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Use this year’s angel investor rankings to place your startup

(FINANCE) If you’re trying to decide where to start your business, consider this year’s rankings for most active angel investor groups.

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CTAN named #1 angel network two years in a row

Look out Silicon Valley, there’s a new innovation hotbed in town.

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For the second year in a row, Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN) has won the coveted #1 ranking at the Angel Capital Association’s annual ACA Summit in San Francisco.

The report

At this summit, the Angel Resource Institute (ARI) released its HALO Report, comprised of national data and rankings of angel investor groups. The HALO Report awards the most active groups in each region and ranks each nationally — CTAN has been recognized as the most active angel group nationwide once again.

CTAN wins at winning

With more than 160 investors from a wide range of backgrounds, CTAN has invested more than $82 million in over 140 companies since 2006. The organization doesn’t just invest in startups — they also mentor and support entrepreneurs every step of the way by connecting them to critical business resources that accelerate their growth.

This is the first time in CTAN history to win first place two years in a row (2015 and 2016).

That’s not all Texas has to brag about: CTAN was tied for #1 by none other than Houston Angel Network (HAN). The two organizations work together often as sister angel groups to share resources and collaborate on deals. Both CTAN and HAN are working to turn Austin, Houston, and Texas as a whole into a hub of innovation for early-stage businesses, and are clearly pulling it off.

The HALO Report is full of interesting data points, many of which bode well for both entrepreneurs and investors at early seed-stages.

For example, the report revealed that after reaching a high of $4.6M in 2015, pre-money valuations plummeted by 22% nationwide in 2016, down to $3.6M. The average pre-money valuation in Texas remained $3.8M in 2016.

Also, for the first time in history for angel groups nationwide, there were more follow-on rounds than new rounds.This shows that more angel investors have been acknowledging the importance of setting aside funds to support their portfolio companies with follow-on rounds.

CTAN’s second win in a row, along with HAN’s #1 ranking, are proof that seed-stage funding thriving in Texas.Click To TweetThese big wins also prov that Texas’ economy as a whole is in great shape now and likely for years to come.

#CTAN

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

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Business Finance

Poindexter helps handle finances so you can focus on your business

(FINANCE) Poindexter is a startup that helps you manage financial questions so that you can build you business, not spreadsheets.

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Balance sheets, cash flow statements, compliant income. These are phrases you come across every day in the business sector that also bring another word to mind: confusion.

Luckily Poindexter is here to help. The startup was created as a resource to help businesses make profitable decisions that lead them to success.

Poindexter uses simple business modeling software to generate business plans that users can easily understand. It was built mainly for startups and small businesses that may not be in the position to afford a financial expert.

There is no need for prior financial or excel knowledge to use Poindexter.

Their motto is “build businesses, not spreadsheets.” They don’t want the technical side of finances to hinder businesses, so they are simplifying the process.

The software offers various features to create businesses’ specific financial forecasts. These features include tracking marketing expenses, estimating ROI, comparing alternative projects and defining customer acquisition goals. In addition, implementation is easy.

Just like every aspect of a business constantly changes, the budget must adapt as well.

Users of Poindexter are able to fine tune their budgets and test out assumptions. This allows for the software to help create a unique financial plan for success no matter what the business is.

Business owners can think of Poindexter as their automated financial planner. It will still offer all of the advice of an actual financial planner while you remain in complete control. For the creators of Poindexter, the goal is simple: to aid innovators in making smart and profitable business decisions.

They eliminate the hassle, and emphasize achievements that will keep you on track to reach your financial goals.

Anyone can try Poindexter for free. Fees will only start as you add more projects and premium features. The software will continue to be updated as they gather feedback from users.

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Business Finance

How to spot and avoid crowdfunding scams

(TECH NEWS) Crowdfunding has become ripe for scams, don’t be a sucker — here’s how to spot ’em.

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When it comes to your personal life, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a crowdfunding campaign because if you’re turning to GoFundMe or YouCaring, it means your house has burned down, you have cancer or your dog has died.

We regularly see these campaigns pop up in our social feeds and for the most part, we believe them because they’re our friends, they’re in need and we trust them so, of course, we pitch in.

However, some people use crowdfunding to fleece you. By now, you’ve probably heard of the couple from New Jersey who teamed up with a homeless man to raise over $400,000. The campaign was a scam, the cash was split and now these crooks are facing some serious consequences in court. Ugh.

We shouldn’t need to write this article, but some people suck and they’re out there duping us. Here’s how to spot them.

This should be obvious, but do not give money to people you do not know or do not at least tangentially know. It never hurts to scroll through the donor list to see if you recognize any of your friends or acquaintances there. If you do and have questions, reach out to them before you reach deep into your wallet.

What about victims of natural disasters? Offer your money to emergency funds run by non-profit organizations. Anyone can create a crowdfunding campaign, but in times of crisis many platforms create verified campaigns.

If the objective of the campaign is unclear, do not donate. We’ve all come across campaigns that are strangely worded or lack enough specifics to piece together a plausible story. If it feels like a Nigerian Prince is the campaign administrator, close the tab.

If a campaign’s photo looks fishy, do a reverse image search on Google to help validate that fishy feeling. If the search yields a lot of results for the photo, scammers have stolen it and are using it to tug at your heartstrings.

Most campaigns run for a very short amount of time, typically a couple of weeks and rarely more than a month. While there is generally a final social push to get to an unmet goal, there are rarely open-ended campaigns. Again, if the goal is unclear or out-of-reach, move on.

We’ve all seen campaigns that are truly gut-wrenching – deaths of loved ones, fights with cancer, entire villages wiped out. As with the case of the three jerks from New Jersey, if it feels too good to be true, it probably is. While some sites may be able to reimburse your donation, others won’t and nothing feels worse than falling for a scam AND losing your money.

And so, dear friends, this is why we at The American Genius almost never, ever write about crowdfunded projects. We care about you and we want you to use your money to help your real friends, fund YOUR next project or pay off your student loans.

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Business Finance

Is futures trading a viable side hustle?

(FINANCE) Futures trading sounds overwhelming, but if you do your homework, your income could be padded for the entrepreneurial downtimes (we all have them).

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As an entrepreneur, it’s always helpful to have multiple streams of income. This allows you to remain afloat, even when one source of money dries up. And while some view it as risky, trading futures yields significant upside that simply can’t be replicated by other hustles and investments.

What is futures trading?

A futures contract is basically an agreement to buy or sell a physical asset on a future date at a specified and agreed-upon price. Futures contracts are commonly attached to things like oil, gold, silver, coffee, and even orange juice.

“Futures contracts are standardized agreements that typically trade on an exchange,” NerdWallet explains. “One party agrees to buy a given quantity of securities or a commodity, and take delivery on a certain date. The selling party to the contract agrees to provide it.”

Farmers often use futures contracts to offset risk that could come from sudden price corrections in their produce. Airline companies may use it to avoid unexpected increases in jet fuel prices (while fuel distributors use it to ensure guaranteed demand at a later date).

But futures trading isn’t just for businesses. There are also speculators and investors who use futures contracts as financial investments.

As NerdWallet mentions, “These types of traders can buy and sell the futures contract, with no intention of taking delivery of the underlying commodity; they’re just in the market to wager on price movements.”

Within the context of this article, this is the type of futures trading you would be doing. You don’t have to have any interest in the actual underlying commodity. You’re looking for price movements that can be cashed in on.

And if you do it well enough, you can potentially make thousands of dollars per month with relatively minimal upfront capital investment.

Making futures trading a viable side hustle

Despite what some may tell you, trading futures is neither easy nor passive. It requires knowledge, patience, and strategic execution. However, it does provide realistic opportunities for significant gains. And as an entrepreneur with other projects in the works, it’s a viable option for making supplemental income on the side.

But in order to be successful, you’ll need to do the following:

1. Learn the basics.

Trading futures is simple in theory, yet complex in practice. It’s imperative that you don’t move too quickly. Grasp the fundamental building blocks of what futures are and how you trade futures contracts before trying your hand at the process.

It’s worth noting that there are futures trading simulation platforms that can be used to test out strategies and figure out how things work without risking your money. It’s highly recommended that you use one of these before proceeding.

2. Find a futures broker.

An inexperienced trader shouldn’t attempt to trade futures without the help and guidance of someone more experienced. It’s recommended that you find a futures broker, who can supply you with the technologies and resources you need to make educated trades.

“The right broker provides the digital tools necessary to seamlessly research, customize and execute trades and monitor market activity,” RJO Futures explains. “You’ll want access to fast price updates, the latest breaking developments, market-leading research and all of the technical and statistical data needed to make informed trades.”

With a futures broker, you’re still in charge of making moves. You simply gain access to insights that help you make smarter decisions. This is the perfect blend of guidance and autonomy.

3. Always use stops

As you become educated on futures trading, you’ll learn all about stops. These are boundaries you put on your trades that prevent you from losing excessive amounts of money. No matter how smart and skilled you become at trading futures contracts, make sure you always use stops.

4. Diving into futures trading

Trading futures isn’t for everyone. However, as an entrepreneur, you already have some of the characteristics and skills that are required to be successful in this arena. By tapping into your ambition, curiosity, and willingness to stomach risk, you’ll find that there’s a massive opportunity to generate supplemental income without major downside.

Now’s the time to learn about the process so you can get started sooner rather than later.

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