What Great Entrepreneurs Have in Common (Infographic)

Launching–and sustaining–a successful business requires skills that don’t always come naturally.

And while no two entrepreneurs are alike–each has his or her own unique story for how they started their company–there are characteristics and personality traits that successful entrepreneurs tend to have in common. These include a penchant for optimism, the ability to handle failure, and a love of risk.

The infographic below from Schools.com explains which attributes help entrepreneurs succeed and which pose the greatest challenge for business owners. 

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Google Now Is The Killer App For Android Wear

Google’s I/O keynote may have been a bit of a jumble of different product announcements — many of which won’t be available until later this year — but Android Wear was what most people in the audience wanted to hear about. While there is plenty of Android in Google’s smartwatch operating system and while developers will be able to develop apps specifically for it, Wear in its current form is fundamentally about bringing Google Now notifications to your wrist.

While I’ve had Google Now on my phone for a long time now, the more I use Wear, the more I feel like it was custom-made for Google Now. Indeed, this is the first time I really feel Now is living up to its promise. It’s also the first time I find myself paying full attention to Now, despite its prominence on Android before.

CaptureAndroid Wear, of course, also shows you all of your notifications from your phone (and when they are interactive, Wear will automatically mimic those, too). You could push all of your phone notifications to your watch, but that would be overkill. Thankfully, Google lets you choose which applications can push to Wear. But its most useful feature — and maybe its killer feature overall — is definitely easy access to Google Now.

At this point, everybody is pretty much familiar with Google Now, but there is something fundamentally different between using it on your phone and on your wrist. Sure, the mission is the same on both platforms: Google wants to give you the right information at the right time. When you’re at work, it shows you the drive time to home. Got an appointment somewhere else? It’ll show you when to leave. At the airport? It’ll show you the barcode for your boarding pass. It’s one thing for that information to be available on your phone, but on your wrist, it suddenly becomes so much more accessible.

now_wearThat is, of course, only when Google Now gets it right — and most of the time, it does. The company has been working hard on bringing more information to Now and that has made it quite a bit more useful by regularly adding more information and new cards to it. Some cards that Google shows on the phone don’t make sense on Wear (links for topics you recently search for, for example) and those thankfully never make it to the watch.


Wear doesn’t always get it right, though. If you end up swiping the weather card away by mistake, for example, you can’t easily get it back. That’s a fundamental problem with Wear — and maybe the only one that really annoys me. For Google Now, at least, it’d be nice to have an easy way to flip through all of your cards at all times.

Just like Google Now brings together a number of Google’s services into one product, Wear has a similar feel to it. It’s a mix of what it has learned from Android and its ecosystem, its advances in voice recognition and its newly found design chops.

All of that comes together to bring Google Now to your wrist, and while that may sound like a minor thing, it’s actually a very useful experience. Whether that’s worth $200 to you is a different question, but after using Wear for a bit more than a week now, I can actually see myself wearing one of these watches going forward — and before this I hadn’t worn a watch for at least a decade.

In the next few months, Google will get some competition from Microsoft, Apple and a few startups in this space. For better or worse, none of them know as much about you as Google does, so it’ll be hard for them to replicate the Google Now experience. That should give Google a bit of an edge against the competition — unless the iWatch turns out to be so amazing that people will buy it even if it just shows the time and phone notifications.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

What a CEO Learned Coaching His Daughter’s Basketball Team

Several years ago I took on the challenge of coaching my daughter’s middle school basketball team. I wanted to spend more time with her, and the team was without a coach. The problem was I had never even touched a basketball.

I did, and do, know how to run a business, however. I was pleasantly surprised, as were the girls, to find what helped me succeed in business worked to the basketball court, and vice versa.

David vs. Goliath. This was not your conventional winning team. The girls didn’t come from athletic families. They weren’t tall or well coordinated. They couldn’t shoot. They were underdogs but we turned that to our advantage.

Underdogs have to think outside the box. They can’t rely on size and strength. We had to think more strategically and find unorthodox approaches to the game. We analyzed our opponents’ weaknesses and found most teams, immediately after scoring, retreat to defend their basket, giving their opponent the opportunity to inbound the ball to their teammate without pressure and execute a well-practiced play with precision.

Lacking much skill, but we had to disrupt that flow. We had to play in real time. We had to play a full-court press, the entire game. By taking the unconventional approach, we were able to catch our opponents off-guard, which gave us the advantage. And we won, a lot.

Enterprises should be doing the same. There’s a growing competition in every industry. The companies that win are finding new, innovative ways of providing for their customers and turning them into fans. Conventions are made to be challenged. The companies that take the unorthodox approach can break through and succeed. Notice if there are any unique trends in how your competitors are operating. Why they are working?

Speed Wins. To execute a real, full-court press, my girls had to be fitter, faster and more aggressive than the competition. Through conditioning, we were a low-latency team. We played the game at a much higher and inexhaustible speed than anyone else, giving us a huge advantage over our bigger, stronger and more skilled competition.

Just as there’s no reason our team should wait until the other team gets to our end of the court to start defending, there’s no value in receiving data that could increase a company’s sales a month after the event. Enterprises should be taking an offensive stance and act on events in real time.

As a coach, I looked at the data on the court - the shot clock, the number of inbound passes, spatial geometry, shots made, the speed of our team vs. the others, etc. - and realized speed was our advantage. This is the case in business, as well. It’s not enough for companies to justcollect data. To actually see positive outcomes, businesses need to continuously process and analyze fast data in real time and take instant action. Be a low-latency business. When it comes to winning, speed is everything.

Work like a jazz band. Even on a ragtag team, everyone has a role to play and every one is vital to its success. We had two experienced players, but the rest of the team, like me, had never played the game. The challenge was how to leverage all the players in a way that would lead to victory.

These were girls who spent their time solving math problems and dreaming of becoming marine biologists, not playing sports. Rather than tell them how I thought the game should be played, I had to appeal to reason. Basketball was a math problem, and that was something the girls could understand. We developed a math equation that would ensure we would win every time. They learned the roles they each needed to play in this equation.

It all came together as a symphony but it wasn’t the structured music of a marching band like the other teams. Rather than read off sheet music and march to the same beat, our team created its own sound, its own game. The typical rhythm of a basketball game goes like this: after a player scores, the other team has five seconds to inbound the ball. Typically, this goes uncontested. That I saw to be a missed opportunity. My girls contested the inbounder, disrupting the rhythm of the game. We played more like an improvisational jazz band, agile, quick and adaptable to changes, resulting in a beautifully orchestrated force.

In the 20th-century business world, corporations were structured and predictable like a Sousa marching band. Over the last century, however, enterprises have evolved a more jazz band-like environment, embracing ambiguity, risk and adventure. Jazz musicians are often more courageous than other musicians. They have faith in their ability to choose, create and dream. That makes them great. That also makes a great company.

Hire smart people, give them the freedom to improvise and innovate, take advantage of their unique strengths. The result is beautiful music.

Attitude is everything. But a coach can’t just force players to buy into such a system. I had to take a number of morale-improving steps to show them that I believed in them and our strategy. For starters, I never raised my voice at the girls. These were 12-year-old girls with enough emotional growing pain in their lives. I wanted to create a fun environment where the girls were motivated to work harder and smarter by the prospect of success, not by the threat of negativity. I let them name our plays. “Muskrat” and “Bubbles” were two of our favorites. We had a cheer that was all about the attitude, with a little humor – “1,2,3, attitude, ha!”

This is true at my company, as well. Exhibit an unshakable belief in people and they don’t want to let you down. They actually perform better. Good employees will do good work for you, regardless. Motivated and appreciated employees will do truly great work.

Turn customers into fans. Our team parents were our biggest fans who supported us at every game. They didn’t need convincing to become fans. Businesses, however, don’t have fans from the start and can no longer get away with purely a transactional relationship, not these days with so much competition from all directions.

Companies can turn customers into fans by finding better and more personal ways to engage with them. With Big Data, the amount ofinformation companies can glean from their customers is huge. Take advantage of that data to figure out what they want, when they want it, how they want it, and act on that in real time. It is no longer a struggle, if you have the right tools. Companies that do this well, andfast, have a leg-up on their competitors. They will connect with customers much more intimately. It’s these companies that are more likely to turn customers into longtime, loyal fans that drive future revenue.

Overtime. Whether you’re a CEO or a coach, there are a number of principles that apply to winning. Speed, working together, the right attitude and thinking outside the box all can yield positive results no matter what business you’re in. You don’t have to look to business gurus or books for the Holy Grail. Sometimes, the inspiration to improve your business can be found no further away than your local basketball gym.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com


This app exchanges your free time for mobile credits, and it just raised $2.5M

pocket money pokkt india start

Indian startup Pokkt (Pocket) has come up with a unique way to enable mobile payments in emerging markets, where credit card penetrations are low.

Essentially, it has created a marketplace for consumers to get apps, games, and other digital content without paying a single cent. Instead, they pay with their time by consuming content from some 100 advertisers, who pay to plug into the platform.

Pokkt wants to achieve two things: besides giving consumers easier access to digital content, it also provides developers a way to monetize from users who use their apps for free.

To do that, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone developers get access to Pokkt’s software development kits (SDKs) which allow easy integration between their apps and Pokkt. Part of the money coming from advertisers goes to developers.

Now, the Mumbai-based startup is kicking its operations into a higher gear. It has just raised a US$2.5 million series A round led by JAFCO Asia, a Singapore-headquartered venture capital firm, along with SingTel Innov8, Jungle Ventures, and serial entrepreneur Ganesh Krishnan.

Serving time

It also launched a new product this month: Pocket Money, a consumer-facing Android app in which users consume advertisers’ content in exchange for credits. They can then use the money to redeem mobile recharges on India’s major telcos like Aircel, Airtel, and Tata Docomo.

Pocket Money differs from Pokkt’s current products by offering users a dedicated app to consume and redeem items. In the past, consumers could only receive content by using specific apps made by Pokkt’s developer network.

The startup has seen increased usage. It now has between 8,000 to 10,000 transactions a day – defined as completed redemptions – up from 500 a day in the first quarter after it launched in October last year, says Pokkt founder and CEO Rohit Sharma. It aims to grow to 100,000 transactions a day within the year.

Sharma will use the new cash infusion to push further into Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Thailand. Right now, most of Pokkt’s consumers live in India. He also plans to add between five to 10 developers to the platform a week.

Pocket Money is a stepping stone to the startup’s vision of fluid digital payments in developing countries. While users can only redeem mobile credits for now, the status quo won’t stay for long.

“Now it’s just mobile top-ups. Eventually, we’ll let users redeem games, movies, and even stuff that’s offline,” says Sharma. For instance, consumers could eventually get cash on Pocket Money, paid for by advertisers, and use that to redeem a special item in his favorite Pokkt-integrated mobile game.

-Courtesy: Techinasia

5 Traits That Make an Entrepreneur Attractive to Investors

Boris Wertz, the founder of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Version One Ventures, meets 25 startup founders a week, but only invests in about 10 the whole year. Wertz, whose portfolio includes mobile analytics firm Flurry, online clothing startup Frank & Oak, and crowdfundingsite Indiegogo, says he knows exactly the type of entrepreneur he is looking for: a great leader who knows how to make something out of nothing and grow it without killing its original essence.

“You need two types of leadership while starting a startup: In the beginning, you need the amazing entrepreneur who can get it off the ground and start building the company,” Wertz tellsInc. “But that same leader needs to be able to bring it to scale without losing the culture.”

Below, find out the five traits Wertz looks for in entrepreneurs when deciding whether to invest. “When we see all these traits in one entrepreneur or company, we get excited,” he says. “You rarely see all five, but you can work on a few.”

1. The big idea, explained

The first sign of a great entrepreneur, Wertz says, is someone who has a big idea and the ability to impart it to others. “They need to have an ambitious vision, and everybody from an employee to a partner to an investor gets it right away,” Wertz says. “It sounds so simple, but it’s actually not. A lot of people lose themselves in too many details, or don’t have a big vision.”

2. Dedication 

The second trait is single-minded dedication. Wertz says his firm looks for people who cannot be talked out of their vision and who cannot stop working on it until it’s up and running. They look for doers, not just good orators. “They live for the startup. We love the people who can’t stop talking about their startup, even if it gets nerdy–we look for that incredible drive and passion and hard work,” he says. “They can’t imagine anything else other than building that startup.”

3. Focus 

Launching a startup is intense and takes a tremendous amount of focus and prioritization. If a CEO is worried about PR, marketing, and partnerships before the product or service is airtight, then there’s a problem. Wertz says the entrepreneurs he invests in only care about a few things, but execute them perfectly. “The best entrepreneurs know the one to three things that matter and only focus on nailing those one, two, or three things. The more focused an entrepreneur is on an opportunity the more excited we get, because they are only worried about the most important things, and that’s what will make the startup successful,” he says. 

4. The ability to attract talent 

“The fourth point for us is how good are they at attracting other people to work for them,” he says. If the entrepreneur thinks he or she can do it all alone, then Wertz will not invest. Once that hurdle is overcome, the question is if they can persuade people to join their startup. “In a competitive marketplace, especially for developers and engineers, do you tell a compelling enough story for why they should work for your startup instead of moving to Google, Facebook, or Amazon?” Wertz says. “It’s what we call “developer heat,” if people are good at attracting good people to their startup.”

5. Attention to unique details 

“Great entrepreneurs need to care so deeply about important details–details that matter for the culture, details that make the customer experience. Whatever it is that makes your startup great, you can’t be too high-level to care about these details,” Wertz says. “You see that in [entrepreneurs like] Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. They care about little product details that define their company.”

-Courtesy: Inc.com

FishBrain, A Social Network For Anglers, Nets $2.4 Million

FishBrain, a made-in-Sweden mobile app and social network for anglers founded back in 2010, has closed a $2.4 million pre-Series A round of funding, led by Northzone and Active Venture Partners.

Also biting in this round are GP Bullhound and Edastra Venture Capital, as well as existing investors Mathias Ackermand, Rikard Steiber and ALMI.

Prior to today’s round FishBrain had raised some $1.5 million, reeling in investors including Industrifonden, Umando, Henrik Torstensson, CEO of Lifesum, and Mattias Miksche, Founder and CEO of Stardoll.

FishBrain uses crowdsourced data from its angling community – cross referenced with geological and meteorological data, such as wind speed and direction and air humidity and temperature – to help other users figure out things like the best spots to fish or the best bait to use to catch a particular type of fish.

The service also lets anglers log their fishing trips and catches and share them with the rest of the community — including uploading photos to show exactly how big their catch really was.

CEO Johan Attby said FishBrain has some 430,000 registered users, a little under half of who, are active. There have been some 130,000 logged catches within the app so far.

While FishBrain’s apps (Android and iOS) are free to download, it recently launched a premium product to test the waters of monetisation. 

Upgrading to a premium account provides a more granular performance analysis for users, with FishBrain taking a big data crunching approach to offer specific predictions on which bait might be most effective in catching a particular type of fish in a specific lake. So much for a level playing field.

FishBrain claims to be the largest fishing platform of its type in the U.S. — a country which it notes has some 40 million active anglers (who collectively spend more than $48 billion annually on the sport) — but evidently it’s aiming to swell its catch of the community considerably.

Attby said the new funding would be used to accelerate product development and grow its user-base by increasing its marketing, with the US pegged as its marketing focus for this year.

New FishBrain features in the works include more premium features, intelligent recommendations and gamification elements — such as leaderboards and challenges, he said. It’s also planning to work on business development by looking for other companies to build partnerships with.

For instance Attby said that while it doesn’t have plans to develop any connected fishing hardware itself, to further offer fishers a way to quantify their performance, it would look to explore partnering with companies that do.

Commenting on the funding round in a statement, Tim He, Investment Manager at Northzone, said: “There’s a great opportunity in niche social networks. Fishing is the world’s largest hobby and digitally underserved. FishBrain is the best and fastest growing app and social network for anglers. With its world class team, I am confident FishBrain will become the go-to app for fishing.”

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

6 Avoidable Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

Being an entrepreneur is difficult enough without falling prey to easily avoidable problems, according to Jeff Busgang, whose career spans starting companies on his won to funding them as a venture capitalist at Flybridge Capital Partners. Here are the six common errors he identified, along with suggestions for avoiding them:

1. Fighting fires rather than scaling up

Great entrepreneurs have a tendency to focus on crises: product issues, customer issues, investor issues and, of course, running out of money.  They forget a startup can’t possibly grow and succeed unless they spend the time to interview and hire great candidates.

What to do: Put aside at least two hours a week for recruiting and interviewing candidates, even if you’re not currently hiring. Ideally, you want a “stable” of potential hires whenever you need to hire somebody.

2. Doing rather than coaching.

For a startup to grow, everyone on the team must up-level every 12 months. That’s only possible if the owner helps them understand what new skills and behaviors they’ll need in order to grow themselves as the company grows.

What to do: Think of coaching as an investment in time management.  Yes, it takes longer to coach somebody to do a task than to do it yourself.  Once you’ve trained somebody, though, that task leaves your to-do list, creating time to do those things that only you can do.

3. Failing to plan for setbacks

Even the best-run companies encounter problems.  If you’re not prepared to deal with them, even a small hiccup can derail your ambitious plans.

What to do: Work with your investors and “board of advisors” to create written contingency plans, in case there are product delays, slower-than-expected sales cycles, departures of key personnel, and so forth.

4. Focusing too much on setbacks.

This is the other side of the coin.  While it’s essential to have contingency plans, if you focus too much on “what could go wrong,” you can demoralize your employees and (just as important) yourself.

What to do: Compartmentalize your planning so that it doesn’t affect enthusiasm.  Once you’ve written down your plan, put the document on a shelf and forget about it.  Let the fact that you’ve got a plan free you from having to worry about it.

5. Not enough relationship building

Entrepreneur often find themselves lurching from crisis to crisis, which leaves little time to concentrate the personal side of the journey, the building of the relationships that will matter long after the crises have passed.

What to do: Commit regularly to meeting with your investors, management team and employees to do something enjoyable that’s not related to work.  These events can be as simple as get-togethers at a local restaurant or as elaborate as a week with Habitat for Humanity.

6. Neglecting your corporate culture

Companies that win “great place to work” awards and have high retention rates (and hence lower personnel costs) always have founders or CEOs who specifically set out to create an environment where people like to work.

What to do: Making working for your company more than just a way for employees to get rich.  Give your engineers challenging problems. Give your marketers the best tools. Publically praise your salespeople.  Generously heap credit wherever and wherever it’s due.

-Courtesy: Inc.com