11 months ago I posted asking “What is the reason no one is competing with UpWork?”. Today we are announcing our Series A!

Reposting a redacted version because previous post got removed for mentioning product identifying details.

11 months ago I posted on r/startups asking What is the reason no one is competing with UpWork?.

It has been a crazy year since!

I've moved to SF.

I met my co-founder during COVID.

When we realized that our goals were aligned we've committed to building this together.

From there on we'd meet every morning, share breakfast, brainstorm on the whiteboard (very old school I know), work together, & take long walks way past sunset.

Our friendship grew stronger and so did our conviction about the size of the opportunity.

And once we realized how big this thing could be, we started recruiting our engineers, designers, community team, … all around the idea of giving everyone the freedom and opportunity to work independently.

We've hired a ton of extraordinarily talented & caring people. We've raised our pre-seed, seed and series A. We've are building an amazing product using an amazing technology stack.

[redacted]

Today I am the happiest I've ever been, working with the greatest team in the world, solving a problem I deeply care about. We just had our (mostly remote) launch party, and I just wanted to share this excitement with r/startups and encourage everyone to never give up if you are truly convinced about something. 😊

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

11 months ago I posted asking “What is the reason no one is competing with UpWork?”. Today we are announcing our Series A!

11 months ago I posted on /r/startups asking What is the reason no one is competing with UpWork?.

It has been a crazy year since!

I've moved to SF.

I met my co-founder during COVID.

When we realized that our goals were aligned we've committed to building this together.

From there on we'd meet every morning, share breakfast, brainstorm on the whiteboard (very old school I know), work together, & take long walks way past sunset.

Our friendship grew stronger and so did our conviction about the size of the opportunity.

And once we realized how big this thing could be, we started recruiting our engineers, designers, community team, … all around the idea of giving everyone the freedom and opportunity to work independently.

We've hired a ton of extraordinarily talented & caring people. We've raised our pre-seed, seed and series A. We've are building an amazing product using an amazing technology stack.

Our platform is called Contra, and today we are sharing the first preview on ProductHunt. With today’s release, we are giving people the tools to describe their proudest career moments, publicly thank the people with whom they’ve worked with, and begin accepting inquiries for future opportunities.

This is the first Contra drop of many that will shape the new prfessional ntwork for your independent journey. A zero commission alternative to the existing freelancing platforms.

Today I am the happiest I've ever been, working with the greatest team in the world, solving a problem I deeply care about. We just had our (mostly remote) launch party, and I just wanted to share this excitement with /r/startups and encourage everyone to never give up if you are truly convinced about something. 😊

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

A Domain Broker Stole My Company Name. Here’s How I Bought It Back for 1/5 of The Asking Price.

Worried about someone stealing your name, brand, or domain? Here are some tips from “the ruthless negotiator”.

Entrepreneur's Handbook – Medium

Female-Founded Afloat App Makes Asking for Help Easier

Asking for help is hard because being vulnerable is hard. Female entrepreneur, Sarah-Allen Preston, launched an app to help people who feel like they’re sinking, but have a hard time leaning on their community to receive a helping hand. Preston shares how her own traumatic experiences pushed her to find a solution to help others create an online support system and accept help in non-traditional ways when they need it most.

When Sarah-Allen Preston shared her big idea, several people in her professional network told her not to pursue it. Not because it was a bad concept, but because it would be a huge undertaking—especially for a busy mother of three.

Sarah-Allen Preston, Afloat
(Sarah-Allen Preston, founder of Afloat)

Preston launched her app, Afloat, to help people who feel like they’re sinking. It allows users to create an online support system and send or receive help.

“I’m very tenacious,” Preston admits. “When I have a gut feeling about something I truly believe in, I need to go for it. So, when I heard people say, ‘Oh, this is kind of scary,’ I said, ‘Nope, I’m doing it.’ And I focused on all the positive feedback instead.”


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When life hands you lemons… make your neighbor lemonade

Preston isn’t your typical tech entrepreneur. In 2017, she ran a successful event design and production company, constantly sprinting from venue to venue throughout Kansas City, juggling all the little details that go into dream weddings and other high-end events. Then, something happened that stopped her in her tracks.

At just 5 months old, her youngest son was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and needed open-heart surgery.

“That kind of rocked my world,” Preston said. “I was thrown for the first huge loop in my life where I felt so out of control and really leaned on my community for support for the first time and in a big way.”

Her friends, family and community rallied around her, giving her the love and support she needed to lead her family. But even as she traversed one of the most challenging times of her life, she was able to look past her own pain to see the suffering of others. She couldn’t help but notice that, oftentimes, patients had one or two caregivers and no other visitors came by to offer support or relief.

When her son was diagnosed, Preston began getting regular massages for stress. During these appointments, she developed a good relationship with her masseuse, openly communicating about a variety of topics, including her time spent at the hospital.

“I had a conversation with my masseuse, and she mentioned that students had to fulfill a certain amount of community service hours before they could get their massage certification,” she recalls. “And I just came from this hospital with all these stressed out, in-patient caregivers that didn’t have the support network I had, and I thought, ‘How great would it be if we could hook up these masseuses that need to fill hours with these people that have no one there for them right now?’

Preston arranged a meeting with the hospital’s family resource center. They loved the idea, so she made it happen. They now offer massage services to in-patient caregivers every Tuesday inside the hospital’s Kreamer Resource Center.

She couldn’t believe how good it felt to help others. This experience planted a seed that she filed away in the back of her mind as her son’s health improved, and her life eventually went back to normal.


Related: How AR and AI are Driving Innovation Amid Social Distancing

Raise your hand if you need a hand

Fast forward two years and Preston’s life was in chaos once again. She made the difficult decision to end her marriage, and, this time, she chose to suffer in silence. When her son was in trouble, she leaned on her network, but when she was in pain, she chose to isolate from her network: “I had the same support network, but I didn’t want to access them because I wasn’t ready to be vulnerable about it yet.”

She thought to herself, “I wish I could send out a signal for a little help—like dinner for my kids—with no questions asked—there should be an app for that!” Instead of wading in self-pity, Preston took action. That’s when the idea for Afloat came together.

“It started as a way just to raise your hand if you needed help,” she explains. “Or if you’re a friend with the bandwidth to give, you can hop on the app and look for ways that you can give back to your friends, your neighbors, your church, your school, whatever communities you’re a part of.”

Along with a partner, Preston used her own money to hire a developer to create the beta version of the app’s simple and friendly interface. Upon downloading, users are guided through a short onboarding process that collects basic information. They then get recommendations to join groups nearby or with interests similar to theirs, or they are prompted to create a group themselves.

Once a user is part of a group, they simply press the plus sign on the bottom of the home screen, which allows them to “ask” for or “give” help. Requests appear in the group feeds, and any “afloats” that a user is currently engaged in will populate at the top of their home screen. To send someone a gift, a user would go to the person’s profile inside the group and select the present icon. From there, they’re forwarded to the shops where they can choose what they want to send. If the giftee shared their address during sign-up, the giver doesn’t have to include any contact details.

“Everyone I was talking to was saying, ‘Yes, I do need help sometimes, but I don’t want to ask for it.’ And it’s always women because we’re so used to carrying everything on our backs. And we say, ‘No, I’m fine. I’ve got it.’ So we built this app to be so uplifting, so easy, and a place where it doesn’t feel scary to reach out and ask for help.”

“I think everyone needs to break down that barrier. Even in a group text, even to my best friends, people I’ve known for years, I wasn’t about to text them and say, ‘Hey, I’m having a bad day. Can you bring me dinner?’ It’s so weird that I wouldn’t just ask that,” she said.

For many people, that hesitation to seek help is a daily struggle. In his book, “All You Have to Do Is Ask,” Wayne Baker, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, writes: “We often underestimate how willing people are to help us. And we often limit ourselves unnecessarily when we’re turned down for the first time.” Afloat is working hard to change that.

Floating forward

After a round of financing, the Afloat app launched out of beta in November 2020. The new version kicks it up a notch, intentionally incorporating small businesses into the equation.

“In our beta, we saw a lot of people paying it forward to support local businesses or trying to get their favorite organizations involved in their gifting and supporting their networks,” Preston said.

For example, a user would opt to send someone flowers from their local flower shop because their mom was in the hospital. With the new version of the app, “We still have that element of neighbors organizing a can drive or someone reaching out with, ‘Hey, I’m out of pipe cleaners I need for a homeschool project.’ But we’re also allowing these personal networks and businesses to work together to build an online community for giving.”

Imagine someone in your network posting, “I need a dozen cookies for my son’s bake sale tomorrow —I’m stuck at work!” You could answer this request by hitting, “I’m on it!” and then fulfill the request in a couple of different ways: You could buy some cookies at the store or bake them yourself and drop them off at the requestee’s home; or, because Afloat has a cookie-crafter as one of its “gifting partners,” you could purchase the cookies and arrange delivery, all within the app.

Afloat has a growing list of gifting partners, including a florist, a cook, a cookie-maker, a monogrammer, and a jeweler, who all happen to be moms. “Moms, I think, just really understand the need to have help and appreciate it,” Preston said.


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Social networking done right

Preston can’t help but wonder what the need for an app to facilitate people asking their inner circles for help says about society.

“Check out ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix,” she said. “We missed the step where social media actually allows you to connect. We went from being genuinely connected to being socially disconnected. Everyone inherently has the same questions about social media, why is it so shallow? Why am I not connecting with people?

“So I think an app like this is really important because it brings a positive action into a tech space. Like when you can get a workout class on your phone. That’s something actionable. It diffuses anxiety; it starts a positive ripple effect,” Preston said.

“We’re hoping to do the same thing with this kind of do-good marketplace, whether that’s helping your neighbor out because she had to run to the grocery store and she needs you to watch her kids, or you’re running to the grocery store and you throw out via the ‘give’ button, ‘Going to Trader Joe’s, anybody need anything?’ Even a small step like that can make a huge difference for someone else.”

Unlike traditional social media, Preston said, “Afloat isn’t all about likes. It’s about really giving to people and connecting with them, connecting with your communities, and with businesses in a more authentic way.”

As we close out one of the most chaotic years in recent history, it’s evident that, more than ever, we need to lean on each other to stay afloat.


Originally published on DellTechnologies.com by Tamara Franklin

The post Female-Founded Afloat App Makes Asking for Help Easier appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Me asking about a specific Facebook ad strategy

Hi everyone,

I've been doing music for 11 years. (Producing, engineering, mixing, mastering.. that stuff!)

I helped lots of local/close customers but now i'm recently focusing to be a B2B online service for this specific customer. I'm fairly familiar in creating catchy video ads, but i'm not fairly sure what the best way is to share this through ads.

As most of you know, facebook's best/most used campaign strategies are Brand awareness, Click to website and Conversions.

I would like to know how i fairly can use the best ad strategy for my service.

What i know, been through and got:

  • Facebook Audience insights with a fairly broad audience.
  • Facebook page made
  • Video ad with example included made
  • Website up with (i think) everything important included. Product example, testimonials, about me, contact information. Very straight forward website!
  • Google business is up, no ad up.

Hope someone out there can help! If i miss something or you need more information, let me know!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Asking a mentor to become an angel investor

We just finished an accelerator program where we were matched with 7 lead mentors for my startup. I'm now starting to raise a pre-seed round (will be the first money in aside from the accelerator) and looking for the first angel investors to get in before a pre-seed fund. Tomorrow I'm meeting with my favorite of these 7 lead mentors, he introduced us to the audience at the demo day. He has started a company with a big successful exit before, and I'd like to ask him to angel invest in our round, he has said he believes in the company. But I also know that he wanted to stick around and keep mentoring us well after the program, and I have a slight fear that asking him to angel invest may sever the relationship. Even without investment, his advice and intros have been super valuable the past few months. How would you recommend approaching this conversation?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

[Virgin Hyperloop One in Fortune] Hyperloop wants to connect people to opportunity, but city leaders are asking who benefits the most

Over half of the world’s population now live in urban centers, and that percentage is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade. In order to accommodate this massive influx, cities will have to expand and upgrade existing infrastructure. But as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on state and local budgets, those preparations have largely been placed on the back burner. That’s where Josh Giegel, cofounder and chief technology officer at Virgin Hyperloop, said the company can step in.

Read more here.

The post [Virgin Hyperloop One in Fortune] Hyperloop wants to connect people to opportunity, but city leaders are asking who benefits the most appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

I’m tired of having no idea how to improve the product and make my users happier. Asking them doesn’t work, I need to optimize with the collected data. Somehow. Who here has a similar problem? How do you guys go about this in your business?

So I have an app with some user base and really want to make it better. Found out some bottlenecks, but that's that. When I ask my customers, they don't really know, how to improve the product, so I need to find the answer in the data. Demographics etc. doesn't help, I somehow need to get into my users' subconsciousness xD and find out, where their dedication lessens.

There should be a solution – would love an advice. What are your ideas? How do you solve this problem in you startup?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

What should be my first reach-out to people on my waitlist, when asking for beta testers?

So i've been working on this product since March really, I was conducting customer interviews and then I ran a Facebook advert to my waitlist page to see if the messaging/product was attractive. I ended up getting about 300 people signed up in 24ish hours. So the mix of my waitlist is about 20% customer interviews (on the list in March), 60% from the advert (signed up in May) and 20% from recently where I posted about it in industry-related facebook groups.

I am now about 1ish months away from finishing the first version of the product, and I need to start getting beta testers lined up. I'm having trouble pulling the trigger on emailing them, since some of them I spoke to on the phone back in March and they may not even remember who I am, some of them have more recently signed up and are a bit 'warmer'.

Should I send one email to the entire list? E.g. 'Want to be the first to try XYZ?' or should I send separate, personal emails to the first group of customer interviews?

If not, how should I split it up (or not)?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!