next level pitch event nyc techsuite

What we learned from hosting our first event.

Sooner or later, it’s going to make sense for your startup to hold an event. If done right, it’s a great way to gain exposure and make sales without coming across, well, salesy. The most successful events are usually ones that feature a prominent guest speaker, an accredited panel, or an exciting showcase. We did a pretty daring thing, incorporating all three aspects into our event that we hosted last week. And while this at face value may come across as a recipe for success, it’s a strategy with the greatest chance of something (or everything) going wrong. The good news is that we, and you, can learn from our mistakes the first time around. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from our event, and how we’re going to adjust next time.

What went well

1)  We predicted the turnout super accurately.

   Depending on where you read it, sources will tell you that out of all registrants, 40-60% will sign up. We decided to go with the worst case scenario, opting for 135 chairs for 334 registrants because we figured it’s better to have a full house with some people standing than having empty seats. We ended up having roughly 140 people show up, so if this is your first time hosting an event, I would very highly suggest using these metrics.

2)  Networking, networking, networking.

 Let’s face it; at the end of the day, as much as we attend events to learn or observe, we’re ultimately in it for the networking. The problem though is that many of us are inherently introverted, so at best, we’ll hold off until after the presentation to start up a conversation with an easier opener, like “so, what’d you think?” That wasn’t the case here though. It seemed like from the get-go, nobody was afraid to meet as many people as possible and make their presence felt. We hypothesize that it had something to do with the friendly, laid-back atmosphere of our host venue, WeWork. There, openers are super easy. You can start with something like “hey, do you know what kind of beer this is?” or “wow, this place looks super startupy, do you love it as much as I do?” Corny, but works every time.

3)  Social media.

 Hosting an event gives you the power to tell people what to do. Think about it – you have 100+ people in a room with all eyes on you. Leverage that. In our case, we just so happened to have an unused pair of Snapchat Spectacles lying around, so we decided to put them to good use. We decided to do a giveaway contest at the event, and in order to enter, you had to like us on Facebook and share our Livestream of the event. Let’s just say that since last Tuesday, our Facebook likes have almost doubled and we’ve reached over 5,000 viewers with our video. How’s that for free marketing?

Not so well

1)  Wine, beer, restroom?

 I’d say out of the 140 attendees, about 80% of them at one point or another asked where one of those three things is located. Unfortunately, we didn’t have wine, which ticked off multiple people for whatever reason. Additionally, half my time at the event was spent walking people to either the restroom or the kitchen. Easy solutions: supply the wine and have signs pointing to basic amenities.

2)  We fell well behind schedule.

Our presentation was set to start at 6:30, but people didn’t get settled in until 6:45. Moreso, we scheduled a showcase of 8 startups to pitch for 5 minutes each with 2 minutes of feedback from the judges. Nobody adhered to this, and understandably so. Many of the startups went too in-depth into their slides, often reiterating what was already on the board for the audience to see. The judges had awesome feedback and a lot to say, so they went overboard as well. After half of the startups had presented, we noticed the room was getting a little restless, so we held a short intermission, and watched as some spectators shuffled out. Lessons learned: A) Plan for the worst. Build your agenda around the event starting a little bit late. B) Have a timer. Make it obnoxiously obvious when the startups’ time is up. C) The feedback might have very well been the most valuable part of our event. Instead of shortening the feedback portion, perhaps subtract something from the agenda. D) Keep it engaging. Better to maintain a lively atmosphere than try to do damage control when you’ve already lost the crowd.

3)  Social media.

  It’s a blessing and a curse. While yes, we did get 5,000 impressions, we also had sub-par audio and lighting quality on the stream. We received countless messages and notifications asking us to fix it, and no matter what we tried to do it seemed like nothing was really working. While we still gained good exposure for TechSuite and WeWork, we did not achieve our goal of getting audience feedback for the startups. I can’t stress this enough: make sure there are no issues with the stream prior to the event. Set it up like a “dress rehearsal” with the same conditions and you should be fine.

Although I talk about problems and solutions in the context of our own event, they can very well be applied to most startup events. We’re willing to admit our own mistakes because we know that in the end, that’s how we improve. The main takeaway is, you can never really anticipate EVERY issue that may arise, but it’s important to be prepared for anything that might be thrown your way. Hopefully this article has made it easier for you to do just that.

 

angel investor

9 Insights From Angel Investors About Raising Capital

Avoid early-stage startup pitfalls and secure the seed funding you need.

Not too long ago, I attended the App Idea Awards launch party. The event was at General Assembly in New York City and boasted an accredited lineup of top angel investors Jason E. Klein, Adam Quinton, Alicia Syrett, Zosia Ulatowski, and Jason Eiswerth.

Considering only 0.91 percent of startups are funded by angel investors and 57 percent of startups are funded by personal loans and credit, angel investors are looking for very specific information that will determine whether or not they choose to invest in your startup.

Below are some key takeaways from the event, including questions that everybody looking for funding should be prepared to answer.

Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Adam Quinton told the crowd that this is a question that he finds himself always asking. This gives the investor a deeper look into your mission and provides a story behind your passion. While seemingly a simple question, it does wonders for assessing one’s true commitment.

How can you differentiate beyond just different features?

Establish sustainable competitive advantage and prove it to the investors. Alicia Syrett stressed the importance of your entire concept and business model being unique. This will set you apart, showing investors that your company has longevity and won’t just be a one hit wonder.

Don’t just boast about how great your product is. Pitch the opportunities and benefits of joining the venture!

Time is limited when you pitch. Keep in mind that you’re selling the idea that the investor is joining you in business. You are not selling the product to them! When explaining the product, be thorough but concise.

This means elaborating on the product just enough so they understand how it works, but save enough time to talk about the business.

Don’t be too salesy. Refrain from saying things like “this is a one time opportunity.”

Although you may think that your idea is a “one time opportunity,” the investor will more than likely think otherwise. As I stated above, you are NOT selling them your product. Pitching arrogantly can be a major turnoff.

Know the specific TAM (total addressable market) size and your share.

Don’t be vague. Specify the exact market you’re attacking so the investor knows you are being realistic. Do your research to make accurate predictions of what your share of the market will be. This should largely determine the valuation you give. Although it’s hard to make perfect estimations, you want to show that you’ve put some thought into the numbers and they weren’t arbitrarily contrived. Consider these questions: Who are the leaders in your industry? Who are some direct competitors? What does your ideal customer look like?

Your Prototype/MVP needs traction. Speak with your customers/users.

Find potential users and ask for feedback. Collect the data about their experience with the use of the MVP. This will help you create a consumer base and refine the product. Presenting this feedback and discussing this information with the angel investor will benefit you and your business.

Have a long term vision.

Tell the investors how you see your business x years from now. If they are investing in your business, they want to know what the future will look like for you and your startup. And don’t forget to describe how you’re going to get there.

Have a really good sales and marketing plan and speak to people who know more than you.

Alicia Syrett really stressed this point. She explained that many entrepreneurs think that once they get funded, they’re set. They think word of mouth, connections, and some social media outreach will help spread their business idea to everyone. Unfortunately, especially in 2017, it doesn’t work like that. How will people find out about you? How will you beat out all of the other products being advertised online? Talk to marketers and those informed on the latest strategies for growth. Jason Klein cited the “if we build it, they will come” fallacy, pointing to the fact that a great product no longer ensures a great business.

Get to know the investor. Do your homework so you can relate to them.

When the investor asks you if you have any questions for them, don’t pass up this chance! Do some research before speaking to them and ask relevant questions. Your ability to do this well is another indicator of your talent and drive.

Moral of the story? There are so many factors at play when trying to convince an angel investor to come onboard. Most of the time, an entrepreneurs’ perceived chances of success are greater than in actuality. In fact, when surveyed, 81% of entrepreneurs believe their chances of success are at least 70%, but only 25% of startups succeed or make it past 5 years (Springer Link). Don’t expect every investor to understand and love your idea like you do. Explain everything and leave nothing to assumption.

If you have a great idea and want some feedback from investors, advisors, and other entrepreneurs, sign up for our pitch event. We’d love to see you there.

 

ruby on rails development nyc

Why Is Ruby on Rails So Popular?

There’s no doubt that Ruby on Rails (AKA “RoR” or simply “Rails”) is one of the most demanded web application frameworks of today. Written in Ruby, this model-view-controlled (MVC) framework provides developers with default structures for a database, a web service, and web pages. It also facilitates the use of web standards, like JSON or XML for data transfer and HTML, CSS, and Javascript for user interfacing, as well as best practices, like writing RESTful code. Originally released as open source back in 2004, the framework reached a milestone in 2006 when Apple announced that it would ship RoR with Mac OS X v10.5 “Leopard.” After claiming TIOBE’s “Programming Language of 2006” title, the releases of Node.js and AngularJS in 2009 and 2010 seemed like the end for the Ruby programming language. As we enter 2017, you may wonder, “Why is Ruby on Rails so popular?” Some of the top companies in the world (Airbrb, Github, and Groupon to name a few) have adopted the technology and it’s not hard to understand why.

1. Rails is full stack

Unlike other languages like HTML/CSS, Javascipt, and Python, Rails covers both front-end and back-end development. An RoR developer can build a full web application without relying on another resource (while learning the other languages along the way), which makes it popular with startup companies.

2. Rails is built on Ruby, a dynamic and object-oriented language

This programmer-friendly framework removes the “lame” tasks and gives developers more time to focus on what’s cool. From handling database connections (goodbye SQL) to processing Ajax updates, Rails puts the developer first.

3. Rails cuts down on time to market

Development is rapid in Ruby on Rails. Ruby “gems” make common functionalities like user management and social feeds easy to integrate, which makes it perfect for CRM, CMS, or E-Commerce systems.

4. Rails has a great online community

The Ruby on Rails community is one of the most active ones out there. There are tons of conferences and meetups going on in every major city almost every day of the week. This makes it easy to find help for any of your projects. There are also a lot of online resources to pick up on this beginner-friendly framework.

If you’re looking to hire a great Ruby on Rails developer (onsite or remote) or are ready start your first project built with this exciting technology, look no further than techsuitenyc.com.

Samuel Corso is the CEO of TechSuite. He is passionate about bringing quality technology to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

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virtual reality vr development nyc

Tech Update: Up and Coming in 2017

How virtual reality is set to dominate this year.

This past Christmas, millions of people unwrapped virtual reality (VR) headsets, ready to dive into the exciting (and realistic) world of 360 video.

Using apps such as YouTube, Orbulus, Seene, and many more, users are put in front of a surreal video that is rather entertaining or even therapeutic gaming system. The headsets range in price from $10 to nearly $800. With shockingly realistic sound effects and images, the system is unlike anything technology has seen before.

Just two weeks ago, Facebook announced it would split Oculus (Mark Zuckerberg’s original plan for VR created in 2014) into two divisions, one focusing on PC-based VR, and the other on mobile (SOURCE: Top Tech News). With other companies working to further expand the technology of virtual reality; it’s definitely here to stay and only getting better.

Virtual reality is not only for gamers though. Virtual reality is also useful for architects and construction workers because it gives users the opportunity to become fully immersed in their surroundings. In fact, the gaming system can seem so realistic, that “it’s easy to completely lose your sense of place in the real world” (SOURCE: Metro UK).

Now, you might be thinking, why in the world are people spending money on such a scary device? Well, the fact is simple. They’re affordable, they’re entertaining, and they’re different. According to Forbes, “these mobile VR headsets are easy to use and work with many existing smartphones, which is appealing when compared to expensive high-end VR hardware”.

While America is becoming fully engaged in the world of the virtual reality, China is a couple steps ahead of the United States. China has adapted to VR cafes, VR pods, and more (SOURCE: Forbes). A survey completed by Niko Partners showed that more than 50% of Chinese gamers are interested in VR and “almost 30% are willing to spend up to $200 USD on a device, which is significant considering the average income in China hovers around $12,000 per year” (SOURCE: Forbes).

Alyssa Orcuilo is the Head of Marketing at TechSuite. She is passionate about graphic design and journalism.

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game development nyc

How You Can Replicate the Success of Pokemon Go

Build the next great game for the app store and watch the income pile up.

Pokémon GO is the new “talk of the town,” well, at least for now. Released in the US just two weeks ago, Pokémon GO is worth $29 billion based on Nintendo’s stock price jump (up almost 50% this month), but that’s actually a bargain with revenue that goes way beyond in-app purchases. The location-based mobile game developed by Nianticallows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures who appear on the screen as though existent in the real world. This “realistic” spin on a popular video game series has literally taken the world by storm, and is quite simply, genius. The game falls under the emerging genre of augmented reality (AR), characteristic of a view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input. The game’s success is largely attributed to this facet.

The game was made with Unity technology, today’s absolute most popular game development platform. Its portability is emphasized as a key feature, as the cross-platform game engine has been extended from only Mac OS X capability in 2005, to 24 platforms in 2016. TechSuite has now ventured into this exciting 2D/3D gaming technology, equipping itself with a team of talented and experienced Unity web developers. We are ready to help you develop the game of the future. Contact us for a free consultation today!

Samuel Corso is the CEO of TechSuite. He is passionate about bringing quality technology to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

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