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Saturday, September 29, 2012

25 Green Startups Changing the Way We Do Business

A commitment to sustainability is becoming an increasingly important part of modern business operating models, as consumers demand products and services that are not only high-quality but that also reduce their impact on the environment. As a result, the sustainable business market is flourishing, providing a fertile place for green startups to take root and have a major impact on business and industrial practices. Here we highlight just a few of the many green startups that are affecting how we do business, altering how we commute, build offices, get power, find financing, and even how we chat around the water cooler.

  1. NuMat Tech:
    NuMat Tech is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs from Northwestern University. The company is focused on developing new and more efficient ways to store natural gases that are being used in everything from cars to office buildings. The company could lead the way in revolutionizing corporate fleets and business headquarters alike, as natural gas becomes an ever cheaper and more efficient way of delivering heat and power.
  2. PlanetReuse:
    These days, businesses are looking for ways to make their offices attractive, functional, and sustainable, all while watching the bottom line. PlanetReuse, founded in 2008, is a startup making that process a little easier. They innovated a program that makes it easy to track down and use salvaged and recycled materials in new building projects, which can save both resources and money.
  3. Sourcemap:
    Locally sourced products have become a big deal over the past few years, and more and more companies are looking for ways to simplify their product chains, both to deliver better products and shrink their carbon footprint. Through the startup Sourcemap, consumers can track the source and distribution of all kinds of products, from Tropicana juices to Toms shoes, giving companies more of an incentive to ship less and be more environmentally conscious.
  4. Industrial Origami:
    Industrial Origami has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry by developing a method of constructing products that is simpler, cheaper, and uses fewer resources. Using large sheets of light-gauge metal, Industrial Origami folds the material into complex structures that can be used in a wide range of applications. Currently, the startup’s products are being used in everything from appliances to reusable packaging.
  5. Hara:
    It’s sometimes hard for businesses to track just how much energy they’re using, but through startups like Hara that focus on energy management, that process becomes much, much easier. Though the Hara Energy and Sustainability System of Record, companies can get a clear snapshot of the money they’re spending on energy, as well as ideas on how they can become more sustainable and energy efficient.
  6. Adura Technologies:
    Each year, businesses waste money and energy through inefficient lighting systems that don’t reflect the real needs of workers in the building. Adura is hoping to change that through their wireless lighting controls that allow companies to easily conserve energy, develop lighting schedules, and even run analytic reports about energy usage.
  7. Purfresh:
    While the environmentally conscious like to buy things that come from local sources, the reality is that that just isn’t always possible. Some things simply need to be grown or made in locations that are hundreds or even thousands of miles from home. Purfresh helps to make that process a little easier and less wasteful by developing new ways to keep perishable products fresh as they make their way to their destination.
  8. SmartSynch:
    Itron’s SmartSynch technology uses existing cellular networks to build up smart grid technology with minimal up front cost. One of the features of this new smart grid is the ability for businesses to employ cellular-enabled meters that can quickly and easily report utility usage to providers. This eliminates the need for energy-wasting travel by meter readers, and ensures businesses are only paying for what they use, not estimated costs based on last year’s usage.
  9. Bloom Energy:
    Drawing on technology used by NASA, this startup is bringing space-age green tech to businesses all over America. Bloom Energy manufactures fuel cells that can be placed in the basement of a building, providing energy that’s much more efficient than a power grid. Currently, the company is working with big names like Coca-Cola, eBay, Google, Staples, FedEx, and Wal-Mart to provide state-of-the-art power solutions.
  10. Silver Spring Networks:
    Pacific Gas and Electric and American Electric Power are already partnering with this smart-grid startup. Silver Spring is focused mainly on helping utilities reduce carbon emissions and achieve operational efficiency, but businesses will also see an impact as it becomes easier to monitor and manage energy consumption.
  11. Recycle Rewards:
    Schools, nonprofits, and, of course, businesses can take advantage of the services offered by this recycling-focused startup. Through Recycle Rewards, businesses can sponsor green-friendly fundraising, collecting old cellphones, printers, or other small electronics and sending them in. Participants receive money back, which can be used for office perks or donated to a cause.
  12. Quench:
    The water cooler is a business staple, but how that water cooler functions may be changing with companies like Quench. Quench installs and maintains bottleless water coolers, which may prove to be both more cost effective and more environmentally friendly.
  13. DewPointe:
    Quench isn’t the only company revolutionizing the water cooler. DewPointe is another startup innovating an alternative to the classic system. DewPointe’s machines draw in humidity from the surrounding air to provide water for thirsty workers. Even better, they make both stand-alone and countertop models, providing solutions to businesses of all sizes.
  14. LanzaTech:
    Backed by investor Khosla Ventures, this waste-to-energy startup is making big strides in the green marketplace and could have a serious impact on industry and commercial production in the coming years. So what does LanzaTech do? The company turns industrial waste products back into useful products, reducing waste and the environmental impact of industrial production. For example, in a recent partnership, the company began converting Chinese steel producers’ waste gases into highly useful ethanol.
  15. GreenRoad:
    Many businesses rely on a fleet of trucks and drivers to get their products to businesses and consumers, but those vehicles can also leave a huge carbon footprint. GreenRoad is a startup that is trying to reduce that waste by providing training to drivers that helps them to be safer and to use less energy. The company’s equipment can be placed in a vehicle for immediate feedback, telling drivers when to modify their driving to save fuel and reduce the chance of accidents.
  16. SeaMicro:
    Few businesses these days can get by without some serious servers behind the scenes, storing data and helping to manage the operations of the company. Those servers can sometimes require substantial energy to keep them going, but not with the new generation of green servers being pioneered by SeaMicro and other companies. SeaMicro can pack 256 servers into the space the size of a car trunk, creating machines use half the energy or traditional servers.
  17. Boston Power:
    Many companies might not even be aware of the many ways Boston Power’s products could soon be affecting how they do their work. Boston Power is developing lithium-ion batteries that last longer and charge faster, providing scalable energy solutions that can power everything from laptops to backup devices to cars.
  18. RidePal:
    While a growing number of businesses are offering commuters incentives to help cut costs and encourage them to carpool and bike to work, RidePal is innovating a new way to get employees to work that’s both cost efficient and better for the environment. The company offers a commuter bus system that businesses can join, allowing employees to reserve and get tickets via phone and even use wifi while on their way home or to work.
  19. Smart Grid Billing:
    Just launched in May of 2012, this startup offers companies the chance to save on energy by aggregating demand and spreading it out across the day when more power is available. Essentially, the company provides load balancing on the energy grid, which could save big bucks for companies who need to use energy during peak hours but don’t want to pay peak prices.
  20. WeSustain:
    Businesses looking for a way to improve their sustainability record may take an interest in the services being provided by this sustainability management platform. WeSustain helps businesses to monitor their current energy and resource use, set up terms to improve things for the future, and track progress along the way.
  21. Picowatt:
    The Picowatt Smart Plug makes it simple for businesses and individuals alike to reduce energy waste. Users just plug the device into the wall and it starts working, measuring energy usage, allowing remote powering on and off of devices, eliminating vampire power, timing power, and increasing the life of electronic devices.
  22. Sandforce:
    Instead of using traditional data storage solutions, businesses can save energy by employing products created by this startup. Sandforce manufactures data storage devices that use flash, solid state devices, and cloud technology, which can often be more environmentally friendly than their traditional alternatives.
  23. BufferBox:
    Always missing deliveries at home or the office? BufferBox can change that and cut costs and energy waste caused by drivers making multiple trips. Instead of sending packages directly to a business or home location, BufferBox provides secure locations where you can have your packages delivered and can pick them up on your own time.
  24. Double Robotics:
    Flying in to attend conferences and meetings all over the country can not only get expensive, it also uses a whole lot of resources and energy. Double Robotics is hoping to make it easier than ever to teleconference, especially though the creation of a remote robot that allows you to get as close to being there as you can without actually having to board a plane.
  25. GreenChoice Bank:
    Startups like GreenChoice Bank aren’t just influencing the banking market. They’re also making it easier for other entrepreneurs to start their own sustainable businesses by providing financing to all kinds of green startups. What’s more, the bank also provides non-business customers with services and guarantees that take the earth into account, using less paper, operating in LEED-certified facilities, and reducing waste.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

6 Quick Ways For Young Entrepreneurs To Make Money Online

How can I quickly make money online?
I get a lot of emails, comments and questions from my readers on this site on a wide variety of topics, but one question that I get constantly asked is “How can I quickly earn money online?
The majority of people who ask me this tend to be young entrepreneurs who want to generate some money to fund their new business idea, though the tips below can be used by anyone.
Now, I always reply with the same answer, which is there is no “quick” way to earn money online. As with any business, the more effort you put in, the more you can expect to get back. Certainly if you are thinking of a long term business!
But having said that, there are some techniques that you can use to raise some money relatively quickly and easily. I was able to raise enough money to start my own online business by using some of the methods below.

Sell Your Old Stuff On eBay

You probably have a ton of stuff that you don’t use any more. Instead of leaving it sitting on a shelf, or dumped at the bottom of a wardrobe not doing anything but gathering dust, why not put it up for auction.
Now I know what you are thinking, “But who would want any of my old stuff?” Just because you don’t want them, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t!
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”
That old series of comic books you collected as a kid, there may be a collector that would like them. Those old clothes that you have outgrown, they might fit someone else. Your old computer that doesn’t work any more, someone might want to fix it up, or get spare parts from it. Etc.
List your items on eBay and in time you will find buyers for them! If you find that you like selling stuff oneBay, you may want to start your own eBay business!

Selling Photos Online

As long as you haven’t just sold your camera on eBay, you can use it to take photos and sell them online!
Sites like Shutterstock pay people to submit them photos. You don’t need to be professional photographer, you just need to be a bit creative. Upload your photos and any time your picture is downloaded by someone, you will make some money!

Work As A Freelancer

A great way to make money online quickly is to do freelance work. If you have a skill that you are good at, e.g. software programming, graphic design, designing websites, writing/blogging, etc. then you can easily find a job to do part time to make some money. Many companies will outsource work to freelancers to save money and you will be able to work from home.
The great thing about freelancing is that your input determine your output, so that more work you put in, the more you will get out of it. So, the quicker you finish one job, the sooner you can move onto the next.
You don’t necessarily need to have a specific skill, there are plenty of data entry, form/survey filling, product review, etc. jobs out there, you just need to look for them!

Write An eBook

With the popularity of the Kindle and the iPad, as well as many apps for your smart phone, ebooks have never been so popular. There are even debates online as to which is the best eReader?
But what should I write about? Well everybody is knowledgeable about something! It doesn’t need to be a 1000 page manuscript, just write about what you know. That could be a subject you studied atschool/university, DIY tips, cooking recipes, even a video game guide! Write an ebook on your chosen subject and sell it to other people.
Depending on how quickly you can write your ebook, you can start generating money by selling it on the Amazon Kindle store or Apple iBookstore. The more demand there is for your ebook, the quicker (and better) it will sell.
Read our ‘How To Make Money By Writing An eBook!‘ for more info.

Write Tutorials

Certain sites pay people to supply them with high quality tutorials. So if you are good programming, graphic design, Photoshop, After Effects, etc. then you could earn some money.
Provided you know what you are doing, this shouldn’t take too long to produce. If your tutorial is approved, you could earn as much as $50.

Affiliate Marketing

You can also make money online quickly by promoting other people’s products, which is called affiliate marketing.
To do this you will need; a website (a basic one will work), a product to promote and some marketing know how.
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that it depends on you! Depending on the work you put into promoting it, it could take you several months to make a single penny, but it could take a matter of days! If you are willing to put the effort in, it can be a great way to earn some quick extra cash.

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5 Top Tips For Young Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

Young entrepreneurs starting their own business are becoming quite common in today’s global market. Ignored demographically, this section of the young adult population is increasingly finding it’s place in the global market. With no restrictions on entry to the online business world, young people are exploring new opportunities online.
Young people are driving the way the internet works and the amount of young entrepreneurs is increasing day by day. However, the rate of success of such young adults is not as high as it could be, owing to the sheer abundance of young talent all over the world. Young entrepreneurs have to face a number of challenges in this field, but there are certain things that you can do to help your chances of success!
Here are 5 top tips which can help young entrepreneurs in the competitive online marketplace when starting their own online business.

1. Word Of Mouth Publicity

Opportunities often arise all of a sudden. That’s why it is extremely important that you are prepared for the moment when it arrives. For example, you might end up meeting a potential client at a party or through a friend. Hence, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of your business plan and are able to present it in front of other people when needed.
You must plan and prepare your business idea in advance, making sure to thoroughly understand and explain it well to potential clients. Word of mouth publicity can prove to be the most effective tool for publicizing your business and getting a clients, so it’s important to be able to market yourself well when talking to people.
Get business cards published and carry them around with you at all times. This not only helps to build up a good first impression, but also people will take you much more seriously. By passing out your business cards to people, you have a better chance of winning potential clients.

2. Make Use Of All Available Resources

Often, young entrepreneurs suffer from a lack of funds to get their business going. This of course, proves to be a problem when you want to develop your idea and grow your business. However, there are many available resources that you can use to help you get started.
For example, instead of finding office space to work from, why not start your business and work from homeuntil you can afford to move into business premises. If you are short of funds, try selling your unwanted belongings on eBay. Even ask to borrow money from your parents to get started.
Thankfully, you don’t need a huge amount of money to get an online business off the ground. Often, you can make use of the resources that are available to you to get started and develop your business from there.

3. Present A Fully Developed Product To Financial Investors

If you are developing a product, you may need financial backing to get it up and running. If you do, then make sure you develop your idea fully, to the appropriate level, before presenting it to financial investors. As an entrepreneur, you will often need financial backing before you can sell your product on a mass scale to your target audience, so it’s important that you present them with an actual product instead of simply an idea!
This is why it is extremely important that your product is fully developed. The more clearly you can demonstrate your product, the better your chances of finding financial backing. A good way of doing this may be to include a demonstration video of the product, or conduct some market research. As financial investors are very important for any business, it is essential you pay the utmost attention to them.

4. Building & Maintaining A Professional Communication Network

The key to a building a successful online business is to live locally but work globally!
You need to build a network of contacts and clients in order to grow your business. That being said, it can be difficult to find big name clients straight away. Try to work with local clients to start with and build up your reputation before stepping up and dealing with larger clients.
If you are running your own business, then act like it! People will take you much more seriously if you run your business in the proper way. It doesn’t matter how old you are in the professional world, age holds no bar unless you make it an issue. Try to avoid using instant messengers and short text language (e.g “how r u?”), after all you are not talking with your friends! Customize your emails with company branding imagesand logos, reply to inquiries, answer clients questions, etc. All this helps to build up your reputation within your industry and grow your professional network.

5. Monitor Your Progress

Keep monitoring your progress over time and keep a track of all your daily activities. You can develop a specialized system for handling your daily schedule and monitoring your performance, though a simple calendar and marker pen can be just as effective. Set up multiple goals and fix a deadline for each. If you witness your progress dropping, add on some extra hours or get some added help to accomplish your tasks. Always have an eye on the bigger picture, it can be easy to slip behind but it takes a lot of hard work to get back to where you should have been in the first place!
If you are thinking of starting an online business, these tips can help you out. Young entrepreneurs face many challenges when entering the online world. These tips can help in setting up an effective business.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Features: To make money, learn when to spend it

We're starting a new section on StartupPro Plus called Features
We'll be re-posting short interviews with featured Entrepreneurs or startup/SME owners and share their thoughts and experiences.

We hope you enjoy and welcome this new addition as we continue to provide you with the best resources in this domain. 

leave your comments below and let us know what you think!

Nadiya Kassam may have started her career as a banker, but the lure of owning her own business was too strong. These days, the Dubai-based footwear designer, who is originally from Pakistan, is running her own company after realising there was a lack of high-quality sandals on the market. Her handmade, jewel-encrusted shoes have captured a niche demographic - and enabled her to create a self-sustaining business.

Describe your financial journey so far.
After graduating from college in Chicago, in the United States, I returned to Pakistan and joined Deutsche Bank, where I worked for three years. Finance was a subject I enjoyed and showed a natural aptitude for, so it made sense for me to pursue it at the time. However, sensing a dearth of high-quality sandals in Pakistan, I always had a vision of starting my own footwear business. Fortunately, since I grew up in a home where creativity and designing was encouraged - my mother herself being an apparel and soft-furnishing designer - it didn't take much for me to begin experimenting my ideas.
How did you start out?
We began with hiring a few artisans, bought minimal machinery, rented a workshop and it started from there. I would describe my journey as one from a designer to business owner; where I began with my vision of creating trendy, yet comfortable footwear and then established that into a self-sustaining enterprise.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I would say I'm a bit of both. At times, one has to spend to achieve personal and commercial objectives. Let's say I spend money freely if it makes sense to me.
What's your philosophy regarding money?
In the words of my friend, Zain: "Look after it and it will look after you!"
What made you decide to be a shoe designer?
I was frustrated by the dearth of trendy and comfortable shoes and slippers available in the Pakistani market. Like most women, I love my shoes and it seemed like the perfect commercial venture for me. I feel it is very important for one to enjoy what they do to be able to put in their 100 per cent.
What inspires you in your designs?
Inspiration can be drawn from almost anything, but I find most of my inspiration from my travels. For instance, my new collection has been inspired by a recent trip to Istanbul, where I have tried to draw from their rich cultural heritage as well as simple experiences I may have had on the streets.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
Yes, I certainly made mistakes along the way, but the important thing is to learn from those mistakes. I feel I was very conservative when I first started my business. I operated out of a small studio and was reluctant to open my own stand-alone stores or expand beyond my existing client base. My business multiplied as soon as I took the step to expand and there has been no looking back. Even now, I find I need to learn to be a little more aggressive at times.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
Yes, I definitely believe in planning for the future. However, I also feel it's important to strike a balance and sometimes learn to live in the moment.
Is money important to you?
It is important in the sense that it helps achieve the goals one sets for oneself, whether those are personal or commercial. But I also strongly believe in the phrase, "Money cannot buy happiness".
What is your idea of financial freedom?
My idea of financial freedom would be to freely spend on things I find value in.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
I enjoy spending money on what I find personally fulfilling, whether it is art, travel or helping the less fortunate.

Source: http://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/personal-finance/money-me-to-make-money-learn-when-to-spend-it

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Top 5 Lessons From Oprah's 'Startup'

In recent weeks, startup educator Susan Schreter has been asked by students, friends and entrepreneurs about the struggles of Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. This is her reply.
Devoted Oprah Winfrey fans know to look at life's problems as positive opportunities to learn something new and then share the wisdom with others.
About 18 months ago, in partnership with Discovery Communications, Winfrey launched a new television network called OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. I like the name of this network. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, going out on your own means taking full ownership of everything that goes right, plus everything that goes wrong.
So what can startup entrepreneurs learn from OWN's first months in business? Here are five teachable moments to help you startup and persevere with confidence.
1. Moonlighting creates madness. It's OK to plan a startup while employed by another company. However, it's not ever wise to initiate customer facing operations without 100 percent leadership attention and focus. Little problems easily morph into big, costly ones when the top decision maker isn't on hand to make timely adjustments.
Winfrey has stated publicly that she regrets launching OWN while “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was still on the air. Her big “ah-ha” moment reflects the simple truth that one jockey can't ride two horses at the same time. It's simply too easy to fall and too hard to win.
2. Brand consistency matters. After watching OWN's first few months on the air, viewers who were passionate about the Oprah brand of self-respect and personal enrichment say they were confused. OWN wasn't Oprah. Actually, OWN's celebrity-filled reality programming looked more like that of competing network Oxygen or an episode of “E! True Hollywood Story.” There was nothing empowering about watching Tatum O'Neal's childish spats with her father or Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson recounting her self-inflicted financial and personal mishaps.
When first customers don't know what a startup's product or service really stands for, they won't come back. Even worse, they might share their disappointment with their friends.  If OWN is to succeed, it has to create a brand identity and programming that is perfectly aligned with Oprah -- or entirely separate from Oprah.
3. Make it great. Today Winfrey has to inspire her team to be even better than their best. They have to be innovative, imaginative and completely original in order to capture lasting audience attention. Copying what works at other networks or revisiting the ghosts of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” won't be enough for OWN to achieve entrepreneurial greatness. Delivering something that is really new and noteworthy is the only way any entrepreneurial initiative -- a startup network or a corner bakery -- can win lasting market share against competitors.
4. Spend like a startup. Startups close when they run out of cash or run out of investors who are willing to fund bloated operations. I bet in the early days of Winfrey's Harpo Productions Inc., first-class travel, expensive meals, employee bonuses and indulgent office digs were a reward for profitable financial performance, not a necessity.
When startups spend money on nice-to-haves before attaining key milestones of financial sustainability, they needlessly increase operating losses, business uncertainty and employee finger-pointing. It's a toxic environment that takes away all the joy of collaborative business-building.
OWN has already announced significant spending cuts. That's a good start for improving the chances of startup survival. Still, I wonder -- has OWN cut out all the nice-to-haves and engaged people who thrive in a barebones startup business environment? Have you in your new business?
5. Adversity is not failure. OWN is too early in the business development cycle to be called a failure. It's normal for nimble startups to test and adapt first ideas based on audience feedback. Some concepts work; others don't. The point is to learn from first missteps and continue to search for the sweet spot where a new business can operate in a sustainable way.
It's also completely expected that all startups will face their share of unexpected problems. Customers don't commit as quickly as planned, investors and partners back out of funding deals, websites crash, employees quit, and, of course, nervous competitors float negative rumors about the new market entrant. All of this is part of the early life of a startup.
Digging deeperWill OWN ultimately succeed? The odds are good that Winfrey has what it takes to succeed as a serial entrepreneur. In my classes, I like to point out that unlike just about every other entrepreneur on the Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans, Winfrey didn't have any help from venture capital funds and the public financing markets to propel her first company's growth.
Winfrey built Harpo and her fortune the old-fashioned way -- she funded growth through savvy business deals and cautious cash flow management. Would the founders of Google, Microsoft, Starbucks, Facebook or Amazon.com be as rich as they are today without early investment capital? It's hard to say, but their ramp-up would not have been as swift.
Winfrey should get a lot more credit in business schools and entrepreneurial education incubators for her skill in making something big and influential out of her own operating resources. Maybe that's the bigger lesson of OWN 2.0. More riches and satisfying rewards come to entrepreneurs who face adversity by digging down deeper to discover their own entrepreneurial magic. You can, too.

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