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The Apple Revolution

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Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were perhaps two of the biggest innovative thinkers the world has ever seen. Their vision was so futuristic, one could only stand in awe and watch them create history. Jobs and Wozniak were first introduced to each other way back in the year 1971, by Bill Fernandez, who went on to become one of the first Apple employees. They became really close because of their shared love for technology and of course, pranks.

In fact, the two did not join forces for technology, but for their shared love for out of the box pranks. They would create extraordinarily provocative art which ended up being displayed at a graduation ceremony. They went so far as to almost be able to call the Pope in Vatican.

Eventually, like everyone else, the two pranksters grew tired of their ways and decided to focus on their love for technology like they had planned. Their first groundbreaking entry into the world of innovation was by creating “blue boxes,” a system which enabled people to make long distance calls for free.

In 1975, the two Steves attended the Homebrew Computer Club together, a computer hobbyist group which gathered at California’s Menlo Park. It was here, Woz first saw the MITS Altair, which today looks like little more than a box of lights and circuit boards. The two were inspired by the build it yourself approach followed by MITS (the Altair came as a kit) to make something simpler for the rest of the world. This philosophy continues to shine through in Apple’s products even today.

The first Apple computer, Apple 1, was created by Woz as a means of competition to show off what he could do with such limited resources. However, little did Woz know that Jobs would like the archetype so much, he would use it for all future Apple products. Woz built everything at Apple with his own hands and he wanted to actually sell the devices for a little more than the products used to build the devices.

However, Jobs had a bigger (and better) plan for Apple altogether. Jobs cracked a deal with the Byte Shop in Mountain View to supply it with 50 computers priced at $ 500 each. This meant, once the store had taken its cut, the Apple 1 sold for $ 666.66. The legend is that Wozniak liked repeating numbers and was unaware of the ‘number of the beast’ connection.

The Byte Shop was going on a limb for Jobs and Wozniak. The fact was, neither did Apple Computers Inc., have the resources to fulfill the order, nor did they have enough Apple I computers. A bank turned down their request for a loan and even the $ 5,000 they received from a friend’s father was not enough to fund the project. In the end, it was Byte’s purchase order that sealed the deal for the Apple founders. Jobs was banking on this order to see them through the end of the project. While the project went through, this risk taking factor became the main reason for one of the first employees of Apple to quit.

Despite the fact that only 200 Apple 1 computers were produced, the success in itself was so high, the team was able to bankroll the Apple 2 project. Once developed, this piece of technology, worth a little over $ 100, was selling a piece of hardware worth ten times that much. This in itself was uncharted territory for Apple as a company. Unfortunately, even with the right software, the Apple 2 could not have been a huge success as it did not adhere to the Company’s already established high standards.

More importantly, Apple 2 was the first computer to use colour graphics in the right way. Apple had designed a computer which embodied what we came to expect of desktop machines through the 1980s, 1990s and the first few years of this century. This was the beginning of everything, before Apple turned things on its head again and moved increasingly toward sealed boxes without the option for internal expansion.

The Apple 1, 2 and 3 were text based machines. The stupendous success of these two brilliant geniuses had left everyone wondering about the future of the Company. They did not have to wait long. Jobs desperately wanted to do something innovative and he got his break when working with the Lisa. From there on, he went on to create the Macintosh, which in itself was a massive revolution.

However, the original Macintosh required a lot of renovations needed to make it a success. For instance, it did not have an internal hard drive and this was cited as a massive problem. After several tweaks and modifications, the Macintosh 2 came into being. This was a massive success instantly at the time of its launch, beating Microsoft, which was the best selling software at the time.

Apple progressed through the years in leaps and bounds. Despite having lost one of the original founders (Ronald Wayne,) Woz took forward the Apple tradition by creating something truly brilliant. From just being a contraption of sorts, Apple products progressed to something far more sophisticated and sleek. Each design was worth taking note of and keeping a watch on the market and the market trends. From the Apple 1 versions, to the iPods and the iMacs of the current world, Apple has come a long way.

Through the years, Apple grew to expand its range of products and with a primary focus on design and technology. Post the stupendous success of the iPods, apple realised a lot of its future success was riding on the kind of products it would launch next. Launching the first ever iPhone on 29th June 2007, Apple created a massive revolution that was considered not only the best by the rest of the world but also by Times, who called the iPhone “The World’s Greatest Invention.” From the first ever phone introduced, Apple had no turning back and since then, has introduced not one, but ten iPhones and through the years, became the first ever company in the world to be valued over a trillion dollars!

Take a moment to ponder about this fact. If Woz and Jobs had not joined the computer club back in the day, then we would not have the empowering technology we have today.

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Top Five Free Communication Tools For Startups

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Top Five Communication Tools For Startups

In one of our previous articles published recently, we broached the importance of communications both internal and external, for startups.  Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool.  While communication can be done across various mediums like social media, e-mails, blog posts, newsletters, press releases and advertisements there are certain tools which a majority of startups prefer to use.  This is because, some of these tools offer a lot of features, a good user interface and experience combined with value for money.

We have explored and compiled a list of top five free communication tools which will be useful for startups.  Some of these tools are easily recognisable as we use them to some degree or the other in our day to day lives.

1) Slack

Slack is a communications platform designed specifically for businesses.  Slack is a simple interface which comes in the form of chat rooms.  Each of these rooms are organised by topics and can be private or public.  Slack also offers private messaging and is a good bet for startups which are just scaling up as they offer a free plan as well.  The free plan however allows only the 10,000 most recent messages to be viewed and searched.

2) Trello

Trello is another communications tool which is highly preferred because it has a Kanban style approach towards communication.  Kanban is a lean method to manage and improve work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of bottlenecks.  A Kanban Board is used to implement Kanban management.  Users can create task boards which have columns including task statuses such as ‘To Do,’ ‘In Progress,’ ‘Done.’  For startups Trello offers a free fourteen day trial which includes unlimited boards, automation and strong privacy.

3) Microsoft Teams

This communications tool is an offering from Microsoft and offers workspace chat and video conferencing, file storage, and application integration.  Users can chat in groups or privately and even send files across the platform.  It also includes video and voice calling over the internet.  For the free version, Microsoft Teams offers users to host unlimited rooms for 60 minutes and hosting upto hundred participants.  Moreover, users get ten gigabytes of free cloud storage and unlimited chat options.

ALSO READ: Importance Of Communications For A Startup

4) Zoom

Zoom, a video conferencing tool which shot into the limelight in 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This tool allowed businesses to move their work online and ensured workflow was not disturbed.  Zoom stepped up to the challenge effortlessly taking on all the bandwidth and usage it is currently experiencing.  Zoom has also removed time limits for the conference calls and made the entire suite free of cost for schools and businesses in the affected regions across the globe, thereby further increasing its popularity.  The free trial allows users to host rooms with upto 100 participants and unlimited one on one meetings, as well as group minute meetings for upto 40 minutes.

5) Skype

Skype is another offering from Microsoft and is one of the oldest known online communications platforms.  It supports text, audio, and video chat and integrates with Microsoft Office components like powerpoint.  Skype is a free to use communications platform and can be used across a variety of platforms like mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

This concludes the list of top five free communications platforms available in the market for startups and medium sized businesses.  Let us know if you are already using any of these or plan on using them in the future in the comments below.

 

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Importance Of Communications For A Startup

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A startup usually prioritises its focus on the front end functions like marketing and sales, as well as the backend functions like finances and product development.  While there is no denying these functions are very critical for the success of a startup, there is one more important aspect to it which often tends to be neglected because it may not seem important.  Communications and information management is an often overlooked function a lot of companies ignore.  The fallout from ignoring the criticality of good communication does not immediately make itself known but rather keeps on piling up until the problem becomes too big to ignore.  

During the initial or idea stages of a startup when there are only a few members on the team, communication might not be a problem because all of the team would be together for most of the time.  However, as the idea develops into a product and the startup begins rapid scaling up, the need for hiring more hands arises.  This is when communication becomes a priority.

Communication for startups includes both internal and external.  Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool.  Some easy but highly effective ways to improve communication, both internal and external, are discussed as we progress through the article.

Internal communication:

Internal communication is a powerful tool for enabling better decision making and for increasing business productivity.  Open, clear, crisp communication from the top management level to all branches of the organization will serve to bring everyone together on to a common goal.  This will also further keep executives informed, engaged and make them feel valued thereby leading to more productivity.  Regular team meetings will ensure each team member is on the same page and will also boost employee morale.  Google Hangouts, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Trello are some of the tools which can be used for internal communications.

Some of the ways to drive a healthy internal communication within startups are

  1. Promoting openness, honesty and transparency.
  2. Candid one on one sessions with leaders.
  3. Valuing every opinion.
  4. Sharing challenges, suggestions, progress and expectations.
  5. Welcoming team feedback.
  6. Create an environment of creative expression and non judgemental spaces.

ALSO READ: The Importance Of A Communications Manager

External Communication

External communication also plays an important role in the growth of a startup.  While internal communication is used to keep the teams on the same page, external communication plays a huge role in the brand awareness and value.  External communications play an important role and a startup cannot ignore how it is perceived by job seekers, financial institutions and the public.  Therefore a startup needs to put out its ideas, culture, vision and products in the purview of the public and this can be done through blogs, social media, newsletters, press briefings, advertisements and emails.  A startup needs to realise the importance of managing external communications and the power of releasing information at the right time.  

Some of the ways to drive a healthy external communication and which often tend to be overlooked are given below.

  1. Leverage the correct medium for communication.  For example social media for branding, ads for lead generation, landing pages for call to action.
  2. Create a unique tonality suitable for the brand image of your startup.
  3. Ensure to stay in touch with your external public through all contextual means like emails, newsletters, publications and so on.
  4. Create high-quality content like opinion pieces, sales materials, research reports, annual reports, whitepapers, buyer’s guides, and product datasheets.
  5. Incase of any issues with the product on the technical side or manufacturing defects, startups need to immediately issue advisories.  Good communication is also essential for firefighting and damage control

Startups should keep in mind that internal and external communications are mostly about being spontaneous, relevance and honesty.  A healthy communication goes a long way to improve employee performance, team productivity, positive mindset, and above all business revenue.

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What Are Series A, B And C Fundings?

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Startups usually go through a tumultuous series of journeys during their lifecycle.  As a startup is continuing to grow, the need for funds becomes more and more important.  Funding offers startups the necessary influx of money at various stages to focus on different aspects like product building, scaling up, expansion, innovation, research and development.  While only a handful of startups usually make it big without the need of much funding, the rest of the other startups  engage in multiple efforts to raise enough capital through rounds of external funding.

In the previous article, we have explored seed funding and the various sources of seed funding.  Once a startup completes a seed funding round, the next following rounds are called as series funding and are classified into Series A, B and C respectively.

These Series fundings usually have a timeline and Series A is the first of the three rounds of funding.  Many startups often spend years in search of a Series A funding while some other startups easily get their foot in the door.  The Series fundings are a stepping stone for a startup to eventually become a Unicorn or for filing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO.)

As is the case with seed funding, the Series A,B and C rounds of funding also see investors putting their money into a startup in exchange for equity.  The success of a startup directly correlates to the amount of returns an investor gains.

Before any round of funding, a startup needs to be valued and a valuation is done based on multiple factors like management, track record, market size, risk and liabilities.  Let us have a look at what Series A,B and C funding means below.

Series A funding

Once a startup gains a proven customer base and consistent revenue figure, the startup may opt for a Series A round of funding.  This funding can be used by a startup in question to improve their customer base as well as taking opportunities to scale their product across different markets. A startup also usually prepares a long term business plan after receiving a Series A funding.  Series A fundings range between $ 2 million and $ 15 million.  Investors are not looking for a great idea but rather a plan to take the great idea and make it into a money making business.  

Series B funding

Series B funding rounds are all about startups expanding and taking their business to the next level.  Investors help startups get there by expanding market reach. Companies that have gone through seed and Series A funding rounds have already developed substantial user bases and have proven to investors that they are prepared for success on a larger scale.  Series B fundings are usually used to scale a startup to meet the increasing demand levels.  Series B fundings range between $ 30 million and $ 60 million with the average funding at $ 33 million.

ALSO READ: 8 Best Free CRM Solutions For Startups

Series C funding

By the time startups arrive at Series C round of funding, they are usually quite successful.  The idea behind the Series C round of funding is for startups to raise capital to develop new products and expand into newer markets or probably even acquire other businesses.  Normally investors expect a 200% return on their investment during the Series C round of funding.  Companies vying for a Series C funding are usually looking to go for an IPO or to expand on a global scale.  Startups are usually valued at around $ 118 million when applying for a Series C funding.  

This concludes the list of Series funding.  Series fundings are an important milestone in any startup’s roadmap to success and this article hopes to break down the Series funds into simple terms.   

 

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