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7 Strategies Serial Entrepreneurs Use To Find Investors

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Entrepreneurs sitting at a conference table

You have a fantastic idea that could change the world, disrupt an industry, or impact millions (possibly billions) of people. You know exactly what you’re doing, how you’re going to do it, and a great team supporting your vision. But you lack the most important resources of all – money. The idea might be great, but you know darn well it’s dead in the water without substantial seed capital supporting it. So now it’s back in the trenches to find investors to back your ideas. Luckily there are proven strategies that’s worked for millions of entrepreneurs and successful startups that you can adopt.

Through Your Immediate Network

Young female asian entrepreneurs

This might be obvious, but you need to start with your immediate network and ask if anyone is already an investor. You never know if someone is actually an accredited investor. An investor doesn’t have to be walking around in suits and be publicly a part of any investor network. It could be a close friend who believes in your idea and is willing to put money down to invest in you. Before you go and seek investors outside your network, check with your own network.

Look Them Up Online

Computer research

Finding investors probably isn’t as hard as you might think. Most angel investor networks and VC firms make themselves very known and you can often do a quick Google search to find a handful of angel networks and VC’s in the area. They’ll often have a website or at least a Linkedin page. From there, it’s up to your hustling skills to reach out and schedule a meeting.

At Investor-specific Events

Look on Event Bright, Net Mixer, or other event-curated websites for upcoming conferences or events that are catered to Investors specifically. You’ll increase your chances of shaking hands with investors in person. Meeting them in person first can sometimes be better than cold emailing them. At these events, you’ll have the opportunity to meet them, get to know them, share a joke or two, and then ask for their card to follow up later. But do be mindful of their time and of the event’s goals. You’re likely not the only ones trying to get in front of them and there may be other startups there constantly trying to pitch to them. Meeting them is great, but don’t look desperate and try to pitch to every investor you come into contact with.

Angel Investor Networks

An Angel investor network will have a pool of angel investors who put their money into an organization and that organization find startups like you to invest in, on behalf of the investors in their network. Angel investor networks are very common and they host meetings regularly to put startups in front of a group to pitch. Most of them will have some sort of minimal fee to pitch, just to ensure that you’re serious. These groups are also easily found online and very receptive to your reaching out.

Be Friends With Investors Who Can’t Invest In You

Investor friends

Investors will typically have a specific industry or niche that they focus on because they’re more knowledgeable in that subject. Not every investor will even entertain your idea, and that’s ok. Make it a point to be friends with a lot of investors just for the sake of friendship and ask for advice instead. They may not be able to invest in you directly, but they have plenty of friends in their network who can. And being investors, they can also help prepare you so you have the highest possible chance of success when you pitch to prospective investors.

Join An Accelerator

Accelerators can be found in many large cities and they’re a great way to literally accelerate your timeline, get things moving, and meet potential investors. Typically an accelerator program may last anywhere from 3 – 6 months. And at the very end, there’s usually an organized pitch event to get your startups in front of investors in that city. Investors attending these events are much more likely to invest in you because they know that you’re likely a much more high-quality startup because you graduated from an accelerator program they trust. And there’s probably already been vetting done, which saves them a bit of time on due diligence.

Join Your Local Startup Community

If you live in a big city or have access to get to one, there’s likely already a big startup scene there. There’s plenty of organizations, programs, events going on all the time. Be sure to do your research and be a part of the community. Attend events, volunteer, and take advantage of resources these organizations and communities offer. The more exposure you have with these communities, the more friends you’ll make. And eventually, you’ll get a lot of exposure and support from the community. This is a long term strategy, and probably not something you can expect immediate results from.

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10 Best Free Tax Software

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Are you looking for free tax software? Here are the 10 best ones online. We based our list on the ease of use, the features available, and the support you can get from their company.  

Tax filing season is coming and we all need to think about how we are going to organize and file taxes, and of course, get the maximum refunds. Some people would hire professionals to do this specific task for them. However, if you want to save on cost, then you can also do it on your own.

Here are the most sought-after free tax software to use nowadays. 

1. TurboTax Free Edition 

TurboTax Free Edition is known as the most user-friendly among all the tax software available today. This software has been helping millions of people every year. That’s not surprising because navigating through it is extremely simple.

If you have a gross income lower than $34,000, go ahead and use TurboTax. But if your gross income is more than that, then you will have to pay extra. There’s even live chat support just in case you need further information or help. And lastly, your first state return can be filed for free. 

2. IRS Direct Free File 

You can have the full database of forms and schedules in PDF if you use IRS Direct Free. When you are using this platform, your information will be automatically saved. That means you don’t necessarily have to complete everything in one run or session. Even if you have a gross income of more than $69,000, you can still use the free file system. 

3. H&R Block At Home Free Edition

It’s almost impossible not to know H&R Block considering the number of storefront outlets they have in the US. You can file for free if your gross income is not more than $69,000. This is actually a lot more than what TurboTax Free Edition allows. What we love about this software is that you can easily import last year’s tax info even from other tax tools. No wonder people call it the best tax software.  

4. TaxSlayer Simply Free Edition 

Are you looking for another easy-to-use free tax software? If yes, then take a look at TaxSlayer Simply Free. It’s ideal for simple tax returns so you better take advantage of that. But generally, TaxSlayer has the most affordable paid products. 

So whether you want to enjoy the free version, or you want to upgrade a bit, this is one of the best choices. Another edge of TaxSlayer is that there is no residency or citizenship requirement to use their free file feature. Your first state return is also for free. 

5. eztaxReturn

One of the best free tax software you can use for filing is eztaxReturn. Like most software in the list, you need to meet certain requirements to be eligible for simple returns. For this one, you must have a gross income of not more than $100,000. 

Please note that those who have student loans are not qualified to file the taxes for free. The same goes if you have dependents. But just in case you need further help, their support is for free. 

6. Credit Karma

Credit Karma is free for both state and federal returns. You can expect the max refund guarantee as well. In addition, we commend the website’s interface because it is mobile-friendly.  But take note that this company is smaller than its competitors. Having said that, the expert support might come as a challenge.  

7. TaxACT Free Edition 

What are the requirements in order for you to use this free tax filing service? One, you either need to be younger than 56, qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or have a gross income of not more than $59,000. For active military, your gross income must not be more than $69,000. The platform is also easy to understand so you won’t have much of a problem.   

8. Online Taxes by OLT

You can file your federal taxes for free using this software. The case is different though for filing state returns where you need to pay additional fees for certain features. The free file service is available for everyone regardless of your age and state. We’ve also noticed a great improvement in their interface. 

9. FreeTaxUSA Free Edition 

This is not as popular as the companies we’ve listed above. But FreeTaxUSA is a great choice if you want to file your tax. Their amazing platform can support various forms and schedules too. You can also take advantage of the prior year return storage and importing features. Expect 100% accuracy if you use this software. 

10. TaxHawk Free Edition 

Do not be surprised if the features are quite similar to FreeTaxUSA. It’s because TaxHawk is their partner site. They are also an IRS-approved e-file provider so you can ensure that your data is secured. 

Conclusion 

Please note that these free tax software can accommodate simple tax returns. More often than not, you need to pay for additional services. Nevertheless, if you want to avoid professional fees for simple tax returns, then we recommend that you take advantage of these products. Make sure that you read the terms and clauses to avoid unexpected charges.  

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Top 10 Dedicated Hosting Companies

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Top dedicated hosting companies

By January 2020, 1.74 billion websites are live on the internet. Imagine how many servers are running just to keep these websites up. As the number of websites grows, hosting sites adjust to the demand. Luckily, small businesses or entrepreneurs have different options in deciding hosting companies for their websites.

We’ve narrowed down the Top 10 Dedicated Hosting Companies on the internet based on their price, value, and customer support.

1. HostGator

One of the most popular hosting companies is HostGator. It’s been in the hosting game since the early ‘00s and is one of the top choices by many small businesses, developers, and big brands. That makes them one of the Top 10 dedicated hosting companies on this list.

The HostGator dedicated server hosting starts at $119/mo for the Value Server with a four core and eight-thread CPU. The most expensive plan is $149, where you can get a 1TB SSD (Solid State Drive) and have a higher CPU capacity.

It offers the following features for its users:

  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Customization between SSD and HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
  • cPanel and WHM (Web Host Manager)
  • DDOS protection
  • Three dedicated IPv4 IPs

Users can choose to have a managed or semi-managed solution as well.

Blog Beginner says that HostGator’s dedicated server is best for those in the gaming business. Those with higher traffic can also benefit from the dedicated hosting server.

One of the cons of using HostGator is that there’s only one location for the server, which may cause a slowed down response time when someone isn’t accessing it from the US. HostGator receives mixed reviews about their support in general due to slow responses.

2. DreamHost

You can get a DreamHost Standard Server for $149/mo and 4GB ram as part of this plan. Pricing ranges from $149 to $379/mo.

Aside from that, you can get the following:

  • 1TB HDD
  • 100% uptime
  • Root access
  • DDOS protection
  • Unique IPv4 & IPv6 addresses

DreamHost only has a Linux OS, which developers may favor more. Even so, Is It WP says that DreamHost makes it easy for users to navigate and manage its built-in cPanel.

Website Builder Expert seems to lean towards HostGator or Bluehost for dedicated servers because the two websites provide more features than DreamHost.

3. A2 Hosting

For A2 Hosting, you have four options for Dedicated Server Hosting to choose from:

  • Unmanaged
  • Discount SSD
  • Managed Flex
  • Core Flex

An unmanaged server starts at $99.59, while their popular option, the Discount SSD Server starts at $129.30/mo.

Many users praise A2 Hosting for their service, but there have been reports of sudden account suspensions from those who have used the service.

4. Hostwinds

You can customize your Hostwinds dedicated hosting server based on your preferences. Their plans start at $75.00, and you can modify the following in your plan:

  • Server Drives
  • RAM
  • RAID
  • Operating System
  • Outbound Bandwidth
  • IP Addresses

That’s a plus for developers because it allows for more flexibility. However, Blog Beginner finds that the dedicated server plans lack features.

5. Liquid Web

You have ten server options starting from $119/mo for a two-year plan on Liquid Web. You can also decide where you can choose the hosting server (For the US, it’s in Michigan, Arizona, while in the EU, it’s only in the Netherlands). Their most expensive hosting plan is $549.00.

Liquid Web recommends using the Intel Xeon 1230 server for high traffic and multiple websites. Customers can get the following features:

  • 32 GB ram
  • Two 240 GB SSD
  • 5 TB bandwidth

They’ve received mixed reviews from users saying they had issues contacting support and had downtime as well. However, most of the reviews from Host Advice suggests that A2 is a reliable and responsive host with great customer support.

6. GoDaddy

Aside from being a website builder, GoDaddy has been a hosting service since 1997. 

If you want to save up on a dedicated hosting service, the Economy plan is their most affordable for small businesses. Moving up from there, their dedicated server plan starts at $129.99/mo. For those with demanding hosting needs, Godaddy’s $419.99/mo plan comes with a 256 GB ram and two 1 TB SSD. 

Other features included in the dedicated hosting server:

  • Bare metal server
  • RAID1
  • cPanel/WHM or Linux CentOS control panel

Hosting Advice says that GoDaddy is easy to use for beginners due to the speed and performance of their servers. They also have one of the best customer support in the industry.

7. GreenGeeks

Among the other dedicated hosting sites on this list, GreenGeeks prides itself as one of the eco-friendly options for hosting. They recommend going for a Standard Server that’s $269/mo. Included in the plan are :

  • 4GB memory, 
  • 2x 500 GB SATA Hard Drive
  • 10,000 GB transfer

Their most expensive server plan (Pro Server) is at $439.

Customer service gets the most praise from their Dedicated Server users. Others that use GreenGeeks raved that they offer great value for what you’re paying. However, similar to Liquid Web, server locations are limited. Web Hosting Secret Revealed mentioned there was a set-up fee that some hosting sites don’t have.

8. InMotion

You have only two options for InMotion. The Bare Metal Dedicated Server starts at $75.69/mo, making it one of the most affordable options on this list. However, InMotion suggests that it’s for administrators and developers. For small business owners, you can purchase the Managed Dedicated Server for $115.69/mo.

InMotion recommends the Advanced plan priced at $176.59/mo. For those with more to spare, you can opt for the CC-2000 server priced at $529.49/mo.

Benefits of Inmotion’s Dedicated plans:

  • Data transfer
  • Free IPs
  • Choice of data transfer (not available for the Essential Plan)

Support earns much praise from Inmotion users who left reviews in Host Advice. According to one customer, downtime is rare and that many software applications are available for the price. However, users find that InMotion features are lacking and that there’s no Windows support.

9. Ionos

Ionos has eight plan offerings for its users. The recommended plan for customers for the SSD plan is the XL-32 SSD priced at $110/mo for three months. Meanwhile, for the HDD plan, they recommend the XL-32 SSD priced at $90/mo for three months as well.

For those plans, you’ll get:

  • Unlimited traffic
  • Free domain
  • RAID 1

If you’re opting for a cheaper plan, you can go for their A8i SSD or A8i HDD, the SSD is at $45/mo for six months, while the HDD is at $40/mo for six months. Reviewers and users alike like the pricing, and it’s good value. That’s why it’s one of the top 10 dedicated hosting companies.

According to Tech Radar, even during testing, the server response is also performing well. However, they noted that it’s configurations aren’t up to par with other hosting companies. Some customers find that its interface isn’t user-friendly too.

10. AccuWeb Hosting

AccuWeb Hosting has different offerings depending on the type of server you need and your region. The abundance of configurations is perfect for anyone looking to customize their hosting needs.

Accuweb offers the following options:

  • Classic
  • Advanced
  • Infrastructure
  • Storage
  • High-Availability
  • Game

For the US servers, the most affordable is the USA-Vint Hill plan, which starts at $90/mo. They do a breakdown of prices once you click on the order now button and see that the plan is priced at $150/mo. The price range for the classic USA servers is $105/mo to $150/mo, depending on your configuration.

Their most expensive plan for the USA servers is the Storage-74 server priced at $1120/mo.

According to PCMag, for their $360 plan, you can get 250 email accounts and have a Linux OS. Since there’s also different pricing, many find that the hosting website is affordable. However, some customers noted that tech support could do a better job.

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10 Design Pickle Alternatives

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Design pickle alternatives featured cover

Looking for a Design Pickle alternative to try out? Unlimited graphic design subscription services have become a popular choice in recent years. The model is simple, you pay a flat monthly rate every month and get access to unlimited graphic design help. It’s a great option for companies that have consistent design needs, but don’t have the budget to pay for an in-house designer or the time to manage freelancers.

That being said, we went ahead and ranked some of the top unlimited graphic design companies in the industry. You can see the full list here.

If you’re looking for a design pickle alternative, we put together a complete list of the top 15 companies to put your money on.

1. Penji

The first company on the list probably won’t surprise most people. Penji is one of the biggest unlimited graphic design providers in the industry and has consistently received positive praise from the community. For a Design Pickle alternative, Penji offers a lot more for less. We signed up for both companies and did a complete breakdown and comparison of Design Pickle vs Penji. Check out the article to see how they both stack against each other.

Why we recommend: Great customer support. Highly skilled designers. Offers logo designs, illustrations, and UX/UI.
Price: $369 – $899/m

2. Design Doctor

Another Design Pickle alternative that’s been making waves is Design Doctor. The company offers the same perks and benefits as both Design Pickle and Penji, except it tends to have more competitive pricing.

Why we recommend: Competitive pricing. Skilled designers. The company offers a wide variety of design choices.
Price: $349 – $699/m

3. Lead Pixels

Leadpixel is a high-end competitor to Design Pickle. Their plans start higher than just about everyone on this list, however, they offer significantly better service given that their main workforce seems to be from the USA and Canada.

Why we recommend: Top level designers, however at a premium price.
Price: $1499 – $4999/m

4. Kapa99

Kapa99 is another Design Pickle alternative making the list largely due to their ability to consistently produce quality designs. One drawback of Kapa99 is that they’re one of the few companies on this list that uses Trello in order to manage projects. If you’re familiar with Trello, Asana, Jira, and other similar online project management software, then you’ll be fine. If not, they may not be the best fit for you.

5. Manypixels

Manypixels is a newcomer in the unlimited graphic design space and also offers a similar service to Design Pickle at a comparable price. One interesting benefit is that the company can also design 2-3 second gif images. This can be useful if the animated gif is something you frequently need for your social media campaign.

6. Kimp

One of the more interestingly branded Design Pickle alternatives on the list is Kimp. Their mascot is a monkey. Kimp offers unlimited graphic design, however, their team model is interesting. They claim to offer a project manager and 3 designers to work with you. However, similar to Kapa99, Kimp also utilizes Trello for managing projects, which also means they share the same complexity if you’re not familiar with the platform.

7. Dark Roast

Dark Roast is also a new name in the unlimited graphic design space from Canada. The company charges significantly more than most other companies on the list except for Lead Pixel. At $949 per month, it’s an expensive subscription. Their portfolio looks great and Dark Roast features their own proprietary platform for you to submit and manage projects. One possible downside is where the designers are from. We couldn’t find much information on this, however, at a premium price, it would be ideal if their staff are from either the USA or Canada.

8. Delesign

Delesign have been around since 2017 according to their website. The graphic design provider offers some of the best value for $399/m. For the same price as many others on the list, Delesign also offers 2D animation videos. We’re not sure of the quality, length, or requirements, but this is still a great bonus to have. Unlike their competitors on this list, Delesign doesn’t offer a higher-tier for their graphic design offering. Their highest tier is the $399 that includes graphic design AND 2D videos.

9. Limitless Design

Quite possibly the cheapest one on the list, but with one caveat. Limitless Design‘s base price is just $179/m, but you only get 4 graphic design requests per month instead of unlimited. This may be a great value if that’s all you usually need anyway. Their truly unlimited design plan costs $299, which is the cheapest on the list.

10. Tucan Go

Founders of unlimited graphic design companies tend to favor bizarre names. We’ve seen Kimp, Unicorn, and now a Tucan. Whatever the reason is, the company touts its environmental impact and offers a wide selection of services in addition to graphic design.

Tucan Go also offers marketing, web development, photography & video, and even hosting. They are NOT all a part of one plan by the way. Each service has its own pricing structure and treated as independent memberships. So you’ll need multiple subscriptions if you want more than just their unlimited graphic design offering.

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