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Startup Resource List

Venture capital funding of startups fell sharply in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the research firm CB Insights, but that doesn’t mean that 2016 won’t be a great year to take the entrepreneurial plunge. It just means you need to be smart with your money.

Last week we promised you a cornucopia of ideas and resources to do more with less and here it is, broken down by category to save you time.

We know the list is a long way from being comprehensive and we hope you will add others that you know about in the comments.

Funding

Funding for your startup dream can come from one or a variety of sources.

  1. Personal Investment includes savings, personal loans, second mortgages and other types of borrowing. Friends and family is one of the commonest sources of seed funding, either as loans or for equity.
  1. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is exactly what the name says. Various sites provide a way to engage strangers who donate in return for various rewards. Kickstarter  and Indiegogo are two of the best known platforms, but there are many others.  

Crowdfunding looks simple, but it is not! Creating and managing a successful campaign requires thorough preparation and a comprehensive marketing plan using social media and every contact you can beg, borrow or cajole from your network. And the marketing must continue throughout the entire length of the campaign. Read Taylor McPartland’s post on how to prepare your campaign for launch on VC-List, as well as other useful information.

  1. Government-backed Finance 

There is a lot of local, regional and national financial support for entrepreneurs, but keep in mind that pretty much all government anything moves more slowly than you may like. Grants and government support for

Be sure to do comprehensive due diligence on any individual, business or organization that provides assistance for getting a grant in return for a percentage of the grant amount.

  1. Equity Investment is a legal approach requiring either a corporate structure and creating shares (cap table) or a legal contract designating ownership of x% of the company for $Y. Grasshopper resources provides a simple primer on equity and its uses.

Angels and VCs are the most commonly discussed, but they aren’t always the best. Funding has tightened in Silicon Valley, especially if you aren’t one of the privileged and/or connected. Mattermark provides some excellent US geo-investment insight.

There are also equity-funding platforms, such as FlashFunders, AngelList and DealMarket that are similar to crowdfunding, except investors receive equity, as opposed to rewards.

Services

1.Trade Equity for Services

Founders with strong visions and/or charisma can often find service providers (lawyers, financial experts, developers, etc.) willing to trade their efforts for equity. The terms, however, should be carefully worked out and fair to both sides. George Deeb, managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, provides a useful guide to trading equity for action.

2.Incubators and Accelerators

Learn the difference between accelerators and incubators before you leap.

While some incubators are free, many, especially the better known ones, take as much as 10% equity for access. How much equity is a popular question on Quora; be sure to also check out the responses to the questions listed on the right.

Microsoft Bizspark or the President’s Startup America provide free business resources. There are also many local, regional and state initiatives, such as Startup North Carolina.

3.Working Space

Sharing working space and resources can give startups a huge advantage and the rise of coworking spaces makes it possible. Inc. lists 16 of the best, but don’t limit yourself to those. Besides the well-known ones like wework and others like Minneapolis’ COCO there are hundreds more in locations around the world.

When your team outgrows coworking spaces you  can often find companies willing to sublet space they aren’t using.

4. Outsourcing

Whether you are bootstrapping or funded, avoid outsourcing stuff you can do yourself, including mundane things like cleaning up, delivery services, etc.— they waste money. Outsourcing important stuff, such as preparing financials and recruiting, wastes organizational learning, as well as money. Do as much as you can yourself, with the help of your team, board, advisors, friends, etc., and pay for expert review only when absolutely necessary.

When outsourcing is the best solution you have multiple options to consider, but they have one thing in common — they all require thorough due diligence and care reference checking.

  • Independent contractors must meet IRS guidelines. Generally, if they earn more than $600 and do not have a Federal tax ID number, not a Social Security number, you will need to file a W-4 and pay SS tax. You can see the federal cost here. Beyond that, each state has different rules. It is best to check with whomever does your taxes.
  • Paid interns need to be treated the same as any other contractor. Free interns have to meet certain criteria in terms of the work and supervision. Many internships yield nothing for the hard work and many interns are turning to the courts.

5. Use Free and Open Source Software.

The Free Software Foundation provides links to all kinds of apps that run on open source operating systems (they do not run on Apple or Windows systems). Search “free apps for” to find OS-specific apps for free. Also search “free productivity apps for…” and get apps for Windows, Apple, iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.

6.Finances.

Whether you are bootstrapped or funded, money needs to be tracked and managed and it doesn’t happen by accident. From the start, you need to know what, why and how you spend. For accounting, be sure to use software that is specifically for startups, such as inDinero, but remember that one size doesn’t fit all. There are multiple suggestions in this Quora thread.

7.Free Educational Opportunities

There are many resources to acquire the skills necessary to found, launch and run your startup. Always check out the source with the same due diligence you would a candidate or investor.

Stuff

Eventually, startups need stuff, but they really don’t need new stuff. Especially now, smart founders are finding ways to stretch their startup dollars by skipping new and instead buying used/refurbished.

Disclaimer: The links below are samples only; we have no connection to any of the sites and you should investigate all sources thoroughly yourself.

1.Electronics

There are dozens of sites offering electronics sourced from closeouts, trade-ins and company liquidations that offer big savings on every from the common to exotic. It’s important to remember that rarely is bleeding edge equipment necessary when starting your company. Here are a few links to get you started; there are dozens more.

2. General Stuff

Startups don’t need designer/new furniture, filing cabinets or other fixtures. Used furniture stores, auctions, closeouts and Craigslist posts offer big savings on used office furniture, equipment and, of course, more electronics.

  • SkyGroup
  • Search “used office furniture X city” to find local businesses

 

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