Successful entrepreneurs are the ones that seek to minimize risk and create organizations that can successfully scale into large enterprises. In order to do this, the startup must be sensitive to what its potential customers actually want, use a process of developing a hypothesis, testing it with a minimum viable product, and be willing to pivot quickly if it turns out that the proposed product is not wanted.
Bob Dorf, co-author of the hot-selling “The Startup Owner’s Manual” and incoming Columbia Business School professor of “Intro to Venturing,” will be presenting Customer Development and Agile Development in the search for a Business Model, and how to utilize the Business Model Canvas. The Customer Development process is taught at Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Program, and is the basis of many successful Silicon Valley (and other) startups.
Bob’s presentation will include:
- How to incorporate the “Business Model Canvas” as the organizing principle for startup hypotheses
- Different paths and advice for web/mobile products versus physical products
- Principles of how to get, keep, and grow customers recognizing the different techniques for web and physical channels
- A “new math” for startups: “metrics that matter for fueling growth”
A copy of Bob’s book “The Startup Owner’s Manual” (a $40 value) is included for first 200 paid admissions. It’s the indispensable reference guide for any startup founder, entrepreneur, investor or educator.
Bob’s advice to entrepreneurs is “There are no facts in your building, so get the heck outside!” Our event is being held in a reserved area at Dave & Busters in Times Square – in the cauldron where New York’s legal, accounting, marketing, media, information and tourism industries collide in a maelstrom of bustling activity.
Our special thanks to Peter Leeds and Gabardine LLC for sponsoring our event. Learn more about Gabardine at www.gabardine.com
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
6:00 – 6:30 PM Networking and drinks reception
6:30 – 7:45 PM Program
7:45 – 8:30 PM Networking, book signing and reception
Dave & Busters, 234 W 42nd St. 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036
$45 for CBSAC/NY Members, LBS NY Members, NYBSC Members, UltraLight Startups members and MCC Members (pre-registration is required)
$60 for non-members (pre-registration is required)
Includes networking reception with beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres
Pre-registration by May 8 is required. No walk-ins for this event.
To register for this very special event, follow this link to the Columbia Business School Alumni Club website.
Our Speaker’s Bio
Entrepreneurial from the age of 12, Bob received his last W-2 almost 40 years ago, when he left a great news editor’s job at WINS Radio in New York to launch his first major startup.
Since then, he has personally founded six companies, including—as he puts it—“two homeruns, two base hits, and two solid tax losses.” Dorf+Stanton Communications, founded at age 22 in his living room, grew from a staff of two—Bob and a St. Bernard—to more than 150, when Bob sold it in 1989. He has since invested in and/or advised more than a score of startups on Customer Development and “get customers” sales and marketing strategy. He’s Counseled dozens of nonprofits pro bono as well.
When Bob and Steve aren’t writing, Bob runs the Four Steps consultancy, helping major corporations and startups alike effectively deploy Customer Development process through workshops and hands-on consulting. Bob’s deep experience consulting to Fortune 500 companies and service, retail, and web businesses balances Steve’s VC and software-centric experience. This spring, Bob begins lecturing a full-semester course at Columbia Business School, “Introduction to Venturing,” on getting startups right.
The Factors for a city to make the list:
- Availability of talent ("it's all about the startup team")
- Availability of infrastructure
- Availability of capital ("yes, this minor factor")
- Legal environment (labor law, corporate law, tax)
- Entrepreneurship spirit ("Yes, people who are looked upon favorably to leave secure jobs and pursue an entrepreneurial journey)
The Top 10 Cities in the World to Launch a Tech Startup List
- Palo Alto (Silicon Valley)
- Los Angeles (Silicon Beach / SoCal)
- Boston (Route 128 corridor)
- London (Silicon Roundabout)
- New York (Silicon Alley)
- Dublin ("2012 City of Science")
There were 5 runner-up cities (making this really a top-15 list) as well:
- Buenos Aires
A spate of news in the New York City area confirm the rebirth of the startup and tech sectors. The New York Times has reported that New York’s tech sector has grown, and now surpasses that of Boston, and second only to Silicon Valley in California. Betabeat reported a return of the tech diaspora to New York as well.
At first glance, the growth of New York’s tech sector flies in the face of logic. The cost of living and doing business, not to mention the combined federal, state and local taxes, would seem to discourage rather than encourage young entrepreneurs. Armed with high ambition but low bank balances, the city would appear to be a formidable place to start. However, this is New York City, and the collapse of the financial sector has not so much damaged the city as created more space for the other sectors of the city to bloom again. New York’s biggest advantage is its cultural and social resources, from Broadway and off-Broadway theaters to several club and bar areas that are each interesting in their own way.
The growth of the tech sector owes a lot to the growth of open source software and the lean development model. Keeping costs down and staffing levels low, a startup can get its products (usually at the minimum viable product stage) released and getting feedback from the market much sooner than was ever possible before.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem in New York has worked wonders for this growing community: the availability of large universities like Columbia and NYU, a substantial early-stage venture capital community, and access to media, entertainment and cultural institutions combines to allow startups to market their products, and obtain positive or negative feedback, more quickly than ever.
In spite of its bureaucracy, starting a business in New York is fast and straightforward. If the company is seeking venture capital, setting up a Delaware corporation only takes a day; registering this new corporation in New York only takes another day to two to accomplish.
For non-resident firms that are looking to access the US market, New York is an excellent gateway. The State of New York has programs to encourage new business startups, and provides limited incentives and help.
If you are interested in starting a business in New York, contact us today. Your new business can be up and going before you know it.
Everyone seems to like Top Ten lists; today’s list is based on New York State’s list of why they like to reject your certificate of formation or incorporation. I call it 10 + 1 because the last reason will never happen with a respectable company formation firm.
- 1. Your proposed name is not available. Here’s some tips on how to name a new company.
- 2. The name of the corporation does not appear the same throughout the certificate of incorporation.
- 3. The corporation name includes words that are restricted or require special consent, or you forgot to include a corporate indicator.
- 4. The purpose of the corporation requires special consent (such as a Professional limited liability company (PLLC) or has to be filed under a different law.
- 5. Shares and share value of a corporation are not listed, or the LLC tries to include shares and par value. See also the posting about a key difference between LLCs and corporations.
- 6. County is incorrect and/or spelled incorrectly. For example: Brooklyn is not a county, you have to say Kings County .
- 7. There is no backer. The backer is a kind of cover sheet for incorporating in New York; a place where they can stamp it filed later on without ruining the beauty of your work.
- 8. The name/address of the filer on the backer is not included. The filer is not the incorporator; it is the person or company who wants their name to appear on the backer and the filing receipt.
- 9. Credit card/check/payment not included or is not sufficient to cover all fees.
- 10. Additional papers are submitted along with the Certificate of Incorporation that cannot be filed, or you tried to include text in your certificate that is not allowed or required by law.
The +1 Reason is that you hand-wrote or used some other method to fill in your document, and they can’t read it.
If you use a service company, none of these errors should occur except maybe #1. To avoid Reason #1, make sure to think of 3 names (or more) when setting up a company, and try to come up with something unique and/or original. An experienced company formation firm can help you with making sure that you that you don’t use Brooklyn as a county, or tell you that you cannot incorporate a business corporation or LLC if your purposes imply a non-profit or professional corporation.
For licensed professional who want to incorporate their practice, setting up a Professional LLC (or PLLC) can be the way to go. As indicated on a previous posting (“LLCs are for Lazy People”), LLCs can be a wonderful choice for those who are not disposed to the more rigid formalities of a corporation. Furthermore, a PLLC has the other big benefit of an LLC: the choice of taxation. A PLLC can choose to be a sole proprietorship (if just one member) or a partnership (if more than one member), or it can further choose to be a C corporation or an S corporation, whichever fits the situation. Once having chosen, though, it is stuck with that choice for five year or pay some restructuring penalties.
What a PLLC Cannot Do
A PLLC, like a PC, cannot shield you from your professional liability, but does protect you from ordinary business risks, and will provide you with the same benefits that other businesses enjoy.
Special Situation: New York
For those of us in New York, there is a further advantage to the PLLC over the professional corporation (PC): New York’s PLLC legislation allows the company to not only practice the professional but also do any other type of unlicensed business as well. This means that a medical PLLC is free to sell medical supplies without setting up a separate company. A professional corporation is expressly forbidden to do this, so if this feature is important, forming a PLLC would be the way to go.
How We Can Help
How do you set up a PLLC, to take advantage of these benefits? You can contact your attorney or accountant, if you have legal or accounting questions that you need to have answered before you proceed.
Contact us today for your FREE, NO-OBLIGATION PLLC or PC consultation.
Don’t take this wrong; most people are lazy in some way while they focus on more important things like family, friends, TV, movies, tweeting, Facebooking, or even working on their business. Lazy people don’t like to keep minutes, hold meetings, and generally follow many formalities. Who can blame them? Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are perfect for people who would prefer to be focused on building and running their business, not on observing the formalities of corporate resolutions and annual meetings. The incredible flexibility of the LLC laws allows for almost any level of sophistication that can be imagined, from stupid-simple to brain-surgery (or mind-blowing) complexity.
However, in laziness lies the risk: the less effort put into maintaining corporate formality the more likely it is that the corporate protection you are counting on will disappear when you need it. For example, did you prepare an operating agreement (OA) after your LLC was formed? Failure to take even this simple step can be a big factor in “piercing the corporate veil” and leaving your personal assets at risk (and wasting the money you spent in forming your LLC). Many new businesses cut corners and go for a basic set up without actually taking the time to finish up the OA
A few states, particularly New York, still live in the 19th Century and require that you publish a notice of formation in newspapers after you form your LLC. Failure to take this step automatically means that you can’t use the courts to enforce a contract (which usually means collecting money that people owe you), and if you also have not prepared an OA either, then you are at substantial risk of having your LLC disregarded. If you also happen to have “forgotten” to get a tax number and just use your personal account for the business, then forget it. Your personal assets are there for the taking by any half-way competent plaintiff’s attorney.
If there is more than one Member (partner) in your LLC, it is absolutely essential that you have an agreement about who will contribute what, who will do what, who will receive what (salary, share of profits and losses, job titles) and how to handle what will happen when the LLC is either shut down or sold off, and what to do about a Member leaving. Naturally, at the beginning of a business, this seems like the least of your concerns, but for that reason this is the easiest time to negotiate these matters. At the end of the business, it will be so much more difficult to work out a settlement – and the court calendars are clogged with these unsettled matters that couldn’t be peacefully resolved. By being “lazy” in the beginning, much more free time will be lost in the future trying to fix these issues.
So what is the optimal point of laziness and diligence, that lets you focus on your business yet sleep at night knowing that your personal assets are (within reason) safe? Some suggestions:
- Make sure to have an OA. Even a crappy one that barely covers the essentials of who contributed what, who gets what (and this is, of course, very easy to do for a one-person operation).
- Make sure your LLC has its own federal tax number (EIN) and its own bank account. Don’t mix funds between your LLC and yourself without accounting for it.
- Keep good records of your business transactions.
- If there’s more than one Member, make sure to iron out an agreement between them at the beginning and not wait until it matters.
Are you setting up an LLC? Contact us today at (800)888-4360 or use our Request a Free Corporate Services Quote page to find out to to quickly, easily and safely set up your new LLC.