CoFoundersLab Matchup Chicago

Co Founders Lab logoWhen: Tuesday, July 22nd from 6:30-9:30pm

Where: TechNexus (20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 1200)

What: CoFoundersLab Matchup Chicago is aimed at helping entrepreneurs find co-founders, advisers & interns and to build strong, core founding teams. Get started networking now with a potential core team member by creating a free profile on

Cost: $10, $20 At-the-Door (Includes food & beverages.)
RSVP Here:

Cheryl Downing’s Insights on Crowdfunding from June 17 Breakfast in Sunnyvale

Cheryl Downing is a small business marketing and crowdfunding consultant. She advises and coaches small business startups and product developers/inventors how to grow their businesses quickly, specializing in raising money through crowdfunding. Cheryl spent the early part of her career in corporate software product development and marketing. Since 2001, Cheryl has volunteered as an SBA marketing trainer and been an active supporter of the Inventors Alliance association. She Co-Chairs the SVForum 3D Printing SIG and the 3D Printing for Education Meetup group.

Cheryl joined us June 17 in Sunnyvale to offer some some tips on crowdfunding your next project.

“Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital in small amounts from a large group of people using the Internet and social media. Unlike funds from venture capitalists or angel investors, the money raised through crowdfunding doesn’t necessarily buy the lender a share, and there is no guarantee that it will be repaid if the venture is successful. Instead, individuals are asked to make microinvestments or donations to causes and ventures they believe in, thus allowing the work to be completed. Crowdfunding is also known as crowd source capital.”

Source: Techopedia’s “Crowdfunding” entry

Cheryl’s talk address three common platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub. She pointed to Kickstarter’s Statistics page ( to demonstrate that most campaigns raise between $1K – $10K with funding fees approximately 10% of the funds raised. Some platforms are all-or-nothing other are partial or flexible. 

In her experience campaigns typically run for 30 intense days, although they can run longer. The key promotional components that she has found effective: 

  • Inspirational video
  • Creative thank you gifts
  • Cultivating mentions and coverage from major media and influential bloggers.
  • Social Media and E-mail, especially when you can foster viral sharing
  • Key backers and customers who contribute and promote
Successful campaigns typically get off to a strong start in the first three days from prior preparation that has started at least a month prior, and often up to six months. There can be a period of few contributions in the middle and then a strong finish in the last few days.

Cheryl provided a one page handout that is available as a blog post at along with many other resources at her site.

Three Take-Aways from Jonathan Wang’s Talk on Jaio Sports, a Hardware Startup

On March 28 at Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View, Jonathan Wang talked about his experiences starting, scaling, and selling Jaio Sports. Jaio Sports developed and sold a wearable device for professional golfers. Just  as they were making sales to early adopters and getting qualified for tournament play the iPhone shipped: apps on that platform, and later Android as well, came to dominate the recreational golf market.

The three lessons I took away:

  1. Selling to experts does not prepare you for the support questions you will get from “average” consumers. It’s 10-100X the support burden.
  2. Physical distribution and inventory management require someone on the team who understands supply chain and logistics. It’s a very different set of challenges from selling software.
  3. Jaio solved several hard problems, e.g. the design of a low cost GPS-enabled wearable device pre-iPhone, getting qualified for use by professional golfers in tournament play, and mapping hundreds of golf courses very accurately. But the goal of casual consumer adoption was frustrated by the unanticipated arrival of a GPS equipped iPhone so that the golf functionality was essentially free with the phone.

If the iPhone had shipped while they were in the concept or design phase I suspect they would have changed plans. Hindsight is always 20-20 but there might have been a small but profitable business selling to professional golfers. But this might not have garnered investment or satisfied their investors as a pivot.

Jonathan Wang blogs at Start-Up Black Ops, a website started on the belief:

Every entrepreneur will, at some point along their journey, find themselves at the bottom of a big, dark pit–seemingly alone, surrounded by nothing, and without a way out.  That is the unavoidable norm when it comes to starting and running your own business. It is only at the bottom of this hole where you can learn and develop the skills to get out…and in doing so, you learn just how difficult entrepreneurship is and what it requires of your will and patience to succeed.

  1. You are not alone – the process is equally difficult and sucks just as much to the next person
  2. You can be creative – desperation will force you to try things you have never done before
  3. You don’t give up – you always ensure yourself a fighting chance when you at least try
  4. You will fail (not once, but many times) – you are better for it and will emerge smarter and stronger

For some observations on the Start-Up Black Ops Creed see “Four Principles From Jonathan Wang’s Start-Up Black Ops Creed

Matt Oscamou talks about founding Frontier Bites, recap from April 15, 2014

Matt Oscamou, the founder of Frontier Bites, talked about lessons learned getting a food startup off the ground at the April 15 Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale. Here is a short recording of his introduction, the benefits the Bootstrapper Breakfast has offered him, and how he came to bootstrap Frontier Bites with his brother and persevere after his brother passed away in a rafting accident.

Transcript of Remarks

Matt Oscamou: I have a food company in Silicon Valley, bucking the tech trend. I was over at Red Rock Coffee working in the downstairs area and I saw “Bootstrappers Breakfast” on the calendar so I figure I would try to find out what that was. This was right when I was getting going. It’s been a helpful group ot bounce some ideas off of. My attendance has been relatively sporadic based on the needs of the business. It’s been good.

Q: You left a high paying job with a future that was very securre. You left the City of Menlo Park where you were working as an engineer.

Matt: yes, I was the City Engineer for Menlo Park. I was running the entire engineering department. I had built a lot of buildings and infrastructure including some pretty big projects. We were going gangbustsers there for quite a while.

I had an opportunity to finish something that I had started so I decided to take it. Frontier Bites is our product line. It’s a product that my brother and I created together in 2010. We wanted to make something that tasted good, was lightweight, had simple ingredients, and was a replacement for the energy bars that we were eating while we were hiking or backpacking.

We started out with a baking competition to see who could make the best product. After about a year of toying around with it, eating it, and giving it to people, we decided to turn it into a business.

April 2011 is when we decided to jump in and get it going: totaly bootstrapping everything. My brother was in finance and doing some work in Northern California and doing this business on the side. I was doing it on the side–of this relatively demanding job, even though you might not think working for a city is demanding, try working at Menlo Park.

We were both working nights and weekends..early mornings, whatever would make it happen. After we really got started the unfortunate part of the whole story is that my brother passed away about five months after we got started. He was in a rafting accident. It was totally unexpected and the kind of thing that can really derail you or motivate you to get going.

We opened the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium in Menlo Park, it was probably the biggest project I did there, As soon as we had the grand opening, I put in my notice in May 2012 and have been doing this ever since.

Silicon Valley: Alligator Zone on August 23, 2014

If you like the show Shark Tank, then this is the program for you! Alligator Zone presents local entrepreneurs to the public for a positive, constructive  and interactive feedback session in order to help the startups spot dangers and identify opportunities. Join this community gathering to contribute to local innovation in a new and exciting way.

Featured startups:

Sunnyvale Public Library, Sunnyvale, California is supporting Alligator Zone, a concept and program og @SiliconGlades, making it available for free to the entrepreneurs and the community.

For more information

Tips for Crowdfunding Your Project

crowdfunding image

Source: creativedoxfoto via 123rf

Cheryl Downing will lead the discussion about crowdfunding and will share the tips for crowdfunding your project. This is a round-table discussion so please bring your experience and questions.

The other attendees will all be early stage technology entrepreneurs, it will be a chance to compare notes on operational, development, and business issues with peers.

Cheryl will share the key factors in determing whether crowdfunding can (and should) be successfully used to fund your product development or project. Unbeknownst to many, crowdfunding is less about creating a campaign page and much more about marketing and promotion. Making the decision whether crowdfunding is the right path for your product or business is critical to making the best use of your time as an entrepreneur.

June 17 at 7:30am in Sunnyvale, CA


More about Cheryl Downing:

Cheryl Downing is a small business marketing and crowdfunding consultant. She advises and coaches small business startups and product developers/inventors how to grow their businesses quickly, specializing in raising money through crowdfunding. Cheryl spent the early part of her career in corporate software product development and marketing. Since 2001, Cheryl has volunteered as an SBA marketing trainer and been an active supporter of the Inventors Alliance association. As of August 2013, she is a Co-Chair of the SVForum 3D Printing SIG and, as of February 2014, she is a Co-Chair of the 3D Printing for Education Meetup group.

See you at SF B2B Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend logoCome share ideas, form teams, and launch startups. … Come join us for weekend-long, hands-on experience where you will learn what it takes to launch a startup, meet others with the same shared passion for entrepreneurship, and maybe even create a new business! Sean Murphy is excited to be a mentor at the event.

June 6-8 in San Francisco, CA


During this Startup Weekend, entrepreneurs will be empowered to pitch, build teams and transform their B2B based ideas into Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).

2014 One Thing I Learned From Bootstrapper’s Breakfast

When asked “What is one thing you took away from today’s meeting?” Here what members shared…

  • Great format and information. Very helpful, encouraging and stimulating. I particularly appreciated our speaker’s perspective on the entrepreneurial advantages in the U.S. that most of us take for granted.
  • Using best practices from my top sales people might be a simple trick to turn up ROI.
  • Always valuable, I never walk away without learning something and meeting someone new and interesting.
  • This meeting with the discussion on the relationship between startup and an understanding of the tech needs very helpful information. I have a better understanding of what needs to be done on next developmental steps. Thanks to all
  • Lively discussion mostly about customer acquisition and sales. Really good energy and participation from some new members – thank you Michael, Matt and Nina!

Please contribute your favorite take away!

Lean Startup Machine is coming to Chicago!

Lean Startup Machine (LSM), a three-day workshop on starting a successful new business. Register now at!

Most new startups fail because they build something no one wants. LSM teaches you a systematic process for learning which products or services will succeed and which ones will not. Over 25,000 entrepreneurs have had their lives changed by the LSM experience.

The date for LSM in Chicago will be June 20-22, 2014.

Sign-up today to be notified and get a chance for early bird specials: