People are looking to the stars again — even though they might just be looking for Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry Tesla Roadster that’s somewhere in orbit between Mars and the asteroid belt. The successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which sent that car on its potentially billion-year journey, has everyone scrambling to get their rocket program on the same level as SpaceX. What does the Falcon Heavy launch mean for the future of space travel and the possibility of a new space race?
The Falcon Heavy
On Feb. 6, Elon Musk and SpaceX celebrated the maiden voyage of the Falcon Heavy. This miracle of engineering was launched successfully at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, powered by a whopping 27 Merlin engines — nine inches each of the side booster rockets, and nine more in the center core.
The two booster rockets successfully separated and landed almost simultaneously at Landing Zones 1 and 2 back at Cape Canaveral in a mind-blowing feat of synchronization — if you haven’t had a chance to watch the replay of this landing, you should. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
The third core, which was supposed to land on the autonomous droneship Of Course I Still Love You about 300 miles off the Florida coastline, didn’t fare as well. According to the post-launch press conference, the core didn’t have enough fuel to reignite all three of its engines for its final landing burn. It hit the water at about 300 miles per hour — hard enough to take out two of the engines on the droneship.
If the cameras on Of Course I Still Love You weren’t damaged in the crash, we may be in for some spectacular crash footage in the coming weeks.
It’s not a great loss, though — Space X wasn’t planning to reuse any of the cores from the Heavy’s maiden launch. The two Falcon 9 boosters that landed successfully are Block 4 style rockets — the ones that will be used for future Heavy launches will be Block 5.
Despite the spectacular failure of the center core, the launch itself was a complete success — pretty good for something Elon Musk was expecting to explode before it even made it off the launchpad. As Musk put it, “Crazy things can come true. When I see a rocket lift off, I see a thousand things that could not work, and it’s amazing when they do.”
Now that it’s off the ground and proven its viability as a reusable heavy lift option, the Falcon Heavy is much cheaper than any other currently available options. “At $90 million per launch, it’s the cheapest heavy lift option available,” said William Ostrove, a space industry analyst. “The Delta IV Heavy, for example, typically costs $350 million to $400 million per launch.”
The Future of SpaceX
Now that his Roadster is traversing the solar system, what is next for Elon Musk and SpaceX?
In the short term, the next big milestone for SpaceX and for the Falcon Heavy specifically is to get certified by the U.S. Air Force to carry secure and government payloads. The Falcon 9 received this certification back in 2015 and has since carried several military and classified payloads into their places in orbit. The next flight for the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for June for the Air Force — and depending on its outcome, it could be the flight that qualifies the Heavy for military and government contracts.
Next year, in addition to continuing to develop the Falcon Heavy, there are two more projects on SpaceX’s plate — Crew Dragon and the BFR.
Crew Dragon is an upgraded incarnation of the currently used Dragon capsule, but instead of just hauling cargo to the International Space Station autonomously, Crew Dragon will be outfitted for carrying astronauts into orbit and beyond.
This will likely become an essential part of the space program, or at least in getting America’s astronauts to space, especially with the current administration’s plan to defund the International Space Station by 2025 and hand it over to private investors, shifting that funding toward the goal of putting humans back on the Moon.
The BFR — short for Big F*****g Rocket — is designed for use a lot closer to home, at least to start. Once completed, the BFR will be even larger than the gargantuan Falcon Heavy. A BFR with a capsule could potentially turn a 12-hour airline flight into a 30-minute hop around the globe. It could also change the way we look at travel to the Moon, Mars and other planets, as well as facilitating asteroid mining to allow us as a species to take advantage of the resources in the rest of the solar system.
Experts estimate the BFR, once it’s off the ground, could turn space into a multi-trillion-dollar industry — currently, space travel is worth about $300 billion.
The New Space Race
The U.S. hasn’t really been in a “space race” since the 1960s, when we threw everything at the wall to see what would stick. This grand idea resulted in the Apollo program, and we sent men to the Moon for the first time. During his Falcon Heavy post-launch news conference, Elon Musk set forth a challenge: “We want a new space race. Space races are exciting.”
They most certainly are — and Musk isn’t the only billionaire with his eyes turned toward the stars. Jeff Bezos, the mind behind Amazon, is also throwing his hat into the ring, as is Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, Tory Bruno of the United Launch Alliance and the Sierra Nevada Corp.
Bezos’ entry into the space race is his company Blue Origin — he’s launched and landed his New Shepherd rocket multiple times, even before SpaceX managed a successful landing, though all his flights were suborbital. Bezos was planning on his first space tourism launches in 2017, but that fell through. Musk and Bezos regularly launch friendly barbs at one another on Twitter, but when it comes down to it, they each support the other’s endeavors.
Virgin Galactic, headed by Richard Branson, has been trying to make it into orbit for a while now, and has even started selling $250,000 tickets. Unfortunately, Virgin Galactic has hit a few roadblocks, namely the explosion of the space plane during a test flight in 2014 that killed the copilot of the flight.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the mind behind NASA’s Space Launch System and the Delta IV Heavy rockets. Bruno and Musk are butting heads on Twitter, but Musk isn’t worried. He’s actually said if ULA can launch a national security mission before 2023, he’ll eat his hat — with a side of mustard.
The Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) is one of the most exciting entrants in this space race. Their space plane, dubbed Dream Chaser, completed its first successful suborbital test flights in 2017 and recently landed a contract with NASA for an ISS resupply mission in 2020. Musk might have some stiff competition if SNC can manage to nail this launch.
SpaceX might be the first one out of the gate, but they’re not the only game in town anymore — and that’s exactly how Elon Musk wants it. “I think it’s going to encourage other companies and countries to say, ‘Hey, if SpaceX, which is a commercial company, and it can do this and nobody paid for the Falcon Heavy, it was paid with internal funds,’ then they could do it too. So I think it’s going to encourage other countries and companies to raise their sights and say, ‘We can do bigger and better,’ which is great,” Musk said at the post-launch press conference.
The Falcon Heavy launch was history in the making, and being able to witness this launch is an amazing feeling. You can expect SpaceX to continue to push forward in their quest to find new and innovative ways to explore the solar system, but they’re not the only company we need to watch anymore — they’re just the only ones with rockets in the air. Elon Musk may have provided the spark to start this new space race, but he’ll have to come up with some amazing innovations to stay on top!
And if this launch has taught us anything, it’s that we need to keep looking at the stars — and believe crazy things can happen.
How a Startup Incubator Can Accelerate Your Business
In today’s fast-paced and competitive business landscape, startups often find themselves navigating a maze of challenges that can hinder their growth and potential.
This is where the concept of a startup incubator comes into play as a guiding light for emerging ventures. A startup incubator is more than just a physical space; it’s a dynamic ecosystem designed to nurture and propel early-stage ventures toward success.
In this article, we’ll tackle some of the most common questions surrounding incubators. For instance – what is the role of a startup incubator? How does it differ from an accelerator?
And most importantly, how can it optimize your business?
What is an incubator in a startup ecosystem?
In a startup ecosystem, an incubator refers to a supportive environment or program designed to help early-stage startups grow and develop.
Incubators provide a range of resources and services to entrepreneurs, typically for a fixed period of time, with the goal of nurturing and accelerating the growth of their businesses.
Here’s the usual process of how an incubator supports a startup:
Startups who applied and were accepted are welcomed into the incubator with an orientation session. During this phase, startups get an overview of the program’s structure, expectations, and available resources. They also meet their mentors, advisors, and fellow cohort members.
Mentorship and Guidance
Startups are paired with mentors who have relevant industry experience or expertise.
Regular mentorship sessions provide guidance, feedback, and insights to help startups navigate challenges and refine their strategies.
Workshops and Training
Incubators organize workshops, seminars, and training sessions on various aspects of entrepreneurship. Topics covered during the startup incubator program may include:
- Business planning
- Marketing strategies
- Product development
- Legal and regulatory matters
Access to Resources
Aside from training sessions, startups can also gain access to resources such as:
- Office space
- Co-working environments
- Internet connectivity
- Meeting rooms
Some incubators provide access to shared equipment, startup software, and other tools needed for product development.
Networking and Events
Incubators often facilitate networking events, pitch sessions, and demo days where startups can showcase their progress to potential investors, partners, and the broader community.
Startups work on refining their business models, products, and market strategies. They receive support in identifying their target audience, creating a value proposition, and developing a sustainable revenue model.
Funding and Investment
Incubators may provide introductions to potential investors, venture capitalists, and angel investors Startups also learn about different funding options and how to pitch their ideas to secure investment.
Successful completion of the incubator program results in a “graduation” for startups.
Graduated startups may continue to receive support through alumni networks, ongoing mentorship, or access to incubator resources.
Startup Incubator vs. Accelerator
A startup incubator and a startup accelerator are both support programs designed to assist early-stage startups, but they have distinct characteristics and objectives. Here’s a comparison between the two:
- Focus. Incubators typically have a broader focus and cater to startups in various stages of development. They often work with startups that are in the ideation or early development phase. Accelerators, on the other hand, are more specialized and typically work with startups that have a viable product or service and are ready to scale rapidly. They focus on accelerating growth and reaching key milestones quickly.
- Stage. Incubators are well-suited for startups that are still refining their business models, conducting market research, and building their initial product or service. Accelerators, meanwhile, are best suited for startups that have a minimum viable product (MVP) and are seeking to refine their business model, gain traction, and secure funding to scale.
- Mentorship. A startup incubator provides mentorship and guidance, often with a focus on helping founders refine their business ideas, develop prototypes, and validate their concepts. On the other hand, an accelerator’s mentorship is often geared towards specific aspects of growth, such as scaling operations, marketing, fundraising, and product-market fit.
Startup Incubator Examples
If you’re looking for the best startup incubators in the world, here are a few you of the most popular ones to consider.
1. Y Combinator
Situated in the USA, Y Combinator is considered one of the best startup incubators which has played an instrumental role in fostering the growth trajectories of some of the most renowned startups globally. The Y Combinator program spans a duration of three months, during which startups receive a funding injection of $500,000, albeit subject to certain conditions.
Subsequently, founders are immersed in a sequence of mentoring and refinement initiatives that culminate in the prestigious Demo Day. Here, founders showcase their concepts to an audience comprising investors and handpicked media representatives.
Mentees: Airbnb, Dropbox, Coinbase, Gitlab
Techstars directs its energy toward nurturing startups rooted in technology. Since its inception in 2006, Techstars has been a driving force behind the growth of numerous startups. Annually, they select more than 500 fledgling companies, providing them with up to $120,000 in investment and the invaluable chance to partake in mentorship programs.
Backed by an impressive funding sum of $21.3 billion, Techstars stands out as a reliable choice for technology-oriented startups. Within its portfolio of activities, Techstars hosts several high-profile events and initiatives, including Startup Week and Startup Weekend.
Mentees: Uber, DigitalOcean, SendGrid
3. 500 Startups
500 Startups operates as a dual-purpose platform, functioning as both an accelerator program and a seed fund dedicated to startups. Positioned primarily as a venture capital entity, they proudly proclaim a management portfolio worth $2.7 billion. Their primary interests converge on sectors where technology, innovation, and capital growth converge harmoniously.
Their extensive investment history spans more than 2,600 startups worldwide, underscoring the maturity and comprehensiveness of their accelerator program across diverse markets.
Mentees: Grab, Canva, Credit Karma
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need an incubator for my startup?
If you’re in the early stages, lack experience, and could benefit from structured guidance, resources, and mentorship, an incubator might be valuable. However, if you’re aiming for rapid growth and have a clear roadmap, an accelerator could be more appropriate.
Do startup incubators provide funding?
Yes, many startup incubators provide funding as part of their support package. However, the funding offered by incubators can vary widely depending on the specific program, location, and the terms of the agreement. Some incubators offer direct funding to startups, while others may connect startups with potential investors or provide resources to help them secure funding elsewhere.
Preparing the Shift to Mobile eCommerce: Tips + Tools
We Are Social reported that around 50% of the 16 to 64 demographic use their mobile to purchase something online weekly. With those in mind, your eCommerce business shouldn’t be confined to one place. It’s essential that you have a website and social media sites. Plus, don’t be afraid to list your products other than those platforms. Here’s how to make a successful shift towards mobile eCommerce.
1. Use Website Builders
Most website builders nowadays can optimize your eCommerce site on the desktop or mobile. These tools help you design and layout your website and make tweaks before publishing it. Moreover, you can add pages, such as blogs, products, and contact pages, to make your eCommerce site operational.
You don’t need to hire a web designer or developer immediately when creating your site on these builders. It’s ideal for new eCommerce site owners, considering you want the business up and running from Day 1 without any hassle.
2. Set Up Secure Payment Methods
One way to enhance your customer’s experience in your eCommerce site is setting up payment gateways. Although you install payment gateway plug-ins on your desktop, it’s crucial that it’s working on your mobile site, too. This way, your customers won’t experience any mishaps or issues when paying via mobile.
3. Widen Reach with Social Commerce
Mobile eCommerce isn’t only about a mobile eCommerce app. After all, it’s a catch-all term to describe all eCommerce-related strategies done on mobile. Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have opened avenues for eCommerce sites to integrate their store into these platforms. Plus, social media sites are easily accessible on phones, allowing customers to browse anywhere.
You can promote your best-sellers and new products on these platforms. Then, ensure that you link to your website. This way, your customers can view other products, regardless of where they’re browsing them.
4. List Products on Other Relevant eCommerce Marketplaces
Even though you have a website, you can reach more people when posting items on other eCommerce stores. This allows you to get more exposure. It’s possible that your competitors are in the same marketplace. However, if you have the correct copy and high-quality images, your customers are likely to buy your products.
5. Develop an App or Hire an App Designer and Developer
Not all eCommerce sites have an app for their eCommerce products. But you can change the game by having one for easier browsing and a smoother experience. However, app development is challenging for non-developers. There are no-code app makers to use for your new app.
Or, if creating an app is too tedious, hiring an app developer and designer is a much better alternative. They have the know-how to create an optimized app for your eCommerce site. You can find them on freelance sites like Fiverr or Upwork.
Mobile eCommerce Tools
Shopify is one of the top eCommerce tools for all businesses. You can build a site, sell online, market your products, and manage your business. You don’t need experience developing or designing a website on Shopify. The eCommerce platform has a no-code website builder, letting users create sites in minutes. Additionally, Shopify allows you to integrate apps into your online store, including payment gateways.
Another contender in website building is Wix. Like Shopify, it’s fast, easy, and simple to create and design a website. Their web design feature, “Editor X,” allows you to customize your site. Also, you can use their Wix Payments feature. It’s their solution for all payments, allowing customers to pay via Apple Pay, credit card, and other payment methods.
If you need a payment method solution, Stripe is one of the best eCommerce payment tools! You can accept payments globally. Plus, Apple Pay and Google Pay are two payment methods to integrate into your Stripe account. Stripe is also advanced because it can detect fraud and block it. Plus, you can increase conversions and launch subscriptions.
An alternative to Stripe payments is PayPal. As one of the oldest payment methods, you can trust this tool for easy payments. You can install PayPal for your checkout needs. Plus, you can even request payments! Additionally, PayPal accepts credit and debit card payments worldwide!
Don’t have time to post all the time? Consider Sked as your social media management tool. You don’t need to publish and tag your posts manually. Sked helps you tag posts directly on their dashboard. You don’t have to worry about losing your product tags. Plus, Sked will add your shoppable posts in one gallery!
Post your products on these sites:
Another social media management platform to consider for your mobile eCommerce needs is Planoly. Like Sked, Planoly enables users to tag shoppable posts without leaving the social media management platform. You can post your products with Planoly:
Content creation tools are necessary to make your mobile eCommerce strategies successful. Canva is one of these tools to promote your eCommerce site and products. You can use the abovementioned social media schedulers or other options. It’s easy to create designs for your social media platforms. Or you can create custom designs for your website and post them on other eCommerce marketplaces.
If you want a simple yet functional app, you can create one with Jotform! They use a drag-and-drop model when you build and design your app. Plus, you can use their templates to build your app in minutes. Finally, you can share your app with a QR, which will download the app to your customers’ devices.
Glide is another no-code option to consider when building your app. Like Jotform, you can create using templates and customize your app design. Additionally, you can integrate productivity tools into creating your app and automate workflows!
Our final mobile eCommerce tool is Buildfire! They have a dedicated eCommerce solution that allows you to sync your products and organize your inventory. You can even add a notification so users are informed when their products are in stock or when they need to complete checkout.
How to Grow a Business on TikTok: 8 Branding Strategies
With over 1 billion average monthly active users, TikTok provides new opportunities for businesses to engage with audiences. TikTok for Business has emerged as a dynamic social media marketing channel that helps small businesses grow. Have you ever wondered how to grow a business on TikTok in a highly competitive social media marketing world? Explore the best TikTok branding strategies that could help your business reach a massive audience.
1. Choose Your Niche Topic
Like most social media platforms, you must create and share-worthy content to be popular. You must create consistent branding if you’ve chosen TikTok to promote your brand. The possibilities to produce excellent content are endless. Pick a more familiar topic and share your knowledge and experience about it.
First, research your competitors to see the types of content they post on the platform. Then, try your best to produce better content to outrank them. Likewise, monitoring and analyzing user feedback will let you understand whether or not you are moving in the right direction.
2. Create Engaging Content
Working with TikTok influencers and putting hashtags is crucial for promoting your brand to a large audience, but let’s face the truth: these strategies will only work if the content you share is balanced.
Remember that on TikTok, you only have 15-60 seconds to convince the users to follow you. So, pay more attention to the quality of content rather than posting irrelevant things just to be active.
Be sure to create a pleasant, understandable video, as this is the first thing that catches a visitor’s attention. As a creator, you must ensure the correct design is used for all posts. Think about the captions of your videos. If you need more insights, read our blog about what to consider in creating a TikTok content strategy.
3. Work with Influencers
TikTok influencers may be known for their small audiences compared to Instagram influencers. But, reaching out to target users will help you promote your brand or company.
Develop professional partnerships with influencers whose audience might be interested in your brand and will likely buy. This is similar to the principles of Instagram advertising works.
Tapping influencers into the TikTok platform is one way of producing high-quality content. It also enables you to get more sponsored publications. So, if your budget allows partnering with the influencer to promote your product, go for it!
4. Join a Hashtag Challenge
The TikTok hashtag challenge is a dynamic marketing strategy that encourages users to participate in creating and sharing content about a specific theme. The goal is to generate user-generated content that aligns with your brand’s message, values, or products. It also aims to drive user engagement and increase brand visibility.
TikTok content creators might have a limited following compared with Instagram influencers. Nevertheless, the key lies in connecting with your desired audience to market your business effectively. Collaborating with influencers whose followers align with your brand’s appeal can attract potential customers inclined to purchase. This process is similar to the principles of advertising on Instagram.
5. Collaborate with Other Creators Via TikTok Marketing Campaigns
Sometimes, you want your brand to reach a large audience, but your budget is limited. In such situations, a partnership with content creators or other brands may work for you.
For instance, if you work in the fashion industry and want to promote your company, you may find other people from this field with a solid following for potential collaboration. Reach out and tell them you’re interested in a partnership project. The mutual potential benefits of collaborative projects are noticeable, so there is a high chance someone will take up your suggestion.
6. Invest in Advertising
TikTok introduced a specialized advertising system, benefiting brands from a large user base. TikTok offers three types of digital advertising:
- Native In-Feed Ads
- Hashtag Challenge Ads
- Brand Ads.
Brand ads are the most efficient way to drive traffic to your landing page. And when it comes to targeting TikTok ads, there are two options:
- Interest Targeting. Like Facebook ads, this option lets you pick an interest relevant to your target audience. The platform shows ads to a particular group.
- Behavioral Targeting. This ad targeting type allows you to advertise to people based on their behavior within the last week or two.
7. Keep Up with Trends and Make Them Work for Your Business
As you’ve already noticed, TikTok is full of trends. This is a social network where trends change over time. It ranges from popular songs, video effects, challenges, and hashtags. But how do we identify a trend among millions of videos on TikTok? Keep up to date by tracking hashtags and themes. You must follow these trends and analyze how your business can benefit.
8. Monitor and Assess the Results of your Campaigns
Hashtags and creativity are all good, but remember that a fundamental element of any marketing strategy is evaluating the results of a campaign. Using an analytics tool, you can get valuable insights from your promotional efforts and how to improve them. If you need more engagement, consider what mistakes could have caused such an effect and how to fix them. Your clips may be underperforming because they’re not funny enough. Updating yourself with analytics is a powerful way to enlarge your audience and generate more sales.
TikTok stands as a significant milestone in the evolution of contemporary social media. Centered around interaction, it has attracted millions of Gen-Z users and become the most active advertising channel. With these eight branding strategies at your disposal, you’ll be able to understand how to grow a business on TikTok. Once you’ve learned the basics, showcasing your product or brand to a large TikTok community will be easier.