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7 Strategies to Find Investors For Your Startup Idea

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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 entrepreneursThis 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 researchFinding investors probably isn't as hard as you might think. Most angel investor network 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 you reaching out.

Be Friends With Investors Who Can't Invest In You

Investor friendsInvestors 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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Popping the Bubble: How to Escape the Social Media Echo Chamber

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This past election has left most millennials in a cloud of surprise.  I know that on my own Facebook news feed there was a very anti-Trump/pro-Bernie vibe.  In the months prior to the election, my outlets for social media were bombarded by very specific opinions against the reality TV billionaire.  All I heard were calls to "feel the Bern".  To me, and I think to most people my age, it appeared unanimous that Trump would lose.  However this was not the case.  So what happened?One issue with social media is that it's prone to creating echo chambers: places where our ideas are reaffirmed by the consensus of our networks.  Don't like one particular friend's libertarian view?  Easy.  Unfollow them.  This ability to unfollow, paired with algorithms that curate content towards to your taste depending on what you like/react to, creates the walls that seal us into comfort zones with like-minded people.  It traps us into a biased reality; a bubble that prevents us from ideas different than our own.  Here are three simple ways to combat the bubble, and allow for the diffusion of ideas.  No one's saying it's easy, but those who do are the guardians who keep the dialogue open during difficult times and with controversial ideas.Actively like and react to diverse new sources and pagesMuch of the power and control that users have over their social media is in curation.  Your feed is curated according to the content you interact with.  Simply being aware of this fact can make help make you more conscious about how and what appears in your feed.  If you're not seeing a lot of diversity in content, maybe try interacting with new stuff.Watch out for confirmation bias Does it always sound like you're right?  When you log onto your Facebook, does every status update and shared article resonate with your own beliefs?  It's easy to be drawn by the gravity of people who support your ideas, but to keep an honest perspective on the state of the world, you need to balance out what you expose yourself to.A wise person once said to me "you like that author's opinion?  Then try reading their opposer's book."Never UnfollowThe "unfollow" feature is meant to be used in times of dire offense.  It's understandable that a person be unfollowed because they are insulting or harassing.  The problem is that in some subjects like politics and religion,  people can resort to both of these behaviors.  Because people tend to hold political and religious beliefs close to their hearts, opposing views often respond with even more hostility.  Usually in these cases people unfollow not because of the idea itself but because of the primitive and often negative ways people try to convey them.What makes unfollowing such a bad option is that it closes the dialogue between big contrasting ideas.  If you unfollow a friend who disagrees with you, you're basically choosing not to hear their side.  Does doing this really make you the bigger person?  When we choose to stop the flow of information, we are also choosing to remain within the bubble.  Break free by practicing these three simple guidelines.  Humans aren't always the best at communicating, but at least keeping an open ear and an open heart leaves the door open to a more harmonious reality, one that actually reflects the ideas of the world, and the people who hold them.  
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Technology

The Intersection of Art and Technology

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Most Americans are familiar with a streamlined education.  We know that if we're good at math or at art or sports in elementary school, by the time we reach college we can predict what direction we'll be pushed to study.  Often these subjects tend to be rather polarized.  Stereotypes follow these disciplines.  The person we think of as an artist contrasts greatly from the person we imagine to be a physicist.  We don't commonly see these areas of study as sharing any middle ground; if one were to visualize how much area of their vin diagrams would overlap you wouldn't think fashion and algebra would share that much in common.This is not to say that it never happens.  Back in elementary school, it may have seemed impossible to imagine how art and math & science could have any commonalities.  The two seemed stubbornly different in not only their prerogatives as subjects, but also by how they are studied and the people who study them.However we are amongst a change.  With the speed of technology evolving exponentially, so does the evolution of other subjects, very particularly art & design.  Long gone are the days when an artist was defined by a wooden palette and their muscle memory with a pen or a brush.  The transition from tactile skill to digital skill is one that has transformed the subject of art into a more versatile, refined, and fast-paced in all that it produces.These changes in subjects are not parallel, but intertwined.  The co-evolution of subjects like science and art are being woven into something new: it's beauty does not exist simply within aesthetic but extends also into the elegance of the function it creates.  This intersection between art and technology is one of many knots woven amongst all evolving subjects.  By marrying all disciplines, what we create is the fabric of humanity.
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Influencers

Interview with a Street Artist: KAZ, the Jazz Beatboxer

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I don't usually take the F train, but last week when I did I ran into something pretty interesting.  I heard a pretty sick beat over my headphones and assumed someone was playing some loud hiphop.  While waiting for the train at the 2nd ave stop, I pulled out my earbuds to catch the climax of the beat which was clearly progressing towards a drop.  When it did I couldn't help but to dance a little and jam out to this incredibly unique beat.  When I turned to look for the source of the music I was surprised to find not a recording, or a DJ, or a rapper, but an edgy asian dude with nothing but a mike and an amp.  His name is KAZ (Kazuo Saito) and he's a pretty killer jazz beatboxer.  After some lite Facebook stalking I reached out to him and asked about his life as a beatbox performer in the subways of New York.  Here's what he had to say:How'd you get into beatboxing?I started at age 15.  At the time I was living in Tokyo.  I saw a band called Phiew Phiew Live.  I had never seen anything like them before.  They inspired me to learn.  I spent the next two years developing the skill.  Now I consider my skills to be just like an instrument, I can basically take the place of a drummer in a band.  When I'm not performing in the subways I'm a beatboxing member of a jazz band.  It's the Danny Walsh Band, you should check it out.What made you become a street artist in New York?Unlike Tokyo, New York is very open minded to different types of music and art.  They are open to fusion.  In Japan if you like rock, then you buy the ticket to the rock show.  That's it.  Different tastes and genres in music don't really mix as much as they do here.  Also, Japan doesn't have a tipping culture, so street performance isn't as common in Tokyo.  You wouldn't make any money if you did it.Is performing in the subways decent money?Yeah, honestly on a weekend night I make over $200.What's your favorite stop to perform at?I think I like West 4th the best.What kind of problems do you run into down there while you're performing?Well street performers are actually supposed to have MUNY permit (Musicians under New York).  I don't have one, so sometime's I'll be shooed away by police but often they are nice and let me stay.  Drunk people at night can also be annoying.  Sometimes the homeless will come up to my audience members as they are trying to tip me and I'd have to ask them to stop.  Some time's I'd pay them a part of my tip to make them stop.How did you end up mixing jazz and beatboxing?Unlike most beatboxers I am a musician just like anyone else with an instrument.  I can join a band no different than if I were playing a set of drums.  I'm drawn to jazz because it has more flow.  I perform every week at Matt's Grill with the Danny Walsh Band (link to his badass jazz set).What would your advice be to anyone who would want to learn beatboxing?Start by trying to imitate everyday sounds.  Try mimicking the sound of a squeaking door, or a motorcycle driving by.  Also try to isolate each sound and understand the motion of your mouth that relates to creating it, and then repeat them in practice as training. YouTube also helps, of course.
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