Category Archives: UVU Business Resource Center

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.

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.

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/ .

G2M Business Accelerator Award Winners – September

Congratulations to the G2M Phase I Award winners for September: Jobpiper and NuTeam Freedom. JobPiper believes in building legendary companies by helping companies to “clone” their best employees. Nuteamfreedom provides an automated marketing system for network marketers. 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.

“At JobPiper, we believe in building legendary companies by helping them hire great people. In fact, we “clone” companies’ best employees. Using our “cloning” software, companies discover what attributes their top employees possess and then find job candidates with those same attributes. JobPiper is currently cloning top employees for Namify, iTok, MoneyDesktop, and the Galactic Empire (don’t tell Disney; they might sue us).” Derik Krauss, CEO of JobPiper.

“NuTeam’s FreedomCycle is the first fully-automated, content-rich, social marketing system designed for network marketers. It provides professionally created interactive emails that help introduce, educate, motivate and populate your downline…automatically. Simply enter a contact’s name and email address and FreedomCycle will send product and opportunity related emails, filled with content, videos, research studies, follow-ups and more to help convert your contacts to customers and distributors.” Greg Johnson, Owner, Nuteamfreedom.

Phase I pitches are conducted at noon on the 4th Thursday of each month at the UVU BRC. 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/ .

The Fastest Way to Grow Your Company

So much time is spent strategizing, planning and wringing our hands, hoping to impact our company’s growth.

We allow the daily whirlwind to distract us with its importance due to its urgency. Our siloed focus on the minutia of HR, IT, OPS, Finance… you name it, allows us to take our eyes, hands and heart off the ONE thing that makes ALL the difference, Time spent on sales.

One important measure of our ability to grow our enterprises is simply counting the hours we and our team are actively engaged in sales. Whether it is cold calling prospects, presenting products or bids, closing sales or seeking referrals, nothing much matters if sales don’t occur.

I know… I know… delivery on the promises made by the sales force, compliance with regulations, addressing pressing legal issues, seeking capital for growth are examples of those things that can, if unattended, sink any company ship. What I’m addressing is simply a measure of how much effort, as a percentage of total labor hours, are being applied to profitable topline revenue.

There are some good rules of thumb for start-ups as well as established businesses. For start-ups (Those of us that are 2 years or younger) we should be devoting at least 80% of our day to sales. For established enterprises (7 years or more) at least 30% of total labor resources should be devoted to sales. If you’re in-between these two definitions, graph the percentage and draw a line between 80% & 30%.

The rationale for this emphasis does not require an advanced degree to understand. If you do not have reliable, influenceable, predictable, profitable revenue flowing into your company, in very short order, all the other issues you’re dealing with simply won’t matter.

Revenue covers a multitude of management sins. When sales are occurring, good things happen. Vendors get paid, doors stay open, and checks get written.

Sales are the core of a competitive advantage. There are many companies with great products that fail. What differentiates the leaders in any market from the rest of the pack is the strength of their marketing and sales.

Using the percentages provided above is a simple way to measure the strength of your company in the market you’re competing in. It is so easy to excuse ourselves from the immediacy of sales to attend to the immediacy of just about anything else. Don’t fall into that trap. Again, nothing else will matter if revenue is not flowing through the door.

Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, correctly stated “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” Sales must be the monolithic focus of your company EVERY SINGLE DAY. Ignore that wisdom at your own peril and the peril of those that have tied their futures to your ship.

Want to grow your company? Focus on sales. Want to expand your product line? Focus on sales. Want to dominate your market and not be dominated by your competition? Focus on sales.

These is NO other obsession in your company that will have a more direct impact on the immediate and the sustained future success of your company than sales.

If you need help developing an actionable sales strategy, that’s what the UVU Business Resource Center is all about… plus free services to address the other stuff. We can be reached for an appointment at 801-863-2720. We’re happy to schedule the appointment around your busy sales schedule.

Written by Winthrop Jeanfreau, UVU Director of Economic Development, SBDC Director, and Business Resource Center Director.

Most Companies Coming Out of Business Incubators and Accelerators are Garbage

“Most companies coming out of business incubators and accelerator programs nationwide are garbage,” stated a private equity investor recently on a panel discussion at the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA) conference. The current model used by most incubators and accelerators “does not work”. Government programs, university resources, and private investment are being “wasted” on companies that ultimately fail.

The problem is not that the companies fail. Most early stage business ideas will and should fail or change. Indeed, “successful startups are the ones who have enough money left over to try their 2nd idea.” – Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School. The problem is that resources are wasted, resources that could have been utilized in a more effective manner, incurred a greater return on investment, or at the least, avoided a loss.

Why are business incubators and accelerators failing? Why are resources being wasted? What is the solution?

The USTAR funded G2M Business Accelerator program, run out of the UVU Business Resource Center, is ahead of the curve in solving these problems. A professor on the same NBIA panel suggested new methods are coming out to vet companies and ideas. He mentioned books about lean start up principles and specifically recognized “Nail It Then Scale It” by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom.

The G2M Business Accelerator process acts as both a SCREENER and an ACCELERATOR. The process screens business ideas and then accelerates the good ones. A business that takes full advantage of the Business Accelerator will have its business idea formally screened at least 13 times during 3 different phases, and it could be screened any number of times as it is reviewed by each potential customer through market validation, customer testing, and proof of concept testing. Much of the work is done by business owners themselves, which avoids using government, university, or private resources prematurely.

In the past year-and-a-half, over 200 companies have applied for the Business Accelerator (mostly through word of mouth advertising), about 150 have gone through phase I, approximately 50 through phase II, and 15 through phase III. Not a single company has ever gone through the program that has not changed its idea or business model. One startup company stated of the vetting program, “I estimate that the G2M process we’ve gone through has saved us 6 months of development time and $40,000 in coding costs.”

Along with the screening, resources are available at the Business Resource Center to accelerate good ideas, including state and federal funding, loan assistance, business counseling, prototyping, website design, 3d printing, manufacturing training and sourcing assistance, government contracts assistance, business model planning, networking, sales and marketing training, management consulting, and really anything else a company needs.

To learn more about the USTAR G2M Program, the UVU Business Resource Center, or to apply to the program visit www.uvu.edu/brc