Entrepreneurial

“Loan doctor” to small business: Avoid big banks

Large banks are making noise about lending more to small companies this year, but financing expert Ami Kassar is still advising his clients to steer clear.

The founder of Philadelphia-based MultiFunding LLC, which brokers loans for small businesses, said his customers stand a better shot at success with regional and community banks.

“As a general rule we don’t get near big banks,” said Kassar, whose firm has arranged 28 deals since launching 15 months ago and has more than 60 others in the pipeline. “The big banks are, in my opinion, full of big talk in terms of their commitment to small business.”

The vast majority of companies MultiFunding works with seek loans of $1 million or less, making them less attractive for larger banks to commit resources to, Kassar said. And when it comes to applying for government-back SBA loans – not typically among Kassar’s top options – he prefers to work with virtual lenders who facilitate the process online.

Kassar, who arranges deals on behalf of customers nationwide, only takes on customers he believes stand a good shot at getting funding. Some 30 percent of his candidates have collateral, making them more attractive to lenders.

Tax incentives for moving into blighted areas

Police officers stand near the scene of an underground explosion in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, California June 5, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

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

One of the bigger stories out of San Francisco of late is Twitter’s planned move into the Tenderloin — a blighted area riddled with shuttered restaurants, graffiti, and crumbling facades.

An entrepreneur takes on LinkedIn – and Facebook

The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

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

Entrepreneur Rick Marini has a lot to be thankful for, including smart, connected friends who’ve supported him in the launch of two of his businesses. The most recent of these is BranchOut, which leverages Facebook to help people find business connections and that has an enviable list of backers and advisers.

Best practices for raising a VC round

An employee counts money at a foreign currency exchange in Tokyo. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Chris Dixon is co-founder of Hunch and founder of Founder Collective, and an investor in many early-stage companies like Skype and Foursquare. Previously he co-founded Siteadvisor, which was acquired by McAfee. This blog originally appeared on cdixon.org. The views expressed are his own. –

Having raised a number of VC rounds personally and observed many more as an investor or friend, I’ve come to think there are a set of dominant best practices that entrepreneurs should follow.

Small businesses offer bin Laden specials

REUTERS/HO/RoadKillTshirts.com

As Americans took to the streets to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden, C. J. Grouse was rushing to print thousands of new t-shirts to take advantage of the occasion.

“This is probably the biggest bounce we’ve seen from an individual news story in the last five years of doing this,” said Grouse, 43, who launched RoadKill T-Shirts with his brother in 2005. “We had our designs up yesterday by noon and we sold over two thousand of the different designs in 24 hours.”

Grouse said his most popular seller has been a shirt with an Uncle Sam icon and the message: “We Got You Osama bin Laden May 1, 2011″. Other shirts include a bin Laden likeness behind red crosshairs and the slogan “Burn In Hell” and one inspired by Facebook, with the words: “Osama bin Laden Is Dead. 311,275,382 People Like This”.

PeopleDeals offers its spin on group buying

It appears there’s no end to the number of startups the group-buying space can contain. The latest entrant offering a better mousetrap is PeopleDeals, which allows small and medium-sized businesses to create deals that increase in value the more they’re shared across social networks.

Whereas Groupon-type deals are basically a two-for-one model that doesn’t change, PeopleDeals makes the price cheaper after a certain number of participants share the virtual coupon across social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. To illustrate, a pizza joint could offer an online deal for 50 cents off a slice, then as soon as it’s shared with another person it increases to 60 cents and then to 70 cents after it’s shared five more times, up to a maximum of $1 when 20 or more people share it.

“The key is the business owner decides. At any given time they can make it go from 50 cents to $5, or from 50 cents to 70 cents,” said Darin Myman, the CEO of Red Bank, New Jersey-based social network PeopleString Corporation (PLPE.OB), which launched PeopleDeals last week. “When they (customers) share it with their friends and their friends share it they’re becoming your new social media.”

Small firm produces royal wedding comic

The cover of Bluewater Productions' comic book on the royal wedding is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/HO/Bluewater Productions

Many Americans can’t seem to get enough of the royal wedding. That’s good news for Darren Davis, president of Bluewater Productions, an independent producer of comic books with a celebrity bent.

This week his Vancouver, Washington firm is releasing both a comic book and graphic novel of the royal romance of Britain’s Prince William and bride Kate Middleton.

Startup sees boost after Japan quake

A heat map displaying downloads of MiserWare software in Japan since the earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. Graphic shows downloads as of April 7, 2011. REUTERS/HO/MiserWare

A heat map displaying downloads of MiserWare software in Japan since the earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. Graphic shows downloads as of April 7, 2011. REUTERS/HO/MiserWare

Blacksburg, Virginia is far from the epicenter of the earthquakes that have rocked Japan over the last six weeks, but resident Kirk Cameron has felt the virtual aftershocks.

Days after the magnitude 9.0 shaker hit, Cameron’s startup MiserWare tripled the number of downloads for its proprietary Granola energy-saving software.

Dave McClure: SEO still relevant

A T-Mobile G1 Google is shown photographed in Encinitas, California January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Dave McClure, venture capitalist and founding partner of the Silicon Valley tech incubator 500 Startups, remains a staunch advocate of search engine optimization and its benefits. He shares some of his thoughts about SEO with Reuters.

Q: Do you think it’s harder for startups to gain traction with SEO now that Google and other browsers seem to be more quality focused?
A: People can build a history in three to nine months. It’s not forever. There’s quite a bit of traffic being driven by search and quite a bit of monetization.

from Tales from the Trail:

Former “start-up” Obama wouldn’t mind being as popular as…SpongeBob

obama_sanfranHe's been president of the United States for about two-and-a-half  years, but Barack Obama still remembers being a "start-up" -- and he wouldn't mind being as popular as SpongeBob SquarePants.

The Democratic president, who is in the middle of a road show to sell his ideas for cutting the deficit, spent the evening in San Francisco on Wednesday raising money for his campaign, and he targeted tech-savvy donors who had started successful companies of their own.

"Some of you are involved in start-ups, well I was a start-up just not so long ago," Obama told a dinner fundraiser at the home of Marc Benioff, the chief executive of salesforce.com.

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