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Nowadays, when you’ve got an idea for a product or a startup, but find yourself with zero dollars to your name, it’s not entirely impossible to get your venture off the ground. Nothing is impossible in the land of opportunity – go for the American Dream, #amirite? Outside of traditional venture funding and angel funding, there are other options that an entrepreneur can pursue in order to help them turn their ideas into reality.

Despite these opportunities, however, you need to keep in mind that the goal of raising money is to support your passion: to get your hard work into the hands of users or consumers. Don’t jump into fundraising with the goal of raising money to pay yourself a salary.

This afternoon at Tech Cocktail Celebrate, we held a panel called “Wild New World of Funding,” which explored the different ways through which people can pursue funding for their intended ventures. The panelists on stage came from different backgrounds – from a venture firm to a startup competition organization – including Michael Hughes of OneVest, Akhil Nigam of MassChallenge, Gabriella Draney of Tech Wildcatters, and Eric Olson of Origin Ventures. The engaging discourse was led by Susan Cooney, she herself familiar with alternative sources of funding, having founded the philanthropic crowdfunding platform Givelocity.

“If you’re sitting in your BMW crying why your company can’t raise funding, I don’t feel sorry for you,” said Draney. “Don’t raise money because you need to pay yourself a salary.”

While there are more options out there for raising money for a startup, it’s difficult to find and land the right type of funding that works to your goals. And when it comes to those goals, the primary should not be merely to give yourself a salary. When you do this, you just become another one of those startups that are blatantly desperate for money because it’s a thing that startups are supposed to worry about or #whatever. According to many of the panelists, the easiest way to get the right kind of money to come to you is simply to believe in your vision and let people know that your one goal is to continue going after your dream (mainly: your company and your product).

“Your job as a company when you’re just getting started is not to raise money; your job is to get customers and to get revenue,” said Hughes. “The right money is what you want to find, and those with the right kind of money will find you if you just keep on doing what you’re doing…to show people you’re pursuing your passion.”

And, according to Olson, there’s a flaw in thinking that your startup is ready for venture funding. Trying to attract venture capital shouldn’t be a main goal for startups because the timing schedule simply doesn’t work for many companies.

“By nature, there are many businesses that will become successful…and change the world that won’t fit the timing model of VCs,” said Olson. “If you’re thinking of working with a venture firm, you have to come to terms that you need to work on their timeline – luckily there are other choices for you.”

On October 6-7, Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference is gathering hundreds of attendees, industry leaders, and inspiring speakers in downtown Vegas to meet the hottest startups and investors from around the country, learn and collaborate with others turning their communities into startup cities, and enjoy music, parties, and llama spotting. Check out more Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference coverage here.

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Senior Apple Execs Get A Pay Raise

Tim Cook’s CEO salary for the calendar year 2012 was $4.17 million, which includes a $1.36 million salary and $2.8 million in compensation related to incentive plans, reveals a document Apple filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Now, a bunch of media outlets pointed out that Cook’s salary dropped 99 percent versus 2011. Such sensationalist reporting couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Cook’s $376 million compensation in 2011 and $52 million in the year before was given to him in stock options and these won’t vest until 2023 and 2023.

So yeah, Cook’s ‘salary’ did drop 99 percent this year versus 2011, but without stock awards (his base salary last year was $900,000). The filing also reveals the company gave a pay raise to a select few members of its executive team to reflect their increased responsibilities following the departure of SVP of iOS software Scott Forstall, announced in October…

Base 2012 salary for all senior Apple executives has been raised from $800,000 to $875,000 following the management shake-up.

Apple’s long-standing finance boss Peter Oppenheimer’s 2012 compensation is valued at $68.6 million, up from $1.42 million a year earlier, with his 2012 stock awards valued at $66.2 million, reports Bloomberg.

His total compensation in 2011 put him ahead of the highest-paid CEOs at the time, according to Equilar Inc., which tracks executive compensation. Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison received 2011 compensation valued at $77.6 million. At Microsoft Corp., Steve Ballmer’s pay package was worth $1.38 million.

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt slams Bloomberg, saying “you’d think this would be pretty easy to sort out, especially for the financial brainiacs at Bloomberg News”.

He explains:

The fact is — despite countless stories that described Cook has the highest-paid CEO of 2011 — Cook didn’t have those 1 million shares last year when they were worth $376 million, nor did he have them in 2012, when they were worth, as of Wednesday’s close, $513 million.

Moreover, although other Apple employees with unvested RSUs collected dividends on their shares this year, Cook asked that his RSUs not be included in the dividend program, passing up on a chance to take home another $75 million.

So, all Cook received n 2012 was a raise that brought his base salary to $1.4 million.

“Despite this increase”, the proxy statement notes, “the target annual cash compensation for Mr. Cook remains significantly below the median annual cash compensation level for CEOs at peer companies”.

And who’s Silicon Valley’s lowest-paid CEO?

That would be Amazon’s boss Jeff Bezos, whose 2011 pay package was just $81,840 – and he didn’t get any stock awards.

Senior Apple execs Bob Mansfield, Bruce Sewell, Jeff Williams and Peter Oppenheimer all received 150,000 restricted shares in 2012.

Tim Cook salary articles last yr saying he earned $378 million were dumb. They’re dumber this yr for saying comp dropped 99%.

— Eric Slivka (@WildCowboy) December 27, 2012

Another tidbit to glean from the filing:

The Company exceeded the maximum performance goals for both net sales and operating income set by the Compensation Committee for 2012. Accordingly, each executive officer received the maximum payout of 200% of base salary under the performance-based bonus plan.

Apple’s top dogs were well compensated for the services rendered this year.

Apple is also recommending that shareholders vote against a dedicated Human Rights Committee because it says the stringent policies it put in place amid reports of poor working conditions at Foxconn plants are addressing the issue.

The Company’s dedicated Supplier Responsibility team continually audits the Company’s suppliers for compliance with the Company’s industry-leading Supplier Code of Conduct. The Supplier Code of Conduct is based on widely recognized international human rights principles as defined by the United Nations and the International Labor Organization.

The document also provides a quick backgrounder on Cook.

Timothy Cook has been the Company’s Chief Executive Officer (the “CEO”) since August 2011 and was previously the Company’s Chief Operating Officer since October 2005. Mr. Cook joined the Company in March 1998 and served as Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Operations from 2002 to 2005. In 2004, his responsibilities were expanded to include the Company’s Macintosh hardware engineering.

From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Cook served as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Operations, Sales, Service and Support. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Cook served as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Operations.

Mr. Cook has served as a director of NIKE, Inc. since November 2005. Mr. Cook brings to the Board extensive executive leadership experience in the technology industry, including the management of worldwide operations, sales, service and support.

Though shares of Apple dropped 27 percent from a September record, AAPL is still in a notably better position than most other tech stocks.

As for Cook, Apple gave him a million restricted stock units in 2010 for taking the CEO job. And to make sure he sticks around for at least a decade, half a million shares are set to vest on August 24, 2023 and another 50 percent on August 24, 2023.

By the way, the combined $428 million in Cook’s 2010 and 2011 stock options pay package is now worth nearly $750 million at Apple’s current market value.

Talk about low ‘salary’.

The Open Source Funding Conundrum

Every time I hear of another great open source project shutting its doors, I hold my breath in hopes it will be forked. Sadly though, this isn’t a great plan for all projects. Sometimes these projects are rich in users but poor in developers. In this article, I’ll explore this issue and what can be done to keep open source projects funded.

Historically, open source projects that benefit businesses or education can find a means of funding. Distros such as Debian, receive funding from individuals, organizations and even businesses that have a vested interest in seeing the distro’s development continue for years to come.

Smaller distros based on Debian often lack this option as they don’t hold the same level of perceived importance to those in a position to help financially. These distros and related open source projects tend to rely on direct donations.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is a failed funding model for smaller projects. Unless a project is used in education or the enterprise space, odds are it’s going to be labeled as a hobby project at best and go without the needed funds to help it grow.

Think about how many desktop-ready projects you’ve seen that ask for donations via some sort of payment button. If you look carefully, you’ll notice it’s more than just a few projects. The problem is that there’s no incentive to contribute financially, so most people won’t bother. Clearly there’s a need to offer users a sense of urgency as to why they should consider contributing what they can afford for the software they use.

One of the latest efforts to fund Open Source software and community Linux distributions is Patreon. What’s cool about this funding tool is that it works for anything that has a community willing to fund it. From podcasts to software, the sky’s the limit. Two of my the best examples of this are Elementary OS and Ubuntu MATE.

Now I must disclose that I’m both an Ubuntu MATE user and also a financial contributor (be it a small contribution). Both projects are successfully bringing in funding for their specific projects. However, this is where Elementary OS and Ubuntu MATE separate in terms of their goals.

Elementary OS is looking to use Patreon to fund the hiring of developers for the distro’s continued development. On the flip side, Ubuntu MATE wants to fund their basic server hosting costs, and if there is excess, perhaps reward their community contributors with the extra funds.

Moving beyond the project’s goals according to their perspective Patreon pages, the Milestone Goals are also setup differently between the projects. Ubuntu MATE explains straight away that their Milestone Goals are centered around the project’s server needs and a server for running Discourse software for community interaction.

By contrast, Elementary OS appears to be equating their Milestone Goals to that of wage earning levels. While I like and understand their pledge goals, I found their Milestone Goals to be confusing. My issue isn’t with them wanting to earn money to hire developers or even to simply compensate one for their time. Since I work as a freelancer, I understand this. What I find confusing is how a Milestone Goal that equates a financial level of earning equals an incentive to contribute?

Not to be cold, but when I contribute to Ubuntu MATE, I do so because I want to make sure each month their server(s) are running. Heck, I’d like to see them even get to a point to where they’re compensated for their time investment as well. But with Elementary OS, we’re changing gears from their mission statement “let’s accelerate our development” to “minimum wage” and “a below market salary.” To be clear, if I ran Elementary OS on my PCs, I would be contributing financially. It’s a simple matter of principle for me. But their Milestones Goals have me feeling quite content using other distributions instead.

If you’re going to setup a funding campaign, lose the guilt trip. Explain to me as a potential funding source how my money is going to be used not what wage level it might become eventually. Frankly, no one cares about that. What they do care about is how contributed funds turn into bug fixes or new features.

Each Milestone Goal needs to reflect a positive change that comes about as each goal is realized. Alluding to wage value is both highly ineffective and a huge turn off for anyone reading it. Evolve this into something beneficial to the end user and success will surely follow.

The challenge that any Linux project or Open Source software looking for Patreon funding must juggle is how to keep people excited about contributing their hard earned money month after month. When dealing with end users outside of the enterprise space this is painfully difficult to do.

Look at what failed projects such as Linspire and Xandros did. What did they do poorly and where did they shine? By studying these examples carefully I believe projects such as Elementary OS can learn from their mistakes going forward.

Funding bug fixes is best left to those Open Source projects centered around business and education. Frankly, it’s rare for home users to be very motivated to fund bug fixes outside of WINE gaming or WINE small business applications. If you want to motivate someone to make a sustainable monthly contribution, there better be clearly defined benefits outside of bug fixes.

Option 1 – Faster Development. Contribute and the developer will commit to a release cycle of [insert time period here]. In situations where speedy development isn’t feasible, Patreon contributors could narrate a short behind the scenes screencast to show us what is being done each week.

Option 2 – One time funding to keep the project alive. Going with a one time funding approach, perhaps done every six months or so…depending on the frequency needed. I can think of audio and video editors that would do well with this approach. I’d contribute myself, because the idea of these projects disappearing would impact my daily work-flow.

Option 3 – Access to a special feature. Deciding on the special feature to offer is tricky, but having one available would go a long way to making a monthly contribution seem more palatable.

Trying to find a balance between passion for an Open Source project and being able to support oneself financially from it is tricky. I firmly believe it’s more difficult for desktop specific projects as they’re not as likely to garner support from businesses willing to sponsor them.

My hope is that some of the points made within this article inspire those projects out there looking to fund their continued development by offering unexpected value in addition to the project’s existing features. Remember, unlike proprietary software, Open Source must position itself differently in order to realize ongoing revenue.

Brown Joins In Call To Save Research Funding

Brown Joins in Call to Save Research Funding Cosigns letter to congressional leaders ahead of “fiscal cliff”

BU President Robert A. Brown is among 16 Massachusetts research university and hospital leaders urging the state’s congressional delegation to save federal funding for research. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

The automatic federal spending cuts that are scheduled for January 2 imperil vital academic research. That’s the message BU President Robert A. Brown and peers at 15 Massachusetts research universities and hospitals have sent to the state’s congressional delegation.

“These across-the-board cuts will drastically reduce the federal research funding that we depend on to deliver innovations essential to economic growth,” the group wrote in a letter dated today to Bay State congressmen and senators. “Support for federal research funding helps to ensure our nation’s health, prosperity, and international competitiveness. It has never been more important.”

The budget cuts—“sequestration” in Washington-speak—were passed last year, in case they were needed, as an alternative to a bipartisan deficit agreement. And since a special committee assigned to find $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade couldn’t reach consensus, they were needed. Republicans on the committee refused to consider tax increases in tandem with spending cuts. Economists fear that the double whammy will cripple an economy only slowly coming out of recession.

The letter says that research subsidies from an array of agencies—the National Institutes of Health, the Defense and Energy Departments, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—have been “catalyzing discovery and entrepreneurship. The federal dollars we receive have a return far beyond their initial investment, acting as a significant magnet for private sector dollars that spur job creation in Massachusetts and beyond.”

Jean Morrison, university provost and chief academic officer, urges all citizens to speak out against the cuts. “The letter that President Brown and the leaders of Massachusetts academic and medical institutions have sent to our congressional leadership in Washington makes a clear case about the need to avoid sequestration,” says Morrison. “There are many essential activities and services in Massachusetts funded by the federal government, through a variety of agencies, that have profound and widespread impact on a great number of people. If sequestration were implemented, the negative effects would be immediate and devastating. The letter makes an excellent case, but we should all—as individuals and citizens—contact our representatives, as well, and express the importance of reaching resolution and solving this challenge.”

Muhammad Zaman, a College of Engineering associate professor of biomedical engineering, fears that the across-the-board cuts would slow progress on potentially lifesaving research such as an investigation in his lab of the metastasis of cancer cells. “Most biomedical research, including mine, is supported by federal grants from the NSF and NIH,” says Zaman. “In particular, our work on finding fundamental processes regulating cancer is funded by the NIH. Automatic budget cuts would threaten the continuation of this work that is aimed at elucidating the fundamental basis of cancer metastasis, a problem that affects millions of Americans every year. Industry rarely supports these kinds of fundamental and long-range studies. Automatic cuts would stop my lab from these pursuits, which will not only affect our research, student recruitment, and research fellow jobs in the short term, but in the long term our understanding of new and evolving cancers will be poorer without these models.”

The letter cites the $2.4 billion Massachusetts received for medical research in fiscal year 2011—“second only to California”—which, the leaders say, leveraged almost $1.1 billion from venture capital firms to biotechnology companies. Those companies created more than 3,500 jobs in Massachusetts between 2004 and 2011, “more than any other state in this area over the same period,” they wrote.

The “fiscal cliff” of $110 billion in spending cuts, coupled with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts, also has alarmed the Obama administration, which issued 394 pages in September that outlined the hits across the federal budget.

The letter argues that “federal research and development has not been a driving force behind our deficits.

“Overall spending, at both defense and non-defense agencies, has been essentially flat in constant dollars since 2003, and despite its critical role in economic growth, federal research and development as a percent of GDP has fallen by half since 1965.

“Considering the consequential decision at hand, we hope you will work together with your colleagues to adopt balanced deficit reduction strategies that view investments in research as part of the budget solution rather than simply as an expenditure.”

Cosigning the letter, which also is being sent to local and national media, with Brown were the presidents and chief officers of Harvard, Northeastern, MIT, Tufts, the University of Massachusetts, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Joslin Diabetes Center, McLean Hospital, and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

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Defining Spiritual Wisdom For Yourself

The comprehension and insight into the nature of reality that results from one’s spiritual practises and experiences is referred to as spiritual wisdom. It is the capacity to see deeper truths and the interconnection of all things by looking past the surface level of things.

Understanding the fundamental unity of all things and having a strong sense of connectedness to the spiritual or divine nature that underpins all life are two characteristics of spiritual wisdom. It might also entail a realisation of the fleeting nature of everything and a sense of meaning or purpose that extends beyond the self.

Spiritual activities including meditation, prayer, and self-reflection, as well as a desire to research and incorporate teachings from diverse spiritual traditions and instructors, are frequently necessary for developing spiritual wisdom. Spiritual knowledge ultimately aims to develop a deeper sense of inner serenity, compassion, and insight that can direct one’s behaviour and interpersonal interactions.

Spiritual Wisdom for Yourself

Understanding the fundamental truths and mysteries of life, such as the nature of oneself, the cosmos, and the divine, can be characterised as having spiritual wisdom. It entails developing a spiritual awareness and having the capacity to enter into higher mental states like transcendence, unity, and love.

Spiritual wisdom includes a wide range of spiritual activities and teachings, such as meditation, prayer, yoga, mindfulness, and contemplation. It is not restricted to any one religion or belief system. It places a strong emphasis on the value of personal development, self-improvement, and the search of inner harmony and tranquilly.

Meditation, prayer, yoga, mindfulness, and contemplation are just a few of the many spiritual practises and concepts that fall under the umbrella of spiritual understanding. It is not limited to a particular religion or set of beliefs. It strongly emphasises the importance of growth and improvement in oneself as well as the pursuit of inner peace and harmony.

In general, the pursuit of spiritual wisdom is a path of self-discovery and personal development in which one aims to unravel the deeper meanings and mysteries of life and live in accordance with their core principles.

Developing Spiritual Understanding

Here are some ideas for developing spiritual understanding in your life.

Develop a regular spiritual practise − Making time to connect with your inner self and higher power through meditation, prayer, yoga, or any other spiritual practise will help you get a deeper understanding of spiritual wisdom.

Engage in self-reflection − Reflect on your life and experiences and how they have influenced your views and values by taking some time to think on them. You might learn more about yourself and the world around you as a result.

Seek knowledge and understanding − Study books, go to lectures, and investigate many spiritual traditions to increase your knowledge and understanding of spirituality.

Cultivate gratitude − Developing an attitude of gratitude for your blessings will increase your sense of inner calm and contentment.

Cultivate compassion and empathy − You can develop a deeper sense of spiritual understanding by learning to feel compassion and empathy for both yourself and others.


Keep in mind that acquiring spiritual insight is a personal path requiring perseverance, commitment, and an open mind. You can develop a greater sense of spiritual understanding and live a more purposeful, fulfilled existence by adopting these activities into your daily life.

The Best Tools To Teach Yourself A Language

When it comes to learning a language, the single best way is to fly to a country that speaks that language and immerse yourself completely in that culture and way of life. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible for the vast majority of people in the world.

The next-best option is to use a tool like Duolingo, Memrise, or Busuu. Sure, language classes are great, but if you’re already busy, then fitting a structured class into your day is going to be difficult.

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These online tools give you the ability to learn a language from the comfort of your living room. If you can squeeze out five or ten minutes a day to study, you can get the basics of a language down well enough to have a conversation with a native speaker. It gives you the

This article will take a look at some of the most popular and well-known tools, compare their strengths and weaknesses, and help you decide which one is right for you.

1. Memrise (Website)

Memrise is one of the most well-known and popular ways to learn a language, and is basically a flashcard app. It sometimes plays a short clip of someone speaking and asks the user to select what the speaker said, while other times it will ask the user to type in a phrase. At the end of a session, the user is given a score breakdown based on their accuracy, speed, and other factors.

Memrise turns the process of learning a language into a game with point goals and an estimate of how long it will take someone to reach a certain number of points per day. There are also leaderboards to show users where they rank in relation to others.

There are quite a few traditional languages to choose from, but one of the most interesting features of Memrise is the list of “Constructed Languages” that include Klingon, Morse Code, and Na’Vi.

Memrise is a great option for beginners, makes it easy to learn vocabulary and the sound bites provide a wide variety of speakers to help identify those words said in different ways. But conversational education is minimal.

Memrise offers a Pro version for $9 per month, but it only offers statistics and an additional learning tool for more difficult words. Memrise is best used to learn the basics of a language and conversational skills.

One final note about Memrise is that it offers flashcards on other subjects, too. If someone needs to study political geography, AP English terminology, or other subjects for an upcoming test, Memrise can be a useful supplementary tool to other study methods.

2. Duolingo (Website)

Duolingo is one of the most popular mobile apps for learning a language, partially due to the joke about the passive-aggressive nature of the mascot. Those jokes are only partially untrue; go too long without opening the app and its reminder messages will try to make you feel bad.

As for learning a language, Duolingo is a great place to start. The mobile app makes it possible to cram in a study session whenever you have downtime. The sessions can be paused midway through so you can answer a few questions or type in a phrase while waiting in line to get your lunch or on the elevator.

Duolingo gamifies the process much like Memrise does, offering virtual rewards and coins that can be used to unlock “fun” language modules, such as how to flirt, for example.

The premium version of Duolingo removes ads, but doesn’t really offer any useful additions beyond that. It provides a single monthly “streak repair” if you forget to practice for one day, but the only reason to sign up is to support Duolingo as a service.

Duolingo currently offers 34 languages, including several Asian languages that Memrise does not offer. It’s a great way to get started, but again, not conducive for deep fluency on its own. However, it’s a great way to get introduced to a language and gain a grasp of the basics.

3. Busuu (Website)

From the start, Busuu sets itself apart from both Duolingo and Memrise in how the courses are structured and the resources it offers. There are only twelve languages to choose from, but this is due to the depth of each course. To use Busuu, you’ll have to sign up, but this is as simple as entering your name, email, and making a password. Then you have to choose between the Free and Premium versions.

The strength of Busuu lies in its premium offering. While the free course gives you access to flashcards, the premium version offers conversations with native speakers, a travel course, mobile app quizzes, grammar exercises, the ability to earn official certificates, and much more.

The premium version is $9.99 per month unless you sign up for longer periods upfront, which reduces the monthly cost. The good news is that you can try Busuu premium for a week and see if you like it first.

Native speakers can correct your work and provide you with important context clues for vocabulary. If you want to become fluent in a language, Busuu is the way to go.

Other Options

These three are some of the most popular language-learning tools on the web, but they are far from the only options. Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Lingvist, and dozens of others are all viable options. The main key to learning a foreign language is practice. You can’t expect to become fluent by studying flashcards. While it will give you the groundwork to build from, you will have to invest time and effort to sound like a native.

Remember that everyone learns differently. If none of these three recommendations work for you, try out some of the other tools. You may find that constantly hearing a language helps you grasp it faster than seeing it written out, or vice versa.

Few things in life are as rewarding as bridging a language barrier. Take some time and find out if you enjoy speaking another language as much as your native one. 

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