Entrepreneurial

Q&A with Randy Goldberg, co-founder of Bombas Socks

REUTERS/Courtesy of Bombas Socks

This week, after successfully raising $140,000 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, Bombas Socks shipped the first of their product to customers. Bombas, the Warby Parker or TOMS Shoes of socks, is based on a simple idea: one pair purchased equals one pair donated. In this case, Bombas donates to homeless shelters that are in massive need of socks.

We caught up with Randy Goldberg over email who, along with David Heath, founded Bombas Socks. We asked him about running a successful crowdfunding campaign, bringing a product to market and conscious consumerism.

First off, tell us about how the Bombas idea – one pair purchased for one pair donated – came about? It seems so straightforward, I’m a little shocked no one else had tried it.

The idea for the company came from a quote we saw in 2010. The Salvation Army was doing a massive sock drive on Facebook with Hanes, and they were quoted saying “socks are oftentimes the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.” That stuck with us. Socks went from an afterthought to something we thought about all the time. We had never thought about the fact that no one donates socks–they just wear through them and throw them out. It’s also rare that someone in need has a chance to change their socks. So we quickly realized the one-for-one model popularized by Tom’s Shoes really made sense for socks.

Do you have any tips or lessons you learned about running a crowdfunding campaign? Especially with Indiegogo? Did your plan (incentives, etc.) going into it change over time as donations came in?

Q & A with Joel Jackson, founder of Mobius Motors

In February, Global Post profiled an interesting startup in Africa called Mobius Motors that is working to manufacture affordable ($6,000) cars designed specifically for Africans.

By simplifying the designs through the elimination of non-essential parts like power steering and air conditioning, the team at Mobius is able to drastically reduce the cost of the vehicle, which they hope will help small business owners in need of affordable transportation. Reuters reached Mobius founder and CEO Joel Jackson over email to ask him about his plans for the car company and some of the challenges he foresees.

Reuters: First can you tell me briefly how Mobius came about? I understand you were working in Africa when you had the idea?

Q&A with cyber crime expert Tim Francis

Timothy C. Francis is Second Vice President for Travelers Bond & Financial Products in Hartford, CT. Francis leads Travelers’ Business Insurance Management and Professional Liability initiatives and serves as Enterprise lead for Cyber Insurance. Reuters spoke with him about what small businesses need to know about cyber crime. 

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The bazaar, the oldest newest idea for small businesses

In an FT column today Dave Eggers pines for the days when schools taught metal and woodworking. “It doesn’t all have to be keyboards and screens, does it?” he asks.

It certainly doesn’t.

Many small business in the U.S. are  becoming part of a new wave of small-scale and super premium manufacturing. There’s any number of examples to look at, like the plumbing parts manufacturing in Brooklyn, the artisanal chocolate makers and the distillers in Boston.

There’s also no shortage of stories focusing on Brooklyn’s manufacturing boom. Turns out we are making things with our hands even if schools don’t teach us how anymore.

from MediaFile:

Boxee CEO on the future of TV: Aereo, Cloud DVRs, Netflix and Apple TV, oh my.

Boxee CEO Avner Ronen recently sat down with me for a wide-ranging video interview on the state of television, and its future. His company just released a $99 device that uses the Amazon cloud to give its users an infinitely-sized DVR. If it takes off, the Boxee TV could fundamentally change the way cable customers consume content -- and the way they pay for it. Users will also be able to watch their recordings from devices like the iPad. Can Boxee play nice with an industry it's trying to disrupt? Ronen says yes. But between the Aereo lawsuit and the Apple TV rumor-mill, it's a crowded, competitive landscape. So, can the company keep competing with the next generation of startups that have the television industry in their targets? Please watch, and find out:

from The Great Debate:

How smart businesses are winning in emerging markets

As companies in mature markets compensate for modest growth at home by trying to boost their presence in emerging economies, they are encountering intense competition from increasingly confident local players. Aggressive and nimble enterprises in China, India and elsewhere may pose some threat, but the real challenge in these high-growth markets is more complex. And it is affecting companies from all markets, not just those in North America, Europe and other developed economies.

The important transformation in the global landscape is not so much the shift to emerging economies but the extraordinary growth in business activity among emerging market countries. When American companies target Brazil or India, for example, they should know that China has displaced the United States as the largest trading partner of both. We at Accenture predict that trade between emerging economies is about to overtake that between developed economies.

Thus, companies need to tackle the diversity of growth opportunities and the pace of change if they are to succeed. Clearly, emerging market companies have some advantages at home. They have established relationships and the ability to leverage scale advantages with low costs and, in some cases, government support. They have faced similar challenges in their home countries, such as dealing with infrastructure deficits and scarce or unreliable data. They are increasingly doing business with one another, growing across one another’s borders and gaining insights and experience on how to best serve one another’s markets. This gives them an inherent advantage over competitors from mature economies unfamiliar with operating in such conditions.

Love at first byte: Tech co-founders meet through dating sites

 

 

 

 

 

Gina Lujan did not meet her Hacker Lab co-founders the usual way. They were not
childhood friends. They did not launch their business from their Harvard dorm
room, or at incubators like Y Combinator or TechStars.

Lujan first met Charles Blas and Eric Ullrich after they responded to her personal ad
on Craigslist that read: “seeking all hackers and enthusiasts – where are you?”

“I got a few weird responses,” admitted Lujan, but she also hooked up with Blas, a
hacker who works for a local security company. “It was like founder at first site. The
minute we met each other we said let’s do this.”

from Felix Salmon:

Blogonomics, Maria Popova edition

Back in May, Kickstarter looked as though it was moving upmarket. Following Bob Lefsetz's lead, I said that "while Kickstarter was originally embraced by the undiscovered and impecunious, its greatest potential, in the music industry, is actually with established acts who already have a large following".

I said that in the first days of the now-famous Amanda Palmer Kickstarter campaign -- something which not only massively exceeded its target, but which also got Palmer a key slot on the TED 2013 roster. But there have been few established music-industry acts following in Palmer's footsteps. Indeed, when Björk recently tried something similar, she quickly discovered that she was never going to get anywhere near her £375,000 goal, and pulled the plug. There were various reasons why the Björk project failed, but one of them was undoubtedly the fact that Björk is a rich person and therefore doesn't "need" £375,000.

It's entirely natural to want to funnel money where the need is greatest. Andrew Sullivan's readers are supporting him, for instance, because they know that the the only source of income keeping his blog going. And Maria Popova's readers are also reportedly quite generous. Anne-Marie Slaughter, for instance, is on the record as giving $25 per month -- that's $300 per year -- to Popova, saying that doing so is “a lot like giving to your public radio station".

Reuters on the Road: Forget Silicon Valley, Britain is booming

StartUp Britain’s Emma Jones takes the Reuters taxi challenge to tell us why almost half a million entrepreneurs think now is a great time to be starting a business in the UK.


from The Edgy Optimist:

Amidst a banking dry spell, small businesses kickstart themselves

As the U.S. jobs market continues its slow, not-very-impressive-but-nonetheless-forward march, one area of the economy still lags. Banks have only very recently begun to lend. Both individuals and small businesses have faced tight credit standards enforced by risk-averse banks; mortgages have been hard to obtain, and small business credit has been tighter yet. From 2008 to 2011, loans to small businesses fell 20 percent. The net effect has been to mute an already muted recovery.

These trends haven’t been confined to the United States. Lending has been even tighter in Europe, particularly in stressed markets such as Spain. While there are some signs of a thaw, the days of easy credit spurring new and small entrepreneurs to create new and innovative companies seem increasingly of the past.

Or so the data points from the banking and credit industry tell us. What they don’t tell us is that as traditional sources of credit and funding have withered, alternate sources have blossomed. We have been so focused on the negative shifts triggered by the financial crisis of 2008-09 that we may have neglected to notice some new and powerfully positive trends.

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