Friday, October 30, 2009

Business Tip: Make Your Marketing Authentic

Sometimes I get emails from corporations that think they are engaging me. They offer me cute, fluff-filled blogs and hard-to-access coupons. In actuality, all they're doing is making me cringe. They're attempting to use social media and failing miserably. It's probably because the information has been approved through several layers of management who are too concerned with their own message. They wind up talking to themselves, not to consumers.

But entrepreneurs can make the same mistakes. To cut through the clutter and reach your audience where they are, you have to understand their needs. And you have to begin to understand the new, new media.
  • Who are the trend setters?
  • What do they want or need?
  • What will make them spread the word about your new business, product or invention?
  • What media are they using and how should you best use it?
  • How can you develop an authentic voice?
It takes study and asking lots of questions to get to the right answer. To help you on your way, take a look at a new study from PopSugar Media. The summary is worth reading, at least if you want to reach women consumers successfully.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Connecticut Venture Group Events

Upcoming Events:

CT Digital Media Conference
When: Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Time: 3:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Where: University of Connecticut
Stamford, CT
Charge: CVG Members: No Charge
Non-Members: $55 (pre-registered)
Non-Members: $75 (pay at the Conference)
Additional Information: Click here for more information
Register to Attend: Click here to register to attend
Digital Media Firms Expo and Demo Info: Digital Media firms raising capital or interested in exhibiting should call Bernie Lynch at (203) 256-5955 or email $175 fee includes exhibit space and two conference registrations.

CVG - ACG(CT) Breakfast Meeting:
Investing in Alternative Energy
When: Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Time: 7:30 am - 9:30 am
Where: The Hartford Club
Hartford, CT
Charge: CVG Members: No Charge
Non-Members: $75
Additional Information: Click here for more information
Register to Attend: Click here to register

Orientation for Venture Fair
When: Thursday, November 19, 2009
Time: 1:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Where: TBA
Charge: No cost to companies that have applied to present on December 3rd. All others, $125.
Registration: Click here to Register

Early Stage Venture Fair
When: Thursday, December 3, 2009
Time: 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Where: New Haven Lawn Club
193 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, Connecticut
Click Here for Directions
Charge: To attend: $55
Presenting and Exhibiting Companies:
$225 (includes two attendees)
Registration: Click here to register to attend.

To apply to present and exhibit, click here

Sign Up to receive notices of upcoming events

© 2009 Connecticut Venture Group

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To Get Funding, Get Creative

A lot of entrepreneurs who approach me to do a business plan for them think that it will be easy to raise funds because they have the best idea since the personal computer. But last week the Wall Street Journal ran an article on how very hard it is for entrepreneurs to raise money. According to the article entrepreneurs are turning to boot camps and contests. Sean Conway, owner of, wound up with $500,000 in funding by participating in a summer-long boot camp in Philadelphia called DreamIt Ventures. Of course, to win a contest or get accepted into a program, you need a solid plan and presentation. I recently helped an entrepreneur with his application for a grant to seed new businesses in Brooklyn.

The article went on to say that venture capital funding has been declining since 2007 and is now at about the same level as the mid-1990s. That doesn't mean entrepreneurs aren't trying. Entrepreneurial activity is usually high during downturns. The point of the article is that VCs aren't the only source of funding. And if VCs do fund you, you will have to give away a large equity stake.

So think a bit differently. As always, friends and families can become your first backers. But contests are worth entering. For example, you can compete at and InoCentive.ocm - both sites that reward inventors for solving challenges. Read more at the Wall Street Journal -

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recession Ends Family Businesses

Did you know that 90% of the businesses in the United States are family owned or controlled? That includes many Fortune 500 companies. This factoid was news to me, as I read about the demise of some family businesses in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, October 6, 2009.

The recession is just cutting too deeply into the top line -- the revenue -- for the companies to stay in businesses. Many family businesses were caught off guard when sales dropped by 50%. Family members who always thought they would work in the family business forever are out of jobs. They have special relationships with employees and with other family members, so the end of the business is very, very hard.

Family businesses that survive tend to be ones that had some sort of disaster plan or that didn't have a lot of debt tied up in the business. It shows how planning and conservative business practices are really important. To read more, go to:

5 Ways to Ruin Your Next Presentation - - Business Technology Leadership

5 Ways to Ruin Your Next Presentation - - Business Technology Leadership

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New England Venture Summit - Dec. 8

If you're looking for capital or thinking of starting or expanding your business, Venture Summits are great to attend. The New England Venture Summit is now accepting applications from companies that want to present.

If you're not at a stage where you are ready to present, you can still learn a lot about what Venture Capitalists are looking for, if you go with your ears and mind open. Talk less and listen more.

You can find out which niches the investors operate in, how much they are looking to invest and how much they expect to make on their investments. They will tell you what they want to read in your business plan.

(By the way, I have no association with the upcoming summit, but I do want to spread the word about it for the good of my readers.) Read on....
New England Venture Summit announces:
Call for Presenting Companies

4th annual conference will showcase 50 of the hottest early stage and emerging growth technology, life sciences and clean tech firms


If you are a startup seeking capital and/or partnerships submit your plan for the opportunity to present at The 2009 New England Venture Summit, the premier venue connecting emerging growth companies with active venture capitalists, angel investors, Corporate VCs and investment firms.

Now in its 4th year, the program will bring together over 500 executives and feature thirty leading VCs on timely panel discussions, presentations by 50 cutting edge companies and high-level networking opportunities.

The early application deadline for presenting opportunities is October 21st, 2009.

Apply to Present:
To be considered for one of the Top Innovator slots, please e-mail for an application.


Inqueries related to presenting? Contact Adam Negnewitzky at


To nominate a company send email with details to

The 2009 New England Venture Summit
December 8th, 2009
Hilton, Boston Dedham

Click here to register now

Warm Regards,

Joe Benjamin
Founder & CEO
youngStartup Ventures
Where Innovation Meets Capital

Friday, October 2, 2009

Business Tip - Plan & Streamline Your Operations

One of my favorite serial entrepreneurs is an ace at working out all his operational plan. He and his wife and business partner always spend an inordinate amount of time working out all the details of how they will get their business up and running. They have amazed me with how thorough they are in learning about the spaces they could occupy, the government licenses and approvals they would need, and the technology and employees they would need to make the business as productive as possible. I often wish my other clients were as thorough as this couple.

Nevertheless, they still discover things not turning out exactly as planned. When that happens, they figure out a way around the challenge.

When you're planning a start-up or are running a growing business, operations can be an after-thought or can be overwhelming. But having a detailed operating plan can make the difference between success and failure. Understanding the key components that drive your business's productivity can help you free up cash flow and use scare resources more wisely.

Planning and flexibility can help you roll with the economic punches. Another one of my clients during the downturn realized that shutting down his warehouse and business offices could help him cut costs. He and his wife and partner (a different entrepreneurial couple) now work out of their home and outsource all their warehousing, design and manufacturing, allowing them to focus on building sales and managing the outsourcing.