Project Slingshot will provide $750 K in Grants to Boost Innovation Ecosystem in Sacramento Region

slingshot

The Sacramento region entrepreneurial ecosystem and small business community will soon benefit from $750,000 in new grant funding. The newly-launched Project SlingShot is an initiative of the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) to encourage and support regional partnerships across the state to engage in new collective actions that can “move the needle” on workforce challenges.

After an extensive planning and review process, SlingShot was approved for implementation in August 2016 and will include an innovation fund of $750,000 to provide grant and contract funding to support the ecosystem for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses. The project is being implemented in the Capital Region by a partnership of four local workforce development boards: the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), Golden Sierra, the North Central Counties Consortium, and the Yolo County WDB, with SETA acting as the lead partner.

The goals of Project Slingshot are to catalyze entrepreneurship, business and employment growth across high growth economic clusters, such as Information and Communication Technology, Health Services and Advanced Manufacturing. SlingShot will foster the development of entrepreneurial skills within career pathways and provide robust resource systems to start-ups and small businesses.

The projected is expected to:

  • Increase access to and communication about regional resources through the creation of a web- based resource navigator
  • Increase business incubation and entrepreneurial mentoring
  • Foster an entrepreneurial and innovative culture
  • Catalyze an innovation ecosystem that will create more business and jobs throughout the region, and create a skilled talent pool so that new jobs will go to residents, supporting a resilient economy with widespread mobility opportunities

The funds will be made available through a competitive request for proposal (RFP) process. Slingshot will work across a nine-county region (Alpine, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba counties) and prioritize efforts that will connect rural communities to urban resources, enabling the nine-county region’s innovation ecosystem to expand and strengthen the support it provides to entrepreneurs, small businesses and startups.

The competitive RFP process, to be led by SETA, will address SlingShot’s three areas of focus:

  1. mentoring networks that connect entrepreneurs to experienced executives
  2. physical spaces for entrepreneurs, such as co-working facilities, maker spaces, incubators and accelerators
  3. the creation of a Resource Navigator, a searchable, interactive online tool that will house a comprehensive inventory of all the support services available to entrepreneurs across the region

The first RFP, covering the first two areas of focus, was released by SETA on November 4th. Awards for the first RFP will range from $20,000 to $150,000. Applicants’ responses are due mid-December 2016, and the evaluation and review process will be completed in February. Awards will be confirmed by March 2017, with all funded work required to be complete by March 2018. The second RFP is expected to be released in early December. The RFP for the Resource Navigator has not been released yet.

Valley Vision is serving as the SlingShot project manager, working with the workforce board partnership and more information about the project can be found here.   Valley Vision website.

Valley Vision Press Release written by Meg Arnold

Startup Lessons from Garage Ventures Bill Reichert

Silicon Valley icon Bill Reichert from Garage Technology Ventures recently spoke at Startup Grind Sacramento and offered some invaluable insight. With over 20 years as an entrepreneur and two public companies, Bill’s resume is quite impressive.

Originally from Chicago, Bill grew up spending quality time with his grandfather who exposed him to the adventurous world of entrepreneurship. He was in Silicon Valley when the PC was first released and arguably ran one of the first app development firms in United States history, which was apparently amazingly successful but eventually “crashed and burned.” In 1992, Bill and his buddy helped save a failing organization called “The Learning Company,” which later became the first business they took public for $60 million. Later down the line, the Learning Company was sold to Mattel for $3.6 billion. Ouch!  Bill eventually stopped kicking himself for selling too early and learned the ingredients to achieve success years later at the National Venture Capital Conference with Peter Lynch.

“I only invest in companies that even a complete idiot can run.”

This statement hit home for Bill, making him simplify his approach and become cautious with ventures that seem overly complex. When he looks for investments, he wants startups that have novel technology, a sustainable competitive advantage, and can make a significant impact in its designated sector.

Take for example Voke VR that “utilizes a synchronized multiple point-of-view stereoscopic panoramic camera system” technology. They’ve partnered with the Sacramento  Kings to enable mobile users in the stands or at home to receive an advanced VR spectacle without the bulky headset. The audience is able to pause, rewind and review the action from virtually any angle on the court.

When asked about ways for entrepreneurs to receive funding, his response was surprising:

“The best way to receive funding for your startup is to get endorsements from bigger companies for validation and reach out to venture capital sources.”

Bill firmly believes that by following these simple words of advice, you will be “head and shoulders” above your typical startup seeking that almighty dollar. Of course, you will most likely still need to meet the criteria that he mentioned when looking for a potential investment (i.e. novel technology, etc.).

Watch the full interview with Bill Reichert at Startup Grind Sacramento 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.

Sacramento Invests in Startup Ecosystem by providing $1 M in Grants

railsgrant

Last June, the Sacramento City Council unanimously approved a $10 Million Innovation and Growth Fund.  From that fund, they setup aside $1 M  for the Rapid Acceleration Innovation & Leadership in Sacramento (RAILS) grants.  The grants are for groups that drive acceleration, innovation & leadership for startups.  The city received a total of 143 applications in which a panel selected a total of 15 organizations to receive grants in three areas:

  1. Acceleration Grants ($50k to $250k): for accelerator and incubator programs supporting Sacramento startups through mentorship, networking, and education to raise capital, grow their business, and create new
  2. Innovation Grants ($20k to $100k): for civic tech companies and organizations making it easier to work with and in Sacramento; or for local organizations bringing together the innovation community in
  3. Leadership Grants ($10k to $50k): for educational programs training our next entrepreneurs in technology and business to build Sacramento-based

On November 1, 2016, the Council unanimously approved grants for the following organizations.

Acceleration Grants

I/O Labs ($250,000):  I/O Labs Foundation will launch a new innovation center on the 700 block of J Street in Downtown Sacramento. As a central organizing entity for Sacramento’s research centers, incubators, accelerators, universities, economic development organizations and investors, the I/O Labs Foundation operates as a conduit to statewide, national and global innovation ecosystems.

Entrepreneur’s  Showcase ($100,000):  The Entrepreneurs Showcase has been running its annual accelerator programs for seven years, with a focus on helping startups grow, receive financing, and entrench themselves in Sacramento. Alumni companies enter the program with 1-2 employees and, within a year, many have grown to 5-10 employees, creating new jobs. Some of these companies have raised funds and been able to scale rapidly and are on track to grow headcounts to 20- 30.

E49 Corporation ($57,000):  Suite 210’s incubator intensive program, operated by E49 Corporation, is focused on equipping and mobilizing nonprofit and for profit businesses that solve social issues in the Sacramento Region through networking, mentoring and training. Suite 210 serves as a co-working space designed to blend incubator programs for nonprofit and for-profit businesses to solve social issues through networking, mentoring and training.

Founder Academy ($50,000):  Founder Academy will provide entrepreneurial founders with tools and knowledge to build thriving businesses in our region through a rigorous training curriculum that brings the real-world perspective of business mentors and the ongoing support of a community of local business professionals and fellow entrepreneurs. The program offers the network, support, and place to make great companies in Sacramento.

Square One Clubs ($50,000):  Square One Clubs is a software and game developer business accelerator made up of game developers and organizers wishing to give back to the emerging game development community in Sacramento. Square One will secure a location that will include the addition of a training/event space and studio, enabling the organization to build an educational program and host both private, member only events, and public events to server the larger community.

Innovation Grants

Hacker Lab ($99,605):  Hacker Lab is expanding its current workspace and equipment offering on 1715 I Street into the adjacent facility. Hacker Lab will use its RAILS grant to procure innovation equipment that will improve the capabilities and resilience of our citizens. In Sacramento’s innovation ecosystem, there are accessible co-working spaces and entrepreneurship programs. However, there are no spaces in which entrepreneurs can access local makers and fabrication machinery to design and prototype a technical solution for their businesses.

Apptology ($50,000): StartupSac, a project by Apptology, is a web platform to manage and promote grassroots startup events, curate and provide access to startup resources through the StartupSac website and mobile apps. There is currently no other one-stop resource hub for startups, entrepreneurs, and innovators in the region. The StartupSac.com website and mobile apps will provide tools and resources for all constituents in the startup community including founders.

Rocket Department ($50,000):  Rocket Department will open a prototyping lab where entrepreneurs can validate and build their business ideas. The primary goal is to provide access to high quality equipment and technical experts who know how to use them. This lab will address the gap between entrepreneurs with the ideas and the people with the technical skills to build those ideas. Rocket Department will provide the tools and people needed to prototype and manufacture their products in Sacramento.

Dynasty Video Productions ($38,800):  Dynasty Video Productions will produce, Innovation Sacramento, a video series about entrepreneurs, startups and events that are fueling tech growth in Sacramento. Included are short lifestyle pieces about the City of Sacramento that highlight the exciting city we live in. Innovation Sacramento will enhance economic development by branding Sacramento as the New Tech Capital of California. Episodes will show the success and proliferation of startups and technology in an engaging way with video, and social media.

Leadership Grants

Green Technical Education & Employment ($41,637):  The Green Tech Web Builders Bootcamp introduces low income youth from diverse ethnic backgrounds to high technology careers serving as a springboard to web development, design and manufacturing. Introducing underserved youth to high technology gives them an opportunity to join a workforce currently experiencing a disparity in women and minorities. The program also encourages self-employment and entrepreneurial skill building exercises and innovative project based learning.

Square Root Academy ($48,665):  Square Root Academy trains the next generation of engineers and scientists coming from underserved areas in the very communities this demographic resides in. It ensures that this program is accessible to those who need it most at no cost at all to the students. Using a hands on STEM based curriculum, in class mentors connect the mathematical and scientific theories taught in the classroom to real life applications. The projects created foster a sense of academic empowerment within the students creating by bridging the gap between the concepts in the classroom and their practical use.

Operation Innovate ($50,000):  The Get STEAMED Digital Badge project, by Operation Innovate, is an educational leadership project that offers digital badge certification for underserved youth ages 16 – 24 in top three STEM/Tech Fields IOS App, Website and Video Game Development. The project aims to train and badge 45 youth in IOS App Development, Instructional Website Design and Development, Video Game Development, Startup Entrepreneurship and Workforce Readiness.

The Elevate Project ($25,000):  The Elevate Project is a mentor program for female tech entrepreneurs. Program goals are to increase success of women led businesses and counter negative biases towards female entrepreneurs. Grant funding will support the creation of infrastructure for the project in Sacramento, a strategic roadmap for implementation in Sacramento, and events to engage this community.

Yellow Circle ($10,000):  Yellow Circle is an organization committed to making careers in information technology more accessible. Yellow Circle’s CodeIT! Academy project aims to create an advanced online learning academy where students of all ages, races, genders, locations, or socioeconomic status can gain hands-on experience and education in all aspects of information technology.

 

The $1 M dollar investment in the innovation / entrepreneurship ecosystem is the first of its kind in the nation.  As Kevin Mayor Johnson tweeted, “@TheCityofSac just put its money where its mouth is to strengthen #SacTech ecosystem!”

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.

Kevin Nagle: Have Passion & Obsession

Kevin Nagle was able to swing by a Startup Grind Sacramento and enlighten us with some heartwarming tales of his past that contributed to the man he is today. Co-Founder of Envision Pharmaceuticals and Co-owner of the Sacramento Kings, Kevin gained recognition as Sacramento’s Executive of the Year. He’s also one of the lead investor in Sacramento Republic FC and on the board of Moneta Ventures; the Sacramento region’s biggest early phase venture fund.

Kevin Nagle speaking Startup Grind Sacramento

Born in Minnesota and raised in Long Beach, CA by a single mother in “borderline poverty,” Kevin’s ambitious attitude took shape at the age of only 6 years old. With his father out of the picture, he would collect golf balls from a nearby golf course and sell them to golfers in need. He had a plethora of jobs that he claimed all built character and humility. Kevin even recalls ducking out of sight when the popular kids would be his customers working weekends at Jack in the Box. As Kevin grew older, his entrepreneurial spirit would sharpen. He discussed how he strategically maximized profits from his older sister’s paper route and that laid the foundation for his future empire.

Entrepreneur Rule #1: “Have Passion & Obsession”

On the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur, Kevin says that a passionate attitude is mandatory. A personal example of how he demonstrated passion was early in his career. At the time he was working in corporate America making over $500 k / year with a grip of stock options. However, these perks did not fill the void in his heart and he abruptly quit shortly after entering a 3 year employment deal. He has had passion for every endeavor he embarked on which in most cases, required to make sacrifices. Still, he understood the importance of “diversifying your lifestyle” and always made it to his family’s special events.

Entrepreneur Rule #2: “Carving the market, Staking your Claim…And Thinking of the Next Generation”

Kevin’s medical background started in the pharmaceutical management benefit services where he sold his own Integrated Pharmaceutical Services (IPS) for $200 million that eventually turned into CVS Caremark. During the week of 9/11, there was limited airfare and he was stuck in Las Vegas planning for the next generation. Comparing his approach to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, Kevin wrote a white paper outlining the vision and how his firm would be disruptive, transparent and compete with the big players on Wall Street. The early days of Envision aimed at bringing transparency to their customers and had a concept so disruptive that bigger companies falsely claimed their business models were identical to that of Envisions. Fortunately, his organization was well-capitalized and able to sustain the competition for 2 years but suffered severe losses. Refusing to throw in the towel, Kevin stuck the course and by focusing on his target market of senior citizens increased his revenue from $5 million to $78 million within a year.

Entrepreneur Rule #3: “Biggest Deal Killer is not Being Over Prepared”.

Kevin reminded us of the competitive overzealous nature of today’s market. Being able to articulate your idea in a clean and concise manner is so important to at least getting your foot in the door. He used Costco as an example and how they only allow startups 8 minutes to pitch the business idea and determine whether or not it should be on their store shelves. Therefore, Kevin firmly believes that every aspiring entrepreneur should constantly “shine their deck” and make it presentable to anyone under any circumstances. This aligns with his core principles of passion and obsession and how that will catapult you into a heightened degree of success.

Watch the full video interview for material not mentioned in this article!

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.

4 Tips to Attract Mobile App Investors

If you’re thinking of starting a new business, you’re not alone. With so many new applications being developed in recent years, it seems that the young entrepreneurs are taking over. In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation, new businesses (0-5 years old) make up almost 20% of all of the net job creation in the United States. The hardest part of a new business, though, is finding the funds to get it up and running. Here are some things to keep in mind when pitching to potential investors without scaring the living the daylights out of them.
scared

Mobile App Tip #1: Be original

Before an investor gets involved, he or she wants to be wowed. In short, they’re unimpressed until they’re impressed. This is clearly demonstrated by Angel Investors’ deal acceptance rate of 21%. They’re not going to shell out thousands of dollars just to produce a copycat product of something that has already been invented.
Your product needs to be fresh, it needs to be relevant, and it needs to be a sure thing. Investors are more likely to give their money to people who produce an original product than those who try to recreate the wheel.

Mobile-Apps-New-Study-Reports-Many-Presidential-Campaign-Apps-May-Leak-Personal-Data-680x350

Image Source: Technology Pep

Mobile App Tip #2: Put it all on the table

Investors value honesty above all else, since the lack of information can come back to bite them more often than not. As of 2011, the percentage of “bad exits,” or bankruptcies were as high as 24% – so you could see how they would be a little sensitive

Make sure that from day one you are as honest about the strengths and weaknesses of your product as possible, because if you aren’t, investors will sense it and back off. The people you are pitching to didn’t get to where they are by being stupid. They most likely have a keen sense for when something isn’t right, so be respectful of that.

persuasion_news

Image Source: PCMA

Mobile App Tip #3: Be flexible.

Nothing turns an investor off faster than an attitude of “my way or the highway” from an entrepreneur. An investor wants to feel involved from the very beginning, and wants to feel their entrepreneur is coachable. More deals happen in the early stages of the company’s life than any other stages for a reason: The investor wants to have had enough time to see potential, but wants to get in early enough to ensure their role in its growth. You may have birthed the idea for this company, but if you want the investor on board, you’re going to have to be flexible and let them develop it.

workplace_flexibility

Image Source: Savor the Success

Mobile App Tip #4: Have the Four M’s in place.

Mark Suster, a successful entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, outlined in his article The Four Main Things That Investors Look For In A Startup that an entrepreneur should demonstrate the four golden M’s: fast, upward Momentum, a stellar Management team, a large Market, and, of course, a great deal of Money or earning potential. This should all be demonstrated very early on in the first presentation.

images-13

Image Source: MarketUmbrella

As with anything else, put yourself in the investor’s shoes and you’ll understand why and how they do the things they do. Do your research, not just on venture capitalists, but on the specific people you’re trying to meet – and you will go far. When you’re able to seal the deal, the next phase is to maintain it. You should read the 5 challenges of a startup appreneur so you can best prepare for the journey ahead.

 

Written by guest writer: Jeanine Amella

3 Steps to Develop Your Mobile App Idea

You’ve been thinking about an idea that you think can be the next Uber for weeks. So what do you do? Here are three steps you can take that will help you develop your idea.

1. Research Your Mobile App Idea:

The first thing you want to do with your idea is to research it. I had a client that spent a considerable amount of time having me do an NDA dance before speaking with me. Once we finally started talking, I quickly did a search on the Apple App Store and found there were over 25 similar apps listed; he quickly lost interest in pursuing this project.

Keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if you find another app that does what you’re trying to accomplish. You just have to figure out how to make your app better. Remember, before Google there was Yahoo; Before Facebook, there was MySpace. It’s not so much who goes to market first, but rather who executes best.

In doing your research, you need to also look at the market potential. For example, let’s say you had an app that was geared for veterinarians. A quick Google search shows that there are 90,000 veterinarians in the U.S. Now, you just identified your market potential.

Developing-Your-Mobile-App

Image Source: AppsCollections

2. Create Storyboard for Your Mobile App:

Now it’s time to put your idea down on paper and develop a storyboard (or wireframe). This is where the rubber hits the road and you put yourself in the shoes of the user. For instance, what’s the first thing they see once they launch your app? The first screen takes you to the main menu; the user taps the top button, where does it take the user? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Balsamiq. I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.

The advantage of creating a storyboard are:

  • It helps develop your idea
  • You have something to show as you try to recruit people or investors
  • Provides direction for your development team

storyboard-login

Image Source: spordipartner

3. Develop Mobile App Business Plan:

After you’ve done the research and developed a storyboard, if you decide you have something viable, you need to put together a business plan. After you’ve followed these 3 steps diligently, I suggest reading the 5 Challenges of a Startup Appreneur to know what you’re up against and strategize accordingly. Good luck on your start up journey as you recruit co-founders, get funding, etc.

 

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.

Apptology wins Silicon Valley CrowdFunding Venture Pitch

Rich Foreman presents ReadyEdition to Silicon Valley CrowdFunding Venture Pitch

Rich Foreman presents ReadyEdition to Silicon Valley CrowdFunding Venture Pitch

I was invited to pitch to the Silicon Valley CrowdFunding Venture Pitch and Demo Hardware Showcase last Friday.  There was 5 other start-ups that also presented.  The format was 5 minute presentation followed by 5 minutes of Q&A.  Fortunately, we recently graduated from the Velocity VC Accelerator program in which we developed a 5 minute investor presentation.

ReadyEdition is our solution that we  will formally roll out next month.  ReadyEdition is our mobile publishing solution that will allow publishers to self-publish their magazine or newspaper on their own branded native app.

The judges consisted of a 6 person panel.  In addition, the audience also could vote by texting a number to a short code.  I felt like I was on American Idol.  I’m happy to say that our ReadyEdition pitch won.  Unfortunately, there was no prize but many people asked me for my business card and one person ask me to send him our business plan.  If  anything,  it was  positive feedback for our ReadyEdition Solution.