By Lauren Foster, Stretch Recipes
I was never lucky enough to experience the world of video game development until I came to Tech Ranch, and let me tell you, it has been an education! Here at the Ranch, right across the hall from my office, are both Maestro Interactive and Art & Craft Entertainment (makers of Crowfall). In addition, I’ve had the chance to work on marketing for a number of other gaming entrepreneurs that have come to seek advice on growing their user base. Over the past couple of months I’ve overheard things I never thought I’d hear in the work place, and learned a lot about this growing industry… [Read more…]
Dinner Elf was started by Nicole and Jesse Vickey as an answer to their own family challenges, ” It was born out of our own lack of time to gather our little family for healthy, home-cooked dinners during the work week.” While Nicole loves to cook and makes time on the weekends to do so together with their kids, it was simply too hard to follow-through with the right meals during the week. Since graduating from the Venture Forth program, the Vickeys have created an amazing service for families, groups and even singles!
About Dinner Elf
Dinner Elf matches busy families with affordable, in-home cooks. You pick dinners off our menu. Your Elf goes to the grocery store and shops, and then comes to your home to cook and clean up. You come home to dinner that’s ready to go.
Hardest things about being an entrepreneur:
- Separating work from life: Jesse and I are married and started our first company together shortly after our wedding, back in 2001. We now work on that company, as well as on Dinner Elf, together. A lot of people hear that I work with my husband and ask if we’ve hired an in-house marriage counselor! It’s not always easy, but it give us a chance to intellectually collaborate in way we don’t get to in our home life. It’s all about knowing when it’s time to talk shop.
- Working alone: One of the reason’s we moved to Austin before starting up Dinner Elf is that we didn’t want to start another company in a vacuum. Tech Ranch has been a community of extremely creative, wildly intelligent people who go out of their way to share resources with other entrepreneurs. The general sense in this town is that if you help another company succeed, you help Austin succeed and we all win.
- Putting myself out there. I’m not a natural sales girl. I love the creative, building stage of a start up and dread the “get out there and sell it” stage. When I really believe in a concept, I try to treat it like my child. I’m willing to put myself out there to advocate for it to grow up right.
Advice for entrepreneurs (new or seasoned):
- Talk to everyone you meet about your idea. It gets you comfortable articulating what you do, and you’ll get some gems of advice.
- Don’t be defensive, be open to feedback. Yes, many people will give you 1st-level feedback that isn’t all that helpful – but there is wisdom to be heard there if everyone you talk to has the exact same reaction. Every critique is a chance to get better.
- Test, test, test. Don’t wait for your product to be perfect. Find a way to get it out there as early as possible to test and tweak.
Of course we have to ask…words to describe Tech Ranch
- Favorite Word: introvert
- Favorite Activity: swimming as meditation.
- Something we don’t already know about you? I’m a long way from my academic background. I started out my career as a marine biologist. Oysters aren’t as interesting as start ups.
Finally, please share with us any news or exciting opportunities for our readers about Dinner Elf:
Dinner Elf recently expanded to serve all of Austin and most surrounding suburbs. We’re coming up on having over a 100 customers, which is an exciting milestone for us after going “live” about 8 months ago.
This past weekend was the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition, held at the AT&T Center and hosted by Texas Venture Labs. Last year, our very own Jaime Sutton (Director of Marketing & Operations) launched the first ever Nemec Elevator Pitch Competition INSIDE the UT Tower. In the past, the individuals who did not make it to the semi-finals would be invited to compete in an elevator pitch competition within the AT&T Center, but last year, this “consolation prize” became cooler than the semi-finals themselves!
According to Jaime, “finding the right person to talk to and the right approach with the University was the hardest part. The Tower is no longer open to the public and you must have a pre-scheduled, guided tour with police presence to ride up the Tower elevators.” So what is an “elevator pitch”? [Read more…]
Jesus Lopez just recently graduated from our Venture Forth program, where he acted on the urge to impact change in the world instead of enter corporate America. Instead of just thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, Jesus and his partners started building. He explains, “OnePay was an idea that was born out of an issue that I constantly heard and saw happening and decided to act on it. I further researched and found that more people had this cronic pain of forgetting to pay bills and thus throwing away money and decided to make something out of it.”
OnePay is your one-stop shop to pay bills to save time and money. We are eliminating late fees and unnecessary charges without the added effort thru one bill, one payment and one place. [Read more…]
Tech Ranch has partnered with [IN]cubes in Toronto, Canada! Our agreement allows for both Tech Ranch and [IN]cubes members to have drop-in access to each other’s facilities, business resources and events. To learn more about the International Exchange Program and see a map of other partners CLICK HERE.
INcubes is a Toronto based tech accelerator that teams up with emerging entrepreneurs and talented startup teams to create solid businesses with innovative products and ideas. Recognized as one of the 7 true acceleration programs in Canada and one of the 6 exciting Canadian Accelerators to watch in 2015, INcubes offers the largest international exchange program among other Toronto-based accelerators. INcubes’ international network has attracted mentors and investors from across many countries including the US, UK, France, China, Israel, Latin America and more. With its two flagship programs, the Funnel Program and the Acceleration Program, INcubes connects with the most forward-thinking entrepreneurs, those with goals of turning their game-changing technologies into international success stories.
John Hingley here, I’ve been around the marketing, e-commerce and sales business for quite a while both full-time
and consulting with great businesses.
What I found in any of the businesses I’ve had the pleasure of consulting with is there’s one huge problem; lack of access to data, or not knowing what to do with it all that great info.
And the more apps and social networks you use, the bigger the problem.
So i f you want the whole, long story about Dasheroo’s genesis, go here, it’s pretty cool.
Bottom line is that most businesses:
- Scurry around trying to find the reports from all the apps all they use,
- Shove them into spreadsheets and Google Docs (or ignore them),
- Do it at the last minute, if at all,
- Don’t keep up-to-the-minute track of what’s moving the business
- So, they don’t leverage all that great info to make smarter decisions to grow their business
Kaneisha Grayson, Tech Rancher, has been helping individuals work their way through the school application process since sixth grade when she was accepted into the Kealing Middle School’s magnet program. Since then, she has been helping other students, friends and acquaintances get into prestigious schools and get awarded valuable scholarships. After getting herself accepted to Harvard, she became bombarded with requests for advice and assistance, leading her to the realization that this could be a viable business opportunity. Extra special influence? According to Kaneisha, “. I was most encouraged and inspired to pursue my dream of location independent entrepreneurship by my good friend Laura Roeder (another Austinite who I’ve known since middle school). She is the founder of the 7-figure bootstrapped company LKR Social Media, and remains one of the peer mentors I most look up to for business and life advice today.”
by Nicole Vickey, Dinner Elf Co-founderTech Ranch Austin has been home base for my start up, Dinner Elf, for a little over a year now. The Ranch has immersed the Dinner Elf team in a diverse community of like-minded entrepreneurs, with whom we’ve shared the ups and downs of our start up journeys.