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Diana Sonis and I had the pleasure of presenting Danielle LaPorte (of White Hot Truth) as our first speaker in 85 Broads Entrepreneurship Forum Spring Calendar yesterday at noon. The jam session was very successful; we had a great turnout online and many excellent questions were asked during the QandA session.

Danielle is truly one charismatic and inspirational speaker. What she has to say speaks volumes to the bare truths out there; her presentation was succinct but powerful, memorable and relatively easy to apply.

The Problem

Before she started with her presentation, she mentioned that the reason why most people are unhappy with their jobs is because:

We’re not being intentional with what we’re good at. We don’t focus on our innate and true strengths. These are things you do that strengthens you. Stop doing things we’re mediocre at. Our weaknesses are things that makes us feel drained.

I find that extremely true. I’ve always had this mantra that people can only contribute back to the community (in a creative and value-added way) if they do what they’re good at or what they’re passionate about for a living. Unfortunately, most of us are trapped in the path that we unintentionally set for ourselves ever since we graduated from college with that first job that we took. After 3 jobs in different companies (small, mid-sized and now large), I cannot say that I have a successful career so far and neither am I proud of what I do for a living right now (as a management consultant with a Big 4 Accounting Firm). And that’s because I feel like I am ‘faking’ it. I’m not doing what I’m naturally good at. I’m not even doing what I’m remotely interested in. And this is how I know that I need to pursue that “dream” job of mine and fulfill my entrepreneurial spirit and hunger.

Definition of an Entrepreneur

Sure, one could say that an entrepreneur is “someone who doesn’t want to be told what to do.” But really, it’s just anybody who just wants to start.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Story of Alexa Von Tobel of LearnVest

Working on the side while at Morgan Stanley. Prototype with a few thousand dollars. Enrolled in HBS. Worked on for a year. Astia backed company. Dropped out of HBS but with support of 4 professors. Moved to NYC. Didn’t want to take money from friends and family. 85% women make decisions in household but no one is marketing to them. No one wants to read a book on personal finance. Janet Hanson and Circle Financial Group were Angel Investors. Got oversubscribed. $1.5 M committed. Prototype more refined. Selected by TechCrunch. Alexa only women presenting at TechCrunch conference. Nov 2009 opened website to women. Online for free to educate women to make personal finance (content, tools and community). Accel Venture Investors (who invested in facebook) just backed LearnVest.

On Fundraising: One of the hardest things to do – dark and scary moments. Learned from people who’ve done this before. Go after Goldman Sachs partners who were passionate about finance. Daily Candy partnership on personal finance 5 days a week (former CEO). Former CEO of Huffington Post worked with LearnVest. TD Ameritrade partnership to build out personal finance tools. Key – Find one source person or company who is an expert in a field and beg them to get behind you.

Spend nothing on marketing. The internet is free – use it.

On networking and knocking on the right doors: Your passion shines through – show it. Use your networks – alumni, 85 Broads, workplace, etc. Preservere. Never take no for an answer. 10 calls end up in 1 meeting. 10 meetings end up in a connection. Keep all contacts. It’s not an easy process. Everything’s a chaos. You will see progress at the end of the day. Everything’s a commitment. Make time for people who want to talk to you – people will remember that.

Revenue stream of LearnVest: Cliffnotes for personal finance. #1 Advertising (work with only brands we believe in). #2: Lead generation – Once someone learns about an IRA, you need to open an account somewhere – get users a better deal via partners.  Working on premium services offering, financial advisor, and personalized phone services to help women around the country make financial decisions, etc. 

Who to Trust? Forget about NDAs. Share the idea with people – you will get ideas from people and it will help you formulate your business around customer needs.

Legal fees: Lawyers are so expensive but make sure you get a good one. Convince them to work pro bono until the company gains traction or meets certain milestones.

On partnership: Did it alone as well. Started out with help from first cousin working at a Hedge Fund although not technically a co-founder.

Story of Claire Chambers of Journell

Biggest challenge in retail – it already exists. But it could be better. Angel investment the only way to go because no capital or revenues. Find people who believes in concept and invest in the long run. Started with colleagues network and friends in business world in NYC. When first started writing bplan, reached out to hundreds of people who may be interested in retail, finance, VC, etc. Shared why she was crazy about the idea and asked for their insight. Was introduced to other networks and worked her way through building relationships. Look forward to people with similar risk profiles and passion as investors.

Social media: Find people who have similar problems and want to share with others their problems and solutions.

On attorneys: Trademark work with logo and branding. Biggest cost is financing – to draft up legal agreements and negotiations. Third round financing now (paperwork almost the same so can leverage previous document). Impossible to operate without a good lawyer.

On partnership: Wished she had one. Difficult unless you meet the right person at the right time. Network to reach out to people with similar passions, goals, etc. At this stage, making senior hires out of necessity rather than partners.

Story of Wendy Tsai of Cellona Therapeutics

Focuses on cancer and neurology markets. Company is a research-stage company developing best-in-class targeted cancer drugs. Wendy is responsible for company and capital formation and strategic partnerships; and leverages a versatile background in corporate planning, sales, marketing and health policy.

Topics for today:

(i) How to form a great management team – really important for a start up. (ii) How to raise financing.

On financing: Approach advisors. How to market company prior to raising financing. Use of social networking tools. 99 Designs to design corporate logo – if you reach out to IR firms, it costs 1/10 now. It’s now much cheaper to hire someone to build branding and design of website.

On partnership: Find the right balance in terms of skills. Discuss equity and how you split the pie. Makes best sent to make value to divy up titles and roles early on. Reach out to Angel Investors such as AngelSoft and GoldenSeeds – something that was not available 10 years ago.

Check out 85 Broads E.Forum New Spring Calendar @ http://bit.ly/EForumSpringCalendar! A lot of amazing speakers coming up – join us!

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E.Forum Spring Calendar

May 2010

May 6 – “Unlock the Potential of Your Ideas” Jam Session with the outspoken creator of the WhiteHotTruth Entrepreneur Danielle LaPorte.  From start-ups to established CEO’s who want to up their game, it’s a jam session-meets-lecture-meets tribal pow wow. Check out Danielle’s latest video & spark your genius: http://vimeo.com/10543371

Where: Global Webex
When: 12 – 1pm EST
Cost: FREE
Register: http://bit.ly/LaPorte

May 11 – “Bootstrapping to Success” Jam Session with Rick Smith, author, innovator, serial entrepreneur and a Guy Who Rocks! As Rick launches another venture, he’ll discuss how to launch a business with limited resources.

Where: Global Webex
When: 12 – 1pm EST
Cost: FREE
Register: http://bit.ly/ricksmith

May 25 – “Social Ventures. Celebrate Businesses That Give Back” Join New York Leadership members Diana Sonis and Susan McPherson as 85 Broads E.Forum brings together socially focused entrepreneurs in the network with members of Collective-E. We will be featuring two outstanding 85 Broads members on an interactive panel: Michele Kotler of Community-Word Project and NY Chapter Leader Susan McPherson, DIRECTOR of Bpeace, as well as publicly recognizing a list of members whose businesses give back to the community.

Where: Met Life 1095 Avenue of the Americas 23rd floor New York, NY 10036
When: 6 – 8pm
Cost: FREE for Members with code: 85Broads; $45 for guests
Register: http://bit.ly/bGf00Z

June 2010

June 22 – Crush It! Join NY Chapter Leader Diana Sonis and 85 Broads E.Forum for a high octane evening of entrepreneurial drive, business ideas, wine, social media, passion and hustle with Gary Vaynerchuk, author, entrepreneur, & wine expert.

Where: New York City Venue TBD
When: 6:30 – 8:30pm
Cost: $45 for Members; $75 for Non-Members; $80 for Member + Guest
Register: https://www.regonline.com/crush_it

85 Broads E. Forum Update

As we round out the first half of the year, we’d like to THANK you all for the great support 85 Broads E.Forum has received. We have a number of great events on the drawing board for the Fall of 2010. Stay tuned & stay up-to-date with 85 Broads E.Forum by visiting our dedicated Spotlight Page and LinkedIn 85 Broads SubGroup

About 85 Broads

http://www.85broads.com

85 Broads is an exclusive global women’s network whose mission is to generate exceptional professional and social value for its members. Through our regional events and online, password-protected community, our members engage in a rapid, high-powered exchange of ideas and information which is what makes 85 Broads so unique.

The women in 85 Broads are investment bankers, lawyers, educators, venture capitalists, hedge fund managers, philanthropists, athletes, scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, and entrepreneurs. 85 Broads was originally founded in 1997 as an exclusive network for women who worked for Goldman Sachs at 85 Broad Street, the investment bank’s NYC headquarters. In 2000, the network was expanded to include a more diverse group of women from a variety of fields and backgrounds, including the non-profit sector. Today, over 20,000 women who are alumnae and students of the world’s leading colleges, universities, graduate business schools, law schools, medical schools, and other graduate programs belong to 85 Broads. Learn more about our exclusive network and apply for membership.

More posts about our speakers coming up!! Stay tuned…