Monday, November 2, 2015

Food and Beverage Startups Reach Record High Funding

Food and Beverage Startups Reach Record High Funding

2015 has been a big year for food and beverage startups, suggesting that when it comes to what and how we eat and drink, VC and consumer interest alike could not be higher. According to a report by Dow Jones VentureWire, this year food and beverage startups saw record funding: investors poured $368.7 million into the sector in the third quarter, bringing the total up to $542.4.

Within the food and beverage sector, $191.6 million went to specialty foods, $181.5 million to general food products, and $151.7 to non-alcoholic drinks.

To those paying attention, the rising success of food and beverage startups may be of little surprise. From wine delivery services like Drizzly to the portioned recipe delivery service Plated,  the public has a demonstrable desire to get dinner to their door and into their bellies as fast as possible.

But food and beverage startups encompass much more than highly personalized or specialized delivery services. Startups that promise sustainability, quality nutrition and more are cropping up to meet (and drive) a growing demand for food and drinks that are more healthy, and less wasteful.

These include Soylent, a startup that provides highly-nutritious, liquid food substitution, Kite Hill’s artisan, vegan cheeses, and Beyond Meat, which sells plant protein-based meat alternatives. These might not sound so tasty right now, but given the possibility of food crisis in the future, the innovations they foster may prove vital someday.

Alongside these more radical endeavors are plenty of startups that will likely have a wider public appeal off the bat, like organic yogurt producer Maple Hill Creamery, health food company Sweetgreen, and Shenandoah Growers, a fresh herbs brand. These are all New York based companies backed by Seed 2 Growth Ventures (S2G), a food and agriculture venture fund.

Food and beverage startups are so popular, there are a number of accelerators created just for them. As of October, 2015, there are 4,855 startups in this space on AngelList, and 3,775 investors.

Entrepreneurs looking to enter this space may face challenges to due to increasing competition in the sector. The factors investors tend to favor in food and beverage startups align tightly with what they look for in other types of startups: a novel position, economic advantage, a strong management team, quality product and/or service, wow factor and good branding.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to Inspire Your Tech Employees

Inspire tech employees
Inspire tech employees
The parable of “[...] give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime,” is not a new biblical allegory. If a person is teachable, he or she becomes better equipped for glitches that will inevitably happen; and therefore, be a more valuable part of the team – and that includes C-level managers. An entrepreneur starting out in the tech realm may have limited management skills but inspiring loyalty and creativity from employees may be as easy as following an age old fable.
If a leader, whether CTO, CEO or even storefront owner, isn’t equipped for some degree of “failure”, the world will perpetually seem a very difficult, disappointing place. A champion of mentorship will pave a more direct road to greater long-term achievement within a company. Developing an open teaching culture within your industry will ultimately produce better ideas, improve business transparency and maintain happier employees – as recent Gallup study will corroborate:
“Managerial actions and practices can impact employee work conditions and employee perceptions of these conditions, thereby improving key outcomes at the organizational level. Perceptions of specific work conditions that engage employees in their work provide practical guidance in how best to manage people to obtain desired results.”
Some teaching and engagement approaches that can align your employees with your company’s mission include 8 key practices:
Ask employees for their ideas
Inspire company camaraderie with team projects in and out of work
Enable employees to make mistakes
Welcome employee feedback on culture with monthly “All Hands On Deck” Discussions
Offer continuing education reimbursement
Fund industry conferences
Give specific praise
Make yourself available
When translating the ‘instructive fishing’ analogy into a tech startup’s development, it is important to note what agile means by definition. In dev allocution, it should describe the agility to turn miscalculations into opportunities, to execute better the next time around and to cut down the recidivism of similar blunders happening again. Agility at its best will promote adaptive strategies, evolutionary development and encourages rapid, flexible responses to an ever-changing technologies landscape.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What's Google Alphabet?

Google recently readjusted their business structure and introduced a parent company that will now house Google and its counterparts, called Alphabet.
Alphabet will be run by Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page; Sundar Pichai, formerly the senior vice president of product, will assume the role as Google’s new CEO. The tech giant’s announcement came as a bit of a surprise as it took news publications by storm but the structural change is well in-tune with Google’s roadmap.
Alphabet’s inception plans to give former Google companies the ability to build their own brands and allows Google to focus on different types of products among their different ventures. This move also helps Google retain top talent because it allows the CEOs of their acquired companies to still hold rank within their entity.
“The whole point is that Alphabet companies should have independence and develop their own brands,” said Page in the announcement.
Seven companies will exist under Alphabet, one of which is Google. Calico – research and biotech development lab, Google Ventures, Google X, Fiber, Google Capital, Nest, and Google itself now live under the new parent company.
Since the announcement of Alphabet, shares rose 6%. A relatively massive increase and a sign of belief from not only Google’s consumers but more importantly, Google’s investors. The public is more than likely going to see a larger plan than Google once actively publicized. It’s said that the creation of Alphabet gives Google a better ability to focus on future innovative products that affect the population on a grander scale. This includes their involvement with life sciences, research through their independent labs, and a few other ventures directed to improve society as a whole.
Alphabet will continue trade under GOOGL and GOOG stock symbols even when the umbrella company change manifests this year.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How to Raise Money for Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations rely on passionate volunteers to help raise money for their charities in creative ways.  For many people it can be hard to continuously come up with interesting ways to fund these organizations, but rather than using boring fundraising techniques, thinking of unique ways to engage a crowd will undoubtedly result in more followers and an increase in funds.  Here’s a list of some ways you can creatively get your community involved with donating to a good cause:

First, organize a competition.  This idea is broad, so you can cater the competition towards something people in your community will be eager to participate in.  It can range anywhere from food to fashion, just make sure you are fully aware of the local regulations when it comes to competitions before you start planning one.  People who register to be in the competition should pay a fee and collect donations that will all go to the nonprofit organization you are raising money for.  Make sure you notify people at least two months in advance so you can get a grasp on what kind of audience will be in the crowd and how much you should sell tickets to the competition for.  In addition, it’s a good idea to sell food as another fundraiser on top of the competition.

Gift wrapping is another great way to help fund a nonprofit organization, especially if it’s close to the holidays.  Cliff Kimani, featured writer for Udemy blog, suggests, “Organize a group of volunteers to wrap gifts for shoppers at a store for a small fee… This is a life-saver during the holidays, and many shopping centers or malls will be happy for you to set up show,” (Kimani, Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas).

Lastly, try to make children active participants in the fundraising.  Children are energetic and have the ability to change the way people think, especially when it’s for something they understand and are enthusiastic towards.  Regardless of the event, making children a part of the target will help get parents, grandparents, and friends involved with charity donations and involved with the event.

The Benefits of Being a Volunteer

These days it may seem like it’s hard to find time for yourself, let alone for others.  But, in this world it’s important that we find the time to give back to others and volunteer for organizations we are passionate for.  The benefits of volunteering are abundant, and if you’re not currently involved with some sort of philanthropy, there’s no better time than now to join one.  Here’s a list of just some of the ways volunteering can better your own life (not to mention all the people you will be helping):

First, volunteering is a great way to make connections and build relationships with others.  Most people find volunteer work within their own communities to help better the lives of those around them and make a difference in a place that’s close to home (quite literally).  So, when you’re looking for an organization that needs help, or just a place to volunteer at for a few hours per month, try focusing on what’s going on in the city or town that you live in because you’ll be making a difference for not just any community, but the one you belong to.  Volunteering in close proximities to where you live helps you make new friends that you can easily stay in touch with, and also helps to expand your professional network and social skills.

Volunteering also has positive effects on your mental and physical health.  To start with, volunteering can help boost your self-confidence and overall life satisfaction.  When you know that you’re doing good deeds for others, your brain registers this as a natural sense of accomplishment and you will often develop a positive outlook on your own personal goals.  Physically speaking, volunteering is particularly beneficial for adults.  According to an article published on, studies have shown that those who volunteer “have a lower mortality rate… and show lessen symptoms of chronic pain or heart disease,”(, Volunteering and it’s Surprising Benefits).  

Another great benefit, and perhaps the most important, from volunteer work is that it brings fulfillment to your life.  Volunteering helps people recognize what they are passionate for; so doing work that is means something to you is enjoyable, energizing, and motivational.  You can explore an entire new side of your own persona that is not affiliated with your day job, but can help build certain skills and vision towards enhancing your professional career.  In an article about volunteering’s effect on happiness, explains “When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were,” (, Volunteering and it’s Surprising Benefits).  

In conclusion, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t volunteer.  So get out in your community and dedicate your time towards something you are passionate for.  If you need help finding organizations to volunteer for, check out's article about the positive effects of volunteering here.

The Elderly Entrepreneur: It Is Never Too Late

A single narrative tends to dominate the modern entrepreneurship conversation. We tend to love the teenage tech genius who closes deals for billions of dollars while eschewing a suit in favor of flip-flops and a sweatshirt. Now, the image of the internet wunderkind makes for great movies and is partly representative of the boom in startup activity among the younger generations of Americans, but it doesn’t come near to capturing the full picture. For as young as Michael Dell, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg might have been when they started their companies, the advantages of youthful enthusiasm and unlimited energy do eventually give way to something just as (if not more) valuable: experience. (Clifford, Entrepreneur)

You will never be too old to leverage your wisdom and ingenuity into a potentially phenomenal business venture. Having spent more time in the workforce actually provides you with a much clearer perspective. Professionally, you may have developed decades worth of insight into how to do something better and revolutionize a good or service. Personally, the passing years have afforded you the time to stabilize both your finances and relationships. These factors, when combined with a passion for whatever it is to which your business venture pertains, can lead to untold success. And, contrary to what many people may assume, passion is not a resource owned only by the young. If you have a dream, seize it! History repeats itself and you would be joining very good company.

Charles Flint was 61 years old when he founded IBM. That is just one year older than Amadeo Giannini was when he began Bank of America. Just a little bit of digging reveals just how common it is for many of the most influential industry leaders to have built their dream companies once they were “over the hill.” Gordon Bowker of Starbucks, Joseph Campbell of Campbell Soup, Chung Ju-yung of Hyundai Motor, and the eponymous Estée Lauder were all in their fifties before they started businesses that would come to be globally recognizable market leaders. These mavericks illustrate a uniquely inspiring reality: it is never too late for you spring into action.

Are You Secretly an Entrepreneur?

We are born to be different. People often say variety is the spice of life and diversity proves to be a valuable asset in any endeavor. In the workplace, however, one type of personality never seems to fall into line quite as wholly as the rest. Some of us simply march to the beat of our own drums. 

Learning to recognize and embrace certain traits can draw many unhappy office drones away from the monotony of jobs they do not love in favor of starting business about which they are truly, deeply passionate. Are you denying yourself the fulfillment that can come from such a liberating transition? (Rampton, Entrepreneur)

Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of an entrepreneur is a natural knack for leadership. Beyond charisma and charm, a true leader also inspires optimism in his coworkers to see the joy in working hard for change. Your passion has nothing to do with your salary, and it’s not just constant, it’s infectious. Because above all else, an entrepreneur is never satisfied with the status quo. If you always ask questions and look for ways to do something better, then you would make an excellent addition to any team. If you are the first to take action and always willing to work long hours to lead the charge in doing whatever is necessary to create real change, then you may well be an entrepreneur at heart.

An entrepreneur sees opportunities everywhere. If you are happy to let your passion projects consume you, then trading stability and defined work hours for the opportunity to work towards your goal won’t really bother you. When you go out to a café, do you immediately look for which table has access to a power outlet, so you can keep working instead of taking a break? Do you prefer working towards a goal over taking a day off? That kind of drive is insatiable, and it might indicate you have a entrepreneur inside begging to be set free and allowed to pursue his or her ambitions. Starting a company is not for everyone, but those for whom it is meant often agree there is little in this world more rewarding than fighting for your dreams.