News + Resources

A Dollar and A Dream: A Lesson in Abundance

Grace Yi - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guest Post by Derrick Braziel

 

There is a permeating barrier that blocks many entrepreneurs from taking the plunge and moving their business idea to the next stage.  More often than not, the paralysis of fear inhibits many of us from pursuing our goals, and instead, turns our attention to the laundry list of limitations rather than advantages that may be facing us.

Do we live with the mentality of scarcity then?

What is the Scarcity Mentality, you might ask?

The Scarcity Mentality, coined by Stephen Covey in his best-seller, The Five Habits of Highly Effective People can be explained as:

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.

The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.

Why is this important?

Coming from the traditional not-for-profit world, I observed a pervasive mindset from people who believed that in order for any undertaking to launch, you need one thing: CAPITAL.  This paradigm, in an attempt to mitigate risk, creates invisible barriers that in many instances hampers creativity and growth.  My life experiences have proven that the world does not operate within the Scarcity mindset, but rather, operates based upon a precept of abundance. 

The  Abundance Mentality, according to Covey, flows “out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

In other words, having the mentality of abundance assumes that individuals and communities have assets to share and collectively benefit from, which in turn increases, rather than depletes the resources afforded to those who invest in one another.

Dreamapolis, the organization that I helped create, has continued to grow as a result of a deep-seated belief in abundance.  Since September, the team members of Dreamapolis and I have worked tirelessly without receiving a dollar in compensation.  I have had to find creative ways to pay my bills, put gas in my car, and when necessary, provide for my most basic needs.  But through this, I have not wavered in my passions, and the Universe responded.  Dreamapolis is now in a position where we are continuing to grow and are now distributing seed grants to three urban Indianapolis entrepreneurs to help them turn their dreams into a reality.  Furthermore, the Abundance Mentality has brought us sponsors that are giving us the ability to provide $500 in additional seed grants for young entrepreneurs in our community. 

Did I mention that we are doing this without receiving a single dollar in revenue?  The world has continued to deliver circumstances, both positive and challenging, that we are leveraging in an effort to provide opportunities for others.

So let me ask you this: Is your glass half-empty or half-full? 

When you come to the realization that your search for outside resources diminishes what you already have at your disposal, you develop an Abundance Mentality that will propel you to create more opportunities for yourself and the community around you.

The Alchemist says that, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” When you change the way you think, you change the way you act, which changes the way the world responds. And this, it appears, involves the entire community to work together in getting things done.

Think Different.

Grace Yi - Thursday, January 19, 2012

Posted by Grace Yi

 

In his biography, the late Steve Jobs stated early in his career that he set out to “make a dent in the universe.” For many of us, it’s significant enough to “make a dent,” or, more fittingly, produce something meaningful, on a scale that impacts our families and communities.

Like Jobs, many individuals and organizations understand the value in one’s ability to adapt to and innovate with change. Easier said than done, right?

Our time spent at last weekend’s RELOAD Conference with the Urban Youth Network Institute demonstrated the difficulty in change and adaptation. Resources to help fund social service and ministry-related work continue to be scaled down at an increasing rate. And yet, the needs of the community are undoubtedly growing exponentially as families tighten their economic belts.

Such is the case for communities across the globe, but how are we doing anything differently? If the world’s changed so much in the last decade, why hasn’t our approach in addressing some of these problems changed as radically as the issues in themselves?

Think different.

This was the slogan for Apple’s major marketing campaign in the late 1990s that so aptly represents what StartingUp Now values as an organization, aiming to provide people the tools and training to access and create opportunities for themselves.

In thinking different, we want to act different. In order to create, innovate and collaborate for greater impact, we plan to experiment. To try new things. Play. Engage. And question our tactics. Our activities. With the intent to support those pursuing their goals.

More importantly, we want you to participate with us. We couldn’t imagine doing this alone, so join us as we take the plunge and create new opportunities for our communities.

Activate your business idea and help us spread the word with these two highlights:

 

Google+ Hangout – A Training for New or Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Got a business idea? Great! Don't know where to start or how to grow? No problem. We're here to help you.

In this 1-hour webinar with Brian Jenkins, you will learn how to use the StartingUp Now guidebook, take away techniques and insights into business-planning, and meet other passionate entrepreneurs looking to share and connect.

For more information and to register, check out our Eventbrite here.

 

StartingUp Now on WVON’s Radio Show: “The Greenpreneur”

Brian Jenkins of StartingUp Now and Technology Consultant, Vince McCaskill, will be speaking with Michael Thomas of the “The Greenpreneur” on Chicago’s local radio station, WVON (1690 AM). The show will highlight how StartingUp Now is being used to activate one’s entrepreneurial inner drive while acting as a catalyst to unleash the entrepreneur within any individual.

Jenkins and McCaskill will also speak about their collaborative work on StartingUp Now’s eTech IT Training Program, an after-school high school program training students around entrepreneurship and technology-based skills.

WVON – 1690 AM

Saturday, January 20 at 5:00pm CST

 

 


Raising Capital Takes 3 P's

Grace Yi - Thursday, January 12, 2012

Posted by Brian Jenkins

 

 

 

I believe that every challenge presents an opportunity.

Identifying the capital to move your idea from the dream stage to launch stage is both a challenge and an opportunity. First know this: you are not alone.  For many launching their first business, or even for those who have successfully launched, identifying start-up and growth capital is a daunting task.

My own experience in raising capital proved to expose and engender me to opportunities that I had never expected. However, the difference between chasing capital versus securing it has more to do with you than you think it does.

A few years ago, I was invited to pitch a project to a new group of potential investors that I had never met at their investment club meeting. A few of the people there were some of Chicago's key business leaders and represented significant wealth--the 1% as politicians would refer to them as. For the most part, they were regular people that happened to be friends of the host, and I enjoyed meeting with them. Though nervous at the onset of my presentation, I kept it focused and clear while confidently sharing about the opportunity involved. The host pulled me aside as people were preparing to leave shortly after my presentation and informed me that enough funding was secured to move the project forward. I was elated! What occurred next was remarkable.

On my drive back to Chicago, I received a call from a couple that had attended the presentation, asking if they could schedule a meeting to learn more about my story and the details of the company. I was shocked at their interest, but knew I had to be prepared for an opportunity I hadn’t anticipated.

We met as scheduled over breakfast and connected while learning about our respective backgrounds, families, and future goals. A single question was then asked of me: “What would you do with $250,000 in investment?” Though caught off guard due to the nature of their interest in my work, I responded—to their amazement—by pulling out 2 copies of my business plan for their review. Surprises were exchanged both ways, but it wasn’t for any lack of preparation on my end that prevented our conversation from moving forward.

The next day, I received a call asking when I would like to stop by their home to pick up the check. I had secured investment capital and found partners who wanted to join me. That experience has informed me to advise many entrepreneurs, both youth and adults, to always: Pitch your ideas, identify Partners, and always be Prepared for success.

The 3 P’s in Raising Capital:

  1. Pitch, Pitch, Pitch (and then pitch some more) your idea within your circle. A colleague shared, “If you don’t pitch…you won’t know what the questions are.” Most presentations and pitch opportunities will likely lead to future prospects to pitch, allowing you to “Tell Your Story” while connecting you to seasoned experts in the field as well as their networks. 
  1. Partner – Identify a capital partner within and outside your circle of influence. Many will immediately say, “But I don’t have a capital partner!” My response: new ideas may require new relationships. It’s likely you’ll have to expand your circle. They’re out there, but where do potential capital relationships “hang out”? Find out who they are, where they work, what do they do, and what social gatherings they typically attend to get to where you want to go.
  1. Preparation – Total preparation demands strategic anticipation. Simply put, if you want to successfully secure capital, you must anticipate securing the capital before the meeting takes place. Developing a healthy Positive Visual Outcome (PVO) will hone your awareness. Visualizing yourself executing the steps in your business plan requires prior planning to achieve outcomes for yourself as well as the potential investor(s) you meet with. Many entrepreneurs have great ideas but have not planned for success, thereby limiting their own opportunities.

 

photo credit: Liz Song

 

eTech Students Get Exposed in the City

L. Brian Jenkins, MA - Thursday, December 01, 2011

Posted by Grace Yi

 

Students from the StartingUp Now eTech IT Training Program got exposed to their first business pitch event at the November Technori Pitch gathering last night.

 

Through the generous support of Seth Kravitz and team at Technori (thanks, everyone!), almost 50 high school students and their eTech instructors from our 2 program locations, YMEN and Tha House, sat inside the Chase Auditorium with 500 other entrepreneurs, developers and tech enthusiasts listening to 6 startups pitch their product and services.

The event, though normally a buzz with plenty of enthusiasm from the crowd, was all the more exciting as I overheard students sitting next to me whisper thoughtful and humorous comments about the companies’ pitches. Each of them had their favorites, running the gamut for why they liked the pitch—ranging from the usability of the product to the way team members presented their information and fielded questions by the audience. It was clear their interest was piqued as the evening progressed, culminating into conversations post-event about the types of businesses many of them envisioned to launch themselves.

We're hoping that this event, along with many other field trips we've got lined up, will help cultivate real opportunities for students to access inspiring ideas, information, and networks to help develop their budding entrepreneurial futures.

It’s never too early to start dreaming and planning, and we couldn’t think of a better way for getting them plugged in to a dynamic, growing and creative industry than technology. Let the developing begin…

 


 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

StartingUp Now eTech students & trainers with Technori Co-founders, Seth Kravitz and Val Chulamorkodt

 

photo credit: Brad Wilkening

& Yolanda Richards-Albert  

 


 

 

The First (Conference) of Many to Come

L. Brian Jenkins, MA - Wednesday, November 09, 2011

We had the opportunity to attend our first conference as presenters at Innovate 2011, Christian Community Development Association’s (CCDA) national conference, which was held in Indianapolis, Indiana this past October. The theme focused on addressing innovative approaches to implementing Christian Community Development practices in our neighborhoods with an emphasis on educational reform.   

It was an incredible experience to connect with community advocates and leaders who are helping meet the spiritual, social and organizational needs of many underprivileged groups.

Falling under workshop tracks listed as Business as Ministry and Youth Empowerment, we presented on StartingUp Now’s model and separately discussed the shift in training and empowering youth around entrepreneurship with a presentation on the “E Generation.”

The tech industry, we emphasize, is a labor market that remains one of the few places that can been seen as a level playing field should individuals have the capacity and capabilities to develop technology software and tools as a skilled worker. We believe that training youth and young adults in technology development will help position them to be competitively employable in an ever-growing global marketplace.

Conversations and ideas were shared, birthed and cultivated during our time at the conference. We’re thankful for many of the people who stopped by our booth to not only learn more about entrepreneurship and sustainable models to replicate for those they serve in their communities, but for the positive feedback for what we’re doing to help many of them think through and implement new models that can be integrated into their existing work. 

No More Nonprofits?

L. Brian Jenkins, MA - Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Is the not-for-profit organizational model viable for creating sustainable impacts in under-resourced communities?

This is a question that I have often asked myself as the founder of a nonprofit operating in this space. Having spent 17 years in this sector, and successfully launched and operated a small nonprofit that primarily serves urban youth and youth workers, I’m concerned that the organizational structure only enables dependency that we often strive to minimize. Models that are dependent on the benevolence of donors in order for the organization to fulfill its mission are usually not replicable. Models that are dependent on your network lean towards focusing on the donor vs. the fulfillment of the organization’s mission.  Nonprofit structures, at their very core, are not designed to generate profits, but rather exist to satisfy a social need. While many of these organizations have noble causes, those who broker the relationships with the donors often have the relational capital to secure the financial resources for those they serve. However, the individuals and communities that are served are still dependent on a person or an entity for their survival. Models that encourage dependency from its constituents don’t seem to transfer power—or their influential relationships—all that easily.

How then can we begin to leverage relationships to directly assist those beneficiaries?

By placing the focus on the person, rather than the organization. Long-term models of resource dependency have the potential to reduce a person’s creative capacity, which can instill a complacent behavior. Entrepreneurs, when starting their own business, often have a sense of pride and accomplishment that instills dignity and value. The power in taking an entrepreneurial risk is the power of choice. In order for this to happen, however, accessible and applicable tools are needed. Not the grandiose speaker imaging false models of “success,” but solutions-based approaches in which a person can practically utilize simple tools, create a strategy, and maximize resources within their reach to develop and actualize their passionate pursuits.

This, friends, is StartingUp Now…welcome to your journey.


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