Category Archives: Terp Toolkit

Terp Toolkit: Incorporating Social Impact into Your Business Model

by: Sara Herald

Social impact, long considered to be the exclusive territory of nonprofits, is becoming an integral part of for-profit businesses across the globe.  From huge corporations like Unilever to local startups like Misfit Juicery, generating both profits and social good is gaining acceptance as good business practice.

This shift isn’t necessarily based in moral arguments such as “it’s the right thing to do”, but rather in solid business fundamentals: that’s what customers want.  As more and more Millennials enter adulthood, they want to start up, work at, and buy from companies working to achieve social good.  84% of Millennials “consider a company’s involvement in social causes in deciding what to buy or where to shop” and they report “increased trust (91%) and loyalty (89%) in…companies that support solutions to specific social issues.”

If Millennials expect companies they engage with to have more than one bottom line, how can aspiring entrepreneurs of all kinds deliver on those expectations? The key lies in moving from a donations mindset to an operations mindset.
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Terp Toolkit: Legal and Intellectual Property Tips for Entrepreneurs

There is no entrepreneur in the world who won’t need legal guidance at some point in their entrepreneurial journey.

For simple legal matters such as incorporation or basic start-up paperwork, services such as LegalZoom, LawDepot or RocketLawyer are a good place to start.

9400252-contract-for-business-law-on-terms-of-agreementHowever, for more complicated matters like establishing a Privacy Policy, Terms of Use Agreement, or other documents tailored to your business, it may be worth consulting an attorney. If you are running short of funds, you can utilize RocketLawyer’s “Ask a Lawyer” feature.  You can get the answers to simple questions for free and find lawyers near you that charge reasonable prices for their services. Continue reading

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Terp Toolkit: Financing Your Startup

Financing is a hurdle faced by nearly every entrepreneur and can the need for funding can occur at various stages of a company’s life cycle. It’s important to know what options are available, as well as the risks that come with each.

indexSome common methods of financing include:

  •  Friends & Family – Many early stage companies raise a “friends & family” round, relying on the networks of the startup’s founders for seed capital.
  • Crowdfunding – If you are selling a product or service that you think would appeal directly to consumers and you need capital to fund your business, consider crowdfunding as an option. Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo , and  Gofundme allow you to post your “project” for viewing by thousands of potential funders in exchange for a percentage share of your money raised.images
  • Contests & Grants – A great way to get funds for your start-up without giving up equity is to apply to contests and grants. In this article Forbes offers some tips for those seeking grants.  A tip: follow entrepreneurship organizations and centers, accelerators, and VC firms / angel groups on social media for posts about local contests.
  • Small Business Loans – This option is most effective if you have been in business for a while and are generating some cash flow.  For those who meet these requirements, the Small Business Administration offers different types of loans to help you grow your business. angel2
  • Angel Investors – For early stage companies with an ability to scale quickly and high growth potential, there is the option of raising a round from angel investors. There are many angel investors, both individuals and groups, who invest ~$25B each year in early stage companies. Most angel deals are done with companies who have either successful beta testing or initial revenues. Deals range from straight equity to convertible notes.
  • Venture Capital Firms – For later stage start-ups with a proven track record of success who are seeking to reach the next level, raising venture capital funds can be the right next step. The total Venture Capital market is ~$45B, invested in a variety of industries and stages.  You can check out the VC100 for a look at the top 100 venture capital firms in the U.S. Researching the right firms for your company stage and industry is essential when raising VC funds.  Looking at the funding history for similar companies to yours on CrunchBase or AngelList  can be a good place to start your research.

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Terp Toolkit: Accounting for Your Startup

When launching a business, often there are a variety of start-up costs to track. Being organized on the front-end with your startup’s finances will pay off in the long-run.

accounting_webThere are several tools at a variety of price points that will help you keep your financial records. Here are some startup-friendly resources: Continue reading

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Terp Toolkit: Marketing Your Startup

Startup marketing can involve a variety of different activities, from the creation of promotional materials to Search Engine Optimization. Given limited time and resources, particularly among student entrepreneurs, it can be overwhelming to think about where to start.

Your marketing focus will depend upon the nature of your business and your target customer. For a fairly comprehensive list of marketing tools and resources, for everything from Advertising to Analytics, check out The Essential List of Start-up Marketing Resources.

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Terp Toolkit: Finding Office Space for Your Startup

Terp Toolkit highlights resources for starting your business.

Shared office spaces are popular among start-ups and an excellent way to find workspace without breaking the bank. Co-working spaces also often provide perks and resources beyond a desk, including: internet, conference space, area discounts, access to a network of business people and investors, kitchens, and even free snacks and coffee.

Startup-OfficeA few options to check out include:

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Terp Toolkit: Getting Started

Terp Toolkit highlights resources for starting your business.

Do you have an exciting business idea or startup that is gaining traction, but not quite sure how to get started with managing your growing venture? In this installment of Terp Toolkit, we’ll cover the basics — such as web hosting, development, phone, and email — which are essential to scaling your startup.

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Thinking about applying to a business competition? Five tips from Elana Fine

For b-schools, incubators and other organizations that support startups, business competitions are very hot right now. For entrepreneurs, they can be great opportunities to flex your entrepreneurial muscles and gain traction for your startup or business idea.

CC-04Apr14-635_hr However, with a seemingly endless list of competitions to choose from and limited time, how do you decide which competitions to enter?

Here are five things to consider from Dingman Center Managing Director, Elana Fine:

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Terp Toolkit: Building the Right Entrepreneurial Board

Research by Christine Beckman, Originally published in Research@Smith, Volume 15, No 1

Entrepreneurial boards typically stay actively involved in the growth of a new venture and can be critical to the company’s success. So it is important for startups to know which types of people they should offer board seats to.

boardChristine Beckman, associate professor of management and organization at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and Academic Director at UMD’s Center for Social Value Creation, looked at the influence of entrepreneurial boards and the makeup that helps startups grow quickly in a paper she co-coauthored for Academy of Management Journal. The authors followed 105 semiconductor firms founded in the United States from 1977 through 1990 to see how well the companies did and how the inaugural board members impacted success.

Continue reading for key findings from Professor Beckman’s study and takeaways to build an effective board for your startup.

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Terp Toolkit: Build. Measure. Learn. Repeat. An Intro to the Lean Startup Methodology

Many startups fail because they spend a ton of time — months, even years — perfecting their leanstartupproduct or service before taking their business to market, without ever really seeking customer validation, only to find, their potential customers don’t see the value, leading to the company’s demise.

While this may seem a bit dramatic, this approach is all too familiar among entrepreneurs. Even if it’s not detrimental, it can significantly delay the success of startups. Over the years, the lean methodology, coined by Eric Ries and publicized in his book, “The Lean Startup,” has become popular among entrepreneurship circles. This method aims to reduce risk and help entrepreneurs pivot faster in the development of a new business idea, leading to maximum value for customers and higher return to founders.

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