Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I recently wrote a blog post about Kiva and all the good it is doing worldwide.
As you may recall, Kiva is "the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world." Specifically, on their website, individuals who need small loans to start or grow their businesses request funding. And, other individuals from around the world offer this funding in increments as low as $25. To date, nearly 500,000 users have lent almost $65 million, interest-free, to developing-world entrepreneurs through Kiva.org. $3.5 million was distributed last month alone.
Not surprisingly, since the majority of you are based here in the United States, in response to my email about Kiva I received lots of emails saying that Kiva should launch in the United States. I agreed.
And now, a few weeks later, Fortune Magazine is reporting that Kiva plans to launch in the United States within a few months. This could be a HUGE funding opportunity for American entrepreneurs!
Importantly, while the highest loan amount for entrepreneurs in the developing world is $1200, in the United States, it will be $10,000. One issue that hasn't been fully resolved is vetting. In the developing world, Kiva "uses microfinance institution partners to vet entrepreneurs before allowing them to solicit funding. By asking a series of questions to assess roots in the community and the legitimacy of a business, Kiva is able to establish a risk profile for each entrepreneur. Before offering money to, say, the proprietor of a Dominican fruit stand, any lender can read the entrepreneur¹s profile, history of defaults, and a bit about the business."
In the United States, Kiva says that they are "signing on microfinance partners in the Bay Area and in the Northeast," but have not released who these partners will be or how the vetting process will work.
In any case, this is GREAT news for American entrepreneurs.
You can read the full Fortune article here.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A few months back, a unique conference called "AngelConf" took place in Silicon Valley. The conference was organized for angel investors and its goal was to educate angel investors on how to invest in startups.
It was this last question that conference organizer Paul Graham from YCombinator agreed was the most important.
These smaller, short-term accomplishments which show investors that you can execute and that you are clearly not 'hapless' will massively improve your chances of getting them to invest in you.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Monday, March 16, 2009
I want to tell you about a technique I picked up, that I can directly attribute to millions of dollars of revenues that I have generated over the years. But, even so, I'm far from mastering it.
Exclusive Report: How to Quickly, Easily & Expertly Conduct Zero-Cost Market Research For Your BusinessWritten by Dave Lavinsky on Friday, March 13, 2009
I started my career in market research. At one point, I was pretty immersed in it. In fact, articles I wrote were published in Quirk's Marketing Research Review and I was a member of SCIP, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals.
Having helped start and grow hundreds of companies since then, I can definitely say that my market research background has been a HUGE asset.
Every successful venture I have launched or help launch leveraged opportunities and strategies based on the industry, customer and competitor research we conducted.
I have also used market research time and time again to find investors and joint venture partners for businesses.
Since market research is so critical to businesses, and since the Internet presents such a goldmine of research for those who know who to find it, I decided to put together a report on how to quickly and expertly conduct market research online.
Some of the report is methodologies I use and other parts include my most prized bookmarks….those “go to” research sites that I visit each time an important research question or project comes out.
Want to learn how you can conduct market research for free instead of paying thousands of dollars to market research firms? Well, I put together a brief video to show you how:
I'm excited to get this report in the hands of as many entrepreneurs and business owners as possible, because I know the value effective and efficient market research has had on my business endeavors. The report is currently free for current Growthink University members, so if you're a member, you are in luck! Just go to the download center and pick up your copy.
For those of you who aren't members of Growthink University, I would like to make a special offer available to you. Because I'm in a celebratory mood, (this month is my wife’s birthday) I would like to offer this promotion to those interested in obtaining a copy:
As my wife would never allow me to post her age on my blog, what I have done is incorporate her age into this promotion. For the next few days, I'm offering this market research report for one CENT for each year of my wife’s age.
As a bonus with your purchase, I’ll also include 30-day access to Growthink University so you can see the wealth of capital raising, business planning information we've assembled for entrepreneurs and business owners just like you. You’ll also gain access to all the Growthink University bonuses like our Ultimate Business Plan Template, special reports, VC Directory and Angel Investor Group Directory.
To order the market research report (and to find out exactly how old my wife is :)),follow this link:
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The last few weeks have been a little frustrating for me and my team. Why? Well, we've been hard at work developing a new guide on how to raise angel financing. And some of our findings were a bit disturbing (fortunately other findings were very encouraging).
In developing the report, we took some GREAT advice that I encourage each of you to use whenever creating a new product. The advice - find out all the questions that potential customers have and make sure that your product addresses them.
So, using our online market research methodologies, we found all the questions that entrepreneurs and business owners were asking about angel financing.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I for one take a lot of my business resources for granted. The fact that I have high-speed, uninterrupted (well, at least usually) internet access. The fact that I have a quiet office with a desk. The fact that I have a computer and programs that automate a lot of my routine tasks.
These things all help me be much more productive, and give me the ability, when combined with hard work and focus, to accomplish great things.
Like everyone else, most of the things that I do don't go precisely as planned. Like Growthink University. Clearly I was hoping for thousands upon thousands of new members the day we launched. But then, like everything else, I knew that tweaks would have to be made, the service would have to continuously be improved, etc., in order to reap long-term success.
When things get me down, one source of inspiration that I've turned to is Kiva.org. Kiva is "the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world." Specifically, on their website, individuals who need small loans to start or grow their businesses request funding. And other individuals from around the world offer this funding in increments as low as $25.
The following are some new and completed funding requests I read today:
Equally as inspiring as the entrepreneurs are the individuals who have funded them such as:
Philip, a student from Eaton, NH who lends because, "I am more than willing to help those who want to help themselves."
Judy, a teacher in Manassas, VA who says, "The impact of collective small gifts is breath-taking!"
Levi, who lives in Saskatchewan Canada and invests simply because "It works!"
When entrepreneurs throughout the world are able to raise tiny amounts of capital, amounts that I often charge to my credit card without flinching an eye, and are able to execute on their businesses and quickly repay their loans, it is truly inspiring.
What's also interesting is that these entrepreneurs may have more focus than many of us in the Western world. They aren't getting bombarded with phone calls and emails. Rather they are laser-focused on creating a business that provides money to feed, clothe and house themselves and their families. With laser focus often comes success!
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Did you know that venture capital firms nearly always require the companies they fund to get key man insurance (KMI)?
Well, understanding the rationale behind this fact should give you insight into improving your business operations and structure.
To begin, Key Man Insurance or KMI is a life insurance policy covering a business owner, president or a key employee. The business is the beneficiary under the policy.
The fact that most venture capital firms require KMI explicitly shows that venture capital firms provide funding to PEOPLE, not firms or ideas. It is the people who are able to execute on the ideas. Remember that a good person with a mediocre idea is often much more successful than a poor person with a great idea.
What this does NOT mean is that you should rush out to purchase key man insurance if you are seeking venture capital. What it does mean is that you need to make sure that you have a management team that is worthy of KMI. A team that is so capable of achieving success that investors are actually frightened that their investment would be in jeopardy if something happened to them.
What it also means, and this applies even if you are not seeking venture capital, is that you should create systems to minimize the business risk of something happening to a key employee.
These systems can include:
You and your management team are the lifeblood of your business. You always need to be thinking about how to improve, protect and grow your team, as this will have the greatest impact on the long-term success, or lack thereof, of your business.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, February 24, 2009
What does the girl who rejected me at a dance when I was thirteen years old have to do with your ability to raise capital for your business? Well, it all has to do with psychology, human nature, and how you can leverage the two to attract capital. Watch the 4-minute video below to learn more:
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Monday, February 23, 2009
Yesterday, I received an interesting package in the mail. I opened it up and inside was a shoebox. And inside the shoebox was "The Dogball." The Dogball, as I found out, is a new toy for dogs, and the founder, based in France, was trying to get me to distribute it here in the United States.
Written by Dave Lavinsky on Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sometimes it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels. This is how I felt a few years ago when I was helping one of my clients raise VC (venture capital) funding. The client was an early-stage, Southern California-based networking company…
I started by creating what I felt was an awesome VC prospect list with 455 prospective investors.
The list looked like this (number of prospects in parentheses):
The list itself took me days (and a proprietary database) to compile. As any direct marketer knows (and raising capital is direct marketing), the quality of the list is everything. For example, if you’re trying to sell a franchise opportunity to folks at a nursing home, you’re not getting any buyers no matter how good the opportunity is!
Armed with my list and my teaser email (teaser email = solicits interest without giving away the farm), I started calling and emailing investors.
And I had lots of early success.
We had about 20 first meetings with strategic and venture capital investors. And the result... nothing.
We only got about 5 investors who explicitly said “no” but the others weren’t quite ready to write us a check.
So, naturally I started getting discouraged. As you can imagine, I had already invested over one hundred hours on this project and had no multi-million check to show for it.
But fortunately I remained persistent, and eventually one investor referred me to another investor (which, believe it or not, was not on my list of the top 455 prospective investors!!!!) who wrote us a $3 million check.
I bring up this story since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether or not there is VC funding out there right now.
The answer is an emphatic YES. It is out there. And like always, it takes great knowledge and persistence to get it (and probably now more than ever).
Here are the facts. According to the National Venture Capital Association, 3,808 ventures raised VC funding in 2008 totaling $28.3 billion. And, according to the Center for Venture Research, 70,000 ventures were funded by angel investors last year totaling $37.2 billion.
So lots of companies continue to receive funding from venture capitalists and angel investors.
It’s mostly a matter of REALLY wanting to receive capital for your business and making the investment to do it (i.e., the time/money to learn how to, and the time needed to execute on, a capital-raising campaign).
So, capital IS still out there, and YES, you can raise it!
Products & Services
Growthink Around The Web
Best of Growthink
Looking for Opportunities Now? How to Write a Business Plan for Raising Venture Capital Top Seven Capital Raising Mistakes 20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan Top 10 Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) Mistakes The Secrets to Their Success? 25 Quotes From Famous Entrepreneurs The 6 Untold Reasons Why Businesses Fail 7 Entrepreneurs Whose Perseverance Will Inspire You Top 7 Myths About Starting a Business Business Exit Strategy: Planning to Sell Your Business How to Make a Business Plan Capital Raising Resource Center