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PreAccelerate preps entrepreneurs for incubators or launch

PreAccelerate is a program for entrepreneurs that may not have their idea completely fleshed out, or for companies that aren’t ready for an incubator yet but need guidance to prepare for that next step.

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PreAccelerate is for super early stage ideas

For entrepreneurs that want to prepare for advanced incubators and accelerators or just want to launch their idea into a real company, the PreAccelerate program has launched in Austin to help those entrepreneurs build a plan and acquire the skills to get to the next level. There are a lot of programs we have featured here that focus on companies seeking funding or have fleshed out their idea, but the market for accelerating super early stage ideas is sparse.

PreAccelerate Co-Founder Tina Cannon said the program was inspired by her company, Napkin Venture’s Free Friday Brainstorm sessions which Cannon said is constantly filled with entrepreneurs with an idea unclear about next steps. “We felt that for those entrepreneurs there were not as many accelerator type resources,” she said. “Most ended up tossing the idea or at best heading to a local small business resource center which may or may not be what they needed still. So, we set in motion to create a place where ideas could be molded into companies, PreAccelerate.”

While advanced incubator programs are increasingly more niche-oriented, accepting only retail or only app developers, and so on, PreAccelerate says their “slate is open,” as applications are open to really any type of entrepreneur from software, apps, consumer packaged products to brick and mortar.

Cannon asserted, “If it is an idea that needs polish and finish out so to speak, then that is what we are here for. Ideas that are not ready for a larger incubator or not ready for bank financing… still in the flushing out business model and wrapping structure around the concept, that is the type of companies we are looking for.”

One class under their belt, one more to go

The program has already had their first class of four entrepreneurs/companies graduate, with two turning out of the class that are up and running – MomComLife.com and Edmosphere.net. Cannon said that in the program, entrepreneurs will build out their models, identify their markets and go to market strategies, finalize their entities, start a beta, and get users. After PreAccelerate, participants take all that data and early users and either bootstrap or chase seed funding.

Because the program is based in Austin, they say there is no shortage of mentors. They’ve put out a call for mentors for the second class of PreAccelerate and are now sorting through responses. “We are looking for mentors who just love the ideation and early early stage ventures,” Cannon added.

Their first Demo Day for the first class of participants went well, according to Cannon, as they partnered with Tech Ranch and had Christopher Clayton as the keynote. All four companies presented to a crowd of investors, press and entrepreneurs. Cannon said, “We were thrilled with the progress of the entrepreneurs and of the fact that they had a short time frame to develop a company, flush out the details of a pitch deck, rehearse and kill it on Demo Day.”

When asked what surprises they’ve encountered so far, Cannon said, “Lucky to report no surprises. That in itself may be the biggest surprise. I half expected us to trip over every operational thing but we were blessed with great sponsors, partners, applicants and mentors so it really went off without a hitch. Fingers crossed I didn’t just jinx the next one!”

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Business Entrepreneur

Cowrkr gives you accountability while you work solo

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Being accountable for your own accountability is a tall order. Join Cowrkr and let someone else do it for you.

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My boyfriend and I have always had a great appreciation for film and television, as well as the writing that goes into it. We always talk about different project ideas, but never get too far in execution with the busyness of real life.

Last night, I finally thought of a way that we can help each other bring our projects to completion, and that is simply by holding each other accountable. I suggest that each week we could have a new task that is due by 10 p.m. Sunday night.

We both have ideas for scripts, so the plan is to start off with having a plot synopsis and character list due the first week, having an outline due the second week, and so on. This will not only help keep us on track but will also help in terms of formatting ideas.

While I’m grateful that this little plan has come together, I know that most people aren’t working on similar projects to people they are close with. Therefore, they may need to look elsewhere for accountability.

Now freelancers and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to be matched with a fellow freelancer or entrepreneur to help hold each other accountable for their respective projects. Meet Cowrkr.

“This is an initiative to help makers keep themselves socially accountable by getting them to build publicly,” says cowrkr developers.

Users sign up and give some info regarding what project they’re working on and what they’re shipping. It works by connecting two makers at a time and cowrkr works to help each maker keep the other accountable until each project is completed.

Once a project has been completed, the makers then end their accountability relationship. When their next project comes along, they will then be assigned a different maker.

Cowrkr’s website does not give a ton of insight as to how the algorithms and matching systems work, but it is an intriguing idea for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to take their individual projects to the next level.

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Business Entrepreneur

The top 10 startup cities in America

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) If you’re thinking about launching a startup anytime soon you may want to check out this list on the top 10 cities for startups.

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The digital revolution is in full swing, and some cities are setting themselves up to capitalize upon these innovations by supporting startups.

In order to “better understand the U.S. cities driving the digital revolution,” several groups have come together to rank which cities are making the most of the tech startup boom.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1776, the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center, and FreeEnterprise.com have teamed up to publish a report called Innovation That Matters (ITM).

The report analyzes and ranks U.S. cities on such factors as startup capital, the connectivity of startups, startup culture, the availability of worker talent and specialization, and more. Data was taken from surveys of entrepreneurs and businesspeople, startups, and leaders in public and private sectors.

J.D. Harrison, senior director of strategic communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the “digital revolution has the potential to make winners of some cities and leave others behind.”

The study aims to find out which cities “embrace this shift to a digital economy and actively support technology startups,” arguing that these cities “will be the best positioned to unleash the power of high-impact innovation and cultivate vibrant, thriving communities.”

The top ten ranking cities are as follows:

10) Portland, Oregon because every city needs a nickname, has been dubbed the Silicon Forest, referencing its leadership in green tech.

9) New York City, New York. The largest tech hub on the east coast.

8) Seattle, Washington. Home to Amazon.com and several other tech firms, with Microsoft’s headquarters in nearby Redmond.

7) Dallas, Texas. Dtown moved up significantly by increasing startup connectivity and tapping into a large, diverse workforce.

6) Atlanta, Georgia. The “most improved” city on the ITM list, moving up 15 places to number six due to a surge in financial, educational, and health tech industries.

5) Austin,Texas. Home of The American Genius, Austin has become a “haven for tech-savvy millennials seeking good-paying job opportunities.” Besides hosting many tech startups, Austin still has a relatively affordable cost of living.

4) San Diego, California. San Diego is full of cybersecurity, Big Data, robotics, and software startups.

3)Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also known as Philicon Alley, moved up from number eight by deregulating and becoming more business-friendly.

2) San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay also ranked number two last year. The seaside neighbor to the Silicon Valley has been doing a great job attracting seed funding these days.

1) Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second year in a row that Boston has topped this list, due to its large number of startups and robust entrepreneur population.

How does your city rank?

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Business Entrepreneur

Customer surveys tell more than just satisfaction

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) While they can be annoying for the consumer and cost time for the company, customer feedback surveys are crucial to your business.

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While Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson, and Steve Harvey may not be able to personally help you with customer service, what they have in common can. Surveys, and personalized follow-up attention in general, help clients and consumers know that they mean something to your business.

For the sake of this article (and the fast-paced, technological world we live in) I am going to be speaking about surveys. However, I want to share this anecdote first.

I used to work front desk at a salon and part of my job was to follow up with new guests about a week after their appointment.

Now, most of the time, my calls went to voicemail, which were never returned; but every once in awhile a human answered.

After going through the spiel of why I was calling, I could almost always sense a sound of surprise from the other line before the person answered my question. One conversation in particular left me realizing how important this seemingly useless task was.

I called an older woman and asked her about a recent appointment she had at the salon. She thanked me for calling and then went into detail about how great the appointment was and how much getting her hair done meant to her.

Before we hung up she said, “thank you again for calling. A salon has never done this before.” It then hit me like a ton of bricks just how significant something as small as a callback is.

If you have the time, definitely make those callbacks to clients as it could be very meaningful. However, it’s understandable that most of us may not have the time in our schedule for personalized phone calls.

So if that’s the case, don’t forget about surveys. I know most of them will either go to spam or go unanswered, but the mere fact that you’re sending it out shows clients and customers that you care about their business.

And, for those surveys that do receive responses, it can be extremely beneficial for your company as you can get insight into what works and what doesn’t. There’s really no disadvantage to this tactic, so remember to make time for that follow up with existing clients rather than just focusing on getting new ones.

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