THE BLOG

Is Standing Really Better for Your Health?

Health specialists have been quick to tell us time and again that sitting is the new smoking when it comes to what kills us. Between the 12 hours we spend sitting at a computer and watching TV, plus the 8 hours we’re sleeping, that’s approximately 20 hours we spend each day without motion.

In the last decade, standing desks have become the new craze to defy the downfalls of sitting. Dozens of styles exist, ranging everywhere in price from a few hundred to a cool thousand dollars.

Read more

Event: Learn about the Murmur App

“There are murmurs around you” reads the notification on your iPhone: an alert that you just walked into a space with personality. You swipe to open the app – five of the latest tweets from everybody in the coworking space: a few new articles they retweeted, an Instagram photo from Jessica’s last trip to Tahoe, news about the deal that Dave from upstairs just closed with his largest client since December #success.

Pumping personality into space is Murmur’s mission.

Read more

3 Reasons to Focus on Coworking

3 Reasons to Focus on Coworking

A million reasons exist to cowork. A million reasons exist to work at home. In the grand scheme of things, you are fully capable of starting your business from the cozy embrace of your favorite armchair. But to save yourself hours of gazing at the walls and wishing for inspiration, take moment to consider these 3 reasons to focus on coworking.

Read more

How to Get Funded with Angel Investor Gary Jinks

Guest Author: Gary Jinks

Many entrepreneurs and startups do not understand the fundamentals of the “startup/entrepreneur” business model. As a result, they fail to deliver the right message to investors- and ultimately do not get funded. “Why You” is not because you have a great app or technology. A common mistake of entrepreneurs is too much focus on the product, technology, or engineering and not nearly enough on the business or “how are you going to succeed?” Your ability to deliver your value proposition and plan clearly, concisely, and with confidence is what gets you funded. Executing your plan is what gets you funded again.

The Model

In the same way traditional and franchise business models have their unique characteristics, so does the “startup/entrepreneur” model. It is based on explosive growth through private investment, not long term growth through debt (traditional) or buying an established infrastructure and branding (franchise.) It is critical to understand the investor/company relationship and how it affects ultimate goals and direction. More than 90% of funded startups have an acquisition strategy.

The Mindset

Sell your product to customers and your business to investors. Investors are not buying your product; they are investing in your team to make money. They must understand the opportunity, how you plan to successfully capture a piece of it, and must believe you can deliver.

The Plan

“Alpha, Beta, MVP, and Launch” is not a plan. Nothing says “invest in us” more than knowing what you are doing, when you are doing it, and how much it costs. Many startups lose credibility with a poorly constructed plan that does not show the coordination between Product Development, Business Development, Operations and Funding Strategy. You must go beyond product development and exhibit business development, go-to-market, and funding strategy. How does it all fit together in your plan?

The Value Proposition

For investors, your value proposition is generally not your product. In most cases it is a combination of the team, the plan, and the product- in that order. Delivering your value proposition clearly and concisely is critical. You cannot get funded if you cannot communicate “why are you the right choice?” You must be able to do this using the “industry tools”- the one page Executive Summary and the Pitch Deck.

To attend the event, register here.

Jinks

Gary Jinks
President, GLJ Group
Managing Director, South Valley Angels

Gary is a dynamic speaker who blends a mixture of detailed and relevant information, insight and humor in a compelling and entertaining format. During his 20 year corporate tenure, Gary developed complex advanced technologies, managed multi-million dollar budgets, and developed high performance teams. As owner and president of GLJ Group, Gary has generated more than $300 million in new business for his clients. As the founder and manager director of South Valley Angels, he has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and early stage companies to develop their business and go-to-market strategies, plans, and launch. Gary’s unique perspective comes from his experience in startups, Systems Engineering, Operations, Business Development, and Project Management.

10 Ways to Better Communicate with Your Employees

10 Ways to Better Communicate with Your Employees

Whether you’re a corporate giant towering over the masses or a new startup barely crawling, you communicate every single day. With your spouse as you leave for work, with commuters on the train, with the guy you buy your hot dog from. But mostly, you communicate with your employees.

Here is a list of tips for interacting with all employees, both in your building and out in the world.

Working Together

In the Office

– Pay attention to body language. Take note of a person’s equilibrium state (at lunch or just hanging out) and when they’re working. Learn to recognize stress levels and reactions so you know when you should approach them and when you might want to hold off.

– Schedule ‘non-transactional’ meeting time. Even if it’s only 15 minutes a day, make it clear to your employees that they are more to you than request-granting machines. We don’t recommend becoming best friends, but business has a better chance of thriving when employees know they can talk to you as a person, not just a boss.

– Communicate in writing. Email, text message, Post-It, whatever- write it out and include dates and times that the request was made. This is important so that the employee knows what’s expected and you know what was said. It also allows you to send messages without pulling them away from their work stations.

Working Solo

Online

– Use voice and video calls occasionally to establish a more personal connection. Meaning can often be misconstrued in the written word, and what may seem to you as the writer might be interpreted as all hell about to break loose to your reader.

– Don’t be afraid to use emojis or gifs to get your point across. Though you might think it feels silly at first, some people are just bad at wording in emails. A well-placed emoji (in reasonable quantities) can completely shoot the conversation over to the other side of the emotional spectrum.

– Utilize systems like Slack, HipChat, Viber, Flowdock, Campfire, or Skype to keep in contact. Some bosses fear the outlet for wandering minds, but these chat platforms allow employees to talk to each other in real time. Not only can it address emergency issues immediately, but the fluidity can foster better relationships than the turtle-pace of emails. Establish a codeword that exclusively means: “please don’t get offended, but I need to focus my undivided attention on this task right now.” Suggestions: ‘pirate ship,’ ‘hammer time,’ or ‘magnifying glass.’

*Sandbox Suites recently started using Slack as our main means of off-site communication. We can categorize our discussions into groups such as ‘marketing’ or ‘general’ and easily search all conversations for that one line from last Tuesday morning. (Their emoji selection is also pretty fantastic.)

– Limit industry jargon. Using acronyms and slang may make things more efficient for you, but for the employee, it may put a drag on productivity if they’re trying to figure out what the heck “Supes in the weeds this mrn, get TAJR report on M’s ASAP” means.

Blog, both
Both

– Make sure everyone knows the lines of communication are open. Employees who are afraid to disappoint or anger their bosses are less likely to communicate information. Reward them for good ideas and encourage them to ask questions. Projects take a lot less time when a wrong direction gets nipped in the bud.

– Use simple words and avoid unnecessary repetition. Nobody likes a dead horse, and nobody likes to hear it beaten.

Ultimate Networking Tips Entrepreneurs Can Use


Ultimate Networking Tips for Enterpreneurs

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 5.08.11 PM

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!

Networking for entrepreneurs

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.

meetup_logo[1]Eventbrite-logo

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!

networking tips for entrepreneurs

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

united-nations-638x425

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

ycombinator-logo-fb889e2e

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.

Nerd_Dork_Geek_Venn_Diagram

 

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.

seth-godin1

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.)

guycaricature

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.