Marinna Kus

  • 5 Ways to Overcome the Challenges Unique to Black Business Owners

     

    The number of black business owners is growing -- in 2018 alone, the number of black-owned small businesses grew by 400%. However, we still face challenges when we start new companies. 

    Implicit biases, funding challenges, and a lack of community support can drag black-owned businesses down before they get the chance to thrive. Learn how to overcome the challenges unique to black business owners and build a lasting legacy.

    1. Find Black Angel Investors

    One of the first -- and most major -- hurdles that hopeful black business owners face is a lack of funding. Instead of being able to find seed funding or an investor who believes in our vision, many of us end up using our own cash to get our businesses off the ground. 

    Instead, seek out black angel investors. You won't have to worry about being stereotyped when you apply for funding and the investors likely want to lift up someone else from the community. 

    2. Know Your Worth

    Many small black business owners find themselves torn between two goals -- turning an impressive profit and staying accessible to the community. 

    Most of us are raised to value community. Our family, our friends, our neighborhood should always come first, right? 

    However, this can sometimes result in you undervaluing your product or service to please other people. Know your worth and never compromise.

    3. Seek Out a Mentor

    The business world can be a lonely one to navigate as a person of color. How often have we been the only black person in a boardroom, or had to laugh off casually offensive comments? 

    As you start your journey as a business owner, seek out a mentor. You'll want someone who understands the unique struggles you face, can connect you with other people in the industry, and is willing to offer guidance and advice. 

    Knowing that someone understands you can take a huge weight off your shoulders.

    4. Build Your Network

    A lack of representation in the business world can lead to things like impostor syndrome and self-doubt. Everyone gets down on themselves sometimes, which is why it's important to have the right people around you when these feelings strike. 

    Surround yourself with supportive family members, fellow black business owners, and other people who will pitch in to lift you up on your down days. You deserve to be successful just as much as everyone else does -- sometimes we just need a reminder.

    5. Support One Another

    When you build your network, don't forget to support other black entrepreneurs, too. When the deck is stacked against us, sometimes the best thing we can do is make a point to support one another. 

    Whether that means prioritizing black businesses or talking up a friend's new venture at a dinner party, be the support for others that you want for yourself. 

    Overcome the Challenges Faced by Black Business Owners

    Life isn't always easy for black business owners. With these five tips, you can overcome the common challenges we usually face when opening up our own businesses. 

    Looking to start a new business, or find the money to expand your current endeavor? Learn how to find the right investor for you.


  • The Basics of Equity Crowdfunding Sites for Startups

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    Equity crowdfunding sites are among the hottest ways to fund your startup business. Learn all about the basics: how they work, how they can help you fund your startup, and how to find success with them.

    When most people think 'crowdfunding,' they think of Amanda Palmer closing a $1.2 million campaign. Kickstarter and Indie Go Go have brought brand new businesses into the public consciousness.

    But crowdfunding also offers opportunities for start-ups. In 2012, the JOBS Act came into being. It loosened federal restrictions on where companies could find investment.

    Maybe you've struggled to secure traditional funding. You're looking for an alternative.

    Are you a founder looking for an explanation of crowdfunding? Read on to learn the basics of equity crowdfunding sites.

    What is Equity Crowdfunding?

    Crowdfunding refers to the practice of sourcing funds from a 'crowd.' People can invest smaller sums because the power comes from the number of investors.

    Equity crowdfunding offers a stake in a start-up rather than the 'perks' you'd get on a platform like Kickstarter. Start-ups get access to a bigger pool of equity investors than they could access through traditional networks.

    What are equity, investors? They're the people who opt for this process because they can invest in a broader range of start-ups and have more options on amounts they can choose to invest.

    How Do Equity Crowdfunding Sites Work?

    Different sites exist to meet different needs. On a basic level, the sites seek to connect investors with investment opportunities.

    Start-ups list their company on the sites and fundraising happens in rounds. Once a round successfully finishes, the investor transfers their funds and gains equity in your company.

    Some sites hold investment funds in escrow until a fundraising round finishes. At that point, the funds transfer to the company.

    There are other equity crowdfunding sites that operate more like advertising platforms. Start-ups market their fundraising efforts, and equity investors contact them privately to make arrangements.

    How To Find Success with Equity Crowdfunding Platforms

    Identify the sorts of investors you want to bring on board. Do they match with the funding stage of your project?

    Work you how much equity you're willing to offer. Once you know who your target investor is, it's much easier to pitch your start-up to them.

    With a compelling offer, you can support your idea in the mind of the investor. You'll need a proof of concept to validate your idea. Can you demonstrate what potential market returns, or scalability, you can enjoy?

    Show your progress on your KPIs to help boost your valuation. You'll need a strong pitch to get your point across.

    Grab attention within seconds; be sure to include key points, and use the highest production values you can afford. Show investors you mean business.

    Build momentum before you launch on the sites. Try to get at least a third of your target committed in advance.

    This shows other investors that people believe in you and your start-up.

    You also need to 'work' the platform. Work to land promotions in email campaigns and look into social media advertising to boost your visibility.

    Plan Your Campaign Before You Start

    Planning your campaign can be hard work. Running it is also hard, but it can be satisfying if it works.

    Or is there another way?

    Are you a start-up founder looking for help along your business journey? You could turn to equity crowdfunding sites. Or, you could partner with us.

    We work with entrepreneurs who might not get the chance they deserve elsewhere. Get in touch and let us hear your pitch. We're waiting to hear from you.


  • Launching our Knowledge and Social Capital Partnership

    As you know, we love to provide financial capital, but like all angel groups, we are not able to invest in every worthy founder that comes our way.  That is why a large part of our mission at Score 3 Angels is to provide social and knowledge capital. We want to continue to assist quality founders who we may not be able to bring forward to our investors by providing them with valuable contacts and resources to help them grow.

     

    With that in mind, we would like to invite you to become a Score 3 Angels Knowledge & Social Capital Partner. We want to expand our network of knowledge and social capital partners so that we can better serve our founders, and we would love for you to be a part of that network.

     

    Through our Knowledge and Social Capital Partnership program you will have the opportunity to:

    • Engage at any level: Score 3 provides an email introduction, and you take it from there. All we ask is that you offer one piece of advice or one connection for the founder to pursue.  After that, it's up to you!
    • Connect with talented founders and their amazing companies to expand your network and knowledge base.
    • Only connect with founders whose industries match your interests or expertise.

    • We will only connect you with vetted founders who have been through our screening process. Any founder you connect with will have been a candidate for or participant in a recent group pitch.

     

    To become a Knowledge and Social Capital Partner, please fill out this brief Sign Up Form. Let us know what email address you would like us to you to contact you for founder connections as well as what kinds of companies with whom you would be interested in connecting.

     

    If you have any questions, please email mk@score3.org. 

     

    Sign up today!


  • published Venture Fellowship 2018-07-06 11:21:37 -0400

    Score 3 Venture Fellowship

    Interested in early-stage investing or venture capital?

    The Score 3 Venture Fellowship is an immersive experience offering Women, People of Color and LGBTQ people access to participate in the work of an angel group or venture firm.

    Knowledge. Social Capital. Peer Support.

    The Score 3 Fellowship is a volunteer role offering real venture capital experience through all phases of the investment lifecycle.

    “I liked how hands on the experience was, from taking pitch meetings and being a major part in the decision making process to being able to lead a Due Diligence round.” - Yvonne Okafor, former Score 3 Fellow 

    Score 3 Fellows interact with industry experts and cultivate a network of peers, mentors and business partners. Source high-growth tech startups, manage deal-flow and engage with Score 3 Angels subject matter experts.

    Collaborate with experienced and budding entrepreneurs in the investment industry and gain access to valuable knowledge and insights.

    “The networking and learning who’s who in venture capital was great!” - Kris Franks, former Score 3 Fellow

    Ultimately, society wins.

    When the investment industry becomes more diverse, future investments will be made in more diverse founders. Score 3 Angels strives to create financial and social equity through early stage investing. 

    You can be part of this change. Apply to be a Score 3 Venture Fellow today.

    Our mission is to uncover and empower original problem solvers from all walks of life.

    What to Expect from the Fellowship

    Much will be expected of you, but you can also expect a lot! Score 3 will offer support to ensure continued academic and professional success throughout the Fellowship.

    Fellowship commitment and activities:

    - Attend all angel group Screening Meetings (approx. 1 a month)

    - Attend all angel group Group Meetings (approx. 1 a month)

    - Source and manage deal flow from within the angel group's preferred geographic area

    - Source and manage deal flow from within the Score 3 Founder national network

    - Meet and evaluate entrepreneurs and recommend companies to attend the monthly local angel group screening meetings

    - Attend local start-up and venture events on behalf of the angel group to meet and evaluate startup teams

    - Coach startups and connect them to appropriate Subject Matter Experts

    Requirements for all Candidates:

    - Be a Person of Color, a Woman, or a LGBTQ person. We are bringing talented, diverse innovators to the table.

    - Have tremendous drive and hustle - we want to know you have what it takes!

    - Have a desire to work in the VC/PE industry after graduation

    - Be a current MBA student, or enrolled in an advanced degree program with strong interest in VC/PE

    - Be willing to learn!

    - Have a passion for startups and venture.

    - Have a strong desire to help others

    - Be a U.S. Citizen or possess a permanent U.S. work visa.

    These duties will be executed under the guidance of an angel group manager and the Score 3 team.

     

    Application now available!

    APPLY HERE

     

    Application Timeline

    Duration of Fellowship

    1-year minimum commitment. 2-year maximum duration in the program.

    Deadline

    We will evaluate candidates on a rolling basis.

    If you would like more information about the Score 3 Angels Venture Fellowship program, please contact us at admin@score3.org


  • published Blog 2018-03-22 16:19:39 -0400

  • Top 5 Tips for Managing Your Finances as an Entrepreneur

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    A strong strategic financial management plan can set your business up for success from day one. Not many entrepreneurs have that plan. In fact, 29% of small business failures happen because of poor cash flow management. With so many business failures due to lack of financial oversight, how can you prepare yourself and your business? Keep reading to learn the top 5 tips to create a plan for your company's finances.

    Set Clear Financial Goals

    If you want to have a successful business, you need to set up your financial goals. These goals will give everyone on your team something to shoot for. Good financial goals are realistic and will help you project when you can add to your sales team, invest in R&D, or up your marketing budget. Your financial goals also tell you what resources are required to meet those goals. You'll want to know what the major milestones are for your company. It helps to list out the specific tasks that will help you reach those milestones. In this phase, you'll want to know how much investment capital will be required to reach those milestones.

    Develop Your Tracking System

    When you're first starting out, your startup won't have that many cash inflows and outflows. It's the perfect time to create a financial tracking system. Many entrepreneurs only focus on how much money is coming in, not how much is going out. That's where businesses get into trouble. You can set up a system that you can easily scale up to track your revenue, expenses, and project your cash flow for the next few months. You'll want to check your cash flow reports daily during the early stages of the business. When you track your spending, categorize your expenses by department. You'll want to see if the distribution of expenses makes sense for your business.

    Stay Out of Tax Trouble

    Most startups don't have taxable income for the first few years of their business. Even though there's not a tax liability, you may be missing out on certain write-offs. For example, your business might not have the proper corporate structure, or you're not writing off business purchases properly. That's why it is critical to hire a tax professional who understands the nuances the tax code. They can help guide you with certain business decisions to help limit your tax liability. The thing to remember is that your taxes are a year-long strategy, not something to visit once a year. Every business decision will have a tax implication, so it's best to know what those impacts are before you make them.

    Watch Your Spending

    Strategic financial management for spending can save your company when times are good. It's common for businesses to overspend and add to fixed costs when revenue is up. That's a mistake that can force startups out of business. Your job is to question every single expense and do a cost-benefit analysis. That will indicate whether the expense is worth it or not.

    Accountability

    The final tip for your financial plan is to have accountability measures in place. For example, if you don't hit your revenue targets, how will you be held accountable? As a founder, you need to hold yourself and your staff accountable. That goes for both expenses and revenue. Otherwise, your company can overspend and your venture is at risk.

    Strategic Financial Management Can Save Your Startup

    A strong financial plan can help your business be successful. With a great tracking system and careful oversight, your startup can avoid cash flow issues. If you have questions about getting investment for your startup, contact any one of our team members today.

    For more resources, check out Ellie Thompson of Venyou and her Ask Me Anything with Score 3 Angels

    Read more

  • published Presenting Well On an Equity Crowdfunding Site in Blog 2018-02-10 20:21:09 -0500

    Presenting Well On an Equity Crowdfunding Site

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    Sometimes a lack of money is the only thing standing in the way of your dreams. That's why crowdfunding is such an amazing tool. But there's a ton of competition on those sites. It can be tough to stand out from the crowd and find the right people to fund your project. Which is why you need to present well. Here are a few tips to help you achieve the right results on an equity crowdfunding site.

    Launch Only When You're Ready

    Only launch when you're prepared to commit your total focus on raising funds. If you're in the early stages of raising capital, it can be safer not to raise too much too soon. You may want to consider finding customers and receive revenues. The cost of raising capital can be high, which could mess with your numbers. Right now, you need to focus on achieving a valuation that's both high and credible to show traction on your operational and financial KPIs (Key Performance Indicator).

    Identify Your Ideal Investor

    Before you receive any money from the equity crowdfunding site, figure out what type of investors you want to work with. Maybe accredited investors are your best choice. Don't forget that some investors only want to work with companies who are at certain stages in their project. Others are more open. Figure out which type is best for you. Determine how much equity you're willing to give up. You'll need to negotiate the investment once you find your investors. Research your niche target audience. Know their demographics beyond just the financial details. Then find people within that niche market who also are looking for investment opportunities. When it comes time to make your pitch, knowing exactly who they are and what they're looking for will be a huge help.

    Put a Social Media Strategy Together

    Social media is a must when finding investors. Start building up your followers on social media a few months or more before you put yourself on the equity crowdfunding site. There are a few strategies that are helpful when using social media. Talk about general business news relating to your company. If you hire someone, post it on social media. It will show your company is growing.Share news about all your product and service improvements with your followers. If any new lines are introduced, be sure to rave about it on social media. Lastly, if any positive press coverage is received, by all means, post the links all over social media. Social media is a great place to find potential investors who are already interested in what you're doing.

    Include a Great Video on the Equity Crowdfunding Site

    By 2019, 80% of all internet traffic will be video. Facebook only has over 8 billion videos each day. You need to make a video if you want investors. Look at it your video as an opportunity to tell your story. Also, look at it from the viewpoint of an investor, if you don't have the time, skill, or resources to make an interesting, well-produced video, how will you succeed as a startup?

    Keep Learning How to Improve Your Chances

    We're invested in helping you achieve your goals and dreams. Whether you're looking for investors or are just starting out, we can help. If you're ready to get started, apply now. Check out Score 3 Angels to learn more about we're up to!

    Read more

  • published Ask Me Anything featuring Danielle Tate in Blog 2017-10-11 20:30:18 -0400

    Ask Me Anything featuring Danielle Tate

    This week on Ask Me Anything we were joined by Danielle Tate, founder of Elegant Entrepreneur and author of the book by the same name. We had some excellent questions posed this week on the event and Danielle shared her thoughtful insights on the industry. Happy reading! Make sure you stay up to date on all upcoming AMA's by following us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/s3angels/

     

    Question #1

    Q) What do you look for in a founding team?

     

    A) I don't have a "magic" formula for founding teams, but I do always look for partners that have skill sets that I lack... so by teaming up we are a fully operational battleship. It is also critical to find team members who share the same definition of personal and company success. If you are mis-aligned on your definitions you need to keep looking. Also, look outside your immediate circle of friends and family for partners. CoFoundersLab is a great tool to help you find team members based on skill, location, and shared values.

     

    Question #2:

    Q) If you have a successful and proven MVP [Minimum Viable Product], what are the next steps?

     

    A) First off, congratulations on creating and proving your MVP! That's huge!!! I have two next steps that can be done simultaneously depending on the nature of your MVP. First, monetize your MVP so you can customer-fund your company's growth. Second, have intimate communication with your customers/users to pinpoint exactly what iteration they want and will pay for... BEFORE you build it.

     

    Question #3:

    Q) I find I always have tons of new ideas. How do you know which ones are worth pursuing and which ones are just going to suck your time? Do you have a method for evaluating opportunities?

     

    Also, if you want to speak to other founders, like you are here, where is the best place to find those opportunities?

     

    A) great questions! I keep a Google document of all of my ideas and have separate tabs for ideas that benefit my current business, new business ideas, and way out there ideas. I use the lens of profitability and level of difficulty to prioritize ideas. So, if I am evaluating 25 ideas, I will zero in on the one that will make the most financial impact with the least amount of resources (time, money, connections, technology, etc.) [Side note: Check out Danielle’s Innovation Gauntlet!]

     

    Talking to other founders is essential to your happiness as an entrepreneur and the success of your startup. I go to women entrepreneur networking events, conferences, and summits to find other founders. You can also join online communities based on your area of business and/or location. I get a great deal of value out of the Facebook Group #MsTech

     

    Question #4:

    Q) I loved your book " Elegant Entrepreneur" and what I liked most about it, is the way you manage to empower women in developing nations to take the plunge to start their own business. I wonder, what is the number one advice you would give women who are a bit scared to take the plunge?

     

    A) So glad you enjoyed my book! My best answer to your question is for women to "map" their way to success. Leaping into entrepreneurship without doing market research and understanding where your income will come from is incredibly scary. Having a plan in place makes it more comfortable.

     

    Understanding the risk to reward ratio of becoming an entrepreneur can also make the transition smoother. Knowing that "you are in charge of you," "you write your own paycheck," and "you set your own work hours" can be the motivation that gets women to go from idea to actual company.