Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur, is based in Silicon Valley and well-known for his Lean Startup Movement where he founded the ‘Customer Development Model.’ The Business Lounge’s Owner, Samantha Steidle, will be forming her Business 116 Class at Virginia Western Community College this fall around the Lean Startup Movement and Customer Development Process. Follow the Business Lounge’s Blog for weekly posts about the stages of the Customer Development Process:

Customer Development Model:

Customer Development is as essential as Product Development. The emphasis on the Customer Development Model is to put the learning and information gathering phase before the execution which yields success. Prior to the launch of the product, the entrepreneur must completely understand the market reality that forms the creative idea. Do not feel the need to create a “startup,” go against the trend and create focus groups for a bigger idea or company.

  • Stage One: Customer Discovery- Test your hypotheses. 
  • Form exit criteria: What are your customers top problems? Does your product help solve these problems? Create a day-to-day lifestyle chart or list of your customer. 

Business Lounge: Tip of the Day!

Sending the right message can be tricky, but it is always imperative for you, the owner or employee, to represent your company with the utmost reputation. We, at the Business Lounge, know just how to create a two-way, open communication channel from either a professional-to-professional setting or a professional-to-client scenario.

A tactful person can tell you something you don't want to hear and you will be thankful for the information when they are finished.


Diplomatic Communication, no we are not talking about the Royal Family…

1.    Shake the BIAS- UNBIAS yourself. A mindset that is not already dead-set on an opinion, answer, comment, or outcome is a flexible one open to creating new ideas or meeting the other individual halfway. This is often a vital piece of the business puzzle during brainstorming in meetings, merges and acquisitions, or even listening without a prejudice.

2.    Own it. Own up to the responsibility that derives from executing our own thoughts and feelings when a disagreement occurs. It is only human nature to act like a human; therefore, the other individual or coworker will understand. Try to put the blame back on “I” instead of “you.”

3.    An Impression, First or Fifth, is most important.  It is not just a matter of verbal communication but nonverbal cues that are set off and presented from your demeanor. Try not to cross your arms or appeared closed off from the individual sitting in front of you. Never breathe heavy as indicated from aggression or aggravation. Lastly, a business owner of prestige should NEVER roll their eyes at a client and an employee should never roll their eyes at an employee- respect!

4.    FACTUAL EVIDENCE. Examples or historical data proving your opinion or position, maybe even idea is going to be correct should always be aligned by research and some background evidence. This helps the communication process have an ethos to it. The listener believes the person who is talking and this helps to establish credibility between the two communicating.

Lean Coffee
By: Caitlin Pauline Bourn

The popularity of Lean Coffee is expanding across the U.S. and no; I am not talking about a new fat-free frappe or latte craze. Lean Coffee is a casual, yet organized meeting that gives entrepreneurs and small business owners the opportunity to come together and talk. These conversations are helpful because the topics are focused and intentional among attendees.

Lean Coffee meetings typically begin with each individual jotting down a topic they would like to discuss on a post-it-note. The topics can vary from anything Lean Coffee attendees want to discuss or follow a theme. The post-it-notes with the topics are then placed in the middle and each person decides on his/her favorite topic (and yes, each person must choose a topic other than their own). This method at the beginning of each Lean Coffee meeting creates structure and balance for an open discussion.

Lean Coffee meetings are gaining popularity around the world including cities such as Seattle, Toronto, Stockholm, San Francisco and New York City to name a few. Currently, Lean Coffee meetings take place monthly in Roanoke, Virginia.

The next Lean Coffee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6th at 9 a.m. at the Roanoke Business Lounge. So, if you are an entrepreneur or small business looking to exchange ideas and build a strong community of like-minded individuals, don’t miss out on August 6th! Visit Roanoke Startup Meetup at today to learn more about upcoming meetings and events.

Lean Coffee at Froth in Roanoke on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

Dear Technologists, 

            Does your user group need a space to use for breakout sessions, monthly meetings, smaller events downtown, presentations, weekday events, and officer Meetings?  For the months of July, August, and September, we are opening up our space free of charge (pending availability) to specific user and other technology groups including:

·      SQL Server User Groups

·      Roanoke .Net User Group

·      Java Users Groups

·      SharePoint User Groups

·      PHP User

·      Adobe User Group

·      Code Camp meetings

·      STEM Groups

·      Robotics Groups 

            The Business Lounge is a shared office space perfect for start-ups, entrepreneurs, work-remote employees, attorney dispositions and the occasional client meeting. Complete with office amenities such as a copier/fax, WiFi, downtown address, conference space and floating desks. The Business Lounge is open 24/7 to members.

            The Roanoke Business Lounge includes a larger conference room which holds eight to ten people and includes a TV to showcase presentations, a smaller meeting room which holds four to six, an open front space that seats six people, and if you are looking for an informal meeting we also have couch space in the back area of the Lounge.  We can provide space for smaller, intimate group meetings. 

            If you are interested in utilizing the Roanoke Business Lounge for your next event please contact Taylor Ricotta at 540-397-4377 to schedule specific dates and times!

Thank you


The Roanoke Business Lounge

ROANOKE — Virginia Western

 July 8, 2013
 Contact: Josh Meyer
 Coordinator of Marketing and Strategic Communications
 Phone: (540) 857-6311

 Virginia Western course to help students launch business in one
semester Fast-track course for entrepreneurs to launch in Fall 2013; Enrollment
open now at
— Virginia
  Western Community College is launching a revised business course this fall that
  teaches student and prospective entrepreneurs how to launch their own business
  in one semester. The Entrepreneurship course will offer unique hands-on
 “We are excited to have the opportunity to offer an
entrepreneurship course that should be of great interest to the region,”
Virginia Western President Robert Sandel said. “Students will enjoy the benefits
of having a dynamic course instructor with business experience in Samantha

 Virginia Western’s standard tuition rates apply to the course.
The college’s Workforce Solutions will host shorter workshops, which will give a
sample of the content. Open enrollment
is available now.   To find
out more, visit
“This course aims to help people help themselves in an economy
that is challenging workers to become more entrepreneurial,” said Steidle, owner
of the Business Lounge in downtown Roanoke.   Steidle, who developed the
course, will also serve as its instructor.
“I had been teaching classes at Virginia Western for several
semesters when I got the idea for this course,” Steidle said. “We are
emphasizing practical, hands-on experience that results in businesses ready to
serve customers.”

 The course is intended to be a launching pad for businesses in
the Roanoke Valley. Based upon enrollment, 20 – 30 viable new businesses per
semester are possible. 

The Small Business Development Center and Virginia Department of
Business Assistance are assisting with the course, and Downtown Roanoke Inc. has
pledged to help students with the fledging enterprises, particularly as they
look for spaces in which to open shop. 

The course takes its place in an array of entrepreneurially
focused classes at nearby colleges and universities, including Radford
University, Roanoke College, and Virginia

 “Our American economy is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit
and small business,” said Jim Poythress, Vice President of Virginia Western’s
Workforce Development Services. “If we are to continue to be globally
competitive, we must foster the entrepreneurial aspirations of our citizenry to
ensure that we have synergistic and dynamic growth in the innovation of ideas,
products, and services. This course provides an ideal opportunity to foster
these aspirations.” 

 Entrepreneurship continued / Page 2 of  2
 Quotes from supporters of the Entrepreneurship course

 “The more budding entrepreneurs can learn about creating and
growing a new business, the better chance those businesses will succeed. Small
businesses need an array of resources to prosper. Fortunately, we have many
available to help foster their success, including Roanoke Regional Small
Business Development Center no-charge counseling and low-cost classes, and a
variety of college courses, like this Entrepreneurship course throughout the
– Joyce Waugh, President
Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
“The lean startup movement is a methodology for helping start-up
companies target the needs of their customers before actually launching a
product. This concept is helping founders understand what the market demands;
which in turn, mitigates the risks of launching and the outcome is much more
– Derick Maggard,
Executive Director Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council & StartUp Class
Instructor at Virginia Tech

 “Virginia is rich in resources for small businesses getting
started and connecting new entrepreneurs to opportunities is our number one
objective. Starting a new business can be exciting, but also very scary and
having support resources accessible can make that leap of faith into a new
enterprise little easier. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance is your
one stop to business resources in the Commonwealth.” 
 – Sandy Ratliff, Business Services Manager - Southwest Office at
Virginia Department of Business Assistance

 “Budding entrepreneurs are necessary for this region to continue
to grow. Even though some characteristics of entrepreneurs are natural, many of
the skills necessary for the entrepreneur to be successful must be taught and as
such, specialize training must be available.” 
– Tom Tanner, Small Business Consultant at the Roanoke Regional
Small Business Development Center

 “Unfortunately there are not enough jobs in Virginia and in the
world for each of us. It is critically important to or future to learn how to
start and manage a new business. Now here is a course that helps you get
started. It's a wonderful opportunity.” 
–  Cabell Brand,
Chairman of the Cabell Brand Center; Founder of Total Action Against Poverty in
the Roanoke Valley


 With nearly 13,000 students on the college’s main campus in Southwest Roanoke City,  to our satellite locations at the Roanoke Higher Education Center in Downtown Roanoke, Greenfield Education & Training Center in Daleville, and the
Franklin Center in Rocky Mount, Virginia Western Community College is committed  to providing affordable, accessible, and quality educational opportunities and  workforce training to meet individual, community, and global needs. To learn  more, visit

Happy Birthday Business Lounge!
By: Caitlin Pauline Bourn

This Saturday, July 6, 2013, will mark Business Lounge’s 1st Birthday! We are extremely thrilled to be celebrating this day at the Business Lounge and we could not have done it without the support of many along the way. Within the first few weeks of the Business Lounge opening on Campbell Avenue, the notion of expansion was soon underway due to high demand. It was only two months later that a more spacious, second location was opened in downtown Roanoke on Kirk Avenue for Business Lounge members.

Since opening one year ago, the Business Lounge has had more than thirty-five members use the co-working space available and the number of members continues to grow daily. The Business Lounge has also given university students the opportunity to intern. Emma Haynes, a Business major at Hollins University, is currently interning at the Business Lounge for the summer. When asked about her internship experience Emma stated, “I feel that completing my internship at the Business Lounge has allowed me to make helpful connections and has prepared me for what I will be doing after graduation.”

We would like to give a special thank you to all of those that have been a part of the growth and development of the Business Lounge this past year. We at the Business Lounge could not be more excited to continue providing co-working space for freelancers and entrepreneurs in the years to come right here in downtown Roanoke.


A Generation of Entrepreneurs 
By: Caitlin Pauline Bourn  

Ideas become inventions and visions become reality by those who do not fear stepping outside of the box. Persistence must be ongoing and originality is, and always will be, a risk. But without characteristics such as persistence, determination and originality, where would we be? Or better yet, what would we lack?

A concept that many students in universities across the country are considering and acting on progressively everyday is the concept of entrepreneurship. Oftentimes, postgraduates find themselves struggling to land the career they had envisioned or even opportunities for employment. Young individuals are instead making the decision to create their own job rather than search for one. Entrepreneurism is rapidly progressing and shows no signs of backing down anytime in the future.

Startup America, organized as an initiative of the White House, provides the necessary guidance, provision, and solutions to assist small business owners manage and expand their business. Samantha Steidle, owner of the Business Lounge, has been active in implementing the growth of Startup America right here in Roanoke, Virginia since 2012. Make sure to watch the YouTube video below to learn more about the story of Startup America. Come join us at the Business Lounge today and be a part of the entrepreneur community in the Roanoke area!

This time, exactly one year ago, we launched our very first press release into the media. The Business Lounge announced plans to launch as a beta test location in downtown Roanoke, Virginia. We are so excited to approach our one year celebration. 

Cheers to many friends and BizLounge members who have joined the co-working movement. Here's to many more years of co-working! 

Roanoke, VA – March 4, 2013 – This May 3rd-5th, entrepreneurs and creative minds will be taking over Meridium (207 Bullitt Ave SE Roanoke, VA 24013) in partnership with the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council for Startup Weekend Roanoke. Organizers and volunteers of Roanoke’s Startup Weekend have been working behind the scenes to ensure that this event provides not only inspiration, but the resources required for building and launching a company.

Whether you have a business idea or a skill that is necessary in building a successful startup, this event is one that aspiring entrepreneurs should not miss. Concept pitching and team building will take place on day one; teams will be formed around concepts and various skills that are brought to the table leaving the remainder of the weekend to mind mapping, strategizing and building a real business.

There will be knowledgeable and successful entrepreneurs in attendance to inspire, share and help the teams throughout the weekend. The final day teams will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges where real prizes and services can be won.

About Startup Weekend Roanoke

Startup Weekend Roanoke is an intense 54 hour event where a community of entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, developers, designers, marketing gurus and anyone interested in building a business will come together over the course of a weekend to share ideas, form teams, and launch a startup.

No Talk, All Action. Launch a Startup in 54 hours. 

About Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups.


By:  Dan Smith

My good pal Samantha Steidle, who owns the Business Lounge in downtown Roanoke and whose mind beats faster than the heart of an excited rabbit, is at it again.

This time, she's doing something (always doing, rarely stops at thinking) that many of us have been advocating--without doing--for years: trying to teach college students to create their own business, rather than looking for a job upon graduation. It makes sense any time for some of these bright youngsters (and oldsters back in school, as well), but especially in an economy that is not welcoming people into the workforce.

Sam's been teaching an entrepreneurial class at Virginia Western Community College for some months now and she's getting ready to expand that into a real-world exercise where she hopes to watch students create "20 to 30 new businesses a semester." I keep telling you that Sam doesn't aim small. 

"We're going to modify the entrepreneur class," she said at lunch at Lenore's Restaurant in downtown Roanoke today. "Give it a different format; work with entrepreneurs or help students launch their own businesses." She'll be working in conjunction with the Small Business Development Center, Virginia Department of Business Assistance, small businesses, Downtown Roanoke Inc., (DRI) and others to help give these students a leg up as they give their ideas a try.

Initially, the teaching will include about 25 percent business plan, 75 percent implementation. She'll help students with logos, business cards, brochures, websites, press releases, marketing strategy and other overlooked pieces of a small business. She's hoping to get some cheap rents downtown through DRI and, of course, Business Lounge can accommodate some businesses with offices and office help.

Sam will help analyze ideas and carry-through, as well. "If it's not a good idea," she says, "we'll advise that they scrap it. If it's good, we'll help. The overall goal is to make a visible difference in the region."

The course will be for credit or not, depending on what the students want. Costs will be in line with what the college normally charges. This will cover many basics, but it won't be in competition for some of the more advanced entrepreneurial classes, like the high tech or engineering courses at Virginia Tech.

"When I was in school, I didn't fit anywhere," says Sam. "I can't not do this. If you're unemployed, don't wait, but then so few people know how to start a business." The course will last eight weeks "and then you can get out and make money," says Sam. "This goes so much deeper than just teaching. It's teaching people how to live their dreams. It's the coolest thing I've ever taken on." And that's saying something.

(You can reach Sam at 540-397-4377 or