The 90% failure rate is not entirely true. The power of MVPs!

MVP's (Minimum viable products) are simple prototypes typically built in a month to test a product.

Ive built a few in my time (web/mobile apps) and learned from each successive ones.

When they say that startups have a 90% failure rate, that is not entirely true i feel.

The more MVP's i build, or the more new products i bring to market, the better i get at it. My execution skill improves, i spend less money and gain more traction with each successive one.

There is a process to bring new products to market with out exposing your self too much risk.

Im by no means successful but my execution skill has improved allot. My product dev skills got better, i was able to make use of user feedback more effectively and my eye for identify market gaps and trends improved as well.

I still struggle with marketing and sales, but things are getting better.

My previous MVP was a temp storage app, like wetransfer. It was popular and still functional today. ( . But i learned the costs were just too much for me to scale. Luckily i only spent a month on it. If i spend more time and money it would have ben devastating. Luckily the MVP mythology reduced my risk.

My new app, is a stock analysis app to help people analyze company fundamentals. I noticed the stock market is really trending nowadays, and there are many new participants. I saw a need for a simple easy way for beginners to analyze a company's financials.

You can see from the app how ive managed keep things simple and focused. Keeping the app to a few core features. I built in a month, on Angular NodeJS and firebase. Data comes from a data aggregator (very common online).

If you have any questions about building MVP's let me know. Or you can share your MVP in the comments and i can give you my feedback. Good luck!

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

WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Mars Perseverance Mission Success Paves Way for How Big Dreams Can Come True (Episode 177)

On this morning’s WJR Business Beat, Jeff discusses the inspirational Mars Perseverance mission, and how just like the amazing men and women of NASA, entrepreneurs are similarly pushing the envelope every day.

Tune in to the Business Beat to hear more from Jeff!

“The pressure to get it right the first time, to get a million little things right the first time, is immense and unforgiving. But when it works, the euphoria of knowing you did it your way and succeeded is sublime.”

– Jeff Sloan

Tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Are you an entrepreneur with a great story to share? If so, contact us at and we’ll feature you on an upcoming segment of the WJR Business Beat!

Today’s Business Beat is brought to you by Dell Technologies

Good morning!

For all of you entrepreneurs out there, for all of the innovators and pioneers and all those bold enough to do it your way, just pause for a moment and think about what the amazing men and women of NASA achieved yesterday with the Mars Perseverance mission.

And know that just like them as entrepreneurs, we are pushing the envelope every day. We’re told it can’t be done. We’re told it shouldn’t be done. But when we believe in what we’re doing and are passionate and dedicated about seeing it through, just like that successful mission to Mars demonstrated yesterday, it can be done.

The Mars Perseverance mission required a million little things to go just right in a classic weakest link equation. If one of those million little things went wrong, the entire mission could be doomed. Even if every other little thing went exactly as planned.

And the same is true with the launch of any new business. The product has to be just right. It has to deliver the promised value. It has to be priced right. It has to be offered through the right channels and advertised with the right messaging and calls to action and on and on it goes.

The pressure to get it right the first time, to get a million little things right the first time, is immense and unforgiving. But when it works, the euphoria of knowing you did it your way and succeeded is sublime.

Make it a great weekend, everybody!

I’m Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of, and that’s today’s Business Beat on the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR.

The post WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Mars Perseverance Mission Success Paves Way for How Big Dreams Can Come True (Episode 177) appeared first on StartupNation.


The need for true equity in equity compensation

I began my career at Oracle in the mid-1980s and have since been around the proverbial block, particularly in Silicon Valley working for and with companies ranging from the Fortune 50 to global consulting companies to leading a number of startups, including the SaaS company I presently lead. Throughout my career, I’ve carved out a niche not only working with technology companies, but focused on designing and implementing global compensation programs.

In short, if there’s two things I know like the back of my hand, it’s tech and how people are paid.

The compensation evolution I’ve witnessed over these past 35+ years has been dramatic. Among other things, there has been a fundamentally seismic shift in how women are perceived and paid, principally for the better. Some of it, in truth, has been window dressing. It’s good PR to say you’re a company with a strong culture focused on diversity, as it helps attract top talent. But the rubber meets the road once hires get past the recruiter. When companies don’t do what they say, we see mass exoduses and even lawsuits, as has recently been the case at Pinterest and Carta.

So with the likes of Intel, Salesforce and Apple publicly committed to gender pay equity, there’s nothing left to see here, right? Actually, we’re not even close. Yes, the glass ceiling is cracking. But significant, largely unaddressed gaps remain relative to the broader scope of long-tail compensation for women, especially at startups, where essential measures of economic reward such as stock options in companies are often not even part of the conversation around pay parity.

As a baseline, while progress is evident, gender pay is an unfinished product to say the least. Recently the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found white women earn 83.3% as much as their white male counterparts, while African-American women earn 93.7% compared to men of their same race. Asian women made 77.1% and Hispanic women earned 85.1% as much respectively.

According to Payscale, the ratio of the median earnings of women to men has decreased by just $ 0.07 since 2015, and in 2020, women make $ 0.81 for every dollar a man makes. Long term, in calculating presumptive raises given over a 40-year career, women could lose as much as $ 900,000 over the duration of a career.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even if we solely left the gender pay gap to just a cash salary disparity, there is something further to see here. However, to quote a famous pitchman, “But wait, there’s more!” And the more — at least in my mind — is far more troubling.

As innovative startups from Silicon Valley to New York’s Silicon Alley and beyond continue to reshape the business landscape, guess how most of them are able to lure bright, entrepreneurial minds? It’s certainly not salary, as when a company has nothing beyond a great idea and maybe a lead to a VC on Sand Hill Road, there’s no fat paycheck or benefits package to offer. Instead, they dangle the proverbial carrot of stock/equity compensation.

“Look, we know you can get $ 180,000 a year from Apple but we’ll give you $ 48,000 a year plus 1,000 shares presently valuated at $ 62 per share. Our board — which is packed with studs from the Bay Area — is expecting that to soar within two years! Wait ‘til we go public!”

This is the pitch, at least if you’re a promising male. But women, historically, have tended to get left out of this lucrative reward package for varying reasons.

How has this happened? Beyond just a furtherance of business culture, while there have been legislative steps taken to address inequities in public company compensation and stock dispersal, there are no regulations as to how private companies distribute or manage the appreciation of stock. And, as we all know, the appreciation can be potentially massive.

It makes sense. Many companies and even naïve job-seekers consider equity as the “third pillar” of compensation beyond titles/compensation (which come hand-in-hand) and benefits. Shares of startups are just not top-of-mind — often ignored or misunderstood — by many who look at gender pay inequities, although that could not be more misguided.

A recent study published in the “Journal of Applied Psychology” found a gender gap for equity-based awards ranging from 15%-30% — even beyond accounting for typical reasons women historically earn less than men, including differences in occupation and length of service at a company. Keep in mind many of these companies will go on to massive valuations, and for some, lucrative IPOs or acquisitions.

It’s a problem I recognized long ago, and it is largely why I agreed to lead our Bay Area startup on behalf of our New York-based parent company AST. I found a commitment to a genuinely equitable culture instilled by a shared moral compass, a belief that companies who care about gender equity perform better and provide better returns, and a conviction that diversity brings unique perspectives, drives talent retention, builds a stronger culture and aids client satisfaction.

In speaking with industry colleagues, I know it’s something CEOs, both men and women, are dedicated to addressing. I believe creating a broader picture of compensation is essential for startups, global conglomerates and every company in between. If you are in a position of leadership and recognize this is a challenge in need of addressing at your company, here are some steps I recommend you implement:

  1. Look at the data: Do the analysis. See if this is truly an issue at your company, and if it is, commit to creating a level playing field. There are plenty of experienced consultants who can help you work through remediation strategies.
  2. Remove subjectivity: Hire an independent arbiter to analyze your data, as it removes the politics and emotion, as well as bias from the work product.
  3. Create compensation bands: Much like the government’s GS system, create a salary grade system that contains bands of compensation for specific roles. Prior to hiring a person, decide which band the job responsibilities should be assigned.
  4. Empower a champion: Identify and empower an internal champion to truly own parity — someone whose performance is judged based upon creating equity company-wide. Instead of assigning it to your human resources chief, create a chief diversity officer role to own it. After all, this is bigger than just pay or medical benefits. This is the culture and thus foundation of your company.
  5. Get your board on board: Educate your board as to why this matters. If your board doesn’t value this, it ultimately won’t matter. Companies have audit committee chairs or nominations chairs. Identify a “culture chair.”

One of the first reports we created is a Pay Comparison Report so there are tools anyone in management can easily use to review stock grants made to all employees and ensure equity between people of different ethnicities or gender. It’s not that hard if you care to look.

When I was graduating from college and Ronald Reagan was in office, we were talking about the potential for women to break the glass ceiling. Now, many years later, somehow we’ve managed to develop lights you can turn on and off by clapping and most of us are walking around with the power of a supercomputer in our hands. Is it really asking too much that we require gender pay equity, including all three compensation pillars (cash, benefits and stock), to be a priority?


Startups – TechCrunch

Copenhagen-based startup True Gum raises €1 million as demand for plastic-free chewing gum builds

The demand for plant-based foods continues to soar, and the chewing gum shelves are no different. The Copenhagen-based startup True Gum, who produces a plastic-free and plant-based chewing gum, has just raised €1 million from a German VC to further expand their efforts. The investor is the venture capital fund Oyster Bay, which specializes in…

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True Link taps $35M for financial services tailored for elderly, disabled and recovering consumers

A lot of tech is built on the premise of services that can target the widest or most lucrative pools of users (and they’re a blockbuster when they can do both). But that leaves out a number of consumers, who fall into the margins for all kinds of reasons, be they physical, age, financial or other circumstances. Today, a startup building financial services specifically aimed at three typically marginalised markets — elderly, disabled people and those who are recovering from addiction — is announcing some funding on the back of strong growth of its business, and plans to do more.

True Link Financial, which provides financial services — specifically, today in the form of prepaid Visa cards and investment management — aimed at the three demographics, is announcing that it has closed a Series B of $ 35 million, led by Khosla Ventures with strong participation from Centana Growth Partners, an investor that specialises in financial services. We understand the valuation is now around $ 115 million.

Kai Stinchcombe, the CEO who co-founded the company with Claire McDonnell (the COO), says the plan will be to invest the money in adding more products to the mix, with insurance (life insurance) likely to come next, along with more credit-based services.

Interestingly, the company had raised a smaller Series B of $ 21 million from Khosla about 14 months ago — and started to pitch the news to TechCrunch back then.

“We’d mostly written the press release but then just didn’t get around to it,” Stinchcombe said with a little laugh. In the meantime, the company doubled in size in terms of revenues, and then Centana came along. Because of its financial services focus it was an investor True Link really wanted to get on board, so it reopened the round, closed the deal and finally announced the news.

Indeed, Centana spotted the opportunity specifically around providing services for elderly people.

“True Link is fundamentally changing people’s financial lives at a time when they are the most vulnerable,” said Tom Davis, principal at Centana Growth Partners, in a statement. “The number of Americans ages 65 and older will likely double to over 80 million in the next 20 years, and this demographic is fortunately living longer and more independently than ever before. No one should be taken advantage of at a time when they need the most support, and customers and families consistently speak to the ways in which True Link has enabled them to retain financial freedom. We are thrilled to partner with True Link and invest in their mission to bring unique financial products to this market.” Davis is joining the board with this round, along with David Weiden from Khosla.

It’s ironic that the boost in personalisation that’s been afforded by the expansion and growing sophistication of technology hasn’t trickled down into more services built for the long-tail of would-be customers, so it’s always refreshing when you come across a startup that is tackling that very opportunity. In the case of True Link, the startup (founded in 2012) has taken the same products but tweaked them specifically with the particular user group in mind.

The True Link Card for Vulnerable Elders is based around the idea of giving an older person some autonomy with their money but with visibility for another person either to limit where and how that money is spent, or simply to be able to monitor where it is going. It also makes it easier for elderly users to pass on their cards to caregivers to make a purchase on their behalf without needing to track whether that’s been used exactly as requested (as there is a limit). It was, in fact, Stinchcombe’s own experience with a grandparent losing money in a case of fraud and financial abuse that led him to start this company.

The True Link Card for People in Recovery is based around the idea that people who are in that situation are usually engaged in a long-term struggle not to fall off the wagon. This can be tailored both to limit purchases at specific types of businesses (e.g. casinos or bars), and also make it harder to take money out. “The thought here is that if you have a relapse along that journey, there is a transaction that could have been prevented,” he said. “Our goal is to raise the barrier, provide one more roadblock to relapsing.”

Services for those with disabilities are aimed at providing a link between a third-party administrator and the customer, so that the former has better tools for record keeping that can be necessary for benefits and also for local authorities to make sure that a person is being looked after well. Similarly those with cognitive or other behavioral issues can still maintain some financial independence and to learn more of it, but with better controls in place should something go awry. Stinchcombe said that for many this represents the first time that they have been given that kind of autonomy. The company is based and active for now only in the U.S., and True Link says it works with nearly half of participants in state-administered ABLE Act programs.

While some might say that “marginal” means “small,” there is still a big opportunity, both in the U.S. and further afield (where True Link would likely work with a partner to roll out, said Stinchcombe).

“True Link has a great combination of a passionate team, a large and underserved market, and a proven product offering that is ready to scale,” said Weiden, in a statement. “We are excited to partner with them and improve financial flexibility and dignity for millions of people.”

Startups – TechCrunch