Monthly Archives

February 2019

By | Entrepreneurship

5 Entrepreneurial Finance Tips

On Tuesday, February 26, the Ain Center hosted our second Mark Ain Business Model Workshop of 2019. Building on the fall Foundry Forum workshops, this series is designed to help entrepreneurs prepare for upcoming business plan competitions. This workshop – Money Matters: Funding Your Venture – covered a number of techniques and tricks for locating and securing funding for your project or enterprise. We’ve summarized five key points. 

Read all five tips from the entrepreneurial finance workshop.

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

5 Entrepreneurial Finance Tips

By Ain CFE Staff

“Entrepreneurs are risk takers, willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise,” claims Victor Kiam. Innovators have to be ready to take a leap of faith to make their ideas into reality. While hard work and a great team can help get them on the right track, financial backing can make the process easier and more secure. On February 26, Jack Greco ’06, ’08S spoke to students about his background in VC and how to assess different avenues of funding, as well as the factors/stages in the financing process.

This session was the second installment in the 2019 Mark Ain Business Model Workshops. These are held to help prepare students for our upcoming business plan competitions (though these informational events are open to anyone and everyone!). The Mark Ain Workshops build on the more soft-skill-focused Foundry Forums held during the fall semester. Below are 5 key points drawn from the event.

Know Your Options

Equity. Grants. Bartering. Donations. The channels for financing are almost endless, but it's likely that some will fit your needs better than others. If you understand what certain investors want from an interaction with you, you already have an advantage. Ask yourself, "what is their incentive?" Recognize that people want different things and tailoring your asks is important to getting what you need.

Build Relationships

At various points throughout the workshop, Jack mentioned that funding is often not just about money. Behind the fear of financing is the human need to connect - many investors want to know you in order to build a foundation of trust and transparency. He also stressed the importance of honesty: when Jack pitches, he begins with the challenges faced by his project. If people can get through that "hard part" and still want to know about the rest, he then shares what makes his venture promising. It's a risky tactic, but can be more rewarding than trying to hide the not-so-stellar aspects of your plan.

Provide a Clear Vision

Why are you working on this venture? Explain what you're doing and why - and be prepared to talk through each step of your plan. (Writing a business plan can help here - check out our "5 Business Writing Tips" blog for more info!)

Start Early

It's never to soon to start learning about the world of VC and entrepreneurial finance. Jack was 23 when he began in the industry and, while he acknowledges that learning lessons and fast failure can be painful, he is glad he began to pursue this avenue early on. Additionally, he argues that starting at a young age helped him realize what to take note of when working to build your venture (including time spent fundraising, resourcing, and how to pitch).

Face Time and Creativity are Fundamental

For new founders, Jack recommended talking with at least 10 established founders to gain insight and feedback. Those moments of face-to-face contact are irreplaceable; anyone can send an email, but making time to sit down with someone can be the difference in significant funding and no funding. Finally, and most importantly, Jack encouraged attendees to be creative in pursuing what they want. Leveraging networks, going to industry hot spots, and hoping for a little bit of luck can help even the most inexperienced entrepreneur begin to make an impact.

If you have any questions about locating funding or learning more about any of the topics discussed during the workshop, please contact the Ain Center at AinCFE@rochester.edu or meet with one of our Experts-in-ResidenceInterested in attending future Mark Ain Business Model workshops? Head over to our Events Calendar and register online!

By | Entrepreneurship

5 Business Plan Writing Tips

On Thursday, January 31 the Ain Center hosted the first Mark Ain Business Model Workshop of the semester. Building on the fall Foundry Forum workshops, this series is designed to help entrepreneurs prepare for upcoming business plan competitions. This workshop – The Genius of a Business Plan: Be Different and Be Better – covered a number of techniques and tricks for writing the best business plan possible. We boiled down the workshop into a few key points.

Read all five tips from the business plan writing workshop. 

By | Innovation, People, Rochester

5 Business Plan Writing Tips

By Ain CFE Staff

“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it,” writes Antoine de Saint-Exupery. As an entrepreneur, having a business plan can help guide your thoughts and actions throughout the life of your venture. We held a workshop on January 31, devoted to writing a business plan. This daunting task can get the best of any entrepreneur, but facilitator David Mammano broke it down into manageable pieces.

This session was the first installment in the 2019 Mark Ain Business Model Workshops. These are held to help prepare students for our upcoming business plan competitions (though these informational events are open to anyone and everyone!). These workshops build on the more soft-skill-focused Foundry Forums held during the fall semester. Below are 5 key points highlighted from the event.

Clarify Your Vision and Define Your "Why"

Where do you draw your energy? What makes you unique? You can have a fantastic idea or product, but that doesn't equal immediate success. Use the business plan writing as an exercise to help define your vision for you as an entrepreneur and your venture. During the workshop, David Mammano also referenced Simon Sinek's famous TED Talk (which you can watch here: bit.ly/sinek-tedtalk). This video can help with inspiration and set you in the right direction!

Share Numbers, Financial Projections, and Statistics

Potential investors may read your business plan to gain familiarity with you and your idea. Provide them with some statistics and quantitative evidence to show that you have fully thought through your enterprise. Even if you are at an early stage, having some calculated projections can reassure backers that you have done your homework.

Introduce Your Team

You selected your people for a reason - share that in your plan! Whether you use this document to help secure funding or to attract new talent to your ranks, highlighting who you have standing beside you is fundamental to growing your venture.

Explain Your "How"

Do you have a well-conceived marketing plan? Fantastic sales representatives? A team of action-oriented folks who get things done? Anyone reading your business plan should have a clear idea of what you aim to do, as well as how you plan to do it. David suggests including your "sizzle" (what is exciting about your venture and what draws people in), as well as your "close" (how you actually achieve your goal).

Refine Your Ask

Chances are - if someone is reading your plan - you wish to engage them. Whether that is through financial backing, mentor support, or even just good word-of-mouth publicity, you need to be clear about what you want from this transaction. Additionally, it is important to note that your business plan is a living document and can change at any time. What you need in the early stages of development will not be the same as during the mature enterprise phase. Recognize what your venture needs and don't hesitate to ask!

If you have any questions about writing a business plan or gathering feedback for one you have already written, please contact the Ain Center at AinCFE@rochester.edu or meet with one of our Experts-in-ResidenceInterested in attending future Mark Ain Business Model workshops? Head over to our Events Calendar and register online!