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Top 20 Startup Ecosystems in the World

1 Sep
I represented MIT TechLink at this week's Midway Club Fair and got a taste of the startup scene on campus.

I represented MIT TechLink at this week’s MIT student club fair and got a taste of the startup scene on campus. Excited for the next two years!

Having just moved to Boston for grad school, I’m learning more and more about the area’s ecosystem and always on the lookout for new thoughts and opinions on the Boston startup scene. While I’ve read over the past few years that it’s highly focused on the healthcare, energy, and industries, nothing beats living in Kendall Square, among the innovation.

And an infographic, of course, certainly can’t illuminate every aspect of a city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, but it’s always interesting to see how various communities stack up against each other. Boston, it turns out, is number six on the list.

Intuit published the below infographic last month, illustrating the results of the 2012 Startup Ecosystem Report, published by Startup Genome in partnership with Telefonica Digital and researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkley. Measuring eight key areas — including startup output, funding, performance, and talent — the report deemed Silicon Valley the most entrepreneurial hot spot in the world (of course). But the real fun is in the other 19 ecosystems identified, some of which are called out for certain strong points. Santiago, Chile, for example, has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs (20%), compared to Silicon Valley at a paltry 10%.

Click here to see the full size infographic.

Top Startup Hubs

Are you a startup entrepreneur? If so, what makes your city’s startup culture unique? Shout it out in the comments below.

Next Up: Three Months of TechStars Awesome Sauce

28 Mar

Erica Swallow at TechStars NYC

Over the weekend, I had full intentions to leave New York this Sunday for a two-week trip to Utah, where I’d shadow winemaker Danny Bull at Montezuma Canyon Ranch and Vineyards to learn how to plant grapevines and make organic wine — as some of you know, I’ve been on a personal winemaking journey for the past few years, following one of my life goals of starting Swallow Winery.

And my plan for the full month of May was to knock out tons of work while sipping mimosas beachside on some gorgeous beach I had yet to choose.

All of that changed on Sunday night, though, when Lexi Lewtan, a friend and colleagued email introduced me to Eugene Chung, the new managing director of TechStars NYC, previously of NEA fame and currently also wearing VC and indie filmmaker hats — quite honestly I took the meeting because I love TechStars and Eugene’s background sounded oddly intriguing.

I took a Monday afternoon meeting, thinking I’d go in, hear about a really cool position, but ultimately decline, because I had to get back to my massive vineyard and beach travels. But I was in for the surprise of the year — for the first time in my life, I decided to take an unpaid position, merely because it sounded like the best use of my summer and the team I’d be working with sounded like a rockstar combo.

For the next three months, I’ll be working 70-80 hour weeks, missing out on a gazillion coffee dates, annoying all of my friends with party declines, and frankly, having the experience of a lifetime. I can honestly say there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now. Ok, except maybe having infinite amounts of cookies delivered to the office to share with my newfound team. But hey, my $5 per day budget isn’t going to allow for that. Trade offs.

I’m stoked to have the opportunity to help the next group of amazing startups build awesome digital media and press strategies as one of six baller TechStar NYC Associates, working alongside Eugene and Program Manager KJ Singh.

So, friends and family, believe me when I say I love you and for the next three months, I’m going to miss seeing your beautiful faces. Please don’t hate me if I don’t answer your phone calls, only respond to your text messages after midnight, and miss everything you invite me to this summer. Just know that I’m only following my passions, and I’m thinking about you all every moment of the way. At the end of this, you’re going to get to spend time with an improved version of me — one that probably spent the past few months sleeping under desks and on couches, meeting epic people and seeing amazing products built right before her eyes.

For you and for me, this is a long-term investment for a better me and a better world. Let’s do this!

A Selection of Startup Pitches With Flair

21 Jan

In my Startup PR courses on Skillshare and Udemy, I advocate using the Founder Institute’s recipe for the perfect one-sentence startup pitch (see video above), as pitching and messaging are usually issues for entrepreneurs or startup employees who may be more focused on product development, user acquisition, or a boat load of other tasks.

I’ve read some great startup pitches and some not-so-lovely pitches as well. It’s always a pleasure to work with startups eager to craft better pitches.

In January, I taught an online Skillshare class called “Getting Press on a Tight Budget.” After taking the course, students were asked to create press kits for their startups, making sure to include — at the very least — a one-sentence startup pitch and an email pitch written to me, a tech journalist. Below you’ll find some of the best pitches submitted, and in case you’re curious, you can find all of the projects on the class page.


One-Sentence Pitches


Let’s start with one-sentence pitches, the elevator pitch of email. Here are a few that stood out from the crowd:

  • Web Academy of Music is a video-based online music school that offers private lessons through video exchange to help busy people learn an instrument.
  • Meet Your Makers is developing a series of weekly markets and an accompanying website to help small creative businesses who engage in sustainable practices to gain main-stream exposure and increase direct sales.
  • UrbanSake.com offers a full service sake appreciation program that will help anyone discover and more fully enjoy Japanese sake using unique and fun in person and online sake tasting seminars.
  • Mewe is the first comparison site that helps purpose driven travelers find, book & rate their perfect voluntourism package and also enables them to crowdfund their selected cause.

These pitches are crisp and easy-to-understand — way better than the usual mumbo jumbo that reaches my inbox. And, I must say, Mewe accompanied its pitch with a delightful product video that showcased the team is serious and has a brilliant product idea. Furthermore, I’d recommend checking out UrbanSake’s email pitch, as founder Timothy Sullivan really understands the art of the personalized pitch.


Email Pitches



Check out the wrap-up and feedback session for my Skillshare class, which features the best one-sentence pitches and email pitches with in-depth reasoning behind their awesomeness.

When it comes to choosing the best email pitches from the course, I’d say UrbanSake and Mewe did a great job.

There were, however, two email pitches that caught my eye, and for two separate reasons:

  • Leaves of Trees, an all-natural skin care company, submitted an email pitch, that while a bit jargon-y at times, was well-targeted towards a writer who cared a lot about all-natural products (me). Though I don’t cover skin care, I appreciated the detail put into explaining just how special the process was. Furthermore, this email included beautiful product pictures, including a lip balm close-up, which amazingly, I’ve been looking for a new brand of all-natural lip balm. It’s like they knew!
  • Just BE Cause” is a “book anthology that features Ah-ha moments that inspire the next generation of change makers,” written by social entrepreneur Syreeta Gates. I was charmed by Syreeta’s pitch, because she showed true passion, included endorsements from recognizable leaders in education and entrepreneurship, and seemed to have a purpose behind her work. She made a few missteps, which I pointed out in the comments of her project. But, otherwise, I would read the book in a heartbeat.

Last, but not least, I can’t forget the most thorough press kit submitted — the Skillshare press kit, submitted by Skillshare’s awesome community manager, Danya Cheskis-Gold. Of course, I couldn’t choose Skillshare as the top project submitter in a Skillshare class! But, I wanted to give a shout-out, since this kit has everything a journalist could need: FAQs, class examples, logos, team bios, photos, videos, screenshots, demos, press clips, thought-leadership articles. It’s quite amazing and is a perfect example for the startup that wants to go all out on its press kit!

If you’re still craving press kits and email pitches, head on over to the Projects tab on my Skillshare class for all the pitches you could care for. Hours of fun and learning, guaranteed. Cheers!

Where To Find Me at SXSW 2012

3 Mar

I’m super excited about SXSW 2012, as it marks a few milestones for me:

I could go on about how many firsts I’ll be having at SXSW, but I won’t bore you — it really does seem like a whole different experience from the first time I attended SXSW in 2010, though.

Anyway, I wanted to share my 2012 schedule with the Internetz. So, here’s where you can find me for SXSW this year:

Speaking About Brand Journalism

I’ll be speaking on a panel about “Brand Journalism in the Real World.” This session will focus not only on defining brand journalism, but also will go in-depth on what brand journalism looks like in action, how organizations can incorporate editorial practices and how traditional journalists can make the shift. The panel will be moderated by MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley and will feature the wisdom of Twitter’s Editorial Director Karen Wickre, Eloqua’s in-house reporter Jesse Noyes, and myself.

Throwing a Sunday Brunch

As director of community at Contently, I’m heading up the planning for our Sunday brunch meetup. In celebration of launching the Freelance Writers Meetup, we’re bringing together a room full of top journalists to gather over a full Texas brunch buffet, all the mimosas you can down in two hours, and the brilliant wisdom of Ben Parr — former Mashable editor, startup entrepreneur, and CNET and CBSi columnist.

Special thanks to Contently co-founder Shane Snow and the stellar team at Jones-Dilworth for helping put this event together. And Ben, thank you for joining us to share the story of your awesomeness!

Attending Parties Galore

While I haven’t planned out which panels I’m attending yet, I already have my top party picks aligned. Go figure, right? You can find me sipping on root beers — and beers of all types — at the following fine festivities:

Getting Educated at Panels

This year, I’m covering SXSW for Forbes, NASDAQ and The Content Strategist. Here are some panels and classes that I will be attending:

Am I Missing Anything Serious?

Given my schedule above, does it look like I’m missing something crucial? If so, let me know about it in the comments below! We only get one shot at SXSW 2012, people! Let’s make it count!

On My Healthy Obsession with Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces

17 Nov

I seem to go through annual cycles of Internet obsessions.

In 2008, it was social communication platforms, like Twitter. In 2009, it was services that make microblogging easier, like Hootsuite and Ping.fm. In 2010, it was location-based mobile apps, like Foursquare and Gowalla. And this year, it’s social marketplaces.

The concept of “collaborative consumption,” also know as the “sharing economy,” completely enthralls me. The fact that I don’t need to book a hotel, buy a car or invest in a drill is amazing — instead, I can just borrow these things from regular people from my neighborhood or from around the globe for a small fee. Now, that’s something worth getting excited about.

So, what types of things can you collaboratively consume? The list goes on and on, but here’s a snapshot of some of the most interesting things you can find on social marketplaces:

Even more exciting is the potential for meeting awesome people via social marketplaces. You don’t get that experience with traditional marketplaces — Zipcar, I love you, but it’s just the truth.

I’ve hosted a number of guests on Airbnb (and have stayed in quite a few places as well); I teach a class on “PR for Startups” on Skillshare, and I’ve learned how to knit (see video above) and live rent-free in NYC; and I catsit for the fun of it via Sittercity.

Along the way, I’ve met some amazing people (Stefania in Catania, I’m talking to you!) and cats (Darcy, Yuki, Ernie and Sabi, you know you’re all the cat’s meow). What’s not to love?

The social economy is where it’s at for me this year, and I have a feeling it’s going to spill over into 2012. So, what was your tech obsession this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Are We Addicted to Smartphones? [INFOGRAPHIC]

16 Sep

I wrote an article about smartphone addiction last month, covering research released by UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom.

The folks over at e2save were inspired to create an infographic to visualize the data. It’s beautiful, so I thought I’d feature it today. Take a look.

Do you feel like you’re addicted to your smartphone? (I am pretty sure that I am.)

My New Infographic Resume

12 Aug

I’ve written a few times about infographic resumes on Mashable, and each time, I feel like a hypocrite, because I don’t have an infographic resume. Well, folks, not anymore!

Freelance designer Snow White Powers designed my new infographic resume (embedded below). I enlisted her help, because she did an amazing job redesigning my business cards last year. I asked her to maintain my business card theme in the new resume template, and I’m really pleased with it.

Use the zoom buttons to see it more clearly. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re looking to create a more interesting resume, check out these resources:

- HOW TO: Spruce up a Boring Resume
HOW TO: Set Up an Online Resume

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