Silicon Prairie News

Posts by Guest Contributor
4679_4153ab5cd4_small August 31, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Cedar Rapids (Guest post by John Schnipkoweit.) I'd like to challenge every employee and employer to think about why they are really doing what they are doing. Employee benefits almost always focus on the employee's quality of life, and in recent years, that's included perks around the office as well. I think if we really want to shake things up and take it to the next level, we need to look at how to get better at our jobs. How can any of us really enjoy work, if we're confused as to why anyone would buy our product or use our app. It's easy for the founders – they eat, sleep, and dream about solving their customer's problems – but the larger an organization gets, it's sometimes easy to forget that not everyone truly understands the customers. Try to think of benefits that will help immerse your staff … read more

4651_a364e8484c_small August 24, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Iowa City (Guest post by Josh Cramer.) Before you gouge your eyes out thinking I'm going to launch into a seminar on 401Ks or a rant on how screwed up our health care system is, let's step back and consider another side of employee benefits. Sure, we offer a health care plan and IRA plan to our to our employees, but that's not what I want to talk about today. I've always felt that if this company is successful, the whole team should share in the success and be rewarded. Stock options are one traditional way to reward key employees after they meet certain benchmarks with the company. A stock option plan does a couple things for the company and the members of the team: (1) it creates an incentive for each team member to stick it out at the company; and (2) once exercised … read more

4623_773fe1a95e_small August 18, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Lincoln (Guest post by Bart Dillashaw.) The topic of Form D filings has come up a few times in recent weeks in conversations with clients and in a few blog posts by folks like Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson of Foundry Group, so I thought this might be a topic worth providing a little more background about. This may get a little deeper into legal nuances than the average post, but I'm a lawyer, so indulge me. There is a basic premise underlying the laws and regulations covering the purchase and sale of interests in companies that states that you should not sell these interests, or securities, without telling the truth about your business and disclosing all of the risks involved with investing in your company. In order to ensure that appropriate disclosure is provided, these … read more

4614_0271ec7978_small August 17, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Lincoln (Guest post by David Graff.) When we started Hudl in May 2006, we felt strongly that having the right benefits in place was going to be key for helping us build the right workplace environment and making Hudl a place our employees would brag about to their friends and family. Even though my two cofounders and I didn't pay ourselves any salary that year, the day we hired our first intern we started stocking pop and snacks and offering company-sponsored lunches once a week. As soon as we hired our first full-time employee in March 2007, we started offering what we considered to be the core benefits: fully-paid health insurance for any employee, discounted health insurance for their family, and discounted dental and … read more

4578_9d4fcae804_small August 10, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Urbana (Guest post by Tim Guenther.) Designing and implementing a benefits package can be difficult and costly for startups. Let's face it, most startups are willing to take on something that’s difficult, but being costly is something we can't all do. Most large businesses offer benefits such as health, life, and disability insurance plus other perks like 401K matching contributions and paid time off. These are benefits you can count on – after all, they are in writing (just like most startups, right?). There is a feeling of comfort that comes with acquiring these benefits. They are easy to attach value to, and many of them are a necessity for living a happy, healthy life. But if your startup can't offer these benefits does that mean your benefits don't exist? Here's why I … read more

4556_e4bdcb854c_small August 3, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines (Guest post by Tej Dhawan.) Launching a startup is fraught with many questions, least of which has to do with employee benefits. Perhaps, it is because no one is making money yet. As with many other decisions the founders make, however, benefits decisions are precedent setting and should be considered carefully. You are creating a sustainable business, right? As you incorporate your business, counsel will help you do things required by law. Minimally, as long as you pay people wages, you are required to pay certain core benefits – social security tax, Medicare tax and unemployment insurance. Missing the above three mandatory taxes is certain to get you and … read more

4525_7e26961378_small July 27, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Des Moines (Guest post by Brian Hemesath.) I'm a huge fan of bootstrapped businesses. Those who bootstrap a business enjoy a unique satisfaction knowing they created value from nothing with very-little-to-no outside financial support. I have started several businesses, successfully exiting two, and along the way I have found a few things to be consistent when starting a business, especially when bootstrapping. The long road ahead Get yourself mentally and financially ready to play the long game and understand that a bootstrapped business controls its own runway. Bad spending decisions are bad for any company, but they impact a bootstrapped business hardest. There are many articles about controlling costs and getting creative with … read more

4504_25b3f7d2ff_small July 24, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Washington, D.C. (Guest post by Terry Roberts.) When I first heard about TechStars hosting an abbreviated version of the 90-day accelerator program, I thought, "Sweet! Tell me more!" Then I saw that it was three days, it would be hosted at Georgetown University, and that it was geared specifically towards Veterans. That's when I felt goose bumps. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to D.C. to attend the first inaugural TechStars Patriot Boot Camp. You see, entrepreneurs are a rare breed who "…(go) to … read more

4470_a6435d782b_small July 21, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Kansas City Feeling low on energy? Maybe you just need to move in a new direction. In 2010, I was the CEO and co-founder of Prepay Nation, a company that made international mobile money transfers possible though technology integrated with top-up machines housed in brick-and-mortar establishments. It was my job to check in on how the top-up technology was functioning and how customers were responding so that I could steer the company in the right direction. Consequently, I spent a lot of time … read more

4488_9b80484687_small July 20, 2012 by Guest Contributor

Omaha (Guest post by Mark Carson.) We've all heard of the bootstrap startup, but is bootstrapping exclusive to the startup? What becomes of the bootstrap startup when it "grows up"? One of the key characteristics of a bootstrap business is it's inclination to build vs. buy. Out of sheer necessity, this characteristic is engrained into most bootstraps from day one. Without funding, resourcefulness must become the primary weapon and a trusted friend. The well-funded startup can spend capital on office space, furniture, commercial software, advertising, and employees. In contrast, the bootstrap startup simply doesn't have that luxury. They must make do with the dark corner in the back bedroom as their first office. They might resort to using a slab of plywood … read more

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