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Posts by ethan

How to Pitch Angel Investors at Demo Day: 4 Tips from an Excelerate Labs Alum

Posted on 8/2/2011 by Ethan Austin

Your investor pitch at TechStars, YCombinator or Excelerate Labs demo day can make or break your startup. Here are four tips I learned at Excelerate Labs Demo Day 2010 that will help you land beaucoup bucks when it's your time to shine. (1) Keep It Simple Actually, keep it uber-simple. You have about eight minutes to explain why your company is awesome to people who have no idea what your company does and are probably not be familiar with your industry. Give them the big picture and save the details for the follow-up meeting. We must have written twenty different versions of our GiveForward pitch before we had the final version we presented at the Excelerate Labs Demo Day. The key was taking stuff out and making it simpler each time. The same goes for your slides. Keep them simple. Use more pictures and fewer words. You want people to stay focused on what you’re saying, not getting distracted by trying to read your slides. Super-Awesome Pro Tip: This may seem obvious, but put your most important information up front. Believe it or not, investors are actually normal people. They have phones equipped with Angry Birds just like you and me. If you have something important to say, say it in the first 60 seconds. Otherwise, you'll lose them. Read more

How to Win at Excelerate Labs Part Deux

Posted on 7/1/2011 by Ethan Austin

This is the second post in a series about how to win and be awesome at Excelerate Labs. If you missed the first post you can find it on the Blog. You’ve survived the insanely frenetic pace of mentor month where you’ve been averaging about 5 hours of sleep per night for the past month and it’s starting to catch up with you. Fortunately, now is the time to catch your breath, kick back and enjoy your MBA month. You’ll listen to some interesting lectures, hang out with your classmates, and take a break from all the mischigas that was mentor month. Most importantly, during this month you’ll have time to develop real relationships with a handful of mentors and start thinking more deeply about your business. Here are three things you should do during your MBA month: (1) Organize a social event with your fellow Excelerate classmates The Excelerate 2010 class is probably ten times closer now than when we were in the program. It wasn’t until the third month of Excelerate that we really started to bond. And that’s because Excelerate was such as whirlwind experience and we were so focused on our businesses and mentor meetings, that we didn’t realize we were surrounded by great mentors everyday. Excelerate is a mentorship driven program, and the experienced mentors that participate are truly phenomenal. But don’t overlook the value of peer-mentorship. There is a ton you can learn from other companies who are in the thick of it just like you. If nothing else, going through the highs and lows with friends is great group therapy. Getting to know your fellow classmates sooner rather than later will serve you well. Read more

Are You A Charity Case? Why All Cancer Patients Need Help With Medical Bills

Posted on 6/14/2011 by Ethan Austin

What would you do if someone called you a charity case? If you're like most people you'd probably be a little offended. To many people, accepting help from others represents a personal failure. Well, today we are declaring that this mindset needs to end! Because the reality is that EVERYBODY is a charity case. Yep, everybody. According to a study released recently by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 50% of Americans said they absolutely wouldn't be able to come up with $2000 in the event of a medical emergency. And a staggering 75% of those surveyed said they would have to dip into savings, ask friends and family for help, or resort to credit cards or a home equity line of credit. Let me repeat that: 75% of Americans would need help covering a $2000 bill. Now, imagine that someone close to you is diagnosed with cancer or another illness and instead of just $2,000, that friend needs $10,000 or $20,000 to cover the medication co-pays, travel costs, meals, extra daycare for the kids and all the other out-of-pocket expenses associated with getting sick. Like most people, you'd probably want to help by sending some money, right? Of course you would. But the reality is that most Americans don't give money when a loved one is sick. They might bring a meal over to the family or send flowers, but they don't typically send money. And that is the problem. As a society, we are generous in celebratory moments like the birth of a baby, graduation, or a wedding. But we're often afraid to give when times are bad. And it's not because people don't want to help. If anything over the last three years at GiveForward we have witnessed that people truly do want to help, and the act of giving can be a remarkably empowering experience. Rather, the reason people are hesitant to give money is because they are afraid of making the beneficiary feel like a charity case. Read more

How to Win at Excelerate Labs

Posted on 6/1/2011 by Ethan Austin

Dear Excelerate Class of 2011, Last summer, we participated in the first ever class of Excelerate Labs. At the end of the program all these smart people wanted to give us money. It was pretty awesome. Here is my guide on how to win at Excelerate. I hope this summer is awesome for you too. Love, Ethan PS – Excelerate is broken down into three distinct months: Mentor Month; Mini-MBA Month; and Pitch Month. I’ve broken this love letter down into a three-part series (in part to correspond with the different months of the program but mostly because I’m too long winded to get my points across succinctly in one normal-sized blog post). First off, we'll start with How to Win at Mentor Month and in future posts I'll cover How to Win at Mini-MBA Month and Pitch Month. Read more

My Journey To GiveForward

Posted on 4/30/2011 by Ethan Austin

I work at a company called GiveForward that helps people fighting cancer and other illnesses to pay their medical bills. A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a blog tour called "What's Your Calling" that explores the notions of calling from religious and secular perspectives. So when I started thinking about the question of calling, I first thought that my calling is to help people fighting illnesses. But as I thought about the question more, I realized that as passionate as I am about helping people, my calling in its most basic form is simply making people smile. Every day I go to work, I realize how blessed I am. I get and do something I am absolutely passionate about, and I get to share this experience with an incredibly wonderful group of co-workers who bring smiles to people's faces everyday. I couldn't think of a better job. But if you asked me ten or twenty years ago what I'd be doing today, never in a million years would I have guessed it would be this. Read more

Google Maps Directions: Japan to China

Posted on 3/2/2011 by Ethan Austin

At GiveForward we've always been very focused on customer service., and we have a rule that every person in the company (from CEO to intern) is responsible for giving out one virtual hug per day to a user on the site. Basically, a virtual hug is just something that makes a user smile e.g. a $1 anonymous donation to their fundraiser, or a few fundraising tips, or even just a nice email with some words of encouragement. I just want to quickly share a hug that one of our team members sent out to a user raising money to do a volunteer medical trip to China. Enjoy, this one is funny! Step one: go to Google Maps Step two: enter directions from Japan to China Step three: scroll down to direction # 41 Step four: smile and share this with someone who could use a laugh. Read more

GiveForward Nominated for a World Technology Network Award

Posted on 1/11/2011 by Ethan Austin

Last month GiveForward was nominated for a World Technology Network Award (in association with TIME and CNN) for our innovative solution to medical fundraising. We were nominated in the category of finance and were up against guys like Reid Hoffman (founder of Linkedin) Jeff Bezos (founder and CEO of Amazon) Max Levchin (co-founder of PayPal) Paul Graham (founder of Y-Combinator) and Ron Conway (Silicon "super angel"). Ultimately, we lost to Marc Andreesson (co-founder of Netscape aka the dude who helped invent the modern Internet). Read more

News of Cancer in Remission = The BEST Gift Ever!

Posted on 12/28/2010 by Ethan Austin

[Good News!] Here at GiveForward, we hope Santa brought you everything you asked for. Today we got the best present of all -- a wonderful note from one of our users who raised money on GiveForward a year ago for his cousin's cancer treatment: "I wanted to update you that a couple of months after my fundraiser ended my cousin Jessica's cancer went into remission. While she still has to take chemo periodically as an insurance policy, this has been fantastic news and her prognosis is pretty good but they still have to watch her liver function closely. In many ways, this makes my fundraiser even more important because she lived to face all the bills :) How much worse would it be to face that financial situation alone while you are still ill from chemo... Anyway, I want to wish you all a very happy holidays and happy new year, knowing that the work you do is really helping to make the world a better place. - Tim" Read more

Why We Have the Best Jobs in the World

Posted on 11/17/2010 by Ethan Austin

No doubt about it -- we have hands down the best jobs in the world, here at GiveForward. It's been a while since I've written anything on the GiveForward blog, but I got an email the other day from one of our users named Elena Casey that was so incredible I felt inspired to share it with our community. Elena just recently finished raising money for her best friend's medical expenses. Through her amazing efforts in getting friends, family, and particularly alumni from her college involved, Elena wound up raising over $7,000 on her fundraising page I asked her if we could re-post her email and being the gracious person that she is, she agreed. Check it out! Read more

GiveForward Turns Two!

Posted on 8/17/2010 by Ethan Austin

It’s hard to believe, but Saturday was the two-year anniversary of the launch of GiveForward. We couldn’t be more grateful for all the wonderful people who have been a part of our community thus far and just wanted to send out a quick thank you to everyone. GiveForward turns two! GiveForward turns two! During this time, we’ve helped 1300 families raise almost $2 million for things like chemotherapy treatments, organ transplants and out-of-pocket living and travel expense. None of this would have been possible without our amazing community getting involved. We appreciate the fundraising tips you have shared with us over the years, your positive (and occasionally negative) feedback and most importantly your willingness to spread the word about GiveForward to others who can benefit from our service! Read more

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