Is it a good idea to build a startup during this upcoming recession?

I had everything planned out and I quit freelancing for a trusted client around Feb. Unfortunately, I had to get an eye surgery March and I couldn't work for another two months, now finally, I am back in full force.

But I am having trouble whether I should be looking for a job or keep working on my startup.

How many of you are actually still working on building your startup rather than looking for a job? How confident are you that this recession is actually to your advantage rather than a huge disadvantage.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

5 Remote Workplace Technologies That Will Help Your Startup Communicate More Efficiently

Unless your job is considered “essential,” you’ve been parked at home throughout the pandemic. You’re not alone, as approximately 29 percent of the U.S. workforce have jobs that allow them to work from home. And recently, this means home life and work life are coexisting in new ways. 

Many entrepreneurs are finding working from home to be quite stressful. Luckily, there are a few technologies that exist just to help make the experience of working from home a lot easier.


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In fact, here are five of the best remote workplace technologies that will help improve the survival rate of startups during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Virtual meetings

When you need to video chat with your clients or staff, basic video meeting apps are the standard choice (such as the wildly popular Zoom), but there are other options, as well. Rather than having your living room as the background, remote networking platforms like SuperViz can render a 360-degree VR office video meeting environment. 

You can also create a very life-like virtual environment that can be altered by overlaying images, videos, notes, audio clips, website links, or changing entire floor plans. It’s free and runs solely via your web browser, so there is no software that needs to be downloaded first.

Online identity verification

When you can talk with your employees at the office, it’s obviously easy to confirm their identity face-to-face. However, this is not nearly as easy when talking online. As such, you need a way to confirm the identity of the person you are talking to in order to ensure your startup is secure.

This is made easy by using online identity verification platforms, such as Ipsidy. This service uses a login portal to request that each person in the call use his or her mobile device to take a selfie, as well as take a picture of their government ID to confirm their identity.


Related: 3 Ways to Boost Your Team’s Work From Home Performance

Remote document signing

When files can’t be handed off in person, it makes getting them signed in a timely manner more difficult. Luckily, the WPESign WordPress online contract plugin makes this a lot easier. 

Using this handy plugin, you can effortlessly build a contract, electronically sign the documents with a UETA and ESIGN compliant program, store an unlimited number of files, receive carbon copy receipts, protect files with two-factor verification, and so much more. This is a very user-friendly program that will remove any insufficiencies you may be experiencing when it comes to documents.

Employee management tools

As always, the happiness of your team is crucial to the success of your business. With your team now working from home, their satisfaction levels may have declined. The sooner that you know this, the sooner that you can plan some possible solutions. But getting accurate feedback from your team when they can’t be asked in person can be tough. This is where the Glint employee pulse surveys come in handy. 

The program sends out surveys to remote workers on a frequent basis, then looks at the responses and creates engagement dashboards filled with analytics.These reports show you, as the company leader, the answers given and highlights any problem areas your team may be experiencing. This lets you know how your remote employees are doing at any given time, and how you can restructure any of your current workflow.


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Real-time communication apps

When your team is physically in the same space, quick communication just requires walking over to someone’s desk. But when your staff is at home, this suddenly changes. All these small, easy questions are no longer so simple to get answers to. A much more helpful method for you and your team is to embrace a real-time communication app like Slack

You can create an account for your team, then even create smaller group chats with certain members of your team. This is a great way to improve your communications without overbearing your employees in countless emails.

If you are one of the many entrepreneurs who are still running your businesses remotely, then you’re likely going to need some help coping. By using these five technologies in your daily work routine, it will help to make running your business from home much more productive during this pandemic.

The post 5 Remote Workplace Technologies That Will Help Your Startup Communicate More Efficiently appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Is it normal for a startup to have this in their intern contracts?

I’m gonna intern at a startup starting Monday and their contract has stuff like:

  • The Intern will demonstrate honesty, punctuality, courtesy, cooperative attitude, proper health and grooming habits, appropriate dress and a willingness to learn.
  • Under no circumstances will Intern leave the internship without first conferring with Intern’s supervisor.
  • Intern may take on reasonable additional or different duties when Company ask Intern, to meet Company reasonable business need, related to internship.
  • At any time, the Company or the Intern can end this agreement by giving written notice (including by email) to the other party. Whenever this agreement ends, the Confidentiality & Intellectual Property Assignments section below will continue to apply indefinitely.

I think that the first 2 bullet points are weird. I’ve never had a contract say that you must be X, Y and Z (of course it’s implied but it has never been stated explicitly). And I’ve def never signed anything that said “YOU CANNOT LEAVE WITHOUT EMAILING US FIRST.”

I've worked in abusive startup environments and not even their contracts had the "better not leave without telling us."

I am trying to determine whether they are a control freak or whether they are just assuming some people don't know how to be professional (they were recruiting college students and idk maybe some of them have never been in this environment before).

I’ve checked the founder’s socials and LinkedIn and it seems fairly normal and like they had a lot of professional experience before the startup. They also recruited at a startup career fair at my school so it’s not just some random stranger I guess.

I’ve tried to talk to former interns but they haven’t responded to my messages yet.

Reflecting back on the interview process, I went like this:

  • Step 1: Meet them at career fair, introduce yourself a bit, they scheduled longer conversations with the people they liked

  • Step 2: The “longer conversation” was a bit weird; they asked a lot of random questions and it didn’t feel like an interview, more like a conversation.

  • One thing that was weird during the interview was that the boss said, “Don’t sign a lease for the next school year yet.” It felt very informal and not relevant to the interview. They also didn't really seem attentive to my responses and asked a bunch of questions that were just all over the place.

  • It wasn’t because they’re gonna provide me housing, they just said “lol just save your money.”

  • Step 3: Had to find 20 influencers and come up with an outreach strategy

  • Step 4: Sent over the forms with the weird stuff above

If anyone is experienced with hiring at a startup, can anyone comment on whether this is weird or not?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Education startup: way to keep track of video lesson subscriptions?

Hi! I am currently helping with web design for a startup that provides online English lessons to students in other countries. We have both online courses as well as providing 1-1 video lessons over Skype.

The way it works is that users will subscribe to a specific plan, which will allow them a certain # of lessons/month, and they expire at the end of the month.

We need a way to keep track of these lessons that decreases each person's allotted lessons by 1 every time they use one, and erases them at the end of the month.

We are thinking some sort of bookkeeping software that integrates with WooCommerce or whatever scheduling tool we use (Calendly, etc.). It would be nice to integrate it with BuddyBoss to display this number on the user's profile for them to keep track of as well.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Win a Wild Card to compete in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020

Ready to take advantage of every opportunity to keep your startup on track and moving forward? Yes, yes you are. Exhibiting in Startup Alley during Disrupt 2020 is nothing but opportunity. It offers founders beaucoup benefits, but there’s one more whopper waiting for two standout startups. We’re talking about the Wild Card entry to compete in Startup Battlefield.

Yup, buy yourself a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and you’ll have a shot at joining Disrupt 2020’s elite Startup Battlefield cohort. The winner of this epic pitch competition takes home the coveted Disrupt Cup and $ 100,000. And who couldn’t use that kind of equity-free cash infusion right about now?

Here’s how it all works. Exhibit in Startup Alley, where you’ll demo your tech products, platforms or services to potential investors, customers, engineers, media outlets and, well, the list goes on. This is no time to take your foot off the gas, and Startup Alley offers a prime opportunity to network one-on-one and build relationships with the people who can help keep your startup moving forward.

Now, about that Wild Card. The discerning TechCrunch editorial team will review all exhibiting startups and — talk about a tough task — select only two companies to compete in Startup Battlefield.

If you’re chosen, you’ll join the other Battlefield competitors and deliver a 6-minute pitch and demo to a panel of judges — top-name VCs and technologists. You’ll also answer a Q&A after your pitch. If you make it through to round two, you’ll do it all again to a fresh set of experts.

Does it sound a bit far-fetched — going from mild-mannered exhibitor to Battlefield Champion — hoisting the Disrupt Cup and hauling $ 100K back home? Okay, it’s longshot, but it’s not unprecedented! The folks at RecordGram pulled it off, why not you?

Even if you don’t win the competition, you’ll launch in front of the global startup community, be on the receiving end of intense media and investor interest and join the ranks of the Startup Battlefield Alumni community — more than 900 companies (including the likes of Dropbox, Mint, Yammer and Vurb) that have collectively raised $ 9 billion and produced 115 exits.

Don’t miss your double dose of opportunity. Exhibit in Startup Alley at Disrupt 2020, drive your dream to the next level and take a shot at winning a Wild Card. Who knows? You might just be the next Startup Battlefield champ.

TechCrunch is mindful of the COVID-19 issue and its impact on live events. You can follow updates here.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Startups – TechCrunch

Evaluating Startup Ideas

Anyone have any suggestions for coming up with a framework for evaluating business ideas ? I have a bunch and they all seem like great ideas. Wondering if anyone can help ?

Starving Crowd (0 – 20 Points): Only applies to ideas where you can reasonably deduct market demand. For example a grocery delivery start up in the midst of a pandemic would be a 20. To me, this singular criteria is more important than all the rest.

Time/Capital to build MVP (0 -10 Points): Time and capital required to get to market.

Competition (0 -10 Points): Is anyone else doing this ? 0 points if no one else is, 0 points if there is a 100 competitors.

Time/Effort to 1st 100 customers (0-5 Points): Time/effort to get to first 100 customers (You can change this to a thousand for smaller products/B2C).

Time to get to Cashflow Positive (0 – 5 Points): Doesn't apply to all ideas, but a cashflow positive business is of importance to me.

Learning Curve (0 – 10 points): Is this an area of expertise for you or are you flying blind ? Having started a few businesses, I know that you can go in thinking you know everything, and turns out you know nowhere near as much as you thought you knew.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated ?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Cookware startup Caraway raises $5.3M as it eyes new product categories

Caraway, a direct-to-consumer startup selling ceramic pots and pans, is announcing that it has raised $ 5.3 million in seed funding.

Founder and CEO Jordan Nathan (previously a brand manager at e-commerce holding company Mohawk Group) told me that he became interested in cookware after burning a Teflon pan and learned more about the dangers of Teflon poisoning.

In fact, although nonstick materials like Teflon are used most of the cookware sold in the United States, it turns out that that there are real health risks when those pots and pans are overheated.

So Nathan said Caraway offers non-toxic, eco-friendly pots and pans that are also well-designed and premium quality. The four-item cookware set costs $ 395 and also comes with pot and lid holders (Nathan noted that many consumers also struggle with storage).

When I brought up some of the broader issues facing direct-to-consumer startups before the pandemic, particularly around costly user acquisition, Nathan said, “Caraway has been focused on sustainable growth since day one. We’re only a few months old and growing very fast, but at the same time, we’re focused on cutting cost and making sure every dollar returns a profitable first purchase from consumers.”

Caraway racks

Image Credits: Caraway

Caraway isn’t revealing any sales numbers, but Nathan suggested that the company has definitely benefited from increased consumer interest as everyone is stuck at home and doing more cooking.

And he said that interest extends beyond buying Caraway products: “It’s been a really good time to activate our community. There’s been a lot more engagement, a lot of sharing of user generated content, sharing on Instagram — not just for cookware and pans, but education around cooking, around storage, around design.”

The company’s supply chain has also been affected by the pandemic. Nathan said his team has done work to expedite shipments, but “where we’ve put our focus has really just been communicating with customers that there will be delays.”

The new funding comes from more than 100 investors, including Republic Labs, Springdale Ventures, Wesray Social, Bridge Investments, WTI, CompanyFirst, G9 Ventures, Super Angel Syndicate (led by Ben Zises), Five Four Ventures, alongside Bonobos co-founder Andy Dunn, PopSugar co-founder Brian Sugar (PopSugar), Glossier and Arfa founders/executives Henry Davis and Bryan Mahoney, One Kings Lane co-founder Ali Pincus and Nik Sharma of Sharma Brands.

In a statement, Dunn said:

Many people think direct-to-consumer brands are going to struggle in this new economy. From being an investor in two dozen brands, the truth is more nuanced: some are really flourishing. Caraway had strong momentum at launch, with a clear vision from founder Jordan Nathan around the future of home goods. The COVID-19 pandemic then amplified that momentum with the surge of in-home cooking. Caraway’s out of the gates growth rate is in the top 1% of what I’ve seen in DTC brands. This is not a pots and pans company, this is a disruptor to traditional brick and mortar multi-category home brands.

To that last point, Nathan said Caraway has already expanded into kitchen linens, and there are plans for other home products.

“With every new product we launch, we’re bringing the same focus [that we brought to] cookware,” he said. “The same colors, the same sleek and timeless design, the non-toxic, eco-friendly material. And every product we launch will have a storage solution built into it.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Video news startup Stringr raises $5.75M from Thomson Reuters and others

Stringr, a video-focused startup that says it can help news organizations adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, is announcing that it’s raised $ 5.75 million in new funding.

When I wrote about the the company at the end of 2015, it was creating a marketplace that connected news organizations with videographers who could provide them with news footage. Since then, co-founder and CEO Lindsay Stewart (a former TV news producer herself) told me the network has grown to more than 100,000 videographers.

At the same time, Stringr has added new tools for things like live streaming, transcription and editing, creating what Stewart described as “the most efficient video production platform.”

And she suggested that media companies need a platform like this more than ever. Yes, some Stringr customers are just using the service when they need footage, but she said others see Stringr as a purely cloud-based solution for producing news programming “when nobody’s coming into the office.”

And speaking of footage, newsrooms are going to need help on that front too, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic having a dramatic impact on the media industry’s bottom line.

“I don’t think it’s lost on anyone that media companies … the business model, even more than before COVID, has been challenged,” Stewart added. So those companies are turning to Stringr for help in figuring out “how they become as cost effective as they possibly can, while still providing a valuable service to society overall.”

Stringr has also launched a division called Embed Studios that taps into the startup’s videographer network to create content for brands including Corcoran, Zillow, HBO Max, Amazon, Lightworkers, TikTok, Mastercard, United Way and MGM.

The company has now raised a total of $ 7.25 million. The new funding comes from Thomson Reuters, as well as previous investors G5 Capital and Advection Growth Capital.

It sounds like the Reuters investment is part of a broader partnership where the wire service’s customers can request video footage from Stringr. In fact, Stewart said that the startup’s work with Reuters is also pushing it to recruit videographers globally, starting in western Europe. (It was previously focused on the United States and the United Kingdom.)

Startups – TechCrunch

Is there a best place to apply for jobs at a Startup? I.e. LinkedIn vs. the company website?

It seems like there a ton of different job boards. I'm sure it varies by company but are all of these applications aggregated into the same output on the company side? I'm wondering if there is some advantage to applying through LinkedIn vs. the company's career page vs. Angel.Co or if you should just submit applications through as many portals as you can.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!