The Starting Point

Review: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries


I picked up my copy of The Lean Startup with great enthusiasm. It was one of those books that was generating a lot of buzz around the startup community. The last time I’d heard the tubes of the interwebs filing up with all that commotion was when 37signals’ book Rework was published March of last year.

Does the book match its hype? I would say Yes. In fact, if I’d had a copy made out of dead trees instead of digital bits (courtesy of iBooks and iPad), it would have had about a hundred sticky notes threatening to fall out of the pages. Honestly, I need to go back and reread the book and make copious notes. My usual method of reading is more akin to speed reading.

But enough of my preamble. What’s so great about the book and why should you read it?

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The future of work: Coworking


We here at North Bay Startup are big fans of coworking spaces, having written about the trend in the past (and certainly North Bay Startup is fully virtual!). It’s interesting that the trend is picking up steam not just among freelancers but also employees of larger companies as well. According to Don Ball, one of the co-founders of the CoCo space in Minneapolis, a number of workers hail from corporate environments and simply have chosen to “go rogue” — presumably because it can be hard to get real work done in a traditional office.

Watch a video of the Co-Working 2.0 panel at GigaOM’s Net:Work 2011 conference after the jump.
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Could Loan Forgiveness Increase Startups?

Young adults

Dealing with student loans and other debts can hurt startup plans in a variety of ways. It’s not fun trying to decide whether you should put money into the business or maybe make an extra large payment toward a student loan. Though there are incredibly successful college dropouts who didn’t have big debts like Steve Jobs, college provides invaluable contacts and resources most people can’t pass up.

Thankfully, the government and a new startup accelerator are offering help. Now you have a more few options for running a new business while putting your debts behind you. Read More »

Mobile Payment Alternatives: The Future of Payments


PayPal may be the standard online payment system for many companies, but a few new competitors have risen in popularity. In 2010, PayPal processed about $92 billion dollars, according to Portfolio. Online or alternative payment services will increase in the future as more business is conducted online: up to $355 billion in 2012, according to E-CommerceTimes.

PayPal’s fees for receiving money and other policy quirks can complicate simple transactions. Given the large increase in alternative payments options, some of these may better for you than PayPal. Compare the following programs and decide which one is the best alternative to PayPal.
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Need a virtual fax machine? gives you one…for free


Even though the technology of sending and receiving faxes is centuries old in “Internet” time, it nevertheless is still used in a lot of business-to-business communication. The problem is that most of us young whippersnappers simply refuse to buy a standalone fax machine.

Enter FaxLine, a new service by local ISP Anyone who is a customer can sign up for the new service (currently part of Sonic’s “labs” tools) and get a dedicated phone line to receive faxes via one or more email recipients. And the price of admission is…free.
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How does a region become a magnet for startups?


Sramana Mitra, the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) global initiative which seeks to nurture a million entrepreneurs to reach a million dollars each in annual revenue and beyond by 2020, asks this hypothetical question: how do you stimulate a region’s entrepreneurship? In other words, how do we move beyond thinking we need to head to Silicon Valley to start a successful venture but rather achieve success in many major hubs around the world — say in Dublin, Ireland, or Kolkata, India?

“My hypothesis is that people fear risk when it looks like a large blob of unknowns. But if a population can be thoroughly educated in the mechanics of building a venture, gradually, the fear goes away. The unknown turns into a blueprint. This education – teaching the framework of business building – is at the heart of catalyzing an entrepreneurial culture.”

I think what Sramana is saying is that a region’s likelihood to foster innovation in the world of startups and rapid-fire entrepreneurial activity is directly proportional to its level of education on the mechanics of creating ventures that work. And that ties into a lot of what I’ve been thinking about myself in regards to the North Bay. In so many respects, the startup founders and innovators I’ve met in this area have to head down Hwy 101 to the city or the valley to make connections with valuable resources, get training, find funding, etc. Shouldn’t it be a top priority of the business infrastructure in this area (colleges, local governments, investors, etc.) to alleviate some of that necessity?

Seems like a no brainer to me.

Read Sramana Mitra’s full article here.