December 2016, Product 17
2016 Ends as 'Smashing Success' for
Tech Startup's Business Assistance Program
BowTie helped more than 50 entrepreneurs, startups with web presence
If something of substance is free, there’s got to be a catch, or a scam, or even a crime-in-the-making.
That’s what many in the small business community thought earlier this year when web app hosting startup BowTie began spreading the word that it was offering entrepreneurs and startups access to its platform, as well as training and support, at no charge. Skepticism was so rampant that it took nearly half a year for people to shake off the disbelief.
Once Bowtie’s services caught on, “people started coming out of the woodwork and wanting to avail themselves of it,” said BowTie CEO and co-founder Scott Maloney.
As of deadline for this article, BowTie was forecasting it will have helped 60 small businesses, which previously had zero or minimal web presence, to build, launch and operate functional websites. All of those that took advantage of the help reported positive impact to their business, whether it be increased revenue, more customers or greater digital reach.
At least one-third of the businesses reported to BowTie that the services offered were either critical to the survival of the company or enabled the business to grow.
Of the businesses that sought the assistance, two-thirds were startups, and one-third were Main Street-type businesses, including a few nonprofits.
“The program has proven to be a smashing success,” Maloney said. “It just speaks to the massive untapped community and the desperate need for these resources.”
The digital media outreach assistance project, which began in January and ends this month, was made possible by funding through the City’s Economic Development Action (EDAct) Account. As of the end of November, BowTie had exceeded contract performance expectations of working with 50 companies, with eight or nine more anticipated to be included by the end of this week.
The City provides a variety of business assistance programs, including help with international trade, film permitting, marketing programs and more.
“The real value is not just making business assistance available, turning ‘unwebbed’ businesses into ‘webbed’ businesses, but there is a massive education component – teaching people and businesses how to use a web-based platform and leaving them with an easy interface so that someone with no technical expertise can go in and feel empowered to use it,” Maloney said. “That’s the real magic of what we’re doing.”
The City is working with BowTie to explore other funding opportunities in the community.
Photo: Courtesy cesarsway.com
Hautepreneurs Honors Community-Nominated Women Leaders, Entrepreneurs
The third annual Haute Honors Awards, which celebrates women showing remarkable leadership, humanitarianism, innovation, entrepreneurship and vision, was hosted earlier this month by Hautepreneurs. Men who are exceptional advocates for women in New Mexico are also honored at the event.
“While the business community hosts several prestigious recognitions and awards events throughout the year, we love that Haute Honors often bring to light the incredible work of women who often go unrecognized but deserve the accolades and appreciation of the community,” said event co-organizer Lisa Abeyta in a news release.
Award categories and recipients for 2016 are:
Humanitarian Award: a person having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people.
Trish Nickerson, executive director, The Cottonwood School
Beyond nurturing the minds and hearts of the children entrusted to her and her staff at Cottonwood Montessori School, Nickerson is tireless in her efforts to help ease the burdens of others. From providing scholarships to families whenever possible to serving as fiscal sponsor for fledgling nonprofits, she is the epitome of finding a way to say yes instead of looking for the easiest way to say no.
Rising Star Award: a person who is rising quickly in importance in a particular field.
• Lexi Palmer, CEO, EquiSeq
Palmer helped the horse gene testing startup win the 2016 Startup of the Year competition and pitched on stage to AOL cofounder and tech entrepreneur Steve Case and his Rise of the Rest team during their stop in Albuquerque in October. She volunteers as a motivational speaker at Albuquerque Public Schools, helping develop the curriculum used in the AVID college prep program.
• Julia Jones, managing member, Breezy Consulting and Kouture Consignment, Brand Ambassador and Digital Marketing Expert
Jones has been instrumental in raising the visibility of several companies based in New Mexico, including CleanSpot, DermaTec, TechCo, and previously SunPort by PlugSolar. She is also a board member of SINC and an organizer for Catalyst Week.
Innovator Award: a person who opens up a new area for others; creates or introduces new methods, ideas, or products; or is the first to introduce into reality something better than anything that previously existed.
Michelle Urban, founder and CEO, Pressure Analysis Company
Urban is receiving national attention because of her company’s work in addressing athlete concussions through pressure sensor skullcaps for athletes. The technology helps measure the impact of every hit over the course of a game. As a recent winner of the national Mobileys award, the company has been featured in Business Insider, Digital Trends, MedGadget, Sports Wearable, Tech Tracks, Bleacher Report, among others. She is an inspirational role model for other women, blending her technical expertise with business savvy in leading her company to national visibility.
Entrepreneur Award: a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
• April Molina, CEO and owner, Autumn and April Ltd. Co. and Kids Luv Yoga
As an award-winning fashion designer, Molina has grown her children’s clothing brand, Autumn and April, into a coveted national brand, through her social media expertise and business savvy. In addition to her clothing line, she co-owns Kids Luv Yoga with her husband. It is bringing yoga and meditation curriculum to children through a variety of settings, including public schools.
• Joanne Douglas, CEO and founder, Shoofly505
Douglas’ artistry is front and center as the designer of an eclectic, Southwest jewelry line, which synthesizes her lifelong interests in sterling silver, vintage leathers and creative colors.
Leader Award: A person with social influence who can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. A great leader inspires confidence in other people and moves them to action.
Kristi Welton-Kidder, principal and founder, Kidwell Consulting Group
Welton-Kidder and her team help companies to implement complex technologies and systems, scale to regional or national markets, and deploy hardware and software solutions. She has previously served in a variety of capacities for Intel, Oso Grande Technologies and Improve Group, helping to open doors for other women in traditionally male-dominated industries. She mentors young women and volunteers as a member of Women in Vision, giving homeless women opportunities to change their lives and families.
Trail Blazers Award: A person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness; pathfinder; a pioneer in any field of endeavor.
• Michelle Miller, founder and CEO, High Desert Discovery District (HD3)
In addition to leading New Mexico’s a privately-led high technology accelerator devoted to accelerating innovation, startup activity and entrepreneurship in New Mexico, Miller is founder of HD Angels. The angel investment group provides a channel of investment from accredited investors for companies within HD3. As such, Miller is leading the way in three of the fields where women are desperately needed to serve as role models and champions for other women - in entrepreneurship, in technology startups and in investment.
• Ann Lerner, film liaison, Albuquerque Film Office
Lerner was instrumental in launching what is now a thriving film industry for the City of Albuquerque, and she has been honored with the prestigious award of Outstanding Film Commission for her work in landing shows like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, In Plain Sight, Lone Survivor and so many more. The direct spend to the greater Albuquerque area as of the start of the month was about $130 million. In 2015, MovieMaker Magazine ranked the city No. 5 in its list of the Top 10 Big Cities for being Film-Friendly.
(Photo from left to right: Lisa Abeyta, Ann Lerner)
Champion for Women Award: A person who fights or argues for a cause on behalf of someone else; one that does battle for another's rights or honor.
Robert “Bruce” Pitt, principal consultant and owner, RBCGLLC
Pitt has been involved in growing a variety of technical companies and startups for more than 30 years. He is an avid supporter of many of the startup events and programs in our community and has volunteered countless hours in helping organize them. He has served as a mentor, coach, advisor and supporter of women-owned companies and has supported many of the women-focused events hosted by Hautepreneurs.
The event was held at one of the City of Albuquerque’s community-based multigenerational centers, Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, in keeping with the spirit of these community-driven awards.
3-1-1 for Small Business:
Options for Accessing Capital
A new document designed to help New Mexico small businesses in their pursuit of capital is available at abqic.com.
This tool will help the entrepreneur in three primary ways:
- To understand the various stages in the life cycle of a business and what types of funding or capital are generally available given the maturity of the business;
- Determining the appropriate kind of capital they require for their business; and
- Identifying local sources for that specific type of capital.
The document has been made available by the City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department.
Image: Courtesy Taiga Company
No Need to Check This List Twice:
It's All Good
In 2016, Albuquerque got noticed for a variety of positives. Among them: We love our pets, we're kind, we're attractive to the film industry, and we're a pretty good spot for women in business. While we already know why Albuquerque is great, here's a list of some of the things others are starting to figure out.
Image: Courtesy chuckwagoneer.wordpress.com
- 15th Best Run City in America (WalletHub)
- One of 10 Best Big Cities for Active Families (Outdoor Magazine)
- No. 6 in Travel+ Leisure’s "America’s Favorite Places" survey, beating cities like Denver, Portland, New York and San Francisco.
- No. 1 kindest city in the U.S. (Secret-sharing app Whisper)
- 5th best place to be a filmmaker (MovieMaker)
- 5th smallest gender pay gap - at 4 percent - in tech in the U.S. (SmartAsset).
- 12th best city in the U.S. for women in tech (Smart Asset)
- No. 6 in list of Top 10 Most Digital Cities (Digital Communities magazine)
- Named a 'Rise of the Rest' city - an exclusive group of 25 cities outside of San Francisco/Bay Area, New York City and Boston that are building vibrant communities for entrepreneurs (Steve Case and Rise of the Rest)
- 32nd best city for women-owned businesses (WalletHub)
- One of nation's best cities for creatives (Thrillist)
- One of 11 Awesome Urban Districts Full of Character (TripAdvisor)
- One of Top 10 Pet Friendly Cities (Zumper.com)
- Albuquerque-filmed "Breaking Bad" ranked No.3 of the Top 100 TV shows of all time (Rolling Stone)
- 15th Greenest City in U.S. (WalletHub)
- One of 12 Delicious Winter Travel Destinations (The Epoch Times)
- One of Top 20 Cities for Local Holiday Shopping (Yelp)
- One of the Five Great Places to Ring in the New Year With Your Family (Macaroni Kid)
Ski Lift Pitch Contest Open
Application Deadline: January 31
New Mexico is known more for its elevations than its elevators. So ABQid is once again raising the traditional elevator pitch to a higher level this year - on the ski lifts of Taos Ski Valley.
The Albuquerque business accelerator will select from a group of applicants a few ambitious startup founders to participate in the annual Ski Lift Pitch on February 28.
Applications are being taken now. To apply, visit skiliftpitch.com. The deadline is Jan. 31.
Finalists will be invited to ski Taos' beautiful and challenging slopes alongside national venture capitalists, angel investors, industry experts and serial entrepreneurs, pitching their businesses while riding the newly-opened lift to Kachina Peak.
This day on the slopes will start with breakfast, followed by startup pitches to VIP judges on the lift, finalist pitches over lunch, an afternoon run, then an après ski event where the winner will be announced and awarded an impressive cash prize.
ABQid Accelerator Sports Impressive Metrics, Company Wins
ABQid has raised $2.3 million to invest in its Accelerator companies since it began in 2014. Its companies have raised another $2+ million from private investors, and ABQid mentors have contributed more than 2,600 hours to support local entrepreneurs.
Several of its companies also won big in 2016. Here is a sampling:
- Innobright Technologies took home the grand prize during Rise of the Rest's tour stop in Albuquerque. AOL founder Steve Case invested $100,000 in Innobright.
- Metapipe took home the top award in the third annual Scrappy Startup Competition, sponsored by the New Mexico Tech Council and SXSW.
- Teeniors was among the five winners at the Scrappy Startups Challenge and was selected as one of the Top 15 startups in the nation in a global pitch competition by the Kauffman Foundation.
- Cultivating Coders won the prestigious Tech.Co “Startup of the Year” pitch competition at SXSW - one of Tech.Co's biggest annual events.
Creative Startups Celebrates Year(s) of
Community Impact, Personal Growth
The Creative Startups Accelerator, which helps entrepreneurs in the arts industries
to grow successfully, held its first cohort in September 2014. Since then, it has seen immense success in its own right. Here's a snapshot of its impact:
- 90% of alumni are still in business.
- $7.96m in revenues (That's 10x growth.)
- 48 jobs before accelerator = 144 jobs now
- $6.5m capital raised from investors
- And, 70% of founders have been women or minorities
In 2016 alone, Creative Startups...
- Engaged 20 companies through the accelerator;
- Created its first-ever “Case Studies” for teaching creative entrepreneurship;
- Launched its first new Accelerator Site - in North Carolina;
- Received its second SBA Accelerator Excellence Award;
- Won the Albuquerque Mayor Prize for Entrepreneurship;
- And delivered its first Master Class to 12 startups from Latin America.
Local Buying Guide Gets Boost
From Internet Platform
Bill Foster is a digital marketing master. The serial entrepreneur developed keyword and search-engine ad revenue for pioneering companies such as Infoseek and Excite and now wants to use his experience and knowledge to help local businesses compete with national chains and Internet behemoths.
Foster is a founder of yellCast, a New Mexico startup that connects buyers with local merchants by providing search-engine results that go a step beyond Yelp, Google and Bing and offer an interactive portal where buyers and sellers communicate directly. With this service, consumers who want to shop locally don’t need to call multiple merchants to find a specific product; yellCast provides the platform that allows merchants to respond to specific requests.
Turning the Tide
Foster’s interest is more than philanthropic; he intends to fill a market need and make money doing it. But for him, yellCast is also a way to reverse the trend of money leaving local communities when consumers purchase products online from companies thousands of miles away — a trend he helped create. “This is our apology,” he said about the startup.
Shopping locally keeps money circulating at home and generates tax revenue that supports public services such as parks, community centers and essential services. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, every dollar spent at an independent local business returns an average of three times more money to the local community than a dollar spent at a chain store.
Local shopping also reduces environmental impacts associated with packaging, processing and shipping goods over long distances. And local businesses are job creators, hiring local workers. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses created 63 percent of the new jobs created in the United States between 1993 and 2013.
The yellCast Method
Using yellCast, consumers can send a query to multiple merchants that appear in their search results. For example, a Santa Fe shopper looking for a specific coat — say a men’s waterproof down jacket — uses yellCast to scan the Internet for those keywords plus the place-name “Santa Fe.” The shopper then selects the merchants she wants to contact for more information or to obtain a specific size.
Local merchants receive the request and respond based on inventory and accessibility. A local merchant might not have the product but can offer to order it. Searchers remain anonymous until their order is placed, and they avoid the unwanted advertising that typically follows searches on better-known platforms because yellCast doesn’t sell or even save the information it collects.
Businesses can register on yellCast at no charge, and they only pay for the service if they respond to an inquiry. The service is currently free during the pilot in Santa Fe, yellCast’s test market, where city officials hope merchants and consumers embrace the platform this holiday season.
Santa Fe founders expect to expand the service to other cities in early 2017.
To use yellCast, start a search at https://yellcast.com/indexb.php/. Merchants can sign up by clicking on the Business Sign-Up link in the upper right corner of the website after scrolling to the bottom of the page.