iStart Company Investigations: Life Upgrades Group


iStart Company Investigations: Life Upgrades Group

Music meets robotics with RoboTar, a slide-on device that automates guitar chords. Here’s a look at where Kevin Krumwiede of Life Upgrades Group has gone with the product since placing high in a competition hosted on the iStart platform earlier this year.

Kevin Krumwiede has a burning passion for music that was passed down to him by his father. But when his father had a stroke and could no longer play guitar, the younger Krumwiede found a way to keep his dad’s passion alive by creating RoboTar, a robotic chord player.

The device attaches

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iStart Company Investigations: Koa Organic Beverages


Three years after placing high in a competition through iStart, here’s a look at where natural juice producer Koa Organic Beverages, originally known as Eden Organic Water, is today.

When Adam Louras – a smoothie and juice lover from Texas – found out he was going to be diabetic, he envisioned an idea: creating the world’s first sugar-free juice. From there, Koa Natural Olakino was born.

A mix of 12 different fruits and vegetables, the beverage is fresh pressed from each piece of produce and doesn’t add any preservatives or sweeteners.

“What you get is all of the nutritional aspects

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'Sales Is Like Oxygen' and So is Education


During my years at the Kauffman Foundation I have seen firsthand the effect that education can have on the development of entrepreneurs and their companies. The entrepreneurs with whom I have worked have taken the lessons they have learned and applied them to great effect in their endeavors as founders. These entrepreneurs benefited from opportunities to learn critical skills, and from gaining an understanding of crucial decisions or junctures that often can derail entrepreneurial businesses.

Experience suggests that when entrepreneurs learn about founding team dynamics, strategies for handling objections in the sales process, and the ins and outs of intellectual

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Founders School 'Just in Time' Lessons for Entrepreneurs


You don’t need to spend countless hours in a classroom, or have an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs often don’t have the time or patience to sit through a semester long class or six-week course in order to retrieve the answer to a question they have now-today. They need help quickly and efficiently. And this is where our idea for Founders School started.

In my own entrepreneurial journey, I remember coming to points while starting my company where my knowledge or education couldn’t provide me with the information I needed to make a sound decision. This happens to

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Leading the Charge: Business Competition Lessons from SiNode Systems


A Year of Learning

In the business world, SiNode Systems is becoming known for its success in recent business competitions as much as for its innovative, high-performance anodes for lithium ion batteries. The startup out of Northwestern University won the 2013 Rice Business Competition, the largest such competition in the world, as well as the 2013 Clean Energy Prize on the back of its cutting edge battery technology and a strong team of founders. Since the competitions, SiNode has gone on to secure private investment, receive a federal research grant, and form industry partnerships as it continues to grow

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Best Practices for Running a Business Competition


Whether you are planning to run a business plan, a business model, pitch or idea competition there is a couple of things I have noticed from hosting a couple of hundred competitions in the last two years that you may want to consider.

Don’t run a competition just to check a box for your organization. Business competitions are a wonderful way to provide experiential learning for your applicants. If you can’t put in the time and provide a clear benefit to those applicants, education, mentorship or capital, let them know about other competitions and help prepare them. In a recent

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Fostering Startup Communities

Fostering Startup Communities

Do you wonder what it takes to start and foster a Startup Community? We’ve seen more and more communities pop up not only around the U.S. but all around the world from Haiti to Iran to Brazil to Norway, all to foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Lesa Mitchell at The Kauffman Foundation, Marc Nager at Startup Weekend, Charlie O’Donnell at Brooklyn Ventures, and Tony Hsieh at Zappos talk about what it takes to get this done. Tony speaks about why he is helping to create an ecosystem in Las Vegas, and how to incorporate education, arts music and real estate, with

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Successful Startups begin with a Stable, but Flexible, Foundation


For entrepreneurs, it can be tempting to correlate large investments with “success” – but this misleading indicator doesn’t guarantee anything for new companies. Big dollars may lead to big media coverage, but that isn’t the route most startups choose to pursue, and for good reasons. However, for new companies in their earliest stages, it is abundantly clear that at this point in the entrepreneurial journey other factors are far more critical in determining long-term success. For example, finding and building the right team or ensuring that one’s spouse or family is supportive of this new entrepreneurial path can be undervalued;

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The Entrepreneur’s Network


When we hear the word entrepreneur, many images are conjured up – including that of a lone individual, fearlessly crusading for the successful launch and growth of his company. He shuts out the rest of the world, focusing solely on the precious business that is being created. Truthfully, though, that sort of approach to entrepreneurship is better fodder for romance novels than for real life.

You may already know that being an entrepreneur can be both lonely and frightening. An individual with an idea and the passion for turning that idea into a business may start out in her home

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Characteristics of Great Leaders


KNOWLEDGE, INNOVATION, TECHNOLOGY AND EXCELLENCE: These are the characteristics that set leaders apart from the pack. What characteristics are missing?

DEVELOPMENT. The best leaders are good at making more leaders. In the proper balance of development, a leader must know how much leadership to offer and how much to let the individual grow on his own. They strike the right balance between specific and generic guidance so that the unique individual traits of the workers come through in the business model, solutions to problems, and system design.

MANAGEMENT. High-quality leaders foster an environment that is respectful of all points of

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