Margaret Mackenzie Empowering Female Entrepreneurs: Seeing is Believing

Margaret Mackenzie was interviewed at Startup Grind Sacramento at the Urban Hive last September and enlighten the audience with well-needed entrepreneurial wisdom. Currently serving an executive role in Astia, Margaret also consults several early-stage startups with a specialty in finance, IT and artificial intelligence. She served as CFO at Paymo (now Boku) and JustInvesting along with being CEO to 3 financial market corporations. Her focus has been identity, digital/mobile transactions, and FinTech.

Born in Stockton and raised in Sacramento, Margaret founded her first startup named Paymo with the model that customers would be charged for their digital transactions on their phones rather than their credit/debit cards. Feeling that the idea was ahead of its time for the states, she raised most of the funding in the UK where it was already being practiced. In order to effectively acquire a user base, they targeted online and mobile gamers who were mostly too young to own a Visa but old enough to have a cell phone.

“If you can bring women up to the level of equality in business relations, we would add $25 trillion to the global economy.”

She co-founded Astia in 2008 as a nonprofit in San Francisco providing networks and capital to women who are managing or involved with high growth tech startups. After seeing the clear challenges for women to raise funds in the industry, she was compelled to help make it easier. Not only did it make sense morally, but from a financial standpoint, she feels that women can contribute a lot to the global economy but are largely underfunded. Astia offers free and low-cost services to female entrepreneurs and now have offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, London and more. She discussed how female entrepreneurs tend to underestimate their qualifications in favor of a man. This hinders the amount of examples that young women look up to and gain confidence in their abilities.  In regards to the value of programs that promote women and minorities, Margaret commented:

“Regardless of your gender or color, in order to believe it, you have to see it.”

Despite the obvious and not so apparent reasons why women struggle in the tech industry, Margaret understood that the difficulties of an entrepreneur remain gender neutral. The grueling task of working for little to no pay along with constantly trying to beat the odds are true regardless of your reproductive organs. She also emphasized the importance of a team and how significant it is for the well-being of a company.

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

Mark Haney Reminds Entrepreneurs to be a Rock Star!

Mark Haney

Mark Haney of Haney Business Ventures has founded or co-founded over 20 businesses with a focus on community-based values by offering opportunities for entrepreneurs and military veterans. He is a board member on the Sacramento Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Allegiant Giving Corporation which all are dedicated to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit of its region. Mark initially launched a successful video distribution company that expanded into a security/surveillance provider grossing over an annual $200 million with hundreds of employees. He also hosts a weekly radio broadcast, Entrepreneurs Unlimited which covers an array of topics related to entrepreneurship, business, startups and more. In a recent interview with Startup Grind Sacramento, Mark discussed his entrepreneurial journey.

Born and raised in Roseville, CA, Mark started out by attaining tons of beta VCR players for the low and eventually opened up a chain of 14 video supply stores throughout the region. Once the video industry went down, they pivoted into security cameras and targeted video installers through telemarketing campaigns. They were hit hard during the 2008 housing collapse and made a successful exit 2 years later.

“My Friends, Family And Community; As they Succeed I Succeed.”

Shortly after, Mark shifted gears into more of a philanthropic approach by launching Allegiant Giving focused on the ‘heroes of today and the leaders of tomorrow.’ In his mind, the heroes were vets coming back from war and the leaders were aspiring entrepreneurs filled with drive and ambition. One of his first veteran projects was the creation of a wheelchair for a veteran amputee that allowed him to go off roading and resembled the looks of an army tank. His efforts with the vast community of entrepreneurs has allowed him to get involved with real estate, limo services and of course security surveillance systems.

“When I’m Looking for Business Partners, I’m Looking for Rockstars.”

Mark says he’s very selective who he partners with because he needs people that are going to make others move and take action. If you don’t have the attitude of a rockstar, such as the lead singer of a band, he’s uncertain whether a partnership would be mutually beneficial. More importantly, Mark emphasizes that everyone possesses natural skills that should be capitalized on rather than trying to balance out the responsibilities of an entire company. It’s a common trap for entrepreneurs to take on more roles than needed in the name of saving money. However, he says we can’t do everything alone and learning skills you’re not naturally apt at can waste a lot of time and actually cause you to lose money in the long run. He finds it much more effective to form a well-balanced team that each can offer their own unique gifts to contribute to company objectives.

“So Often we do Things we Hate…But Keep an Open Mind to Where your Weaknesses and Strengths Are.”

The full interview with Mark can be viewed 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.

 

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.

Impact Global Venture Summit Highlights Sacramento Region Startups

Impact Summit

The inaugural Impact Global Venture Summit was held on November 14, 2016 at the brand new, state of the art, Golden 1 Center. Over 700 people attended and 50 Northern California startups participated in the summit with the goal of providing local startups exposure to investors.

impactvcfounders

Impact VC Founders (left to right): Jack Crawford, Dixon Doll, Eric Ball

This was also the big debut for event organizer, Impact Venture Capital.  Impact VC was formed from Sacramento based Velocity VC in partnership with Dixon Doll and Eric Ball.  Dixon Doll is a well-known Silicon Valley investor with early investments in 20 unicorn (with a valuation over $1 B) companies.

Most of the event consisted of pitches from 20 startups.  Many were from local startups including HomeZada, California Safe Soil, Gatekeeper Innovation, and Barobo.  Startups from the Bay Area also attended with Mountain View based Nightingale Security and Santa Clara based Cornami each receiving an investment from Impact VC.

homezada

HomeZada Co-Founder John Bodrozic

The other big star of the summit was the Golden 1 Center itself.  For many of the attendees, it was their first visit to the most technologically advance arena in the world. The event in concert with the arena really illustrated Sacramento’s emergence as an innovation hub. Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson, tweeted out, “…Now that’s #Sac3pt0!”

 

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.

Apptology Offers Four Scholarships to Startup Weekend Sacramento

statupweekend_apptology

Think you have an idea that can be the next Uber?  If you’re curious about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, you can experience the startup life in 54 hours during Startup Weekend Sacramento on November 11-13, 2016 at Impact VC Sacramento office.  You’ll have the opportunity to pitch your idea, form a team, develop a business plan, and present to a panel of judges for prizes.  Throughout the weekend, mentors will be available to advise your team, including Apptology CEO, Rich Foreman.

As a platinum sponsor of Startup Weekend Sacramento, Apptology is offering 4 scholarships for this event.  Preferences will be given to students.  You can apply here.   Applications must be received before midnight November 8, 2016.

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.

500 Startups Co-Founder Dave McClure: Have Fun, Get Sh*t Done

Dave McClure is a Silicon Valley icon that is recognized as one of the region’s super angel investors. Over the years he has advised and managed a number of successful startups which includes 3 unicorns (Twilio, Credit Karma, and Grab) . He’s the co-founder of 500 startups and invested in more than 1500 companies around the world. Three companies  have evaluations over $1 billion with over 300 with a valuation $10-$999 million range. He was recently a guest speaker at Startup Grind Sacramento and offered wisdom that was practical, to the point with a hint of humor.

“As an entrepreneur, you realize that you’re kind of clueless.”

In his humble manner, Dave explained how his path to success was a confusing and gradual process. He laughed about his past mistakes and launched 500 startups as a vehicle to guide entrepreneurs that are still wet behind the ears. It is a personal conviction to compensate for what he perceived was his failure of creating a large scale startup. “Looking back on the last 10-15 years and realizing that I could’ve figured out problems faster, part of it was trying to help people figure it out faster…and make [entrepreneurship] a little more approachable…for geeks.”

While many successful entrepreneurs glorify the ambitious startup lifestyle, McClure understands that it’s not all sunshine and ice cream. His ability to relate with entrepreneurs at any career stage allows him to connect with his audience and keep them grounded in reality. He recalls how difficult it was raising funds for his first startup saying, “We raised $30 million in 2 years and the first $5 million in the first year….It was a bit challenging.That’s a complete understatement, it was a ****ing pain in the ass.” His witty remarks kept the audience laughing and was a reminder that behind all of the clout in the industry, successful entrepreneurs are regular people just like us.

“When making a lot of investments, only a few will work out.”

As the perfected imperfect creatures that humans are, we try to make the best decisions in business, relationships and life in general. However, the truth is that more often than not, investments will fail to deliver as anticipated. “[We] know we’re gonna be wrong…and might not find an outcome that frequently but we hope that 20-30% of those get to a series A or larger investment and 5-10% in total get to $100 million plus sort of outcome…Maybe if we’re smart we can steer in of some of the capital into winners…but it takes about 10 years.” McClure’s calculated approach to business signifies he has well accepted that with investments, slow and steady wins the race.

“We do diversity because it’s a good investment not necessarily of social impact, that might happen and we hope it does but [ultimately] we’re trying to make money.”

McClure recognizes the potential in people from all backgrounds which has resulted in a diverse global network of entrepreneurs. Saying that more than 50% of his founders are non-white and 20-30% are female, his business model is shifting the traditional standard of gender/race dynamics in the workplace. “We actually think that there’s a lot of smart people that don’t have a penis and there’s a lot of smart people that aren’t white and went to Stanford…we just wan’t to make money…we like to say we’re arbitraging racism and sexism for our own economic benefit…” For example, one of his current endeavors has been developing a platform for Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Despite that sounding like a social effort, it’s commercially viable given that these demographics make up 30% of the American market.

Moreover, McClure believes that his foreign outreach into less developed countries will become profitable as well. Places like Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia have huge populations with markets that continue to increase their internet usage. By strategically investing a couple million dollars here and there, he hopes to establish a solid foundation for when these markets begin to take off. “If we’re willing to deploy capital in those markets for an extended period of time and learn, we are going to find some things that work. When those things start to work, we would want to have already done a hundred investments, made friends, built our brand, have people on the ground and understood how those markets work.”

“Have fun get sh*t done…When we have fun, other people have fun.”

500 Startups has a reputation for being a fun and festive accelerator.  McClure may be a bit unorthodox in his approach to business but understands the value of hard work and creating a solid product. He feels that no amount of money is worth sacrificing fun and personal sanity. Still, there has to be a balance between fulfillment and progress that his organization instills into the minds of his employees. When asked why do many startups fail, he said it could be for a number of reasons. However, he insisted that the main cause is usually because “they build stuff people don’t want or build it for the wrong customer.” He assures the crowd that in order for any VC or investor to take an entrepreneur seriously, they must have gotten their product out the door and have some type of customer base. He emphasized that although this truth may sound basic, they’d be surprised how many people miss this point.

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.

2016 AgStart Showcase


AgStart Dinner and Drones

AgStart held a fundraising dinner that also promoted their member companies on August 20, 2016.  AgStart is an incubator based in Woodland that helps Agricultural Startups.  AgStart was formed under the now defunct SARTA and this was their inaugural event. Here are the Ag Startups featured at this event:

Ag For Hire was formed at the Apps for Ag Hackathon held at UC Davis where they won 1st Place.  Their elevator description is that they are the Linkedin for Agricultural workers.

agforhire

AgShift is a Santa Clara based startup.  They developed free productivity tools for small and medium farms.  Their strategy is a Big Data play where they plan to monetize using the data generated from their tools.

Agshift

Foodfully’s mission is to eliminate household food waste.  To this end, they have developed an app that will track the food purchased and alert the user before food in the fridge spoils.  They’ve developed integrations with the loyalty cards of several major grocery chains.  In addition, the app will also provide recipes for the food purchased.

foodfully

GivingGarden is another 1st place winner for the Apps for Ag Hackathon held at UC Davis.  They developed an app where urban gardeners can communicate with each other and provide crowd source data to help their community.

givinggarden

Vibe Imaging Analytics has developed the Vibe QM Instrument that allows farmers to quickly inspect rice and seed samples.  This is a significant time saver compared to current process where rice and seed samples are inspected by hand.

viber

WaterBit Inc is a Santa Clara based startup that has developed an Irrigation Management System that uses sensors to optimize water usage.

waterbit

Wexus Technology Inc is a San Francisco based startup that has developed technology that tracks water and electrical usage and allows farmer to reduce costs by providing actionable data.

wexus

 The AgStart Showcase was held at the beautiful Windmill Vineyards and was a wonderful evening.  Drone demonstration and races provided a bit of fun before the Farm to Fork dinner.   All in all, it was a great beginning for AgStart.

 

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.