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Create your Own Chatbot

August 30, 2016

What are Chatbots?

Imagine yourself talking to your movie friend,who is a movie buff and she has watched all the movies ever made. You ask her for suggestion about a good movie to watch. Just tell her what kind of movie you would like to watch, sad or upbeat, romantic, action, thriller, and she would happily provide you with wide array of movies that you should not miss out on. Now, imagine a bot doing the same thing as your movie buff friend, sounds amazing does it not? This is what a Chatbot is. It is sort of like your friend: who will tell you jokes or play games multiplayer games with you, answer all your question. You can ask the Chatbot about anythings, like what is going on in the world, the weather, who won gold medals on the Olympics, does not matter, it will answer you, only difference is that it lives inside a computer.

Let’s make our own Chatbot.

Now imagine making your own chat-bot and connecting it with your Facebook account, when your friends message you they will automatically get a reply from you. Sounds unbelievable does it not? But with these Udemy courses: Create a Messenger ChatBot – without coding, and ChatBots: How to Make a Facebook Messenger ChatBot, you will be able to make your own Chatbot friend who has limitless knowledge and will reply even when you are not around. One of the instructor of the course describes them as master potential master of the universe which you will be able to make on your own in your desk sitting in front of the computer. However impossible it sounds you will be surprised by how easy the courses are, and you will be guided by these instructors , who will provide you with adequate detail on how make the Chatbot. You wont have to sweat about not being able to programing with the help of pre-written source code, that you will be able to manipulate with little hesitation, or using Api.Ai, where you just have to type in responses and potential questions, to create your own Chatbot with ease. The step by step instructions are easy to follow.

Personal experience:

I did not have any prior experience of programming, but with the help of the course I have come up with my own Chatbot that I have linked to my facebook page Altu Uncle. Out of all the courses I have tried, I would personally recommend these two mentioned courses as they have enough detail to give you the overview of what is happening and not get your bored. If you are weak on programming, than this course if best for you, however there is a certain limit on the numbers of queries on Api.Ai that can be a hassle. Once again, I would  like to iterate that making Chatbot is as fun as you think it is, and way simpler and easy than you will ever think with these courses. After taking the course you will have the power to create your own “Genie” that will open up a portal of endless possibilities, with little to no knowledge about programming. Who knows you could even the one of the Chatbots to time travel for you?

 

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/AltuUncle/

http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=ufH0XOVcfiI&subid=&offerid=323058.1&type=10&tmpid=14538&RD_PARM1=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.udemy.com%2Fchatbots%2Flearn%2Fv4%2F

http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=ufH0XOVcfiI&subid=&offerid=323058.1&type=10&tmpid=14538&RD_PARM1=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.udemy.com%2Fchatbots-how-to-make-chat-bot-for-facebook-messenger%2Flearn%2Fv4%2Foverview

Top 5 Highest Paying Small Business Grants

August 17, 2016

A list of the highest paying grant opportunities available to small business owners in search of big funding.

 

Every seasoned entrepreneur knows a successful business does not start or thrive on just mound of seed (or trust fund) money. It is a combination of know-how, partnerships, planning, mentorship, and tenacity that takes a business off the pages, into play, and then into the green. But that does not mean small business owners are not all hunting for a solid sum of funds to help them set sail as they grow or back them up while they adventure into risky directions.

 

There are plenty of grants and competitions out there. Some offer once-in-lifetime enrichment packages, others couple networking experience with bundled price tags that claim to be “valued up to” X amount of dollars, but not so much in the way of cash. However, what you will find below are avenues to earn hearty amounts of real money (because 3 free months of free, executive mentoring will not keep the lights on) for your small business. Plus, if you are going to take time to do all the foot-work of applying, entering, and competing for money, you might as well go big.

 

So here it is; a short-list of the top 5 grant opportunities that offer big money to small businesses.

 

 

#1 Echoing Green Fellowship (Image)

MO: Unleashing Your Talent to Solve the World’s Greatest Problems

 

Who is this for?

Promising Social Entrepreneurs in sectors from saint-work to artwork, and many others in-between

 

The Competition

Fierce – Candidates are taken world-wide and only 1% of applicants make the cutoff into Fellowship

 

The Pay Out

$80,000 for individuals, $90,000 for 2-person partnerships

That is out of the $2 million they set aside for their competition.

 

The Fluff

  • A health insurance stipend
  •  A yearly professional development stipend
  • Conferences led by organizational development experts
  • Access to technical support and pro bono partnerships to help grow your organization
  • A community of like-minded social entrepreneurs and public service leaders, including the Echoing Green network of nearly 500 alumni working all over the world

 

Apply! (http://www.echoinggreen.org/fellowship/echoing-green-fellowship)

 

 

#2 Cleantech Open Accelerator & Competition (Image)

MO:  We find, fund, and foster the most promising cleantech startups on the planet.

 

Who is this for?

Mean, green, sustainable and environmentally-safe business “machines”

 

The Competition

Homegrown, US companies – Applicants have to be on a team with at least 2 people (only one must be a US citizen).

 

The Payout

$100,000

 

The Fluff

  • Chance at prizes valued from $10,000 Regionally to $250,000 nationally
  •  Participation at the National West Coast and/or East Coast Academy
  • Enrollment in the full series of Cleantech Open Training Seminars and Webinars
  • Mentor, Investor and Sustainability Programs more
  • Exhibition space at the Cleantech Open National Conference and Global Forum more
  • All-access tickets to all regional and most national events
  • Resources like the new book from Steve Blank & Bob Dorf “The Startup Owner’s Manual”
  • Exclusive Software Offer from the Cleantech Open and Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program (up to $10,000 value) more

 

 

Apply! (http://www.cleantechopen.com/app.cgi/content/competition/business/eligibility)

 

 

#3 Small Business Innovation Research Program

MO: It is pretty word-y (http://www.sba.gov/content/mission-statement-0)

 

Who is this for?

The Nerds  – within your business there must be at least one principal researcher employed.

 

The Competition

Capped – Only small, for-profit businesses under 500 employees are eligible. Not to mention American

 

The Payout

$100,000 during the first 6 months of support.

$750,000 during the next 2 years.

 

The Fluff

  • Phase I is the startup phase. Awards of up to $100,000 for approximately 6 months support exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology.
  • Phase II awards of up to $750,000, for as many as 2 years, expand Phase I results. During this time, the R&D work is performed and the developer evaluates commercialization potential. Only Phase I award winners are considered for Phase II.
  • Phase III is the period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. No SBIR funds support this phase. The small business must find funding in the private sector or other non-SBIR federal agency funding.

 

 

Apply! (http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-innovation-research-program-sbir-0)

 

#4 Small Business Technology Transfer Program (Sister Program of SBIRP)

MO: The same as #3 (http://www.sba.gov/content/mission-statement-0)

 

Who is this for?

The Nerds  – within your business there must be at least one principal researcher employed.

 

The Competition

Capped – Only small, for-profit businesses under 500 employees are eligible. Not to mention American

 

The Payout

$100,000 during the first 6 months of support.

$750,000 during the next 2 years.

 

The Fluff

Phase I is the startup phase. Awards of up to $100,000 for approximately one year fund the exploration of the scientific, technical, and commercial feasibility of an idea or technology.

Phase II awards of up to $750,000, for as long as two years, expand Phase I results. During this period, the R&D work is performed and the developer begins to consider commercial potential. Only Phase I award winners are considered for Phase II.

Phase III is the period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. No STTR funds support this phase. The small business must find funding in the private sector or other non-STTR federal agency funding.

 

Apply! (http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-technology-transfer-program-sttr-0)

 

#5 Mission: small Business

MO:  To increase awareness of the important role small businesses play in local communities and to help small businesses grow

 

Who is this for?

Any home-grown, US small business owners that are at least 18 years of age

 

The Competition

American Idol style — 4 to 12 winners max., decided upon by popular vote of customers, friends, and neighbor

 

The Payout

$250,000 for at least 4 winners

 

The Fluff

No frills. Just money.

 

Apply! (https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/pages/program-rules)

20-year-olds or Craigslist Ads. Are You Correctly Managing Talent For Your Small Business?

October 28, 2012

As a small business owner I struggle periodically with filling and holding my most technical people. I need x,y, and z from people who have “x,y,z” tattooed on their backs. Anything less than that will and I am out of commission. Once I placed an online ad the way I learned to do from a business book I am not able to name now. It said to post the skill set needed of an applicant not a description of the position. I cannot remember what I posted, but it must have been along the lines of “anyone who has ever opened Photoshop within the last 12 months, please sign up here” as the responses of many well-meaning, yet unpolished designers were overwhelming. I give great credit to those trying to learn and develop new skills in any economy, but when someone sends a graphic design sample as an image on a word document it takes more than a deep breath to keep from replying with “Wth???????”

You can make as many assumptions as you want as to why I had gaps in my team, but whether all their grandmas died at once or I was crushing them under the hammer of my sparse and sporadic client proposals, the issue at the end of the day was there was a highly specialized piece of my machine missing and it was not fun trying to find it.

Someone smarter than me alluded to this phenomenon. D. Ready and J. Conger put together a short piece called “Make Your Company a Talent Factory” where they explained very clearly how not-so-small-businesses with their big budgets and good intentions for maintaining talents were not. Whether talent retention systems were in place or money was being set aside for such or executive managers were totally clueless of its importance, the issue was the same; not having a concise development program for the current talent within a company (employees) or one for reaching outside to potential talent (interns) was the leading cause of shortages in key roles within a company.

Part I – Are You Correctly Managing Talent For Your Small Business?
Part II – Motivating Employees
Part III – The Happy Camper Talent Management Factory: Running on Sunshine and Smiles
Part IV – How the Gears of Talent Management Work

How To Get A Small Business Grant

October 3, 2012

The following is a list of the best small business start up grants for US citizens, arranged in order of the amount of money they potentially offer. Most of these grants are life changing, in the order of tens of thousands of dollars, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.How To Get A Small Business Grant

This page simply shows you how to get a small business grant by giving you the details of the organizations that offer the largest amounts to start up companies, based on the business plan, and potential for succeeding in that plan that they show.

There is a rigorous approval process for all of them, and each have their own criteria for what they expect to see in a potential grant recipient, but all of these organizations have big money to hand out, and they do give it out, on a regular basis, each year or so.

The organizations on this page are listed in order of the largest amount of money they will potentially offer to any one business start up, with the first on the list offering the most money.

Small Business Innovative Research Program

This government grant hands out as much as $750,000 to businesses that show an entrepreneurial talent worthy enough to win the grant. Check out the link for more details, but there is money reserved every year for businesses in eleven different categories, or federal departments and agencies.

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

As with all of these grants, you simply need to determine if you qualify, and then make sure that your application is filled out according to their instructions, and you might have an extra 100,000 dollars to use to start up your business.

Small Business Technology Transfer Program

This grant is for funding innovative research programs, such as medical or technological research that might dramatically improve the quality of life for people generally. According the page I just linked to, their goal is: “to foster the innovation necessary to meet the nation’s scientific and technological challenges in the 21st century”.

The amount of money they offer is again in the range of one hundred thousand to seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That’s certainly not chump change, but you do have to be a research company start up with a fairly clear plan in mind to meet their standards.

Mission: Small Business

This award is sponsored by Chase, and Living Social, but also supported by the US Chamber Of Commerce, and they give out $250,000 at a time, with what appears to be eleven separate grants on offer every year.

There isn’t much more on the home page of the site that explains what requirements they have, but that should lead you in the right direction, and a quarter of a million dollars is well worth investigating.

MIT Entrepreneurship Competition

According to the page I just linked to: “Over $350K in prizes are given to aspiring entrepreneurs each year through participation in a series of three contests: the Pitch Contest, the Accelerate Contest, and the Launch Contest. The winner of the Launch Contest takes home $100K!”

The Robert P. Goldberg grand prize of $100,000 is what you are aiming to get, and the details of the competition are on that page, so read up on it, enter the competition, and you could come away with the grand prize of a hundred thousand dollars to start up your company.

As far as I can tell, with all of these grants, it’s not just money that they lend you, it’s money that they’re actually giving you for free! That’s pretty amazing if you can somehow pull that off, and a life changing thing for any small business start up owner.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

As you can see from the link, this is another grant offering $100,000 to “support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems”.

Well worth investigating, if your start up small business has the potential to change humanity for the better. The criteria for entry are listed on the site, and for one hundred thousand dollars, it’s well worth thinking about, even if you think that your business might not change mankind as we know it.

Find out More About Small Business Grants

There are many more grants on offer for small businesses, some of them ridiculously large like these, and some more in the range of $10,000 or $5,000, but you can find them all by taking a look around this site.

For a more comprehensive list of grants, take a look at this page, business funding, which has a list of over 100 small business start up grants from government, and the private sector. This whole site is devoted to grants, loans, and competitions for small businesses, so explore the site a bit, and be sure to tell any friends you have who might benefit from these amazing and life changing opportunities.

Business Plan Competition: A Master Database of Competitions for MBA Students

September 18, 2012

We took all the footwork out of hunting down and researching annual business plan competitions available to MBA students. Our database is a compilation of announcements and private listings, company foundations, and business school associations that host business plan competitions that already pull applicants from across the country and even around the world. Included are competitions both big and small hosted by names as big as Xerox and MIT. Our team has conveniently listed these business plan competitions by their payout, so you and/or your team can go straight for the big money in your search for extracurricular greatness.  And as always, we are committed to researching and updating these opportunities in a way that is easy to access and free to use.

Because aren’t we all looking for our own Jack Donaghy…

An MBA student can be many things. A 22-year-old with a B.A. and internship experience still battling the notion of trading in Tom’s for leather penny loafers (in a non-ironic way), or a seasoned 40-something looking to cash-in on their companies generous training refund for pursing a higher degree. While it is clear for the latter, even those of you with years of corporate experience who have moved passed the cubical and into an office with a door can still dream about receiving personal pats-on-the-back and whispered business know-how from a top executive whom you refer to on a first name bases.

Can that happen in a day? Maybe – or maybe not, but for those not just in it for the money (or who fall short of a top spot) there is definitely a chance for you Liz Lemons (see: 30 Rock) to find a career mentor in these professionally prime suit conventions. Many of the listed events are especially committed to coaching students past the books and into real-world thinking, offering on the spot mentoring with top executives, business plan advisors, and on-site workshops for runner-ups and participants over the course of the competition.  Winners, of course, receive even more, with some grand prizes boasting of time spent with an advisor even into the actual launch of a student’s (or team’s) venture.  In addition to the formal executive pairings, are the side lining, sponsoring companies carefully taking notice of MBA students who fit their mold.

So try a business plan competition or two or — if your group project on marketing biodegradable potato chip bags can handle it — even ten. Your future-self will thank you when you are sharing a non-fat, unsweetened, green tea latte with your future multi-million-dollar mentor.

What if I am not an MBA student?

Have you seen our small business grant list? (currently they are all one in the list) Hunt around in there and you will be happy to find a neatly complied list of small business grants available to you. Our database has small business grants for US as well as international small business owners in a range of industries anywhere from green technology to urban development. Grants can range from $1000 to $250,000 in funds as well as partnership and mentoring programs for owners in their earlier stages of development.

But if you were an MBA student, some of these business plan competitions do welcome alumni or allow for non-students to be members of the participating teams. Just check carefully for individual rules and regulations.

 

The Future

In alignment with our goal to be a valuable tool to our business-minded users, we will be developing an honoree page that highlights the achievements of each business plan competition award recipient and their respective MBA program and/or small business.  This will give you talented few the opportunity to be interviewed, share your expertise, and speak candidly about your experience in the competition and/or MBA program.

So check back with us and link to us and share us. You never know if you will be our featured winner one day.

 

Are we done yet?

No, not at all and we are always looking for new business plan competitions and other worthwhile opportunities to share with MBA students. If you know of any we missed or are a student group hosting one yourself, let us know. We would be happy to add them to our database, and we hope you will share our website with your best and brightest.

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