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Software Engineering / 4 Ways To Protect Your Online Privacy!
« on: March 06, 2018, 08:26:19 PM »
1. Get the Latest Antivirus Software
The latest antivirus software is an important program that protects your computer devices from viruses, spyware, trojans, and worms. Some of these malicious programs are designed to invade your privacy and steal your personal or critical business information, and only the latest and most updated version of antivirus software can help protect you from such. However, antivirus software only protects your devices and not entirely your internet communication.

2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network (VPN) is a good complement to your antivirus software because it protects you by masking your IP address and encrypting your digital activities. A VPN is a private network that uses a public network to connect remote sites or users together. This is best for businesses that have remote offices around the world.

The VPN uses virtual connections routed through the internet from the business’s private network to the remote site or its employee who works remotely. The use of VPN ensures security because data is encrypted for confidentiality. And because of this, any information that might be intercepted on the shared or public network are indecipherable without the correct encryption keys.

3. Control Both Personal and Business Information Online
There are several data collection sites that collect people’s data and sell them to marketers. These sites take public records, social network information, browsing information, and more to create a profile about you; and they may sell these information or keep them in a large database. Oftentimes, opting out of these lists can be a time-consuming and laborious process.

One example of data collection site is WhitePages, which has the largest database of contact information on Americans. If you want to opt out, you may click here to see how to remove your information from the WhitePages. There are paid services available that will delete your records from the listing sites which you can subscribe to so you won’t have to the long and tedious process yourself.

4. Make Your Social Media Accounts Private
As much as possible, set your social media accounts into private, so your profile can’t be viewed by random people, complete strangers, or stalkers. However, this does not ensure a fully secured privacy because you still have to be very careful in adding people into your contact list.

With this, be extra careful with what you post and share online and do not include too personal and critical information such as your contact number, home address, date of birth, social security number, and such. Further, disable your location-based posting and avoid sharing your current location even if your account is set to private.

Smart Online Presence
Be smart and take precautionary measures when performing different online activities. These days, it gets more difficult to maintain our digital privacy especially with the advancement of new technology. It’s actually possible that our online activities are being monitored and traced. However, being extra cautious and more prudent with what we do and share online will help benefit both our personal and business security and privacy.

When you first think about starting your own business, you’ll often find that you’re preoccupied with trying to get everything set up and running. Because at this point, this is definitely the most important part of all. Then, you’re likely to find that you want to start focusing on sales, making money, and getting a strong customer base going. And why wouldn’t you? Because this is all that business is about. But, you may also find that as you’re putting your attention into those areas, you’re neglecting others; such as the safety and security of your business. So let’s take a look at what you should be focusing on to ensure your business stays strong.

5 Tips To Stay Safe Online

Safe From Hackers
First of all, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re safe from hackers. Although right now, you may not feel as if you have anything worth hackers stealing, you’d be surprised. Sometimes, they just like to mess with you! And when you’ve worked really hard to pull together your website, you definitely don’t want people trying to break their way in and mess with what you’ve done. So, you’re going to want to make sure that you work with a strong firewall and softwares to keep your site safe.

Data Security
Closely related to data security is the idea of protecting your data. Because data loss protection security is going to be hugely important to you as you start to grow. Even if right now you don’t have a lot of data, hopefully, one day the idea is that you will. And if you want to ensure that your customer information is safe, you have to install some security measures to protect yourself from any breaches.

Secure Passwords
From here, you then need to think about getting yourself some secure passwords in place. And this is for every area of your business. Whether it’s your website login, social account passwords, or your banking details, you need to ensure that you’re extra vigilant with your passwords. And this means not only choosing complex passwords, but keeping them safe too so that they can’t find themselves into the wrong hands.

Financial Security
Next, you also need to be thinking about protecting your finances online too. Because more often than not, most people operate their financial accounts and banking online. But, as with anything that you do online, this does put you at risk. To do this, not only are you going to need to ensure that you keep your passwords strong as we stated, but ensure that you see the secure sign when you log in, and only ever contact your bank directly, so as not to fall into a phishing scam.

Intellectual Property
And finally, you should also think about getting your intellectual property together. Again, right now, you may not feel as if anyone would want to steal your ideas, or borrow some of the things that you’ve done, but they might. And if you’re going to protect your business and grow, you need to stop that from happening with patents, copyright and trademark.


1. Your business operations need improved visibility. All departments have to be literally on the same page and view the same information in real time. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if the engineering team is looking at data that is inconsistent with what the production floor is working on, or imagine the chaos if the purchasing and finance department were working on figures that the sales and marketing division were behind on.
2. Nothing will work efficiently if high quality software does not accurately track all supply chain activities in detail. In fact, it would be almost impossible to start or finish projects if there was ambiguity about the processes for designing, creating, and delivering goods.
3. A business would quickly lose important clients if it failed to deliver on time as promised. However, on time delivery is only possible if there is perfect coordination of all production and distribution channels.
4. Manufacturing quality is never an accident. A business must monitor defects in the production process and fix the problems as soon as they are discovered. Low quality products due to noticeable defects in the finished goods will result in lower sales, customer dissatisfaction, and loss of profits.
5. Costs must be kept down for the business to be profitable. There are many unintended ways that manufacturing costs can get out of control. Laborers may have to be paid for overtime because the work quota was not finished on schedule. Poor quality work may have to be redone because the production processes were not properly tracked from start to finish. Excessive raw materials may have been ordered, resulting in surplus inventory.

Impress Them Aesthetically

No matter how great the content of your pitch is, some of the investor’s final decision is going to come down to passive, visual cues. With this in mind, you need to be dressing your business up in a way that’s going to impress them. If you’re going to have the prospect look around your premises, this is a great place to start. Implement a clean desk policy for the week when they’re going to be visiting, and spruce the place up with some modern office furniture, art and pot plants. Make sure everyone is aware of the date and how important the outcome of the meeting is to the future of the business. Obviously, you should make sure you’re personally dressed to impress. You may love wearing Hawaiian shirts to work, but if you’re going to be pitching to someone who’s a little more conservative, a solid shirt and jacket are necessities!

Get a Hook in the First Five Minutes
The first five minutes of your pitch are going to be extremely important. Nailing your pitch in this initial window will earn you the right to delve into more detail in the rest of the meeting. Start off by showing what’s changed in the industry – some kind of shift, breakthrough, or the emergence of new technology that’s created an opportunity. Then, explain how you plan to capitalise on this shift in a clear, concise way. You should chase this up with some quick facts on when and how you founded your company, the stage you’re at in your business plan, and the amount of capital you need to raise. This will give the investor some context for the rest of the discussion. These three points are great for making your point quickly and clearly, but however you do it, you need to hook the prospect in as soon as possible.

Relate the Pitch to your Audience
One of the best ways to convince investors who are on the fence is to frame a specific problem or solution in a way that relates to the issues they experience in their personal lives. Let’s say that you were offering outsourced presentation design to other businesses. Ask about the investor’s experience with working on presentations. How long does it take them? Do they struggle with design aspects? How would they like to be able to list a few essential points, send it to someone else, and have them come back with a beautiful and professional presentation? Obviously, this can be harder depending on your business, but it’s still a hugely effective tactic to apply.

For business franchisers, franchising is a strategy for increasing market share. It is a way for companies to distribute their product or services in a wider market without the added liability and investment.

Diverse Hands Holding the Word Franchise

For franchisees, franchising is a way of opening a business without having to start from scratch. It means owning the license to use the name, business model and the support of the franchising company within an agreed period of time.

Whether you are a franchiser or a franchise, or none of both, it is interesting to learn about the companies leading the franchising game. You might have wondered why some businesses have branches almost in every turn of the corner; and the answer is the business model- franchising. Below is a list of of the top 10 franchising companies. The list is based on the growth, sales and market value of each company. As of 2015, these are the leading franchising companies all over the world:

1. Subway
Locations: 44,033 in 110 countries
Industry: Fast Food Restaurants
Founders: Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1965
Profile: Subway is the largest restaurant chain in the world. The submarine sandwich is the primary item in their menu. It all started in 1965 when Fred DeLuca borrowed $1000 from peter Buck to open “Pete’s Super Submarines”. It wasn’t until 1968 that the restaurants were renamed Subway. In 2007, the company surpassed the number of McDonald’s in the USA. And in 2010, it has become the world’s biggest restaurant chain.

2. McDonald’s
Locations: 36,000+ worldwide
Industry: Fast Food Restaurants
Founders: Richard and Maurice McDonald
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1940
Profile: McDonalds is the world’s largest hamburger restaurant chain. The company was founded in 1940 when the two brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald opened a barbecue restaurant. Due to the continuing problems of the brothers, Ray Kroc bought the business for $2.7 million in 1961. McDonald’s has been facing a lot of controversy regarding health, environment and employment throughout the years, but it has managed to remain one of the top companies in the world.

3. KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)KFC_Logo
Locations: 17,000+ in 115+ countries
Industry: Fast Food Restaurants
Founder: Harland Sanders
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1930
Profile: Have you ever wondered who the bearded man in the KFC logo is? He is Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC. He was given the colonel title in Kentucky for the success of his restaurant business. At the age of seven, with his father dead and mother working, Colonel Sanders learned how to cook as the eldest son in his family. The Colonel’s recipe proved to be successful not only in his dining table, but in the restaurants that he opened in 1930. Now, the company is one of the leading chicken restaurant chain all over the world.

4. Burger King
Locations: 12,000+ worldwide
Industry: Fast Food Restaurants
Founders: David Edgerton and James McLamore
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1954
Profile: When Insta-Burger King was struggling in 1959, David Edgerton and James McLamore bought the company and renamed it Burger King. After this, Burger King continually changed parental companies and CEO’s, it underwent a series of ups and downs. But, still the company is standing strong today.

5. 7-Eleven
Locations: 55, 800+ in 16 countries
Industry: Convenience Store
Founder: John Jefferson Green
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1927
Profile: Contrary to the popular belief that 7-11 was founded in Japan, the company was founded in USA on 1927 by John Jefferson Green who sold egg, milk and bread in an ice house. The business grew and many stores were opened. The stores were formerly named “Tote’m Stores” referring to the customers who “tote” their purchases. It wasn’t until 1946 that it became 7-11 referring to the 7 am opening and 11 pm closing hours of the stores. The company was going strong until the 1987 stock market crash. Ito-Yokado bought a controlling share of the company, and then he formed the Seven & I Holdings Co. In 2005, Seven & I bought the rest of 7-11 which explains the confusion as to the country of origin of 7-11.

The convenience store on white background

6. Hertz
Locations: 9,000+ worldwide
Industry: Car Rental and Leasing

Founder: Walter L. Jacobs
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1918
Profile: The company was in 1918 when Walter Jacobs started renting Model T Ford cars in Chicago. Jacobs was the pioneer of the car rental business. Now Hertz has over 9,000 locations worldwide both company-owned and franchised.

7. Pizza Hut
Locations: 15,000+ in
Industry: Restaurants
Founders: Frank and Dan Carney
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1958
Profile: Pizza Hut is the world’s largest pizza restaurant chain. The business started in 1958 when the brothers Frank and Dan Carney borrowed $600 from their mother to start a pizza parlor. And now look at how many branches of Pizza Hut there are in the world today. $600 can take you far if you provide good products and services along with smart business management.

8. ACE Hardware
Locations: 4,600+ in 70+ countries
Industry: Home Improvement Retail
Founders: Richard Hesse, E. Gunnard Lindquist, Frank Burke, Oscar Fisher, William Stauber
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1924
Profile: The company was founded in 1924 as a general supplier for the founders’ stores. The name Ace was from the “ace” fighter pilots of World War I. It is continually growing, and as of 2015 it has over 4,600 branches worldwide.

9. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Locations: 7,200 worldwide
Industry: Hotels
Founder: Trammell Crow
Country: USA
Year Founded: 1981
Profile: Trammell Crow founded the company on 1981, and the company name Wyndham was allegedly after a woman friend of Crow named Wyndham Robertson. The company continued growing and accumulating throughout the years. It is the world’s largest hotel company with more than 7,200 hotels, and over 600,000 rooms worldwide.

10. Groupe Casino
Locations: 14,000+ worldwide
Industry: Food and Grocery Retails
Founder: Geoffroy Guichard
Country: France
Year Founded: 1898
Profile: The only company that did not originate from US to top in this list is Groupe Casino. The company was founded in France on 1898. The founder Geoffroy Guichard originally started the company as a grocery store. The business grew, until it became a company. It continued acquiring throughout the years. It is currently operating worldwide with more than 12, 000 stores both company-owned and franchised.ughout the years. It is currently operating worldwide with more than 12, 000 stores both company-owned and franchised.

Some people know early on that they were born with an entrepreneurial spirit. However, they might be faced with the challenges of not knowing which field is right for them or not being in an ideal place in their lives– personally or geographically– to start a successful business from scratch.

The option many of these people who long to work for themselves forget to consider is purchasing a franchise. There are numerous benefits to taking this business approach, the main one being that aspiring entrepreneurs get to take steps toward building their dream life.

Small Business Mentality, Big Business Support
The main value of operating a franchise rather than starting a business from scratch is the fact that you get the small business experience in daily operations while having the big business support behind the scenes.
This extra support will assist you as you learn the ropes of entrepreneurship. Furthermore, you get the positive interactions of being the face of the business in your community without worrying about the broader tasks, like branding and nomenclature.

You Don’t Need a Background
While it is ideal having an education in business, be it a degree or a few courses you’ve taken in your spare time, this isn’t necessary to run a franchise. In most cases, franchises come with a standard business model that ensures consistency among all locations. That’s why when you go to a popular gas station chain in various towns, the ownership might change, but the standard operating procedures
 are the same.
In the case that you lack a background in the field, you may choose to make a franchise your first point of entry into the business world while learning the ropes and expanding your education. Then, when the time is right, you might sell the franchise and start your own business from scratch. However, know that you are often required to sign a non-compete contract when purchasing a franchise, so don’t plan on using your newfound experience directly.

Brand Visibility and Recognition
Since you have all that marketing support back at head office, you don’t have to worry about building brand recognition and a reputation from scratch. When you open your business, people will already know your name and history, something startup businesses can rarely count on.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that franchises have been growing exponentially over the last few years. According to the International Franchising Association, 2016 saw a 3.1 percent hike in jobs, adding 278,000 jobs to the economy. This is because the franchising model works for entrepreneurs, shareholders, and consumers alike.
One thing to be aware of when relying on brand visibility and recognition in a franchise is the chain effect of your reputation. While you may operate an outstanding business, another franchise may do something negative and newsworthy. Despite the separation between your businesses, you may feel the negative impact of their choices. When running a franchise, be sure to be respectful of the brand, so that you won’t be responsible for any scandals that will affect the success of yourself and others.

Less Money Involved
While you may spend more money upfront than you would when opening a startup, purchasing a franchise is usually cheaper in the long run. This could be one of the reasons they tend to be more successful than businesses started from scratch. It can also be easier to get financing for a franchise rather than an independent business because of this.
Your investment will vary depending on the type of business and brand name you choose to associate yourself with. You can find plenty of franchises under 10k if your starting capital is limited with prices increasing from there.
No matter what franchise you decide to purchase, make sure to do your due diligence with research. Study the finances, ask questions, and choose wisely. If you make the right choice, you will be living your dream life in no time.

Try any of these tactics to keep yourself on track to having exceptional conversations. Now you're off to the races.

1. Become genuinely interested in the other person.
George Mason University psychologist Todd Kashdan, author of Curious?, determined that being interested in others is more important than being interesting yourself. "It's the secret juice of relationships," stated Kashdan. So, whatever you do, talk in terms of the other person's interest. You'll be surprised by the outcome.

2. Show those pearly whites. 
According to Psychology Today, research has determined that smiling can make us appear more attractive to others. It also lifts our mood as well as the moods of those around us. Most of us aren't fully aware of when we're not smiling. Make smiling a habit.

3. Give the gift of a "five-minute favor."
Five-minute favors are giving acts, without asking for anything in return from the person whom you're offering help. Examples of five-minute favors include sharing knowledge; making an introduction; serving as a reference for a person, product, or service; or recommending someone on LinkedIn, Yelp, or another social place.

4. Listen more. Speak less.
Want to create a great first impression? Let the other person speak without interruption. Yes, I'm talking about parking your thoughts and avoiding jumping in and finishing the other person's sentence or waiting impatiently for your chance to respond. When you actively listen, it will draw the other person to you with equal or greater interest. So go ahead, give the other person your full attention. What you're communicating is "I am interested in what you have to say."

5. Make the other person feel important--and do it sincerely.
The best conversations with someone you just met are initiated by wanting to learn about the other person: what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. This goes back to having a high curiosity quotient. By wanting to learn from someone -- even someone younger and less experienced than you -- you will garner an immediate positive first impression.

6. Tell a good story.
So now that you've captivated the person you're talking to, they probably want to know about you, so it's your turn to shine. Rather than boring them with work or with business-related lingo (that will come later), it's good to have a few go-to stories you can pull out of your hat to keep the momentum going. Have stories you can share that have been tested with other audiences and found to be reliably funny, entertaining, informative, or engaging. Scott Adams, author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, suggests putting your focus on stories about other people rather than things, because most of us find human behavior fascinating.


The newest technology that is quickly becoming the next major disruption is blockchain technology. The blockchain is a digital ledger system used to securely record transactions. It is poised to impact the way business is done across the globe.

Here are nine prominent industries that are slated to be overhauled by blockchain technology in the near future.

1. The Banking Industry
Blockchain technology has the potential to solve several significant problems faced by the banking industry today. Right now banks store money for their customers, and they also handle the transfer of that money.
Blockchain inherently has a secure system that would provide permanent records of the millions of transactions that take place in the banking industry each day. This ledger system could significantly lower the risk by providing secure records. Furthermore, money could be transferred cheaper and faster by the decentralization provided by blockchain.

2. The Real Estate Industry
Anyone who has ever purchased or sold a home knows just how much paperwork is involved in a real estate transaction. Blockchain technology can completely change the current headache that all of these documents cause.
By using blockchain, all of the documents and transaction records can be stored securely with measurably less work and less cost.
According to Piper Moretti, CEO of the Crypto Realty Group and licensed realtor, the use of blockchain can also potentially eliminate the escrow process.
The technology can create smart contracts that release funding only when the conditions are met.
Additionally, many people in the process of working with a real estate agent know how frustrating the commission rates can be, with many charging up to 6 percent.
Deedcoin is looking to change that with its cryptocurrency-powered platform. Through using Deedcoin's platform and proprietary tokens, those rates decrease to just 1%.
Deedcoin's distributed architecture gives power back to homeowners and buyers by tokenizing the process and eliminating any middlemen, barring direct interactions between agents and customers.

3. The Healthcare Industry
The healthcare industry has been in need of a significant disruption when it comes to sharing and storing medical data and records.
The potential for error, fraud, and lost records has created distrust between consumers and healthcare providers.
Blockchain technology can revamp the trust by securely storing medical records that can be accurately and safely transferred to and accessed by the doctors and people who are authorized.
Blockchain will aid in the authorization and identification of people. In fact, one startup called Ontology is already working to make positive, multi-source identification a reality across all industries using the blockchain technology.

4. The Legal Industry
Blockchain technology is poised to disrupt some areas of the legal industry by being able to store and verify documents and data. For example, litigation dealing with resolving concerns over wills of the deceased or any other documentation can be eliminated.
Records (including wills) stored on the blockchain will be quickly and securely verified. Any changes to the documents will be authenticated and stored.
Blockchain technology can also eliminate legal issues dealing with inheritance, even including cryptocurrency assets.
Safe Haven, for example, gives users the opportunity to secure digital assets so that the investor's legacy can be passed down to his children or designee safely and securely.
This technology eliminates lengthy court battles arguing over digital inheritance.

5. The Cryptocurrency Exchange Industry
Digital money is the way of the future, and it is thanks to blockchain that it can be securely transferred and recorded.
However, the "mining" required to verify and authenticate every transaction of digital money requires an enormous amount of computing power.
In recent years, this has created a lot of issues on several platforms when certain transactions "ran out of gas" or fizzled out due to the sheer amount of computation required.
This issue was costing users valuable time and money.
New developments in blockchain technology are changing the way the cryptocurrency exchange industry operates. Zen Protocol has developed an alternative to other platforms, which has solved the most significant issues in the cryptocurrency space.
Unlike other platforms, Zen Protocol utilizes smart contracts that know in advance how much computation each contract requires. That means that unless there is enough "gas" to support that contract, it won't run.

6. Politics
In the recent past, government parties here in the U.S. and around the world have been accused of rigging election results.
But that won't be possible if blockchain is used because it would take care of voter registration and verification of identity, and it would count the votes to ensure only legitimate votes were counted.
Gone are the days of recounting votes and voting day drama.

7. The Startup Industry
With thousands of startups looking for investors, there is no current way for them to get in front of the right investors without jeopardizing the security of their ideas. Likewise, there is no right way for investors to find the companies they are interested in backing.
Blockchain technology can change all of that. In fact, it has already started.
Companies such as Pitch Ventures are creating a way for startups to pitch investors live in a secure manner.
Entrepreneurs create summaries of their product or service and investors can quickly sort and find potential opportunities. Ethereum's Smart Contract address allows a secure medium for the pitches, so privacy is maintained.

8. The Video Industry
Video is predicted to form 82% of all Internet traffic by 2021, and blockchain may play a significant role by decentralizing the video infrastructure.
Decentralizing video encoding, storage, and content distribution will dramatically reduce the cost of video traffic by tapping into $30 billion in wasted Internet computing services.
Startups like VideoCoin are already making good on the promise of freeing up this capital, which will allow entirely new and innovative ecosystems of video apps to emerge on the market.

9. The Education Industry

The education industry is poised to see some significant breakthroughs utilizing an emerging version of the Internet that combines blockchain, cryptocurrency, and virtual reality.
This new Internet will be known as "3DInternet," and it has the power to create a global classroom like never before. SocratesCoin is making big moves to make this a reality.
The company will create a global community of faculty, students, campuses, and curriculum. The students will encompass all ages, cultures, and locations.
SocratesCoin has secured Nauka University, which will utilize 3DInternet to unite science, thought leadership and science through education.                                                               
Blockchain-distributed ledger technology provides a safe and auditable way to record and transfer data. It can transform the way we live our everyday lives and disrupt any industry that uses data or transactions at all
Whether or not you like to introduce new tech into your life, I think we can all agree that added security to our financial data would give everyone more peace of mind.

As a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist investor, I have witnessed the inception of hundreds of businesses and enjoy analyzing what leads to their success or failure. Through this leisurely study, I have found that a business's fate often depends on whether the entrepreneur has asked themselves these questions:

Am I solving a real need or just a perceived need? And if it's real, does the value of solving the problem outweigh the behavior changes required by the customer?

Entrepreneurs, by definition, all have at least two distinguishing qualities: A passion for starting businesses and a passion for solving problems. Unfortunately, sometimes the former usurps the latter, and businesses are formed under the wrong pre-tense.

Especially in tech, it can be much too tempting to effectively take any service and "digitize" it. These endeavors usually start with a thought like, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." and then months later--there's an app for that.

The problem is, while the sheer utility of something could be interesting or cool, a lot of entrepreneurs never put in the work to identify if they're addressing a real user need or simply a perceived need crafted by an imaginative entrepreneur.

Real User Need vs. Perceived User Need
Real user needs are pain points or difficulties that can be qualitatively and quantitatively defined and proven by a large sample of users. They can be something obvious, like how much of a hassle it was to rent and return movies at a store, or something non-obvious that a user only retroactively defines as a need once there is already a solution. A good example of the latter is the iPhone--we didn't realize how much we would need it until we had it.

In both cases, research can be done to define these as distinguishable, significant pain points that currently do not have acceptable solutions. But more importantly, the solution must have a value that grossly outweighs any disadvantages and behavior changes from the user--this evaluation is what is so often skipped and leads to a company's peril. Here is an example.

To Evolve or Not to Evolve
I lived in downtown Chicago for almost a decade where there was at least one dry cleaner in every three block radius. Some were marginally better than others, but they were all easily accessible, consistent and similarly priced.

Could service have been improved? Sure. Sped up? Fine. But at the end of the day, I did not have a burning need to change my experience with my chosen cleaner. I had built a pattern to drop off my shirts on the walk to work, and then pick them up two days later on the way home.

While I was perfectly content with my service as it was, I watched no less than five "on-demand dry cleaning" apps launch around me. Some raised tens of millions in venture funding, and they were all the same: Download this app, enter your credit card details, tell us when to come pick up your clothes, and we'll tell you when we are coming to drop them back off.

The problem was, they hadn't really thought through whether this was a real user need or, more importantly, if customers would make the behavior changes it would require.

Was it marginally more convenient to order cleaning service while wearing pajamas? Why not. Would it be nice if my clothes would just magically return? Sure--but then I would have had to arrange a time to be home, which is tough when you're busy. For me, it was easier to grab my clothes on my walk.

And then there were all the potential predicaments: What if I had a unique request? What if there was a problem with the service? What if I enjoyed that brief early morning human interaction on my walk to work? What if I misplaced the generic bag they gave me to leave my clothing in?

The "need" these companies were built upon was arguable at best, and the behavior changes it required of me didn't nearly make up for the benefits.

All five of those dry cleaning services went out of business as quickly as they opened. Doing a quick search, it looks like a few have taken their place since I left. They have either figured out how to tackle these two questions, or they will be right behind their predecessors on the way to the startup graveyard.

Validate Before You Venture
When considering a new venture--tech or otherwise--it is critical to take the time to dig into the substance of the real user need and validate through user research that there is outsized value compared to any disadvantages and required behavior changes. This is the recipe to success.


 Here are seven common examples of such risks and how great entrepreneurs keep them in check.

1. Failure to find unsolved customer pain

Too many founders think that their idea is so brilliant that their best course of action is to build the product, show it to the world, and wait for the money to roll in. However, that common delusion is a major startup killer. In reality, people are reluctant to try a startup's product, because most of them fail. So they will only try the product if it promises to solve a painful problem that nobody is trying to solve.

To avoid this problem, don't start your company until many people are willing to pay now to get your product sooner.

2. Reluctance to get feedback on prototypes
Plenty of founders refuse to let anyone see their product until it is perfect. There are plenty of reasons they make this mistake - they are afraid someone else will steal their idea so they want to get a big head start, they want to impress their peers, or they are afraid that unless it's perfect nobody will want to buy it. Failing to get feedback from potential customers is usually fatal to a startup.

Avoid this problem by building an inexpensive prototype of your product, getting feedback on it, and use that input to build a new one. You should repeat this learning loop until potential customers demand your product.

3. No passion for the market

Don't start a company if your primary motivation is to make money. The reason is simple - to be successful you will need to spend about 80 hours a week with very little pay to make your startup successful. It is not possible to work that hard and be effective unless you believe that your life's mission is to make potential customers better off by providing them your company's product.

So direct your startup at solving a problem that you care about deeply. People start companies most often because the founder had a problem that nobody else had solved. If many other people have that same problem, you are off to a good start.

4. Lack of skills needed to win
If you think the job of the entrepreneur is to think big thoughts and hire other people to do the actual work, think again. One big reason that startups fail is that the founders can't do the thing that it needs most to get off the ground. I have seen many tech startups flounder and fail because the CEO can't code when coding better than almost anyone else is the thing that must happen to build the product and get customers.

If you are such a person - your odds of success will increase if you bring world-beating sales skills and knowledge of the market need you are addressing. But you can only achieve success if you have already developed a strong relationship with a world-class coder. More generally, entrepreneurs boost their odds of success if they pick industries that value the skills at which they excel and love to practice.

5. Ignoring cash burn
If you don't like watching the pennies, don't start a company. Many entrepreneurs are engineers at heart. They want to build a perfect product and then dazzle the world with their brilliance. They eagerly read about how easy it has been for other startups to raise millions of dollars and think that they will be able to do the same. So they ignore the rate at which they are burning through cash, and assume that when the day comes to replenish their cash coffers, investors will break down the doors to write checks.

The best entrepreneurs spend only on essentials and are always networking to meet investors and they view fund raising as a full-time job starting at least six months before their companies run out of cash..

6. Inability to raise capital
If you have never raised capital for a startup before, chances are you will be surprised by the time and number of rejections required before you succeed. Even if an entrepreneur realizes that cash will run out, too often he starts the process too late, goes after the wrong group of potential investors, and does not present them information about the company that leads them to want to invest.

As I explained in chapter three of my book, entrepreneurs can avoid these problems by matching their capital raising approach to the stage in their company's development. One CEO I spoke with said that raising capital is generally a full-time six month job that should be started well before the money runs out.

7. Weak team, poor leadership
A final startup-killer is a leader who cannot recruit and motivate the most talented people for the jobs on which the company's success depends. The simple reality is that if you are not a great leader, it is hard to learn to become one. Moreover, the leadership skills you need to get a company to 10 employees are different than what a 100-person or 1,000-person company requires.

At the startup stage, a great leader has the charisma and track record to conjure up a compelling vision for the company and recruit top talent to come along for the ride of realizing that vision.

Starting up is hard to do and if you can't navigate your venture around these problems, yours will surely perish.


Starting from plumbing, electrical and IT services to managing chefs, chauffeurs and security personnel, has it all! We caught up with the ever enthusiastic CEO of, Adnan Imtiaz Halim, who shared his experiences on the promising startup.

What prompted you to consider starting a service platform such as

It all started from my personal frustrations. After a tiring week at work, we all want a relaxing Friday to get the stress out of our systems. In my case though, Friday was reserved as the special day where I go out and hunt for someone who can properly fix the leaking pipe or repair the broken window at home, without charging a crazy amount. I soon realised that most of my colleagues faced a similar fate. In the context of Bangladesh, the service industry severely lacks professionalism, particularly when it comes to everyday household services—a problem that no one is solving. This is one niche market that we wanted to capitalise on and remove everyday hassle once and for all.

The name itself is quite unique. What does '.xyz' in the name signify?

While conveying our core message was definitely the first priority, we also wanted to add something different that keeps everyone guessing. 'Sheba' refers to 'service for you' while '.xyz' signifies that this startup is a complete solution, one that is ready to solve all the problems and inconvenience that you face when it comes to service.

There are quite a few similar startups that have been in the market for a while now. How does stand out?

I believe that this industry is still in a very premature stage. While we have grown used to ordering products from e-commerce sites, we still cannot imagine placing an order for service in a similar way. A lot of doubt and misconceptions creep in mostly due to the lack of professionalism and safety that we are used to from the conventional mode of accessing everyday services. is the first platform that identifies this core problem. We want more ventures to enter the market because changing social behaviors is a herculean task which alone cannot complete. The market is huge and we still have a long way to go before the real competition arrives.

In the commercial launch, you mentioned that is more than just a business. How does this startup contribute to societal development?

Our vision was always more than just profit. We wanted to leave a positive mark and improve lives in Bangladesh. Through free skills development training, is helping individuals upgrade their skills so that they can take up better jobs in the future. Someone who came in as a maid can now work as a full-time nanny after our grooming program. We are also creating entrepreneurs in the society who are, in turn, crafting jobs for others in the market. By 2018, our aim is to create 10,000 new jobs in Bangladesh.

As an entrepreneur, you must have overcome a lot of hurdles to make it this far. What is the biggest challenge that you are facing right now?

The biggest challenge for me is time. 24 hours a day is never enough when you are vested into doing something as difficult as managing a startup. Work-life balance (Does this even exist?) is going out the window and when you finally manage a few minutes to spare, another challenge pops up in no time. But when you are blessed with a supportive family, managing a startup immediately becomes more exciting!

Where do you see in five years?

If we continue working with the same level of dedication and resilience, I see being the first name that comes to mind whenever we need any form of service. And by 'we', I am not just referring to the citizens of Bangladesh. By 2021, will develop into a global company with operations in at least four countries.

What are your views on the tech-based startup circuit in Bangladesh right now?

As an industry, we still have a long way to go. A lot of technical resources need to be invested if we are to pave a smoother path for future ventures. We also need to develop a knowledge sharing culture if we are to reach international standards.  However, the market is gradually heating up and the future looks very promising indeed.

Adnan's top 3 tips to all aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. Be disciplined

2. Never give up, always stay determined

3. Cliched, but the most important one: follow your passion

Entrepreneurship Development / Entrepreneurship to the rescue!
« on: March 06, 2018, 07:15:09 PM »
In 2016, OXFAM released a report that categorically stated that the wealth of the richest 1 percent of individuals was equal to that of 99 percent of the global population. The report further portrayed how eight men owned the same wealth as half of the global population. Even though OXFAM's report was branded as misleading and inaccurate by some, it sheds light on the stark reality of global inequality in wealth and income. Debates surrounding inequality have often focused on creation of job opportunities and a human-capital based approach towards recruitment. Many scholars, however, are promoting a slightly different, and some may say, a more sustainable mechanism to bring about change.

In Bangladesh, despite there being commendable progress in eradicating extreme poverty, wealth inequality remains a major challenge, a condition sustained through a system fashioned to the advantage of the powerful elite. The solution, therefore, lies in refashioning, or restructuring, that system, not its total obliteration, as some Marxists may like to propose.

During a lecture at the University of Toronto in Canada on February 3, Nobel Prize-winning social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus shared his thoughts on the current state of global political economy, the future of microfinance, and the prospects of sustainable development. Whatever maybe one's views about his role in empowering rural populations in Bangladesh, one cannot question the inspiring, almost common-man approach the economist has taken towards reducing inequality. Yunus emphasised the role of entrepreneurship to reduce the stark differences in wealth inequality between rural and urban populations, as opposed to simply providing platforms for job creation.

Debunking the traditional economic thought that human beings are inherently selfish when it comes to making decisions, he vociferously called for the recognition of “selflessness” as a core component of human behaviour, and its prospects in entrepreneurship. Human actions, according to Yunus, is an amalgamation of self-interest and selflessness, and it can be turned into a positive force through avenues of social business.

To encourage sustainable entrepreneurship across societies, one needs to first recognise that it is rational for a human being to be both self-seeking and selfless. To imply that business in general will have profit maximisation ingrained in its nature, without consideration for people's empowerment and sustainability, is not necessarily true. Yunus suggested the introduction of social business as an alternative to traditional business degrees in academia across universities and schools. If social business is seen as a lucrative proposition for the graduates, it will, like most ideological movements, slowly get internalised within the society. Critical avenues in human history, such as the Industrial revolution, created the market for work across societies. But it is important to remember that we are job-makers, not simply job-seekers, as Yunus had suggested. Therefore, the role of academics to promote sustainable social business is fundamental to shaping entrepreneurship as a solution to reducing poverty.

Job creation is an integral part of public policy. But boosting rural entrepreneurship through tangible support, either in the form of finance, as is the case with the Grameen Bank model, or through state subsidisation of individual entrepreneurial initiatives, needs to take a front seat. The welfare schemes within our governance structure are expected to support healthcare and education, but in certain scenarios, it may result in inactive human resources. This does not mean that human beings are lazy—in fact, inequality does not exist because of human kind, but because the system entraps human innovation. So a welfare state giving handouts without encouraging innovation will lead to a more unequal society. For a country of 160 million people, it is impossible for Bangladesh to ensure full employment. Therefore, to encourage growth in wealth potential in rural Bangladesh, the state and the private sector have a responsibility of spurring innovation amongst the population, rather than simply making them dependent on the job market.

A classic example of entrepreneurship in rural Bangladesh is the jamdani sari business, a once-promising sector in the region. But jamdani producers and entrepreneurs are being increasingly side-lined in the national economy. People's changing fashion sense and taste may be a contributing factor here, but adequate support, planning and infrastructural structure may help boost the sector. From local food businesses to furniture production, the potential for rural entrepreneurship remains untapped and un-invested-upon.

That social business can be lucrative can be internalised through education and awareness. Social business is not an idea owned by any one man. Its prospects and benefits are for everyone. To make social business mainstream, we need to make sustainable businesses lucrative to the investors, job-seekers and job-makers, and further promote the public-private partnership. Bangladesh is on a path to development like never before, but if international statistics on inequality are any indication, we are still following a dangerous, unsustainable model for economic emancipation. Recognising the potential of citizens to create, diversify and innovate must take a front seat in determining what kind of society we want to be in the long-run.


They Give Up These 11 Things

The promise of entrepreneurship is enormous. Create something you love, with people you love being around, and make millions in a few years? It's no wonder 63 percent of Millennials want to start their own business. Of course, it rarely plays out that way, as Silicon Valley unicorns are celebrated disproportionately. The reality for most entrepreneurs is a lot of hard work, peaks, troughs, and dizzying levels of tenacity. To make it as an entrepreneur, these are the critical things you'll need to give up.

1. Let Go of Perfectionist Tendencies: Agonizing over something until it's perfect and ready to launch not only slows down progress, it also means you can be blind or resistant to necessary changes once you've launched. It's easy to become welded to your "perfect" version. Launch in beta. And live there too.

2. Let Go of Your Bubble: Seeking outside feedback is critical, and good entrepreneurs make a habit of it. Ask for outside input early and often. And make sure it's from a wide array of people. Building a product or service because you and your friends like it are not a good enough reason. Your Lyft driver, your hairdresser, or your babysitter is all market research waiting to happen.

3. Let Go of Your Ego: You are not your work. If it fails, it doesn't mean you are a failure. Some things you thought would not work well will work tremendously well. Others you thought would skyrocket will inexplicably flop. These are valuable lessons. Not an indictment of your character.

4. Let Go of Playing It Safe: People aren't standing around waiting for your product to launch. They already have too much on their plate and are bombarded by a myriad of messages every minute. To stand out, you can't play it safe. Swing big and think about what it would take to wake people up from their sleepwalking.

5. Let Go of Pleasing Everybody: Polarity is a good thing. If you isolate and offend some people, you will have an equally emboldened group of loyal supporters who love what you're doing. The worst possible outcome is vanilla. Don't be vanilla.

6. Let Go of Rigid Expectations: Successful entrepreneurs must be open to alternatives they may never have envisaged. This is all part of pivoting and involves swallowing your pride around things you might have been determined to stick with that don't end up serving you well. Let go of what it "should" look like, or you'll risk not seeing opportunities right there in front of you.

7. Let Go of Reactionary Thinking: Peaks and troughs are part of startup life. You have to learn to roll with the punches and not overreact to every hurdle or hiccup that comes your way. Be clear on your bigger vision, and commit to that unwaveringly. Let that be your guide when times get tough.

8. Let Go of Benchmarking: If you try to benchmark yourself to other founders and their successes, or your friends with regular jobs, you will very quickly come undone. There is no set path for startups: Some rise quickly, some rise slowly, and most of them fail. Keep focused on why you do what you do.

9. Let Go of Seriousness: Adding a little lightness, play, and adventure to your everyday work will make the time spent toiling away more pleasant. But, most important, it will also give you a competitive edge by making you fresh, energized, and open to more pointed insights and unusual ideas.

10. Let Go of Going It Alone: Ask for help when you need it, not once the moment has passed. Keep good friends and trusted founders from outside the office close to you, so you have an outlet to truly tell it like it is. Turn to them openly, honestly, and frequently and invite them to do the same to you. No one has all the answers and those who come together solve their problems faster.

11. Let Go of Working Insane Hours: Yes, there's a lot to get done, but you are no good to anybody if you burn yourself into the ground. Make taking care of yourself a priority. Fuel up on good food, solid sleep, and great people. Entrepreneurs have to be prepared for the long game.


It’s been said that entrepreneurs aren’t born, they’re made.

Said another way, all of us have the skills we need to become successful founders, but it’s the training -- the education, the mentorship, the guidance -- and application of those skills that make the real difference between success and failure in the world of entrepreneurship.

And the numbers back this up.

According to a 2009 study sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation and authored by Vivek Wadhwa, the director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, the majority of the 549 successful entrepreneurs surveyed did not come from entrepreneurial parents, did not have entrepreneurial drive early in life and, in most cases, did not even have entrepreneurial aspirations while in college.

If these entrepreneurs were “born,” then they got a pretty late start at it.

The fact is, entrepreneurs, can be -- and often are -- taught. They are extraordinarily observant, they are visionary thinkers that try to understand what could go right (vs. what could go wrong), and they are exceptional learners. The key is that entrepreneurs need practical, actionable skills, not the abstract knowledge that is often taught in business schools.

Hian Goh, as a founding partner of NSI Ventures, has met with hundreds of new entrepreneurs over the years and has learned some basic truths about them. In short: Successful entrepreneurs all share some basic, non-negotiable traits -- like energy, commitment, persistence, etc. -- but it is the soft skills that really make the difference. In the above clip, he explains why emotional intelligence and self-learning is so critical for entrepreneurs.


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