Yesterday, Brian Cohen spoke at the Princeton Tech Meetup #11, providing some insider tips on what Angel Investors want Entrepreneurs to know. We'll be sharing some of the insights we gleaned later in this blog post. First, we want to help Brian promote the book that he co-authored which is debuting in April. For a short time, the book will be available for half price on Amazon to pre-order. To get it at the discounted price now, click on our affiliate link below:
What did we learn from Brian?
While Angel Investors provide 90% of the seed money that helps startups get off the ground, they are looking for a BIG payoff (if you look at the slide at the left, it does NOT mean that Brian left the room and came back 30 times). In fact, Brian cited that only about 1 in 40 companies that go to Angels get an investment (as compared to 1 in 400 who present to VCs). The next question is: what will make YOU appeal to an Angel?
If you really want all the answers from an Angel Investor's perspective, you have to buy Brian's book:
For a teaser of what's in the book, here are some of the notes we took from Brian's presentation:
If you are getting ready to launch your company, you'll also want to check out the new company created by Brian and Trace Cohen, Launch.it. It's a free newsroom for you to publish your story.
- You are in control. Be confident, and ask for what you want.
- Get a good lawyer. Especially when your friends and family are investing in your early-stage company. You want to give them good terms so they don't get screwed later.
- Know your business inside and out. (For example, would you invest in an air filter company that didn't know what HEPA means? For those of us who didn't know, HEPA means High-Efficiency Particulate Air.)
And if you're not ready to launch yet but you need funding from an Angel Investor, then let us remind you that there's always more advice you can get from Brian's book!
What else did you learn from Brian's presentation?
I make things write.
Written by Wallace Kowrach
The Exceptional Artisan, L.L.C. http://www.ExceptionalArtisan.com Wallace [at] ExceptionalArtisan.com
609 [dash] 213 [dash] 3634
As an artisan who has designed and crafted hundreds of writing instruments for various individuals, including many Hollywood celebrities, I can authoritatively say that when it comes to writing instruments one size does not fit all.
Many people still cling to that “one size fits all” belief. That’s like saying one type of contact lenses will fit everyone.
The trouble is we’re all used to grabbing a 10-cent pen we got at a trade show and use it daily. We then wonder why our hands get so stiff after a long period of writing.
Many people attribute this discomfort to arthritis or a strain suffered from a gym workout. In some cases that’s true but with most people it’s due to the way they hold a generic-sized writing instrument for long periods of time. And, if you subscribe to the “one size fits all” theory......??? So, what determines the best type of pen for you?
Well, lots of things.
Each individual’s hands are shaped differently. Some are large; some are thin; some are quite muscular and some are not. Consequently, some people prefer a bold, beefy type of pen with a lot of heft to it while others prefer a slim and lightweight pen.
Even how we hold a writing instrument varies. Some clutch it tightly as if it were going to run away if they didn’t. Others have a gentle grip and prefer to deftly guide it as glides across the paper.
Writing styles differ, too. Some write boldly and press hard on a pen while others have a gentle touch and write slower and more precisely--and usually with beautiful penmanship.
As you can see, each person’s physical attributes and writing style differ. When you combine different physical characteristics with different writing styles the combinations become almost endless. A generic-sized writing instrument simply cannot satisfy everyone’s needs.
What makes each pen different and how do I determine which is best for me?
When “push comes to shove” all writing instruments share, in one form or another, the same components. Outside of the quality of the materials and the exactness of their fabrication, it’s the customization that sets them apart from one another and what makes them “fit like a glove” to the user.
Let’s look at the components and the process of crafting a ballpoint pen. We start with a chunk of wood or acrylic to clad the barrel and combine it with all the interior components. These components include a brass tube(s), the refill, spring, tip, clip and the cap and finial.
The crafting process of a writing instrument, whether it be a ballpoint, rollerball or fountain pen (my favorite), is all the same:
- a chunk of wood or acrylic--we in the industry refer to this as a pen blank--is cut to size and a hole is drilled lengthwise through it to accommodate a brass tube;
- the brass tube(s) is filled with Play-Doh (I’m not joking) from both ends, coated with cyanoacrylate glue (also known as superglue) and then inserted into the pen blank;
- when dried the Play-Doh is removed and the ends of the blank are sanded square;
- specific-sized bushings and blanks are slipped onto a long rod called a mandrel along which is then put on a lathe;
- Using a lathe chisel the blank(s) are then turned down to the profile of the pen, sanded smooth and coated with cyanoacrylate to protect the pen during use. The final step is a micro-polishing wax which brings up the luster of the material and gives it added depth and protection;
- the blanks are removed from the lathe and the various components are then press-fitted together to form the pen.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, sort of.
People say I design writing instruments but, truth be told, I don’t. The client is the actual designer because only he/she knows what colors and materials they like, what shape/profile appeals to them as well as whether they prefer a ballpoint, rollerball or fountain pen.
As an artisan I employ my expertise and attempt to follow the designer’s instructions. Sometimes, that’s not always easy.
Occasionally a client will instruct me to just make a rollerball in green and leave the design up to me. To coin a phrase, “That ain’t gonna cut it,” especially if they want a pen with which they can write effortlessly for hours.
At this point I apply a bit of reverse-psychology to get him or her started in the design process. I will suggest some outlandish green material that I know will provoke an almost instant reaction.
“Yuck! That’s an awful shade of green! Besides, that material is way too bizarre! What about this one, instead?”
This usually gets the ball rolling. If the client’s design process stumbles a bit, I can still revert to the same approach with the size or shape criteria, too.
So, if I haven’t already confused you enough, you’re probably wondering “What type of pen is really best for me?”
Well, that really depends on your tastes, writing style and how you will use your pen.
For example, if you really bear down on your pen or if you routinely write on multi-carbon forms, it goes without saying that a fountain pen is not for you. Otherwise, it becomes a rather expensive way to drip ink.
Fountain pens do not appeal to everyone. They hearken back to an era (think Jules Verne) prior to iPads, laptops, desktops, rollerballs and ballpoint pens. Some consider them quaint or old-fashioned and not in keeping with the times.
Someone once likened them to being more of a recreational type of pen and used only where speed/time was not of the essence. That may or may not be true but throughout my career I have seen several business people use them in numerous business settings.
Ballpoint pens have become the most popular writing instrument of today. They’re rugged, can write on virtually any surface and come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. Because they can be manufactured so quickly and cheaply, they even function as an advertising medium.
Rollerball pens bridge the gap between the fountain pen and the ballpoint. You can write on almost any type of surface with them. While not as rugged as a ballpoint, they will accept a great deal of writing pressure from their user. Despite this ruggedness, they allow ink to flow so fluidly that they seem to almost rival a fountain pen.
As you can see, many factors determine what is the best type of writing instrument for each individual. So how do you choose?
Initially, it may seem an overly complex decision. In my experience, when choosing from numerous preferences it’s almost always best to go with the first answer that comes to mind. Invariably it’s a question your mind answered long ago so it is able to answer it so quickly.
Calling All Entrepreneurs
If you are on the startup roller coaster then you have experienced exhilarating highs and devastating lows, sometimes on the same day. Join with other young companies who are facing the same challenges you are, network with other founders and startup employees for support, advice, and to try some cool new products and services. Join the Startup America Partnership today - http://ar.gy/inkwhy
Startup America recognizes that young companies are the drivers of our economy and wants to provide valuable resources to build and strengthen regional startup ecosystems. The Startup America Partnership was launched from the White House on Jan 31, 2011 with AOL co-founder Steve Case as chairman and with the Kauffman Foundation as a founding sponsor. By joining the Startup America Partnership, you will have access to the following:
- Free and discounted resources to help you grow your business, such as free software for accounting and planning that can lower your costs for advertising and marketing
- A network of over 8,000 startup founders just like you from across the country
- Local and national connections through regional ecosystems run by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs
- Connections to startup experts through virtual learning sessions, a resource library, and live events
- Publicity for your startup through contests, blog posts, and social media
The Startup America Partnership works on a regional basis with local entrepreneurs to help them strengthen their local entrepreneurial community. We need your help to get Startup NJ going. This is a community-driven initiative led by entrepreneurs, and we want to collect some information about what you feel our region needs to help you become more successful, so please take 10 minutes and complete our survey:
We welcome all regional entrepreneurs to join the Startup NJ Leadership Team. If interested, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
and be sure to register to join Startup America at http://ar.gy/inkwhy
We look forward to working with you to make NJ the best place to grow and establish new businesses.
Your Startup NJ Leadership Team
I'm a ________, Not a Sales Rep!
Many people are quick to equate sales with transactions and not much else--don't be one of them. Sales is more than just a simple exchange of goods and services. It is an integral part of every business that can take place anytime and anywhere--from negotiating a merger in the board room to describing your job to a neighbor at a backyard BBQ. Whether you're an entry-level employee of a small business or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, every person--in every business--is in sales. The problem is, not every person is very good at it.
Your tone of voice conveys a lot--certain 'sales voices', much like certain singing voices, sound like nails on a chalkboard. Generally speaking, the go to tone for any sales setting is comforting, confident, and persuasive. However, before you can develop an easy-going yet persuasive tone, you have to know what you sound like now. Try this simple exercise:
Create a brief sales script and memorize it--now record yourself giving it three times. In the first recording, imagine yourself delivering it to your best friend; in the second, to a potential employer or investor; in the third, give your best impression of a cliché salesman. Listen to each of the recordings, paying special attention to any similarities between the second and third. Those similarities are exactly what you need to get rid of--your 'salesman tone'.
Minding You Manners & Their Mannerisms
Once you've got your tone down, focus on refining your approach. Overly direct sales tactics are painfully obvious and often ineffective. Place focus on the product's features that would directly benefit your prospect--don't sell them, just describe them. As you calmly state your point, listen carefully to their interjections and watch for any indications of excitement or heightened interest--don't poke and prod to find your strongest selling points when you can just as easily let your prospect 'tell' you themselves.
Put the Pieces to the Puzzle
A natural tone of voice and a little confidence will put the other party at ease, and be infinitely more effective than the fabricated excitement and pep of the cliché 'salesman' tone. Remain calm and vigilant-- let their body language reveal the best points to sell them on. Just be sure that your "calm" doesn't come off as 'impartial' or 'dull'-- always make it clear that you care about what you're selling; if it seems like you don't care, why would anyone else?
As a final note, don't be afraid to be subjective. Know your buyer--ask questions often and early on and, if at all possible, do some due diligence beforehand. Many negotiations and sales are closed based on emotion and gut feeling rather than hard data alone. However, be aware of the fine line between using emotion to guide negotiations and using emotion as a manipulative tool: manipulation breeds cynicism and doesn't do a bit of good for your reputation.
Written by David Bright
Rutgers University, Alumni
As the job market has become more complex, so too have job applications. An oft included section of today's job applications is the timed questionnaire. These exams focus on two general categories: aptitude and personality. They are a part of the job selection process that is formally referred to as 'psychometric testing'--the word psychometric is derived from the Greek words for mental and measurement.
While there are a wide variety of these tests, one of the more frequently used versions is the Professional Learning Indicator (PLI). According to their official website
, the PLI is a "culturally neutral and dynamic cognitive test system, applicable on all levels."
Behind all the buzzwords is a fairly straightforward definition. The PLI is simply a tool that employers use to predict job performance. PLI test results measure an applicant's probability of success as well as their ability to 'pick up' knowledge on the job.
But what does this mean to the applicant? How is the test set up? And, more importantly, what kind of questions are on it?
The PLI generates 50 multiple choice questions of varying difficulty levels and subject topics. Here's how it works--
Questions are divided into categories based on numerical, verbal, or abstract reasoning. The questions given in each exam are evenly distributed based on their category and randomized using a computer program. Since the test is given online, questions are most often multiple choice. The candidate is given a time limit to complete the assessment-- the PLI time limit is 12 minutes.
Short & Sweet--candidates are given 12 minutes to take a test made up of 50 random questions that vary in terms of difficulty and subject matter.
Numerical reasoning questions may ask you to perform calculations based on charts and graphs. Verbal reasoning questions may involve reading comprehension: answering questions based on a short passage. Abstract reasoning questions may show a series of figures and test your recognition of patterns or your ability to apply newly learned rules. Personality questions pose hypothetical events or situations and ask you to agree or disagree.
While there is no guidebook of specific questions to study from, studying by topic and taking practice exams can improve your score. You can find practice questions online, and a quick brush up on your SAT material might be helpful for the math and verbal questions. It is important to note that the questions described above would likely be found on entry-level and associate pre-employment tests. Tests given at higher levels are usually tailored to more specific positions.
Regardless of the position, however, employers approach assessment results according to a fairly universal system. First, desired qualifications for the position are determined. Naturally, certain qualifications will be experience or knowledge based, while others will be attitude or personality based--think back to how assessments categorize their questions; make more sense now?
Employers have a rubric in mind when they study the results of an assessment--a checklist to help determine which qualifications each candidate has, and which they do not. Caliper Corporation
--a well-known developer of employee assessments--provides a brief, yet excellent illustration of how these 'rubrics' come into play when employers view your assessment results.
Consider an individual who is applying for a managerial position in the communications department of his company. The job entails managing personnel and business processes, as well as providing consistent reports to the VP of marketing. He or she would need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills in order to diplomatically interact with personnel and upper management. Furthermore, he/she would have to exhibit excellent multi-tasking skills in order to handle the many, varying responsibilities that come with the job.
Caliper's assessment results display in several forms, including numeric percentages and a variety of graphs. In order to choose the right candidate for the job described above, an employer would study these graphs, paying special attention to the candidate's scores in areas that relate to communication, multi-tasking, management skills, etc. If the graphs show positive results in these areas--results that align with the employer's 'mental rubric'--the candidate will get the job.
Now you know what to expect. Just remember, these tests help more than just employers--they can be great tools to help you identify areas you excel in, and areas you could improve in.
Further Reading & Some Practice Exam Questions: Very Basic Sample QuestionsAnalysis & Sample Questions by TopicFurther Reading on Pre Employment TestsCaliper Sample Assessment Reports
Written by David Bright
Rutgers University, Alumni
For many high school students, the college process is heavily dependent on athletic recruitment. Athletic recruitment is strictly regulated by the NCAA, and for football and basketball players specifically, there are other guidelines that must be followed in order to adhere to NCAA requirements.
NCAA regulations for football and basketball do not allow non-profit sponsorship for athletes for a number of reasons. One being that wealthy individuals who would provide this funding would likely want to assign specific players to their alma mater. Schools with wealthy and willing alumni would clearly have an unfair advantage, and in addition, this practice would not be fair to the entire pool of prospective college athletes.
This information is not easily accessible on the NCAA website, but with help from Athletic Resource, college athletes are able to access, understand, and comply with all NCAA restrictions. Athletic Resource, as its name implies, is a resource for any high school athlete who would like to play his/her sport in college. Here are some frequently asked questions that provide information about Athletic Resource.
Q: What do college recruiting services do?
A: College recruiting services provide the opportunity to connect students with colleges in order to obtain potential scholarships, so parents may not have to pay full tuition.
Q: What does Athletic Resource do that others don’t?
A: Athletic Resource verifies information (transcript, GPA, etc.) for every student compared to all others who don’t.
Q: What does Athletic Resource do for the money value?
A: Athletic Resource calls colleges directly and works with athletes one-on-one to create a profile to get athletes into their desired college to play their sport.
Athletic Resource provides a unique service to high school athletes who would like to play a sport in college, and if you would like to learn more about Athletic Resource’s mission or the recruitment process, please click on the logo below.
If you have ever have ever upgraded your phone, one of the main issues that you worry about is whether you can transfer your contacts, pictures, music, and other data to your new phone.
Cell phone stores like Verizon or AT&T all carry UME devices, which are small machines that are used to transfer data from one device to another.
You may have to connect your car with another car using jumper cables, and let the other car run for 15 minutes before you try starting your car.
No, I don’t mean the vegetable, I mean the sport.
When I tell people that I play squash for Middlebury College, most people nod their heads in polite recognition, but the blank looks in their eyes reveal their unfamiliarity with the sport.
Although squash may not be as prominent as classic American sports like football or baseball, it has roots in as early as 12th century France. What began as a form of entertainment with balls slapped against the walls has evolved into a global sport that has captured the interest of both young and old.
Squash is a racket sport that is played in a four-walled indoor court. The front wall has 2 parallel, horizontal lines: a service line close to the middle of the wall and another line above the “tin.” The “tin” is a half-meter metal area above ground area that, if struck by the ball, is considered out. The “tin” is analogous to a net in tennis in that the ball must always be hit above this area. There is a service line on the ground that halves the court, another line creating 2 bottom quarters of the court, and a service box in each quarter. In addition, you must wear special, non-marking shoes to play and wear goggles for safety protection.
A squash ball is made out of rubber and must be “warmed up” before you start playing. If you a hold a squash ball before playing, it will be cold and will not bounce. So before beginning to play or practice, you have to hit the ball several times for the ball to heat up.
In a singles match between two players, a match is comprised of best of 5 games, so you must win 3 to take the match. Each game is played until one player reaches 11 points, and the scoring system is called “point-a-rally,” which means that you can win on any player’s serve. Either you or your opponent begins the game by serving, and if you win that rally, you continue to serve, alternating sides with each point. Your foot must be in the service box, and the serve must be above the service line and land in the opposite quarter. Each point begins with a serve and then progresses by alternating shots between each player.
Lastly, there are special calls in squash: lets and strokes. Lets and strokes are called after you a hit a shot, but your opponent is unable to retrieve the shot because you are obstructing his/her path to the ball. The difference between a let and stroke is difficult to describe without a demonstration, but when a let is given, the point is replayed, but if a stroke is given, the point goes to your opponent. For example, a let is given if you a hit a shot, but accidentally get in the way of your opponent. A stroke is given if you hit a shot, and it comes straight back at you so that your opponent does not even have a chance to return the ball. The differences between lets and strokes are very nuanced, so it takes experience to know which call to make.
Squash is played at the professional, collegiate, and high school level, but for collegiate and high school, it is more prominent on the East coast, and the New England area in particular. Squash is slowing gaining more prominence as people become more attracted to the exciting, fast pace of the game as well as the great workout.
If you ever have the chance to learn or watch the game, go for it!
This is the bare minimum needed to understand the sport, but if you want to read or watch some squash, check it out here:Read moreWatch squash!
Written by Amanda Chen,
Marketing Consultant at Inkwhy
Middlebury College Class of 2014
The Pumpkin Plan Video Contest is a contest sponsored by Mike Michalowicz, the author of The Pumpkin Plan
, set to release on July 5.
Mike Michalowicz is known for his wildly successful entrepreneurial endeavors; he has built three multi-million dollar companies to date, and is presently the owner of a behavioral e-marketing firm, Obsidian Launch. He is a firm proponent of entrepreneurship and innovation, and in 2008, published The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur,
which according to BusinessWeek is a “must read entrepreneur’s cult classic.” In addition to running his business and publishing books, Michalowicz is a segment host for MSNBC’s Your Business, a small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and an expert business coach for Entrepreneur Magazine.
The Pumpkin Plan Video Contest is a contest for entrepreneurs everywhere to compete for a number of invaluable prizes. The grand prize is the "Inner Circle Dinner", where the winner will have dinner with not only Mike himself but also his inner circle, which is comprised of his business coach, investment partner, sponsor, marketing agency, ghostwriter, TV agent, literary agent, and a surprise guest. This is a priceless opportunity for any entrepreneur to learn and connect with some of the most successful, experienced people in the entrepreneurial world. The prize for the runner-up winners is a one-on-one consultation with Michalowicz, which is incredibly useful for anyone looking to either create a business or advance a current one.
Each contestant is required to submit a video revealing his/her inner critic, and winners are chosen based on the following criteria:
- Facebook likes
- Twitter tweets
- Youtube views
- Decision by Mike and his “inner circle”
InkWhy’s very own Janice Dru submitted a video revealing her personal inner critic! Support Janice's submission and like, tweet, and view Janice’s video by clicking the link below:Janice's Inner Critic