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THE BLOG

Ultimate Networking Tips

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Ultimate Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Helpful networking tips for startups, job seekers, entrepreneurs and small businesses from Sandbox Suites, the coworking space for everyone.

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1. Take it online

When you meet someone and receive a business card, unless you are building an impressive business card collection, take it online. Find the person on LinkedIn; if they don’t have LinkedIn, send them an invite! Find them on Twitter and respond to one of their tweets- even if it’s personal and not professional. Follow them on Instagram, or Pinterest. Personally, I’d draw the line at Facebook friend request until after you’ve logged a few real time hours. (However, if they have a company Facebook page, DO like that.)

Protip: if you are lurking a few years deep on their Instagram, try not to like their photos. There’s a thin line between ‘cool new connection from networking event!’ and ‘I think this person is online stalking me.’ Invite them to another similar meetup or event instead where you can take new pictures!

2. Make Authentic Connections

Unless you are the host or an extreme extrovert with the attention span of a toddler (and if you are, you do you) DO NOT work the room. If you are having a great conversation with someone who matches or complements both your personality and your professional interests, stick with it. If you start chatting and realize that this person is your mortal enemy, or simply the most annoying person you’ve ever had the displeasure of making small talk with, then politely excuse yourself and move on. If you look around and realize you’ve only made one solid connection, that’s okay! With a really authentic connection, you’ll feel much more comfortable following up and connecting with them in the future.

 

3. Follow Up

When you tell a potential colleague, ‘let’s get coffee!’ follow up and actually invite them to coffee. Offer to make an intro email?  Do it! If you find a meetup, networking event or class similar to the one where you met, ping that person and ask if they’d like to meet you there. At minimum, refer to step 1 and connect online after your real life connection. The new contact will remain current and viable.

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4. Host Your Own Event

Are you an expert in a field? Strangely good at knitting? Always wanted to make your own zine? Interested in starting a podcast or teaching people the basics of digital photography? Search for meetups or events in that category and in your area through networking websites like meetup.com. If you find an existing event, offer to host, teach, volunteer or just go!

No upcoming events? Be proactive and message the event organizer and submit your idea, or ask to host the next event. If you are a member of a coworking space, many times meeting rooms and common areas are available on evenings and weekends at no cost to members. Coworking spaces are also a great way to learn about events and classes!

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5. Quality Over Quantity 

I cannot emphasize this point enough: one authentic connection can be infinitely more valuable than a stack of random business cards. If you click with someone right away, don’t feel guilty cultivating that conversation all night. It will be much more rewarding in the long run.

And keep in mind that you may not hit a networking home run at every event you attend. Sometimes you’ll get nothing more than a drink and a good meal. But meeting a new investor, a valuable business resource or your new boss only needs to happen once!

If you’re having a great chat, but don’t want to seem too exclusive, introduce yourself and your new found connection to someone nearby. Make sure to connect online and follow up with your new colleagues and friends.

 

Put your newfound networking skills to work at our Grand Opening Party for our brand new Palo Alto Sandbox!

Register HERE

Good luck out there! Networking can be rewarding and fun.

8 Reasons You Are Extraordinary

8 Reasons You Are Extraordinary!

How Changes in Immigration Will Affect Startups

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President Obama’s Recent Immigration Proposals Include International Entrepreneurs-

The percentage of startups in the U.S. that are founded by foreign nationals is staggering. The U.S. draws the best and brightest of the world who want to study, start companies, and establish a network here. So, it’s no surprise that President Obama announced a special status for entrepreneurs/founders/ researchers on November 20, 2014 when he proposed a number of immigration actions to address the need for better immigration policies.

Of course, it will take a while before his proposals will take effect. In the meantime, we should talk about the other visas available to talented entrepreneurs who want to launch a business, product and/or idea here. One visa I encourage all foreign nationals to consider is the O-1 Visa for individuals of extraordinary ability.

There are eight criteria and you need to show three to qualify (taken from Evidentiary Criteria for O-1A):

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor
  • Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field for which classification is sought
  • Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
  • Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation

‘If the above standards do not readily apply to the beneficiary’s occupation, the petitioner may submit comparable evidence in order to establish eligibility.’

Think about what you have accomplished so far, and create opportunities for yourself.   You’re probably closer to being “extraordinary” than you think!

Join Nadia for a workshop on Immigration for Startups on Thursday, January 15. Register here!

Nadia Yakoob-Sway

Author Nadia Yakoob-Sway is a Partner at SW Law Group, a boutique immigration law firm with offices in the Bay Area, New York, and Tokyo.  She has been practicing immigration law for the last fourteen years and works primarily with startups, emerging companies, and entrepreneurs.  She has spoken at the United Nations on trends in labor migration.  She graduated from Georgetown University’s Law Center where she was the Editor in Chief of the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal and obtained a Master’s from the London School of Economics.  Follow us @SWLawGroup.

WatchKit Workshops: Learn to build apps for WATCH

WatchKit Workshops at Sandbox-Learn to build apps for WATCH- December 16

RSVP here!

Like the iPhone and iPad that came before it, the Apple Watch is a whole new platform for users, which will hit the market in the spring of 2015.

On Thanksgiving, Apple released WatchKit, the software development kit (SDK) that will allow developers to build apps for the Watch. That same week, our meetup group held a hackathon where 33 teams built and presented their ideas. A few fun ones: an app that shows you when it will stop raining outside and an app that changes the speed of the music based on how hard you’re exercising. The developers who are there early have the most to gain should their app catch on.

However, in true iStyle, there are currently several limitations on what we as developers can do. We don’t have access to the hardware sensors yet, and a Watch app isn’t standalone — the code actually lives on the iPhone.

But I see these limitations as a form of focus. In the words of  interactive designer and front end developer, Jason Weaver, it is a bit like giving an artist three crayons and seeing what they can create. For one thing, when Apple announced the Watch on stage, the company showcased several partners that are using the SDK to do awesome things. The popular website Pinterest is a good example. Their app will tap you on the wrist you when you’re near a spot you’ve favorited and give you walking directions to get there. So imagine you’re in San Francisco and you’re near the Painted Ladies; one subtle tap and you’re on your way to see the picture in real life.

Another great use is an airplane app that you can use mid-flight to ask, “Where am I?” The dictation feature of the Watch will convert your voice into text and send a signal to an API. Because the airline knows your flight number, they can then send back the result to the watch —“30,000 feet.” So cool!

Everybody’s a beginner at this stuff, but through the meetup group we’re working to become a resource so that anyone can learn. We have a couple of events coming up at Sandbox Suites, including December 16th when we’ll be in Sunnyvale for Hello WatchKit. This event will provide an overview of the concepts and then cover the nitty-gritty details like working with API data. There will also be a more in-depth Bootcamp in both Sandbox Silicon Valley and Sandbox Union Square in San Francisco in January.

Ben Morrow is a developer, author, and hackathon organizer. With the Apple Watch community, he’s been teaching tools and techniques for the past six months and is ready to launch apps when the new device is released. Find more video and code at http://happy.watch­ →

5 Blogs for Entrepreneurs- in no specific order

5 blogs for entrepreneurs

5 Blogs for Entrepreneurs

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1. Hacker News https://news.ycombinator.com 

The hub of Silicon Valley’s first and most well known incubator and VC is Y Combinator. It’s not technically a blog.  But it is bubbling over with great information for anyone starting a business, in the the thick of getting funding, or anyone looking to find a VC. It’s the pulse of VC culture and any entrepreneur, whether technically a startup or not, can find valuable resources here. Still not sold? Their companies have a combined valuation of over $30 billion. See also, Paul Graham.

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2.”Both Sides of the Table”  http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com 

Mark Suster, is a seasoned entrepreneur and Silicon Valley native who has been on, well, both sides of the table. A 2x entrepreneur who joined Upfront Ventures in 2007 as a General Partner after selling his company to Salesforce.com. He provides startup lessons, marketing/pr topics, sales help and more.

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3. Seth Godin’s Blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com

He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.*  If you are an entrepreneur, early stage startup or a one man band, you’re probably wearing all the hats in your company. This would include marketing your product. Seth’s blog is great resource for marketers and independent professionals alike.

*(borrowed from his bio.)

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4. How to Change the World  http://blog.guykawasaki.com/

With a previous job title like Chief Software Evangelist at Apple, Guy understands not only how to be the hype guy for someone else, but how to strike off and start his own company. (Which he did after his departure from Apple.) He’s a prolific author and like several others on this list, understands all aspects of running a business. The content is a bit heavy on the marketing and product evangelism side, but as any new entrepreneur will agree, marketing your product can mean the difference between instant success and sudden failure.

 

5. Steve Blank  http://steveblank.com/

Before there was the Customer Development methodology, and thus before the Lean Startup movement, there was a serial-entrepreneur Steve Blank (real name.) In 2013 Blank was named by Forbes as one of the most 30 influential people in Tech of 2013. Through his down-to-earth writing, Blank leads readers through the issues of entrepreneurship. The blog is considered a “must-read” and is syndicated by UC Berkeley, VentureBeat, and Huffington Post.

 

Top 5 Reasons for Coworking in San Francisco

Top 5 Reasons for Coworking in San Francisco (or anywhere really)

Coworking Flexibility

Coworking in San Francisco offers flexibility.

1. Flexibility

As writer and theologian Adam Tosko said, “We ask 18-year-olds to make huge decisions about their career and financial future, when a month ago they had to ask to go to the bathroom.” Just like recent high school grads, those new to the startup world are suddenly faced with a LOT of freedom, a LOT of questions, and a LOT of possible options. Maybe you’re the kind of person who still likes to come in 9-5 M-F. Maybe you’re actually a night owl but never knew. Coworking spaces provide the ability to swing the full spectrum of productivity. Take the time to find what works best for YOU.

 

Work/life balance

2. Separation of space

Our brains pair particular settings with certain mental reactions. Sleep is to bed as hunger is to kitchen. The same is true of your work space. Offices were made for productivity and homes were made for relaxation.

 

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The effect of environment.

3. The effect of environment

Almost everything you like, you probably keep at home. That’s where your family is, that’s where your Netflix is, that’s where all your favorite foods are stored. No one wants to write a business proposal when the next episode of “The Walking Dead” is about to start, when your kid wants to play or when your roommate starts making the day’s third smoothie.

On the other hand, when you see everyone else around you quietly working, making progress on their goals, it stirs a sense of solidarity. Other cursors are moving rapidly toward the triumph of completion. No distractions, no excuses.

 

Network, socialize

Coworking offers an eclectic mix.

4. An eclectic mix

Sandbox is unique in that each of our locations is a collaboration of many diverse backgrounds. The hands that reach into the pizza box at networking events are those of tech companies, nonprofits, lawyers, freelancers, telecommuters, and countless more. And that’s not even what they do in their spare time. Who knows what mutual interests you might have?

Meeting Rooms

On-Demand meeting rooms

5. Dedicated meeting space

Don’t even bother struggling to find the quiet spot in a coffee shop to meet with a potential client. When you’re worried about making a good impression, you don’t need to be thinking about snatching up parking, waiting in long service lines, and paying too much for a latte. Your focus should be on the future of your business.  

 

Check out our membership options or book a free trial to see if coworking is right for you.

Why Try Coworking?

Why Try Coworking?

The couch is no place to build an empire.

It is said to be the working man’s ultimate goal- no cubicle, no dress code, no authority, no schedule. You are the boss and the employee combined. You can spend your day perched on a park bench with your laptop or tucked up in the corner of a cafe. You can wear nothing but your favorite pajamas and claim the couch as your new domain.

Yet the couch is no place to build an empire. Working for yourself can be liberating and satisfying- but without the right facility, it can also be unproductive and lonely.

With its three locations in San Francisco as well as Downtown Berkeley and Silicon Valley, Sandbox Suites provides full-service coworking, shared offices and meetings spaces for freelancers, software developers, nonprofits, consultants, small business owners, and more. Interact with like-minded individuals in a laid back and effective co working environment designed for all types of progress.

And in case you miss your couch, we have those too.

We offer free trial days if you are new to coworking, the Bay Area or want to test out what coworking and shared office space is really about. We also offer virtual office plans in SOMA, Union Square, Berkeley and Palo Alto.

Pitch Workshop – Why Investors Search for Alternatives to your Product Solution

 

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Pitch Workshop Tip #5: Why Investors Search for Alternatives to your Product Solution

Two guys are out on a small sailing boat. The new boater asked the “captain” why he stays so far from the shore since there are so many fish near the shore.

“Because finding rocks with the bottom of my boat ruins my day and my investment!” said the captain.

That’s how investors feel about using their investment to find the alternatives to your new product.

Yesterday I attended another pitch workshop event in Silicon Valley. The founders came prepared. They had their validation, impressive user stats and even a great sounding tag line.

Then the investors began questions about competition and alternatives. They had answers. But the investors weren’t buying it. Repeatedly they peppered the founders with questions. It was brutal.

The founders, both techies, and not experienced in b2b or b2c sales, missed “it.”  It is the “alternative” solution to solve the fundamental problem – not only the direct competition.

Smart investors will always look at the alternative ways to solve the problem. They want their “precious resource,” i.e. cash, to help grow the business. But, they don’t want the founders to use that cash to discover what they should already know. Can you blame them?

Here are “alternative” competitors:

A sports app with real crowd experience for when you are alone and want to hear the crowds – with NO COMPETITION.  The Alternative: turn on the TV, watch on the Internet or go to a pub and yell with the other guys.

Rechargable nanotube power charger at $75 plus with NO COMPETITION!  The Alternative: $1.99 battery at the drug store.

Deluxe menu app for high-end restaurants – easily change the prices, description and pictures of the food. The Alternative:  paper menu – for high-end restaurants, talking with the sommelier and waiter is much more of the experience then reading the menu.

Just about all problems have alternative solutions. Founders need to find these alternatives before the investors put their money in. Investors don’t want you to use their money to find where the rocks are that sink your boat.

Come to the next pitch event and and learn more about navigating to engage investors in your startup!

Steve Austin
Startup Coach

Contact email [saustin7777@gmail.com]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Tools FM – offers free membership to Sandbox

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This month we are highlighting current SBS member’s Social Tools FM.

SocialTools.FM is a platform that is about giving websites, bloggers, and brands a set of marketing tools that will allow them to fully maximize their online presence as true, social hubs. Our first solution: Social Toolbar, has been employed by tens of thousands of websites around the world
A little bit about Social Toolbar
 
Integrate all of your social content and community into one cohesive experience, via a persistent and highly customizable website toolbar. The toolbar allows you to increase engagement, sharing and relationship building for your website and brand. Includes integration with third party tools such as MailChimp, AddThis and with much more integrations coming soon.
Below you can find a short video about the toolbar and how it works!

Social Tools have offered Sandbox’s community a generous promotion – So take some time to check them out and use the following code to get 3 months free!
3 months free of Social Toolbar Pro for all Sandbox Suites members. Just use the following code at checkout – sandboxisrad

EARLY-STAGE STARTUP VALUATION: WHAT IS YOUR STARTUP WORTH?

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When discussing valuation with anyone, startups needs to be able to demonstrate that they understand their industry completely.  Who are your competitors and what are they doing that is similar?

Companies that help you measure what is going on are called the Peer Group.  And the Peer Group needs to be comprised of a mixture of public companies and private companies.  What are companies like yours doing as far as fund raising and traction and what are their value ranges?

The other important item is understanding, and being able to communicate clearly, what stage you are in.  Concept stage?  Early development?  Alpha/beta?  Early revenue?  This will not only clarify to potential investors exactly where you are in development but it will also help drive the discount rates used for valuation calculations.  In short, the discount rate measures business risk and the earlier stage you are, the more risky.  Between the Peer Group data and the stage of development, you can come up with value ranges that are appropriate.   (Believe it or not, there are value ranges that make sense and those that do not.)  While valuation is both an art and a science, with probably more art in the very early stage, a startup needs to be able to demonstrate to a potential investor that they understand the space that they are in and the value drivers for that space and the above helps to accomplish this.

The workshop on Thursday will explore these concepts in great detail and even illustrate what can be done with the various data points.

Event link: http://www.meetup.com/Silicon-Valley-Startup-Idea-to-IPO/events/181843222/

Please follow directions and RSVP on Eventbrite.  Sandbox Suites members attend for FREE!

Location: Sandbox Suites Silicon Valley 3295 Scott Blvd Santa Clara, CA 95054 entrance in the back of the building facing the parking lot. Here is a map

 

 

 

SOFTWARE STARTUP KINETIC GROWTH CALLS SANDBOX HOME

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Sandbox Suites Coworking space is home to some pretty awesome companies Kinetic Growth is a great example of the innovation that is happening within the SBS coworking community.

Kinetic Growth focuses on building software on salesforce.com‘s Force.com platform. They provide a renewals and recurring billing application and an eCommerce application that extend the capabilities of salesforce.com‘s Sales Cloud CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. Since Kinetic Growth’s applications are 100% native to Salesforce, all renewals and online sales instantaneously share product, price, and customer information with customer’s existing Salesforce database. Management, sales reps, and web customers all work from a single unified set of data.

The company has called Sandbox Suites home for the past two years. “Sandbox has been a great place for us to grow our business,” said Kinetic Growth cofounder Samir Gupta. “The facilities, flexibility, networking, and most importantly the staff at Sandbox have all helped us tremendously. Roman, Dominick, Melissa and all the other staff create a supportive environment that goes well beyond simply providing desks, lights and wi-fi; in many ways they act as part of the Kinetic Growth team.”

About Kinetic Growth*
Kinetic Growth provides integrated software applications that drive growth and improve efficiency; all built 100% on Force.com, the Salesforce Platform. These applications extend the capabilities of salesforce.com‘s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to help organizations manage recurring sales and allow their customers to self-serve. Venue is eCommerce for Salesforce. Encore automates renewals, subscriptions and recurring billing. Done provides advanced task management and collaboration.

 

 

*Kinetic Growth currently holds a membership at Sandbox Suites’ SoMa and South Park locations. They’re membership is a mixture of Frequent Flyer and Digital Bedouin