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As technology advances at an increasingly rapid rate, those outside of the tech industry, including small business owners (SMB’s), are often left behind and competitively disadvantaged. Their competitiveness is about to change—for the better.

November 2022 marked a mainstream shift in the release and adoption of various generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) tools and products. ChatGPT became the buzzword in the world’s boardrooms, on social media and at dinner parties, ushering in an AI divide, where a segment of the population fully embraced this technology, another was wary, and everyone else unsure. Since then, global tech. providers, like Intuit, GoDaddy and Zoho have been scrambling to accelerate AI enabled products and services that can make an impact—especially GenAI.

What Is AI’s Impact on SMB
As Sasan Goodarzi, president and CEO of Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU), puts it, “AI presents the next tectonic shift in technology and will be the greatest driver of innovation since electricity and the internet—and generative AI is transforming the way humans interact with computers.” He is building on and enabling their deep data DNA culture, “We’re now expanding our platform to include the Intuit Generative AI operating system (GenOS), a proprietary capability that empowers Intuit technologists to design, build and deploy breakthrough GenAI experiences.”


But with all of the investment going on, according to a recent survey from GoDaddy, only 33% of small business owners can explain what GenAI is, leaving many entrepreneurs confused or apprehensive, and trailing behind. See, you’re not alone.

With only 11% of respondents using generative AI tools for their business, and well over half (57%) interested in using AI tools, there’s an education gap among small business owners on the best ways to deploy this new technology.

3 Side Hustle Secrets To Help You Scale To 6 Figures
Many companies brought in a slew of new AI tools and product offerings, but what’s far more critical is educating business owners and consumers on the depth of these new tools.

“At GoDaddy, we’ve devoted our entire team to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners in leveraging generative AI for their business,” said GoDaddy (NYSE: GDDY), U.S. Independents President Gourav Pani. “Educating them on these capabilities so they can level up and compete is critical to the success of small businesses.”

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It’s Not About AI—It’s What It Could Do For You
Raju Vegesna, COO of Zoho Corporation North America and Chief Evangelist, thinks the tech industry and ecosystem seems to be more excited about GenAI than the average SMB client. “Rather than wasting time convincing users of the benefits of AI, the real success is when people don't know, or can't tell, that they're using AI at all but are benefiting from the technology. That level of invisibility is a good sign for adoption of the technology; if we have to use the buzzwords all the time, this typically means we are early in the cycle.” He believes that the real innovation is ahead of us and real use cases will start to trickle in over the coming quarters and years.

Zoho’s strategy, is also evolving to where the hockey puck seems to be going, as they integrate AI and other enabling technologies across various products contextually for the benefit of SMB’s. “That remains the goal for us - enhanced user productivity and benefits from the core day-to-day applications. Not just using AI, for the sake of using it, or because it is the latest trending capability.”

When I talk with SMB’s and entrepreneurs, they all want help with growth, without all the tech. fuss. Goodarzi agrees when talking about Intuit developments: “[small businesses] will know and be able to take action on what products and services to sell more of, how to optimize pricing, how much to invest in marketing, which channels to invest in, how much capital to take, when to pay it back, know when it’s time to buy more inventory and hire more employees.”

To reduce the education gap, GoDaddy launched a free AI Prompt Library offering small business owners a guide on ways AI can help them save time while growing their business. Curated to address common themes business owners need to be competitive in today’s business landscape, the library is a useful addition to every small business owner’s toolkit so they can learn how to use AI to assist with most all areas of a business. The AI Prompt Library additionally provides directions on ways entrepreneurs can use chatbots such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Bing AI. GoDaddy is actively working to create a self-service platform that would allow customers to collectively use these tools without having to log into different chatbots.

In addition to the prompt library, GoDaddy launched various AI-powered products created with business owners in mind. Based on a Spring 2023 survey from the Venture Forward research initiative, marketing is one of the top challenges entrepreneurs face when starting a business. That’s why they built GenAI tools to help entrepreneurs save time on tasks such as responding to customer service messages, building a website, writing product descriptions, and creating Facebook and Instagram ads.

Practicing Responsible AI
While GenAI can be a helpful tool, it does come with limitations and challenges. To educate small business owners, GoDaddy created a resource guide detailing the risks of AI chatbots and ways to use the technology responsibly. The guide covers concerns including inaccurate, misleading or inherently outdated information; bias in AI and chatbots; data privacy; plagiarism; intellectual property; the potential to cause real-world harm; environmental impact; and the possibility of AI addiction or overreliance.

While many vendors are jumping on the AI bandwagon, fundamental aspects should not be ignored—like privacy and transparency. Zoho’s Vegesna agrees, “We think context, privacy and value remain the key tenets of our AI strategy, which is why we ensure our customers are aware of what's at stake.”

Educating entrepreneurs and consumers on the pros and cons of GenAI will continue to be a hot topic, and providers need to provide balanced insights, so people can make thoughtful decisions on whether to use these new tools for their businesses.

Leveling the Playing Field
Technology providers are starting to recognize that small businesses lack the time and resources to effectively use data when tailoring products and finding or engaging with customers. Large corporations have teams of developers, copywriters and marketers that create strategic language to capture the attention of their target audiences, and generally have access to more sophisticated tools that analyze the data to understand what their patrons want.

GoDaddy thinks GenAI has democratized access to this information, and by using this technology, small businesses now have a resource that provides them with precise information collected from vast amounts of data that they can use to propel their business forward. They continually update their Empower by GoDaddy curriculum, a global social impact program that supports historically overlooked entrepreneurs with small business workshops and self-guided curriculums; one-on-one, group mentorship and coaching; a support network; and wraparound services such as childcare, transportation and technology to eliminate barriers to participation.

I took a look at Phoenix, Arizona-based Ade McCray, founder and CEO of Pilates King LLC and a graduate of Empower by GoDaddy, who found great success in the program where he learned how to use ChatGPT and other AI tools to assist in developing his business plan. “Empower was most helpful to me in regard to advertising,” said McCray. “I learned the best practices when it came to using GoDaddy Studio and ChatGPT, which assisted in problem-solving, as well as helping me formulate and fine-tune many ideas I had for my business.”

Zoho’s approach has been to empower SMB’s, with a suite of tools, from the very beginning of their startup journeys—with a few new platforms just launched. Vegesna offers some proof, “Many of our products are built to serve businesses from Day 1 through filing necessary legal paperwork through Zoho Start, which also offers integrations with things like Zoho Domains to create a business website, or utilizing Zoho Solo's mobile-only experience to help the busiest of solopreneurs with their everyday tasks, all while on the go.

SMB providers who will win are the ones who recognize their customers aren’t technical, don’t want to know how things work, are extremely busy and mobile—and need things dummied down. Vegesna’s states, “With LandingPage, we take out the need to know how to code in order to build impressive landing pages that help businesses grow their online presences while Bigin/Zoho CRM allows them them to alleviate stress that might be associated with using a full suite of irrelevant features.” Intuit’s Goodarzi emphasizes GenAI is in Mailchimp where “a new email content generation solution empowers users to create marketing copy that they can easily drag and drop into emails they’re sending to existing and prospective customers.”

Small business is the lifeblood of most economies, and as technology evolves, SMB’s need to become more competitive in order to drive growth in a digitally enabled landscape. The race is on, and as enabling platforms leverage GenAI, they have the opportunity to save busy entrepreneurs time and energy, while more importantly helping to drive growth, customers and revenue. Goodarzi is betting on it, “Our vision is to become the financial assistant in our customers’ pockets that fuels their livelihoods and, in turn, creates a thriving economy.”


3 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Travel MoreIf done wisely, a little travel can be a huge benefit to your business

Travel has had an unimaginably large impact on my career, and I'm sure it will do the same for many of you too (that is, if it hasn't already). I'm writing this after being in China for the first time and despite having traveled so much before, I'm still in shock at how different things can be. Here's how travel can help you in your business based on what I've seen and experienced.

The contacts
This one is pretty straightforward. When you travel, you're exposed to a lot of new people, and some can be of benefit to your business. It might sound crude when I word it like that, but it's not a case of Machiavellian tactics at all, it's just the way it tends to pan out. As you travel, you collect shared experiences with a wide variety of people. Plus, your pool of potential people to meet is significantly larger. And if you do find yourself far away from home, you'll often find that those who are in the same situation tend to band together. All of this means that the opportunity to network afforded by travel is second to none.

I didn't even mention the in-person conferences and other networking events. These can be worth their weight in gold.

Article continues after video.

Why This E-Commerce Entrepreneur Changed Her Mind About Influencer Marketing

All in all, travel gives you access to a lot of people, which is a real benefit.

The insights
In some industries, it's of practical benefit to travel (a few obvious examples being working in transport or tourism). But even if you aren't in an industry that lends itself so directly towards travel, there is still a lot of knowledge to be gained.

As said above, it's the people who can give so much value to your business when traveling. But being specific, it's the insights that you'll get. Some directly from those you meet, and some from your own ideas based on your new experiences. Diverse opinions and ideas mean the chance for new, fresh perspectives and unique opportunities for growth. Undoubtedly one of the most valuable parts of travel is the exposure to different methods of getting things done.

The opportunity to reset

This is something I come back to often, but that's because it's so true. Travel is the perfect chance to audit the parts of your work that aren't serving you. If you're moving away from problematic people who aren't helping you and your business, then travel will physically put distance between you and them. If you need a chance to make decisions without being influenced, it'll give you that space. Travel is great for empowering you to solve problems.

Related to this, I also find that travel keeps you in the mindset of constant renewal and reinvention when it comes to work. This is even more common in those remote entrepreneurs living a lifestyle that doesn't have a firm base. You're kept on your toes, and your environment serves as a constant reminder of the need for positive forward motion.


Entrepreneurial cognition: A key factor that differentiates successful entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial cognition is a field of study that delves into the cognitive processes, mental frameworks, and decision-making mechanisms that drive entrepreneurial behavior. It is the knowledge structures that people use to make assessments, judgments or decisions involving opportunity evaluation, venture creation and growth.  In the dynamic and competitive world of entrepreneurship, understanding the mindset of successful entrepreneurs becomes paramount to unlock the secrets behind their achievements. The key factor that differentiates successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful or less successful entrepreneurs is the entrepreneurial cognition.

The field of entrepreneurship has been studied from a psychological perspective but little attention has been given to cognitive perspective. The cognitive perspective in entrepreneurship emphasizes the role of the human mind in shaping entrepreneurial behavior. The cognitive approach involves studying specific types of cognitions that play a significant role in explaining entrepreneurial behavior, business success, and how entrepreneurs can be distinguished from non-entrepreneurs. Researchers adopting this approach emphasize that cognitive aspects are crucial in setting entrepreneurs apart from others. These cognitive elements encompass a wide spectrum, including beliefs, values, cognitive styles, and mental processes. By delving into these cognitive factors, researchers seek to uncover the unique mindset and thought patterns that drive entrepreneurial individuals to achieve their goals and stand out in the business world.

The main cognitive factors of entrepreneurship include “self-efficacy”, “scripts” and “cognitive styles”. Self Efficacy is an important predictor of why individuals with the exactly same learned skill act differently.  Defined by Bandura, self efficacy is “one’s beliefs in their abilities to perform a certain level of performance or desired outcomes that influence situations that affect their lives”. Scripts on the other hand, refers to the structured and organized knowledge that an individual possesses about a specific concept; a comprehensive mental framework that aids in understanding and processing information related to that particular concept. An entrepreneurial expert becomes an expert because of the knowledge structure or scripts about a particular domain, a factor that differentiates him from novices. Cognitive Styles refers to an individual’s unique manner of perceiving and interpreting environmental stimuli. It encompasses how people organize and utilize information derived from their surroundings to inform and direct their actions. Individuals with a knowing style prefer to analyze and understand things based on facts and data. They have a strong desire to know precisely how things work and remember many details. They are focused on completing tasks accurately and excel at solving complex problems as long as there is a clear and logical solution available.

Entrepreneurship, from a cognitive perspective, explains an individual’s behavior regarding the identification of opportunities for starting and growing businesses. Cognitive ability of successful entrepreneurs allows them to spot gaps in the market, foresee emerging trends, and connect seemingly unrelated information to create innovative solutions. Where entrepreneurship inherently involves taking risk, cognitive factors such as risk tolerance, risk perception, and the ability to evaluate potential outcomes play a crucial role in the decision-making process. Correspondingly, when it comes to decision making, entrepreneurs take into consideration rationality, intuition, and heuristics to guide their decisions effectively. Another important aspect is the creative thinking of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who think outside of the box and embrace creativity can develop groundbreaking products and services that disrupt industries and create new market niches.

Another significant deriver of entrepreneurial success is experience. Kolb’s experiential learning theory highlights the significant influence of our experiences, encompassing our thoughts, emotions, and environment, on the process of learning. In this theory, learning is not a passive activity but an active and dynamic process that involves engaging with real-life experiences and reflecting on them to gain insights and knowledge. It emphasizes that our perceptions, emotions, and interactions with the environment all play essential roles in shaping how we absorb and internalize new information, leading to a more holistic and transformative learning experience. Since decision making is based on the knowledge acquired through the learning process, and the fact that there is no perfect information makes Kolb’s experiential learning rather more relevant which combines previously gained knowledge, perception, cognition and experience.

Human cognitive functioning in decision making processes can often lead to biases, errors or limitations. Research on heuristics (cognitive shortcuts or simplifying strategies that individuals employ to handle and process information, aiming to minimize uncertainty and facilitate decision-making) states that entrepreneurs using logic while coming across heuristics turn out to be more orthodox in their decision making. Entrepreneurs can be influenced by several cognitive biases that impact their decision-making processes. The overconfidence bias leads them to overestimate their abilities and the likelihood of success, potentially resulting in risky decisions and underestimation of challenges. Confirmation bias causes entrepreneurs to seek information that aligns with their existing beliefs, hindering their ability to identify potential pitfalls or consider alternative opportunities. Loss aversion makes entrepreneurs more sensitive to potential losses than gains, making them risk-averse and reluctant to take necessary risks. The anchoring effect causes entrepreneurs to rely heavily on the first piece of information they encounter, potentially skewing their judgment and leading to suboptimal choices. These biases can significantly shape an entrepreneur’s behavior and outcomes in the business world.

The world of entrepreneurship is driven by innovation, risk-taking, and relentless pursuit of opportunities. Behind every successful venture lies the entrepreneurial cognition – the unique way entrepreneurs think, perceive, and process information. Entrepreneurs have been recognized for their unique ability to process information, leading to the development of the concept of “entrepreneurial cognition.” This distinctive cognitive capacity has become a defining characteristic that sets entrepreneurs apart from other individuals in the business realm. Understanding cognitive perspective on entrepreneurship is vital for aspiring entrepreneurs, educators, policymakers, and researchers to unlock the secrets of successful entrepreneurship and foster a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. To conclude, entrepreneurial cognition provides a fascinating insight into the minds of successful entrepreneurs. By understanding the cognitive processes involved in opportunity recognition, risk management, decision-making, creativity, and resilience, aspiring entrepreneurs can develop their cognitive skills and increase their chances of success.



When Liz Elting was living out of a dorm room in her 20s, she saw a big gap in the translation business. She decided to fill it herself.
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It’s the time of year when we put on our cozy sweaters, watch the leaves change, and grab a warm chai latte with a friend… It’s also when millions of college students have stepped onto campus for the first time. Those first jittery months of college are often the moment when we first start to dream up how we want to make our mark on the world. While some of us changed majors many times as we decided what path we wanted to take, others were laser-focused on their futures from day one. We’ve all heard stories of successful entrepreneurs who got their start in their college dorm rooms — Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Liz Elting.

Liz Elting is the founder of TransPerfect — now the world’s largest language translation company — which she launched in an NYU dorm room in 1992 without any outside funding. Her mission was simple: to provide the highest quality language services to leading organizations worldwide.

SUBSCRIBE: New episode drops every Monday! Subscribe to How She Does It on Apple Podcasts so you never miss the latest!

The company now has over $1 billion in revenue and offices in more than 100 cities worldwide. Liz shares what she learned about creating a company from nothing in her new book: “Dream Big and Win: Translating Power Into Purpose and Creating a Billion-Dollar Business.”

Liz loved learning new languages from an early age, and grew up studying Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Latin. After college, she moved to New York and immediately got a job at a translation company — but quickly started to notice that things could be done better. “A client would call up and say, ‘I need this five-page document translated, how long will it take?’ And I would say a week but I knew it could be done in one or two days if that’s what they really needed,” she says, “And I also thought we needed a local presence because our clients were around the world and I could envision a company with offices around the world.”

She went to business school and after a short stint on Wall Street, decided to create the translation business of her dreams. The only problem was funding. “I thought, we are not in a position to work on getting funding. We don’t have time to create this complicated business plan. We just need to sell,” Liz said. So that’s precisely what she focused on from day one – making 300 phone calls in a day, and working 120-hour weeks until her company was able to move into an office space and hire its first employees.

Listen to the episode to hear the qualities Liz Elting was looking for when hiring her core team of employees, why she decided not to take venture capital money, and what lessons she learned from eventually selling the business to her ex-fiancé.

How She Does It is bringing you stories like these, that celebrate female risk-taking in business and beyond, every Monday. Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts! And don’t forget to share with a friend if you’re loving the show!

Entrepreneurship 101: How Business School Can Ignite Your Startup Dreams

Many high-school graduates decide to attain a degree in business when they make the jump to university, but this majority does so with hopes of getting positions in the workforce. This is good and all, but what about those ambitious few wanting to turn business school into an educational opportunity to develop their own endeavors?

Luckily, the many courses and subjects in the field of business are great for preparing many aspiring entrepreneurs to launch their own projects and even connect with like-minded individuals. Every course, from Bachelor of Accounting to the prestigious SBU MBA degree, can help you get to your goals, whether it be creating your own startup or climbing up the ladder on Wall Street.

That being said, if you’re an entrepreneur at heart, then this article will go through some key areas where business school can help you build your own startups and make your dreams come true. Let’s have a look at some of the main advantages of this sought-after field of study.

You Will Gain Foundational Business Knowledge and Skills
If you want to tackle the competitive world of business, then a solid understanding of important concepts is the best foundation to get you started. Without starting with the basics, you’re going to have a very difficult time, and this is where many entrepreneurs fail. Too often, entrepreneurs don’t take the time to get a proper overview when they are starting out and then end up going through road bumps later on in their careers.

Providing an overview is where business school comes in. Good quality business school will give you the basics upfront and teach the important topics you’ll need to develop as an entrepreneur from the beginning to the end of your journey. Business schools will always teach fundamental subjects such as management, accounting, finance, and economics, which are essential skills to possess in the business world.

There Are Endless Networking Opportunities
Another overlooked point, especially if you want to build your own business or startup, is the networking possibilities that come with studying at a business school. In today’s world, the ability to network and make connections is the cornerstone of successful business. After all, business is just communication and transactions between individuals. So don’t neglect the opportunity to connect with your peers and help each other with opportunities so you can position yourself for future success.

At business school, you are given the opportunity to connect with everyone from classmates, professors, guest lecturers, and even alumni during your studies. Keep in mind the multiple roles that these individuals can play, which can include everything from business partners, mentors, investors, or even mentees. If you find any successful individual, you’ll soon realize that they all have these important relationships in their lives, and on many occasions, they will describe these relationships as being monumental to their success.

Exposure to Real-World Cases During Your Studies
So, theoretically, you can go out in the real world now and start a business, make mistakes, and continue learning. But what if you could study real-world cases and gain those lessons in a risk-free environment? That’s where studying at a business school can really shine. The world of business is very cut-throat and risky, but having the backing of learning through a risk-free environment will put you ahead of others jumping in alone.

Business curriculums usually expose their students to real-world examples and case studies so they can learn in a controlled environment. This is especially effective for individuals who are risk-averse and prefer to make calculated decisions regarding their business strategy. Learning through case studies means that you’ll be able to pick up skills like problem-solving, leadership, and strategic planning in an environment where there’s no risk of failure.

Access to Business Incubators and Funding

If you’re lucky enough, then you might even be able to receive business funding or access to incubators through initiatives and connections at business schools. This is to encourage entrepreneurial ventures as well as to give opportunities for investors to contribute to innovation in the business landscape. These initiatives also provide mentorship, resources, and guidance in helping businesses thrive during their formative years.

In addition, many business schools have strong ties with the investor community, providing students with opportunities to pitch their business ideas and secure the much-needed funding for their ventures. Access to resources and financial support can significantly accelerate the growth of startups and provide a robust platform for their success.

The business world is not for the faint of heart, and many entrepreneurs and business owners take multiple paths to reach their goals. However, if you’re on the fence and uncertain, then going to a university is a great starting point. Getting the upfront knowledge and support in the right environment can be extremely beneficial to some, so you should consider this important pathway if you want to accelerate your career.

6 Lessons Italy Can Teach Entrepreneurs

1. Connecting people is good karma
We’ve all heard the adage “It’s not what you know, it's who you know,” and nowhere is that more true than in Italy. It never fails…I mention to a friend that I need a dry cleaner/apartment/driving school, and inevitably, that friend knows someone who can help.

They aren’t doing it for gain. It’s just how they’re wired.

Years ago I went to a networking event and watched a woman machine-gun her business card into the hand of every dumbfounded attendee. I’m willing to bet that she didn’t get much in the way of business from this endeavor.

However, when you connect people in a thoughtful way like the Italians do, you’re building a bond with the person you helped. They trust you. And they’re more likely to return the favor and send business your way.

2. You can’t rush things
In Italy, we say piano, piano. Slowly, slowly. While it can be nervewracking when this applies to getting your wifi set up (over a matter of a week, not hours), it is also beautiful when you let things unfold in their own sweet time.

Recently I met a business owner who was interested in my writing services. As eager as I was to work with him, I knew better than to schedule a meeting to get things moving. It may not happen this week, or even this year, but the seed has been planted, and I have no doubt that a meeting and maybe even a contract will happen. In the meantime, I’ll connect with him on a personal level to build that relationship.

3. There’s always a way
“Signora, è impossibile.” It’s impossible to [insert activity here], Italians tell me. And yet, they always find a way to make it happen.

As a business owner, you may come up against what feels like a brick wall, with no solution to a problem in sight. But if you step away from the problem (I often go for a walk to clear my head) and look at it from a different angle, you’re more likely to find a way through that wall.

It can also help to talk out the problem with a friend. I have an American friend who also lives in Calabria, and we often talk about business problems. Getting a different perspective or seeing our businesses from the outside is usually enough to get us over the hurdle.

4. All work and no play…
Young entrepreneur sightseeing in Italy
Photo by Sofia Alberti on Unsplash

There’s a concept in Italy called la dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing. It’s not just the stuff of movies. It’s how they live, and it’s something Americans could really benefit from.

It’s even more apparent to me now that I’m living in Italy that Americans are working themselves to death. They eat lunch at their desk while powering through another task, and they make themselves available to clients on the weekends and after hours.

Italians, however, place life first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a shop during operating hours only to see a sign saying “back soon.” Here, “soon” is a highly variable period of time, and the shop owner might stop to greet a friend at a bar and chat for half an hour before returning to work. Customers aren’t put out. They get it.

And come midday, everything shuts down, at least in smaller towns. That’s because the business owners are at home having a leisurely lunch with their families and taking a nap. They’ll reopen around four and stay open until eight.

As a result, you don’t see nearly as many stressed-out Italians as you do Americans.

5. Your story matters
Italians are fiercely proud of their culture and heritage. And I love learning about how the local dialect connects to the French language, the origin of a type of pasta, or the history of a small religious festival.

In your business, the story of who you are and why you do what you do matters to your clients. It’s what bonds you. As a spiritual coach, my story of how I ended up on my journey to living authentically (which, for me meant moving to Italy) is what piques people’s interest and spurs them to want to work with me.

6. You don’t need to operate in a bubble
Where I live in Italy—in the toe of the boot—was at one time ancient Greece. There are Greek, Roman, and Byzantine ruins everywhere. And the language and culture have been influenced over the centuries thanks to being ruled at one point or another by the Spanish, French, and many other conquerors. What this does is make for a beautiful melting pot of language, culture, and food.


The University Student Accelerator—USTAAR—Program will bring together students or teams from the College of Engineering, the Miller School of Medicine, the Miami Herbert Business School, the School of Law, and other areas across the University of Miami to nurture new ideas from inception to implementation.

Two brothers, both alumni of the University who have requested to remain anonymous, have pledged to match, 2 to 1, all gifts to support USTAAR, up to $1 million. The effort will kick off with an all-day Giving Day challenge on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Following Giving Day and for the duration of the pledge, a portion of future donations will be made available as matching funds to encourage additional philanthropic support for USTAAR.

Motivated by their own experiences as successful entrepreneurs, the donors wanted to be a catalyst for student entrepreneurs—helping them turn their daydreams into real-life ventures.   

“The USTAAR program will be truly transformative for student entrepreneurship, providing fundamental training, mentorship, and financial support for idea development and commercialization, with a goal to creating ’Canes-led startups that bring products to the market,” said Suhrud Rajguru, director of USTAAR, professor of biomedical engineering and otolaryngology, and assistant vice provost for research workforce development. “The program is open to all students and trainees at the University. The goal is for these student-led startups to enhance socioeconomic development in South Florida and beyond.”

The program is designed to lay a foundation at the University for the next century of student entrepreneurs and startup creation. Working together to oversee this multidisciplinary student accelerator are the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship and the College of Engineering with expertise from the Office of Technology Transfer, U Innovation, and other strategic areas of the University.

The USTAAR Fund will provide seed funding for student design projects, as well as support for technology transfer and the commercialization of startup companies at the University of Miami.

“I am excited to support a gift to facilitate collaboration between my office, the College of Engineering, the Office of Technology Transfer, and the Clinical Translational Science Institute to augment opportunities for students to learn more about translational research and receive mentorship for taking their great ideas from conceptualization to commercialization,” said Erin Kobetz, vice provost for research and scholarship and the John K. and Judy H. Schulte Senior Endowed Chair in Cancer Research. “I am grateful for the vision and support of our donors who have given us the ability to further support entrepreneurship among our students, whose creativity and intelligence are boundless.”

The gift is part of the University of Miami’s Ever Brighter: The Campaign for Our Next Century. The most ambitious in the University’s history, the $2.5 billion goal campaign is set to conclude in 2025, when the University will celebrate its centennial.

Help student entrepreneurs by contributing to the USTAAR program.

Bangladesh Startup Investment Report 2023

Even in the face of global upheavals and the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bangladesh’s economy has shown remarkable resilience. With a total GDP of USD 460 Bn, it stands as the second-largest in South Asia. With a median age of 28 years and an impressive 62% of the population under 35, Bangladesh possesses a young and tech-savvy demographic, driving the momentum of consumption. By 2030, projections suggest that Bangladesh’s consumer market will elevate to the 9th largest globally, marking a remarkable leap.

The digital wave is sweeping across Bangladesh, with 126 Mn mobile internet subscribers and a robust 75% internet penetration rate. The country is primed for digital innovation, as evident from the fact that 69% of previously unbanked adults now possess mobile phones, opening doors for mobile financial services to catalyze financial inclusion. Positive trends in digital finance indicators underscore Bangladesh’s steadfast commitment to fostering a dynamic digital finance ecosystem.

An invigorating startup ecosystem finds its roots in the strong backing of the Government of Bangladesh. Pioneering a multitude of initiatives and upcoming projects, the government is nurturing a vibrant startup landscape. Investments in infrastructure development lay a solid foundation for startups to thrive. Initiatives like the Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (iDEA) project and Startup Bangladesh Limited offer training, mentorship, and crucial financial support for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Bangladesh Government’s ambition to nurture five unicorns by 2025 symbolizes a trajectory of exceptional growth.

Get ready to explore the latest insights about the startup ecosystem in Bangladesh, curated for you by LightCastle Partners in partnership with Startup Bangladesh Limited. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an investor, or simply curious about the dynamic world of startups, download the Bangladesh Startup Investment Report 2023 to uncover the latest insights.

The 10 Commandments of Networking You Must Know to Build Authentic Connections

They say, "It's all about people," and they are right. Opportunities that can change our lives or at least solve a current burning problem all come thanks to people. Networking is an art that holds immense power in our interconnected world. It is the key to building authentic connections that can lead us to personal and professional fulfillment.

I've been researching the "art of networking" for over a decade, interviewing world-class experts, covering studies, books and, most importantly, listening — listening to the millions of people around the world that I have taught this art to. This has led me to know a thing or two about it and develop a methodology around fulfilling ourselves through the power of relationships, which I have been teaching in six continents.

With that in mind, I'd like to present my "Networking Ten Commandments" to guide professionals and individuals in forging meaningful relationships and succeeding in their boundless careers and business aspirations. Let's delve into these commandments and I encourage you to explore which ones resonate with you the most.

Humanity thrives through collaboration. Most people are happy to help if asked in a way that ignites their willingness to assist. When seeking support, approach others with a genuine request, explaining how their contribution can make a positive impact. By appealing to their altruistic nature and even needs, you are more likely to receive their support.

Networking is a powerful skill for achieving our goals. To make the most of this skill, set clear targets and identify the individuals who can help you reach them. By proactively seeking out those who possess the necessary expertise or resources, you increase your chances of success.

Build relationships before you need help. Get to know a diverse range of individuals long before you require their assistance. Networking is not solely about reaching out when you are in need; it is about fostering genuine connections over time first. Invest in building relationships with others, nurturing them through meaningful interactions and offering support whenever possible.

Be open and approachable to everyone you meet. You never know who you might meet. A simple smile or a friendly greeting can go a long way in creating a positive impression. Treat everyone with respect and openness, as each person has the potential to contribute to your journey, the same as you can contribute to theirs.

Strive to create authentic personal bonds with people. It involves showing a sincere interest in others, giving truthful compliments, finding common ground and fostering a sense of camaraderie. By making people feel like you care about them and genuinely investing in authentic relationships, you establish a foundation of trust and support that can greatly enhance your networking endeavors, and vice versa.

Be "out there" and engage in diverse networking opportunities. The more you engage with different communities and circles, attend events and participate in professional gatherings to meet a variety of different people, the greater the likelihood of encountering potential opportunities. Embrace new experiences, step out of your comfort zone and seize every opportunity to expand your network.
Design your authentic brand and how others perceive you by consistently conveying your strengths and characteristic messages. Define what sets you apart and communicate it effectively. Craft a compelling narrative that showcases your skills, expertise, and unique value proposition. Align your personal brand with your networking goals to attract like-minded individuals.

"Follow up" is the golden rule in networking. Actively manage and maintain relationships with the relevant people for you. Engage in long-term communication and stay connected. Remember, networking is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and nurturing. There are many techniques to follow up, I talk about some of them on my social media channels.

Always give without expecting immediate returns. Giving is the "currency" of relationships. There is so much to offer others; from sharing your experiences and giving compliments to dedicating time to help and sharing connections and resources. When you assist others in achieving their desires, it creates reciprocity, paving the way for support when you need it most.

The best way to connect with a stranger is by seeking their advice. Most people are flattered when asked for advice, as it demonstrates respect for their expertise and positions you as an eager learner. This approach often leads to meaningful conversations, establishing a foundation for building and strengthening relationships.


What to Consider Before Investing in a Startup or Company?

Investing in a startup or company can be an exciting opportunity, but it can also be a risky one. Before deciding to invest, several key factors should be carefully considered to help minimize the risks and increase the chances of a successful investment. By taking the time to thoroughly evaluate all the necessary factors, investors can make informed decisions. This article will explore these considerations in more detail and discuss how to evaluate potential investment opportunities.

11 Factors to Consider Before Investing in a Startup or Company
There are numerous reasons why a startup can fail – ranging from unfortunate circumstances to an inadequate business plan or poor timing. According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, approximately 20% of newly established businesses do not survive beyond their first year of operation. The following factors need to be considered before making an investment decision.

Analyze the Domain
We all have experience working within certain industries or possess a personal interest in particular sectors. To increase the likelihood of successful investment, it is advisable to seek out startups that align with one's area of expertise or interest. This enables one to better comprehend the business and its potential, thereby allowing one to invest with confidence.
Conversely, investing in startups from unfamiliar sectors may make it difficult to accurately evaluate the business and make informed investment decisions.

Business Plan
When listening to startup founders pitch their ideas, it is important that their plans appear well-thought-out and not untested ideas with uncertain profitability. For early-stage investments, it is advisable to prioritize startups with practical and scalable concepts.

Before investing, it is essential to gain a thorough understanding of the company's framework and processes. Additionally, the business idea should be innovative and fresh and offer solutions to existing problems.

Read More: What to Consider Before Buying Land: A Step-by-Step Guide

Check the Confidence in Founders
A truly innovative idea can be captivating, especially when presented by a passionate founder. While venture investors primarily assess the team, the capability to execute the plan should be given priority. It is not uncommon for startups to be founded by individuals without prior experience in launching new ventures.

However, they must demonstrate their ability to transform an idea into a reality through past experience or accomplishments.

Competitive Analysis
Prior to investing in a startup, it is necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of the competition within the market. The startup founders may not provide insight into every aspect of their competitors and could potentially withhold crucial information.

It is important to assess the performance and scalability of the competition to determine if they could potentially replace the startup in which someone plans to invest his or her capital. This step is crucial to ensure that one's hard-earned money is invested wisely.

Skills and Passion of the Management Team
Undoubtedly, the most crucial factor to consider before investing in a startup is the management team. While the assessment of risk versus reward is crucial, investing in a startup is not limited to the product or service alone but also relies heavily on the competence and capability of the leadership team to execute the business plan.

It is imperative to invest in a startup with an experienced, qualified, and passionate management team to ensure the success of the venture.

The Potential Market
When assessing an investment opportunity as an investor or venture capitalist, the primary focus should be on the potential market for the business. It is crucial to ask relevant questions to ensure that the company has a clear understanding of its market share.

The startup founder must be able to provide specific details regarding the percentage of the market they plan to capture over a defined time period and their growth projections for the future.

10 Year Plan
It's important to note that founders have different goals and strengths. While some founders excel in working in small teams, they may struggle when it comes to larger teams. Moreover, some founders envision scaling their company for the long term, whereas others may get bored and decide to move on to new ventures. As an investor, it's crucial to know the future plan of the company.


How to Gain Funding for Startup: Best Practices to Attract Investors

Startups are picking up pace across the globe. According to Statista, the number of early-stage venture funds for startups is growing year on year after a dip during the Covid-19 Pandemic peak stage. While a success rate of 10% is projected for all startups in 2023, there is still a silver lining in the form of increased funding. But the key challenge is to secure funding for the startup venture. Let’s explore the different factors that aid in attracting investors for startups.

13 Ways to Attract Investors for Startups
Strong Value Proposition
The main idea behind a startup is to create a solution for an existing problem. A track record of successful startups shows that they took an existing problem and created a solution for it. Then the solution was channelled as a product through the startups.

At the core of this process is a strong value proposition. Successful startups were able to secure early funds from investors because of the strong value of their product or service. Investors look for value in a project. As long as one can show the value and prospects, securing funds becomes much easier.

Detailed Business Plan
Startups aren’t just about ideas. Sure enough, it starts with an idea, but implementing the idea requires a strong business plan. There are a lot of factors in a market that a startup needs to consider before scaling up its product or services. Factors like target market, competitive analysis, marketing strategy, financial projections, and growth plans should be at the centre of a solid business plan. Sharing a strong vision for the startup will help convince the investors to understand the return on investment. And that in turn will help attract investors.

Traction Generation and Milestones
For an investor, numbers are the ultimate deciding factor. An investor will only invest where strong numbers support the claims of the startup. It can include factors like user adoption, revenue generation, or partnerships with key players in the industry.

Try to build up a rapport with incubators and accelerators before approaching potential high-value investors. The more positive the numbers are, the better the chances of attracting investors.

Having a Strong and Experienced Team
Another key factor that drives investment decisions is the market understanding and experience of the team members. Investors often look for people with a proven track record of managing and executing similar products or services in the market. Sometimes, the lack of early milestones like a marketable product, grants, and incubation can be offset by a strong and motivated team that shares the vision of marketing and scaling a startup.

Networking and Referrals
Beyond experience and numbers, a good way to attract potential investors is through networking and referrals. Networking and referrals help build a personal connection with the investors. A positive word-of-mouth impression or a recommendation from a trusted source helps to highlight and convince investors about the potentiality of a startup. The best way to network and gain referrals is by attending industry events, networking meetups, and startup conferences.

Pitch Competitions
Venture capital firms and investors often organise pitch competitions and demo days. These are events where a potential startup can highlight their venture or even showcase a demo of how their product works.

Pitch competitions are all about convincing the host of investors to attend the event. Be crisp and precise on the pitch, and as always, put a strong emphasis on value propositions to easily attract investors.

Look for Early-Stage Support
Many startups make the mistake of going for high-profile investors or venture capital at the early stage. Rather than going for potential investors initially, startups should focus on incubators, accelerators, or government grants that can help them gain recognition and credibility. It can also help to build a marketable product that can be easily showcased to investors at a later stage. Some investors even specifically invest in the later stages. So it's better to develop a product or service with early-stage support and then make a move for large-scale funding.

Read more: The Emerging Logistics Tech Startups, Courier, Delivery Services in Bangladesh

Emphasise on Scalability
Most investors aim for scalability, which is the rapid growth of the startup they are investing in. The more the startup grows, the higher the return on investment (ROI) for the investors. As a result, startups should try to achieve a balance between sustained operations in terms of fund management and future growth opportunities. It is important to show potential investors that they can gain a lot from their investment once the startup takes off, from the early stages to the mass expansion of the business.

Focus on Market Research
Scalability is important for a startup, but that too needs to be sustained. An unrealistic scaling plan will eventually deter potential investors. So what’s the solution? Focus on market research. Understand market dimensions like competitors, trends, niches, and TG. Research everything that relates to the market and the startup's offering. Based on that, quote a realistic, scalable plan and cost. That way, it will be possible to generate trust with potential investors.

Target Market-Specific Investors
There are two things to understand before approaching a potential investor: one is the market in which the startup is operating, and the other is the market expertise of the potential investor in the relevant market.

Read more: Digital Healthcare Startups in Bangladesh: An Overview

Patents and IP
If the startup in question holds a patent or Intellectual Property, it should be properly highlighted to potential investors. Patents and IPs hold a strong ROI proposition based on product demand and marketing opportunities.

For example, consider the case of the British startup Excivion. The company recently filed for a patent regarding its flavivirus vaccine. After a successful trial, the company will be able to market the vaccine as its exclusive medication globally. Any organisation or biopharma that would want to market the vaccine will require prior agreement and permission from Excivion.

Investors often invest heavily in IP-based startups simply because of the potential monopoly they could create in the future.

Clear Financial Management
A potential investor would be interested in the finances of any startup. As a result, it is important to have a transparent financial record. Many startups underreport or overestimate the valuation of their venture. These practices can easily deter potential investors.

A clear financial statement would help convey the actual reality of the venture. And in practice, honesty goes a long way towards establishing potential investment opportunities.

Read more: Truck Lagbe: Story of a Successful Digital Trucking Startup in Bangladesh

Testimonials and Case Studies
Try to focus on highlighting the changes brought on by the startup in its target market. Share positive testimonials from the customers with potential investors. Make provisions for case studies that quantify the impact of the startup in its market and the overall positive implications. These will go a long way towards convincing a potential investor to invest.

Final Words
The startup boom is taking the world by storm. An astounding 305 million startups are created each year. The industry has a very high failure rate, and most of these startups may fail in the short run. But some will go on to become unicorns—billion-dollar startups.

The success story behind these ventures is more or less the same: a strong investment portfolio at every stage of the journey. Make sure to adhere to the best practices and follow the above to attract investors and ensure funds for a great idea.

Entrepreneurship: The Engine Of Growth Driving Our Economy

Entrepreneurship, the art of starting and managing a business venture to make a profit, is the driving force behind our economy's growth.

As a serial entrepreneur, I've witnessed how entrepreneurship is foundational for innovation, job creation and wealth generation. Based on my experiences, here are some ways that entrepreneurship drives the growth of our economy and how individual leaders can become strong contributors to this growth:

Four Ways Entrepreneurship Acts As An Engine Of Growth
Entrepreneurship stimulates competition in the marketplace. When new businesses enter an industry, they often introduce new products or services that can challenge established firms. This competition can lead to lower prices, improved quality and increased innovation as businesses strive to differentiate themselves and meet consumer demand. This healthy competition can ultimately benefit consumers who are able to access a wider range of products and services at more affordable prices.

There are four main ways I see entrepreneurship working to drive our economy; these are areas I think you should keep in mind when starting an enterprise.

Successful entrepreneurs are always looking for new and innovative ways to solve problems and meet the needs of consumers. They are willing to take risks and invest in new ideas that others may not have considered. Through their innovative ideas, entrepreneurs create new products and services, improve existing ones and find better ways to do things.

Job Creation
Entrepreneurship is a significant contributor to job creation. As new businesses are created, they need people to work for them. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in economies and are a significant source of employment with "two out of every three jobs added to the economy" being from SMEs.

Wealth Creation
Successful entrepreneurs not only create jobs but also generate wealth for themselves and their employees. As their businesses grow and become more successful, they generate profits that can be reinvested to fuel further growth.

Economic Growth
As hinted at with innovation, entrepreneurship ultimately leads to the creation of new industries, products and services that increase economic activity. Entrepreneurs greatly contribute to economic development through their fresh innovations.

Contributing To This Engine Of Growth
Here are some ways that entrepreneurs can help drive this growth.

1. Social entrepreneurship. This blends business goals with social or environmental objectives. I encourage you to create ventures that address pressing issues such as poverty, education, healthcare or climate change. By aligning your business with a social mission, you can create positive change while still pursuing profitability.

2. Ethical practices. I believe that you should also prioritize ethical considerations in your business operations. This includes fair labor practices, responsible sourcing, environmental sustainability and giving back to the community.

By demonstrating a commitment to ethical behavior, you can both build trust with consumers and contribute to a more sustainable future. For example, while I do have a team outsourced in India, I make sure there is a benchmark pay for team members and the agency managing them gets a percentage above it.

3. Collaboration and partnerships. Seek opportunities for collaboration with other businesses, nonprofits or government organizations. By joining forces, you can leverage collective resources, expertise and networks to amplify your impact and address complex challenges.

As a start-up, it is all about capitalizing on the partner ecosystem. You may be surprised at the amount of support that is available: Cloud credits from AWS, a business account with Apple, numerous entrepreneur clubs—just to list a few of the ways that organizations give support and invest in the future.

4. Customer-centric approach. Look to truly understand the needs and desires of your target market. Conduct market research, engage in active listening and seek feedback to ensure that your products or services genuinely meet the needs of your customers.

5. Mentorship and support. Pay it forward by offering mentorship and support to aspiring entrepreneurs or disadvantaged individuals.

I find that mentorship is imperative and a non-negotiable, for it is a very different game when you reach your first thousand compared to when you reach your first million. You need somebody experienced who has been a part of a larger organization and is a subject matter expert. My own mentor has been critical in supporting me when it comes to strategy, helping me outline my vision and craft a road map.

Overcoming Challenges
Of course, entrepreneurship is not without its challenges. Starting a new business requires significant resources, including capital, expertise and time. Many entrepreneurs face significant barriers to entry, such as a lack of funding, regulatory obstacles and market saturation.

The main challenges that I believe we can most immediately solve include a lack of access to resources, education and training. To help solve access to resources, we should advocate for policies and initiatives that provide entrepreneurs with access to funding, business support services and mentorship programs.

As far as education and training, we can prioritize equipping aspiring entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills and mindset necessary to navigate the challenges of starting and managing a business. This includes utilizing the earlier-mentioned mentorship and partnership programs.

Starting a business can be a challenging and rewarding journey, requiring a combination of hard work, dedication and a willingness to take calculated risks. However, the potential rewards can be immense, not just for the entrepreneurs themselves but for the entire community.

I believe that entrepreneurship is not just about creating wealth; it's about creating value and making a positive impact on society. Entrepreneurs are the ones who identify unmet needs and develop solutions that improve people's lives.

How to raise funds for your startup: A guide

Launching a startup is an exhilarating journey, but one of the greatest challenges lies in securing the necessary funding to turn your vision into a reality. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the strategies and steps that aspiring entrepreneurs can undertake to raise funding for their startups. From crafting a compelling business plan to attracting investors, this article serves as your roadmap to financial success.

Crafting a compelling business plan
The first step in raising funds for your startup is to create a compelling business plan that outlines your company's vision, mission, and value proposition. This document acts as a roadmap, helping potential investors understand your business model and growth potential.

Executive summary: Begin with a concise overview that highlights your startup's unique selling points, market analysis, and competitive advantage. Keep it succinct, yet compelling, to grab the attention of investors.

Market analysis: Thoroughly research your target market, identifying its size, growth potential, and key trends. Highlight your understanding of market dynamics and how your startup will address unmet needs or gaps.

Unique value proposition: Clearly articulate the problem your startup solves and the value it brings to customers. Emphasise how your product or service is different from existing offerings and the potential for disruption.

Financial projections: Develop realistic financial projections, including revenue forecasts, expenses, and cash flow analysis. Back your projections with solid research and assumptions, demonstrating your startup's growth potential and profitability.

Seeking funding sources
Now that you have a compelling business plan in hand, it's time to explore different funding sources that can help turn your vision into reality.

Bootstrapping: Many entrepreneurs start by self-funding their startups through personal savings, credit cards, or loans. While bootstrapping may require personal sacrifices, it allows you to maintain control and attract investors with a proof-of-concept.

Friends and family: Approach close contacts who believe in your idea and may be willing to invest in your venture. Clearly outline the risks involved and provide a formal agreement to protect relationships and interests.

Angel investors: Seek out angel investors, high-net-worth individuals or groups who provide early-stage funding in exchange for equity. Tap into angel networks, pitch events, or online platforms to connect with potential investors aligned with your industry.

Venture capital: Venture capital firms specialise in providing funding to high-growth startups. Develop a targeted list of venture capital firms that have a track record in your industry and reach out to them with a well-crafted pitch deck and business plan.

Crowdfunding: Leverage crowdfunding platforms to raise capital from a large pool of individuals who believe in your idea. Create a compelling campaign, highlighting the value proposition and rewards for supporters.

Grants and competitions: Research government grants, non-profit organisations, and startup competitions that offer financial support to innovative ventures. Be prepared to demonstrate the societal impact and scalability of your startup.

Attracting investors
Once you have identified potential funding sources, it's essential to present your startup in a compelling manner that resonates with investors.

Pitch deck: Develop a concise and visually appealing pitch deck that effectively communicates your startup's value proposition, market potential, competitive advantage, and financial projections. Keep it focused, engaging, and tailored to the investor's preferences.

Networking: Build a strong network within your industry by attending conferences, events, and startup communities. Actively seek opportunities to connect with potential investors and industry influencers who can provide guidance and introductions.

Demonstrating traction: Show investors that your startup has achieved significant milestones or customer traction, such as revenue growth, user acquisition, or strategic partnerships. Highlighting proof-of-concept instils confidence in potential investors.

Due diligence: Be prepared for the investor's due diligence process. Anticipate and address questions about your business model, competition, intellectual property, team composition, and legal and financial aspects of your startup.

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