I have one market theory: the tape is good or bad.

Technology has been factored into almost all industries because the world is socially and mobile connected. The one that lags behind is Wall Street. Yes, Wall Street has given us derivatives, 4x leverage ETF’s, HFT’s and a crowd around the one pipe at The Fed, but it will never catch up to the world in mobile and social.

Wall Street, in the era of social leverage, is left to hoarding, scheming and chasing — giving the individual has an unprecedented edge. Here is one recent example:

Most investors have heard of Dow Theory. I have always been skeptical that stock market averages must confirm each other, but not enough to care… until recently.

There has been much chatter – usually from the under-invested, or people on the wrong side of the trend – that the Dow Transports has not confirmed the ‘New Highs in the Dow Jones.’

The Dow Transports is made up of 20 stocks. This link has a good breakdown. What the old Dow theory does not take into account is Uber, Lyft or their legion of competitors. Not to mention Google Maps, etc.

Love or hate Uber, its recent $50 billion valuation makes it worth $300 million more than Federal Express


FDX



. FedEx did $49 billion in sales in 2014 so I am sure every Wall Street analyst is scratching their head. FedEx also works on just a 5% profit margin and carries $7 billion in debt.

Based on my modern interpretation of a ‘Transportation Index’ – one which includes Uber – all-time highs have been a daily phenomenon.

I live on the edge of old and new and the noise and the quiet. I love them both. I would be a better investor if I was not fascinated by the noise and just fascinated by the new.

History is important. Math is important. Price is important. Who you follow is important.

Wall Street and Dow Theories on the other hand…

Howard Lindzon (@howardlindzon) is co-founder and chairman of StockTwits, and general partner of angel investing firm Social Leverage.

Article source: http://fortune.com/2015/05/26/why-the-dow-transports-index-is-all-wrong-no-uber/

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A recent survey showed that Delaware is one of the worst states for a woman to start a business. It turns out it may not be so hot for men, either.

The lack of available capital is most often cited as the reason that prevents business growth. And many women business owners said venture capital firms are selective about where they deploy their money, banks have tightened lending requirements and the state isn’t doing enough to educate business owners on how to access government grants.

“I would like to stay in Delaware, but if every opportunity for capital is from outside the state, the question becomes, ‘Should I still be active in Delaware?’ ” said Vijaya Rao, founder and chief executive officer of New Castle-based DeliveryCircle.

Rao’s business, which launched in 2014, provides distribution services to companies that do not deliver their products to customers. She said she needs $1.2 million in financing to hire new employees and expand her business in Delaware, but may not be able to stay here.

Venture capital firms in California, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., have reached out to her, but Rao said she has not had a single conversation with anyone in Delaware regarding financing.

Many of those firms prefer to invest in local companies or request businesses relocate before making a substantial financial commitment. The close proximity makes it easier for the lender to ensure its interests are closely aligned with the investment.

A Washington-area venture capital firm was interested in lending to Rao, but she said the financial company added a caveat that she had to relocate her headquarters to that region.

Rao said her inability to secure the financing necessary to grow the business in Delaware is not because she is a minority woman, but because lenders are just not offering entrepreneurs capital in the First State.

“Delaware is a small state with a small population,” said Jim Butkiewicz, an economics professor at the University of Delaware. “There are obviously more opporutnities in other states, and the venture capital firms want to be closer to the businesses they are supporting. Delaware may not be big enough to support enough venture capital.”

“It’s a tough state whether you are a woman or a man,” Rao said. “Male entrepreneurs are having the same challenges I am.”

American Express Open, a division of American Express focused on small businesses, ranked Delaware and Florida as the second worst states for women to launch a business since the recession. Women-owned businesses increased by 18 percent each in both states between 2007 and 2015, according to the study. During the same period, the number of women-owned businesses decreased by 3 percent in Nevada, the only state with a worse ranking than Delaware.

Nebraska and North Dakota recorded the highest growth in women-owned businesses with 357 percent and 352 percent, respectively. Nationally, the number of businesses started by women has increased by 74 percent over that time period, according to the study.

Bernice Whaley, deputy director of the Delaware Economic Development Office and the agency’s next director, disagreed with Delaware’s ranking. She said Delaware’s number of diverse businesses have tripled since Gov. Jack Markell took office in 2009.

“Our state has seen not only the growth of women-owned business enterprises but the other diversity business categories as well to include minority-, veteran- and disabled-owned businesses,” she said in a statement.

Women who have launched companies in recent years say the state’s business climate isn’t just hurting them.

“The little businesses don’t get as much attention as the bigger companies in Delaware, regardless of whether it is run by a woman or a man,” said Amy Eschenbrenner, who launched Blue Hen Bed Breakfast in Newark in 2010.

And the men agree.

“We don’t have a great entrepreneurial culture in Delaware,” said Mark Kleinschmidt, president of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s getting better, but it is an across-the-board issue, not particular to women.”

Kleinschmidt attributes the lack of support for new businesses in Delaware to the state’s history of large corporations such as DuPont and automobile manufacturers providing the bulk of the jobs. Since the recession, Kleinschmidt noted, Delaware has begun to adapt to the new economy and back entrepreneurs.

“It is an evolutionary process, but we are getting there,” he said.

Bob Older, president and founder of the Delaware Small Business Chamber, disagreed. He said there is quite a bit of capital available to Delaware companies, but business owners lack the knowledge on how to access those funds.

“The state isn’t as good as it should be at getting this information to the right people,” he said.

Whaley highlighted some of the state’s initiatives to assist businesses owners. The programs include the Small Credit Initiative loan participation program, the Delaware Capital Access Program and Project Pop-Up.

Project Pop-Up offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to relocate into brick-and-mortar locations. Whaley said 86 percent of the program’s participants are women-owned.

More early money needed

Whether it is lack of capital or knowledge on how connect with it, Delaware entrepreneurs lag behind both its neighbors and similar-sized states when it comes to securing loans, according to a February study by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Banks and savings associations provided 14,603 loans under $100,000 totaling $189 million in Delaware in 2012, according to the most recent information available. Rhode Island, which has a population on par with Delaware, recorded 17,375 such loans for $209.6 million during the same period. Another state with similar demographics, New Hampshire, saw lenders issue 17,375 loans totaling $286.9 million, the survey showed.

The gap is even larger between Delaware and the states that it borders. Lending institutions in Pennsylvania doled out 197,313 loans under $100,000 for a total of $3 billion. New Jersey and Maryland also recorded loan totals in the billions.

The SBA said it does not monitor the amount of venture capital funds distributed.

Delaware also has the lowest success rate among new businesses compared with both regional and identically populated states. The SBA study found that 63.6 percent of the 1,751 new companies launched in Delaware in 2010 were still in business by 2012. Rhode Island had a similar success rate at 63.9 percent, and 65.6 percent of New Hampshire businesses were still operating after two years.

In the region, Pennsylvania had the highest success rate at 70 percent. New Jersey and Maryland posted rates of 66.7 percent and 67.4 percent, respectively.

“We need more lending programs that help small businesses in the early stages,” Kleinschmidt said.

Patrick Foley Jr. is a principal at Innovation Capital Advisors LLC, a Wilmington venture capital firm that invests in emerging enterprises throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Innovation Capital recently closed its fund with investments in 15 companies, but only three were located in Delaware.

Foley said venture capital funds want to invest in businesses with scalability, the ability to grow exponentially and generate returns 10 times greater than the initial contribution. He said such investments are usually risky because of the strong chance several of those businesses will fail.

Venture capital firms typically invest in multiple enterprises in the hopes that the payoff on a successful company will be much greater than the losses on a failed enterprise.

As these funds target risky propositions in the hopes of making a substantial amount of money, they are finding more opportunities in other states than Delaware, Foley added.

“Delaware is a risk-adverse state,” he said. “There is money here, but investors are not going to limit themselves to Delaware. The deal flow in Baltimore and Philadelphia is much higher.”

Angel investing and other solutions

Kleinschmidt and Foley said one way to resolve the disconnect between Delaware businesses and area capital is angel investors. An angel investor is an affluent individual who provides capital to a new business in exchange for either convertible debt or an ownership stake. Angel investors also provide advice to entrepreneurs.

“Angel investing is not a new concept, but it’s a new concept in Delaware,” Kleinschmidt said. “It would bring money here.”

Kleinschmidt has promoted legislation to the General Assembly granting angel investors a state tax credit for their contributions to new businesses. So far, 35 states have passed similar bills.

Angel investor legislation is being debated in the Maryland Senate. Under the Maryland bill, early stage investors could receive state tax credits of up to 50 percent of investments, or $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples.

Older said the state needs to do a better job informing entrepreneurs about available funding opportunities, including government grant money. He said the state’s new website firststeps.delaware.gov is a good start, but more needs to be done.

“The state of Delaware is trying,” he said. “But they are not reaching enough people.”

Megan Varley launched New Life Floors two years ago. She funded the Wilmington flooring businesses through savings and a life insurance policy. She has avoided debt, but needs additional capital for advertising and marketing.

Varley said the state needs a greater outreach to business owners so they can be aware of funding opportunities.

“I get emails and phone calls about loans, but nothing from the state of Delaware or any of the agencies telling me how I can get a loan through them,” she said. “I have no idea where to go to apply for one.”

In the meantime, businesses owners have taken it upon themselves to expand.

Blue Hen Bed Breakfast’s Eschenbrenner is trying to promote her businesses despite not having a marketing budget. Eschenbrenner has avoided taking out a loan since her business launched and said she is committed to finding creative ways to boost sales.

“I’ve had to become a guerilla marketer,” she said. “I’ve walked up to complete strangers and told them about our business.”

Contact Jeff Mordock at (302) 324-2786, on Twitter @JeffMordockTNJ or jmordock@delawareonline.com.

Article source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/money/business/2015/05/26/lack-capital-stifles-delawares-business-growth/27973275/

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Rachel Maxwell’s path to financing entrepreneurs wasn’t an obvious one. Before receiving her MBA in 2012, she worked in international climate policy while running an analytics and market research firm with her husband. But her data-crunching background and interest in sustainable energy soon led her to pursue sustainable business financing solutions for local communities.

“What I figured out was that we really needed a distributed economic system, much like we needed a distributed energy grid,” says Seattle-based Maxwell. A year spent researching the topic led to Community Sourced Capital, a zero-interest crowdfunding platform for community-based ventures. To ensure that future directors, advisors and investors would honor the mission, CSC became a certified B Corporation and a registered Social Purpose Corporation, a Washington state business designation.

“Everybody said to us, ‘No one will do this,’” says Maxwell, who serves as CEO. But she is proving them wrong. “Most of the [lenders] do know and live within a few miles of the businesses they support. What we found is that people will make zero-interest loans if they’re connected to the business or the community that is being improved by the loan.”

Since CSC’s launch in 2013, some 3,700 people have loaned more than $800,000 to U.S. restaurants, breweries, boutique hotels, farms, retailers and manufacturers. The average campaign ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, with most lenders contributing $100. “Ninety percent of the campaigns that run on our site successfully reach their funding goal, which is about 50 percent more than the industry average,” Maxwell says.

Borrowers pay $250 to run a four-week campaign seeking $5,000 to $50,000 on the site. Lenders contribute to campaigns in $50 increments, or “squares.” If a business gets funded, CSC charges the borrower $50 per month throughout the three-year repayment term. There’s no interest involved. Instead, borrowers repay CSC a percentage of their revenue that flexes with their earnings. CSC then passes those payments on to lenders (or “squareholders”). 

CSC’s team vets each campaign posted on the site. Maxwell focuses on whether the amount requested is enough to complete the specified project (say, a new oven or solar panels), whether the business can feasibly repay the loan and whether the business has a community in place to fund the loan. Interested borrowers must share project details, budget and timeline, as well as specifics on their cash flow and how they interact with their community. “We are very hands-on with the businesses we work with,” Maxwell says.

Maxwell hopes to succeed in the Pacific Northwest before marketing CSC nationwide; to that end, she is forming partnerships with local governments and economic development organizations. Craft3, a nonprofit community development lender, is matching CSC loans dollar for dollar in select Oregon and Washington communities; other partners include the Washington State Department of Commerce and Seattle’s Office of Economic Development. “What we are doing is developing relationships and partnerships that will be replicable across the country,” Maxwell says. “But we need to do it in our own backyard first.”

More Finance and Capital Brilliance

The Harvard Business School grads behind the Women’s Venture Capital Fund invest in businesses with at least one woman in a leadership role because they believe gender-diverse teams make better decisions, higher-quality products and, ultimately, higher profits. 

ZestFinance improves on traditional underwriting models by using machine learning and large-scale data analysis to make credit available to more people without raising the risk to lenders.

The FlashFunders no-fee equity investment platform streamlines the fundraising process by offering entrepreneurs SEC-compliant documents and FDIC-insured escrow accounts, saving them thousands in legal fees.

Online financial service Fundbox helps small businesses clear outstanding accounts receivables by offering low-cost advances on invoices of $100 to $25,000. 

VerInvest is a secure, confidential verification platform that eases compliance with securities laws by enabling qualified financiers to verify their accredited investor status and connect with startups seeking capital. 

Most angel investors are men. To get more female financiers onto term sheets, Pipeline Fellowship offers boot camps in 10-plus U.S. cities that teach women the fine art of angel investing.

London-based Earthport aims to upend the archaic process by which money is sent overseas. So far Bank of America, Western Union and the World Bank have signed on to Earthport’s centralized, cloud-based network.

Local Lift enables merchants to raise financing by offering exclusive deals to consumers in the immediate area, while presenting their plans for improvement and explaining how their efforts will fuel community growth.

The Aspiration platform for middle-class investors has a “pay what is fair” approach to fees and donates 10 percent of revenue to charitable causes.

Article source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245908

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Angel investors and venture capitalists across the MENA region have become more confident to invest in the local tech start-ups, experts stated at the Arabian Business StartUp Academy held last week.

Hosting a breakfast workshop at the JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, the Arabian Business StartUp Academy, organised in partnership with RAK Free Trade Zone and Mashreq Bank, looked to explore the type of support start-ups and SMEs can get from angel investors and venture capitalists.

The trio of speakers – Elissa Freiha and Chantalle Dumonceaux, co-founders of WOMENA, a Dubai-based women-only angel group, and Dr Philip Boigner, vice president of investments at Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA) – agreed that local start-ups are experiencing more positive attitude of and increased support from various types of investors.

Speaking to more than 100 SMEs and start-up owners, Freiha said: “In this region there are still expectations of immediate returns.

“Various statistics about angel investing show that 50 to 70 percent of companies will fail while those that succeed need five to eight years.

“Nevertheless, the primary goal of angels is to support the economy. Their interest is in building the community.”

Aware of many of the misconceptions about angel investing, Freiha and Dumonceaux teamed up in November 2014 to facilitate informed and streamlined investing in the region through an organised and professionally-managed angel group.

Following a number of their monthly meetings during which local start-ups pitch to investors, WOMENA has successfully facilitated an investment for the two Dubai-based start-ups – Melltoo, and AlemHealth.

When asked whether local investors have started recognising the opportunities of technology-based investments, Dumonceaux said: “The fact is that the exits are starting so people are starting to get more confident in the region. It’s really good in helping the growth of angel investment here.

“And I think it’s very well suited to the region,” she added while talking to StartUp after the event. “Because investors in the region tend to look at investments deal by deal which makes them a little less interested in a fund and more interested in maybe the broker-dealer model.

“But, the broker dealer isn’t getting the best deal flow. So, there’s a nice line [in angel investing] since you’re getting a deal flow of a venture capitalist, but you are able to make autonomous investments.”

During a coffee break that followed, the attendees had a chance to network amongst each other and also to learn more about the latest products and services offered by RAK Free Trade Zone and Mashreq Bank.

“Just because investor has to exit, that doesn’t mean that you’ll have to exit your business. You might have earned enough to buy out your investor,” said the Academy’s second speaker, Dr Boigner, to assure the attendees that the belief that venture capitalists put too much pressure on entrepreneur was just a prejudice.

Since joining Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority in 2011 as the vice president of investments, Dr Boigner has been managing the complete cycle of direct investments of the Authority, in particular equity investments ranging from start-ups to sizable private equity transactions.

In an interactive presentation, Dr Boigner explained to the audience what venture capitalists were interested in, which include outstanding teams, sensible and scalable business plan, transparency, willingness to work with an investor, and exit potential in few years.

With the region potentially approaching to its first ‘unicorn’ [a term describing a venture capital investing start-ups valued at $1 million, at a later stage when little risks are involved to include the company’s logo in its portfolio], when asked by StartUp whether ‘logo-hunting’ might happen in the region, Dr Boigner said: “Sure, logo-hunting will happen.

“Souq.com is the one everybody talks about, when the big exit is going to be. But there are very few logos in the Middle East, very few recognised brands.

“Souq.com is known regionally, but not internationally. So logo-hunting will only get you so far when you have logos available.”

The StartUp Academy will take a break in June during The Holy Month of Ramadan. The next session is scheduled for Wednesday, 22 July, 2015.

Article source: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/investors-confidence-increasing-say-startup-academy-speakers-593800.html

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DALLAS – By age 26, Jason Story had already sold one company and left another that he co-founded as a student at the University of Texas.

Jason Story, fourth from left, is a 26-year-old Dallas entrepreneur and investor. Shown here are the heads of some of the startups Story has invested in or advised. From left, Nathan Smith, founder and CEO of RVspotfinder; Stewart Youngblood of Hangar Ventures; Jagmit Singh, CEO of GingerCube; Story; George Baker, founder of ParkHub; and Matt Alexander, founder of Need. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Jason Story, fourth from left, is a 26-year-old Dallas entrepreneur and investor. Shown here are the heads of some of the startups Story has invested in or advised. From left, Nathan Smith, founder and CEO of RVspotfinder; Stewart Youngblood of Hangar Ventures; Jagmit Singh, CEO of GingerCube; Story; George Baker, founder of ParkHub; and Matt Alexander, founder of Need. (Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Instead of starting another business with some of his newfound wealth, the Texas native decided to invest in startups and help build them – in Dallas.

Now an active angel investor and adviser for several Dallas-based startups, Story is contributing to the region’s tech boom. Since returning to North Texas last year, the 29-year-old entrepreneur has invested $500,000 in several startups, including RVspotfinder, Need and ParkHub.

“This was the most effective way to reach a large number of individuals and impact multiple startups,” Story said. “It’s more fun for me to work on 10 different projects at once, and this was a way to bring in my skills set and help these companies grow.”

A 20-something entrepreneur-turned-millionaire-turned-investor is a familiar occurrence in Silicon Valley’s thriving startup environment. It’s less common outside the traditional startup hubs such as Boston and New York.

Angel investors are wealthy – and often older – people who invest their own money in startups.

Story is “definitely young on the angel side, especially in Dallas,” said entrepreneur Scott Harper, co-founder and co-CEO of Dallas-based Dialexa, a technology development and consulting company.

Story is a “smart money angel investor, too,” Harper said. “Jason has a lot of experience with technology and scaling a company out to a large size. That’s a lot of value and unique in addition to (his) age.”

In 2009, Story and four friends started Mutual Mobile, an app development firm in Austin. They built the startup into a $26 million business that employed 320 people by 2013. That year, global communications company WPP acquired a minority interest in Mutual Mobile.

After spending five years helping to build the startup into a big company, Story wanted to return to his startup roots. He saw an opportunity in his hometown, where entrepreneurial activity has been picking up in recent years thanks to new accelerators, incubators and other resources.

Story created a platform called Hangar Ventures to make his investments and to advise startups.

“You start a company, it does well and you have an exit that allows you to come back,” Story said.

One of the first people Story met when he returned to North Texas was Dallas attorney Kevin Vela, who works with many startups in the region.

Vela introduced Story to several of his clients, several of whom have tapped Story as an adviser or investor.

“I love his hands-on approach,” said Vela, who has established a client relationship with Story. “Just about every startup is going to have a key issue or significant problem that Jason can solve. … Because mobile presence and customer acquisition through mobile is a requirement for just about every tech startup today, Jason’s experience is so incredibly valuable.”

And Story is not done investing. He is finalizing plans that would make his investment efforts much broader and have a bigger impact on the region’s tech community. He recently hired Stewart Youngblood, a former program director at Dallas’ Tech Wildcatters, to help.

“My goal is to expose (angel investing) to the oil-and-gas and real-estate industries here,” Story said. “I want to show them that we can do tech responsibly and do it well and that we could mitigate the risks as much as possible.”

Article source: http://www.abqjournal.com/589686/biz/youthful-angel-helps-startups-spread-wings.html

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In Silicon Valley-speak, the entire point of the Bay Area’s unique ecosystem of technology companies and capital is to “disrupt” – to use technology to fundamentally change the way society functions.

In a classroom of the Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco’s Mission District, rows of seated girls in identical plaid-skirted uniforms are plotting to disrupt Silicon Valley itself.

For 17-year-old Cynthia Ruiz, those plans take form as Rad Résumé, the application she is developing for a mobile phone to help teens create a well-written résumé for their first job. But really, she is the revolution in waiting.

Recommended: Why so few women in tech? Seven challenges and potential solutions.

Cynthia and her classmates are being groomed to be part of the next generation of women in technology. And few women in technology would argue that they aren’t desperately needed.

Silicon Valley is perhaps the world’s leading crucible of innovation. But it is a man’s world. While women make up roughly 50 percent of the workforce in the United States, their numbers in the tech industry come in at around 25 percent. In senior positions, it is 17 percent, and 12 percent for executive positions, according to the Anita Borg Institute, a nonprofit that promotes the advancement of women in the tech industry.

This is more than a matter of equal opportunity, advocates for women in tech say. If Silicon Valley wants to continue disrupting the status quo, it should be eager to make sure it’s incorporating the other half of the population.

In some cases, there are questions of overt bias against women. Last year, Ellen Pao filed a lawsuit against venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers claiming gender discrimination and retaliation. She lost this spring, but the allegations sent ripples through Silicon Valley.

The issue of why women aren’t getting into tech, however, goes deeper.

At Immaculate Conception Academy, the girls are targeting the problem at its source. The program, called Technovation, was created to challenge societal norms that often push girls away from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.

But the solutions are on every rung of the career ladder – from a college that revamped its computer science course to dramatically increase its rates of female graduates to a well-known Internet company that eagerly looks to fill leadership roles with women.

“It’s a series of things that need to take place,” says Elizabeth Ames, vice president of strategic marketing at the Anita Borg Institute. “And there are challenges at every level in the pipeline.”

At all levels, though, the core challenge is changing cultural expectations, says Jenna Carpenter, an associate dean of undergraduate studies at the Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science.

“It really does have to be a cultural change,” she says.
 

Code like a girl
Earlier this year, the grand ballroom of Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco gave a glimpse of what that change could look like. Before a crowd of about 400 people, a steady stream of Silicon Valley’s tech glitterati – representing Etsy to Lyft to Pandora – came to the stage. This being the Women 2.0 Awards, they were nearly all women.

“Let’s show the world what Silicon Valley also looks like,” said Shaherose Charania, cofounder and chief executive officer of Women 2.0, at the February event.

The road to expanding that “also” begins in math classrooms like the one at Immaculate Conception Academy. In the past year or so, hundreds of after-school coding courses designed specifically for girls have popped up all over the US. Even their names have a touch of rebellion: Tech Girls, Girls Who Code, and Black Girls Code.

Technovation is a part of that revolution, with a twist. It’s more than just about teaching girls to code. The goal is to have girls develop and build a mobile app that solves a problem in their community.

The intensive 12-week after-school program is a lot of work, says Cynthia. But it has helped her develop new skills.

“It makes me think a lot about how other apps are made, like Instagram,” she says. “They had to have a business plan; they had to think about function.”

That is precisely the point, says Judy Ho, curriculum director.

“It’s an open-ended project, from idea to execution to launch,” she says. “The girls get full ownership right from the beginning.”
What’s more, it gives the young women the chance to see that a job in tech isn’t just about coding.

“We want every girl to think that ‘This is something I can do,’ ” she says. “Not close that door before they even get there.”

Mentoring plays an enormous role. Studies show that middle school girls are particularly prone to opting out of computer science and math programs unless mentors are around to provide support.

Technovation teams are partnered with women (and some men) who work in the industry. Reps from tech powerhouses such as Salesforce and Uber show up weekly.

Margaret Le, an engineering manager at Heroku, a platform services company, is in her third year of volunteering.
“I try not to overcoach them,” she says. “I just want them to feel confident, to have a better sense of self.”

The girl(s) in the room
That is how Harvey Mudd College, a small private school in southern California, made Dylan Baker feel when she applied.

In all, Ms. Baker applied to 13 colleges, with an eye toward computer science. But she chose Harvey Mudd because “I didn’t feel like a girl in the room,” she says about her application process. “I just felt like me.”

There’s a good reason for that. At Harvey Mudd, being a girl in computer science is normal. In 2014, Harvey Mudd made history when it announced that 56 percent of its computer science graduates were women.

That number becomes more noteworthy when compared with trends in computer science education. Women make up 18 percent of all graduates with computer science degrees, according to the US Department of Education – down from 37 percent in 1985.

Experts say the drop could be connected to a number of factors ranging from the perception that girls aren’t interested in STEM fields by the time they reach middle school to marketing. For example, when the newfangled Commodore 64 made its debut in the early 1980s, young boys were the target market of this affordable home computer, not young girls.

Maria Klawe came to Harvey Mudd eight years ago to upend that trend. The school, part of the Claremont College consortium, overhauled its curriculum with a renewed emphasis in humanities. President Klawe revamped the beginning computer science course, making it more welcoming to those who didn’t already hold years of coding experience – like a majority of men do who enter as computer science majors. The course isn’t dumbed down, Klawe says.Instead, it’s taught in a way “to make it much more interesting and less intimidating.”

“The vast majority of women who majored in computer science had no idea they were going to graduate with a degree in computer science when they first came here,” she says.

Even Baker, a sophomore, entered Harvey Mudd thinking she would major in biology – though with an emphasis in computation. But when she took the introductory coding class, everything changed. “It was a basic computer science course, and I loved it,” she says.

She credits the school’s supportive and welcoming environment for women with pushing her toward her major in computational data science.
“The biggest thing Mudd is doing is bringing in women,” she says. “It makes it so much easier to feel supported. Seeing women succeed here is … everything.”

Change at Change.org
Baker acknowledges that life after Harvey Mudd will be challenging, simply because women are the minority in the tech industry. About 22 percent of entry-level tech employees are women.

But what about advancing once you are through the door?

“There needs to be a focus not just on recruiting, but retaining and advancing,” says Ms. Ames of the Anita Borg Institute.

At the aptly named Change.org, there has been. The online petition site has been a gathering place for people with causes as varied as freeing the Washington Post journalist jailed in Iran or getting Wendy’s to offer a veggie burger. But behind the scenes, the company has become a leading watering hole for women in tech.

In 2013, under CEO Jennifer Dulski, the company set a priority to hire and retain women. Today, 51 percent of company employees, 41 percent of leadership, and 27 percent of the engineering team are women.

The move to recruit women was simply good business, says Ms. Dulski. “It’s really important to make sure we have a diverse team,” she says. “Statistics show that companies with diverse staff perform better.”

According to a 2014 survey by the consulting firm McKinsey Co., companies that have a more equal balance between men and women deliver better returns on average than their counterparts.

To bring on more women, Change.org relied on good old-fashioned recruiting, but with a focus. It looked to “boot camps” that offer intensive coding coursework – General Assembly and Hackbright Academy – for people who want to boost their skill set or change careers completely. At Change.org, about 20 percent of the engineer team are career-changers, and more than two-thirds of those are women.

Janet Yi is one of the boot camp grads who is now a Change.org engineer. Even during early interviews, Ms. Yi could sense that the culture was different, she says.

“When I went through the recruiting process, there were many women who asked me technical questions,” she says.
The firm also implemented a mentorship program started by the employees. Nearly all the female employees participate. Yi, who is part of the program, says it’s a lifeline when she needs support and a reminder that she has something to offer.

“It’s been great being on both sides of the spectrum,” she says. “Being a mentor makes you realize how far you’ve come.”

Silicon Valley angels
The career within Silicon Valley showing the least amount of growth in attracting women is, in some ways, the lifeblood of the whole community: venture capitalist. VCs hold the purse strings.

Without them, there would be no Twitter or Facebook.

But women make up only 3 percent of VCs. Women are doing better in early-stage investment, known as “angel” investing. This involves providing anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. Women make up about 26 percent of all angel investors. The funds provided by angel investors in 2014 hit $24.1 billion, about half of what VCs spent in the same year.

The Pipeline Fellowship is a part of the angel investing trend. Started in 2011, it is an angel investor boot camp for women. So far, more than 100 women have graduated. The six-month program, which is held in dozens of cities across the US, helps participants learn the fundamentals behind becoming a player in investing. The organization funds businesses started by women social entrepreneurs.

“Putting our money behind a project is very powerful,” says Suzanne Andrews, a 2013 graduate of Pipeline. She and five other graduates recently formed their own firm, Wingpact.

The trend in angel investing is a welcome development, but not enough, says Pipeline cofounder Natalia Oberti Noguera.

“We aren’t being invited to the room,” she says. “I want to push back on that.”

That note of defiance was echoed at Hotel Kabuki during the Women 2.0 event. “We are here to celebrate real innovation,” said host Ms. Charania. “The changing face of the tech entrepreneurs is here.”

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Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/girls-room-women-plot-silicon-valley-revolution-133501320.html

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Posted: Sunday, May 24, 2015 12:00 am

Scott Meacham: SeedStep Angels, i2E work together to vet more deals

By SCOTT MEACHAM

TulsaWorld.com

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Angel investors are the very early stage individual investors that fund the majority of startups in the U.S. Nationally, they supply about 90 percent of the outside equity to these young businesses.

Angel investments continue to be a significant contributor to job growth — CVR cites 264,000 new jobs in the U.S. in 2014 or 3.6 jobs per angel investment.

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The Center for Venture Research (CVR) has been conducting research on angel investing since 1980. They are the go-to source for national trends.

CVR reports that in 2014 the number of entrepreneurial ventures receiving angel funding increased nearly 4 percent year over year. The number of active angel investors reached 316,600, an increase of 5.9 percent over 2013.

But all the news isn’t good.

In aggregate, angel investors shifted the dollars they invested away from seed and startup stage investments to later stage funding. However, seed/startup stage is where entrepreneurs need capital the most.

That’s why the impact that SeedStep Angels (with 48 members in groups in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and across the state) is having on the Oklahoma startup scene is so important.

SeedStep Angels members have invested $7,155,421 in 32 companies, almost entirely in seed stage.

These angels bring much more than money to a deal.

Most of them have experience as an entrepreneur or a company executive. The majority come from oil and gas or finance, which means they have many contacts. Several angels have experience in multiple industries. They help their portfolio companies make connections and create a viable capital plan.

It’s great to see the pride that these angels take in investing in deals that are from their communities. They are looking for returns, and they also express a sense of satisfaction from helping businesses grow in their communities and knowing they are giving something back.

Both i2E as manager of the group and the individual SeedStep Angels would like the group to be able to consider more well-vetted deals.

So SeedStep is moving from bi-monthly to monthly meetings to double the opportunity to see more deal presentations. Also, syndication efforts with angel groups and venture capitalists in neighboring states are being increased. At i2E, we are stepping up our efforts to help entrepreneurs market-validate their ideas faster and earlier to help increase the pipeline of quality investment opportunities.

As SeedStep Angels continues to evolve, we are now considering organizing an investment fund to allow broader angel participation and greater diversification.

When SeedStep Angels was formed a little more than five years ago, our vision was to engage accredited investors in Oklahoma to create a continuum of capital for Oklahoma entrepreneurs.

It’s not time to declare victory, but we have sure come a long way.

Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.

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Article source: http://www.tulsaworld.com/business/columnists/scottmeacham/scott-meacham-seedstep-angels-i-e-work-together-to-vet/article_69e7a957-f904-5d6c-b178-8356bde237b1.html

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5/22/15Follow @bromano


stock roundup 2

In addition to significant fundraising news from iSpot.tv, Glowforge, and Ignition Partners, we’re tracking the winners of the University of Washington’s business plan competition, Seattle Angel Conference, and more.

First, here’s a recap of Xconomy Seattle stories this week, followed by a few other notable developments:

Peach expanded to San Diego. We looked at how the Seattle-based lunch delivery startup decided where to expand first.

iSpot.tv raised $22 million to expand its business providing information on TV ad campaigns and their online impact.

Glowforge raised $9 million to build its consumer-grade laser cutter. I want one.

—The University of Washington computer science department is leading the way in attracting and retaining women to the field, and was recognized for it this week by the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Ignition Partners raised a $200 million sixth fund, focused on enterprise software startups.

Glamhive, a fashion-focused photo sharing and social shopping startup, won a $205,000 investment from Seattle Angel Conference VII. The Seattle company edged out more than 40 other contenders. Seattle Angel Conference, which is designed to educate newcomers about angel investing, brought 24 new investors into the fold. Since it was launched in 2012, more than 150 people have been introduced to angel investing through Seattle Angel Conference.

—Vie Diagnostics won this year’s University of Washington Business Plan Competition with its rapid molecular diagnostic tests for sexually transmitted diseases. The idea is to allow diagnosis and treatment in a single clinic visit. The UW team beat out 36 other competitors from across the state to take the $25,000 grand prize. Empreva, another UW team, came in second with a plan to develop products that provide birth control and STD prevention to women in the developing world. The full list of winners is here.

Mountain Safety Research and global health innovation nonprofit PATH, both of Seattle, teamed up to build a portable a water treatment device aimed at disaster relief and developing-world communities with inadequate safe drinking water. The MSR SE200 Community Chlorine Maker does just what the name suggests, using salt, water, and a 12-volt battery or other power source to make enough chlorine to treat 200 liters of water in five minutes. The product is the result of a five-year collaboration, and the first to come out of MSR’s new global health division. World Vision will distribute 150 MSR SE200s to communities in Africa, supported by the Life Sciences Discovery Fund.

Smartsheet, which makes collaboration tools based on spreadsheets, added a new feature that allows people to link to live data in other tools, such as those of data visualization company Tableau Software, Microsoft Excel, and Qlik. The Smartsheet Live Data Connector is based on the Open Database Connector standard.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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Article source: http://www.xconomy.com/seattle/2015/05/22/seattle-roundup-seattle-angel-conference-uw-business-plans-more/

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The investment world is divided into two broad camps. There are those who want to see their money grow steadily, but without taking any major risks. And then there are those looking to strike it rich by getting behind “the next big thing.”

Fitting squarely inside this second group are angel investors, the folks who fund promising startup businesses in the hope that they’ll pay out several times the initial outlay. Usually that happens when the company is sold to a larger firm or decides to launch an initial public offering (IPO).

While angel investing might sound exciting, it’s not for everyone. The main barrier is actually a legal one. You have to be what’s known as an “accredited investor,” which means you have to have $1 million in assets (not including your main residence) or bring in upwards of $200,000 a year. In other words, you have to be fairly well off before you qualify to try to strike it big with the next Facebook or Alibaba.

In reality, you usually need even more wealth than that. Because even the savviest angels lose money on many of their deals, they usually back at least 10 to 20 different companies. With typical investments in the $25,000 to $50,000 range, it takes at minimum $250,000 just to get started.

Experience Counts

It takes more than an impressive bank account to become a success at the angel investing game, however. The ones who do best are often people who have worked in the same industry as the company they’re supporting. Such individuals understand the market and have a better grasp of the business’s growth potential.

Angels with industry experience also tend to have a professional network that company founders can tap into to try and take their venture to the next level.

Doing Your Homework

The third thing you need to enter the angel investing world is time. Unlike companies that are already trading on an exchange, there’s relatively little you can find about a startup online.

Hence, many early-stage investors like to meet face-to-face with the company’s management team to better understand their goals and drill down into the company’s financials.

As much as anything, angels need good judgment about whether the founders can actually make their vision a reality. If they don’t have skill sets that complement one another – or if they’re at odds over the company’s direction – that’s probably not going to happen. Also be sure to investigate each of the founders to be sure that their description of their background and experience matches what they’ve actually done and to see whether whether there were any questionable issues in their previous projects. If you find a failure or bankruptcy, determine whether it’s germane to the project you are considering. See What are the due diligence basics for investing in a startup?


High Risk, High Reward

Early-stage investors tend to be optimists by nature, so it’s important to understand some sobering stats. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly half of all startup businesses fail within a few years. Among the rest, only a small fraction provide the big returns – at least ten times the initial investment – that angels target.

Needless to say, it’s not in your interest to take money you’re counting on for retirement or your kid’s college tuition and put it into a brand new venture. If you do jump into angel investing, most experts suggest diversifying as much as possible. That increases the odds of getting into a stellar investment that more than makes up for the clunkers.

Even when the company does well, investors shouldn’t expect a quick payday. On average, it takes 5 to 10 years for firms to either find a buyer or cultivate enough interest to have a successful IPO.

Getting Easier

Getting started in angel investing is easier today than it’s ever been. It used to be that funders had to join an angel investing group, which meant attending meetings and paying a membership fee. Many of these groups are invitation-only, so you often needed the right connections just to get in.

But over the past few years, online syndicates such as AngelList have started popping up, allowing you to invest in a more direct manner. A “lead” puts up a big chunk of the overall investment and writes a thesis about the company. Other investors can then decide whether they want to become “backers” of the business with their own money.

Online crowdfunding forums are not only changing how people invest, but how much they’re contributing. Depending on the site, it’s possible to become an angel with as little as $1,000 per company, a far lower barrier than in the past.

Does that mean it always make sense to invest online? Not necessarily. Joining a more traditional syndicate can be a valuable experience, especially for newer angels who are trying to learn the ropes from a seasoned pro. Before putting up any cash, be sure you thoroughly research the angel syndicate or lead investor and are comfortable with their track records.

The Bottom Line

Angel investing can be an exhilarating process. But even if you qualify as an accredited investor, early-stage investing isn’t for everyone. Startups only succeed about half the time – and even when they do, it can take several years for investors to cash out their position. For more information, see Cashing In On the Venture Capital Cycle and What is the difference between private equity and venture capital?

Article source: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/052215/can-i-become-angel-investor.asp

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When St. Louis technology and life-sciences companies raise capital these days, they’re often doing so with a bit of help from the Missouri taxpayer.

The state, long reluctant to get into the business of financing early stage businesses, has expanded its commitment significantly in the past three years. Gov. Jay Nixon was applauded by more than 100 St. Louis entrepreneurs on Wednesday when he announced that Missouri Technology Corp., the state’s vehicle for funding startups, will have a budget of $15.86 million next year.

MTC’s core funding, the amount not earmarked for specific projects, will be up 38 percent from this year and more than double last year’s level. Most of that money flows in two directions: Grants to organizations that support entrepreneurs, and direct investments in companies.

MTC only began making the direct investments in 2011, using federal grant money.

Business groups like the St. Louis Regional Chamber had lobbied for such an approach for years, but they encountered skepticism in Jefferson City. The memory of past scandals — involving tax credits in the early 2000s and pension-fund investments in the 1980s — made some legislators want to keep public funds far away from risky startups.

Now, the Legislature has appropriated money for MTC investments for three years in a row, giving taxpayers a stake in 65 companies including Adarza BioSystems, a maker of medical diagnostic tools, and Better Weekdays, a job-matching platform.

Supporters hope they have built a political coalition that will keep the money flowing. This year, the Republican-controlled Legislature nearly tripled the $5.6 million that Nixon, a Democrat, sought for MTC in his initial budget.

“We’ve built broad bipartisan support for policy where startups are part of our economic development program in Missouri,” said Jason Hall, a former MTC executive director who now works for the Regional Chamber.

MTC’s investments, totaling $21 million to date, have helped the companies raise more than $180 million in private capital. Jerome Katz, director of the Billiken Angel Network, says some of those deals wouldn’t happen without the state as a catalyst.

“The MTC co-investment makes a substantive difference for our angel investors,” Katz said. “In effect it means the angels’ money buys a longer runway for the company.”

MTC has avoided scandal partly by relying on other people’s judgment about the companies. It only invests alongside a private lead investor, such as a venture capital fund or angel group. It expects to make a profit when a company is sold or refinanced, and has cashed out on four investments so far: headphone maker Yurbuds, video news site Newsy, business software firm Gainsight and social network LockerDome.

While supporters cheer the increased funding and entrepreneurs line up for money, it’s too early to answer the most important question about these investments: Do they help the state’s economy?

A study last year by the Kauffman Foundation, which studies entrepreneurship, found little correlation between government support and business activity. “Policymakers should not rush to create public venture funds in the hope of creating more startups or a startup culture,” authors Yasuyuki Motoyama and Jordan Bell-Masterson wrote.

Donn Rubin, president of industry group BioSTL and an MTC board member, says the state’s role amounts to “priming the pump” for an entrepreneurial culture that’s already strong. Without a steady stream of money, he fears, Missouri startups would wither or move away.

They now have that stream, but Missouri’s taxpayers don’t have infinite patience. Sooner or later, they’re going to demand results.

Article source: http://www.stltoday.com/business/columns/david-nicklaus/missouri-boosts-its-commitment-to-startup-investing/article_3ca85670-7dd6-5706-8b68-18aa0293a237.html

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