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Succeed As A Veteran Owned Business

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Starting and maintaining a business may be hard work, but can be made easier with the right network. Having the right support and connections may be the thin line between success and failure. If you’re a veteran entrepreneur with a business idea, you can receive funding to help bring those ideas to life. We will explain the steps to succeed as a veteran owned business.

Find Out If You Qualify

If you have previously served in the military and/or have an injury-related disability, you may be eligible for government contracting and additional funding. In order to receive this certification, the individual must own at least 51 percent of the company that they are applying for, and manage the day-to-day operations of the business. There is also a procedure that you’ll need to follow in order to prove your veteran and/or disabled status. In order to prove veteran status you will need to provide a Department of Defense Form (DD214). If you are applying as a service-disabled veteran, you will need to get a letter from the US Department of Veteran Affairs proving that you are actually disabled. In many cases, if you are not interested in securing government contracts for your veteran owned business, these steps are not necessary.

Register with The VA

Another crucial step in the qualification process is to register through the VA or Veterans Affairs. Registering will not only assist with the strategic marketing of your business but will also add a legitimacy factor in being known as a veteran owned business. People are generally supportive of service men and women and want to support your endeavors, so proudly promoting that you have a veteran owned business will add to growth. The VetBiz Registry, which acts as a business database is the first step in registering with the VA. You will need to have your DD214, letter of disability status, tax forms, bank statements, business license, any partner agreements, and some other additional documents may be requested at the discretion of the VA.

Utilize the SDVOSBC

The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act was created in 1999. The goal of this act is to generate over $15 billion of contracting dollars for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. Being that some veterans return from duty with disabilities stemming from conflict, this program sets aside a certain amount of contracts to service them first. As long as you are considered disabled from service no matter your rating, you are eligible to securing a contract. However, if you do have a 100 percent disability rating the government has contingencies in place to allow a spouse or caregiver to run the business in place of the veteran. It’s very convenient and an amazing opportunity for vets who have served to be able to get their ideas out no matter their status.

Marketing Your Veteran Owned Business

Veterans are normally praised and promoted for their service in the armed forces, but the magnitude of entrepreneurship in this demographic is overlooked. According to Forbes, there are over 3 million Veteran owned businesses run in the United States, 5.7 million people are employed by Veterans, and Veterans are twice as likely to own a business than non-vets. These statistics show that there is a strong thread between the personalities of veterans and the interest in entrepreneurship. Strength, discipline, and leadership are all valuable traits to possess in business. Registering your business with BuyVeteran.com can also be a great resource to use for promotional items. When you register you will receive badges to display throughout your business/store, along with apparel (T-Shirts, Hats), Magnets, and other marketing items. Using the local media in your community, as well as social media, can help with promotion. Using your veteran status to appeal to an audience who already has admiration and respect for you will surely render growth.

Know Everything About Your Industry

If your chosen business field is completely out of your realm of knowledge be sure to research as much as possible before requesting support/investors. You should be an expert on your business idea as well as having a solid business plan ready to execute. Doing research includes finding out who your target audience is, how to price your products/services, who your competitors are, and what laws are in place in that industry. Will you need a license to provide certain services? How does paying taxes change for a business owner as opposed to an employee? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered before you move forward with the business. Once you have completed all these steps you are ready to take on the world as a Vetrepreneur! Good luck!

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Quartz Bottle: The Water Bottle That Cleans Itself

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water bottle
Maybe you’ve finally started getting serious about cutting down on soda and coffee and drinking more water. You may have taken some swigs from a reusable container and wrinkled your nose in distaste afterward. That’s because cleaning water bottles can be challenging — and it’s hard to do it as thoroughly as necessary. Who has time for cleaning tablets and specially designed brushes, anyway? The inconvenient necessity of keeping your water bottle clean is one of the main concepts behind the Quartz Bottle. How does it work and why should you put one on your must-buy list as soon as possible? Keep reading to find out.
quartz bottle

A Light Inside the Cap Cleans the Water for You

Sometimes, the most helpful components of an innovative product aren’t the largest or most visible ones. The Quartz water bottle has a patented UV-C light inside the cap. You might not immediately notice it due to the product’s sleek design, but it’s arguably one of the hardest-working parts of the container.The light is a purifier that neutralizes up to 99.9999 percent of germs in only a minute. You can also choose between manual purification and a cleansing process that happens automatically every four hours. That latter option is especially helpful on days when you’re trying to balance a schedule of yoga practice, taking your toddler to daycare, meeting your business partner over coffee and more — all while knowing you can’t spare a thought for keeping your water clean.

The Co-Founder Has a Long-Term, All-Encompassing Mindset

While reading about the Quartz Bottle, you’ll find that many of the selling points focus on making your life easier. By using the product, you’ll enjoy constant access to water that tastes great and never have to deal with downsides like smelly bottles or cumbersome cleaning techniques again.However, Justin Wang, a co-founder of the company that manufacturers the Quartz, had an Earth-minded view when engineering the item, too. While writing a post about the bottle, he pointed out that people collectively dump one million plastic containers into landfills each minute.Also, if you like to consciously buy things that have large impacts by promoting the greater good, the Quartz is for you. The creators decided that 1 percent of every purchase gets donated to Charity:Water. The organization works to provide people around the world with improved access to safe hydration.

Design Scrutiny During Development

In another interview, Wang confessed having a very relatable problem. He successfully cut down on using disposable water bottles but still found himself reaching for one when another type of purified water wasn’t available or the reusable bottle he had been using became too gross to use.Wang spoke to friends and found their experiences echoed his own. The Quartz water bottle was born when Wang decided to tackle the issues that made him use disposable containers despite better intentions.However, he and the rest of the design team understood it was necessary to poll people in the target market. Only then would they find out about the factors that could turn them into Quartz devotees versus individuals who try the bottle once and decide they don’t like it. Some could fail to even get that far by coming to the conclusion there’s no need to switch to another water storage product because the ones they own are good enough.First, Wang toted a 3-D-printed prototype of the Quartz for weeks and gradually tweaked it. While pretending to drink from it to mimic an actual user experience, he got weird looks but knew the process was necessary.Next, members of the design team talked to hundreds of people and asked them about characteristics they’d identified that could cause problems. The potential issues ranged from a too-wide opening on the top of the bottle to a cap that might not twist easily enough. After taking these issues into account, the designers had a product they felt met user needs and made them feel proud.quartz bottle

A Kickstarter Success Story Based on User Needs

If the story behind the Quartz Bottle fascinates you, you’re not alone. One of the most impressive milestones in the product’s history is how it quickly achieved funding through Kickstarter. In only a day, it earned 600 percent of the total amount necessary to bring the project to life.Most of the Kickstarter content speaks to the clearly defined needs users have. It mentions the double-insulated construction of each bottle that keeps water cold for 24 hours or maintains its warmth for half that amount. Kickstarter page viewers also got details about how their decision to buy a Quartz bottle could save them up to $1,000 per year that they’d ordinarily spend on bottled water.Then, what about people who felt uncertain about whether they’d remember to charge their Quartz bottles to make them keep working? Since each charge lasts up to two months, they only have to make reminders for themselves six times a year. Quartz bottles are compatible with USB outlets, too, so it’s easy to power up the bottle while you’re embarked on a road trip or otherwise away from home.Speaking of taking your Quartz bottle on the go, maybe you’re a backcountry hiker or someone who otherwise needs to exercise special precautions before consuming water. If so, no worries! The Quartz has an adventure mode that increases the purification power for your peace of mind.All these features and others were part of the Kickstarter pitch, so it’s not hard to see why the project gained momentum so quickly. Not surprisingly, then, many customers (12,758 backers, to be exact!) turned their desires into pledges.

How to Purchase a Quartz Bottle

You might think such a high-tech water bottle would be a substantial investment. However, you can get yours for only $79 by pre-ordering it on Indiegogo (Another site that helped the product secure more backers).Choose from several pleasing colors to pick one that suits your personality or intended use. Pre-ordering requires being patient until June 2018 to get your Quartz Bottle, but you know what they say about good things coming to people who wait.Regardless of your current opinions about conventional water bottles, Quartz might manage to change them. Justin Wang and his fellow designers worked hard to create a product that readily eliminated consumer annoyances.This dedication paid off with successful crowdfunding attempts — plus a significant amount of positive press from news outlets and early reviewers.In several months, you might realize the Quartz Bottle makes you feel genuinely excited about drinking water and not polluting the planet while you’re at it. 
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Memobottle Raises Over $30,000 On Kickstarter In Under 10 Hours

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Memobottle
Jesse Leeworthy and Jonathan Byrt, the entrepreneurs behind Memobottle, designed a reusable plastic water bottle with a mission to decrease the use of disposable plastic water bottles and create a more sustainable society. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia they often saw heaps of disposable water bottles littering the beach. They decided to create a beautiful and reusable alternative to these disposable bottles. Their creations feature stylish design and durable construction to make them a solid accessory for everyday use.The Memobottle features a flat, flask-like design that fits in pockets, bags, and purses. The bottles are made of durable Tritan plastic, are BPA free, and dishwasher friendly. They are suitable for hot or cold liquids, and are freezer safe. Coming in three different sizes, Memobottle is a convenient and sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. Their
Kickstarter campaign's success enabled them to sell the bottles in two new sizes. The slim Memobottle is a tall, elegant addition to a bag or purse. It holds 15 fluid ounces of water. The A7 Memobottle is the most compact. It holds 6 ounces of water and is perfect for kids and people on the go. Their existing A5 bottle holds 25 fl oz and retails for $36.Memobottle also has fun accessories like desk stands, lids, wrist straps and cases. Desk stands come in two dimensions and are copper plated. Lids come in matte black, copper, and stainless steel. Wrist straps and cases are made of leather.Their Kickstarter campaign is donating 1% of the money to a charity called water.org that seeks to increase access to clean drinking water in parts of the developing world. 1 in 9 people do not  have access to clean drinking water, and in developing countries without access to safe water and sanitation, women and girls spend an average of 6 hours a day collecting water. They are unable to attend school and stay trapped in a cycle of poverty. Water.org provides small loans to these families to enable them to access water easily and break the cycle of poverty.The mission, philosophy, and high quality products have made the Memobottle Kickstarter a resounding success with it raising over $45,000 of its initial $30,000 goal in just a few hours. 
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Interview: Max Temkin On Cards Against Humanity

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Brent Knepper Cards Against Humanity
Photo by Brent Knepper for Cards Against Humanity
Hillary Trump Cards Against HumanityInterview with Max Temkin.  If you have ever played the popular card game Cards Against Humanity, you are a horrible person. If you haven’t, prepare to die of laughter. To play, one person reads a question from a black card as everyone chooses the funniest white card from their hand to be chosen. It sounds simple, but with cards like “A big black dick.” and “Not giving a shit about the third world.”, you quickly realize that it is not a game for the weak.
During an exclusive interview with co founder Max Temkin, he tells us about business, Black Friday ideas, and doing things the Cards Against Humanity way. Best known for creating the game, he is also the cofounder of Blackbox, creator of Humans vs. ZombiesSecret Hitler, and Slap .45, and is on the National Finance Committee for Hillary for America. Though involved in politics, he does things a little differently, as you can see with America Votes with Cards Against Humanity. Like a true entrepreneur, the list of projects is endless. He describes himself as just a designer, but to think of him as just that would be foolish. Max Temkin is an inspiration for those aspiring to take their hobbies to the next level.

How did CAH get started?

Max Temkin - I've talked about this extensively in other interviews, but basically, the co-creators of Cards Against Humanity have a long history of making games together, and Cards Against Humanity was the first good one we play-tested. We put it out for free and it gained a cult following. Then we did a Kickstarter.

What are your backgrounds?

Max Temkin - I have a philosophy degree and I work on Democratic campaigns and elections. Some of the other Cards Against Humanity co-creators have backgrounds in economics, science, and advertising.

Why did you decide to create dick jokes instead of working in a different field?

Max Temkin - It was mostly a happy accident! We all still have outside interests, though Cards Against Humanity is my biggest project now.

When was your a-Ha moment?

Max Temkin - I'm not sure what that means! A time that sticks out in my memory that I knew Cards Against Humanity was pretty special was when I was play-testing it at college... I had a bunch of friends over in my dorm room, we were playing it and laughing, and more and more people kept coming over and joining. The laughter was contagious, and people kept coming in attracted by the spectacle. I saw that happen and I knew something special was going on.

How has sarcasm benefited your company?

Max Temkin - Not sure how to answer this one. We always try to find something earnest or authentic to make a joke about, and something that makes us laugh.

What is your on-boarding process?

Max Temkin - Is that like when you hire someone? We don't have a lot of formal procedures. Trin is our events director and is kind of in charge of office morale, so she helps people find their place in the company.Cards Against Humanity staff

Describe your office culture.

Max Temkin - We have a large open office that we built in Chicago, it's a co-working space full of our friends... other designers, artists, musicians, podcasters, and weirdos from around the city.

What is the best way to respond to negative feedback?

Max Temkin - I try not to get defensive and rush to defend myself... I usually take a moment to absorb the criticism, and then translate it into something constructive that I can act on. Sometimes people have constructive criticism that I can't act on, and I just try to make sure that they're heard.

Who are some influencers that you admire?

Max Temkin - I truly hate thinking of people as "influencers," thinking like that instrumentalizes all of the relationships in your life and makes them transactional. I don't know that you can think about other people in terms of being an "influencer" or not, and still view them as honest and emotionally available to you.

What is the biggest lesson you learned since starting CAH?

Max Temkin - It's been very hard for me to delegate and give work to other people... even when they're way better than me. Our design director Amy Schwartz is a much better designer than me, the best designer I've ever worked with, and I really look up to her. I know that she outshines me in every skill. But it's still emotionally so difficult to give up the work.

How do you determine a good employee at CAH?

Max Temkin - We look for kind, funny, and well-rounded people who are first good human beings and second good employees. We value a diversity of experience and viewpoint, and whether people have full, real lives outside of work.

What advice would you give to people trying to start their own business?

Max Temkin - Every good business that you admire figured things out for themselves. They forged their own path and came up with their own way of doing things. Apple does things the Apple way. McDonald's does things the McDonald's way. Cards Against Humanity does things the Cards Against Humanity way. Reading business advice and blindly following what other people did didn't get those companies anywhere, and it won't get you anywhere either. To make a successful company or brand, you need to start from first principles and figure out your own way forward.

What advice can you give people new to crowdfunding?

Max Temkin - Again the whole notion of "giving advice" on crowdfunding is kind of crazy to me. The whole point is to authentically figure out what you're about and how to connect with other people. Some advice I like from Matthew Frederick's 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School is that successful designers learn to make design decisions conditionally - that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution.

Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Max Temkin - Tough question - I have no idea if people will still be playing Cards Against Humanity or care about us at all in five years. For the last five years, I've had a personal goal of making one small Kickstarter project a year. Sometimes they're really small and personal like my Maxistentialism zine. And sometimes they're huge public projects like my new game Secret Hitler. But I'd like to think that I'll still be doing that in a year.Cards Against Humanity

How did you come up with 12 Days of Holiday Bullshit?

Max Temkin - We needed to come up with some way to market Cards Against Humanity during the holidays that was funny and still had integrity. The first year we did a holiday stunt, it was a pay-what-you-want pack and we made $70,000, which we donated to charity. We felt like the next year we needed to out-do that. The blind subscription, where you pay us and get a series of mystery gifts in the mail, was a nice escalation. We did that for three years and now we're taking a break.

How often do you guys visit Hawaii 2?

Max Temkin - I've never been! I hear from lots of people who have been to visit, and apparently it's really nice during the summer.

What do you do with all the dumb ideas that people submit?

Max Temkin - Mostly we use them as kind of raw brainstorming ideas... I don't think we've ever gotten a crowd suggestion that went directly into the game.

What are some Black Friday ideas that didn’t make the cut?

Max Temkin - We probably investigate a hundred ideas that don't pan out to get to the one that works. The original idea was a $0.01-off coupon, but we ultimately rejected it because we felt that it was still a marketing deal. We always want to do something genuinely surprising and risky. This year's is going to be a doozy.

How did you come up with the idea for The Bigger Blacker Box?

Max Temkin - People asked us for a big box that held all the cards, and over my strong objections, we decided to give them what they wanted. This was the best product we could design that fit those needs.

A few Redditors mentioned that they want to send you beer. Has this happened? Have you received anything out of the ordinary?

Max Temkin - We've gotten all kinds of crazy gifts and things from people. I love that people feel like they have a relationship with us and want to send us stuff, I think that's a sign that we're getting our message out there and our voice is coming through. 
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