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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  September 23, 2012 7:30am-8:00am EDT

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and drive like you -- to see if your good driving could save you up to 30%. so try the way to save that's as unique as you are. now you can test-drive snapshot before you switch. visit today. they've got ideas. they are ambition. they are tomorrow's successful entrepreneurs. find out how northeastern is nurturing them young and old coming up next on a special "education nation" edition of "your business." ♪ small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to
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present "your business" on msnbc. ♪ hi there, everyone. i'm jj ramberg and welcome to "your business," the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice on helping your business grow. it's education nation week at msnbc and we wanted to do our part by looking at the opportunities available to both current and future entrepreneurs. our past stories have taken us around the country to detroit and portland, oregon, but this year we didn't have to go any further than boston. there we found a unique program, a venture accelerator run by college students. the organization has the right idea when it comes to educating entrepreneurs and i'm getting them some funding to grow their companies. ♪
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22 small business owners -- >> our product will be the first organic low calorie ready to drink cocktails on the market. >> each making a pitch. >> looking for 2$250 had you,00. >> the most amazing thing. >> we have's done a lot with a little >> some of these pictures aren't even out of college yet. >> the marketing is essential. >> that pitch-a-thon is part of a business accelerator developing new entrepreneurs at northeastern university in boston. >> even though it's a little nerve-racking to get up in front of all those people it's also real exciting and every little step is bringing me closer to my goal of launching this product. >> idea was born almost three years ago and from the beginning the emphasis was on empowering students. >> the secret behind idea is a core group of students, 20 students on the management team, another 20 who are coaching venturers. >> anyone affiliated with the
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university from students to faculty to alumni can bring an idea in and get support. college senior chris woffle is the current ceo. >> they feel ownership over the program. we have all these people volunteering time and we have to say no to people to join the management team. there is a wait list that even want to aplay for positions. here's what makes it special. it's not simply a business incubator. it's a learning lab. they let anyone with an idea join the program. the hope is to get students to really examine their business plans while discovering what makes some ideas flourish while others may not. >> it's not just saying, no, it's a bad idea. letting someone figure out it's a bad idea for themselves is going to be valuable in the long run. >> the result is typically more honest conversations among the 75 active ventures. >> the real learning experience is the student learning from another student or coach or someone and saying, maybe this isn't the best idea and i should restart and we have a bunch of
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vin turs on their first, second, third, fourth idea with them and realized maybe my first concept wasn't good. >> spencer bransome says the advice he got in the idea program about topics like law and accounting was invaluable. >> i get to go out and interact with new individuals, people who are so much smarter than me, take me under their wing and help me out. >> with so many free resources available bramson was able to scale up his company quickly. >> luckily we were profitable after our first six months which gave us the ability to start investigating in our first product. >> while almost no one gets turned away from the door when coming for membership there is a vetting process when it comes to the next level of support. funding. the pitch-a-thon isn't the only chance for them to get money. seven times a year idea gives away up to $10,000 of donated funds per business. >> we call it the gap fund. it needs to close a gap in their
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business to get them from point a to point b. >> the most appealing part, the money is free. >> they don't have to pay anything back. there is no ip take, no equity take and can you come back more than once and funded up to $25,000 per venture. a small bit to get them to the next stage. >> matthew received gap funding and as clear right from the start. >> we need money. we need money and we need direction. >> the founder of the lifestyle brand annie mols says idea's involvement has been crucial. >> as a student at 19, 20, you have great idea, creative and energetic but there may not be the platform to really hone your craft and sharpen the tools you need. that's where idea played in. >> they helped matt open a pop-up shop. >> 10k they gave us and said you'll open a pop-up shob shop what will you do. the gap funding was many amazing. >> stariel also received money
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for her venture. >> i don't have much in the way of savings to pump into a company and just the money that's gone into putting together the proto top, the design, the website, all those incorporations, legal expenses, all these things would have taken longer. >> eight companies once a part of idea have graduated from the program and are off and running on their own. >> those are the ventures that have either become self-sustaining and some have become service providers for us and others have obtained or are in the final processes of obtaining outside funding. >> and with that in mind, motivation is high and the ideas for i.d.e.a. just keep coming. >> you can see in each one of these student what is they'll be like 10, 15, 20 years down the road, and they're going to be very successful and part of that success will be northeastern gave them a shot at engaging while they were undergraduates.
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>> in addition to northeastern there are many programs at universities and colleges around the nation encouraging the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. let's turn to this week's academic board of directors. jim is the executive director of the rothman institute of entrepreneurial studies at the silverman college of business at fairleigh dickinson university and beth goldstein is the faculty director of boston university's online graduate certificate in entrepreneurship, program and founder of the marketing edge consulting group and also author of the book "lucky by design: navigating your path to success." jim, you have a book out too. >> "lessons from the great recession." >> good luck to both of you on your books. when i was watching the piece i got jealous of both of you. this is what you get to do. you get to work with these young entrepreneurs who are so excited and have all these ias that are willing to work in still
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young and -- i was thinking i want to trade places with you for a minute. >> yeah, i agree. i feel like i'm lucky and fortunate to be in the position to work with these young entrepreneurs and at boston i've been doing this for a number of years and amazing to see the seed of an idea really turn into a business. and recently we've actually -- i love what northeastern is doing. you know, obviously a great program run by the students which is a great experience but recently we've actually added some components to our own competition, so it's much more experien e ex-periential and pitching ideas and i'm getting out there and meeting with potential customers. >> i think it's such a great opportunity for students. you still have the security of being in school. i know this program works with people out of school, as well, but you have the security of being in school, if students are your target, you have this constant focus group and you have the resources of colleges like yours. >> right, no, it's a great
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program, and we've been doing similar things, as well. but we've seen this trend of accelerators over the past few years. three years ago there may have been tech stars and a few others. now there's over 500 and it's a great learning experience for students especially because, again, it speeds up the incue base process to three months or less. not like a traditional business incubator which could be a year to two years. and learn and refine and pivot and hopefully get investment. but even if they don't succeed, they will have learned the entrepreneurial process in only three months, remarkable. >> something you said we can all learn from the piece, they said plenty of ideas come in then they decide they're not that good and i think one of the biggest problems is people don't take the time to think through, is this a good idea. >> right. you know, interesting to say, even if they don't succeed but i think deciding if it's a no go is success, right.
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because you realize either the idea won't work in its current state or, you know, maybe it's a different market that we need to go after. but being able to make that decision is a huge win. >> thanks so much, you guys. last year we told you about an experience for some budding entrepreneurs that was far from ordinary. all of the students are women and they're all convicted felons serving time behind bars. ♪ at the coffee creek correctional facility in wilsonville, oregon, once a week you'll hear a conversation like this -- >> receptionist sitting there whether busy or not, is she an expense or -- >> expense. >> welcome to life or lifelong information for entrepreneurs. it's a 32-session course teaching female inmates alt this minimum security campus how to start and run their own companies. >> effective communication involves active listeninging to understand what others are saying feeling a need.
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>> even though some of these women have been convicted of crimes like attempted murder, assault and manslaughter, nobody cares about what the students did to get into prison. the focus is on what these women will do when they get out. >> i've always liked to run things and i would love to be the owner of a business, you know, rather than the employee. i would love to employ people. >> sholanda is a student of the l.i.f.e. class and she and her classmates are learning everything you need to launch a company from the ground up. >> we cover the p&l, the balance sheet. we cover soft skills like communication, effective listening, effective speaking. we cover marketing. the class is built around being able to write a business plan. >> doug cooper is the assistant director of mercy corps northwest in oregon and has been with them since they started four years ago. >> people incarcerated would come out into an environment
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where having a felony conviction makes it difficult to find living wage jobs so being able to start your own business or be self-employed, seemed like a very viable option. >> after having a conviction of manslaughter i didn't think anybody would want to hire me so the idea of starting my own business and being my own boss and still being able to make a living was very appealing to me. >> so far about 100 inmates have completed the course. and 5% to 10% of them have started businesses, but actually starting a business right out of prison isn't the goal. creating the confidence so someone could start one is. >> hey there. >> hey, tanya. good seeing you. >> yeah. >> i felt so hopeless for so many years, you know, i thought, what's the point of going on? nobody is going to want me. people are going to judge me, criticize me for the rest of my life. >> tanya was one of the first students to ever take the
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classes while serving an 8 1/2-year sentence. while she hoped to one day open up her own business, the entrepreneurial program helped her get a job when she was released and now works at the department store marshall's where she manages five other people. like tanya elizabeth huffman, a current student, says the class has given her a whole new attitude towards life. >> when i came here i was really kind of lost and don't feel like you have a whole lot of hopes and dream. >> that was then. today elizabeth is working on her second business plan after getting her feet wet with her first idea. >> i did my last business plan, my last class, this is my second time through on a beading company which i implemented and made a bunch of jewelry and stuff and have made some money to help support myself and help support my mother too while i'm in here. >> i want to open up like a prison resources and photo print little small, nothing big, just small to help the women in here because they may not have
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family. >> whether she ends up opening that shop or not, time will tell. but for now, shola this. da and the other women are taking what they learned from the l.i.f.e. class and turns their lives around. >> i've been most impressed by the women's desire to change and start a new life and consequently, it feels like we're doing a real service by trying to give them a way for that to happen. >> this is real. this is real. you know, i feel like i can't be stopped. ♪ >> for every budding entrepreneur like the ones we met today networking and i'm getting your information out there is key to growing your business. here now are five ways you can make sure your business card stands out from the rest courtesy of one, include your social media. highlight your facebook page, youtube channel, twitter handle on the card but only list the ones that are actually relevant to your business.
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two, be sure to edit. instead of trying to fit as much information as possible, prune ruthlessly. include only the things you find really help you engage with perspective leads. three, skip your homepage. your main site may not be the best way to spark a conversation. sending prospects to your company blog or an active resource page could be more effective. four, be visual. a simple logo can be boring. try using images or graphics that are attention-grabbing. five, link your online and offline world. consider adding a qr code that sends people directly to a web page. when we come back, how nifty is helping turn out some of the country's youngest entrepreneurs. plus, we'll have some advice for a teacher who wants to start a tutoring business. ♪ watch and learn now ♪ watch and learn how on every one of our cards there's a date.
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a reminder... that before this date, we have to exceed expectations. we have to find new ways to help make life easier, more convenient and more rewarding. it's the reason why we don't have costumers. we have members. american express. welcome in. for the last several months i've been on the phone weekly, often daily with my 12-year-old nephew talking about the company he's work on launching. you know what, he is not alone. kids around the country have been bit by the entrepreneurial bug and there's a great
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organization that is harnessing this excitement and helping teenagers and young adults turn their ideas into realities. amy rosen is the president and ceo of nifty. and anthony carmona is a graduate of n.i.f.t.y. and he started anthony knows computers. great to see you. i want to share with the audience right before amy asked anthony i hear you got your driver's permit. so you started this company long before you could even drive. >> yeah, yes, surprisingly, well, i came up with the idea when i was 15 but it officially launched when i was 16 years old. >> at 16 years old and how much money did you make last year. >> $12,000 total. >> so when you brought that home to your family, what did they say? >> everyone was just mind-blown. even myself. sometimes i still think about it. i have to sit down and be like, whoa, i'm only 17 right now. i need to breathe, i need to relax. my mom, of course, is very emotional so she started crying like always and like i said
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everyone was just positive about it and really surprised what happened. >> amy, you teach a lot of kids, what is it that makes a 17-year-old who is in school bouncie balancing all those ear things run a company. >> it's interesting. we've been at this for 25 years, and the real opportunity we have now is just to take it to scale because getting young kids to think and act like a entrepreneur is just unleashing what's naturally in, you know, in many of them. we put kids in school and often, you know, we put them in very rigid experiences where they're learning very important information but it doesn't really relate to opportunity. so -- and steve marietti, our founder, originally did this, taught in the south bronx and came up with the idea if you take kids particularly from low-income opportunities who are naturally street smart and understand risk and delayed graltification and understand all the things necessary to be entrepreneurs, but you turn those experiences into a view of
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opportunity. so we've trained public school teachers. we work all over this country where we work in 12 other countries and i think anthony took a n.i.f.t.y. class in queen. >> you were 15 when you took the class. what does your company do exactly. >> it does a multitude of things but started as a computer repair consulting company where the thing was i wanted to change -- everyone has this idea or this just mind-set of computer fixing or computer repair, think best buy or geek squad because it's widely known and advertise very well. i wanted to change that. i didn't want a company look to my company which is kind of ironic or, you know, just crazy but i wanted a family feel to the company. so when my company does is sort of like a friend coming to your house to fix your computers, to solve your problems and to save your life. >> no, it's true. i always try to find some young neighbor. they know much better than i do what's going on with my
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computer. how many kids do you send through the program every year. >> we're just coming on to 500,000 kids that have been through it. >> wow. >> and domestically in the u.s. we're working on our national competition which will have, you know, having had over 20,000 kids who completed kids that co business plans. we'll bring the top 30 to new york, october 11th. they will compete. anthony won the new york competition. in new york, where we have been working, we have several thousand kids doing it. it's a full year course in their school. we start by learning about opportunity recognition. when anthony talks about having an idea of what the community needed and tried it out. we took him through the business plan. anthony, in that process had the opportunity, we work with thousands of volunteers. they have mentors. he talked about them as somebody who is a second father to them.
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>> you identify kids, teach them how to be an entrepreneur and connect them with mentors. do you have another network of teenage entrepreneurs you talk to? >> definitely. with the new start up, start up summer, which is a baby incubator type of thing. we found -- there was 16 of us. in the first week, we became our own family. you have friends in school and outside school. these people were on the exact same level as you were. they wanted to do what you do. they wanted to be productive. we hang out when ever we have a chance. it's funny. instead of texting each other, we e-mail. >> there's no better testimonial to your program than this. what a success story. we wish you the best of luck.
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it's really amazing and inspiring. thanks. thousands of recent college graduated, many armed with business related degrees are trying to make it on business street. with us is a person who developed a program to help other small business owners. my name is nathan bernard, the founder and director of the boston university urban accelerator. as you look across the united states, tons of business are running on a razor's edge. at the same time, numerous university students are well educated and eager to get into the community. what we have done to mobilize the two groups is formed the boston university accelerator where we send student team toss work with small businesses within them. over the course of ten weeks,
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they implement quick books as well as identify airs ya within the business for cost savings. what our program needs is $250,000 so we can launch the program across the united states serving underserved communities that need it most. each business we work with saves money, retains jobs and creates jobs for the economy we are all a part of. thank you very much. i look forward to our next meeting. >> i like that close. i knew that was going to be bood. you guys who work in this field, what did you think? jim? >> i think it's a noble effort. there's a lot of need out there. i would ask questions about cost structure, how many busesses will you get through the program and what the success rate will be like. those questions are going to be important to answer especially if it's from investors.
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>> thank you very much. >> all right. what did you think? >> i agree. there are a lot of good points here. what's critical is look at the roi from different perspectives so you have the student perspective. what are students gaining from this, the educational piece is huge. >> we wish you the best of luck. it sounds great. thank you for all your advice on this. >> it's time to answer some of "your business" questions. jim and beth are here with us once again. the first is from kay. sticking with our educational theme, she writes, i'm a public schoolteacher of english and want to start a tutoring business. how can i start? >> that's great. she's already got the expertise. now, she needs to think about who her customers are. i'm a teacher, the customers are my kids. now she has to think about the
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parents. what do they care about. is she selling confidence and doing better at school? is she selling higher score rating? whatever is important that she sells as part of the tutoring needs to be her message. >> do you have any ideas? >> easy to get started, use her network. get students and great testimonials then online matching services. it's so easy to build that business very efficiently and on the side. ultimately, if she wants to be more formal about it, develop a business and scale it. right now, it's easy to get started. >> get a couple clients. word of mouth really works. parents are chatty kathys. if something is working for their kids, they are going to tell their friends. how to educate budding small business owners. chris writes, how can we teach kids to be entrepreneurs?
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a lemonade stand is a brilliant way. don't throw it out there and make the lemonade for them. this is how much it costs. this is how much money you are making. profit and revenue. >> i agree. i take those lessons learned to my own house. my son turns 17. my daughter, 19. they have been running their businesses for a few years. what i have discovered is, first, it's really hard. there's a lot of areas, even cash flow, in a tiny lemonade stand is important. they have learned, my daughter doesn't like the business. my son embraced it. in teaching young children from any age, 5 to 15 to 18, have them experience it. it's fun to work at the gap or wherever, but more important to think about what you want to do. >> right. >> there's great things in school. do contests and things with
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ebay. garage sales in addition to lemonade stands. experience it. they can listen to speakers. video clips from your show and others. teacher ks bring in guest speakers. >> it's fun, too. it's not necessarily that they will become entrepreneurs themselves, but gives them a chance to experience it and learn skills that help with other things later on. >> thank you so much. again, i'm jealous you get to go back to your college and universities and help these young entrepreneurs. >> thanks. thanks for everything today. if you have a question out there, go to our website, there, hit the ask the show link to submit a question. again, the website is or, if you would rather send an e-mail. send your questions and comments. the address is
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with all the internet tools out there, sometimes it's hard to know where to start. if you want to keep yourself and your staff educated, check out our website of the week. is an online education and training platform that help people find sites that could help their business. the library contains 2,000 tutorials. 60 videos produced every week. you can learn how to use quick starter and how to tweet information about your latest product. to learn more about today's show, go to our website, it's you'll find all of today's segments plus, suggestions to help your business grow. fol o us on twitter. please, do not forget to become a fan on facebook. we love getting your feedback. it's helpful. next week, erica hall is the
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owner of a connecticut bed and breakfast. she does everything from laundry to reservations to bookkeeping. with so many jobs, hall says she's in a rut. >> sometimes i feel like i'm a hamster in a cage running in place, but not getting anywhere. just spinning the wheel and, you know, just stuck. >> well, that's all about to change when the "your business" team comes to hall's rescue with another amazing small business make over. until then, i'm r.r. ramberg. remember, we make "your business" our business. we make a simple thing. a thing that helps you buy other things. but plenty of companies do that. so we make something else.


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