On April 6, I attended DemoCamp Boston at the Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Mass.
The event consisted of seven presentations of startup companies, as well as a kick-off speech by successful entrepreneur and president of Harkador Partners Brad Harkavy on “10 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know.”
What should entrepreneurs know, you may ask?
According to Harkavy:
- You are not the only one with your idea
- Timing is everything
- Secrecy rarely helps
- Your company will survive one or two direct hits
- Understand your market size (TAM)
- Media coverage is really fun, but also a huge distraction.
- Your business plan will change
- Patents are a marketing tool
- First to market is not enough
- More Oxygen in startup offices (a personal belief of Harkavy)
Representatives from startups peerTransfer, Rate It Green, InstantNightlife, DailyFeats, Innovation Nights, Embed.ly and Vizibility all had five minutes to present their venture, business plan and main goals and then had the chance to receive five minutes of feedback from the audience. After advice, critiques and ideas were exchanges, participants and audience members had the chance to stay, eat, drink and network with one another (which nearly everyone took advantage of).
The most interesting startup presented (in my opinion) was Vizibility, a company that uses SEO to enhance your visibility through Google searches. As a junior in college getting ready to apply to full-time jobs next May, I think this way of curating a top five list of Google links for myself would be a great way to help our future employers, as well as weed out any “bad” or “unhelpful” links individuals may get when they Google my name.
Today I had to run ten excruciating miles on a treadmill because I am training for a half marathon. Typically, I like to enjoy these long, painful runs outdoors, but due to the rain I opted to put in the miles at Northeastern’s Bager & Rosen Center, a.k.a. the smaller gym on campus. The good thing about the treadmills there is that they have mini television sets attached to them, which offers a bit of a distraction to the pound-pound-pound of my feet underneath me.
Though there is no sound on these TVs, I typically turn the channel to CNN and read the scrolling updates on the bottom of the screen, and today I was especially surprised at what I read: The Founder of GoDaddy is under fire for killing an elephant.
I found this to be a peculiar update that led to many questions. Why was this startup founder out killing elephants?
Once I got home, I did some research: Apparently Bob Parsons was trying to help starving people in and stop elephants from destroying crops in Africa (he defended himself via Twitter). While I think this is an important issue, I also pity the life of the elephant.
However, I figured I’d write a bit more about GoDaddy and its founder while I was doing my research.
GoDaddy.com is the world’s largest domain name registrar and is the main company of The Go Daddy Group, Inc. GoDaddy was founded by Bob Parsons in 1999, and has since grown to include more than 47 million domains under management. Parsons got his degree in accounting and originally founded Parsons Technology, a software development company that provided packaged financial and accounting software for home and small businesses.
It’s interesting (and a bit ironic?) that Parsons is an entrepreneur who created a domain name registrar, since so many other entrepreneurs are probably buying domain names from GoDaddy to start their businesses and give themselves an online presence. The popularity of GoDaddy also shows how easy technology has made it for businesses to buy and grow their own websites.
Though I hope Parsons does not go out and kill anymore elephants, I do think he must be recognized for his entrepreneurial success, as well as his efforts to make a political statement.
You’ve heard of hot dog stands, pretzel stands and coffee stands. Venues like these have become popular in concert venues, train stations, airports and even out on the street. But have you ever heard of a cheese stand?
Whether you have heard of one or not, Cheeseboy in South Station is proof that cheese stands do exist. Well, grilled cheese stands.
Cheeseboy specializes in grilling up and serving out every kind of cheese sandwich possible, with all the amenities you could ask for–tomato, bacon, lettuce, ham, basil, ect.
Today, I went to Cheeseboy in South Station for the very first time. I heard about it from my friend Frank, who mentioned he couldn’t wait to get a Cheeseboy grilled cheese sandwich before leaving South Station the day he took a Bolt Bus home for President’s Day weekend.
After a brief Google search, I came across an article from Boston.com detailing the origins of Cheeseboy. Turns out, Cheeseboy is the product of an entrepreneur! Michael Inwald, 30, founder of the venue, believes the grilled cheese sandwich is “part of national culture.”
A second article I found from BizJournal.com describes Cheeseboy as a “twist” on the standard burger-and-fries or fried chicken fast food venue. And it is. Americans love grilled cheese, and it only took one bright mind to realize that specializing in grilled cheese could be a great business opportunity.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea — Who doesn’t love grilled cheese?! So today, instead of making a boring sandwich or having a soggy bowl of cereal in my apartment, I ventured over to South Station.
Cheeseboy is smack-dab in the middle of South Station, directly under and to the left of the giant digital time board that posts all of the departure times of the different trains and buses that leave from the station in the main concourse. There was already a good amount of people waiting in line, and even more waiting at the pick-up line to grab their orders. However, service was quick. Cheeseboy does have a bigger menu than you might think, due to its limited focus on grilled cheese.
I walked around a bit and talked to some of the people in line before ordering my lunch: A “Classic” grilled cheese sandwich (valued at $2.99) with some tomato (an extra .49 cents) and a bottle of water. Lunch for under $6? What a great deal!
Nick Celano, 22, was traveling for his spring break and in line for Cheeseboy. He said he was getting a “Make Your Own” sandwich with multigrain bread and cheddar and monster cheese.
“I think it’s awesome,” Celano said about Cheeseboy. He went on to talk about how grilled cheese is a great travel option, because unlike other sandwiches or fast food burgers, it’s hard for grilled cheese to fall apart.
Once I got my sandwich, I ate it pretty quickly. It came in a neat little box, but you could see the grease from the outside! Not my healthiest meal this week.
The taste was definitely worth it, though. I wasn’t completely full after finishing, but I figured one grilled cheese sandwich was enough for then, and if I needed more food I could get a snack later.
Below are my live-tweets from my trip to South Station and my first experience with Cheeseboy. You can look at my Twitter feed @ekelly89, too. I definitely recommend grabbing a grilled cheese before any bus or train trip leaving from South Station you may have in the future!
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