Resources for Entrepreneurs
Thinking about starting a business? Maybe you should think local! Here are some links to get you started:
Pitching your Idea
The art of the pitch has changed dramatically in the past few years. While business plans and powerpoint presentations have their place later in the process, the "elevator pitch" rules in the age of attention deficit. If you can deliver a memorable pitch to a large live audience under time constraints and in the face of competing ideas, you've really accomplished something.
Here are some links to show you how it is done:
Techcrunch Disrupt: Annual Competition and Hackathon
Y-Combinator: a pioneering incubator has funded over 1,500 startups including Dropbox and AirBnB
Y-Combinator Video Suggestions
For Young Entrepreneurs
Here are some cool national websites and competitions to check out:
Warren Buffett's Secret Millionaires Club
NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards $1,000 scholarships
Learn from the Experts
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CS183B is a class first taught at Stanford in the fall of 2014. It’s a sort of one-class business course for people who want to start startups. Videos of the lectures, associated reading materials, and assignments are all available here. There are 20 videos, some with a speaker or two and some with a small panel. It’s 1,000 minutes of content if you watch it all.
Confidentiality and Intellectual Property
So you have a great idea, but you're worried about telling the world because someone may copy you? You need to get your idea out there to get feedback and raise capital. Venture capitalists will not sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), since they see such a high volume of deals it's just not practical. Some smaller investors may be willing to sign NDAs, but keep in mind, NDA's are difficult to enforce.
Entrepreneurs should screen investors for conflicts prior to presenting to them. If you have information that is highly sensitive you should limit how much you disclose in initial meetings, and save it for when you are further along in the process and more comfortable.
If time and resources allow it, you should consider securing your corporate name, applicable URLs and trade or service marks prior to pitching your idea publicly. URLs, in particular, are inexpensive and easy to buy if they are original. If they are more obvious but registered to someone who is not using them, you can use a broker service to try to purchase a good one.
Unlike the traditional patent process, you can secure your idea for 12 months with very little supporting documentation. And the US Patent Office online system for filing provisional patents is surprisingly easy. You then have a year to see if your idea will fly before investing in a more substantive patent position.
Any ideas submitted to Mill Valley Labs or presented at any of our meetings or events are not covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements (we can't sign NDAs covering all of our members). However, we will not share proprietary information submitted to us on this site (video applications or presentaions) without your permission.