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Why all startup founders should embrace transparency

By Guest Author on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

This IPitch guest article was kindly supplied by Paul Towers.  Paul is a 3x Entrepreneur and Founder of Task Pigeon, a web app that makes it simple to create, assign and manage the tasks you and your team work on each day. Paul also founded Startup Soda to help source and promote interesting and insightful content from the startup community.

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Over the past five years, there has been an increase in the number of startups looking to share their story.

No, not the story prepared by their PR agency. Or the one written after the fact. But the story of the company, its founders and the success (or failure) they faced along the way.

This concept has taken hold because these founders realise that “people buy from people”.

In today’s age, where there is increasing competition and new startups launching daily it is not enough to merely say you have a great product. Or a great marketing campaign for that matter.

To create lasting value and relationships with your customers they have to feel like they are part of the journey. That is to say, they have to feel like they are “invested” in the brand.

As one would expect its innovative companies and startups like Buffer, Groove HQ and Baremetrics that have led this charge towards transparency.

And while some will admit to doing it as part of their content marketing strategy, you cannot argue that their blog posts and insights have provided immense value to the community (and in turn their customers).

As the Founder of Task Pigeon, a task management solution that makes it easy to create, assign and manage the tasks you and your team work on each day, I knew I had to do something different to stand out and looked to the above mentioned companies as examples of success.

What I saw was that if I could build a community around me and get people to engage with my brand for more than just the product, then I had a chance and creating lasting value with my customers.

Over the past six months I put this concept into practice. I have shared everything from what scares me as a founder, to how I failed in my attempt to pre-sell some licences for our SaaS solution.

This experiment showed me once and for all that there is real value in this approach. If you share your story and provide valuable lessons along the way, people do care. In fact, I have lost count of the number of people who have written in to thank me for my honesty or provided their feedback on what we are doing because they know I will value their input.

Over time I believe this will lead to a level of defensibility around the business. While this should never be the “be all and end all” of your product market strategy the past six months of my life has shown me that every startup should look to the concept of transparency as a key way of building value and relationships with their customers.

Social media strategies: How to grow a social media audience for your startup

By Guest Author on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

This IPitch guest article was kindly supplied by Jane Bolto.  Jane has a background in marketing, and currently works as a content specialist at Nybizdb.com. Jane is always willing to share her passion for new marketing strategies.

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Having a strong social media presence can be critical to the success of a startup. Social media offers customers a way of communicating with the company, while at the same time, providing them with valuable information. And while it may take time to form a considerable social media audience, in the end, it could take your startup to the next level. Here are some tips on how to grow your social media presence.

1. Set social media goals

One of the main priorities in initializing your social media presence is to establish goals that you wish to meet with your social media. By creating goals you will give your startup something to strive for and these goals will help to track the progress that is being made. There is no limit to the goals that can be set using social media, but many times startups will start by creating goals relating to the number of followers they gain.

2. Show them you are human

While it is important to utilize the latest advancements in social media to interact with customers, it is also crucial to let those people know that there is a human factor involved. Nowadays one of the main concerns with startups is that they let technology interfere with human relationships and this can cause customers to feel distanced from the company. When using social media, make sure to continually update posts to show that there is human involvement.

3. Include social icons on website

Including the social media icons on your website may seem like an obvious step, but there are many companies who neglect this, and in turn only use social media through the actual platform. By including the social media icons on your website, users will be able to easily share any information they find helpful, and this can go a long way in gaining new followers.

4. Stay organised

It is a good idea to plan social media events and posts ahead of time so that you will be better prepared for the response. Having a media marketing schedule that will show when each post is to be made and the content of that post can make it easier to manage social media accounts. Furthermore, keeping track of the results can give you insight into the reaction the posts are getting from followers and it will show their level of involvement.

5. Create valuable content

Valuable content can be integral in gaining a social media following. After all, no one wants to read meaningless posts, nor will they be apt to share such things. Instead, make sure that every social media post is relevant so that it will get attention from followers. By creating valuable content, you are showing users that the startup is concerned with how their customers feel and that you are striving for their satisfaction.

6. Use multiple platforms

When you think of social media there is a good chance that Facebook and Twitter come to mind, but these are only a couple of the many social networking platforms on the market. By expanding into every media platform possible, you are increasing the amount of exposure that the company will receive. This will also allow you to see which platforms are proving the most successful.

Summary

There is no doubt that social media will continue to play a vital role in the future of startups. Social media is a great way to introduce new concepts and products to customers, as well as providing a way for them to interact with the company. When forming a social media strategy for your startup, you will want to make sure that you are creating valuable content, using multiple platforms, and have a proper strategy in place. Using these social media techniques can help gain customers and increase business exposure.

Six ways to finance your small business

By Guest Author on Monday, February 6th, 2017

This IPitch guest article was written by Jayne Blake from Prospa.  Prospa is a leading Australian small business lender. Unlike traditional lenders, Prospa understands the need for small business to access faster finance solutions – so you can make, grow and seize opportunities today.  Seeking to grow your business with a small business loan? Talk to Prospa about quick and easy access to finance on 1300 882 867.


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Sourcing small business finance can often prove daunting, whether you are a start-up, tradie or other small business owner. Fortunately, online lenders like Prospa have added to a range of making it easier than ever before to get the necessary funds to achieve your business dreams.

1. Friends, family and fools

The usual first port of call for small business owners, obtaining equity or debt funding from “friends, family and fools” is almost always the quickest and easiest option. However, be honest about the risks involved, get a written agreement and make sure you share profits along the way to keep them onboard – you don’t want the Christmas family dinner to get ugly!

2. Government grants

Australia offers some of the most globally admired grants for small businesses. While these grants are often competitive and may be difficult to apply for, they can save you thousands on start-up costs.

One of the most popular grants is Austrade’s Export Market Development Grant (EMDG), which is a grant for aspiring and existing exporters. While grants are not offered for every industry, it is worth investigating if a government grant exists to support your small business (find more at https://www.business.gov.au/assistance).

3. Online lenders

Online lenders like Prospa have disrupted the field when it comes to small business loans. Prospa can offer small business loans of up to $250,000 with quick approval and often same-day transfer.

One of the biggest advantages of using an online lender like Prospa is that they offer no-security loans; this means that unlike traditional secured bank loans, you will not need to risk your house as collateral.

4. Digital crowd funding

One of the newest finance options on the block, digital crowd funding through sites like GoFundMe, Kickstarter and VentureCrowd has taken the world by storm, giving everyday people the opportunity to source donations, pre-orders and investors from around the world. Some start-ups have managed to secure thousands of dollars through these sites. However, be sure to read the T&Cs back to front before choosing this finance option, as many platforms take a large service fee.

5. Invoice finance

This option is increasingly popular for maintaining steady cash flow amongst small businesses. Invoice finance is generally where a small business sells their invoices to a third party for a reduced upfront payment (saving you from the worry of delayed payments) or applies for a loan using an invoice as security. Certain invoice finance services, like Prospa’s InvoiceNow, offer full invoice value in exchange for a small drawdown fee and an ongoing weekly interest rate.

6. Angel investors and venture capitalists

This is often the last alternative, since angel investors and venture capitalists typically require an equity stake in return for their financial support. However, a major benefit is gaining access to their business experience and strong industry connections, potentially helping to grow your business exponentially.

Employee rostering: Excel versus scheduling software

By Guest Author on Friday, January 6th, 2017

This IPitch guest article was kindly supplied by Eva Davies of Custom Gear.

Excel has always proved to be a great tool for employee scheduling. However, the truth is that it has become outdated now; it is inefficient, old fashioned, and time consuming. In the end, you might just have been using paper and pen. Excel is great for making overviews in budget and stats because more than one person gets to use it. But, successful businesses demand more accessible tools for this.

Every hour spent on manually updating your schedule means that you waste 7 hours every week, the time that you can spend on other things instead, one where you get to make your business better than your competition.

Handling changes in shift

Employees usually make changes in their shift schedule. This means that they will call up the Human Resource manager and request that they make this change officially. As a manager, you too can manually make the changes on your excel sheet and also double check so that you reduce the possibility of mistakes occurring.

Communicate shift changes

Shift swaps, holiday leave, late arrival, sick leaves, and no shows are some of the reasons that a change in the timings of a work shift may have been made. Whatever your schedule may be, it is important that you notify your staff about it all; otherwise, they will have no real way of knowing at all.  On top of that, most businesses make it mandatory for the changes in timings to be communicated effectively to the Human Resource management. This means that a lot of time will be spent on emails, phone calls, text messages, and the passing on of information verbally from one person to another.

On the other hand, scheduling software can directly document the cause for shift change. Depending on the software tool you are using, it may be in the form of a series of reasons that the staff member can choose, or a space where they can fill it out and mention in detail.

Is it just a list of who came into work?

The scheduling software has many options including sick leave taken, requested time off for the near future etc. In other words, a human resource manager can simply look up a staff member’s information on it and check for their availability. Compared to this an excel schedule does not have room for this and such information is stored elsewhere.

Difference in template

With Excel, people find it wonderful that they are able to simply copy and paste a template that they can use forever. However, this calls for a lot of columns in as little as a year at work. Scheduling software works around an optimized template which automatically updates information and adjusts data, making sure that you don’t have to skim through columns to find the right date and schedule.

Calculating hours

Manual scheduling does not allow one to monitor the hours worked by a person (i.e. time in and time out) automatically. The problem with this is that you can’t register whether their hours correspond with the working hours they are required to complete. In the end, it will influence the company’s wage spending.

Uniforms: Are they really needed?

By Guest Author on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

This IPitch guest article was kindly supplied by Eva Davies of Custom Gear.

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Well, that is definitely an age-old question and the answer to that question cannot be answered easily. Ever since its appearance in the 16th century, uniforms have distinguished people holding different offices and designations. Uniforms are used in the military, educational institutions, and in organisations as well.

You must have worn uniforms in school and you probably might be thinking how annoying they were. A common saying about uniforms is that they are unappealing, boring, and they hold back a person from revealing their true personality. On the flipside, uniforms are said to act like promotional material for a company or brand; they spread awareness about a specific organisation and also increase professionalism amongst its employees.

Whether it is a regular uniform or a branded uniform, uniforms have continued to put organisations into a predicament. Should the ones using uniforms continue using them or discard them? And what should an organisation do if they are willing to adopt a uniform for the first time? Let’s take a further look.

Their good side

· Uniforms advertise your brand: Uniforms have the uncanny ability to promote your company even when you don’t realise it. When your employees wear a uniform, they become like walking and talking billboards that scream your brand’s name. For example, at workshops, training programs, conferences, and seminars, your employees will also be marketing your company by wearing a uniform.

· Shows professionalism and builds trust: No potential customer would approach an   employee dressed shabbily; it will also show that your company is unprofessional and unserious. On the other hand, an employee wearing a uniform will look more professional, serious, and approachable. Not only that, but it creates trust between a potential customer and an employee.

· Creates a sense of equality: With a uniform, you don’t have to worry about your employees bickering over who is the most smartly dressed person in the office. When they are all wearing the same apparel, it will give them a sense of equality and create feelings of belongingness. It will also increase team work and cooperation.

· Enhances productivity: The human mindset is a complex thing; it’s a fact that when a person wears a uniform, they enter a state of mind which prompts them to carry out the task with concentration. The dress code does have an effect on the productivity of an individual. When a uniform is worn, the person adopts a professional attitude and works more diligently, thus improving the productivity.

Their bad side

  • They can be a hindrance: Uniforms need to be comfortable or else if they aren’t, it will cause your employees discomfort. This may lead to a decrease in a worker’s output.

  • They can cause problems in a diversified group: If your organisation employs a multiethnic group, you need to design uniforms that satisfy your employee’s cultural and religious beliefs. If it doesn’t, an employee might feel out of place which will affect their productivity in a negative way.

Even if an organisation has a strict dress code or uniform, there are many tips that can help your employees look more stylish and feel comfortable at the same time.

Sources

The best dog + startup-friendly dining spots in Sydney

By Guest Author on Monday, December 19th, 2016

This IPitch guest article was kindly supplied by Mia Williams.  Mia is a content marketing manager working for Rufino Store in Sydney – a startup selling luxury dog collars.


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Going out for a delicious feed doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to leave your puppy at home whilst working on your new startup. Fortunately, Sydney is a hotbed for venues that allow you to bring your dog with you - because, let’s be honest, they are a part of your family! Here are ten of the best dog-friendly dining spots in Sydney.

The Vic On The Park

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/viconthepark/

Address: 2 Addison Rd, Marrickville

Vic On The Park is one of the city’s most famous pubs, renowned for its friendly atmosphere and great facilities. Pets are always welcome, with water bowls for dogs on the back deck and in the car park.

Cuckoo Callay

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cuckoocallay_cafe/

Address: Newtown Railway Station, 324A King St, Newtown

Cuckoo Callay has a great outdoor area where you can sit and relax with your dog. The cafe offers maple bacon dog biscuits called ‘pupples’ and ‘puppychinos’ made out of goat’s milk and dried liver sprinkles, available for $3.

The Grounds of Alexandria

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegrounds/

Address: 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria

The Grounds is one of Sydney’s most popular dining experiences, in the heart of Alexandria. Not only does it feature its own animals (such as adorable Kevin Bacon, the pig), but it allows you to bring your dogs to the Potting Shed, which is an outdoor garden area.

Pelican Pavilion

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pelicanpavilion/

Address: 1064 Pittwater Rd, Collaroy Beach

An annex of The Collaroy Hotel, Pelican Pavilion has its very own dedicated Canine Corner. This bar is right on the sand, accessible from the beach and the perfect stop off after walking your dog. They even serve dog biscuits and ‘puppycinos’.

The Greens

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegreensnorthsydney/

Address: 50 Ridge St, North Sydney

The Greens is particularly great for taking your dog because the chef makes his own dog biscuits from scratch, for $2.50. Dogs can have fun in the outdoor courtyard and there is a massive park next door.

The Beresford

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theberesford/

Address: 354 Bourke St, Surry Hills

The Beresford is not only a dog friendly pub, but starting has started putting on dog shows in the courtyard. These involve treats, toys and other prizes. Dogs are encouraged to dress up and contribute to the vibrant atmosphere.

Roseberry Zeus Street Greek

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zeusstreetgreek/

Address: 2/34 Morley Ave, Rosebery

Roseberry’s Zeus restaurant makes delicious and super healthy Greek street food, but also lets you bring your dog along to the restaurant’s large outdoor deck. Something different food-wise than most of the places on this list!

Stain Cafe

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/staincafelanecove/

Address: 47 Gladesville Rd, Hunters Hill

Stain Cafe has a great outdoor seating area with dog bowls, so your puppy can quench its thirst just as much as you can. The Lane Cove venue (1 Felton Avenue) also has a playground, making it ideal.

Honest Don’s

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/honest_dons/

Address: 2a McCauley St, Thirroul

A bit further south, this Wollongong area cafe serves delicious $4 puppycinos, made out of frothy milk and liver treats. What’s even better, $1 from every sale is donated to the Wollongong Animal Rescue Network.

Orangeville Meat Co

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/orangevillemeatco/

Address: Unit 2/11 Rodeo Rd, Gregory Hills

Orangeville Meat Co is an interesting venue, combining a butcher and cafe into one. It sells large bags of bones for dogs, so they have something to bite on while you enjoy some of their delicious menu items or shop for your week’s worth of meat.

There are more dog friendly dining options in Sydney than you could imagine! These are perfect for post-walk feeds, or for whole family affairs.

Cloud Computing Explained

By Guest Author on Thursday, March 10th, 2016

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Cloud computing is still a confusing concept for many people, yet it is the future of Information Technology.

IPitch spoke to Sheng Yeo, the CEO of OrionVM about cloud and how it is changing the way businesses approach their IT.

Addendum: For anyone interested in taking an app “international”, check out this great new infographic, kindly supplied by Erica from TranslateByHumans:

https://www.translatebyhumans.com/en/app-translation/how-to-market-your-app-internationally

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Green Lane Digital: New Resident Profile

By Guest Author on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

49aca63b8bee1947b4fa38e37caffbc2_resizedWritten By Irina Belsky

Corplite founder and recent acquirer of Aweelectrical Bradley McHugh is the newest resident of the Green Lane Digital space.

Ipitch chatted to Brad about his background, the challenges of running two businesses at the age of 21 and his plans for the future.

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Educating Entrepreneurs The Frank Way

By Guest Author on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

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Written by Irina Belsky

For some, becoming an entrepreneur is like learning a new language. It’s foreign territory and help is a must.

This is where The Frank Team roll up their sleeves and get to work, providing entrepreneurs with advice and practical skills to help them along the way. The entrepreneur focused education and training company began as a startup ten years ago and like any startup it was born from a need.

“While we were at university someone gave us a brief to do an event and when we started we realised that we had no skills to put an event together,” says Natasha Munasinghe, director of The Frank Team, “That was a bit of a light bulb moment when we realised that when it came to practical skills and life skills, there really wasn’t much training.”

The desire to help others avoid the same pitfalls motivated Natasha and co-founder Jessica Schebesta to continue growing The Frank Team. It is now a fully fledged company with partnerships in the government, public and private sectors.

Natasha spoke to us about her involvement with The Frank Team and about the opportunities offered by the organisation.

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Startup Profile: Wyngle

By Guest Author on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Written by Irina Belskyscreen-shot-2012-01-10-at-52150-pm

Wyngle is waging a war on the traditional group buying sites with its new concept of ratio shopping. The startup has devised a way to let shoppers purchase goods for a mere dollar without taking away profits from retailers.

IPitch chatted to Wyngle founder Sebastian Langton about what Wyngle can offer to businesses and shoppers.

The offering

“The easiest way to describe Wyngle is it’s products, goods and services at the same price you’ll find anywhere else in the market but with the unique opportunity to potentially purchase them for a dollar.” says founder Sebastian Langton.

Each product on the Wyngle website has an attached ratio such as ‘1 in 3 for $1′.  This ratio dictates your chances of purchasing the product for one dollar. If the ratio is 1 in 3 you have a 1 in 3 chances of buying your item for $1. If lady luck’s not on your side you simply commit yourself to paying the regular retail price.

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