Located at Hunter’s Point Plaza, the latest Queens Tech Meetup not only offered a great view of both Long Island City and Manhattan, but also hosted three promising startups and venture capitalist Mark Peter Davis, who started off the night by presenting fundraising rules for startups.
Davis’s blogging on startups has led to the serial entrepreneur and investor being listed as one of the 100 Most Influential Digital New Yorkers by Business Insider in 2010. He’s also the latest advisor to the Coalition for Queens. Just like his webinar, which is made up of 50 slides presented in 50 minutes, Davis provided succinct points for a new business to follow. What it all boils down to is the pitch presented to potential investors. For that crucial stage, Davis says you only need three documents:
1) A one-page executive summary. The longer it is, the more likely someone’s eyes will start to glaze over.
2) A Powerpoint of 10-20 slides with minimal words on the slides. Key images with your explanation are more effective. As an example, the webinar’s first slide of is a picture of two gunmen holding up a store, with Davis’s voice-over saying, “Are you going to feel like the guy who’s holding up the cashier or are you going to be the cashier?”
3) The operating model kept for six months listing just revenue, expenses and cash. Essentially, “all of the metrics that are going to show how you are going to build a business.” Such as, how much will you pay an employee or how much revenue will you get per client? That way, VCs can see how much cash you will need to survive for the next couple of months.
If you need incentive to check out Davis’s webinar, Darren Wan, co-founder of Easy Pairings, the first startup of the evening to present, noted its usefulness. And if you’re in the restaurant business in NYC, Easy Pairings might be something you want to check out.
According to Wan, the restaurant industry has a 55% employee turnover rate, meaning if a small business employs 30 people, 15 will leave and the owner is stuck spending time and resources replacing them. The site thus makes the hiring process easier for both employers and job seekers by creating an online database of workers and finding the best fit for employers.
Two keys concerns from audience members that Wan addressed were startup costs and whether they were able to convince investors to put money in without building a product. In this instance, Wan and co-founder Peter Lada put their product up within a month after its ideation stage. They also had funding help, thanks to their involvement with the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator and only expanded fundraising efforts to friends and family after gaining traction for their site. Wan also suggested Ohours.org, a site that lets individuals set up scheduled meeting times with people who wish to connect over shared interests, and HeadHunterLabs.com, an incubator for companies focused on job recruitment technology.
Representing Queens was the app This is Queens, made by Digital Natives Group in partnership with the Queens Chamber of Commerce. Tourists can use the app to find out about the borough’s events, special deals, restaurants, hotel locations and history. The LIC-based marketing agency used Singleplatform.com to source local businesses.
Having financial support from the government, the challenging part lay in creating an app that wasn’t just another replica of TripAdvisor or Yelp, but would instead provide a list of what to do in order (and if you’ve ever tried to navigate Queens you’d see why that’s especially important). Since it only launched in June, the app still has a way to improve in terms of languages, filtering and events. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to submit any new attractions they want to add that makes Queens a unique borough.
Last to present was FitBark, a company that makes activity trackers for dogs which owners can check via their smartphone. According to co-founder Michael Chiang, 46% of households have at least one dog and 76% of dog owners feel guilty about leaving their pets home alone all day. After receiving negative feedback about its subscription service, FitBark halted its original Kickstarter campaign, but is set to re-launch within the next few weeks. which just goes to show, if there’s a market for it out there, it’ll persevere.
Visit the Queens Tech Meetup to stay in the loop about future events.