Tag Archives: WIMS Guide

Seed Round Capital

Notes on Raising Seed Round Capital

Throughout the past year I’ve helped lead a couple of seed round funding for company’s that I’m a co-founder of. While I’ve assisted and consulted many startups prior to that with raising money, doing it from this perspective was quite different. I won’t admit to knowing absolutely everything, but I’ve certainly learned a few things along the way that are worth sharing if you’re in a similar situation or considering it.

Seed round funding takes significantly longer than you think it will, even if you’re just going after “friends and family”. Start reaching out to potential investors at least 6-9 months before you think you’ll need the funds as it can easily take that long to close the deal and collect the check.

How are you going to structure your company, and the investment? Delaware C-Corp’s are a common favorite structure and get a ton of attention, but you don’t necessarily need to structure it that way. Do you want to offer a convertible note or do a straight equity investment (or equity crowd funding – which is a whole other game)? There are pros and cons to each of these decisions, so it really just comes down to preference and seeking expert counsel.

Get serious about documentation as there’s a ton of it required. These deals are a negation, so anticipate there to be red lining for edits on a term sheet contract, additional concessions will be asked for, etc. Secure an attorney to assist you with this side of things. While you can start with a template, always get approval from a professional before executing the deal and finalizing documentation. It will help you later.

Your valuation is likely too optimistic. But even then, a valuation is always subjective. Your true valuation is essentially what you can convince someone your company’s worth. Remember no business plan or pitch book in the history of the world was 100% accurate with their projections. Make sure your work comes across as thoughtful and realistic however to show the potential investor that you did the work and aren’t just flying by the seat of your pants.

A “yes” isn’t really a yes until the money has been transferred. Don’t count your chickens and start deploying capital until you have received it. You can get a yes (or what you perceive to be a yes) on a deal but then when it comes time to complete a wire transfer the investor can get a little gun shy. Things happen, whether they get push back from their spouse, the market takes a downturn, or perhaps it’s some other random unexpected occurrence, a deal isn’t truly closed until you have the money in hand.

Collecting the funds isn’t where it ends, rather it’s just the beginning. After you receive the investment capital, then you have to execute the vision, deliver on what you said you were going to, provide further documentation along the way, communicate progress regularly, and ideally turn a profit so you can return the capital back along with a sizable return on their investment. Not sure which is the hard part? They all are.

What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way? There are so many others to consider. I always love hearing, and learning from, a good case study about your personal experience raising funds if you’re willing to share.

Total Human Optimization

The Pursuit of “Total Human Optimization”

Over the past few months I’ve been obsessed with the idea of learning about, and implementing, daily routines and practices to simply get better. The main goal is optimization to be more effective, efficient, productive, and increase stamina to go harder for longer. I’ve always been conscious of needing to do this, but like with many things, it’s always easier said than done.

Then while listening to The Tim Ferriss Show podcast I stumbled upon a guy named Aubrey Marcus who coined a phrase that made it all click. Then this dude shows up on Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness, then Gary Vee. I start noticing this guy everywhere. Aubrey is the CEO of a health and wellness company called Onnit, and he recently wrote a book called, “Own The Day, Own Your Life.” One of the key tenants he preaches, and the mission of his company, is the pursuit of “Total Human Optimization.”

That whole concept really resonated with me and was a catalyst to start applying some of these things into my life with more consistency. Now I’m FAR from perfect in this regard, and I have a long way to go in this pursuit (not too mention my recent vacation and business traveling made it even tougher) but I’m certainly getting better and better.

If nothing else, it helped me to identity some core exercises to try and make sure I hit the key areas of my life that I want to improve. Things like faith, fitness, mental health, self-study and education, goal setting, hygiene, etc. Note that I didn’t include two of the most important things here as they’re covered in a separate bucket entirely, those being family time and business.

Anyway, the following are things I’ve been trying to do every single day to as Aubrey say, “own my life”.

  • Faith/Spiritual
    • Pray
    • Read a daily devotional
    • Meditate (10-15 minutes) – Here is one of my favorite’s if you’re interested.
  • Physical
  • Mental
    • Duolingo (Spanish Lesson)
    • Read (an actual book)
    • Review my “Statement of Desire” (if you don’t know what this is read “Think and Grow Rich“)
    • Listen to a podcast/audio book during my commute

There’s not much of a better feeling than hitting those perfect days where you fit it all in. And it’s even better when you get into a nice streak. Not only is it empowering but it also helps you to get into that zone that creates momentum and compounds on itself. And I’m sure as I master these I’ll start adding more to the list.

What’s on your daily list to optimize yourself?

SMALL BUSINESS WEEK 2018

WIMS Celebrates National Small Business Week 2018!

In honor of Small Business Week I’ve put together a collection of resources, information, articles, etc. for you to check out whether you’re currently an entrepreneur, if you’re considering becoming one, or if you simply want to support your local crazy roller coaster rider like myself. Also, to celebrate WIMS Consulting is offering a 20% on all services/projects for other small business owners. Just reach out and mention it during your consultation!

What is SBW?

From April 29th to May 5th, 2018, it’s National Small Business Week where the SBA (Small Business Association) recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners from all across the 50 states and U.S. territories.

About: “Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.”

 

For North Carolina Companies:

Charlotte Business Resources – it’s Small Business MONTH for the CBR and the city of Charlotte (thanks Mayor Vi Lyles)! Check out everything going on. They’re using #31DaysofBiz too if you want to follow along.

Check out NC IDEA, they’re expanding the long-standing NC IDEA SEED grant program by introducing a Micro-Grant Pilot Program to award micro-grants to deserving companies not yet positioned for their traditional $50K seed grants. “The NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program will award project-based, micro-grants in the amount of $1K – $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea; or if further along, validate scalability where a small amount of funding would make a significant impact. Grant recipients will also receive mentorship and assistance from NC IDEA, as well as access to its wide network of advisors, partners and investors.”

 

Other SBW2018 Resources Worth Checking Out:

Entrepreneur Magazine SBW2018 HQ

Amazon Business Small Business Week Page

They also created: The Small Business Office Playbook is a resource endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its commitment to continually support small businesses’ needs and growth opportunities.

Vista Print 33% off entire site with code SMALLBIZ

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Top TedTalks for when you want to start a business.

Consider These 9 New Ideas For Small Business Week PR (Forbes)

Why National Small Business Week Matters Now More Than Ever (Business.com)

Small Business Week 2018: Need money to get started? We’ve got you. (USA Today)

43 Reasons You Should Support Small And Independent Businesses (Forbes)

Center for Prevention Services WIMS Client Spotlight

WIMS Client Spotlight: Center for Prevention Services CTA

The Center for Prevention Services (CPS) is a private, 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to “promote healthy living and prevent addictions through integrated approaches to health.” The organization focuses on the “before.” Before substance use occurs, and before addition takes hold.

CALL TO ACTION: CPS is currently seeking sponsorships, donations, and grant opportunities to help bridge the current gap that they have in their funding. They need to find creative ways to make up these funds in order to continue providing their full slate of existing programs and operations. If you’re able to provide assistance in these efforts, please reach out!

Since its founding in 1971, CPS has offered high quality, creative educational opportunities on prevention and healthy behavior related topics. In addition, the organization conducts accredited trainings and maintains one of the nation’s longest running longitudinal studies relative to youth drug use.

CPS is one of the oldest free-standing prevention agencies in the nation and has a history of defining prevention through community intervention and science-based educational programs.

It is CPS’s belief that prevention is a process that empowers individuals to meet life’s challenges by creating and reinforcing healthy behaviors and lifestyles, which reduce risk that contributes to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug misuse and abuse.

CPS offers FREE programs for schools, summer camps, after school sites, faith-based and other community settings. Services provided are for elementary school youth through college level. Programs are also offered for adults and seniors. All of their programs are available in Spanish too. They even have a confidential drug hotline available on weekdays from 8am-5pm to provide information and referrals.

CPS also provides bi-monthly professional training sessions that offer North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board (NCSAPPB) credits. They’ve partnered with an organization to offer online education courses.

Center for Prevention Services has expanded its reach to Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Rowan, Stanly, Union, and Davidson counties by offering numerous evidence-based programs and serving youth and families of all ages.

Charlotte

Doing a Charlotte Deep Dive this February

While I’m fortunate that my business often takes me all over the country, every now and then it’s crucial to do a deep dive into my own HQ city, Charlotte, NC. I’ve made a lot of progress with growing my network here, but it’s still far from where I want and need it to be. And I don’t have nearly the client base that I’d like here yet either, and building it is one of my primary objectives for 2018.

Over the next couple weeks (while simultaneously continuing to run the business) I’m going to be back on the local networking grind with a vengeance. Below is the scheduled itinerary with links if you’re interested in joining me. Also, if there’s any events/organizations I’m missing please let me know!

February 7th; 6:00 pm – StartupGrindCLT

February 8th; 7:30 am – Bisnow’s 8th Annual Charlotte State of the Market (Commercial Real Estate)

February 9th; 8:30 am – Monthly BIG Ideas Exchange: Big Data (BIG – Business Innovation Growth)

February 14th; 8:00 am – PitchBreakfast

February 14th; 11:30am – Charlotte Chamber YP’s (CCYPs) Non-Profit Luncheon (Volunteer Matchmaker)

February 16th; 12:00 pm – Skookum TechTalks: Blockchain Technology: Uses Beyond Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

February 22nd; 4:00 pm – NextGen Charlotte Business Journal – 2018 Money Management

If you’re in Charlotte, and planning to attend one of these, I hope to see you and to get to know you and your business better!

Be Amazing: The Life of Your Dreams is Waiting

By: Claire Simmons

Every January, millions of people reassess their lives, set new goals, declare their intentions and dive in to be the best versions of themselves. The promise for a fresh start is very compelling and enticing. Yet for all the hustlers and grinders, this is something that needs to happen not just in January, but every month of the year. There’s no need to wait to be amazing.

If you are committed to being a rock star, to becoming financially fearless, to being a leader and to living your dreams every day, then you need to learn how to give yourself an edge up on the competition. You need to focus on creating and maintaining energy all day long. You need to master efficiency so you can maximize the work and the profits in the least amount of time. People who can do this will be successful AND will create a life that is full of purpose, productivity and happiness.

Indulge me for a moment and let’s think about what an Olympic athlete does to prepare for competition. Their training is a 24/7 approach. Every single thing they do propels them to victory. Their sleep, their nutrition, their workouts, their mindset- it’s all calibrated to the nth degree to make them the best for that one chance at victory.

So if these athletes put in all that time and effort into that one chance- why would you, who literally competes for success every single day, not put in that same amount of effort to compete in the game of life? You could savor that triumphant feeling every night and allow your body and your mind to perform at its peak. Your work, your relationships and your mood will exponentially soar and you will conquer your goals every month- and not drop off the way most normal people do at the end of January.

Now let’s get into the call to action. This is the fundamental list for getting your edge, increasing energy and improving efficiency:

Fuel:

If you eat junk, you will feel like junk. Your body is a temple. Treat it as one and you will feel better than you have ever felt. While there is no “one diet fits all” I believe in keeping it simple and eating real foods. What’s real food? A rule of thumb is that it is made of one ingredient. Mix and match them to create an endless amount of variety and most importantly, for you to look and feel your best.

Habits:

A routine is a platform to success. There will inevitably be times to shift the routine, but at your core, learn what makes your body and mind feel and function best. How many hours of sleep do you thrive on? Are you most motivated at morning or night? Cut down on shallow hobbies that take away valuable time and drain brain power. You’ll be amazed at how much time you get back in your day when you become aware of what distractions have become habits. On the flip side, incorporating small but easy habits, such as walking 10 minutes after every meal, reading a few chapters of a motivational book a night, or having an engaging conversation on your drive home will give you an edge over everyone else.

Exercise:

The best exercise is the one that you will do the most often. Simple as that. Find a workout that you enjoy and commit to it. If you’re someone who despises the gym, then just make it a point to move regularly throughout the day. There’s no excuse for excessive sitting and laziness. Of course it’s uncomfortable at times, but if you want to change your mood, shift your energy and get a major rush of feel-good endorphins flowing through your body, then exercise is the number one way to do that.

Mindset:

The mind is so powerful. Most times our bodies give out first, or we stop because we feel tired and burnt-out. Those who strive to be successful know that this is all temporary and can be adjusted by refocusing as often as needed. Strengthen the mind with regular meditation, eliminating distractions when working on an assignment, creating a clean and aesthetically pleasing environment, and readjusting your attitude. If you’re still in a slump- change your environment. Do jumping jacks, get outside, take a mini break and jump back in with a fresh attitude. Fake it until you make it if necessary- get rid of the negative self-talk and tell yourself every day how awesome you are.

Finally, don’t put off living your best life until that “one day” in which all your dreams will magically come true. Don’t you want to be happy and successful every day? That can literally happen right now. Find what you love and weave it into your life immediately. If you commit to making yourself the best version of you; the rest will follow!

 

For more tips and daily motivation, follow @livingyourdreams_claire on Instagram and on Facebook @clairesimmonslivingyourdreams. Her previous WIMS Guide blog post can be found here.

Eolian is Solving Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality’s Greatest Barriers to Mass Adoption

There has been significant traction and growth in the augmented reality and virtual reality industry over the past few years, that’s undeniable and obvious. However, neither has yet to make that inevitable quantum leap to mass adoption by individuals and enterprises. At Eolian, we believe that augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality, are the next wave of computing, and will have an impact that far exceeds even that of the mobile one that we’re currently in. Some of the challenges that have been holding the industry back from that type of breakthrough are being overcome rapidly and as a company we are at the forefront of leading the charge.

VR Applications from the User Perspective

Three of the most common barriers to entry that cause hesitation with VR adoption from a user perspective are:

  1. The uneasiness/motion sickness that can occur from too much “teleportation.”
  2. The inaccurate destination area while teleporting with the current controller method is also a little cumbersome and frustrating at times when it sends you somewhere that you weren’t looking to go.
  3. The controllers themselves can be a burden as well, not to mention having your actual hands mimic real-life movements in a realistic fashion is what you’re training someone to do via the educational use-case.

To fix these issues we partnered with a company called Leap Motion which developed a hand tracking sensor that eliminates these issues and allows you to more seamlessly embrace the VR world.

The Constant Evolution of Hardware

A lot of businesses don’t want to invest a significant amount of resources into a project if by the time it’s completed there is already another better piece of hardware coming out. This could render a project obsolete, or require significant and expensive updates late in the game to make sure the application is compatible. In some cases, companies simply refrain from even trying to build something altogether rather than make that type of mistake. They’d rather wait it out to see which piece of hardware “wins” before diving in. That could be a big mistake if/when their competitors get a head start.

Even a six-month to one-year long software development project could experience multiple hardware changes, so agility and adaptability are crucial. This shouldn’t be seen or approached as a burden, but rather an opportunity. A great Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality company shouldn’t need to react or be caught off guard either, they should anticipate these changes and plan accordingly. Build with the next version in mind at all times, without breaking what was built for the previous hardware in case delays in that next thing happen (which is also just as inevitable).

We’re already able to create applications that can sync with multiple pieces of hardware, and even from various manufacturers too. While we have our preferences, there’s no room for romanticism in this business. You don’t have time to wait to see what users adopt and then start building for that. By the time you do they’re likely on to the next thing.

Supply Chain Disruption

When working with cutting-edge technologies supply chain issues can arise leading to unpredictability and volatility. We’ve already experienced them too many times, so we now work with various forms of hardware in conjunction to mitigate these macro level issues that can arise while implementing an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality initiative at the enterprise level. It won’t always be perfect (even Apple must outsource some of their parts to Samsung after all) so planning ahead to make sure you have all the right components is crucial.

Would Companies Really Use AR/VR to Train Their Employees?!

Yes. They would, do, and will continue to do so even more so. One of the most widely used, and highest revenue grossing VR application’s right now is “Job Simulator.” Think about that for a second, kids and adults are going out of their way to pay for a game that simulates what it’s like to have a job rather than getting an actual job and getting paid to do it. Quite the contradiction, no?

Not only are they using this application, but it’s now the “most popular VR title to date” after surpassing $3 million in sales. So anyone that says, “but our employees would never want to receive virtual reality training…” you may want to re-evaluate your stance on the matter.

 

The Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality industry is still in the wild, wild, west phase but the opportunities and use-case applications are astounding. You may have dismissed it altogether after trying one silly headset and phone application, but we’d urge you to give it another look and keep an open mind as that’s not what Augmented Reality  and Virtual Reality are truly meant to be. But don’t just take my word for it, soon enough this technology will have infiltrated just about every aspect of your life as it is so don’t miss the opportunity to be an early adopter.

MOMPRENEURSHIP

Ten months ago, I became a mom for the first time. Four months after that, my second baby was born. I know the math seems kind of weird, but that’s because the second baby was my Etsy store, Casa Confetti. Yes, I started a business with a four-month-old. Yes, it’s been CRAZY. It has also been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and although I’m still learning to juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship (a.k.a. mompreneurship), I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Maybe this will inspire some of you who are on the fence to take the plunge and join me on this crazy journey. Come over to the dark side. We have cookies. And milk (of a different kind).

Identify a need and carve out your niche.

I started designing invitations and printables while planning my wedding, when I decided to save some money by making my own welcome cards and favor tags. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son and planning my baby shower that I really hit my stride. I had become seriously obsessed with finding the perfect baby shower invitations, and no matter how hard I looked I just didn’t see anything that fit my style. I finally got so exasperated that I decided to design my own. Without realizing it at the time, I had found my niche!

Know your market.

By the time that I decided to take the plunge and start Casa Confetti, I was pretty much an expert in the Etsy printable invitation market. I knew what search terms yielded what kinds of results because I had run so many searches myself, which allowed me to tailor my product descriptions in order to maximize views. I knew what other Etsy stores charged for their products. And I had identified the major players in the printables market, because I had seen their names pop up in searches over and over again. A little more research into the nuts and bolts of setting up an Etsy store and I was ready to go. But I can’t stress how important doing this kind of background research is – you’ve got to know your market! And studying the habits of other, successful entrepreneurs is a must.

You can’t do it all, and that’s okay.

Being a mom is a 24/7 job. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job. So, yes, a lot of the time it feels like I’m trying to squeeze 48 hours into a 24-hour day. And I don’t really know how to do it. It means that a lot of the time, a lot of things don’t get done. And that’s ok.

As a mompreneur, you need to be realistic. Everything takes about ten times as long to do with a child. Of course I wish I could sit in a quiet space designing invitations all day, but that’s not an option with a tiny tyrant around. Instead, I work with what I have. Coming up with a new, original design takes lots of time and energy, so once I do one, I make tiny edits and squeeze out about ten different variations from it. It becomes a baby shower invitation, a birthday party invitation, and a bridal shower invitation. I make a few minor changes and, voila! Three additional products.

My best-selling items are baby shower and first birthday invitations, because that’s what I know best. It makes me happy to work with customers who are in the same life stage as me, so I try to stick with that. Eventually I’d like to break into weddings, but for now, I like where I am. Which brings me to my next point.

Love where you are.

The flexibility that being your own boss affords you is invaluable when you’re a mom. Even if I have to work until 2 a.m. to fulfill my orders from that day, and then wake up at 7 a.m. when my husband brings my crying baby to the bed, the fact that I can be there for the little things makes all the difference in the world. I can put off orders for an hour to take my son to the park. I am hyper-diligent about getting orders out almost as soon as they’re received, so that if my son, Levi, is having a bad day, I can afford to spend time with him and cut myself some slack.

Any entrepreneur can tell you that starting your own business is full of highs and lows. Some days I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe. I’ll be bombarded with orders and questions from potential buyers, and I find myself questioning how in the world I’ll get it all done. Other days are slower, and having Levi there as a constant makes it easier to ride out these lows. I’ll start to feel down on myself for not being at the level where I feel like I should be, but then I remember that part of the appeal of this job is having time to spend with my baby. If I can do that and still make money, then it’s going as well as I could ever hope.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Even before I had Levi, the question started popping up in almost every conversation: “So, are you going back to work?” The truth is that at first I didn’t know the answer. I knew that I didn’t want to work full-time, but if I was being honest with myself, I wasn’t sure that I was willing to go the full-on, stay-at-home-mom route either. Motherhood had given me this crazy surge of courage. I firmly believe that the best gift you can give your child is a happy mom. So I got to getting happy.

At first when people asked me if I was back at work, I’d get embarrassed and kind of mutter under my breath, “No, just staying at home.” But I wasn’t JUST staying at home! I was working 24 hours a day! I had started a business and had already had more sales than I could have ever anticipated. So I’d quietly add, “Oh you know, it’s no big deal, I just started a little Etsy store on the side. It’s silly.” But then my store started taking off, and I started to feel immensely proud of my store and my ability. I realized that I had been selling myself short – if I were a man, I’d have been introducing myself as a CEO. So why as a woman was I “just a mom?” Once I changed my attitude, I started feeling so much more fulfilled and empowered. I get to spend time with my son and still make more than I was earning as a lawyer. As everyone says, the key to having it all is realizing that you already do!

—-

Gaby Abrams is the owner of Casa Confetti Party Designs on Etsy and a stay-at-home mom to Levi (10 months old). She lives in New York City with her husband, Jake. Prior to having a baby and starting Casa Confetti, Gaby worked as a lawyer. Follow Gaby on Instagram at @casaconfettishop or email her at casaconfettishop@gmail.com.

Casa Confetti Logo