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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Can Lean Startups Compete in Business Plan Competitions?


Traditional vs. Lean Startups

In traditional startup practice, a founder writes a lengthy business plan, pitches it to investors, assembles a team, builds out necessary infrastructure, and then works hard to sell his or her product. In the uncertainty and pace of the modern marketplace, startups operating in this way often struggle to keep up. According to research out of Harvard Business School, 75 percent of all venture-funded startups fail. Lean methodology, articulated mostly by Steve Blank and Eric Reis, seeks to help more startups succeed through a number of fundamental changes to the traditional model.


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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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SiNode Wins Rice Business Plan Competition


SiNode Systems won the Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston this past weekend. The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship hosts the three-day competition, which boasts the largest judging panel and distributes the most prize money—more than $1 million—of any such competition in the world.

SiNode finished first amongst 42 other teams and presented to hundreds of judges throughout the three-day event to take home $911,000. SiNode Systems is a battery materials company developing silicon graphene anodes for the next generation of lithium-ion batteries. SiNode anodes offer 10X higher battery capacity and a 10X decrease in charging time compared with

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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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Winner Named in Global Desktop Factory Competition


83-year-old maker Hugh Lyman’s invention turns plastic pellets into affordable filaments for 3D printing

(SAN MATEO, Calif.) March 4, 2021 – The inventor of a machine that turns plastic pellets into affordable filaments for low-cost 3D printers is the winner of the first Desktop Fabrication Competition, a global contest sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, Maker Education Initiative and Inventables.

Hugh Lyman, an 83-year-old inventor from Enumclaw, Wash., won $40,000 and a laser cutter, 3D printer and CNC milling machine supplied by Inventables for his machine called the Lyman Filament Extruder II. His extruder converts plastic resin pellets into filament

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