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The Intrepid Entrepreneur

The Intrepid Entrepreneur is here to inspire those who are hell-bent on becoming a kick-ass entrepreneur, striving to level-up their business that they’ve started or are gearing up to launch their incredible ideas into successful small businesses! Join Kristin Carpenter-Ogden, founder of LivingUber and Verde Brand Communications, as she interviews inspirational, motivated, and kick-ass small business owners who have made their mark on the outdoor industry.
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Now displaying: July, 2016
Jul 29, 2016

Kickstarter campaigns, wefunder, and equity crowdfunding—we’ve been talking a lot about new techniques for raising capital over the past few months! This week, I’m switching gears and talking with a colleague who works in a more traditional funding field: venture capitalism.

Ben Rifkin, president of Royal Street Investment and Innovation Center and my mentor for the upcoming OWIC Pitchfest, is visiting this week’s Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast to share his experience working in venture capital, evaluating new companies and collaborating with them to meet goals.  

Before you even start looking for capital and investors, Ben says you need to know what your end goal is and then think backwards. What kind of company is your startup going to grow up to be? He’s sharing his thoughts on what kind of investments different types of companies might look for. It’s about knowing whose attention you want to catch before you need it.

We’re also discussing how startups can benefit from both crowdfunding and venture investments. Running a strong crowdfunding campaign and getting your product out on time, as promised, can speak volumes to future investors. It says a lot about one of the most important assets a company can have—you, the founders! And these aren’t the only ways you can use successful non-traditional sources of funding to prove your product to traditional investors!

Ben’s also letting us in on what he sees as the difference between tech startups and the outdoor markets, and how this changes the search for investors.

Although crowd funding has given us entrepreneurs some amazing opportunities, this conversation with Ben sheds some really insightful light on what investors look for, how to think about and present the future of your business, and the wide range of options for those of us who might need capital to get to where we want to be.  

Bravery in Business Quote

“Whose radars do we need to be on? You should be able to name those companies before you even go out and look for money.” - Ben Rifkin

(Click to tweet)

Cliff Notes

  • Venture capital is the most expensive money a company can take, because you have to give up pieces of your company to get it (equity). With venture, every time you make money you have to give away some of your company.
  • For entrepreneurs, the benefit of non-traditional funding (crowd funding, etc.) is that you can access capital without losing control or having to give up a steak in your company.
  • Venture capital is not for every company, but it opens pathways to very quick growth and can be lucrative, for the entrepreneur as well as for the acquiring company, in the right scenario.
  • Companies with a good Kickstarter or crowdfunding campaign, that raise the money and then deliver the product on time, look really good to venture capitalists, and are more likely to get a strong consideration, Kickstarter can work as a proof of concept.
  • Non-traditional funding can also allow companies to get a lot farther along before they start needing or seeking more traditional investments from firms.
  • Two pathways to growth:
  1. Pour in a lot of money and focus on getting distribution up as fast as possible without worrying about bottom line. This is kind of an older model, and you often end up needing capital to fund operating costs, etc.
  2. Establish a track record and grow by connecting with consumers more directly through social media, platforms, etc. Take advantage of these developments for feedback and get to know your consumers.
  • Venture capital firm puts a lot of value on founders, since they are usually the CEO, the person who has gotten the company up and running to the point that it’s at, and they are the one who will see it through any changes in the future.
  • A founder who was taken the time to get to know their customers, respond to feedback and pays attention to the metrics is a very important factor to venture capitalists.
  • Any data an early stage company can gather to test their hypothesis and proof of product helps venture capital firms to know how far along the company is. Look for way to show them that it has been “de-risked”.
  • Listening is a very important quality for an entrepreneur to have. Not just listening to an investor or mentor’s advice and following it to the letter, but being open to suggestions and taking them into serious consideration.
  • When thinking about sources of capital, it is important to think about the end goal of your business first. What is it trying to grow up to be? And from there, think backwards about what kinds of funding will get it there.  
  • Outdoor markets are more competitive than technology markets. More competitive for consumers, and definitely more competitive if your goal is to be acquired by a venture capital firm.
  • Some outdoor startups are looking to be more “lifestyle businesses”, meaning profitable, returning money to shareholders and very large. In this case, you probably don’t want to get acquired by a venture capital firm.
  • If you are looking to get acquired, you should know the names of the firms you’re interested in and who’s radar it’s important to be on before you even start going out there to look for money.

“The more data that an early stage company can kind of gather, the more that they can test their hypothesis about how to reach consumers, how to sell product. That, for us, helps to de-risk an investment.” - Ben Rifkin


Resources

RoyalStreet.vc

OIWC.org/EventDetails

 

Show Notes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Ben-Rifkin

Jul 23, 2016

As you may know, I reserve my solocasts for topics which have been nothing short of monumental in my journey as an outdoor founder. So this week, I’m talking with all of you about something that, having started two companies and been in the outdoor industries for fifteen years, I had never done up until a few weeks ago.

What I’m talking about is . . . writing a pitch deck! In just a few weeks, I’ll be presenting at the Outdoor Women’s Industry Coalition Pitchfest. I’m super honored to have been selected to be one of this year’s presenters, but it’s a new and challenging experience for me. In preparing my own pitch deck for the event, I learned so much about building and rehearsing pitch decks and I’m excited to share this process with you.

When I sat down to write my pitch, I had to really get to the nitty gritty and evaluate what my company needed, what I wanted to get from this experience. I had to know, specifically what my ask was.

And then, I started reading about how to give an awesome pitch. In my solocast, I’m talking about the two most helpful resources to me in preparing this pitch deck, and the hard editing process I’ve been working through to get it just right.

I’m also sharing some of the negative thoughts I’m refusing to believe about my pitch, and three steps for building an amazing pitch.  

This pitch deck has been such a learning experience for me and for developing how I think about the needs of my company. I’ve never done one before, but I’m choosing to see this an asset, not a liability. If you don’t know what can’t be done, there’s nothing to stop you.

I hope you’ll learn from my process and the resources I’m sharing. This episode is a must listen for anyone looking to pitch or promote their ideas! 

Bravery in Business Quote

“Well, the way I look at that is I've never done this before and that's actually my biggest advantage. Because what I don't know won't hurt me, right?” - Kristin Carpenter Ogden

(Click to tweet)

Cliff Notes

  • Entrepreneurs should pitch a story, not just figures and facts.
  • Struggled with two limiting ideas about writing this pitch. She refused to believe them, but they’re still inside her head all the time.
  1. She didn’t have enough time to write a good pitch deck. Only had six weeks from the time she found out she got in to the presentation.
  2. The pitch is only five minutes long. She is “incredibly verbose” so 5 minutes is a real challenge.
  • Started telling herself that not having done this before was an advantage. Because she doesn’t have the experience to know that it can’t be done in 5 minutes, she’s going for it.
  • Rehearse your pitch in front of a variety of people to figure out what the different reactions are, and what engages each audience
  • Edit out everything that isn’t causing an emotional reaction. Even pitching financials, she tried to frame them in terms of a story, hot cognition.
  • When giving the pitch, stay present because this will keep you confident. Confidence also comes from being well prepared.

 

3 Tips for Building a Pitch Deck

 

  1.      Focus on “hot cognition”, i.e. stories that will spark emotion (from Klaff).
  2.     Confidence creates flow. Be Confident.
  3.     Remember that you are just the vessel for the mission of the project.

“I have two children in real life and I have two children in my business is I guess you'll love them both very much, not one over the other. They're very different.”

(Click to tweet)

Resources

OIWC.org

IntrepidEntrepreneur.net

PitchAnything.com                                                                                    

GetBacked.com

Questions@IntrepidEntrepreneur.net

 

Show Notes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/pitchdeck

Jul 15, 2016

As many of you know only too well, starting a business can take a long time! But what we often don’t count in the time it takes to start a business is all the history and experience from past ventures and adventures that make our skill set. All the things you have learned, ever, work together to make you the person you are.

My guest on this week’s Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast, Josh Salvo, says his newest project has been seven years in the making. The most recent version of the ReddyYeti platform just launched a few months ago in March, but Josh says it couldn’t have happened without his past experiences and websites.

At age eighteen, Josh launched a website to help skiers find the right gear for their needs. He himself will admit he was young, and he didn’t quite realize what he was getting into! Several projects and years later he and his partners are running ReddyYeti, a community for action sport enthusiasts to discover and help startups.

ReddyYeti partners with startups creating amazing products and giving back to their communities. They host a podcast to interview founders, to share the passion and goals of the startups with the community. And they increase visibility of these startups through giveaways. Members of the ReddyYeti community can enter themselves in the giveaways, and gain extra entries by sharing with friends.

Josh is telling me about how he and his two partners started ReddyYeti using The Lean StartUp Methodology: they found a cheap way to prove the value of their product, and took that to companies for partnerships! ReddyYeti is only a few months old and already has 2,400 members. 

We’re also taking about how Josh and his partners learned to pivot as they planned for ReddyYeti to launch, and their plans for the future of the site. And, he’s sharing some of the amazing startups ReddyYeti has already partnered with!

Bravery in Business Quote

“Pushing yourself to a limit like that really helps you really get to know you kind of much deeper level” - Josh Salvo

(Click to Tweet)

Cliff Notes

  • ReddyYeti is a community of action sport enthusiasts that want to help action sport start-ups get discovered and be found. They are solely geared towards helping start-ups related to outdoor action sports.
  • Want to help get people outside and grow the community of outdoor sport enthusiasts by helping start-ups that they feel align with their values ethically, morally, and in terms of high quality products. Also, they want to work with businesses that are giving back to the environment or the community.
  • When they partner with a business, they bring the founder(s) on their podcast so they can tell their story so people can find out more about them and why their started their business, to make it more personal so consumers can know who they’re buying form.
  • Startups partnering with ReddyYeti are also featured on their blog, and their products are in the ReddyYeti giveaway.  
  • ReddyYeti community is currently 2,500 members and growing daily
  • Members enter giveaways via email, and then are also given unique URLs to post/share, and they get more entries into the giveaways by sharing. At the end of a giveaway period the member with the most shares gets a gift card ($100 to evo)
  • They were also doing e-reviews and articles on the products, but based on member feedback going to focus more on podcasts in the future.
  • Josh started out at 18 with a website for skigear called MySkiProfile. Users would put in data about themselves and got products matched to their needs.
  • Then ran the American Yeti, a website with contributors from across the country chiming in about outdoor sports. Just trying to build traction not make money. Operated it for a year, then dormant for a year.
  • Then, Josh and his friends sat down in a basement and came up with the vision for Reddy the Yeti as a new logo/idea. He is Reddy the Yeti, always Ready to help you out and go on an adventure.
  • This version of ReddyYeti just got launched in March 2016, but Josh says it was seven years in the making, had to experiment with all of these other projects to be the person he needed to be to get ReddyYeti started.
  • Seven years of growth / experience has been helpful in getting ReddyYeti launched, and in how fast they have grown (only 5 months old). Josh and his partners (2) had a lot of connections from outdoor sports that helped.
  • Tried to follow Lean Startup methodology: wanted to test product idea. They made a simple webpage with their plan and asked for emails from people who were interested, to be contacted when it launched, and to be automatically entered into 1st giveaway. Grew to 400 subscribers in a few weeks just by reaching out this way to people they knew. They used this as their proof of concept from Lean Startup.
  • Took these numbers to 4 brands and launched their 1st giveaway and got 1,400 more subscribers.
  • ReddyYeti 2.0 will be a platform with all the brands they’ve ever worked with on there, and any sales from that site Reddyyeti will get commission for. (This is how they plan to make money.)
  • Josh grew up skiing on the east coast (Jersey) went to Utah for a winter in college, “best winter of my life”.  Now he lives in West Harlem NYC.
  • Three partners own ReddyYeti, Josh, Drew (childhood friend) and Mott (college friend of Josh’s)

 

 

“Instead that you buying from a company, you know who you're buying, you're buying from a person, sort of a community of people that come together to create this product.” - Josh Salvo

(Click to Tweet)

Resources

 

ReddyYeti.com

Podcast: ReddyYeti-Blog-ReddyYeti-Discover

Blog: ReddyYeti.com

OIWC.org

MountainRidersAlliance.com

Culture.Evo.com

Evo.com

Show Notes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Josh-Salvo

Jul 8, 2016

What are you passionate about? In the outdoor markets, and especially as entrepreneurs, passion is such an important asset. But it can also, sometimes, get in the way of our own clear thinking about the ideas and projects we’re so in love with.

This is why I’m so excited to be talking with Al Tabor, tech worker and market forecaster extraordinaire about what we in the outdoor markets can learn from tech start-ups. He’s translating what he knows about how tech startups get going and making it applicable to outdoor startups. And it’s working – Al has worked wonders with Sierra Designs, Mountain Headwear and recent visitors to the Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast, Martin Zemitis of Slingfin, and Brad Stewart of Caravan Outpost.

Al and I both know that the outdoor markets are a completely different animal than tech start-ups, but something Al says every entrepreneur should read is The Lean Start-up, by Eric Ries. Al is admittedly not a business book person, so if he says it’s good, you better believe him!

The Lean Startup mentality is all about learning. You need to learn what path your business is on, and if this path will lead to success! And, you need to learn it as fast and cheaply as possible, to save yourself a lot of time and heartache. This sounds overwhelming, but Al’s talking me through the steps on how to evaluate your startup idea and find your minimum value product, your MVP!

Something else that we entrepreneurs in the outdoor markets can also learn from tech—and from basketball!—is to pivot! If you find out your idea isn’t working, keep one foot in it, and spin until you find a new opening. This is where passion can be a challenge to us outdoor market entrepreneurs. We’re so in love with our project, we don’t want to change anything. But Al says, you have to keep one foot in that passion, and use the other to pivot to a new way forward. Who knows what you’ll find!

Al’s giving some great examples of what it looks like to pivot in the outdoor markets by talking about his work with Slingfin and Caravan Outpost. He’s also discussing using the Root Cause Analysis system to hit the hard reality of any problem – in business or in your personal life.

 

Bravery in Business Quote

 

“The job of a startup is to learn. More than anything else, you have to figure out if you're on a path that's going to lead to some sort of success” - Al Tabor

(click to tweet)

       

Cliff Notes

  • Tech and outdoor markets are different animals, but can still both learn from Lean Startup Methodology
  • Definition of a startup (from Reis) a human endeavor that's trying to deliver a product or a service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
  • The job of a startup is to learn what path it’s on and if this will lead to success. Important to attract and reward investors.
  • Try to make explicit your assumptions. Who are target customers, assumptions about distribution, etc.  Once you have made all of this explicit, test it. Find sales or feedback or metrics to validate the assumptions supporting the value of your proposition.
  • If you can’t support your proposition value, it’s time to pivot (like in basketball). Keep one foot in what you know and spin to find a new opening.
  • Passion can sometimes get in the way of a pivot, because you constrain yourself and are not willing to take one foot off the ground or experiment with an idea that you are in love with
  • Pivoting is probably hard for most passion-driven founders. Need to keep one foot in the passion, and used the other to find a more viable way forward.
  • Learn, Build, Measure cycle part of the Lean Startup. You want to find a way to shorten this cycle as much as possible for efficiency.
  • 5 question approach (Reis calls it Root Cause Analysis, Tabor calls it Root Cause) / Six sigma methodology. Asking “why?” five times (or more!) until you get to the root causes, the “hard reality underpinning the situation” to find the corrective.
  • Continuing to ask “why” can lead to finding an area in which you need to pivot. Leads to clarity. Passion is personal but you have to be clear about the business viability of the product.
  • Minimum viable product (MVP): find the fastest, cheapest way to test your product viability/market to save yourself a lot of time and heartache. The sooner you know you need to pivot, the fast you can move.

 

 

The Lean Start-Up:

 

        Step 1: Define your value of proposition

        Step 2: Validate this proposition.

        Step 3: If it’s not going to work, pivot. Keep one foot in what you know, and spin around to find a new opening.

 

“You’ve got to listen to everybody but you don't have to take anybody seriously.” - Al Tabor

(click to tweet)

Resources

SlingFin.com

CaravanOutpost.com/

IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Brad-Steward (Past IE podcast w/ Caravan Outpost founder)

IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Martin-Zemitis (Past IE Podcast w/Martin Zemitis)

IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Dylan-Enright/ (WeFunder IE Podcast) PeakDesign.com/

TheLeanStartup.com/ (Lean Startup book website)

YouTube.com/watch?v=fEvKo90qBns (Eric Reis google talk referenced)

 

Show notes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Al-Tabor

Jul 1, 2016

The internet has done some great things for us. Especially as entrepreneurs, being involved in the digital community of outdoor sports aficionados and companies is an amazing way to build contacts and stay connected.

But my guest today is taking using his internet platform to launch. . . . a print magazine! As Steve says, there are some things that just don’t work as well online.

Over seven years ago, Steve Casmiro started Adventure-Journal.com, an online magazine devoted to outdoor adventure. Using his experience editing Bike Magazine and Powder Magazine, he was planning to start this project in print. But, as we all know, 2008 was right when the recession hit and it was hard to get support for a new paper magazine.  

Today, Adventure-Journal is a super exciting, inspiring and successful online journal. Steve’s here for his second visit to the Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast to talk about finally coming back to his original dream: a print Adventure Journal Magazine. The amazing first issue just came out this Spring!  

Steve says that starting Adventure Journal online was great when he got ready to consider print again, because he already had a community of people interested in his product. Unlike when he started out in journalism, he wasn’t stuck using mailings to drum up subscribers! And, he already knew what his readers would be interested in! He’s spent years getting to know them.  

Steve also knows how he wants the print magazine to be different from Adventure-Journal.com. He calls it a “luxurious reading experience”: lots of large pictures and plenty of room for the reader to engage with the story. Reading in ink and paper is a special experience, it should take you away from all of your devices and into an adventure. Steve is so passionate about this, he’s not offering the magazine in any electronic forms.

Starting a print magazine is a risky step but hearing Steve’s excitement is inspirational. His vision for this magazine is so clear, and he’s spent so many years honing in on it online. This episode is a must-listen for any of you with a dream project.  

 

Bravery in Business Quote

“I don't have to be that big, if I don't have to get to 10,000 circulation in the first year, I can just do the stories that I know are going to be the best stories” - Steve Casimiro

(click to tweet)

 

Cliff Notes

 

  • AJ’s slogan: The Deeper You Get, The Deeper You Get
  • Online Adventure Journal publications mean that he  has spent the last 7 years building up a consumer base/ audience for sales of the print editions, as well as having a dialogue with readers about what they’re interested in
  • The website itself has evolved over the years and in relationship to the readers. Having an online publication/website gives you the chance to really get to know your readers and dialogue with them, but there are some stories that just don’t work online. Also gives you time to prove to advertisers that your product is marketable, so they will come with you into print.
  • Having a consumer base already means they don’t have to count on losing money in the launch process, and have more editorial freedom, because there is no big publisher saying they have to hit 10,000 in circulation in the first year or go belly up.
  • Using print to publish deeper, more thoughtful stories that require the reader to sit down away from their devices and experience them in paper & ink.  Printed stories will not be available in pdf online or in ereader editions. Only in print.
  • Giving lots of space to the stories in print, so they have room to “breathe”. Most stories will get twice the pagination as in other magazines so its a “luxury reading experience” with lots of pictures.
  • Going back to print is a big risk, but when Steve gets worried, he asks himself what the worst thing to happen could be, and it’s failure. And he knows he’s failed at many things before, and still survived. Some things work, some things don’t.

 

“It would be kind of hypocritical if I spent all day every day writing and talking about adventure and I didn't take risks in my own business.” - Steve Casimiro

(click to tweet)

Resources

Adventure Journal: Adventure-Journal.com
Print Subscription: Adventure-Journal.com/product/adventure-journal-quarterly-subscription/

 

Show Notes: IntrepidEntrepreneur.net/Adventure-Journal

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