Here’s how a young entrepreneur crowdfunded her cat café
Three years ago, Kanchan Singh was backpacking through Thailand when she happened upon a cat café. “It was one of the most magical, fun and ridiculous things I’d ever done,” Singh says. “I knew that this is what I had to do.”
Within a year, she had quit her corporate consulting job and opened Crumb & Whiskers, the first and only cat café in Washington, D.C. She also raised nearly $36,000 on Kickstarter along the way. “I wanted to minimize the personal risk...while also retaining 100% equity,” Singh says. “Crowdfunding allowed me to do that.”
To craft a successful Kickstarter campaign, she suggests founders “make a kickass video, tell a great story and build an audience well before you launch.” And it wouldn’t hurt to read Tim Ferriss’ blog, either.
Last year Singh was even able to open a second cat café in Los Angeles. “It was all absolutely terrifying. Luckily, on the other side of fear, there’s also hope and possibility. That’s the part I chose to focus on.”
In your 20s and new to investing? 3 steps to a successful path
Your 20s are a time when there are almost too many goals to save for. You might want to buy a home, purchase a new car or travel the world—all at a time when you should also be saving for the future. Here are a few ways to boost your savings and financial acumen.
Create an automated investing plan. Once you make all your investments automatic, it’s a lot easier to learn to live on less. If you have a work-sponsored 401(k) plan, start by deferring enough to get your employer’s match—it's the closest thing to free money you’ll ever find.
Unleash the power of compound interest. Let’s say you invest $300 per month starting at age 20 and don’t stop until you’re 60 years old. If you managed an 8% return during that time, you would have more than $1 million in that account alone. If you waited to start saving until you were 30, you’d end up with less than half that sum.
Stop comparing. Take a break from monitoring statuses and life updates. It’s not making you happy. Just because your friend took an exotic one-month, Instagram-worthy trip doesn’t mean you have to as well. Instead, putting that money toward saving will set you up for a successful future.
For escape rooms, hard-to-find real estate is part of the fun and the bottom line
The doors lock shut. You’re trapped in a windowless room inside an abandoned warehouse, and time is running out. This is not the start to the next Hollywood horror movie. It is one of the hottest retail trends. Escape rooms debuted in Tokyo seven years ago, and since then, the industry has blown up worldwide.
“People want more to do than sit at the bar and drink,” Evergreen Commercial Realty President Lilly Golden says. “People are looking to be more entertained.”
While escape rooms rake in big corporate accounts and premium prices—think Google and Amazon, who see the experience as a team-building exercise—their owners often pay bottom-dollar rents for hard-to-lease spaces, meaning an even better bottom line. Golden said they are not looking for the typical front-and-center retail space preferred by most.
More and more, landlords are taking advantage of the trend, soaking up vacant space to house the roughly 2,800 escape rooms that now exist worldwide. The explosive growth is attracting plenty of interest, but many wonder if the industry’s rapid success will soon disappear.
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How to invest in a network of 18,000 contacts
Since graduating from Harvard in 1999, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson has co-founded three companies, including Gilt.com, invested in or advised more than 50 startups, and made about 1,000 new contacts per year. It’s been a long path toward thoughtfully building her network. Here’s how you can do the same:
Create a Rolodex of everyone you meet. Either by adding a new phone contact on-the-spot, connecting on LinkedIn or saving email signatures, Wilson has amassed a directory of 18,000 potential collaborators.
Facilitate mutually beneficial relationships. “If you make a helpful introduction for someone today, it will come back and serve you in a different way tomorrow,” Wilson says. Detail your interactions in a spreadsheet so you’ll remember when and how to best follow up.
Craft a warm message. Even without a face-to-face introduction, you can still personalize digital communication. Mention any LinkedIn connections you and the person you’re contacting have in common, and try to find a way to make the person laugh. You’ll improve the chances that they’ll respond—with a yes.
We’re assembling the minds behind the world’s most compelling concepts and brilliant ideas in Boston, October 1-4. RSVP now.
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