Generation C

By Working Woman

19 

blog posts after, the curtain closes, as we come to our final one.  Do you remember how we started this blog?  Well let me remind you in case you don’t.

We began with one man’s vision:  “The web is more a social creation, than a technical one.  I designed it for a social effect-to help people work together-and not as a technical toy.  The ultimate goal of the web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world.”  Tim Berners Lee (Slide 65).  And we picked up on that dream, in a promise to deliver through our blog all that’s great about digital media and computer mediated communication through the startup phenomenon!  We’d like to think we met our aim!  We talked about the new entrepreneurial culture, aided by the inter-connected world, which can provide new opportunities and possibilities for the coming generations, which can positively contribute to the springing economic development and growth (recently I visited California and Palo Alto, a city a few miles outside of San Francisco, entirely developed and created via startup companies-much like silicon valley, in fact it is termed the new silicon valley of California-housing communities, schools, shopping centers, you name it).  We presented how much more easy it is to start a startup and fund it, through online crowdfunding sites (based in the crowdsourcing philosophy), and how social media with the dawn of web 2.0 has made it so efficient and effective to plan, set up, test, refine, communicate and promote a person’s idea/product.

We, in the midst of a great and endured economic depression, have presented the brilliant and promising Greek startups, demonstrating how even in environments plagued by limiting job opportunities, shrinking markets and high unemployment, a great, innovative idea can provide the necessary leverage to steer an economy to the right direction.  We’ve looked into work life balance and presented arguments on how the inherent characteristics of the startup culture could aid “find” or “juggle” better a person’s work and life.  We’ve seen startups taking on charitable character and promising to bring people even closer together, and work together for a common goal!  Do good!  And so much more that we might not even have touched upon.  So what does the future hold for startups?  Is it a fad or a business model that has come to stay and possibly evolve further?

“You can’t understand where mind-amplifying technology is going, unless you understand where it came from Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought (1980)”  (Diamantaki, slide16).

Where it came from…..wow, it is mind boggling to even try to start from the beginning, 2.5 millions of years ago from the homo habilis, to our generation, Generation C!

generationc

 

When we are talking about Generation C, we are referring to those people who were born after 1990 and  who will by 2020 “make up 40 percent of the population in the U.S., Europe, and the BRIC countries, and 10 percent of the rest of the world” (http://www.strategy-business.com/article/11110?gko=64e54 ).  It is referred to as generation C because it is defined by those 6 characteristics:

Connected

connected2.jpg

 

 

 

 

Communicating

communicating

Content-centric

contentcentric

Computerized

computerized

Community-oriented

community

Always Clicking

clicking

Interestingly enough, the 90’s which was the era that saw the spring of Generation C, was also the era that saw businesses, as network enterprises.  With the realization of what new possibilities this networked model opened companies up to, it is the time that we start seeing a large number of businesses start using the internet and the web for conducting business.  (Working Woman, https://startmeup2016.wordpress.com/2016/04/ ).  It is exactly at that point when we see our paradigm shift!  A revolutionized way of conducting business.

The technological determinist here would say that this entrepreneurial culture was a result of something that came entirely out of this new technology, namely the internet and changed the way we do business, bringing on a new type of business, the startup.    He/she, would see it as either bringing about more changes in the business ecosystem and depending on the viewpoint (good or bad) this will bring the expected outcome to today’s and future worker.  On the other hand, the social constructivist would say that this is totally absurd and that it was this new social shift, this dawning of the new generation that brought about the change in how the internet is used and its ultimate effect on the birth of the new business ecosystem.  They were the soul determinants of the paradigm shift and they will draw and shape its trajectory accordingly.

Who’s wrong, who’s right?  Like everything else I believe in life, my view is that there is no such thing as black or white.  And both views hold truths.  The qualities of the internet, its open architecture and its open governance have indeed played a key role in the new entrepreneurial culture that we see.  The generation Cs have been born and raised in a connected, computerized world and it only makes sense that their way of conducting business would not stray far from that.  Yet, if people had not created that technology, had not appropriated it in such an extend as to “create” a whole business out of the ease of their own homes with the use of a computer only, technology alone would not have accounted for startups.  So, we are somewhere in the middle.  Man created machine and machine helped man realize possibilities.  And so came about further development and progress.

See, the 90s we witnessed changes both technologically and socially and as we progressed through the years, and society picked up on the new affordances the internet enabled and amplified them, new technological innovations and new possibilities came about.  A mutual work in progress.

However, as the authors of the article I mentioned before, The rise of Generation C stated, generation C will account for just 40% of the world population by 2020.  Well, what about the other 60%?  As this generation came about the same time the new business environment surfaced shouldn’t we have 100% by 2020?  The technological determinist here fails to account for this failing.  Because it fails to take under consideration the point that if there is no access to the technology and man doesn’t take advantage of it, then it is as if a tree falls, but there is no one there to “hear” the sound it makes.

So we see the gradual uptake of technology in the developing world.  As technological access is made possible to more and more people, new possibilities surface.  More shaping takes place and the creation is being refined every minute as we speak.  Greek startup phenomenon became a reality only when technology became more accessible and more valued in Greece and when the “traditional” public sector  stopped being the “Greek” dream.  While in Western countries such as the US, startups were already established and thriving.  And we see even further segregation as technology is taken up differently in different societies, and it makes us think that the types of startups can very well differ, depending on the environment an entrepreneur is raised.  Friedrich, Peterson and Koster, help me so beautifully make my case here:  “Western countries currently lead the world in just two critical online services, e-commerce (Germany) and online advertising (the U.K.), whereas non-Western countries are ahead in several others: broadband (South Korea), social networking (Brazil), online gaming (China), mobile payments (Japan), and microtransactions via SMS (the Philippines)” (http://www.strategy-business.com/article/11110?gko=64e54 ).

Having said that, I have to admit that no one knows what the future holds for startups.  Who knows what man will think of next and how this beautiful interplay of man and technology will bring about?  One thing is for sure, there is no way to predict the future, we can only help create it.

Start uppers, out!

dropmic

 

 

References

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.  Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 1 [PowerPoint presentation]

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.  Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 2 [PowerPoint presentation]

Friedrich, R., Peterson, M. & Koster, A. (2011, February 22).  The rise of generation C.  Strategy & Business, Spring 2011 (62).  Retrieved from   http://www.strategy-business.com/article/11110?gko=64e54

“Working Woman” (2016, April 18).  A mindset revolution!  A historical account of the startup movement [Web log post].  Retrieved from https://startmeup2016.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/a-mindset-revolution-a-historical-account-of-the-startup-movement/

 

 

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Let’s start a Startup News Site!

By Teri Legaki

 New media have definitely changed the way people communicate, businesses are held and the way information and news circulate into the world. Interactivity characterizes the media of the 21st Century, which has allowed more voices to be heard outside of mass media logics (Diamantaki, 2016). Nowadays, news media organizations invest resources not only in creating content, but also manage its circulation on interactive platforms.

Changes in technologies, in economics and mostly in the need of real-time information and customization, have formed new power players, entrepreneurial journalists, who are seeking to create new providers of news and information.Internet platforms are increasingly being used as platforms for startup news organizations by entrepreneurs ‘who are concerned with journalism and its social contributions, and want to preserve the social functions of journalism’ (Naldi,2012). The primary impetuses for establishing such sites are dissatisfaction with existing media coverage and significant layoffs of journalists in local media (Sass, 2009). For them, it’s not just about writing the cool stories, it’s about keeping the books straight.

Entrepreneurial online news sites can be either for profit or non- profit initiatives by either professional journalists or citizen journalists or a combination of them. They do not produce meaning; they manage meanings by empowering not only individuals, but also clustered groups to produce and circulate their own contents and meanings. These startup news sites are also increasingly responsive and customized, facilitating greater transparency and surveillance. Regarding their financing, there is a variety of approaches based on advertising, e-commerce, subscriptions, memberships, and donations.‘New online operating applications also provide abilities to acquire additional advertising through some larger hosting organizations or advertising networks, rather than merely relying on the site’s own advertising sales’ (Funk, 2008).

As all startup companies, new news startups need good planning, capital, resources, and committed leaders to make them competent. While these online sites are independent, it is essential that they built interest and outreach intensely the community. Since many startuppers may be entering in new industries, they may have to use new distribution technologies and this could cause them additional difficulties, as many people being unfamiliar with new technologies, are likely to be skeptical of or even hostile toward them. The basic key here is that when starting new ventures in new industries, costs may arise in terms of resources. Entrepreneurs must control or get access to more resources, like new technologies, organizational forms as well as business models, when starting ventures in new industries as compared to starting ventures in established industries (Naldi, 2012).

Startuppers of an online news site are considered as the one of the ‘4 cultural Roots of the Internet.(Castells,2009). They are the business foundation of the InternetEthos of diffusion of innovation and monetizing value. (Diamantaki,2016). Knowing the technological and business changes brought by the evolution fromWeb 1.0.to WEB 2.0, they shape the network by using it. As Mark Deuze(2012) very well stated that media life is “a life that can now only be imagined, but no longer experienced, outside of media”.Having this on their mind and also the willingness to form aninterest-bound and like-minded peer network, they start an online site, hoping to provide their public good quality specialized content.

 

“The first thing I would say to anybody starting a news organization is be sure you’re solving a problem or filling a need,” -Tracy Record, editor and co-publisher of the long-running West Seattle Blog.

 

5 Tech Startup News Websites that are worth your visit

1.TechCrunch

The grandfather of tech startup websites. Here you can learn about who raised what and which companies are taking off. Many events are also hosted with striking founders and venture capitalists.

TechCrunch-wordpress-website-Screenshot-1

 

2. Product Hunt

Product Hunt helps you see what innovations are happening constantly in the tech world and which ones people like. It’s a newer website based on user upvotes, in order to promote  the top-trending cool new products made by developers

f6461c2e2bde73381d338390b25b4ae6

 

3.Inc magazine

A great source to catch up with new and growing startups and technology.By subscribing also to their newsletter, you can receive articles from specific sections, like startup, innovation and growth.

Inc website

 

4.Forbes

Perfect for business and financial information. Forbes has an entrepreneurship and technology section about new startups.

Forbes-web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.PandoDaily

A great website that covers tech startup news, mostly in Silicon Valley.Check their  PandoMonthly videos  for entrepreneurship inspiration!

pando

 

 

 

References

Castells M. (2001). The Internet galaxy: Reflections on the Internet business and society. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press Publications

Funk, T. (2008). Web 2.0: Understanding New Online Business Models, Trends, and Technologies. New York: Praeger.

 

Naldi, P. & Picard, R. G. (2012).Lets start an online news site: Opportunities, resourcesstartegy, and formational myopia in startups. Journal of Media  Business Studies.9(4): 69-97

 

Prete, T .(2013, March). How to navigate the challenges of sustaining a startup news site.[Web Log Post]. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/2013/how-to-navigate-the-challenges-of-sustaining-a-startup-news-site/207235/

Sass, E. (2009).  Ex- Newspapers Staffers Create On Line News Sites, Media Daily News. August 28. Retrieved from http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.-showArticle&art_aid=104999

 

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 2  [PowerPoint presentation]

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 3 [PowerPoint presentation]

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 9 [PowerPoint presentation]

 

Would a startup benefit from having a Facebook business page?

By Abir El-Hallak

 

Facebook is undoubtedly one of the top social media platforms and using it as a business promotional tool can be highly advantageous to your startup and impact positively on its growth and success. Many startups are creating a Facebook business page even before creating their own official website. Let’s examine why.

The what and the how

A Facebook business page is essentially your startup’s Facebook website: “from the features side of things, a Page gives you space to display a company logo, a brand message through a cover photo, description, contact details, and disclaimers. From the marketing side, it allows you to speak to your audience in a uniquely personal way, reach them directly by posting into their social stream, share things that interest them – be it news stories or videos, or more overtly with products or offers” (startups). Here’s a useful link to Facebook’s guidelines on how to set up a Page: https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/set-up-facebook-page

Online search behaviours

Search engines are still the foremost method consumers employ when interested in a product, service or brand: “almost 50% of internet users use them for this reason, compared to 30%-40% who would turn to consumer review sites, price comparison services, social networks or brand websites” (globalwebindex). However, online search behaviours are changing whereby consumers in the 16-24 age group bracket are more likely to use social networks to this end and with Facebook’s new M feature on Messenger, the voice command function and Facebook’s answer to Siri, perhaps social networks will overtake search engines in the future. Either way, an active Facebook page will show up on search engines and lead potential customers in the direction of your business.

Audience reach

As of March 2016, 1.09 billion people log onto Facebook on a daily basis (Zephoria). There is no doubt that Facebook has the capabilities of reaching a massive audience and a Facebook business page has the capacity to provide your startup with a strong “branding outpost on the Web where prospects, customers, future employees, vendors, and even the media can find information about your company and the products and services you offer” (Entrepreneur).

Customer engagement

By engaging with this plethora of audiences, your Facebook business page can be an important tool for your startup business and a platform to create posts and content relevant to your product or service via audience participation. “The traditional rule for audience engagement is 80/20. Eighty percent of your content should be for your audience, and 20% should be for your business (sales, marketing, self-promotion, etc.)” (SocialMediaExaminer). Effective ways to engage your audience include giveaways, special and exclusive offers or even running contests. Use the Events App to organise events and promotions and send invitations. Users of this social network fully appreciate the entertainment value it has to offer.

Brand loyalty

Customer engagement on your Facebook business page will provide your customers and brand advocates with an outlet for interaction, discussion and a location for sharing photos, videos and posts creating a connection with your customers on a social level and subsequently strengthening these relationships and improving customer relations. “Establish strong relationships with a number of influential members who have plenty of connections, and you gain valuable brand evangelists who authentically market and sell on your behalf” (Entrepreneur).

Enrich your startup’s website

Your budding community of followers via Facebook can then be directed without restrictions to your own website which will drastically expand traffic to your site and increase the likelihood of potential customers. Gathering information from this audience, such as e-mail addresses, enables your startup to contact this community directly with helpful information regarding your business, further driving traffic to your website. Customers also have the option to review your business on your Facebook business page. This collection of valuable reviews and testimonials can be used to your startup’s advantage by adding the pick of the bunch to your own website’s testimonial page and result in an upgrade of the value of your business.

The power of a Like

It costs nothing to start a Facebook business page and Facebook ads are relatively inexpensive and reach a much bigger audience. The target ad audience have the option to like your page as well as engage with your advertising objective: “when someone likes your Page, your posts may appear in their News Feed, along with posts from their friends and family, so you can increase awareness of your business and meet new customers” (Facebook).

To Facebook page or not to Facebook page

A Facebook presence is constructive for many reasons, from the positive brand image created when your Facebook page appears in search results to the many channels it offers in terms of customer relations, brand exposure and driving website traffic. At the end of the day it is a quick, easy and cost-effective way for your startup to promote its business. Would your startup benefit from having a Facebook page? Let’s just say that it would hardly put it at a disadvantage so…why not?

 

Stress Management in Startups: an interpretation through Maslow’s theory

By Teri Legaki

Success in the startup world is related to determination, persistence and trust. The typical new startupper endures greater stress because they have a demanding journey in order to achieve their goals. Deciding to start a business can be fun and empowering; however it can also suck the life right out of you. Stress is a fact life for all entrepreneurs and if not tried to be dealt effectively, it can destroy your well-being. Paul Graham stated that a startup is ‘an emotional roller-coaster’, as ‘in a startup, things seem great one moment and hopeless the next. And by next, I mean a couple hours later. The emotional ups and downs were the biggest surprise for me. One day, we’d think of ourselves as the next Google and dream of buying islands; the next, we’d be pondering how to let our loved ones know of our utter failure; and on and on’ (Graham, 2012).

Unfortunately, as the majority of startups focus on productivity, there just isn’t enough attention on stress management within entrepreneurs. Startup founders are encouraged to rely on the long-term success of their new ventures while ignoring short-term pain. ‘In the startup world, you’re already running at full speed. It’s nearly impossible to stop and deal with anything outside of your business.’ (White, 2015).They work, drink more coffee, they sleep less and then work again. They are focusing on the health of their company and not theirs, hoping that it will all be worth it soon. “In a startup, the swing between highs and lows are pretty wild,” says Adora Cheung, cofounder of Homejoy(Inverso, 2013).

Maslow’s classic theory on the hierarchy of needscan be used to identify how stress is affecting entrepreneurs’ capability to fulfill these needs.  This theory also helps us understand human motivation. His pyramid is grounded first with physiological needs such as food, shelter and sleep, then followed by safety needs that include financial and job security. It is important to mention that Maslow proposed that in order to achieve mid-level needs like love belonging and self-esteem, first must be met thephysiological and safety needs, which are considered as basics.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg

Starting from the bottom to the top of the pyramid, as Maslow’s theory suggests:

Physiological needs

It is widely seen that startuppers sacrifice many times their basic needs in order to chase their dreams. They give the comfort of their home, from a home cooked meal to a goodnight sleep for their developing business.Graham (2012) mentions, ‘I didn’t realize I would spend almost every waking moment either working or thinking about our startup. You enter a whole different way of life when it’s your company vs. working for someone else’s company.’ As entrepreneurs are in an unknown path, endure high levels of stress and push themselves up to their breaking point.

Safety

Here entrepreneurship goes against Maslow as, the first thing startup founders do is throw away their financial security. Being self-actualized and in attempt to realize their dreams, they sometimes quit a well-paid job, or even mortgage their houses. Before even considering about high-level motivations, they don’t demand security. Instead, they bet on risky startup ventures, because they are willing to make it to success.

Love-Belonging

Less and less time that can lead to isolation, find most entrepreneurs for their personal life, entering the startup world. When there is a goal to be met and the needs of the business take over, less time is dedicated to family and friends. When they are driving to give birth to their new company, at least in the beginning, they tend to cut off from everything from drinks with friends, to family dinners, as the needs of the business take over.

Self-esteem/respect

Many times among humans a choice made is not liked and supported by everyone. In our days, in a non-stable economy, an entrepreneur’s judgmemt and ambitions will be highly questioned by many people from family to friends. Basically as uncertainty prevails in startups, ‘entrepreneurs push self-doubt away as they drive towards their goals’ (White, 2015).

Self-actualization

Breaking the Maslow’s hierarchy, startuppers actually start with self-actualization. They are creating something from scratch on their own, and with every pitch to an investor, an addition to what they offer, or even a sale to a customer they are fulfilling their dreams and achieving their goals. Their struggles are part of their joy.

Maslow stated that only the ones who have met all of the four previous needs could reach self- actualization. However, as you have possibly figured out by now, startuppers have flipped upside-down Maslow’s pyramid. I personally don’t believe that he knew any entrepreneurs, because if he did, he would never have expressed his theory.

Startupper’s hierarchy of needs:

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds

It’s easy to lose your emotional balance by being a startupper. Many overnights, many hours working…Emotional health and stability is surely a topic that every entrepreneur must consider. The startup journey isn’t an easy one; for many entrepreneurs can be their own ‘Odyssey’. So at the end of each day, every founder must be grateful, remember how much has actually been achieved and as Graham(2012) suggested..‘just don’t die’.

 

 

References:

Graham, P.(2009, October). What startups are really like. Retrieved from http://www.paulgraham.com/really.html

 

Inverso, E.(2013, December). How founders cut down on startup stress. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilyinverso/2013/12/16/how-founders-cut-down-on-startup-stress/#1ebd1d3f1d8f

 

Ross, J. (2014, October). 6 Smart Ways to Reduce Startup Stress.Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/239097

Rusin, J. (2015, October). 3 ways to manage the stress of working at a startup. Fortune. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2015/10/19/manage-stress-startup/

White, P. & White, P. (2015, November). Entrepreneurs Turn the Classic Theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on its Head. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252362

 

Young Entrepreneur Council.(2015, August).Stress Management for Startup Founders: 2 Important Tools for Coping. [Web log Post]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/young-entrepreneur-council/stress-management-for-sta_b_8010290.html

 

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 5 [PowerPoint presentation]

 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/252362 s theory.

 

 

Charitable startups: We don’t ask for money, we earn it!

 By Teri Legaki

 Over the past few years it has been observed that money put into advertising doesn’t always work very well. Many times, it turns out that people find some aspect of a message obnoxious or even offensive. Consumers are getting better at tuning marketing out,by browsing the Web or watching television. This means that businesses should be searching for more creative ways to boost their image. By focusing on charitable causes, a company can both boost its image and benefit the online and offline community.

As we mentioned earlier, a startup is traditionally a for-profit company but ‘a charity can operate much like one’ (Graham, 2012).Starting a non-profit company means taking high financial risk without high potential reward, as there isn’t a solid source of funding. A non-profit startup must raise funds from a relatively thin and fragmented market. With popular crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo entrepreneurs have found a new way of raising funds and make their dreams come true.  As opposed to traditional financial models, crowdfunding is really the model that has been utilized by charitable and non-profits startups, in order to provide a positive social impact.

Nowadays many philanthropic ventures have adopted the technological know-how and the mentality of startups, in order to develop a new ‘breed’ of lean non-profits. Being charitable from a startup to a big company, doesn’t have to be an act of sacrifice. ‘The companies who give back to the community and to make sure that people feel good about being their employees or customers, get a lot of benefits back in the process’ (Thompson, 2015). New companies entering the business worldwant to become a force for a positive change.

Many statistics show how charity companies influence customers. Specifically, in the Cone Cause-Evolution Study (2012), ‘83% of Americans said they wished brands would support causes, and almost half admitted to buying a product because it was associated with a cause’(Pass, 2015). By providing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the world of entrepreneurship, you can make a genuine difference.

There is a growing number of startups who take giving to a whole new level: they place charity at their core.They want to build on philanthropy and by forming their charitable reputation and then drive sales, as well as donations. This kind of social entrepreneurship is gaining more and more ground. Injoy Giving, a startup created in Dubai, is an online shopping platform based on the idea that ‘small acts of generosity can add up to something beautiful’. Whatever customers choose to buy, Injoy donates part of the proceeds to the World Food Program. Charity was also at the core of the for-profit company ‘TOMS’ which was founded in 2006 and started selling shoes in order to help children in Argentina. After an article published in the Los Angeles Times’, orders exceeded its supply. Since then, the company has extended to eyewear production, to help funding eye examinations and treatment.

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Startup founders suggest that building philanthropy into their companies possibly attract consumers who are supporters of businesses they consider as ‘agents of positive social change’ (Thompson, 2015). Both authenticity and creativity are required, as consumers are looking for aconnection between the brand and its charitable giving.

In the world of startups, the paramount entrepreneurial objective is to create a product that can change the world. No matter how you are planning to make your impact, in order to do so, it is necessary a powerful network of community support.  Philanthropy in general is ‘not only an ideal, but also an expectation of a company’s brand promise to its customers ’(Dietrich, 2012) and benefits both the recipient and the giver. By incorporating social responsibility and charity into their visions, startups can use their imagination and creativity to solve social challenges.

 

References

Dietrich,C. (2012, March). Giving Back: How Every Startup Can Be Philanthropic. Forbes. Retrieved fromhttp://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/03/18/giving-back-how-every-startup-can-be-philanthropic/#3f3317976406

Graham, P.( 2012, September). Startup=Growth. Retrieved from http://www.paulgraham.com/growth.html

 

Koenig, R. (2015, December). Billions at Stake as IPO Charity Set-Asides Become Routine.The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved from https://philanthropy.com/article/Billions-at-Stake-as-IPO/234655

 

Pass, J. (2015, September). Charity Begins At Home: Startups With CSR At Their Core.Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250600

Robehmed, N. (2013, December). A New Nonprofit Model: Meet The Charitable Startups. Forbes. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/natalierobehmed/2013/12/16/a-new-nonprofit-model-meet-the-charitable-startups/#99492cb4a909

 

Thompson, M.(2015, January). 3 Ways to Promote Your Business With Charitable Marketing.[Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.business.com/marketing/promote-your-business-with-charitable-marketing/

Startups and the Sharing Economy

By Abir El-Hallak

Blog 4 - Image 1

Image : Huffpost Business

What better place to start than by using a definition from Wikipedia, an excellent example of the sharing economy where everyone shares their knowledge on any and every conceivable topic: “a hybrid market model (in between owning and gift giving) which refers to peer-to-peer-based sharing of access to goods and services (coordinated through community-based online services).” In effect, the sharing economy is a for-profit and non-profit economic system whereby individuals directly share underused services or resources stemming from both a monetary and social paradigm shift. It connects individuals who demand a product or service with those who can supply the product or service.

While the concept of a system of exchange is not new, modern-day online social networks, mobile devices, analytics, cloud computing and electronic markets and services are empowering factors to the notion of shared products and services: “what enables the explosive growth of the sharing economy today is the internet. Barriers to sharing (time, space, geography, marketing dollars) are rendered irrelevant in the digital age of free mobile apps that connect people across time zones, cultures, and languages” (Forbes). As these peer-to-peer networks continue to push up, empowered by platform dynamics and network effects, experts believe the sharing economy will continue to flourish and present unlimited prospects for entrepreneurs.

“A plethora of startups have stemmed from the sharing economy, 17 of which are worth over a billion dollars each” (Entrepreneur). Let’s explore some successful sharing economy startup companies.

Need a place to stay? Airbnb has a spare room.

Travellers choosing Airbnb can rent a room, a whole house or even a British castle. The San Francisco startup “averages 425,000 guests per night, totalling more than 155 million guest stays annually – nearly 22% more than Hilton Worldwide, which served 127 million guests in 2014” (PWC). According to Airbnb “our community is built on a great deal of trust – trust that makes hosts feel comfortable allowing travellers to stay in their home, and trust that helps travellers feel they belong anywhere. The foundation of that trust is our review system, so we want to make it just as easy for people to share honest reviews about the experiences they have using Airbnb, as it is when they review a product. Our community benefits from honest reviews that help them make informed booking decisions.”

Short on time? TaskRabbit will run your errands.

“Live smarter by outsourcing household errands and skilled tasks to trusted people in your community” (TaskRabbit). TaskRabbit is a mobile marketplace founded in 2008 where 4,000 carefully interviewed and background checked “taskrabbits” can bid to do your jobs and tasks such as delivery, shopping, cleaning or handyman work thereby matching freelance labour with local demand, TaskRabbit’s core business model. Brian Schrier, one of the company’s “elite taskers” earns approximately $7,000 a month from TaskRabbit jobs and pinpoints his craziest job as the one where he was “paid $70 an hour to fold t-shirts for a startup company. They were supposed to come folded, and the company was desperate to get them folded before an event. It taught me that if someone is desperate enough, they’ll pay what they need to pay to get people to help” (Time).

Need a ride? Uber is ready and waiting.

Uber is an online transportation network company that connects passengers with drivers for hire and operates in more than 250 cities worldwide. In December 2015, “Uber was valued at $68 billion, having taken just 6 years to surpass the valuation of 100-year-old companies like General Motors and Ford, as well as “traditional” transportation companies like Hertz and Avis” (Bruegel). As one of the fastest growing startups worldwide, it operates under a dynamic pricing model to accommodate the continuous changes in supply and demand whereby prices increase as a result of higher driver to demand for rides ratio. According to the boss of Uber, Travis Kalanick, “the review system means drivers with poor ratings don’t last long, while passengers who behaved badly find it hard to get a ride” (The Economist).

Hungry? EatWith will cook for you.

The meal-sharing website has been offering customers the experience of enjoying a home-cooked meal with complete strangers in 150 cities around the world since 2012. Guests select a location, and a Chef, with the help of chef profiles and sample menus, and the dining experience takes place in the Chef’s home. The startup company “provides a marketplace that connects diners and hosts, creating a unique social experience where guests get to know one another while also eating an authentic home –cooked meal” (TC). “Peer-to-peer dining websites have been called “the Airbnb of home-cooked meals” because they operate under similar principles. Each website bills itself as a community where users can buy and sell food-related experiences and rate them afterwards for quality control” (BBC).

Have a look at this: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/674240579832/

Need a dog sitter? DogVacay is the answer.

The “Airbnb for dogs” and more cost effective than a kennel, DogVacay customers can leave their dog with one of the 20,000 hosts in 3,000 cities who will care for it in a more comfortable environment. An unhappy dog and huge kennel bill led to CEO Aaron Hirschhorn’s idea for a startup potential to fulfil a clear gap in the market. It all began with an overnight dog-sitting business on Craigslist in 2011 and DogVacay was founded a year later. “DogVacay carefully screens its dog-watchers, which have an average rating of 4.96 starts out of five on the site. More than 100,000 people have applied to be dog-sitters, but DogVacay has only accepted 20,000, all of which go through interviews, training, and reference checks before joining” (FORTUNE).

There is no doubt that sharing startups have impacted hugely on business models. “Just as YouTube did with TV and the blogosphere did to mainstream media, the share economy blows up the industrial model of companies owning and people consuming, and allows everyone to be both consumer and producer, along with the potential for cash that the latter provides” (Forbes).

Supply and demand is of course the central theme, as evident in the examples investigated above. Here, the changing concept of access to a product or service as opposed to outright ownership plays a significant role further unlocking supply and demand potential beyond traditional buying and into renting, lending, reselling and swapping to name just a few. Uber, for example, does not own any of the vehicles used by its customers and TaskRabbit customers may choose to hire gardening services as opposed to buying their own lawnmower. Digital platforms are the huge facilitators in this respect efficiently connecting the two in real-time. According to one of the founders of Airbnb, Nate Blecharczyk, “we couldn’t have existed ten years ago, before Facebook, because people weren’t really into sharing” (The Economist).

This brings us to another key feature of the sharing economy. Trust, and the formation of a trusting community. Consumers who use this sharing economy business model are generally unperturbed by these methods of exchange that encompass social interaction. The social connections cultivated are the driving force behind a positive online reputation which helps to build influence and credibility which in turn becomes directly connected to the brand itself. Therefore, the business needs to protect the reputation of its brand by carefully managing these connections in order to promote and develop a sense of community as well as convenience. Undoubtedly “online social networks and recommendation systems help establish trust; Internet payment systems can handle the billing. All this lets millions of total strangers rent things to each other” (The Economist).

Are you a budding entrepreneur just launching your sharing economy startup? We would love to hear from you!

 

 

Funkmartini: The first cosmetic Greek startup

By Teri Legaki

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Startup entrepreneurs are familiar with the fact that Internet is a place of social experience, as everyday new ecosystems of different communities are created. When we are referring to a startup wanting to expand through network platforms, huge emphasis must be given to its users’ preferences and to the automated decisions made by the platform itself.

In the beginning of 2014, Alexia Kotsis and Grigoris Stamatopoulos who loved technology and wanted to boost the beauty services industry, created the first online search engine for beauty and cosmetic offers, Funkmartini.gr. Kotsis and Stamatopoulos, innovators to the Greek beauty industry, have become social media influencers. They managed to ‘bridge’ their network community users to companies and the opposite, by providing beauty customizations with simply one click. Fortune Greece.com has rightfully placed them in the 27th place among the ‘ 40 new Greek entrepreneurs who are outstanding in Greece and abroad’.

Funkmartini is the first Greek online beauty community, in which users can book and pay online chosen beauty services, all over Greece. The web and mobile based platform aims at the same time at two different audiences, businesses and users. It enables businesses through a web based program in order to introduce their services, their offers and their weekly program and also users to find the company they wish, through various search filters. The companies joining Funkmartini platform will also receive statistics and indicators (KPIs) in real time and a customer relationship management (CRM), so they can approach their company’s interaction with current and future customers. Funkmartini aims to promote all member companies and built its reputation, as ‘reputation is an indicator of whether you are trustworthy or not’ (Diamantaki 2016).

A big thing about this startup is that it has implemented its digital strategy into a social strategy. Specifically, ‘Your everyday life becomes a contribution and you become an active member of a community that cares and supports responsibility among the society’, states Alexia Kotsis, Co-Founder. With each appointment booked through Funkmartini, an amount is given to ‘Alma Zois’, which is the National Association of women with breast cancer and  to ‘Make-A-Wish Greece’,  an association which transforms the lives of children with cancer.

Overall, Funkmartini caused cascading effects with its presence. ‘A new behavior starts with a small set of initial adopters, and then spreads outward through the network’, (Diamantaki, 2016). Knowing the dynamic that characterizes online communities and how much they have changed due to wider social and technological changes, Funkmartini created its own George Simmel’s ‘multi-belonging web group of cosmetic and beauty affiliations’.

 

Here you can book your beauty appointment: https://www.funkmartini.gr/

 

References

Castells M. (2001). The Internet galaxy: Reflections on the Internet business and society. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press Publications

Georgiou, R. (2016, May). Το Funkmartini στο StartupGrind Athens 24/5.  [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.techstart.gr/2016/05/funkmartini-startup-grind-athens/

Newsroom. (2014, December). Funkmartini: 200.000 ευρώ επένδυση στον πρώτο γύρο χρηματοδότησης [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://startupper.gr/funkmartini-200-000-%CE%B5%CF%85%CF%81%CF%8E-%CE%B5%CF%80%CE%AD%CE%BD%CE%B4%CF%85%CF%83%CE%B7-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF%CE%BD-%CF%80%CF%81%CF%8E%CF%84%CE%BF-%CE%B3%CF%8D%CF%81%CE%BF-%CF%87%CF%81%CE%B7%CE%BC/

 

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.  Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 3 [PowerPoint presentation]

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.  Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 5 [PowerPoint presentation]

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.  Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 6 [PowerPoint presentation]

Diamantaki, K. (2016).  MA in digital communication and Social media.  Digital media and CMC.  Lesson 7 [PowerPoint presentation]

 

https://www.funkmartini.gr/faq-users

Up-and-coming Social Media Platforms resulting from the explosion of startups

By Abir El-Hallak

 

There is no doubt that startups have marvellously contributed to social media platforms. Just look at Facebook, a company now worth many billions, which began as a tiny startup over a decade ago when the then 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg launched the site in 2004. Its incredible success story is the aspiration of every social network startup. Instagram is a more recent example. Launched in 2010, Instagram was acquired by Facebook just two years later for $1 billion in cash and stock. Snapchat, a favourite of teenagers, “represents the greatest existential threat yet to the Facebook juggernaut” (Forbes) and it is hardly surprising that Facebook offered an incredible $3 billion to buy the photo-sharing app. With over 100 million daily active users and growing, Snapchat refused the offer. This year, the former Instagram and Snapchat executive Emily White, launched her own startup ‘Mave’, a high-end personal concierge service…watch this space or join the waiting list.

Let’s take a look at some of the up-and-coming social media platform startups with the potential for growth in the year ahead.

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Periscope is a live streaming app for iOS and Android developed by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein that allows users to watch and broadcast videos in real-time and from anywhere and saves the video streams for up to 24 hours. It has transformed video sharing making it instant and interactive rendering it a leader in personal branding. The company was started in February 2014 and a tweet from Periscope announced the startup’s acquisition by Twitter in January 2015 for a reported $120 million even before the product had been publicly launched. It was officially launched in March 2015 and four months later it had exceeded 10 million accounts. In December of last year, it was named by Apple as the iPhone App of the Year. According to Business Insider, “Startup stories like Periscope’s make entrepreneurship sound easy. Just put in 11 months of work and flip your app for $120 million, no traction or launch needed.”

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Live video streaming apps are continuously growing in popularity and Blab is the “room where you can talk, watch videos and listen to music together” (Blab.im).

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Image: Blab.im

A video chat app that launched in April 2015 which allows group interactions with up to four people that anyone can watch in real-time with an easy to use interface and where conversations can be recorded and it works seamlessly with Twitter. Blab is very relevant to social media marketers and people with online businesses giving Google Hangouts a run for its money as “the intimate video set up is perfect for brands who looked to fully engage customers in a small group atmosphere” (Why is everyone flocking to Blab.IM?). Serial entrepreneur and New Media Marketing Strategist Joel Comm perceives “it as one of the greatest opportunities for building your platform and growing a following.”

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Slack’s slogan? “Be Less Busy”. Enough said.

Slack is a cloud-based instant messaging and online collaboration app that offers team communication solutions and is available on every platform. Slack allows you to organise your messages, discussions and notifications; create private channels for sensitive information; direct messages to both individuals and to groups; share files; perform searches; receive notifications according to your personalised priorities; and has three types of built-in integrations as well as the option to build your own. This fast growing startup’s busy app was launched in April 2014 and is clearly on a mission to simplify and organise your life as the now 1.7 million daily active users (and estimated 90,000 companies) can attest. According to Harper Reed, CEO of Modest, “it’s very, very, very quick for anyone who interacts with Slack to consider Slack, the entity, their friend. That’s super weird” (INC. MAGAZINE).

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Image: TNW

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The London based travel tech startup, Firef.ly, managed to raise over $1 million through Seedrs crowdfunding platform as well as a grant from Innovate UK. As part of their extremely effective Crowdfunding Pitch, Firef.ly identified “a huge gap in the travel market for someone who looks at the entire lifecycle of travel and connects the dots. We aim to build a massively scalable travel ecosystem that consolidates the fragmentation currently seen in the travel sector.” Tech City News describes the app as one that “helps you plan and capture your holidays, after which you can buy a one-of-a-kind data visualisation of your trip.” This travel app connects travellers to local businesses at every phase of travel which your own brand may very well benefit from.

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What do you WAnt? What do you NEed? What do you LOve? Wanelo.

Wanelo, pronounced “wah-nee-loh”, is effectively “a digital mall where people can discover and buy products on the internet. The site has over 12 million products posted by users from over 300,000 stores, including both large brands and independent sellers, like those found on Etsy” (Wikipedia). This startup took Pinterest a big step further by allowing users the additional click-to-buy on the original site option. Deena Varshavskaya, the founder of Wanelo states that “a platform like Wanelo enables any maker or retailer to reach the customer directly. The long-term vision is to make sure those businesses can be built on top of Wanelo” (Mashable). Wanelo enables brands and retailers (some of whom are adding the Wanelo save button to their websites) to operate their own store pages resulting in improved overall engagement with the community as well as valuable insight as to which of their products are popular.

Two more social network startups worth a quick mention:

Ello, an all-purpose social networking service created in March 2014 with the main difference being that it is against advertising on its platform therefore making it a more privacy friendly option.

Shots, a selfie sharing app backed by Justin Bieber, has enjoyed surprising success since its launch in 2013. The absence of a follower counts feature and recent updates, including its new comedy focus, has tremendous appeal to its mostly teen 10 million registered users.

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Image: TC

Explore these options, use them as inspirational stories for your own startup, decide whether one or more of them will fit perfectly with your brand, can be used as an effective communication tool and add value to your startup’s social media strategy or indeed to your own personal social network practice!

 

A Social Media Guide for Startups – Part 2

By Abir El-Hallak

 

Creating a social media strategy for your startup

In Part 1 of this blog post we saw how social media is no longer just a voluntary avenue for startups but rather an indispensable and cost effective marketing tool that allows you to connect with your audience and build your brand paving the pathway to growth and success. The savvy use of social media will guarantee your brand receives the necessary attention among the endless pool of brands out there. According to the team at Hootsuite, the social media management system for brand management, “success stories of startup companies such as Distractify and Airbnb prove that a great social media strategy is the cornerstone of a strong company launch.”

But how can you build the social media presence of your startup? How can your startup maximise impact with a social media strategy? How can you create a social media strategy that’s right for your startup? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Social Media Goals

As an entrepreneur, you are fully aware of the magnitude of importance of strategic planning. With your business objectives in position, your next step is to align your social media objectives and efforts with your broader business objectives and goals. This is a challenging but necessary initial feat that will keep you focused and directed. The main areas where social media objectives align to business objectives are as follows, although your startup will probably place emphasis on one or two of these business areas in order to accelerate growth:

Brand awareness

We have seen how the use of social media is important to your startup’s brand identity. The objective is to measure to what extent your brand is being spotted in the market along with its share of the social market by using various metrics.

The first to consider is your online reputation score and there are several online reputation management tools that will help your startup build and preserve its positive online image such as Klout (that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the “Klout Score”), PeerIndex (a company that provides social media analytics based on footprints from application of major social media services) and PeerREACH (which analyses your connections and interactions to establish your expertise and assess your levels of influence).

Brand sentiment is another useful metric which focuses on building positive associations with your brand and is best accomplished by employing social listening tools. Brandwatch is of course a top enterprise-level social media monitoring tool but there are other excellent and free alternatives. Examples include Hootsuite, TweetReach, Social Mention, Twazzup, Addictomatic, HowSociable, IceRocket, TweetDeck, Mention, Twitonomy, Followerwonk, SumAll, Simply Measured, Google Alerts…. the list is endless and rich and your startup would greatly benefit from identifying the right one that fits best with its culture and business.

These social listening tools will allow you to monitor brand-related conversations in real time and respond accordingly which will uncover vital data regarding your most influential followers and guide you to your target audience resulting in the better management of your startup business. Indeed, identifying social media influencers will allow you to build an online community of brand ambassadors to give your startup the much needed exposure to grow.

Content distribution

Determining the appropriate social media platforms for your startup will greatly depend on your goals, strategy and content. Each social media network boasts its particular audience and service and your startup would benefit from defining its own target audience in terms of age, gender, income level etc., as well as the nature of its business and comparing these with the demographic data of a social network to ascertain the right fit. There are five major social media platforms worthy of mention and with the potential to add value to your startup:

Who?

Best for?

Why?

Facebook Reaching the masses Over 700 million active users
Twitter One-on-one customer engagement and content distribution Users are more likely to make a purchase from a brand they follow
LinkedIn B2B and new business partners Facilitates global networking
YouTube Brand awareness Videos to millions of users resulting in sharing content on other platforms
Google Association Reputation
Pinterest Startups with physical products Fastest growing social media platform

 

Your content style, for example, video, images, long-form, etc. will play a role too. Identifying your audience’s content style preferences will ensure you use the right social networks resulting in the all-important sharing of that content. Here is a useful break down of social networks into 7 different types, courtesy of Jason DeMers at Search Engine Land.

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Customer acquisition

Raising brand awareness and effectively distributing content will diametrically lead to the acquisition of new customers and consequently the maximising of the value of your social media strategy. It is of vital importance for your startup to build an effective network and defining the characteristics of your perfect customer is the first step in this target. Research plays an important role in this process by identifying where these potential customers are already active. This in turn will facilitate the decision as to which are the right networks to use for your business, as pinpointed above, in order to create your social media profiles and start a conversation with your target audience.

Throughout your sales cycle, social media will allow your startup to uncover who your influencers are by discerning your existing and potential buyer persona, who your brand advocates are as powerful potential sales tools and will tender the platforms to engage with existing and potential customers as well as to follow, and intercept if necessary, competitor conversations. The ideal scenario is for your social media profiles to be lead generators that will direct traffic to your own website (and blog if appropriate).

There are numerous creative and cost-effective ways for your startup to gain viral attention through social media and reach customers and therefore boost sales and the key here is to not be afraid to experiment. Is offering virtual gifts a concept that fits in with your startup’s culture and ultimately increase sales? Is the use of a video landing page going to result in a growth in your YouTube views, for example, and consequently motivate visitors to navigate to your primary website and “Like” you? Will starting a niche specific vertical blog in addition and related to your industry specific blog result in guiding a new brand of potential customers to your product or service? Or is participating in forums in your industry the best fit for your startup to engage a community of potential customers? There are numerous original social media approaches your startup can adopt in order to be spotted and acquire customers.

A further benefit is the potential for your startup to expand through the recruitment of new team members on social media: “a startup’s online audience isn’t limited to potential customers and investors. If your company is looking for passionate talented individuals to join your cause, they may be among your social media followers” (7 Essential Social Media Tips for Startups).

Customer satisfaction resulting in retention

Your social media strategy should also incorporate customer service and this is particularly important at the onset of your business.

Here are some facts and figures:

The bottom line is that you will save money by utilising your social media profiles as effective communication tools to interact with your clients in order to address and act on comments and suggestions resulting in increased customer satisfaction, improved products or services and budding reputation as a quality and reliable business. You may even decide to employ your customer care representative as your social media manager, a further cost reducing strategy.

Evaluate your social media strategy regularly

Your startup’s social media strategy is a continuous work in progress and it is therefore crucial to habitually refine your social media goals as well as review and appraise your current social media status in order to improve on or identify the need to create new social media profiles. This step not only ensures your startup remains ahead of the game but effectively using the right analytics to evaluate progress and make necessary modifications will guarantee the high return on investment your startup demands from your social media strategy.

 

 

Mind the…money-GAP!

By Marilly Douni

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Do you believe that entrepreneurship has to do with gender?
Do you see more women or men while being at your workplace?
Do employers discriminate against women in terms of wages?
Do women get a promotion as easy as men?

You would think that these would be easy questions to answer, but let me tell you, they are not.  So, I decided to seek help and try to approach those concerns using theoretical frameworks.  There are two theoretical frameworks concerning technology and society that, rest at the two extremes of the theoretical spectrum.  Let’s see how each one would approach the issue of gender and startups.

There are people who believe that machines have the power to change us. According to Technological determinism, the use of the Internet may create and enlarge the gender-gap in businesses as people who access technology more easily (and frequently) – that is men – will become more educated, more well-informed so the gender-gap will be broader. As technologies have their own logics, they can cause social changes; and the gender-gap is a huge problem societies face throughout the years. This is a more dystopian point of view as there are others who believe that indeed technology can shape a society but in favor of people as it enhances productivity and productivity is a men’s weapon (do not forget what our grandfathers or grand-grandfathers used to believe: Men should be at work and bring money. Women should stay at home, raise their kids and take care of their household).

On the other hand, there are those who believe that people have the power and that they are the only ones that can change the world. According to Social Determinism, despite the existence of technology, society creates norms and “rules” and it functions by following these rules. For instance, the idea that men are more powerful, more tech-freak and rely on peers, leads to the expansion of the idea that men are better in business terms, so they raise money more easily and are paid much higher than women. In a few words, this is what it should be and this is what society “demands”.

The thing with these 2 frameworks is that they are the extremes.  They assume that one thing will always cause the other.  Technology will cause equality in pay between the two sexes or that societal changes or societal expectations will account for differences in entrepreneurial differences we see between males and females.  But, usually the truth ends up being somewhere in the middle.  And although helpful in providing explanations these frameworks fail to take into consideration the mutual influence of technology and society.  Maybe a 3rd framework, social constructivism, would be more helpful in gaining a better understanding regarding any differences observed as far as pay, entrepreneurship, and development is concerned.

…in terms of Funding!

It is surprising to see (though it is not our current post’s focus) that discrimination in favor of men as far as pay is concerned, may be translated also in terms of competitiveness that is combined with psychological factors rather than socio-economical ones. Piegeler and Bonte conducted a study in 2009 in 36 countries and found out that there is a relevance of gender differences in competitiveness that explains the gender gap in nascent entrepreneurship. More specifically, it was more than clear that competitive situations attracted more males than females, thus, in 32 countries the score of female competitiveness and risk was very low. This is a vital reason/factor why women take less risks and their percentage as self-employed entrepreneurs is lower than men. But of course, this may not be discrimination, but just genetics!

It is generally agreed that women receive less funding than men, when they are about to start a new business. According to a research carried by the National Women’s Business Council, (NWBC), men-owned firms had six times more capital than women! Rose Wang, a NWBC member “Women need money to grow their businesses, and this report gives us more data showing that the capital they are able to secure is insufficient. Our research on this issue enables us to make recommendations to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including government, funders and non-profits. We’ve discovered that on average, men start their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women – $135,000 vs. $75,000. This must change. In order to start closing the entrepreneurship gender gap and truly broaden the pathway for women entrepreneurs, access to financial capital must continue to be a priority” Additionally, the Executive Director of NWBC states that “Accessing capital is a great burden for all, but this research again confirms that the burden is greater for women entrepreneurs – and even among those with significant high-growth potential. Too many women underestimate themselves and their business’s growth potential even though the data confirms that they are more likely, than their male counterparts, to see growth. This is something that must be remedied, and the good news is that it can be remedied” (Bundrick, 2014).

However, even when women are part of a venture-funded startup’s management team, there is only a small percentage (19%) that ends up being co-owner of the startup. Katie Rae, Managing Director of Boston Venture Capital firm says that “In venture what you hear all the time is it’s impossible to get funded. That’s the language we use, and therefore women look at it and say, ‘I’ll just figure out another way.’ So they bootstrap for a much longer period of time and don’t raise capital. It’s not that their ideas are worse — in fact a lot of it is women opting out” (Borchers, 2014).

Kathryn Minshew, co-founder of The Muse company (a woman with high levels of experience in business as she used to work at McKinsey & Company), tried to raise money for her female-focused startup e-job that was growing 30% a month and reaching 250.000 followers and active users every single month by 2012. While trying to raise money, she found herself in a very difficult situation. “When it’s hard, you think it’s hard for everybody. But going through it last year, there were a couple of situations where it was impossible to ignore that it would have been very different if I had been a guy” (Davis, 2013).

One could ask “But why is this happening? Women are more social than men”. This is true (O.K. I am a woman and I have to support that. I also study Communication & Social Media, so I score two out of two!). If you ask some of these guys they will say “Women are not that good at being bosses or raising money”. Does this remind you the one we used to listen while we were at school “Girls are not that good at math and science in comparison to boys”, or, “Women are not interested in starting businesses”? Of course, nothing of this is true. So, what’s wrong?

  1. Women belong to wrong networks

While men go to technology events and are aware of tech investors, women are not that well connected compared to men.  This means, that they do not create the correct networking necessary in order, for instance, to begin a startup or to raise money. Additionally building a network circle may help to increase the record of success; Lakshmi Balachandra, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College states that “Investors love investing in entrepreneurs who have come back after making a lot of money and have a new idea. Not having the initial introduction, not having the same background makes it hard” (Devaney & Stein, 2012).

  1. Toys for boys

There is general idea that investors like to fund companies that make toys for boys as it these are closer to their interests. Balachandra says “The male view of what is venture-backable and high-growth tends to be technology, hardware or software. If they don’t immediately see the market potential, they will pass. VCs always want to be the experts. They never want to admit they don’t know something” (Devaney & Stein, 2012).

…in terms of Pay System!

The same holds true for both males and females pay system in startups. New companies, that host new ideas, new philosophy, or a more unbiased environment, tend to become like the old companies in terms of payment meaning the females are paid much less than men. For instance, in the US, for every woman who receives 77 cents, every man gets one dollar[1].

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[1] According to an analysis of salaries of 2300 employees from small businesses and startups that came to the surface from Justworks, a human resource firm.

Of course, the pay gap is attributable to the variety of tasks assigned to males and females. For instance, technology sector which is mostly comprised of males, offers better wages than others. Also, more established companies like Google and Facebook, host mainly males instead of females. Additionally, the pay system is constructed according to the position/title people hold. The higher the position, the bigger the wage! But it is very interesting to have a look at the below table and identify the number of females that hold such high positions in comparison to males:

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If we carefully examine the above numbers, we will see that, the higher the position, the more male-dominated the internal environment of a firm is. For instance, while female founders constitute the 22% of the business population, men constitute the 78%! That, of course, does not mean that women are less smart than men, but they have limited opportunities, they dial back their careers to raise their kids, they tend to work less hours as they have to be early at home to take care of the everyday activities.

Technology does not recognize gender!

With no doubt, new knowledge makes people more powerful and more achievable. The way women and men use digital technology makes them not only more knowledgeable, but also more connected and much more effective; This is the so-called Digital Fluency model, a term coined by Accenture to portray the extent to which females and males use digital technology to advance throughout their career years. This term was used in a survey of about 4900 men and women, in 31 countries and combined the digital fluency along with peoples’ educational-employment-and advancement levels (Career Achievement).

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According to the above diagram, in countries like USA, Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway & Finland workplace equality is much higher as women score extremely high in the Digital Fluency Model (just take a look at their digital fluency ranking along with their education-employment and advancement). If you look for instance, Saudi Arabia you will see that women’s digital fluency is high but the rest of the criteria is not, so, despite of digital fluency, cultural factors play a great importance.

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According to the above diagram, the higher the rate of digital influence among women, the higher rate of gender equality in the workplace. Since a lower rank means women are doing equally good or even better in relation to men, Netherlands, Nordic countries, USA and UK have higher scores over workplace gender equality.

Education is one of the key roles in gender equality. As education increases, digital fluency increases, so there is a gender-gap reduction. In some countries, women are more educated than men. So, as digital fluency increases, women’s ability to find jobs increases:

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In all of the three generations (Millenials, Gen X and Baby Boomers), males are paid better in comparison to women.

The presence of Government of each country at this point plays a vital role as if businesses could offer more tools for women to become more digital fluent in a shorten period of time, countries could shorten the time to workplace gender equally. Just see the below diagram to see how many years developed and developing countries need to close the gender gap at work:

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(Accenture, 2016)

Six brief testimonials from abroad that show that women can succeed in fundraising but face a lot of barriers!

Nicole Sanchez – Vixxenn

Nicole Sanchez, Founder of Vixxenn managed to raise capital her startup but, even then, she admits that it was really difficult to explain to her male investors the reasons of why Vixxenn would be a good and profitable startup for women.

However, against all odds, she managed to raise money and that gave her more clarity concerning her business objectives and targets. “I met my lead investor, Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures a year before I started raising. We kept in touch and he had a chance to see my business evolve. My biggest advice is to invest in relationships, seek people for advice and not funding, and you’ll build the relationships that will make you well positioned for a raise” (Giang, 2015).

Jessica Richman – Ubiome

Jessica Richman, is the co-founder of Ubiome. Jessica’s experience was really “weird” as her first fund-raising effort was under her fund-raiser’s flirt. “”We had a lot of crazy experiences, including when this one angel[1] invited me up to his place for a late night meeting and I showed up with my cofounder, who is over six-feet, five-inches and built like a tree. It was kind of awkward for him, I think. He kept on trying to be flirty and then sending my cofounder these weird glances” (Giang, 2015). Another issue Jessica faced is the usual question “Are you a co-founder? You?”. And of course this is something that really upsets Jessica who believes that people assume that if you are a woman you lack the skills or you are not smart or aggressive or even competent enough to have your own business. Finally, Jessica suggests “Talk about aggressive things you’ve done. You don’t have to say it in an aggressive way, but let them know that you are a former wrestler, that you traveled around the world by yourself, that you started a company in high school, or whatever you have done that they will think is badass. You don’t have to be defensive or have a chip on your shoulder, but I think you need to disarm those assumptions up front” (Giang, 2015).

[1] Angel stands for Fund-raisers!

Mada SegheteBranch Metrics

Mada is a co-founder of developer tool Branch Metrics and she is the only women in her team! Though Mada agrees with the observation that women fall behind in fundraising compared to men, she argues that it is an issue of self-confidence. she advises female entrepreneurs to take the  focus away from the fact that they are women and rely on their idea and believe in it in order to convince others. “I have watched guys and girls pitch in my classes at business school, at launch competitions, and startup weekends and most times the guys are more confident when they pitch. I think if we solved the confidence issue and start believing that we are no different, our chances of raising money will become just the same. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy” (Giang, 2015).

Mona BijoorJoor

Mona is the founder and CEO of Joor. According to Mona, venture funding has to do with trends.  “While you’re raising money, figure out what kind of partner you want. “Do you want partners who are going to help with strategic and operational issues or partners who will let you run the business and stay out of your way? There is merit to both, but knowing what you want before you start to raise capital will help you to not be disappointed with the outcome” (Giang, 2015).

Fern MandelbaumVista Venture Partners

According to Fern, a woman is as able as a man to raise money because everything has to do with leadership, and women can be leaders. “To raise money, you need to be a great leader, a person who inspires others,” says Mandelbaum. “A founder needs to attract the best people, since it’s your team that is critical to build an awesome company. Confidence and passion are key” (Giang, 2015). Fern advices women to not be discouraged. As she says, it may take a little longer, but eventually it will be a fact!

Umaimah MendhroVida

Umaimah admits that there is a gender gap in new businesses but this has to do with the fact that women do not dare to ask for something! “There’s this idea that we don’t ask to get a higher salary. We don’t tend to negotiate. Statistically speaking, we tend to kind of feel that, if we’re doing a great job, it will be recognized” (Giang, 2015).

As a summary of all of the above that you read today, whether you are a woman or a man you will agree that there is a gender-gap in new (and old) businesses. However, this gap is not created because we, women, are less capable or we are unable to compete, but I believe that our nature is structured in a totally different way than that of men as they are more competent, more dynamic in their business environment and they rely a lot on their peers to make the next move.

We, women, on the other side, are more sentimental, and we love waiting for the right moment! Additionally, indeed, technology, helps a lot both males and females to enter an industry, raise money, get well-paid, and start a business. Still, the issue of funding in females persists and will continue to persist not because of women’s lack of abilities but because there are not a lot of women in entrepreneurship. This is the so-called pipeline problem. What women have to do is to believe in themselves, be very well-educated, dare to leave their houses and make the next move in order to confront challenges. After all don’t forget that a woman, Sandra Lerner, was among the co-owners of the first and biggest startup ever, Cisco in 1990!  As a social constructivist would say, it is just a right mix of availability of technology and societal affordances that help explain these differences.

However, do not forget that…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd1-HM234DE

Hope you enjoyed!

References

Accenture. (2016). Getting to equal: How digital is helping close the gender gap at work. [Powerpoint  slides]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/accenture/how-digital-is-helping-close-the-gender-gap-at-work

Bonte W. & Piegeler M. (2012). Gender gap in latent and nascent entrepreneurship: driven by competitiveness. Small Business Economy, 41, 961-987. Doi: 10.1007/s11187-012-9459-3

Borchers C. (2014). Study finds women still lag in startup funding. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/09/30/male-entrepreneurs-get-six-times-funding-women-led-startups-study-finds/7Y9Gy8t5ZDFdiRSE8uUIOI/story.html

Bundrick H. (2014). The Startup gender gap: Men get 6 times more funding than women. Retrieved from https://www.mainstreet.com/article/startup-gender-gap-men-get-6-times-more-funding-women

Davis N. (2013). Money matters: why women founders struggle in Silicon Valley. Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/6/4067276/money-matters-why-women-founders-struggle-in-silicon-valley

Devaney T. & Stein T. (2012). Menture capital? Why women-led startups get less funding. Retrieved from http://readwrite.com/2012/06/26/menture-capital-why-women-led-startups-get-less-funding/

Diamantaki K. (2016). Digital media and CMC. [Powerpoint slides].

Giang V. (2015). Six women entrepreneurs share how they raised VC funds. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/3040738/strong-female-lead/6-women-entrepreneurs-share-how-they-raised-vc-funds

Pack E. (2015). Even hip startups pay women less than men. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gender-pay-gap-startups_us_56708ce8e4b0dfd4bcbfcd41