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User Experience: Political Season

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:00 AM on March 30, 2012:

The line that divides...
The line that divides truth from lies, right from wrong, good from bad...

User Experience is by Kelsey Sarles.

Kelsey Sarles is a User Experience and Graphic Designer, passionate about creating inspiring, results-driven marketing and design solutions for her clients. Her portfolio includes concept, UX, and graphic design of Handshake® Mobile's Thought Full™ – an app to remember, and UX and graphic design for She Chooses® mobile powered by Feel. Think. Choose.™

Read and see: User Experience by Kelsey Sarles | Everything from Kelsey Sarles on Handshake 2.0.

10 Facts About Smart College Visit

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:49 PM on March 29, 2012:

Z. Kelly Queijo of Smart College Visit, Inc.
SmartCollegeVisit is an award-winning college-search and travel planning resource that works with college and university admissions offices to provide efficient on-line and mobile products for college-bound students and their families.

Smart College Visit, Inc. also:

1) won VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurial Summit Award for Best Business Concept.

2) was featured in Valley Business FRONT.

3) is a woman-owned technology company.

4) publishes Where'd They Go To School - quirky lists of famous people and where they attended college.

5) is a mobile app publisher.

6) hosts a weekly chat on Twitter called #CampusChat.

7) was invited by President Obama's Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, to attend a Whitehouse Mashup: The Convening on Consumer Information in Higher Education in September, 2011.

8) is listed in the Top 100 Education Advice Blogs by College Scholarships.

9) is listed in The Top 50 College Info Web Sites by Parents Countdown to College.

10) is founded by someone whose last name means "cheese."

Smart College Visit's products include the Smart College Visit Blog, College Mom Minute, Campus Chat, Mobile Campus Guides, Smart Visit Widget, and other informational and productivity tools.

Photo: Zane J. Queijo

Smart College Visit, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

The Difference Between a Mentor and an Advisor

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:00 AM on March 28, 2012:

I asked Jim Flowers, Executive Director of VT KnowledgeWorks, this question:

"What is the difference between a mentor and an advisor, between mentoring and advising?"

Jim Flowers kindly replied:

The Difference Between a Mentor and an AdvisorMy working definition of a mentor is "someone who provides timely, contextually relevant information."  Merlin did not tell young Arthur what to do.  He provided him with examples of potentially useful information about the world.

I also attempt to make clear for people the differences between and among information, opinion, and advice.  This set of distinctions is most easily demonstrated by a simple example.  "The sky is blue."  "Blue skies are pretty."  "You ought to go outside and look at the pretty blue sky."

Information is almost always useful.  Opinion is colored by the experiences and beliefs of the person opining.  Advice is a prescription, typically based on opinion, and is heavily loaded with the world view held by the advisor, often regardless of, or with limited relevance in the context of, the world view of the advisee.

"if I were you, I would…" is a useful acknowledgment that the advice about to be delivered is recognized as personal to the speaker, though not necessarily to the listener.

Advisors assume, at least temporarily, control of some part of the decision-making process.

Mentors assist and empower decision-making by the mentee.

More by Jim Flowers on Handshake 2.0

More about VT KnowledgeWorks on Handshake 2.0

Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0, is a VT KnowledgeWorks member company.  VT KnowledgeWorks is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated.

Who's in FRONT? Thomas Winn

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:00 AM on March 27, 2012:

Thomas Winn
Thomas Winn of Woods Rogers was featured in the March, 2012 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo: Johna Campbell

Each week, Who's in FRONT on Handshake 2.0? showcases photographs of the people featured in business news magazine Valley Business FRONT.

Valley Business FRONT for iPad is available for free in the iTunes App Store. For an overview, please see this YouTube video on the VBF app.

Keep in front with Valley Business FRONT on Valley Business FRONT for iPad, Valley Business FRONT's blog, moreFRONT, Twitter and Facebook. Valley Business FRONT's Workplace Advice Column, written by Handshake 2.0's Anne Giles Clelland, appears monthly in Valley Business FRONT and in the collection Work: It's Personal.

Valley Business FRONT is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Three Fundamental Tools in the Fundraising Toolbox

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on March 26, 2012:

From Mike Drzal, LeClairRyan: 

Much has been written about what it takes to raise capital for startup and emerging companies.  The truth of the matter is that raising capital is simple but hard.  Many entrepreneurs are woefully unprepared as they approach capital providers, the result being frustration when they fail to connect.  Having the necessary tools in hand before embarking on a fundraising effort greatly enhances prospects for success.  Time spent developing and refining these tools forces focus and discipline and pays big dividends.

3 Fundamental Fundraising ToolsHere are three fundamental tools companies need when they begin to seek outside investment. 

The Executive Summary.  The first tool for the toolbox is a powerful, well written 2 - 2 1/2 page executive summary that covers the essential points that convince a capital provider to read on and want to learn more.  Think of it as an electronic calling card - we push these out to our internal and external networks in order to introduce a deal and generate leads for our clients.  Typical headings are:  The Company; The Opportunity; Large Market Size; Competitive Position and Barriers to Entry by Competitors; Go to Market Strategy; Management Team; Financing Requirements and Exit Strategy.  This is a sales document, not a securities disclosure document, and is designed to grab the attention of a potential investor and pre-qualify them as being interested in the company.  It amazes me how many of these I see that are not in the King's English. An incoherent executive summary projects an incompetent management team.

The Business Plan.  There are lies, damned lies and business plans.  No one's business ever developed exactly along the lines set forth in a business plan.  Everyone knows that, so why are entrepreneurs expected to bother?  The main reason is that putting one together forces the management team to articulate the revenue model and demonstrate a facility with the numbers.  Along the way, the management team has to think through the development path for the business and the capital it will take to buy the runway necessary for the business to take flight.  Putting together a business plan should not be outsourced - using a canned business plan or one prepared by someone else leaves the entrepreneur at serious risk of being asked a question when making a pitch that he or she has not thought through.  By all means observe the 80/20 rule - 80% of the business plan should consist of an expanded treatment of the topics covered in the executive summary and 20% on the invention or science.  Investors want to know you are focused on making money, not working on a science project.

The Slide Deck.  Investors have a limited attention span, so a 40-slide deck will not do.  There are only about a dozen or so points that are essential to cover: Overview; The Problem/Opportunity; The Solution; The (Large) Market; The Technology/Product; Unique Competitive Advantage/Barriers to Entry; Competitive Landscape; Go to Market Strategy; Financial Roadmap (including high level 5-year projections and investment sought); The Team; Current Status (milestones achieved and pending orders); Exit (include most likely exit and comparables if available); Summary (three strongest points and what distinguishes this opportunity from others).  Detail on any or all of these points can be kept in hidden slides, available at the touch of a button in response to a potential investor's question.  Excellent presentation skills are a must.  Slides are not a crutch and should not be read.  

So there it is, the Fundraising Toolkit - simple but hard.  With these tools in hand, a bit of coaching, and the right warm introductions, fundraising success can be yours!

Mike Drzal will be the keynote speaker at the VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Challenge in Blacksburg, Virginia on April 11, 2012.

Read more from LeClairRyan on Handshake 2.0.

LeClairRyan specialized in high-tech corporate law.LeClairRyan is a law firm that has deep entrepreneurial roots, having originally been founded as a venture capital boutique.  With more than 350 attorneys and offices from Virginia to New York to California, the firm provides business counsel and client representation in matters of corporate law and high-stakes litigation.  Its mission is to achieve excellence for its clients by providing integrated, responsive and timely services.  LeClairRyan has numerous attorneys and professional support staff focused on intellectual property, venture capital and the other legal needs that are often required by emerging businesses.  Our intellectual property team is nationally recognized in patent prosecution, interferences, reissues and reexaminations, and in patent litigation in the biotech, pharmaceutical, software, chemical, electrical and physical science fields.  This suite of services, coupled with expertise in venture capital and other types of equity financing, strengthens the firm’s ability to serve entrepreneurial, knowledge-based companies.

LeClairRyan and VT KnowledgeWorks are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

10,000 Tweets and Counting

Posted by Z. Kelly Queijo at 8:30 AM on March 23, 2012:

Smart College Visit's 10,000th Twitter TweetOn Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 5:08 p.m., I logged my 10,000th Tweet. I'm not a compulsive-tell-you-my-every-move kind of Twitterer. I'm an entrepreneur who tweets to promote my company, services, and my clients. I also tweet to share information I feel is relevant, important, and sometimes amusing, but mostly, I'm all about "the biz." Fortunately, Smart College Visit is about connecting people and resources and Twitter is one of the ways I make this happen. 

My intense period of high activity comes on Wednesdays when I host #CampusChat, a weekly Twitter chat on topics related to college-bound teens, college admissions and college life. During this week's chat, in just one hour, 36 active participants contributed 448 tweets to our conversation on first generation college students

Smart College Visit on TwitterThe day before my 10,000th tweet, Twitter, with its 140 million users, turned 6 and, according to an article on Forbes, Twitter users post more than 250 million tweets a day. 

With the 140-character limit, 10,000 tweets equates to a maximum of 1,400,000 characters.  A 40,000 word novel would have 180,000 characters with an average of 4.5 characters per word. 10,000 tweets, then, would equate to about 8 novels. I could have written 8 novels in the 2.5 years I've been tweeting as @collegevisit? Kind of mind-blowing - for now, I'll stick with tweeting, connecting, and growing my business. 

Images credit:  Special thanks to Jane Kudlow (@CvlKulow ), author of the Dr. StrangeCollege blog, for capturing my milestone tweet and sending it to me. Care to guess where I met Jane? :)

***

Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., a Blacksburg, Virginia-based higher-ed marketing company focused on mobile app and mobile web development with a special interest in creating travel and location-based tools and services. SmartCollegeVisit.com, a college search and college visit planning portal, has been listed in the Top 100 education advice blogs and as one of the top 5 college visit sites. You are invited to follow her on Twitter @collegevisit and to read more about Smart College Visit on Handshake 2.0.

Smart College Visit, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

State of Women-Owned Businesses in Virginia

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2012:

Virginia is the headquarters of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0, and is a woman-owned business.

I was fascinated to receive this data from Julie Weeks, American Express OPEN research advisor, on the state of women-owned businesses in Virginia.

Virginia has an estimated 218,400 women-owned firms, employing 211,100, according to The American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, an analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, released March 21, 2012.

Nationally, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 54% since 1997.  Virginia is ranked 11th (65.2%) in growth of number of firms over the past 15 years and 9th (22.6%) in growth of firm revenue between 1997 and 2012. 

Below is a table comparing Virginia’s women-owned firms data to the national numbers.

Women-owned businesses in Virginia

I'll follow-up with Julie for more information, perhaps on the state of women-owned firms in the hometown of Handshake Media, Blacksburg, Virginia, but, for now, I thank her for the information and share it with you.

Added 3/23/12:

Thanks to Julie Weeks for this follow-up:

To clarify the sales figure, it is $35.9 billion, since all sales figures are missing the last 3 zeros (hence the table label of "Sales ($000)"). 

What the trends show in Virginia is a tremendous boon for women-owned firms in the Commonwealth in terms of growth in economic clout, likely from being near the Nation's Capital. Virginia is ranked 6th in the nation in terms of the combined economic clout of its women-owned firms (based on growth in number, revenues and employment over the past 15 years), joining both Maryland (#7) and the District of Columbia (#1) in the top ten states. The economic stability in this region, plus the existence of federal procurement opportunities in greater measure than in other areas of the country, are likely key reasons for this positive finding.

First Bank & Trust CompayThis post is sponsored by First Bank & Trust Company, one of the top community banks in the United States, with office locations in southwest Virginia, northeast Tennessee, and the New River and Shenandoah Valleys of Virginia. You're invited to read more from First Bank & Trust Company on Handshake 2.0.

First Bank & Trust Company is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

6 Steps for Protecting Your Trade Secrets

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:00 AM on March 20, 2012:

From Jim CowanLeClairRyan:

Under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, to be considered a trade secret, information must:

  • derive independent economic value from not being generally known to competitors, or readily ascertainable by them; and
  • be subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.

6 Steps for Protecting Your Trade SecretsElements of a corporate trade secret protection program include the following six steps:

  1. Have written procedures to protect the information;
  2. Sign non-disclosure agreements with employees and others who have access to the information;
  3. Clearly mark as confidential any information that the company maintains is proprietary, and notify those who utilize such information of its proprietary nature;
  4. Restrict dissemination of the information only to those who have a need to know the information;
  5. Physically restrict access to the information, or to the computers on which the information is stored. This may also be achieved by an effective password protection system; and
  6. Conduct exit interviews to remind terminated employees of their obligations of confidentiality and to limit the amount of confidential information that is removed by such employees.  Many companies use a written form.

To request a copy of his recent presentation, "Protecting Your Trade Secrets," please contact Jim Cowan.  For more information on LeClairRyan's Intellectual Property practice, including patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights, please contact Rebecca Conner.

Read more from LeClairRyan on Handshake 2.0.

LeClairRyan specialized in high-tech corporate law.As a trusted advisor, LeClairRyan provides business counsel and client representation in corporate law and litigation. In this role, the firm applies its knowledge, insight and skill to help clients achieve their business objectives while managing and minimizing their legal risks, difficulties and expenses. With offices in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C., the firm has approximately 350 attorneys representing a wide variety of clients throughout the nation.

LeClairRyan is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Advice to Start-ups Seeking Outside Investment

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 11:01 AM on March 19, 2012:

From Ryan Hagan:

As the final teams head toward pitching their ideas to judges and potential investors at the VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Challenge on April 11, 2012, I would like to offer my experience with start-ups and seeking outside investment in hopes that it may be of value.

Ryan HaganBringing investors into your company can, and will, completely change the dynamic of your start-up.  If you've never done this before, you might not be prepared for the changes that are coming.  A bit of reflection on some important questions could take you a long way in your preparations.

First, you need to ask yourself if you're really ready for the commitment.  Up to this point, it's just been you, and possibly a few friends, with a big idea that is going to change the world.  Failure meant that some people were disappointed, but there probably wasn't much at risk.  Once you bring in the investors, though, that all changes.  You are now accountable for producing a return on that investment, and that can be a heavy burden.  Trust me, this is going to be hard and you will, at times, want to give up. The strength of your convictions is the only thing that will get you through. 

Second, you should ask yourself if you have the right team.  Is everyone on the team as committed as you are?  Do they all understand and share the same vision?  If you've had trouble motivating team members up to this point, you may hold hope that the money will make things better.  Unfortunately, the opposite is usually the case.  The money makes things exponentially more difficult.  The last thing you need to deal with is a team member with significant equity ownership that isn't pulling his or her weight, or is causing significant internal disruptions.

Finally, you should ask yourself if you are teachable.  While the primary goal of bringing investors into the company is funding, there's another great benefit that most business owners overlook: mentoring.  Most investors have been where you are today, usually multiple times.  They've seen the landscape, and they can help guide you through it.  Hang onto your vision and your purpose, but open yourself up to the experience of your investors.  Therein lies wisdom.

Ryan Hagan is a software developer who has led several start-ups that both sought and received outside investment from angels as well as full venture capital backing. He has kindly written guest posts for Handshake 2.0, most recently The Software Engineering Life Cycle.

Cartoon of Ryan Hagan by Plaid Klaus

Of further interest:
Becoming an Angel Investor
Angel Investor Guide to Blacksburg, Virginia

VT KnowledgeWorks is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Who's in FRONT? Gerry McDermott

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on March 19, 2012:

Gerry McDermott
Gerry McDermott, General Manager of Hunting Hills Country Club, was featured in the March, 2012 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo: Dan Smith

Each week, Who's in FRONT on Handshake 2.0? showcases photographs of the people featured in business news magazine Valley Business FRONT.

Valley Business FRONT for iPad is available for free in the iTunes App Store. For an overview, please see this YouTube video on the VBF app.

Keep in front with Valley Business FRONT on Valley Business FRONT for iPad, Valley Business FRONT's blog, moreFRONT, Twitter and Facebook. Valley Business FRONT's Workplace Advice Column, written by Handshake 2.0's Anne Giles Clelland, appears monthly in Valley Business FRONT and in the collection Work: It's Personal.

Valley Business FRONT is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.