Entrepreneurial

Sittercity founder to launch “social recommendation engine”

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Genevieve Thiers is not a household name in Silicon Valley, but many Chicagoans know her as the founder of Chicago-based Sittercity, a 10-year-old online subscription-service that marries families to caregivers around the country for help with their children, pets, and aging parents.

Thiers is also among a small, but growing number of second-time entrepreneurs beginning to emerge from Chicago’s young, but maturing tech scene. Next month, Thiers officially launches her newest startup, Contact Karma, with co-founder Maureen Wozniak (no relation to Apple co-founder Steve).

Her timing looks ideal. Sittercity appears to be on solid footing. It lists more than 2 million caregivers; its corporate customers include the Department of Defense, which uses the service to assist military families; and in April, it raised $22.6 million led by New World Ventures, bringing its total funding to date to $30 million. According to Thiers, Sittercity, along with the well-financed restaurant discovery and ordering service GrubHub, may not be far behind their local peer Groupon in filing for a public offering.

“There are a number of (Chicago-based) companies that could very well IPO if they wanted in future years,” she said.

The entrepreneur’s equivalent of “10,000 hours”

– Mark Suster is a former serial entrepreneur and a partner at Los Angeles-based GRP Partners. This article originally appeared on his blog “Both Sides of the Table”. The views expressed are his own. –

50 coffee meetings. It should stick in your head as a metaphor for networking. For getting outside of your comfort zone. For starting relationships today that won’t pay off for a year. It’s the entrepreneur’s equivalent of “10,000 hours.”

Anybody who has spent any time with me in person will be tired of this advice because I give it so frequently. It’s a piece of actionable advice that if you put into practice starting next week, will start paying dividends in the near future. There’s a direct correlation to your future success.

Blind entrepreneurs boost eBay sales

EBay is recruiting an unlikely group of new entrepreneurs into its selling ranks – the visually impaired.

Blind citizens have staggeringly high rates of unemployment, with some 70 percent of working-age, legally blind adults out of work, according to the National Federation of the Blind.

So the online marketplace, in partnership with NFB, began recruiting test sellers in the blind community late last year. In February, it began a pilot program with 15 blind entrepreneurs. In total, they have sold more than 2,100 items, including everything from packing tape to clothing and makeup.

7 business mistakes you ought to avoid

– Neil Patel is a serial entrepreneur who blogs about business at Quick Sprout and is the co-founder of KISSmetrics. This article originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own. –

After 10 years of being an entrepreneur, you probably think that I have everything figured out, right? Sadly, I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, to a large extent I know what I’m doing, but just like my first day as an entrepreneur I’m still making mistakes.

The mistakes aren’t the same rookie ones I’ve made before, but instead they are bigger mistakes. Here are some of the mistakes I’ve made over the last few years that you should avoid:

Be careful with free Wi-Fi at your business

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

For a small business, free Wi-Fi can be a great way to lure in customers, encouraging them to spend time at your establishment.

However, offering internet access comes with a bit of a risk, opening your business up to security breaches and providing others with a place to engage in illegal activity, such as downloading copyrighted material and viewing child pornography.

Flickr founder looks to strike lightning again

– Connie Loizos is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Stewart Butterfield has it made. He’s famous for co-founding the popular photo-sharing service Flickr in 2004. He lives comfortably in Vancouver, having sold Flickr to Yahoo for a reported $35 million in 2005. And investors including Accel Partners and Andreessen Horowitz have thrown $17.2 million behind his two-year-old game company, Tiny Speck, even though the Flash-based multiplayer game it’s been developing, Glitch, hasn’t launched publicly yet.

So why does Butterfield confess to living in “perpetual fear” these days? The truth is Butterfield is under enormous pressure. Expectations for Glitch, which Butterfield describes as a “shared, perpetual game with its own ecology,” are exceedingly high, both because of Butterfield’s personal brand and its ephemeral launch date. (Even after two years of alpha and beta testing by roughly 20,000 gamers, Butterfield declines to disclose when he plans to release the game. “We haven’t finalized (the release date) yet, though the end of September is likely,” he says.)

5 things entrepreneurs need to know about valuation

– Tim Berry is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software. This post originally appeared on his blog, “Planning, Startups, Stories”. The views expressed are his own. –

Valuation is one of those four-syllable business buzzwords you’re going to have to deal with, eventually, if you either want to start a business or own a business. If it doesn’t come up when you start, it will come up later. Here is what I think you need to know, in five short points.

1. The word has vastly different meanings: don’t you hate it when the same words mean different things? Valuation means at least three different things:

A look into Carbonite’s IPO

As an entrepreneur, David Friend has been around the block a few times. The 63-year-old has built and sold four companies and raised a ton of venture capital along the way. That still didn’t prepare him for the wild ride he experienced in taking his company public.

After the dust cleared, Friend was the CEO of his first publicly traded company, but one with a significantly reduced share value and market cap, as Carbonite (CARB) became the lone U.S. tech firm to IPO last week.

“Everybody was betting against us,” said Friend, whose Boston-based online backup company reduced its debut share price from $17 to $10 in order to get out, in one the worst trading periods in nearly three years. At the close of trading on Wednesday, Carbonite’s share price had jumped to more than $15. “We kind of proved everybody wrong, but it was definitely a high-wire act.”

Credit crunch forces small businesses to get creative

United National Consumer Suppliers, a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida broker of clothing, toys and other merchandise for discount stores such as Marshalls, has been seeing more suppliers ask to be paid up front amid worries over the uncertain economy.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, said CFO Todd Hartstone, who in exchange for complying can often garner deeper pre-payment discounts.

“We’re going to monopolize on that opportunity,” said Hartstone, whose business has been putting up good sales numbers as consumers seek more bargains from discount stores. “Fortunately having a little cash strength puts you in a position where you can drive the purchase.”

Jane Pauley tackles reinvention

SecondAct contributor Kerry Hannon is a Contributing Editor for U.S. News & World Report and the author of “Whats Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job”. This article originally appeared here. –

Jane Pauley, the former star of The Today Show and Dateline is back. Last year, the 60-year-old newscaster returned home to NBC’s Today, launching a monthly segment called Your Life Calling with Jane Pauley.

The series profiles people over 50 who reinvent themselves, their lives and their careers. “We’re going to live longer than our parents’ generation, and there comes a point when you ask yourself, ‘What am I going do?’” Pauley says. “You can only play so much golf.”

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