place for funeral vendors.

The other startups that competed were:

HomeZada: a digital home management platform

Storyglory:  a tool that helps seniors preserve their family stories

Aspire 211:  an organization that combats financial elder abuse

MEDpense:  a device that is a smart medicine dispenser and telemedicine platform

Livpact: an IoT collaborative care platform

OraChill: a mouth piece that provides drug-free oral pain relief.

As a side note, Stack Labs which won the Aging 2.0 Sacramento competition last year, went on to win the grand prize at last year’s Aging 2.0 Optimize event.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Eric Yuan / Founder of Zoom Communications: Make Products that Make the Customer Happy

Eric Yuan has been deeply involved with engineering since the 90’s with a knack for innovation and collaboration. He was one of the founding engineers and VP of engineering at WebEx for over a decade. Interestingly enough, Eric and his team of engineers laid the foundation for SaaS web conferencing technology almost by accident. In the early years, WebEx was originally a custom development shop until one of the co-founders felt productivity would improve if they monitored the engineers via video conference. This sparked the idea that other companies would benefit from such a concept as well and thus the pivot to web conferencing occurred.

WebEx became the market leader in Web Conferencing and later got acquired by Cisco for $3.2 B.   After the acquisition, Eric stayed on as head of WebEx Engineering.   He realized that in order for WebEx technology to evolve, it would have to be re-engineered from scratch which was something that his upper management would not allow.  Frustrated, Eric left Cisco and started Zoom..

Despite competition from a plethora of web conferencing solutions (Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix), Eric fearlessly began to develop a new solution. As Eric enlightens, “Startups [and smaller companies] are much better for building up individual products. In larger companies, it’s a little bit harder.”

His team of over 100 engineers worked around the clock for 2 1/2 years in developing Zoom’s video conference platform.  Since their launch, Zoom has achieved unicorn status and has a valuation over $1 B. In explaining the success of Zoom, Eric declares, “You can be successful if you make a product that makes a customer happy even in a crowded market.”

You can watch the full interview with Eric here.

Understanding UX and UI Design

I’ve read a number of articles referencing “UI vs. UX” design, including blogs asking the question “which is better?” There is no “versus” or “better” when it comes to User Interface and User eXperience. A professional mobile app developer will tell you that the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are equally important.

User Interface Design (UI):

I’ll begin with the User Interface Design (UI) because it includes some of my favorite app elements! UI = the visual design, the colors, the layout and the typography. A successful UI is efficient and easy to use. Tasks and navigation should visually appear to be simple and intuitive, and the technical functionality should balance nicely with the visual elements to create a system which is usable (and also flexible as the users’ needs change).

“Good user interface design facilitates finishing the task at hand without drawing unnecessary attention to itself. Graphic designand typography are utilized to support itsusability, influencing how the user performs certain interactions and improving the aesthetic appeal of the design; design aesthetics may enhance or detract from the ability of users to use the functions of the interface.”

In User Interface Design, we ask: what are we making? Then we apply the visual elements, making it appealing with a focus on the tools. It’s basically the stuff the user sees. However, we cannot get to this piece and have a great UI without the UX.

User Experience (UX):

With UX, rather than asking “what are we going to make?” we focus instead on “what are we trying to achieve?” It’s in the name! The User eXperience Design focuses on the experiences and the feelings you get while using the app. With development expertise guiding the way, design collaborates with development to focus on the interactions (the broad scope of the project). In fact, I usually describe the UX Design as the interaction process. To be more precise, the COMPLETE package is what makes a good UX; whereas, good User Interface Design is essential, but only an element of a successful User eXperience.

Understanding the User

To get a sense of how UI and UX work together, we first require a complete understanding of what the user needs before we even get to the UI process. This includes a lot of the behind-the-scenes work: wire-framing and prototyping, the information architecture, research and the scenario interpretations. We identify functionality and goals for our clients’ app through significant communication and research. Looking at the broad scope of the project, we tie everything together to translate the client’s ideas into a successful UX.

Then, moving into the information architecture and wire-framing phase, we essentially create the framework and “bones” of the project. We strip out everything and focus simply on content, flow and navigation. With the client’s approval, we then have enough information to move through the User eXperience foundation to create the User Interface Design (the stuff you see).

Once the UI is complete, we continue through the UX process and support the UI with development, API integration, QA testing and finally an upload to the app store.

Both are Critical!

It’s not UX vs. UI! If a mobile app looks great but is difficult to use, this means it has a great UI and a poor UX. On the other hand, if the app is very usable but looks terrible, it has a great UX and poor UI. And if you’re in the business of creating successful apps or websites, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are equally important, delivering the best product to clients and users.

By Shellynn Finstad, Apptology Chief Creative Officer

Christopher Johnson / Rapid Brands: Fear vs. Faith

Chris Johnson is an accomplished entrepreneur founding Rapid Products and the Johnson Group Inc.   With his roots firmly grounded in Sacramento, Chris grew up with a diverse duo of family members. His mother was a small-business owner consulting for major corporations and his father was a senior special agent for the Federal Government.  At the age of 16, Chris started down the entrepreneurial road and started a teen dance club and held the first event at Dante’s where he hosted 400 local high school students.

While in college, Chris developed the idea for the Rapid Ramen Cooker when he accidently cooked the perfect bowl of Ramen in the Microwave.  Chris dedicated his time and efforts to creating the ideal ramen cooker; it was his questions that connected him to the right people. He knew what he could do himself and creating a prototype was not one of them. His attorney actually referred him to a group of students at Chico State and they produced the first working prototype. Later, he landed a deal with Walmart and was highlighted on KCRA News. Eventually this attracted enough demand where he was able to successfully pitch it on Shark Tank where he successfully negotiated an offer from Mark Cuban.  Rapid Ramen (now called Rapid Brands) has grown into a full line of microwave cookware with sales at estimated $100 M.

Fear vs. Faith

His advice to entrepreneurs is to know the difference between fear and faith.   Fear is that you’ll be a failure.  Faith is that you’ll be a success.  What they do have in common? Neither has occurred so Chris encourages entrepreneurs to embrace faith and to to not allow fear to dominate your life. Don’t even think about fear.

If you would like to hear more nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom from Chris, you can view his entire interview with Startup Grind Sacramento here.