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THE BLOG

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.

 

coworking in san francisco

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

KINETIC LOGO

 

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

HOW TO EFFECTIVELY ORGANIZE YOUR LIFE AS A CEO OR COFOUNDER

Funny Rabits (4)

When you are a Start-up founder, it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Your car is always running on empty, your trash is always full, and you have no time to spare – to unwind. Your focus, your life, your energy is all going into your new venture. Which is great, but are you actually efficient, or is rushing around like a headless chicken actually hindering your productivity?

I went around and asked some Sandbox Members what their advice is to stay efficient and productive. It’s no surprise that the majority of our members had similar advice. Here is what they think are some of the most important tips for entrepreneurs.

 

1. Start by making a list

Make a list of all your responsibilities as a business owner. Prioritize them. Income-producing tasks should be at the top of your list. Place your prioritized list on your computer monitor. This will help you focus.

“To organize everything I need to get done, I use Wunderlist, a popular productivity app for creating, managing and sharing personal and business to-do lists.” – SBS member

For businesses, time tracking and management tools help keep everyone focused and on the same page, eliminating wasted time searching for emails and mis-communications about which team member is responsible for which task.

Organize your work space:

Organize everything in you office by category. For example, place all your marketing files and information in one place, financial paperwork together in another. This can help you focus on each project and task individually and help with efficiency in the office.

On the same note – take some time to set-up a proper filing system, so you can find the information you want when you want it. The secret to an effective filing system is to keep it simple!

 

2. Exercise

Your mind and body need movement. Exercise not only tones muscles, but improves brain power. A 2013 study by the Montreal Heart Institute showed aerobic exercise increased cognitive function. This is because exercise increases blood flow to your brain, meaning a jog might be just what you need before a brainstorming session.

As a recently published study, by the Columbia University Medical Center, illustrates, exercise’s impact on the brain is far more complex–and powerful–than just oxygenating brain cells.

According to recent research, here’s what happens when you head out for that lunchtime run:

  1. As you exercise, your muscles contract, Releasing chemicals, including a protein called IGF-1.
  2. IGF-1 travels to the brain and stimulates the release of several chemicals, including brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). Regular exercise increases levels of BDNF.
  3. BDNF stimulates neurons (brain cells) to branch and connect in new ways.
  4. New junctions between neurons are the basis of learning.

What does this mean? Bodies that exercise regularly stimulate brains to have higher levels of BDNF; brains with higher levels of BDNF have greater capacity for knowledge!

In the words of Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey, BDNF is like “Miracle-Gro for your brain.”

Not only does exercise help make you smarter – it also reduces stress hormones and increases the production of endorphin’s that give you a natural high. Getting in a workout, whether before work or during the workday can allow you to approach your work with a calmer mindset. “The more stressed you are, the more unable you are to make really good, rational business decisions,”

 

3. Prepare in Advance

Take some time the night before to prepare, organize and schedule your next day, you will run a lot more efficiently this way.

“I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, but if you only do one thing each day then spend a few minutes each night organizing your to–do list for tomorrow.” -SBS Member

When you do it right, you outline the tasks you want to finish the next day and the people you need to connect with. Develop a short list of the most important items for me to accomplish. It takes 10 minutes that night and saves 3 hours the next day.

 

4. Separate Work-life From Personal-life

Getting into a work groove, can actually be pretty difficult. Especially if you are sitting on your couch with your cats! . While many independent entrepreneurs effectively run their businesses from their homes, coffee shops and other public spaces, some of the most important feedback I got was to separate home and work life.

Sandbox CEO Roman Gelfer says he works most effective and efficiently when he comes into Sandbox Suites. “Having a set time and place where I work, helps me concentrate”

If you work from home, there’s no real accountability, says Roman.  “It’s too easy to get distracted by your bed, your TV, and other temptations. Family and chores can easy take up your time. Working away from home creates accountability, and this separation is important.”

Research shows that people who work out of the home or use coworking spaces are more effective. It makes them work faster since you’re surrounded by energy and productivity. It’s not always right for all of us – some people can work like crazy from home – but most will benefit greatly from coworking.

 

5. Don’t respond to Emails!

This was one of the most interesting and surprising tips I got, on more than one occasion.

My first reaction – What!? – how can you NOT respond to email?

Okay, of course you can’t completely ignore email, but you need to recognize how much of a constraint it is to actually getting things done.

“It took me awhile to get over the urge to open my inbox, but eventually I realized that everything can wait a few hours. Nobody is going to email you about a true emergency (a death in the family, etc.), so leave your email alone for the first few hours of each day. Use the morning to do what’s important rather than responding to what is “urgent.”” – SBS Member

In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss teaches a good technique for handling email by leaving it for certain times of the day and suggests batch processing.

Batch processing is great and I’ve done that with my email, so this is the first step you need to take. Create specific periods were you knuckle down and get your email processed. There will be emails you can answer in two minutes, so you sit down and bang these out the door. Then you go through and sort the rest of the emails into project and action folders for when it is time to work on those projects.

I’ve learned to quickly scan my email, delete the messages I don’t need, respond to the two minute emails and then just ignore the rest until my next batch process period. This way you can focus on whats important – but also have an agenda to tackle the rest eventually.

Of course you should scan your email at least once a day to make sure nothing critical is there, but most email can be left for a while without reply while you knuckle down and do the things that actually move you forward in your business.