Companies approaching TEDCO for an investment or for access to advisors or other services should understand that TEDCO is constrained in providing these resources to all entrepreneurs who need them due to the limitations of its budget.  As a result, many of TEDCO’s resources are competitive in nature and only the best-prepared companies will receive access to the most valuable resources and investments.  Nevertheless, it is part of TEDCO’s mission to assist entrepreneurs and help them prepare for our investment and other programs.  To this end, TEDCO has curated a variety of resources for entrepreneurs and included links to these resources below.

ASSESSMENT TOOL (currently in beta)

For entrepreneurs wondering how they stack-up against other companies that might be applying for TEDCO’s investment programs, or other investors, you might want to try TEDCO’s Assessment Tool.  Take less than 5 minutes to answer nine questions and your company will be scored on six different characteristics.  Upon completion of the assessment, you will be provided with a graphical score and a list of suggestions on what you need to accomplish to get to higher scores.  The tool will also identify the best TEDCO resources for your company’s current stage of development.

Since we are in beta, please use the assessment and send any comments to response@tedco.md.  We are working to refine the tool to best serve you and other entrepreneurs in the state.

Take the Assessment

EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION

There are a lot of educational materials on entrepreneurship that can be found on-line.  The current thinking around best practices in entrepreneurship revolves around the lean start-up approach.  TEDCO believes strongly that entrepreneurs in most technology sectors should follow these practices when working to establish a company.  Please take a look at the following resources:

LEANSTACK

The first step in the lean start-up approach is to make assumptions about your business opportunity and write them down as part of a business canvas.  LEANSTACK has a tool that allows you to develop variations of your canvas on line so you can track changes.  It also includes a large number of videos that help you develop your canvas, interview stakeholders, and ultimately design a business that meets customers’ needs.  Some features of this resource are free and others require a small monthly fee.

Udacity – Steve Blank Lecture – How to Build a Start-up

Steve Blank is an entrepreneur and an academic that helped launch the lean start-up approach.  He has a great webpage with a lot of information – almost too much.  His lecture series on Udacity, “How to Build a Start-up”, is a great summary of the lean start-up approach.  The course includes a number of short videos in which he discusses all aspects of the lean start-up.  It is necessary to create an account for Udacity, but the lectures are free.

Once you have completed your business canvas, interviewed customers, and started to build a team, you might be ready to consider developing an investment pitch.  Entrepreneurs should understand that pitching is an art and it takes lots of practice to do it well.  Nevertheless, there is standard information that most investors will want to see in a pitch and a fairly standard sequence for how that information should be conveyed.  Before you find someone to help coach you on a pitch, you might consider the following resource to help you prepare your pitch deck.

I-CORPS Program

The DC I-CORPS offers a variety of training cohorts for entrepreneurs that need to do customer discovery and business model development.  I-CORPS is an excellent program that includes developing a business model canvas, conducting customer interviews, and refining a viable business model that delivers value to customers.  The programs are led by experienced instructors, who guide participants through the customer discovery and business development process.  The I-CORPS program was initially designed for university-based technologies, but new programs, such as the I-CORPS GO program, allow for a broader range of technology opportunities.

PitchCreator

PitchCreator is a resource created by an investor who was tired of seeing good companies miss an investment opportunity because they were unable to communicate their story well to a group of investors.  PitchCreator is an on-line course that will help you develop and refine your pitch.  There is a small fee for access to the course.

Start-up School by Y-Combinator

The Start-up School by Y-Combinator is a MOOC (Massively Open Online Course).  You can follow along with the current 10-week program or access videos from past years.  Y-Combinator is one of the leading accelerator programs in the country and they are sharing their program materials to help other entrepreneurs.

OTHER RESOURCES

There are a variety of other resources for entrepreneurs.  Please take advantage of any of the following that might be a good fit for you.

The Maryland Small Business Development Center

The Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network provides small business owners with access to trusted business advisors who have experience in starting and growing businesses. They offer expertise and keen insight essential to helping them manage their concerns today, and design solid, long-range plans to secure their visions of tomorrow.

SCORE Association

SCORE is a non-profit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.  If you want to meet with an experienced business mentor to get feedback on your business model, a SCORE mentor might be a great resource for you.

Maryland Business Express

If you are looking for resources related to actually starting your business in Maryland, registering with the state, securing licenses, etc. the Maryland Department of Commerce has a one-stop shop for you.  The site includes information on how to plan, start, manage, and grow your business.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate Benefits

TEDCO portfolio companies can get the following benefits from AWS:

  • $15,000 in AWS Promotional Credit valid for 2 years or $100,000 in AWS Promotional Credit valid for 1 year (from date of funding)
  • 1 year of AWS Business Support up to $5k
  • Access to the AWS Technical and Business Essentials web-based (or instructor-led) training ($600 value per course)
  • 80 credits for Self-Paced Labs ($80 value)
  • Access to AWS Solutions Architects for technical guidance, service deep dives, best practices, etc. (ping Ross if you want to set up future calls)
  • AWS Activate Toolbox with offers for Amazon Payments and Amazon Marketplace

Please contact Stephen Auvil, sauvil@tedco.md, to get TEDCO’s Organization ID, which will be required to submit an application.  TEDCO must confirm that you are a portfolio company and eligible for the benefits.

HubSpot for Startups Seed Stage Program

We are excited to partner with the HubSpot for Startups Seed-Stage program to provide their marketing and sales software and education to eligible startups — at a startup friendly cost!

HubSpot is a software platform that helps you generate leads, close deals, and manage your pipeline. HubSpot offers a growth stack of products for customer relationship management, marketing, and sales: powerful alone, and even better when used together.

HubSpot’s free CRM aligns sales and marketing with ease, HubSpot Marketing helps you grow your traffic and convert more visitors into customers, and HubSpot Sales helps you skyrocket your productivity and close more leads with less work.

Discover how HubSpot can help your startup grow with marketing and sales software and education without breaking the bank. Learn how you can qualify and apply today.

If you’re eligible, you get:

    • HubSpot CRM Free to manage your contacts, leads pipeline, and customers
    • 90% off HubSpot’s Marketing Starter, Pro, or Enterprise software, and HubSpot Sales Starter or Professional software, for the first 12 months, and 50% off for the next 12 months (Up to $40,000 savings over 2 years).
    • Startup Onboarding with tech set-up (reduced one-time $300 cost), dedicated strategy consulting, and round-the-clock support.
    • Access to world-class inbound marketing and sales training, education, and experts

Startups must meet the following eligibility criteria in order to qualify for the HubSpot for Startups Seed-Stage program:

      • Less than $2 million in funding
      • Current TEDCO Portfolio Company
      • Not an existing HubSpot Sales Professional and Marketing Basic, Professional, or Enterprise customer

Click here to Apply

If you’d like to learn more about the program and see the software in action, sign up for the HubSpot for Startups demo here.

If you are looking for a good read, you might consider selecting some of the following books, which are TEDCO staff best picks.

The Lean Startup
Eric Ries

The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
Guy Kawasaki

Do More Faster: Lessons to accelerate your startup
David Cohen

The Startup Owner’s Manual
Steve Blank

The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development
Brant Cooper & Patrick Vlashkovit

Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist
Brad Feld

Pitch Anything
Oren Klaff

Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth
Gabriel Weinberg

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Ben Horowitz

Contagious
Jonah Berger (This is an awesome marketing book.)

The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that Can Sink a Startup
Noam Wasserman

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
Clayton Christensen