YFS Magazine’s Headliner’s roundup delivers the best news bytes — reporting on the people, places and small businesses that make the entrepreneurship ecosystem thrive. We’ll cut through the clutter and keep you connected with news-worthy people and highlights. If you’ve got news to share, get in touch.
The Young and Funded
Kickstart Seed Fund recently closed its Fund II in the amount of $26 million. Kickstart Seed Fund syndicates seed-stage investments in tech companies across the Intermountain West. The fund has invested in 24 companies to date, including Needle, Ecoscraps, and Chargeback Guardian, and has already experienced two exits with Panoptic Security in November of 2012 and GroSocial in January of 2013.
Kansas City-based startup Leap2, a mobile search startup that raised $380K in angel funding last July, recently announced that it has closed $1.6M in a new seed round from individual and institutional investors led by Dundee Venture Capital, with support from OpenAir Equity, Linseed Capital and Wichita Technology Corporation.
Entrepreneurs, Toby and Josh Simmons are “all in” on the online sports betting industry with the recent launch of Favourit – a web and iOS social sports betting platform that enables fans and bettors to wager virtual currency or real cash (in regulated markets) on the most popular sports all over the globe, while enabling users to share and access information with other fans and expert tipsters. The startup has raised $3.6 million in funding to date, and just launched a Series A investment round hoping to secure another $5.3 million in capital.
Startup Experiments & Studies
Austin-based startup SpareFoot launches social marketing experiment to make a boring niche industry (self-storage) fun with creative marketing, by giving one lucky college student the chance to expand their horizons beyond ramen noodles with a fancy mini-fridge from Nostalgia Electrics. They’ve decked it out with custom SpareFoot decals and stocked it full of Monster energy drinks to reach out to stressed and hungry students during college move-out season.
An Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and LegalZoom study, released this week, suggests early-stage business owners’ confidence is climbing, according to the first-quarter 2013 reports. Eighty-four percent of entrepreneurs said they are confident or very confident in their companies’ prospects for profitability in the next 12 months, which is the highest confidence level since the survey launched early last year and reflects a 1 percent increase over the fourth-quarter 2012 survey.
San Francisco startup Coworks launches as the first and only online platform connecting freelancers and buyers based on recommendations from their professional and social networks to help businesses in search of the most efficient way to find high-quality freelancers.
Chicago-based startup Hall & Madden just launched their designer men’s clothing site out of beta. Branded after co-founders, Richard Hall and McGregor Madden, the two entrepreneurs have blended vertical manufacturing and AutoCAD technology to laser cut men’s dress shirts to designer perfection — a process allowing them to reverse engineer quality shirts for a quarter of the price, but at the same if not better quality than that of Burberry or BOSS brands.
The legal world’s new retail experience. LegalForce, a Palo Alto web startup founded by trademark and patent attorney Raj Abhyanker, is now available as a downtown 10,000 sq ft retail store that allows locals to stop by the shop for walk-in legal advice, browse tablets, grab a cup of coffee or join a seminar in the friendly, coffee-shop style setting. Their located one of the most sought-after blocks in Silicon Valley: University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto (directly across the Apple Store).
Hit or miss? HitBliss husband and wife team, Andrew Prihodko and Sharon Peyer, launch an online video streaming service that allows consumers to watch specific ads that interest them to earn money that they can use to purchase and view the latest hit movies or TV shows. HitBliss allows consumers to watch ads on their time and be rewarded with popular viewing entertainment.
Business Book Crush
[WTF] What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences
Brian Solis (@briansolis), a globally recognized thought leader in new media reveals: What’s the Future of Business? is not a question— it’s an answer. Solis suggests that survival requires constantly adapting as your customers’ behavior changes. You need new systems, processes, and intentions in place to recognize disruption as it happens, assess new opportunities, and quickly test new ideas. He’s inspiring business leaders to rethink business models and customer and employee relationships in order to create amazing, real-world experiences.
Sales Seduction: Why Do You Say Yes?
Rhondalynn Korolak (@rhondalynn), the author of Sales Seduction: Why Do You Say Yes?, shares a practical step-by-step strategy that small business owners can use to make their marketing messages (no matter which channel they advertise in) more effective and impactful. Neuromarketing is an expensive and technically complex science — and big brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Apple have been using these insights for years to seduce and persuade us. Korolak aims to convey this knowledge and a practical strategy to small business owners.
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