How to Maximize Spending in Your Start-up

When you start out in a business venture, it is important to keep a few ideas in mind. These will help you begin in a powerful way and maintain in an organized fashion.

You already have a great product or service, and it’s time to figure out how you will build a business around it. Building a business is like building any kind of building.

You need a sturdy foundation and a sound structure. All the decorative pieces will be added soon enough, but without the proper framework, your business will be, well, decorative – appearance without substance. In time, it will eventually collapse on itself.

After you come up with your product or service, your next aim is to make a profit. You’ll need excellent customer service, too, but in this article we’ll focus on becoming profitable.

First, create a budget and stick to it. Don’t add frivolous expenses or you are just digging a hole for yourself. You can’t pretend to be a big company right away with all the bells and whistles – the nicest equipment, the finest in office space, or the best apparel.

It’s much like the newlywed couple who wants to have the nice home and all the luxuries their parents now have. What they don’t realize, to the degree they need to, is that their parents worked hard (which may have taken many years) to have the income to afford what they now have, and that their parents had to start out small with the basics when they first got married.

If you don’t stick to a budget, you could be in for a real surprise – running out of money and not being able to afford your foundational expenses.

Next, think about solutions that work for the here and now. You may want to forego individual offices for cubicles until you can afford a bigger space. You may want to forego travel expenses for a far away conference and instead cozy up to your computer to attend a webinar with comparable content.

Third, according to Jennifer Post’s article for Business News Daily, go inexpensive but not cheap. There’s a difference. Cut corners where you can, like buying inexpensive copy paper for office memos, but don’t try to save money on “free” software. “They’re free for a reason” Post writes, quoting Raad Mobrem, CEO and co-founder of Lettuce Apps. Buy good-quality office machines, for example, where you won’t have to spend extra money on repairing them or replacing them when they completely break down earlier than expected.

Lastly, always evaluate and re-evaluate your budget and expenses. Keeping detailed track of your expenses will help you see what is going to waste and what have been good investments. Determine to set a percentage of your profits aside in savings for long-range goals for updating your business’ assets.

UVU business resource center exterior

Official UVU BRC Website is Getting a Facelift

The official UVU BRC website is getting a facelift. If you haven’t seen it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Not only has the visual been updated, but the content has been updated, too. Links have been added and fixed so the navigation is smoother and more intuitive.

Be sure to check out the latest Grow Your Business classes, now happening once a month. They are geared to help you validate your business idea or product and understand what really goes into helping an idea or product to be successful.

You can visit our official website at www.uvu.edu/brc or clicking on the HOME link at the top of the page.

 

How to Succeed in Business, Part 2 of 3

Winthrop Jeanfreau

Director, UVU Business Resource Center

 

As we discussed last month, success in business is achieved by solving a problem that exists in the market place, doing so in a unique way and offering a value proposition recognized by the audience with the problem. We focused on how to spot problems that need solving… niches in the market that are left begging for a solution, or more frequently, a meaningful improvement to an existing solution. This edition of How to Succeed in Business will focus on what providing a unique solution really means.

 

For example, I had an earnest client come into my office seeking my assistance to fund his “unique” solution to central processing unit (CPU) for use in our personal computing devices. The CPU is the electric brain that crunches through the ones and zeros that make up machine language that is the basis for all of our programs. One of the key measurements of a computers value is the speed with which it crunches through those numbers. The two major players in this space are Intel and AMD, formidable competitors. So you can understand why I listened to his solution with some degree of skepticism.

 

His solution was to build a faster chip. I was curious to learn if he had developed the next generation of quantum chips, so I probed his claim. I asked if he had indeed developed a breakthrough chip architecture that would push more digits through the chip per clock cycle, or if he was going to increase the clock cycle to improve performance, or both. His response was that he was simply going to create a faster chip and he’d like my help raising the $1 Billion necessary to do so. You can imagine my consternation at having my time wasted by such a wild, unfounded claim.

 

However, as outlandish as this attempt at a unique solution was, I get the much more frequent, but every bit as earnest claims that a client can build the same solution for less. Although price is a compelling element in the purchasing process, competing on price alone is usually the slow spiral of death for the undercapitalized competitor, which is usually the new entrant into the market.

 

What I’m referring to in the “unique solutions” category is to offer something not currently in the market, or to “reinvent” something in such a way that it becomes a truly unique offering. An example of this later type of innovation might be the reinventing of something as common as an arm sling, the kind you wear after you’ve broken a wing doing something interesting.

 

Type “arm sling” into Amazon and you get 2,222 results. It’s a space that is literally inundated with offerings, all hovering around the $19.99 price point. With that much competition, where is the opportunity for a “unique” solution, much less a making money one?

 

One way you might solve the problem of immobilizing an injured arm is to appeal to something other than immobilization. For example, I’ve found myself in need of just this type of equipment a number of times in my life. Invariably, I am asked what happened, to which I rehearse the event in as flattering a narrative as I can get away with.

 

What if, instead of an innocuous blue sling, I had a picture of my accident silk screened onto the sling itself? What if my sling became a poster for the kind of lifestyle I live, and a badge of honor for how fully I live my life?… a life so well lived on the cutting edge of danger, that I occasionally break my body in pursuit of a meaningful adrenaline rush.

 

Instead of an instrument of healing, which it still is, it has been transformed into a badge of honor. Appealing to my vanity, and advertising my lifestyle by offering a glimpse into the B.A. that I think I am. In fact, the sling could come with a website address, populated with all the other images and video capturing the nuances and detail of the injury, also contributing to my persona as “one bad dude”.

 

This solution won’t appeal to everyone, but 14 to 30 year old men would eat it up, and they’ll have more than enough images captured on their friend’s smartphones and GoPro cameras to fill the website.

Where would one advertise our sling and what messaging would we use to address this audience? That answer becomes pretty self-evident… anywhere these individuals participate in activities where there’s a higher than average chance they’ll break their arms.

 

Now the question that remains to be answered is how much to charge for such a unique solution to a fairly common problem. We’ll address this last element in next month’s article.

 

In the meantime, if you feel you’ve identified a unique solution to an existing problem, would like a reality check and possibly some help polishing and monetizing it, come to the UVU Business Resource Center for our assistance.

March Business Winners – Innovated Sports, Flip, Medi-Swarm

Congratulations to the G2M Phase I Award winners for March 2015: 1) Innovated Sports, 2) Flip, and 3) MEDI+SWARM. Funds and training are provided by the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, in partnership with the Utah Valley Business Resource Center (UVU BRC). USTAR assists companies and universities in developing commercial applications for their research. The UVU Business Resources Center has a number of tools, resources and organizations to assist local entrepreneurs and businesses.

Innovated Sports

Introducing Innovated Sports. We change the way university athletic recruiting is done allowing recruits who might have been previously overlooked to gain scholarships and play at the next level. Our innovative approach connects players to recruiters through our new social media platform and links to existing social media platforms. It’s the LinkedIn for amateur sports. Parents and fans can now assist as they can add content for their favorite athlete with our unique and innovative highlight function; but all under the control of the student-athlete.

Innovated Sports is the creation of CEO Ryan Pedersen. His partners are Justin Simonsen, Jake Hawkins, Zach Jenson, and Andrea Simonsen, students at Utah Valley University.

Flip

Flip is the go-to mobile app to buy and sell items locally. Flip differentiates itself from Craigslist and KSL Classifieds by providing a safer and easy-to-use platform. Instead of having users exchange addresses or meet up in a dimly lit parking lot, Flip provides users with “Trading Posts”, which are designated locations (i.e. Starbucks) to meet up and exchange their items. The app is designed with the user in mind, so posting takes less than a minute and searching is easier than ever. Plus, the Flip team is made up of 4 normal guys that like to have fun.

MEDI+SWARM

MEDI+SWARM launching in beta July 2015* MEDI+SWARM uses your health data and health data from people like you, to perform extraordinary capabilities not thought possible until now! First, our smart health network is social; by using personalized data our system is able to link users with others just like them, creating a supporting community like none other. By having a custom community that knows exactly what you are experiencing, MEDI+SWARM will be able to help you know what treatments work best for you and if there are any possible cures. Second, MEDI+SWARM is united; our smart health network is open to everyone. By aggregating information on all diseases, MEDI+SWARM is able to compare similar components of different diseases and check for possible solutions, significantly improving the chances of finding new treatments. MEDI+SWARM is set revolutionize the current healthcare system.

G2M Business Accelerator Phase I pitches are conducted at noon on the 1st Wednesday of each month at the UVU Business Resource Center. The events are open to the public. In order to pitch and receive funding a company must go through the Business Accelerator Phase I Training, which focuses on lean startup, proof of concept testing, and customer and market validation principles.

3D printing and CAD design at UVU RDC

A New 3D Printed Use For Doctor Who's TARDIS   Star Wars Episode 3-D: Printing the Millennium Falcon

Have you already taken advantage of the 3D printers at the UVU Rapid Development Center? We have top quality printers and we charge only to cover our costs. We also charge only $25 for 3D CAD design. To learn more, follow the links below. To get a free quote, click here.

G2M Phase IV – Revenue Accelerator

Now that you’ve validated your idea, developed your business model and begun putting your business model into action, we invite you to attend Phase IV — sales acceleration.

You will be taught by one of the national leaders in sales acceleration training, Griffin Hill. Their Integrity Sales System is the most complete sales methodology available. Their six step sales process brings immediate and sustained results using a clear path to move from one step to the next. Companies like IntegraCore of Salt Lake City increased their new sales by 300% in their first five months of use, using this proven method for increasing sales success.

The Integrity Sales System is based on the principle that high performance is the outcome of systematic adherence to natural law.  This system focuses leaders and employees on consistent actions that govern success.  Adhering to these natural laws and high leverage activities help their client’s experience rapid, substantial and sustainable revenue growth.

This revenue acceleration course is taught in a 12 consecutive week format, for one hour each Monday morning, beginning promptly at 9 AM in our main conference room.

The $3,500 tuition is waved for qualifying students and their staff. To qualify for this free training, one member of your company must have graduated through the previous Phases of the G2M program and commit to attend entire training program. Seating is limited. Preference will be given to recent graduates of Phase lll, with the balance of available seats open to alumni graduates of G2M.

To register, call or email Marin Reynolds at 801-863-2720 or mreynolds@uvu.edu.

February G2M Phase 1 and 2 Winners

February G2M Phase I Winners

Congratulations to the G2M Phase I Award winners for February 2015: 1) Solar Ninja, 2) Inertial Sense, and 3) NOMO. Funds and training are provided by the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, in partnership with the Utah Valley Business Resource Center (UVU BRC). USTAR assists companies and universities in developing commercial applications for their research. The UVU Business Resources Center has a number of tools, resources and organizations to assist local entrepreneurs and businesses.

Solar Ninja is “a mobile platform that helps streamline the solar sales cycle. At Solar Ninja, we have developed the first mobile sales tool for thesolar industry. What used to take hours of time can now be done in minutes with ease. What used to take a week can now be done on the very first visit.” Jeff Burns, Solar Ninja

At Inertial Sense LLC “we have created the μINS-2™, a miniature calibrated GPS aided Inertial Navigation System.  Sensor data from MEMs gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, barometric pressure, and GPS/GNSS is fused to provide optimal estimation of orientation, velocity, and position.  The μINS-2™ can be attached to any object and provide analytic and tracking data for that object.  Some call our sensor a “GPS on steroids” because it can do things a normal GPS cannot do.  Applications include drones, camera and antenna pointers, personnel tracking, asset tracking, navigation, ground vehicles, robotics, and sports/fitness monitoring.  Our patent-pending design is the size of five stacked dimes making the μINS-2 the smallest, most cost-effective GPS INS on the market today.  Inertial Sense is a privately owned Utah company.  Our CEO graduated from Brigham Young University at Provo, UT.  Our company has a background in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), control theory, embedded systems, and electronic design. Inertial Sense was founded in July of 2013.  We believe that the success and strength of our technology, company, and community lies in faith in the abilities of people and the creation of opportunities for personal growth.” Walt Johnson | CEO / Founder | Inertial Sense, LLC

NOMO™ “is so revolutionary you won’t have to change the water in your fish aquarium for as much as two years with minimal maintenance. This patented technology creates a balanced environment by stimulating aerobic (good) bacteria while suppressing the anaerobic (bad) bacteria. We have made it solar powered by running off the light that already exists in the Aquarium. There are no replacement filters or extra expenses. Put NOMO™ in your tank and leave it.  NOMO™ saves water, energy, time and money. We’ve made having a fish tank simple and fun by removing the pain and hassle of aquarium keeping!” David Simeoli

Phase I pitches are conducted at noon on the 4th Thursday of each month at the UVU BRC. They are open to the public. In order to pitch and receive funding a company must go through our G2M Phase I Training, based on lean startup, proof of concept, and market validation principles. Once companies complete their customer validation and market testing, and turn in the results, they can pitch in front of the crowd of peers – other companies going through the program. They are judged on a scale of 1 to 10 whether they have 1) found a monetizeable pain or a customer or market problem that people are willing to pay for, 2) have a team that can execute in starting and scaling a company, and 3) whether they were intellectually honest in their research.

February G2M Phase II Winners

Congratulations to the G2M Phase II Award winners for February 2015: 1) WildHair Technologies and 2) SpeedStealth. Funds and training are provided by the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, in partnership with the Utah Valley Business Resource Center (UVU BRC). USTAR assists companies and universities turn ideas into products. The UVU Business Resources Center has a number of tools, resources and organizations to assist local businesses.

WildHair “believes that technology should be seen differently.  Technology innovation is happening faster than most solutions can be implemented. We created a SaaS platform that makes repeatable data migration pathways designed around your business processes, we call it BridgeTheGap. Technology has become fast and more intuitive but the cost associated with embracing new technology has left many living with inadequate but affordable solutions. WildHair is determined to create the affordable big data solution for the rest of us. When you control your data, your bottom line improves, deprecating outdated software is viable and implementing the newest technology is a simple import process. Its time for technology that supports your business as a whole.” Shelly Warren, Founder

Inneuvate, LLC, SpeedStealth, DBA, is “a service delivery company which uses proprietary software to accelerate computers, tablets or smartphones’ Internet connections.  We use a combination of licensed software and our own developed Intellectual Property to get data delivered more efficiently, first time every time.  We don’t use tricks like compression, caching or processor management tools, but we add a little math to the data being transmitted to allow us to rebuild lost data on the receiving end.  Our initial target market is business travelers, but anyone with expensive data plans or a poor Internet connection would benefit from our service.  We expect to charge about $5 per month, and people should see anywhere from a 30% to 3,000% speed boost, depending upon the network they are using.  It also has the desirable side benefit of adding an additional layer of security to our client’s data transmissions.  The software is installed on the device, so the performance improvements occur wherever they go.”  Bob Vukich.

Phase I pitches are conducted at noon on the 4th Thursday of each month at the UVU BRC. They are open to the public. In order to pitch and receive funding a company must go through our G2M Phase I Training, based on lean startup, proof of concept, and market validation principles. Once companies complete their customer validation and market testing, and turn in the results, they can pitch in front of the crowd of peers – other companies going through the program. They are judged on a scale of 1 to 10 whether they have 1) found a monetizeable pain or a customer or market problem that people are willing to pay for, 2) have a team that can execute in starting and scaling a company, and 3) whether they were intellectually honest in their research.

To learn more or apply to the USTAR/UVU G2M Business Accelerator, please visit www.uvu.edu/brc/accelerator/ .

January G2M Phase I Winners

Congratulations to the G2M Phase I Award winners for January 2015: 1) SnoreHero, a medical device that comfortably eliminates snoring, providing a restful night’s sleep, 2) DealTik, and 3) WordUp. Funds and training are provided by the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative, in partnership with the Utah Valley Business Resource Center (UVU BRC). USTAR assists companies and universities turn ideas into products. The UVU Business Resources Center has a number of tools, resources and organizations to assist local businesses.

SnoreHero is a medical device that comfortably eliminates snoring, providing a restful night’s sleep. It works by keeping the upper airway open during sleep, effectively preventing the vibrations of the uvula and soft pallet that produce the sound known as “snoring.” The device has the added benefit of helping users take in more oxygen as they sleep. This provides more energy throughout the day, as well as decreased risk of serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke. SnoreHero is a simple, effective, affordable alternative to more expensive solutions, such as surgery.

DealTik is a new, innovative mobile application that aids in the success of local businesses. It is a mobile application used to drive traffic to businesses during the slower hours of the day.

WordUp believes that people can transform one another when they discover who each other truly is. We are reinventing language learning by breaking down international barriers and allowing anyone to explore the people of the world. Intermixed with personalized language learning curriculum we provide opportunities for our users to engage in 2-player real-time casual games with native speakers. Before any of the game play, though, we ask you multiple questions to tailor make the perfect language learning path for you to meet your specific goals. After 2.5 years of R&D and 3 prototypes we are nearing our public launch. Go to WordUpGames.com to get in line for access to our closed beta group.

Phase I pitches are conducted at noon on the 4th Thursday of each month at the UVU BRC. They are open to the public. In order to pitch and receive funding a company must go through our G2M Phase I Training, based on lean startup, proof of concept, and market validation principles. Once companies complete their customer validation and market testing, and turn in the results, they can pitch in front of the crowd of peers – other companies going through the program. They are judged on a scale of 1 to 10 whether they have 1) found a monetizeable pain or a customer or market problem that people are willing to pay for, 2) have a team that can execute in starting and scaling a company, and 3) whether they were intellectually honest in their research.

To learn more or apply to the USTAR/UVU G2M Business Accelerator, please visit www.uvu.edu/brc/accelerator/ .

3d Printing and CAD Design

If you can dream it, we can build it

At the UVU Rapid Development Center, UVU students provide 3d printing and CAD design services to local companies, entrepreneurs, professors, and other students. The Rapid Development Center was built as a prototyping lab within the G2M Accelerator lean startup model to assist with prototype validation, market testing, and creating rapid iterations of a new software or physical product at a low cost. You can visit www.UVURapidDev.com to learn more or sign up for 3d Printing or 3d CAD Design assistance.

The lab has four 3d printers, including a Fortus MC 250, a Cubex, a Cube, and a ProJet 1500. The MC 250, Cubex, and Cube all print with ABS or PLA plastic. The MC 250 has a 10x10x12 base. It has an internal heating chamber to prevent 3d prints from warping. It also prints with supports that dissolve in water, so that an object may be printed with internal moveable parts.

The 3d Printing Portion of the Rapid Development Center has already assisted in prototyping a number of new product ideas. Some of the projects include medical equipment, retail products, hardware designs, toys, tools, and more. Some specific projects include a new mouth guard device that assists people who have problems with snoring or sleep apnea, a device that can keep your fish tank clean for up to 2 years, a bathroom nightlight, new ideas for kitchen appliances, new cap and bottle designs, book holders, scent dispensers for the internet of things, vent cover for a gun safe, and many more!

Clients have included university students, professors, entrepreneurs and local businesses, etc. If you have an idea and want to see if it will work, visit our website or stop by to get a free quote for 3d printing and/or 3d CAD Design assistance. We can work with anyone in the community to assist in developing new product ideas.

The Rapid Development Center is a UVU program that is funded by USTAR (the Utah Science, Technology, and Research Initiative). USTAR was set up to assist Utah universities and businesses develop commercial applications for their research.

How to Succeed in Business, Part 1 of 3

Winthrop Jeanfreau

There are myriad books that titillate us with the promise of riches through some unique formula or insight recently discovered by the flavor of the month “expert” on the topic. Some of these experts promise to reveal rediscovered ancient wisdom. Some refer to the latest academic discovery on how to manipulate customers into frenzied purchasing. Others promise wealth through a “system” that, once mastered, will open heaven’s gate to perpetual wealth.

I’ve sat through hundreds of presentations by these “so called” experts, and read widely on the topic of business success. In the end, I’ve come to the defensible conclusion that the only path to success in business is to find the answer to three questions, and then execute on those answer as flawlessly as possible.

The questions are simple to ask, but difficult to answer, and when I say answer, what I’m REALLY meaning is the kind of answer that is of the bedrock variety… the kind you have an emotive response to, that you know is true deep in your bones.

Without the kind of conviction that comes from those sorts of answers, you’ll never develop the resolve necessary to carry through on your intentions and be able to weather the opposition to your resolve that will always manifest itself, and do so at the time you’re least prepared to deal with it.

When you develop that kind of conviction… the kind that only comes from discovering the capital T kind of truth, you become an unstoppable whirling dervish of momentum, capable of moving mountains and withstanding even the most ardent naysayers.

The questions I’ve had to find the answers to for every one of the businesses I’ve started and managed to success are:

  1. What problem am I solving?
  2. How am I solving it uniquely?
  3. What is the value proposition that my potential customers recognize as meaningful and compelling?

As I mentioned, the questions ask easy, but they answer hard.

The answers to these questions are most always elusive, and it’s VERY common for those seeking their answers to pacify themselves with poorly researched conclusions or half-truths. Actually identifying a problem that no one else is addressing is rare. That kind of brilliant insight is what the US Patent Office refers to as a “moment of genius”. The discovery of the shape of the human DNA is that sort of discovery.

Most of our “moments of genius” are of the evolutionary rather than revolutionary type. But they can be just as financially rewarding. The evolutionary type of problem solving occurs when you find creative ways to put existing things together. Like when it became obvious to us ALL that it made WAY more sense to combine the personal digital assistant, mp3 player, web browsing, modestly powerful computer, point and shoot camera and mobile phone into one device. Hence the landslide adoption of the smart phone… something now, that most of us find impossible to live without.

For the sake of time let’s skip the debate about the social impact our smartphones are having on the social fabric of our society, families and personal relationships. That small issue aside, these devices are GENIUS!!! Just like combining a bun with a burger, Oreos with ice-cream or and entertainment system to a car, being attune to the opportunity to innovatively finding a solution to a “problem”, usually by improving something that already exists to address it, is what entrepreneurship is all about.

What matters most here is that the problem is real, that there are lots of people with the problem and that your solution is demonstrably different than those currently developed to address that problem.

There are countless books on the topic of innovation and how to develop the perception necessary to identify an unfilled niche. Some of you were born with that innate ability to see those opportunities. However, most of us can train ourselves to become better at it and, with some properly applied analysis, make sure we don’t drink our own cool-aid, or put on our rose colored glasses.

Seeking the truth about our unique solution to the problem, once discovered, is what we’ll discuss next month. Until then, if you feel you’ve discovered gold in “them thar hills”, feel free to come to the UVU Business Resource Center for a reality check. The opinion is free and may save you meaningful time and money on your journey to discovering the business you were born to succeed at.