VT KnowledgeWorks Announces Startup Readiness Workshop in Roanoke

(Blacksburg, VA) – The Business Lounge, in conjunction with VT KnowledgeWorks, is hosting a Startup Readiness Workshop on Friday, March 29, 2013, in Roanoke, Virginia.  This full-day workshop at The Business Lounge, an innovative co-working space, helps prospective entrepreneurs test the strategic essence of their business concept, tighten up on managerial focus, and review the overall business start-up process.

Who should attend?  Anyone considering the launch of a business.
·      Inventors with exciting technological developments
·      University faculty members with revolutionary research results
·      Web developers with fresh business concepts
·      Career shifters thinking about starting a company

When you should attend?  Very early in the planning process.
·      When your business concepts are still forming
·      Before you incorporate, write a business plan or launch a web site
·      Before you spend any significant time or personal money

What you’ll learn…
·      The Four Fundamental Factors that govern startup success
·      The Strategic Essence of every successful business
·      Five Powerful Habits used by good managers
·      The power of full Commitment
·      How the Money really moves around
·      Accounting…  De-Mystified
·      The MOXIE secrets
            ·      What it is
            ·      Why you need it
            ·      Where it comes from

The price is $49 for one attendee, $89 for two attendees from the same company.  Register online at www.vtknowledgeworks.com.

For more information contact Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, at 540-443-9100, extension 1 or at jim.flowers@vtknowledgeworks.com.

VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships.  It is a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, supported by the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual.  Its world headquarters is in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks corporate sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law Group, Latimer IP Law, LLC , LeClairRyan, New River Valley IP Law, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), The Branch Group, and Wordsprint.

Starting your own business forces you to face your limitations, test out every idea in the real world and accept that sometimes what looked great on paper can be downright difficult to execute. But if you can, you should try your hardest to land an early success. After all, doing so can help boost your credibility, encourage potential investors and give you some money to build other businesses down the road.

So the question is, what can you do to encourage a more successful outcome? Here are five ways to set up your new venture for success:

1. Set low expectations. You may believe that your new product will change the face of the industry, and it very well might. But if you start talking up those expectations even a moderate success won’t measure up. By starting with a conservative approach, a modest success will be noticed and you will be perceived as even smarter than you are.

2. Start local. By developing and testing your idea or product in a local environment, you have substantial advantages from the start. Marketing and distribution costs will be much lower. Your most powerful network — that is, people you know — will be engaged, and you can do any polishing you need to do before spending big bucks on an untried process in a larger market. It’s also easier to get publicity locally, and, with luck, the buzz will spread as your company expands.

3. Grab low-hanging fruit. Pretty much every product or service has at least one super-strong potential buying group. Focus your efforts on that group with everything you’ve got. Market, distribute and support them, and, chances are, your sales will soar. That win will encourage you to expand to more difficult buyer groups. The other advantage to this approach isn’t particularly fun to acknowledge, however. If the low-hanging fruit doesn’t drop into your hand the way you expected, maybe there are problems with your business that you haven’t foreseen. You can find that out before you do a full market push.

4. Start with a single, likely client. Suppose your product would be a great fit for a variety of retailers such as Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart and Target. It might be tempting to go after all of them at once, hoping that one will pop. This choice scatters your energy, and, if you fail, you have nowhere to go. Instead, choose only one possibility; the one you think is most likely to say yes. Visit the stores, determining where your product would belong and how much shelf space would be needed. Research their customer base and determine which customers would be the most interested and why. Consider options such as Costco’s road shows where you don’t get permanent space but instead have a week to sell what you can — moving from one location to another. Put together a presentation that shows you did your homework. Your chances of a yes are improved by this approach, and, if the answer is no, find out why and use that feedback to hone your presentation to selection No. 2.

5. Partner with another successful firm. Suppose a complementary and not competing company has the visibility and attention you want for your company. See if you can come up with a temporary partnership that will allow you to benefit from their strengths. For example, if your company offers a revolutionary knee brace for runners, talk to a local shop that caters to that group about offering a presentation on your new product. Consider giving the shop owner 50 percent of your sales dollars. It may be a wash for you in terms of revenue, but you’ve gotten your product in front of real customers.

An Alternative to Incubators: The Coworking SpacePosted: May 13th, 2012 | Author: Genevieve DeGuzman | Filed under: ArticlesCoworkingEntrepreneurship & Business | Tags: businesscoworkingincubatorsstartupsVentureBeat | No Comments »Note: This piece originally appeared as a guest article for VentureBeat.

If you’re a startup, you’ve probably considered joining an incubator. But residency can be competitive and the requirements stiff. 
TechStars and Y-Combinator are well-known incubators that offer funding, mentorship, and access to a community of venture capitalists and anointed digerati — but only for a select few. Applicants also have to provide detailed business plans and disclose development, operational, marketing, and sales activities to get into the club.

There’s another alternative that might actually be a better fit for the majority of startups: 
coworking spaces.

Coworking spaces offer more freedom and flexibility than traditional business incubators. For many startups — those that don’t want need the full range of incubator services, or that want more control of their company and don’t want to be apprenticed to someone else’s vision — coworking offers the perfect alternative. Coworking may actually be a better environment for startups because it gives them what they really need. VentureBeat, based in SF, uses 
WeWork for its small but growing NYC staff. WeWork, which also has locations in LA, allows easy expansion of space as we scale up our team.

Gangplank in Arizona started out as an incubator in the traditional sense: “We put together a C Fund and held a process similar to what Y Combinator or TechStars do today. We funded businesses, and we ran those businesses inside of Gangplank, as well,” said co-founder Derek Neighbors. But then they realized that the mix of companies working in a shared space was creating unexpected synergies.

“What we started to see was the formula of small companies working together actually helping put together the environment necessary for all of them to succeed,” Derek says. They realized the real missing ingredient — having a supportive community. “What’s missing for struggling startups is not capital funding, and it’s not lack of talent, right away. What’s missing is putting the people who are doing things in the community together to basically ignite the community to be even stronger.”

Consider these other benefits of working in the same shared office with other like-minded entrepreneurs:

Grow at your own pace.While many incubators provide a structured environment that demand startups meet benchmarks as a resident, coworking spaces let you grow at your own pace. Memberships are flexible, offering space by the hour, day, or month. Jason Richelson, a former member of Hive at 55, agrees that coworking makes it easy to save money, especially for the entrepreneur just starting and trying to reach a sustainable operational level. “You don’t want to commit to a lease in the initial stages of a new company, so going month-to-month is the only way for startups.”

Learn from others.Rivaling the best incubators, coworking spaces organize an array of events and programs ranging from brown bag lunches and networking nights with different experts and sponsors, to workshops on topics like “VC pitching” and “Ruby on Rails.” Cospace in Austin teams up with GeekAustin, which provides regular development classes. TechShop offers a variety of free DIY classes, on topics such as laser cutters, silk screening, AVR micro-controller programming, and AutoDesk modeling — ideal for the startup testing product prototypes. Coworking spaces are best for self-directed learners who prefer to choose the classes and programs they attend.

Partner up or share ideas.At a coworking space, where collaboration is not only encouraged but also cultivated, you get the opportunity to harness your coworkers’ collective brainpower for the benefit of your startup. Sometimes, good things happen from a serendipitous seating arrangement. Doug Naegele, who runs healthcare software company Infield Health, and is a member of Affinity Lab, recalls how a simple conversation with a neighbor led to a new, exciting venture. “The person I sit next to recently won a Ford Foundation grant to help alleviate food deserts in Washington D.C. We came up with the idea of supporting the vendors and patrons of the Pop-up Farmers Market through text messaging. Two months later, we’re actively trying new ideas around health, food deserts, and mobile technology,” says Doug.

Get exposure and support.The expansion of Greg Wilder’s Orpheus Media Research, a music search and discovery platform, which closed a Series A round and opened headquarters in New York City, owes much to its co-working community at Indy Hall: “Every key person involved in the company today can be connected in some way to coworking networks or coworking connections.”

If you still don’t think that co-working spaces are rigorous enough, consider that many do partner with accelerators and incubators. 
CoCo teams up with Project Skyway, a tech accelerator that provides software companies early stage seed money, mentoring, and networking. Dogpatch Labs focus on helping launch startups using its connections with Polaris Ventures. Its most famous alums include Instagram and Task Rabbit.

Coworking shifts the startup mentality away from the tunnel-vision focus on getting funding, and onto the “first-things-first” task of growing a company culture, developing ideas, and most importantly, nurturing support networks.

I’m a writer and when I tell people I rent office space, I can tell they’re often thinking, “what a waste of money.” I mean, sure, I could work at home and save a little cash. We have an extra room with a door and everything. But, honestly, there are so many benefits to my coworking membership that I wouldn’t give it up any sooner than my iPhone.

Here are just a few of the ways coworking can change your life and career:

1. You’ll get twice as much work done at your new co-working desk than you did at home. Really and truly. It’s reverse peer pressure or something.

2. That side project you’re trying to launch? Now you work side-by-side with a bunch of writers, designers, developers and video people who can help you make it happen.

3. Your client needs a big website? But you can only handle part of the project? See number two. Now you can assemble a team to meet those needs in a flash. Or earn some brownie points with a referral.

4. Avoid elderly shut-in syndrome. Seriously, there’s magic just to getting out of the house and talking with real people. Your cat has already heard ALL your best stories.

5. Keep work from bleeding into every corner of your personal life. It’s easier to create a healthy work/life balance when “leaving it at the office” doesn’t refer to the spare bedroom.

6. You’ll effortlessly keep up with all the latest Internet memes.  And I’ll go ahead and throw in a totally self-serving link.

7. It solves annoying business problems. After whining about bookkeeping, my office mates introduced me to a wondrous thing known as Fresh Books.

8. You’ll build and expand your professional network. Even when you’re too busy to make it to that Meetup/event/cocktail thing-y that you didn’t really want to go to anyway.

9. Your grandma will start to think you have a real job. Maybe your mom, too. It’s something about going to an office that impresses the older relatives.

10. Have you looked at your tax bill yet? Your co-working membership is one more awesome thing to decrease your taxable income.

11. Creative energy is contagious. Being around other people working on awesome projects makes you more excited about your awesome projects.

12. If you’re a parent with kids at home, I hear it’s delightful to work in an adults-only space. No crying or tantrums or impromptu Candyland games (well, most of the time).

13. You’ll have people to bounce ideas off in real time. Not sure if that headline is too nutty? Or need advice on a client issue? Ask your desk neighbor.

14. There’s almost always beer and wine in the fridge. And no one cares if you break it out at, say, 3:30 on a Friday afternoon.

15. Wow, you now have two conference rooms at your disposal for client meetings. Or just to take a private phone call. Aren’t you fancy?

16. When you do decide to go to a Meetup/event/cocktail thing-y to network, you won’t have to go far. We host a bunch of them right here in the space.

17. Want to hold an event for you own industry or professional group? Your membership gives you 24/7 access to the space, and you can hold those events here for free.

18. Umm, sunshine=happiness. And we work in an awesome light-filled loft in a historic building. We’re even convinced there might be a secrete passageway somewhere.

19. You’ll sound (and be smarter) in all those client meetings. It’s easier to keep up with what’s going on in the business and tech worlds when you have office mates.

20. You can still work at home when you feel like it. I do it a couple days a week. A coworking membership doesn’t cost all that much, so you don’t have to feel bad about not going every day.

21. You’ll have real-life co-workers again, but no boss. Or weird corporate rules about what you can put on your desk. It’s the best of both worlds.

22. We know all the awesome lunch spots. And want you to come with us. Just be prepared to hear about the latest Internet meme (see # 6).

23. Co-workers are better than a personal cheerleading squad. They want your business—and your most offbeat side projects—to be smashing successes.

Did you make it all the way to the end of this post? You should definitely set up a time to drop in and work with us. We’re even better in person.

- Written by Michelle Taute
- Posted by Samantha Steidle