The Benefits of Breaking the On-Campus Chains


This blog was originally published on by Nicole Kohut.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of settling into your new home.

Many students develop a move-in rhythm during their time at college, learning where to store their belongings over the summer, how to sneak an air conditioner into their dorm room, and cultivating a survival guide for co-ed bathrooms. This fall, however, many students were left without the opportunity for on-campus housing, instead signing leases for apartments and befriending landlords in hope of finding a comfort similar to that of their pre-covid residencies. 

While the tediousness of documents and bills may make off-campus housing seem like another detriment of the global pandemic, this shift has allowed students to create an entirely new daily routine– one that has less restrictions than on-campus life and more time for exploration. We got the inside scoop on a day in the life of a Columbia University junior living off-campus in New York City for the first time to see how his living situation has transformed his academic and personal life. 

Q: What is the first thing you do when you wake up? 

Stay in bed! Living on campus my freshman and sophomore year, the mornings were always a race to the finish line. I got up immediately to beat out the lines for the bathrooms. You had to time this perfectly because if you don’t get ready on time, you could hit rush hour at the dining halls, which also means being late to class or skipping breakfast altogether. And even if you do manage to stay on schedule, you run the risk of there being elevator displays. Maybe this is just a “going to school in New York City” thing, but we have about one working elevator for 14 floors and tons of kids trying to make class at the same time. 

Q: What’s your pre-Zoom schedule? 

Once I get out of bed, I usually shower and have tea with my roommates. School definitely feels less consuming living off campus– it’s more like living with a few friends in the city and occasionally going to meetings and doing assignments. Also, Columbia could often feel like an impenetrable bubble, making it hard to leave campus. I thought dorm life– living with a bunch of other students on the same floor– would make me more social than living off-campus, which is why I’ve been surprised about my lifestyle. Now, I take a stroll in Central Park before my classes start. I also make an effort to see more friends (socially distanced)– maybe this is because of the long period I spent away from everyone, but I guess the point is that my apartment hasn’t kept me in a hole. 

Q: During Zoom? 

I don’t think it really matters if you have a similar schedule to your roommates. Sometimes our classes overlap, other times they don’t, but I never hear them and am able to remain completely focused. We all have desks in our room, but also use the living room as a common space in case we want a change of scenery. 

Q: Post Zoom? 

My new favorite feeling is ending a Zoom meeting and getting to talk to my roommates. Sometimes we’ll plan post-zoom excursions in the city as small breaks before starting homework. This is something I never did before. I think maybe it’s because physically moving to and from each class was pretty draining, and there were always in-person events at night that made it seem like getting off-campus for an hour or so was impossible. All in all, living off campus has been more physically and mentally liberating. 

Q: Do you have an evening routine? 

Cooking with friends! Another huge benefit to living off campus is the money I’m saving by not having a meal plan. We do a Trader Joe’s haul every Saturday to stock up for the week, and then cook for each other. Sometimes we do treat ourselves to take out, but it’s justifiable considering the money we’re saving overall. I’ll also usually do my laundry for the night– another huge benefit considering the Columbia washer/dryers were either occupied or out of service. And, while I’m mentioning random benefits, not having to walk two miles to pick up packages from our mail room is a huge plus. 

Q: Overall, how would you describe your schedule and off-campus system? 

When you live on-campus, you’ll usually have a college employee in charge of maintaining bathroom and hallway cleanliness, as well as someone to help if there are any mechanical issues. Now, we have to be on top of the cleanliness of our space and be more responsible about things like remembering our keys, taking out the trash, and not breaking anything. Maybe it was easier because I got to live with close friends, but we all play our role in keeping up the apartment. If one of us cooks, the others clean. We divided shelf space and have a good communication system where we aren’t afraid to raise concerns or offer suggestions. 

With change comes new responsibility, but it seems like the responsibilities that come with off-campus housing are providing students with more benefits than they would have thought. Getting comfortable with your new routine is the easy part. The hard part– finding a place to call your new home– is what Smarta is here to help you with.

If you’d like to read more about off-campus living resources and tips, visit Smarta’s blog here.


Meet the Author

Nicole Kohut is a junior at Columbia University studying English Literature. She is passionate about the intersections that lie within gender, art, and education. She has spent her undergraduate career working with startups and multimedia production companies and hopes to pursue a career in law and entertainment.

How To Create A Productive Off-Campus Workspace


This blog was originally published on by Sophia Marina.

Here at Smarta, we know the sense of freedom and excitement that comes with off-campus housing. Free reign, hardcore fun, and total control of the way you’re living— what’s more liberating than that? With all those nearby bars, parks, and shows, it’s almost easy to forget that you’re still studying. Unlike dorm-life, renting a house or an apartment forces you to create a schedule independent of college’s constant ticking clock. You’re more than a student— you’re a renter, and fully adult. 

Striking a balance between complete autonomy and productivity becomes super important when you’re renting. Once the search for good, cheap housing is over, you’ll want to optimize your space to be just as productive as your favorite library or campus nook. Having a plan for that is helpful, and that’s what we at Smarta are about— helping you have the most seamless off-campus experience possible. 

So yes, use your newfound freedom to live your life and party hard, but don’t neglect to carve out a corner for your most productive self. These Smarta pointers will give you the structured boost you need to make the most of your new off-campus space. Here’s how to rev up the good work, and keep it coming: 

1) Designate a section of your apartment or house for work and work only. 

Whether it’s an entire room or just a corner, creating a proper, dedicated workspace is of the essence. That means not just plopping down at the kitchen table or on the couch, but setting up a desk or surface. Pick the quietest spot in the house, nab a window if you can, and lather on the decor. That way, you can always have control of your environment and know that it suits the way you work. The beauty of renting off-campus is the endless personal twists you can put on your space.

To complete your ideal study heaven, amp up the zen with some plants and pictures. Nothing inspires like a striking image, and having your favorite art on deck will put your brain at ease. Having this designated space will do wonders for your ability to get in the zone and stay in it. You’ll instantly switch on, surrounded by the stuff you dig in a space you’ve created.

2) De-clutter and keep it clean.

Keeping your workspace tidy is key to productivity. Papers and pens galore will cloud your focus, as will empty coffee cups, overflowing trash cans, and dying plants. There’s no doubt that de-cluttering your space will de-clutter your mind. 

Leave that messy-dorm mindset behind, and embrace the off-campus apartment life of independence. Be the perfect roommate to yourself. Trust— it’s the lifestyle change that will do the most for your output as a student and an adult. 

3) Have a special spot to put aside your gadgets while you work. 

Phone, game console, tablet— constant notifications will get in the way of your focus. Now that you’ve got your own apartment, finding a faraway place for your tech should be a breeze. Make it about you, your laptop, books, and notes now that you have this personal space. Whether it’s a drawer or another room, a little distance between screens goes a long way for your workload.

4) Come to an understanding with your roommates about noise levels and study time. 

Maybe background noise or music suits your style of work, but there’s no denying that calm and quiet are ideal for studying. You can deck out your den perfectly and still get caught up if your housemates are messy and loud. 

Roommate relationships are important to keep cool and neutral, so talking over what you need when you move-in is smart. Establish boundaries, designate quiet time, and create a culture of support and success. That way, you can buckle down when you’ve got to, and get loud when it’s time to get loud. 

5) Designate an area to take breaks in. 

It’s highly important to be able to get away, both physically and mentally, when you’re too tired or simply stuck. Just like a study space, having somewhere to decompress is essential. Maybe your apartment has a common area that does the trick, or maybe it’s a stroll outside— the key is to break away. 

Take your breaks, move around, and refresh your mind. It’ll be a boost for your focus and a breather for your brain. You’ll get back to your study nook cool, calm, and ready for what’s next. 

Taking your studies off-campus can be a challenge, but it’s definitely the way to go. All that freedom just means more control over how you live, study, and work. With these Smarta productivity tips, you’re set to make the most of your new rental, with a workspace optimized by and for you.

If you’d like to read more about off-campus living resources and tips, visit Smarta’s blog here.


Meet the Author

Sophia Marina is a Latinx poet and freelance writer from South Texas. She is a poetry reader for Quarterly West, Alien Magazine, and Poets Reading The News. Since graduating from Columbia University with her BA in Creative Writing, she has written content for a variety of startups, while continuing to hone in on her poetry. She lives in El Paso.

The SMS Comeback

This newsletter is part of the Crashing Up subscription e-newsletter, curated by Randy Ginsburg. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

💬The SMS Marketing Comeback

In previous editions of the newsletter, I’ve discussed the benefits of owning your audience and building an email list. Email lists are great because almost everyone has an email address (3.9 billion email users vs 3.5 billion social media users) and it’s a channel that most people check daily. Even still, email marketing isn’t easy. People frequently change their email addresses or have multiple ones, some of which they dedicate to less important items. When someone signs up for your email list, it’s hard to know which priority bucket you’ll fall in. It’s even harder to know how frequently the emails will be opened or if they’ll even make it to your subscriber’s primary inbox. That means that a majority of your recipients might miss the emails you’ve worked so hard to delicately craft. This is why it’s important to diversify your marketing channels.

Despite being around for years, in the last twelve months SMS marketing (or text message marketing) has regained steam as another effective marketing tactic. The premise is simple. Text message marketing, when done correctly, works by meeting consumers where they already are. With over 5 billion people owning a cellphone worldwide, no better way to capture eyeballs than going directly to the source. No need for the recipient to open a third party social media app or rely on an algorithm to show your content. Let’s break this down a bit further.

Upsides: In addition to the massive accessible audience, text messages have significantly higher open rates than emails ( 82 percent vs 21 percent respectively), with 90 percent of messages being opened within 3 minutes. Text messages also have much higher click through rates. It’s nearly impossible to hit these kind of metrics with email. People are much less likely to switch their phone numbers, whereas with email you might worry about an address from a university or company becoming obsolete. SMS marketing is also favorable for the younger demographic who might not check email as frequently (if they even have one), but are constantly locked in on their phones.

In general, text messages are reserved for friends and family. Texting someone creates a more personal connection than an email, so this is a great way to let the authenticity and personality of your brand shine through.

Downsides: People tend to unsubscribe way faster from SMS which lowers the LTV (lifetime value) of a customer. Due to the pay-per-message pricing structure many services offer, SMS marketing is much more expensive than email which can make it hard to scale unless you have a large budget. Yet compared to other channels like paid social, it is rather cost-effective.

If done in a promotional or spammy manner, which many companies do, SMS marketing can be viewed as a pesky disturbance that pushes people away from your brand. There’s a fine line between a successful campaign and annoying users and it’s very important to find yourself on the right side of this divide.

Services: Community and are two great SMS marketing platforms designed for completely different uses. If you couldn’t tell by the name, Community is focused on fostering a text community around a personal brand or celebrity. With Community you receive a separate phone number that lets you send mass messages, but also have two way conversations with your audience within the app. In order for someone to sign up, all they have to do is text the designated number.

Postscript is designed specifically for Shopify users who want to drive more traffic to their online stores. Using existing Shopify data, users are able to better segment their audience and automate text messaging campaigns, have two way communication with their customers and ultimately create more revenue for their business.

These are only two of the numerous text message marketing platforms out there. For a larger list of options, click here.

Bottom Line: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Diversifying marketing channels is important and SMS is a great way to do that. SMS marketing shouldn’t be the only thing that you focus on, but given its mass reach and favorable performance metrics, it should definitely be a piece of the pie. For some prime examples of successful SMS marketing, click here.

If you like what you read, please share by clicking the button below.

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🗣️The State of Corporate Reputation

The phrase personal brand gets thrown around a lot and it seems as if everyone has their own definition. I like Jeff Bezos’s definition the best:

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” 

The integrity of this brand is important in all facets of life, but especially in entrepreneurship and the working world.

When seeking early funding, many companies may be bootstrapping or even pre-revenue. Therefore, the investors are looking into two things. The idea, but more importantly, the entrepreneur. In my conversation with MICK, a world-famous DJ, investor and entrepreneur, he emphasized the importance of investing from a humanistic perspective.

“I look at founders first. Do they have that ‘it’ factor? Are they good people? Would I enjoy having a human relationship with this person? Are they qualified? It’s a lot easier to take a bad idea and make it good than a bad person and make them good,” he said.

You never know where the journey will take you, which is why it’s so important that you are constantly acting with your brand in mind. Especially if you have a goal of running a company someday.

Statistics show that the reputation of CEOs plays a large role in the happiness of their employees and performance of their business. A 2017 survey from Weber Shandwick spoke to more than 1,700 executives at companies with revenues of at least $500 million across nineteen countries. It was found that:

•Global executives attribute 45 percent of their company’s reputation to the reputation of their CEO.

•Additionally, 77 percent agree that a CEO’s reputation plays an important role in attracting employees to a company and 70 percent credit it as a motivating factor for them to stay.

•85 percent agree that the emphasis of ethical conduct throughout the company is a distinguishable factor in the 30 percent of CEOs who are well-liked internally.

This concept isn’t just relevant to CEOs, but rather any individuals looking to make their mark in the ever-evolving workforce. The days of staying at the same organization for decades are over. With older generations heading for retirement, the average employee tenure has been reduced drastically with young professionals job hopping every two to three years. Without a good reputation, chances of consistently landing jobs is a lot harder.

With this definition of brand in mind, it’s important to think of a few core values that you’d like to be known for. Personally, my two are kindness and reliability. I want to be known for acting on my words and delivering quality work 100% of the time.

If you’re interested in learning more about reputation in the corporate world, you can check out Weber Shandwick’s The State of Corporate Reputation in 2020 report for similar research.

🧰 Tool of the Week

Regardless of how Zoom fatigued you may be, there’s no denying that Zoom has cemented itself as the communication tool of the decade. Last week, Zoom announced the arrival of a suite of native integrations called Zapps. Designed to enhance the experience and workflow of its flagship product, Zapps can be used to boost productivity before, during, and after meetings. So far, Zoom has announced 35 companies who’ve already put together Zapps, such as Slack, Asana, and Dropbox.

Similar to Apple’s app store, Zoom is opening the door of Zapp creation to all third-party developers. The introduction of the Zapp Store (unofficial name) births an entire new world of applications and businesses created specifically on the back of Zoom’s existing infrastructure. This is a massive opportunity for developers and entrepreneurs alike. I fully believe that we will see billion dollar Zapps built the same way we have seen multiple unicorns in the App Store. The first 35 Zapps are set to be shipped this year, with developer access coming after the initial launch.

Have an idea for a Zapp? You can sign up to receive developer info here.

That’s it for this week. As always, all feedback is greatly appreciated. Please let me know how you felt about today’s newsletter by clicking one of the links below. If you want your name to be attached to your feedback, make sure to include it in the free-text section.

If you’re new here and want to catch up on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: Fast and Curious and Friday Fuel – August 14th, 2020. You can also follow me on Twitter or check out for more writing.

Thanks for reading,


The Art of Getting Lucky

This newsletter is part of the Crashing Up subscription e-newsletter, curated by Randy Ginsburg. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

🍀Getting Better at Getting Lucky

In every success story, there’s often an element of luck. But what many people don’t realize is that many times this luck was created. Of course you have your sons and daughters of multimillionaires and billionaires who get the easy way out. I like to call these people the professional inheritors. They won by chance, not luck.

But for the other 99% percent of success stories, this luck was created. Historically, those who are the most successful are more skilled at creating their own luck by expanding their surface area of opportunities. The more opportunities you have, the better chance you are able to take advantage of them. Once you operate with this mindset, it’s easier to realize that getting lucky is a skill and that like all skills, it can be improved upon.

Here are a few ways to create your own luck:

Cold Emails – I’m a firm believer that you should never be afraid to ask for what you want. You will never get what you want without asking and the absolute worst thing that happens is that someone says no. In my opinion, cold emails are the best way to create your own luck. Over the last few years, I’ve sent hundreds of cold emails and DMs. Many people have said no to my asks and others haven’t answered at all, but the “yeses” I’ve received have completely changed the trajectory of my personal and professional life.

You don’t need to have an ask to send a cold email. Cold emails are a great way to start relationships too. Praise someone’s work, give them a compliment, share an interesting fact about a topic they’re interested in. You never know where this relationship will lead, who they may know, or how they can help you down the road. I discuss this more in a previous edition of the newsletter where I break down my favorite cold email tip, the five minute favor.

Share Your Ideas – The internet is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal. Building an audience around content you post (whether it be video, photo, audio, writing, etc.) is a foolproof way to extend your reach and harness more opportunity. It’s likely you’re already working on either a personal or professional project. No matter what field you work in or hobby you enjoy, there is someone out there who knows less about it than you do and is looking to learn more. No one expects you to be perfect, so don’t wait until you have the perfect idea or edit for your video. Let this be your serendipity vehicle.

Regardless of what you think of him, Gary Vee is one of the best at spotting trends before they happen. Watch this video of him discussing the future of the internet and content creation in 2010.

I wholeheartedly believe that we are still at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ability to design a career on the internet. Notice how I said design. This is in your control.

Be Prepared – Israeli author Eliyahu Goldratt once said:

Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.

So what does preparation mean exactly? Doing the “unsexy” work when you don’t want to, making time for learning and research, building a stable network of friends, family, and professionals, and prioritizing your health and sleep are all examples of preparation. This can be different for everyone, but it means doing whatever you need to do to make sure that when that golden opportunity does present itself, you’re ready to seize it. This opportunity might come in six months or 60 years, but without proper preparation, you’ll become the unlucky one who couldn’t capitalize.

If you don’t believe me, read this article about how one designer made over $100,000 in six days selling iPhone icon packs for the new iOS 14 upgrade. This quote is perfect:

Sure, it took me 6 days to amass 3,626 sales for a total of $101,528, but like any overnight success, it was years in the making. In my case, about 7 years.

If you found this valuable, I’d love if you passed this off to a buddy who needs to hear it too. It’s never been easier to create our own luck, but you need to be willing to put in the effort.

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💪🏿Flexin’ in Your Complexion

ICYMI: On Friday, I shared my conversation with Gaby Goldberg. She’s an Investment Associate at Chapter One venture fund and an amazing writer. We spoke about the future of consumer technology, investing in cults, and the importance of gender diversity in the VC and tech industries.

With yesterday being the International Day of the Girl and October being National Bullying Prevention month, I want to share another story of a special female entrepreneur.

In 2017, with a simple click of a mouse, Kheris Rogers’s life changed forever. A young African American girl from Los Angeles, Kheris was able to use her “differences” to beat her bullies, boost her self-esteem, and thrive not only academically, but entrepreneurially as well.

Every two years, the US Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights publishes a Civil Rights Data Collection Report in order to monitor the racial environment of our public school systems.

Of all bullying cases reported in this survey (2015-2016 school year), the leading causes of bullying were:

•Sex (41 percent)

•Race (23 percent)

Of all the students who were enrolled in the schools covered in the study, 15 percent were African American. These 15 percent made up 35 percent of the reported bullying cases.

Now twelve years old, Kheris’s first experiences with bullying dated back to the first grade. The subject of horrid verbal and physical abuse, Kheris was punched and threatened by classmates, who referred to her as “a dead roach” or someone who “was left in the oven too long.” These harsh words were her first introduction to racism and tore her down to a point where she didn’t want to be in her own skin.

“She once asked if she could stay in the bathtub longer in hopes of making her skin lighter. That’s when I realized the bullying that was going on at her school in the first grade was really taking a toll on her,” her mother said. 

Upset, hurt, and confused, she sought out advice from family members.

“Flex in your complexion.”

This phrase was coined by her grandmother, Bettie Pollard, who constantly used it to reiterate to Kheris and her sister that they were beautiful, no matter the color of their skin.

“So flexin’ in my complexion means to me that it doesn’t matter what other people think about you. It’s what you think about yourself, and you don’t let anybody tell you different,” Kheris said.

In the spring of 2017, Kheris’s twenty-three-year-old sister Taylor, posted a picture of Kheris on Twitter with the #FlexinInHerComplexion and…it broke the internet. The post brought in almost over a million likes and retweets.

After going viral overnight, the two sisters identified a promising business opportunity. Taylor suggested they put the phrase on a few t-shirts and try to sell them.

With an $100 loan from their mother, Kheris and Taylor scraped together a website, learned the basics of screen printing and set up shop out of their garage. A month after the original post, their business Flexin’ in My Complexion was born. Within a few days of launch, Kheris’s endeavors spread contagiously across social media, garnering the attention of many high-profile celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Alicia Keys. Other celebrities such as Lena Waithe and Lupita Nyong’o quickly became loyal customers, Instagramming photos of themselves sporting their own Flexin’ in My Complexion tees.

Since its launch, the Flexin’ in My Complexion line has expanded from t-shirts into bomber jackets, jumpsuits and satin pants sets with new taglines such as “Coolest Queen in the Universe” and “The Miseducation of Melanin.” Propelled by the catchy motto, celebrity endorsements, and the genuine authenticity of her story, Kheris has successfully sold over $200,000 worth of gear (as of 2019.)

With the help of her sister-turned-manager, she has built a tremendous brand around simply being herself, amassing nearly 300,000 followers between Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. She’s also been the recipient of numerous social impact awards.

In the last year alone, Kheris has become the youngest designer to feature her work during New York Fashion Week, been featured on America’s Next Top Model, and was hand selected by LeBron James as one of sixteen powerful African American women to feature in the Nike campaign for the launch of his LeBron 16 sneaker. She recently signed a deal with Columbia records for a new girl group called “Run the World.” In addition to all of this, Kheris travels across the globe sharing her story and empowering other like-minded African American women to take the leap, find their passions, and follow their dreams.

Regardless of your age, race, or gender, I think we can all learn something from Kheris’s story. If you want to read more stories like this one, I’d suggest checking out my book Adversity to Advantage: How to Overcome Bullying & Find Entrepreneurial Success.

You can also read more about it in ForbesInc., and Entrepreneur.

🧰 Tool of the Week

Picture this: You’re working on a big project and have a nauseating amount of tabs open on your computer. Your patience is waning as it seems like each click and page load are taking an eternity to process. Your computer’s RAM is quickly depleting and the fan is whirring so loudly that you’re worried it might explode.

If this sounds like a typical Tuesday afternoon for you, welcome to the party. This was me too, until I found OneTab.

OneTab is a Chrome extension that reduces clutter and frees up RAM by converting all of your open tabs into a list that lives in your toolbar. If you need to access a page, you can click the OneTab icon and select which pages to restore.

It’s one of those tools that once you use it, you can’t imagine life without it.

That’s it for this week. Big thank you to those of you who have been using the Feedletter form to provide feedback on the last few editions. I’ve already tried to incorporate your recommendations and will continue to do so. With that being said, please let me know what you thought of today’s newsletter.

If you’re new here and want to catch up on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: Fast and Curious and Live from the Bubble. You can also follow me on Twitter or check out for more writing.

Thanks for reading and see you on Friday,


The WATZ Stack

This newsletter is part of the Crashing Up subscription e-newsletter, curated by Randy Ginsburg. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

🚫The WATZ Stack

In Case You Missed It: On Friday, I shared my conversation with Mat Sherman, founder of Forward Thinking City. We covered a wide range of topics, but one of my favorites was the future of no-code. Mat’s a firm believer that there will one day be multibillion-dollar tech companies built without a single line of code.

Forward Thinking City is entirely built using a suite of no-code tools that Mat’s cleverly coined the WATZ stack.

Webflow – A visual way to build a website. Similar idea to Wix and Squarespace but with significantly more design capabilities. If you don’t have prior HTML/CSS knowledge there will definitely be a learning curve, but it’s 100% worth it. I just moved my website over from Wix to Webflow and couldn’t be happier.

Airtable – A multifunction spreadsheet-database hybrid that makes it easy to store, index, and manage data. It’s easy to visualize like an Excel spreadsheet, but powerful like a relational database. It can also be used as a CRM, project management tool, or collaboration tool.

Typeform – The easiest way to build and distribute online forms and surveys. Can be used for contact forms, customer research surveys, quizzes and more.

Zapier – Their slogan says it all. Zapier is the easiest way to automate your work. With over 2,000 integrations, Zapier enables you to connect your web apps together to create seamless automated workflow processes. Here’s an example:

Pretty neat.

With Zapier, the possibilities are endless. This is something that I’m just now starting to play around with to help me save time in my day-to-day workflow. I’ve found the Zapier Learning Center to be very helpful in getting started.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of no-code (and other products Mat mentioned like Adalo and Memberstack), it might be worth checking out these two no-code communities (No Code Founders and No Code Devs) that popped up on ProductHunt a few days ago.

📺Five Years Later

According to a 2014 study by Bentley University, 66 percent of millennials want to be entrepreneurs. Another 2014 study of over 4,700 high school and college students by Millennial Branding found that 72 percent of high schoolers and 64 percent of college students want to start their own business someday, with 61 percent of high schoolers saying they would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee after graduating college. Keep in mind, this number will only rise as the tech-savvy creatives of Generation Z start to enter the workforce.

Many of these individuals are motivated and inspired by the mainstream glorified success stories of young tech moguls such as Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel and Brian Chesky, seeking what seems to be the overnight wealth and notoriety they achieved.

The grave truth is that at least 90 percent of start-ups fail. Of those 90 percent, nearly 50 percent dissolve within the first four years. Often times the failure isn’t caused because of a bad idea, but rather poor execution of the core vision.

Merriam Webster defines vision as a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination.

But in entrepreneurship, it’s a little different. In this context, a vision is the heart and soul of your venture. This shared dream empowers not only the entrepreneur, but every member of the organization to put their heads down and work ruthlessly to defy the odds of success. It is the driving force that justifies the sacrifice of time, money, and effort that is required to chase your goals. But most importantly, it is the powerful framework of ideas, missions, and ethics on which your business is built. No matter how brilliant the idea, a failure to implement this vision will cause a business to collapse.

This idea doesn’t only apply to start-ups. It is relevant to anyone looking to build something from the ground up, especially creatives, YouTubers, gamers, and others looking to make a name for themselves in a respective internet niche.

Even the biggest internet stars in the world started with a clean slate. Zero followers. Everyone has ambition, but few are able to define a clear vision to execute on and set goals to achieve. It’s those who set these parameters and constantly show up that find the most success.

Take a look at Jimmy Donaldson, also known as Mr. Beast. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a world-famous YouTuber who’s made a name for himself through his crazy stunts and philanthropic tendencies. In one video, he gave away a private island. Yep, you read that correctly.

Yesterday, he released this video on his channel. Five years ago, he recorded it for his future self to watch.

At the time of filming, he had over 8,700 subscribers and over 1.8 million views. Keep in mind, it took him three years of posting to get up to this point. Anyone who’s given YouTube a shot knows that these numbers are nothing to laugh at, but Mr. Beast had bigger goals.

Over the next five years while some of his competitors wavered and quit, he kept his foot on the pedal constantly churning out hundreds of videos and honing his craft.

Today he has over 44 million subscribers and over 7.2 billion views. Thanks to his YouTube channel, his merch line, and a handful of creative partnerships, Mr. Beast’s net worth is rumored to be close to $18 million.

His story serves as a great lesson for anyone looking to make something from nothing. Don’t take your foot off the pedal, even if it seems like no one’s watching. I can’t wait to look back at this email when I have a million subs too.

If you want to learn more about Mr. Beast and his story, you can check out this Business Insider feature.

🧰Tool of the Week

When building something new, feedback is crucial. It could be writing a newsletter, building a company, or implementing a new process at work. While many of us recognize the value of feedback, actually collecting it is easier said than done. People are busy and sometimes even taking five minutes to fill out a Typeform survey can seem like a big ask.

Last week, I came across FeedLetter. A feedback system that’s quick and easy to use for both parties. While the core use does happen to be for newsletters, you can embed this form in blogs, emails, and other online documents.

So here goes nothing! If you’ve made it this far in today’s newsletter, please take the two seconds to click one of the three links below and let me know how you’re feeling. I’ll be using this data to make the newsletter better in the future. I truly appreciate it.

Help Me Help You!

I need your feedback to make Crashing Up the best it can be. Click on a link to vote:

If you’re new here and want to catch up on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: When in Roam and The Million Dollar Question You can also follow me on Twitter or check out for more writing.

In the meantime, you can get your favorite pair of headphones ready for a new edition of Friday Features coming at the end of the week.

Thanks for reading,


Place Your Bets

This newsletter is part of the Crashing Up subscription e-newsletter, curated by Randy Ginsburg. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

🏈Betting on Barstool

On January 29th, 2020, regional gaming operator Penn National Gaming purchased a 36% stake in Barstool Sports. Penn National operates 43 properties across 19 states and Canada, primarily servicing customers in their 50s. With the impending legalization of sports betting in most states, this was a strategic move designed to tap into Barstool’s massive audience of loyal millennial and Gen Z supporters.

When the Penn/Barstool deal officially went live, Penn CEO Jay Snowden outwardly raved about the customer acquisition value that the partnership brings.

“…With 66 million monthly unique visitors, we believe the significant reach of Barstool Sports and loyalty of its audience will lead to meaningful reductions in customer acquisition and promotional costs for our sports betting and online products, significantly enhancing profitability and driving value for our shareholders.”

If there’s one thing that Barstool founder Dave Portnoy knows how to do, it’s capture attention. Even better, he’s an expert at retaining this attention and monetizing it. As the attention economy continues to flourish, this is a very valuable skillset. Over the last 20 years, Barstool has amassed a raving audience of 66 million “Stoolies,” many of whom live and die by Barstool’s content and values. Partnering with a massive casino operator was the perfect move for Barstool to take its business to the next level. Stoolies already love watching sports and watching the Barstool employees bet on them, so why not create a platform where the Stoolies can bet themselves via a Barstool branded sportsbook?

This was the idea from the start and after a three-day test period the Barstool Sportsbook app officially launched in Pennsylvania on September 18th.

The Numbers

Quickly after launching, the app became the number one sports app on the Apple App Store. On September 24th, Penn announced that the app had already been downloaded over 180,000 times nationwide. As expected, Barstool built and the Stoolies came, smashing the single day and weekend launch numbers of competitors like FanDuel and DraftKings.

It’s important to note that although this number is mind-blowing, not all of these downloads are monetizable…yet. Only 35,000 downloads (between soft and hard launch) took place in Pennsylvania. Of those 35,000, over 12,000 were first-time depositors (FTDs) who helped the app to rake in over $11 million in bets in the first four days.

The Barstool Difference

Like many other sportsbooks and the nine other online competitors in Pennsylvania, Barstool Sportsbook offers standard and live wagering options such as multi-sport and team parlays, spreads, moneylines, futures, round robins, teasers and prop bets. But in typical Barstool fashion there are a few additions that make it stand out:

  • Barstool Personality Picks and Parlays: Daily opportunities to bet with or against the Barstool team.Aside from its audience, Barstool’s most valuable asset is its talent. These bets are a great way to continue to build brand affinity with its employees and Barstool in general. Barstool has always lived by the motto “For the Common Man, By the Common Man” No matter how big Dave, Big Cat, PFT, Marty Mush or any of the Barstool talent gets, they will always remain as “common men.” This feature illustrates exactly that.
  • Quick Pick 6: A random, system-generated, 6-leg parlay of multiple sports and bet types, where bettors can control the legs and the wager.
  • Daily Odds Boosts: Select bets will be offered at tilted odds to entice bettors. This certainly does not mean they’ll always win, but it’s a nice and attractive gesture.

Lastly, the app has a Move the Line scroller that allows users to buy and sell points on the spread by using a scroller button.

The Competitive Landscape

Since the announcement of the Penn deal, digital sportsbook operators have taken notice of Barstool’s playbook. Acknowledging the value behind having a media icon as the face of your brand, competitors like FanDuel, DraftKings, and MGMBet have raced to ink partnership deals or relationships with notable names. Within the last month, FanDuel has announced a partnership with ex-Colts punter, ex-Barstool employee and current media star Pat McAfee, DraftKings announced that well-known gambler Michael Jordan would be a special advisor to the board, and BetMGM hired Jamie Foxx as the face of the “King of Sportsbooks” campaign.

I found this last one confusing considering most people wouldn’t traditionally associate Jamie Foxx with sports gambling. This could be a play to appeal to the African American demographic, as Dave Portnoy’s and Pat McAfee’s audiences have historically skewed predominantly white. I can’t confirm that this logic is behind the partnership, but if so, it would make a lot of sense.

What’s Next?

At the time of the Penn/Barstool partnership announcement, Penn’s stock sat at around $25 per share. Prodded by Dave Portnoy aka Davey Day Trader’s obsessive promotion of the stock, it jumped to $38.28 in February, only to plummet to $4 during the peak of the coronavirus downturn.

This is the part where I start to tear up for foolishly not investing despite writing about how incredible of a company Barstool is.

Since its March low, Penn stock has skyrocketed to a 52-week high of over $76 per share. Since that high, it’s settled to slightly under $70. Play your cards right and you can retire off of a trade like that.

With the bulk of its downloads coming outside of Pennsylvania, Barstool is successfully expanding its market, while also building market share in the state of Pennsylvania. Early reports indicate that it’s already snapped up low double digital market share which is expected to grow with time. With its first full month of earnings coming in October, it will be exciting to see how Barstool fares with its competitors. I’m much more of a bettor than a stock advisor, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to not bet against Dave Portnoy. Year after year he promises and delivers in grand fashion.

My prediction(s) by 2030: Dave and Barstool will lead Penn to become the go-to market share leader in both online and in-person sports betting. It will be impossible to go to a casino or stadium without seeing Barstool’s logo plastered somewhere. There will be a Barstool branded stadium.

Let’s see how well this ages.

📈 Investing in Public

Ever wondered how much money you could have made if you invested in Penn when it was at four dollars? No? Only me? What about Google or Apple when they IPO’d?

Chances are that if it’s not any of these, there’s another stock opportunity that you wish you could go back in time and capitalize on. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but this is always something I’ve had fun looking at.

A few weeks ago, I came across the Ticker Time Machine.

Plug in any stock, date, and investment amount and you can see how much your investment would be worth today. Did you know that if you invested $10,000 in Google a decade ago, you would have more than $300,000 today?

This tool was put together by Public, an awesome app designed to make stock investing more social. Like Robinhood, users can invest in fractional (or full) shares of stocks and ETFs, but with Public you can follow investors and friends, see their portfolios, and learn from community group chats with fellow investors. Here’s a video that breaks down Public’s mission a bit further:

For a full list of features and uses, click here.

What’s one investment you wish you’ve made? What stock are you most bullish on? Which do you think is overvalued? Let me know by replying to this email or leaving a comment below.

Leave a comment

🎙️Friday Features

Over the last few months (and based on popular demand), I’ve hinted at incorporating guest interviews into the newsletters. Now it’s finally happening. I’m excited to announce a new segment of the newsletter called Friday Features.

Over the course of each week, I’ll be interviewing some of the smartest, most innovative minds I can find and will share our conversations with you every Friday. The audio will be embedded in a podcast format as part of your weekly Friday Fuel and in addition, a full write-up will be available on my site (

This is something I’ve been planning out for a while and I can’t wait to get the ball rolling. I’ve already lined up some great guests, some of whom I’ve written about in past newsletters, who are excited to share their insights and experiences with all of you.

Here’s where you can help: If there’s someone you’d like to hear from or you think would be a good fit for the segment, please let me know. Reply to this email, shoot me a DM, or leave a comment on this thread. Whatever and whoever it is, I will try my best to make it a reality.

If you’ve been enjoying what you’ve been reading, I’d love if you shared this with your smartest and most insightful friends, family, and co-workers. Crashing Up has been growing rapidly over the last few months and I want to keep the momentum going.

Share Crashing Up

If you’re new here and want to catch up on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: Cash is King and Live From the Bubble.You can also follow me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and see you on Friday,


Friday Fuel – September 25th, 2020

This newsletter is part of the Crashing Up subscription e-newsletter, curated by Randy Ginsburg. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Hi friends,

Here’s your weekly shot of Friday Fuel, a collection of things that I’ve been learning from or enjoying recently.

📕What I’ve Been Reading – On Sunday, golfer Bryson DeChambeau shot six under par to win his first major, the U.S. Open. Dubbed “The Mad Scientist of Golf,” Bryson is known for his untraditional approach to the game, utilizing a rare combination of deep analytics and gut instinct.

This article breaks down Bryson’s methods behind the madness, illustrating how and why Bryson is making a name for himself as one of the most innovative athletes in the world. Many of these attitudes and processes can be directly applied to a wide range of industries, especially business.

If you have a goal of being the best you can be in your respective field (or you just like reading interesting things), I’d highly recommend giving this article a look.

🎧What I’ve Been Listening To – Harry Stebbings is wise beyond his years. At age 18, he launched The Twenty Minute VC podcast in order to help pay for his mother’s medical bills. Fast forward five years later and Twenty Minute VC is the world’s largest independently run venture capital podcast with hundreds of thousands of listeners per episode.

In this episode he sits down with Austen Allred, the founder and CEO of Lambda School, the startup that (now remotely) trains people to become web developers or data scientists at no cost. Once the students land a job, a fraction of their salary goes towards their tuition. This is called an Income Share Agreement (ISA).

Over the course of thirty minutes, they cover a wide variety of topics including how to assess your attitude towards risk, Lambda School’s growing pains, and the effect of COVID on the serendipity of the Bay Area.

If you want to read more about how Harry built himself up as one of the youngest forces in venture capital, check out this feature in TechCrunch.

🤯What’s Blown My Mind  –

A few weeks back, I shared an exchange between early Airbnb investor Paul Graham and co-founder Brian Chesky. Now, I’m showing you the email that started it all.

To think that this one half-seriously written email could morph into a company valued at $26 billion is wild. Talk about a eureka moment…

🧵A Thread that Inspired Me –

If you’re an NBA fan, you’ve probably taken notice of how dominant Jimmy Butler has been in these playoffs. A notoriously fierce competitor, Jimmy’s now one game away from his first ever NBA finals. To say it’s unlikely that he’d ever be in this position is an understatement. It wasn’t until reading this thread that I realized how much adversity and pain he endured to turn his dreams into reality. Even if you’ve never watched a quarter of basketball in your life, you should read this thread.

Against all odds, very few things can beat hard work and ruthless determination. Truly amazing.

🧠An Idea I Enjoyed –

The best business ideas are ones that solve common problems. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to identify a problem, communicate with target users, and start building a business. Social media and other tech platforms are the most valuable market research tools we have at our disposal.

This illustration depicts this perfectly.

First identify a common problem, next use technology to speak with potential customers who share the same issue. If you find they are willing to pay to resolve it, then you know that you’re onto something. From there, you build.

That’s all he wrote. If you’re new here and want to catch up on some old editions, here are a couple of my favorites: An Epic Showdown and Fast and Curious.

Like what you’ve been reading? I’d love if you shared this with someone special who you think would enjoy it.

Share Crashing Up

You can also follow me on Twitter or check out my website for more content.

Thanks for reading,


5 Tips For Improving Your Virtual Workspace In Quarantine

This article was originally published by Christopher Appello, for CLLCTVE, on The Medium. Click here to view the original article.

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As companies and higher education continue to implement virtual working and learning due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more imperative for Gen Z and Millennials to maintain a productive and comforting home office. Whether it be from reduced social interaction, a monotonous routine, or a general lack of inspiration, quarantining tends to promote lethargic, unmotivated behavior that is quite easy to normalize. Balancing home leisure and productivity can be a tricky task, especially during this unprecedented period. However, it’s not impossible to attain with some focus and persistence. Here are a few helpful tips for transforming your room into the ideal virtual workspace:

Plants, Plants, Plants.

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Buying a few plants for your workspace is not only inexpensive but also can ultimately improve your overall mood tenfold. In a 2018 NBC News article, author Anna Johansson wrote that humans have an intrinsic desire to be connected with nature; thus, a sight of natural scenery for just 40 seconds is enough to stimulate the brain into a more relaxed state. With four plants of my own, I not only spent under $30 in total (including terracotta pots which go for about $3 each), but my overall mental health and proactivity has drastically improved despite being socially isolated for so long. If plants aren’t your expertise, I recommend starting with succulents as they require much less water while still bringing your mind at ease. Regardless, adding more green to your room can do wonders for your work ethic, and you can only understand if you give it a try!

Make It Shine: Let In The Natural Light.

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If you plan on turning your room into a fully operable workspace, you also need to plan on letting in an adequate amount of natural light. While your bed may only be feet away from your office, it is crucial that you avoid the temptations of laying down and losing your concentration, both of which are easiest to do in a dark, poorly lit room. In a 2018 Harvard Business Review article, a research poll of 1,614 advisory firm employees found that 47% of the employees admitted they felt tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office. Nevertheless, it is a commonly held idea that a brighter room promotes higher rates of productivity, lowers chances of lethargy and increases one’s general willingness to work. If you’re curious, open up your windows, let in the light and see for yourself!

Lighter and Softer Colors Are Your Best Friends.

As people have developed countless psychologically, culturally and biologically conditioned perspectives on colors and their meanings over the course of millennia, there are definitive emotions and feelings associated with every slice of the color wheel. When designing your ideal virtual workspace, look to lighter and softer colors like orange, yellow, green and blue (lighter shades of these colors work too). According to an article by Changing Minds, these colors collectively evoke feelings of creativity, enthusiasm, happiness, comfort, reliability and even liveliness. Incorporating these colors and tones into your room will not only help foster these feelings organically, but it will also help you recognize your room as a place of professionalism when you aren’t snoozing in bed.

Burn Baby, Burn

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Burning incense or sage is an ancient ritual that has been practiced for centuries among a diversity of cultures. According to Maha Living, the burning process produces negative ions, which help eliminate nearly 94% of airborne bacteria, calm the mind and increase focus. As an incense and sage consumer myself, I find that these products really aid your critical thinking while reducing your stress and anxiety levels with their aromatherapeutic capabilities. While these products are both more expensive and harder to obtain than plants, I personally find them to be more effective in motivating me to work for longer hours.

Background Music is Key.

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Have a record player or speaker lying around your room? If so, put it to good use whenever you’re in the office. While many psychological studies report that listening to music while you work is counterproductive, I have found that it is truly dependent on your personality and work style. Songs that are unfamiliar to you yet still align with your genre preference serve best for background music, especially if the track is instrumental. If you keep your music at a low, conversational volume, it can only reduce your tendency to become bored and unmotivated. As long as you feel confident that the music isn’t grabbing too much of your attention, you’re good to go.

By implementing these helpful tips into a virtual workspace of your own, both your willingness and motivation to work is guaranteed to increase. During a time of unfathomably low serotonin (I’ve been depressed in some capacity since March), it is incredibly important to develop healthy habits that keep you invigorated with life and energy. Follow this guide, and I can ensure that you’ll be ready to tackle all of your professional tasks with passion and efficiency, rare commodities in this age of uncertainty.

Be sure to sign up to join CLLCTVE’s waitlist + receive exclusive updates about our platform’s launch.

Depop Helps Gen Z Become a Generation of Young Entrepreneurs

This article was originally published by Christopher Appello, for CLLCTVE, on The Medium. Click here to view the original article.

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It’s no question that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has drastically limited employment opportunities in America, especially for recent college graduates. Businesses are laying off workers left and right; the unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent and the professional plans that many young prospective employees once had have been halted indefinitely. During this time of economic strife; however, Gen Z targeted brands are lending a platform for this age demographic to build small businesses of their own.

With a network of nearly 20 million users, the London startup Depop, founded by Simon Beckerman in 2011, is redefining the model ways in which one can make a living. With a download of the platform’s app, users become clothing vendors in a matter of seconds, uploading images of their own clothing to their profiles for other users to purchase. Depop vendors even have the option to leave their sold items on their profiles, creating a unique fashion collection that, in time, has the potential to amass hundreds of followers.

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Photo by Alixe Wiley/Philadelphia Magazine

“While I never really care about my number of followers, it definitely takes a while to build them,” says Kate Regan, a Syracuse University Depop ambassador and rising senior who has been uploading her clothing on the platform for more than five years now — and she has achieved much success in doing so.

Regan admits that she always struggled to find employment even before the coronavirus outbreak, making her Depop profile at the young age of 16 when she had her first sales on the app. On Depop, Regan takes on the role of momjeans25, her profile name, which has amassed over 1,500 followers.

“One feature they have which is super cool is you can see how many items you have sold at the top of your profile, which for me is 535,” adds Regan, having made thousands of dollars since the start of it all.

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“I definitely think it has allowed me to feel more independent. When I sell something by myself, I feel so accomplished and satisfied,” says Regan, one among the many members in the platform’s innovative community of young entrepreneurs.

Establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between itself and its users, Depop takes a 10 percent cut of all digital sales while giving other creatives the opportunity to make money of their own. Moreover, creatives can even avoid paying Depop’s fee by meeting with buyers in person. Ultimately, the company values its active buyers and sellers as they maintain constant dialogue with the platform’s community members, composed of 15 million+ stylists, designers, collectors, vintage sellers, sneakerheads and more.

Besides having this remarkable network of digitally native creatives that value ambition and authenticity, Depop prides itself on being a sustainable force in the current fashion industry.

“I believe they generally want to help the horrible construct that is fast fashion,” says Regan in regards to the company’s main objective of repurposing overlooked clothing into fashionable streetwear. While fast fashion brands like Forever 21 and H&M continue to produce their products unsustainably, and in turn, devastate the environment, Depop commits itself to a generation that adores turning novelty, second-hand items into eye-catching gems. Consequently, Gen Z has dominated this digital space, where people like Kate Regan can not only utilize their creative assets while making an honest living but also feel valuable for the digital contributions they make in a community of sustainably-minded individuals.

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Photo by Sam Frost/The Guardian

As many schools plan to reopen for the Fall 2020 semester, finances are a major concern for many struggling college students. “This is my only way to make money,” says Regan, who will continue rummaging through her closet for hidden gems to sell as a means of income amidst these uncertain times.

Be sure to sign up to join CLLCTVE’s waitlist + receive exclusive updates about our platform’s launch.

How To Go From Startup Idea To Business Model

This was originally published on The Success Bug website by Ashlyn Rosario.

We’ve all had amazing business startup ideas at some point in our lives.

Let’s say you had a brilliant idea for an ice cream business, featuring ice cream that stays frozen longer, or a killer idea about a way to simplify the job searching process. Excited, you run to your computer and start jotting down the idea. The thought almost seems to make too much sense. So, why doesn’t it work out?

Because no matter what your business startup ideas are, you need to develop a strategic, written plan for them.

The perfect method for developing a strategic business plan is called the Business Model Canvas. This business plan cheat-sheet features nine segment blocks essential for understanding your target consumers, how to reach them, what channels to use, and how to generate sales.

Here is an image of the Business Model Canvas. We recommend printing this out, so you can quickly add to it using a pen or pencil:

startup ideas

The right side of the business model canvas focuses on the customer, while the left side focuses more on the business itself.

You can download the official Business Model Canvas here.

Now, the BMC might look a bit confusing at first but bear with me. Because we’re going to break down every segment of the most effective ways you can use the Business Model Canvas to bring your startup ideas to life. Let’s get started.

1. Customer Segments + Value Proposition for Startup Ideas

startup ideas

When beginning the canvas for your business startup ideas, you’ll need to start with either the Customer Segment or Value Proposition component.

Why? Because the first two questions you need to ask yourself when creating a startup are “Who are the people that will buy my product?” and “What value can I add with my product?” For our breakdown today, we’re going to start with customer segments.

Customer Segments

When analyzing your potential customers and specifying your target market, here is a list of consumer types to focus on:

  • Payers: People who pay a bill for your product or service
  • End Users: People who will actually use your product
  • Subsidized Users: People who will benefit from your product
  • Influencers: People who have the power to affect the purchase of your product
  • Decision Makers: People who may be responsible for business expansion, investments or company acquisition

Understanding the different types of customers your company might have is critical to creating a successful business. Once you know this, you can start to brainstorm different ways to attack each group.

Value Proposition

Now that you have a solid understanding of the different types of consumers you might have, you need to think about the kinds of value you can provide.

value proposition is exactly what it sounds like: a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. Now, don’t worry. We’re not here to tell you what type of business to start; this is simply a list of the different types of value propositions your business can offer.

  • Gain Creator: businesses that benefit their customers in different ways, such as creating positive emotions, providing high functionality, or creating social gains
  • Problem Solver: businesses that develop a course of action for fixing an identifiable problem such as lowering personal costs and keeps existing customers
  • Pain RelieverDescribes how your product or service solves specific problems for customers

Having a basic understanding of Customer Segments and Value Propositions is the first step to get your startup ideas moving with the business model canvas. Filling this out as the first step will give you the foundation to be able to understand the rest of the grid. Which brings us to our next component…

2. Customer Relationships + Channels

Startup ideas

Now that you have an idea of the types of customers valuable to your business and value propositions, you need to decide what channels to use. A channel refers to the different methods that businesses use to communicate and reach their customers. Confused? Here are some examples of sales channels.

  • Wholesaler: A person or company that buys a large number of products from vendors and resells them to retailers.
  • Retailer: A company that buys products from wholesalers or manufacturers and resells them to customers.
  • Distributor: A person or business that sells goods or services to customers or end-users
  • The Internet: A platform that companies can use to advertise their products and make a sale on.

There are multiple channels to sell your product. However, think about how much of your product you want to create and which channels work best with it.

Customer relationships and channels are the meat and potatoes of any successful business. With the BMC, you’ll know why it’s essential to make lasting relationships with your customer base and the different ways to reach them. Ultimately, the relationship you have with customers, whether personal, professional, or automated, will directly affect your business’s outcome. So, take some time with this step and be sure to think about what type of customer relationship you want to make through your company.

3. Revenue Streams for Startup Ideas

The Revenue Stream portion of the Business Model Canvas should be the bread and butter of your startup ideas. Why? Because the goal of every business is not only to retain customers but to make a profit. And you can do that by asking yourself these three vital questions when filling out the revenue stream section of the Business Model Canvas:

  1. How will the business make revenue?
  2. What is the business’s target audience?
  3. Through what method will the company will generate revenue? i.e., (subscription service, brick, and mortar, or online store.)

Understanding how the business will make revenue will allow you to avoid wasting time in unproductive areas. The general rule of thumb for your business startup ideas is to have between two to five avenues of revenue generation.

If you’re having trouble brainstorming ideas of what to fill in for this section, we’ve provided a few different popular areas of revenue generation below.

Examples of Revenue Generation Areas

  1. Service Revenue: Revenue is generated by providing service to customers and calculated based on time. For example, the number of hours of services provided
  2. Transactional Revenue: Proceeds from sales or goods that are (usually) one-time payments
  3. Project Revenue: Revenue earned through one-time projects with new or existing customers
  4. Recurring Revenue: This is one of the most popular areas of revenue generation: the proceeds from recurring payments for ongoing services to customers. This revenue model is so popular because it is transparent and creates a consistent flow of revenue for the business. Examples of companies that utilize this business model are Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Spotify
How To Go From Startup Idea To Business Model

4. Key Resources, Activities, and Partners for Startup Ideas

These components refer to the “front stage” of the Business Model Canvas. They’re crucial ingredients for sustaining business, what activities companies participate in, and what type of partners and relationships they develop with other companies and non-consumers.

Key Resources

Key resources are considered the “assets” of your company, which are vital for sustaining and supporting your business. They also allow you to create a compelling value proposition more easily. Examples of key resources include physical resources, human resources, intellectual resources, and financial resources.

The 4 Types of Key Resources for Startup Ideas

  1. Physical resources: These include physical goods like raw goods, buildings, vehicles, machines, etc.
  2. Intellectual Resources: These include goods that come from the mind, like proprietary knowledge, patents, partnerships, etc.
  3. Human resources: These include human qualities like creativity, experience, organizational abilities, etc.
  4. Financial resources: These include commercial entities like cash, credit, stock, etc.

Key Activities 

Key activities can vary depending on the type of business model companies use. These activities are categorized by production, which incorporates four design-related activities. These include manufacturing and delivering a product, problem-solving activities, platform, or networking activities.

Key Partners

Key partners are the network of suppliers, businesses, or nonconsumers that enable businesses to work. These can be the relationships that your company has with suppliers, business partners, and more.

These relationships are vital to the success of a business and will help your business succeed in areas that you may not be an expert in yourself. Now, there are four types of partnerships you can create.

The 4 Types of Key Partnerships for Startup Ideas

  1. “Coopetition”: This refers to a strategic partnership between you and a competitor. At first, this might sound like “flirting with the enemy.” But a “coopetition” is actually an effective way to create a more extensive user base for both you and your competitor. You know the old saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Well, when it comes to your startup ideas, this certainly applies.
  2. Buyer-Supplier: This is precisely what it sounds like: building a relationship with a buyer or supplier. Creating an element of trust between these two will create social proof for your business.
  3. Joint Ventures: Sometimes, joining forces altogether with a business that offers a similar service can be beneficial. A common example of this is when major law firms merge, often creating new opportunities for both businesses to increase their clientele. *Note* Not to be confused with a “coopetition,” a strategic partnership between your business and a competitor.
  4. Non-Competitors: This happens when you and a company you have no direct competition with partner up in a way that will benefit both parties. Here’s a wildly extreme example: Amazon. When Amazon purchased Whole Foods, the eCommerce giant entered the grocery industry overnight.

5. Cost Structure for Startup Ideas

If key resources, activities, and partners are “the front stage,” then Cost Structure is “the backstage” of the Business model canvas. It describes all of the costs incurred as a result of running your business.

Understanding the cost structure of your business startup ideas will allow you to pivot or persevere while running your business. Now, there are two components of cost structures.

The 2 Components of Cost Structure

  •  Cost-driven: This is the act of minimizing your costs as a business to give you an advantage over your competitors. Examples of companies that utilize this method are TJ Maxx, Marshall’s Walmart, or any store that provides value at lower prices.
  • Value-driven: This type of cost structure focuses more on the design and overall maintenance of a product or service. When using a value-driven cost structure, your goal is to provide as much value with the product itself as possible. For example, Apple sells its products at a premium price but can justify it for its premium features.

Still having trouble deciding which cost structure to use? Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering each method:

  • What key resources or key activities cost the most?
  • What costs are the most important in my business model canvas?
  • Is my business fueled by cost or value?

Asking yourself these questions will allow you to decide which cost-structure to use in no time. If you’re still struggling, another helpful way to determine what method to use is taking a look at your possible competitors and identifying which cost-structures they use. Then, you’ll be able to compare and find out whether or not their methods would suit your business as well.

Key Takeaways

It is vital to develop an organized business plan to map out strategic ways to deliver value to your customers when it comes to business startup ideas. The Business Model Canvas makes it easier for people to organize their business ideas in an organized way. When starting, you need to begin with either the customer segment or value proposition portions to assess your business’ scalability and how you can create and keep customers.

Next is choosing which channels to use in selling your product. Also, once you have customers, maintaining positive relationships with customers with excellent customer service practices is essential.

The Business Model Canvas helps to plan revenue stream methodologies such as deciding whether to use a subscription-based service or selling your products through a brick and mortar business model.

Finally, cost structures list out what types of costs drive your business and how to maximize your resources for successful results.

Planning on utilizing the BMC for your startup ideas? Let us know how in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love, “3 Things To Consider Before Starting Your Business!”