4 Best Websites To Apply For Accelerators And Incubators

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by Melvin Wong, founder of Kodorra

Building up a company from the ground up isn’t by any stretch of the imagination an easy task. This is why it is especially important for startup founders to seek help to guide them through the tedious and often perilous process of starting and growing a company. In recent years, startup accelerators and startup incubators have become the place of choice for any budding entrepreneurs to be the next unicorn.

Though both startup accelerators and incubators are used to help nurture young companies, the two platforms have subtle differences. Accelerators are mainly focused on helping companies achieve business growth in a short period of time, typically a few months, hence the term “accelerator”. They support young companies by providing mentorship and seed money. Accelerator is the place to get years’ worth of startup knowledge, experiences and resources to grow your business.

Incubators, on the other hand, are focused on building the entrepreneurship foundation of first-time entrepreneurs. During this discovery stage, entrepreneurs get to hone their business skills via training and support while typically no equity is taken from them. It lasts longer than an accelerator, usually 6 months to a year.

Both startup incubators and accelerates can provide valuable assistance in the growth and development of an early-stage business. Although there are numerous acceleration and incubation programs out there, getting into one can be difficult let alone finding the right one for you.

To improve your chance of getting recruited, here are four of the best websites to apply for these elusive programs globally.

1. AngelList.

Founded in 2010, the website aims to assist new entrepreneurs by helping them grow their businesses by offering assistance in sourcing capital and talent. It also makes it easier for angel investors to find good investment opportunities. With hundreds of incubation and acceleration programs listed on the site, a startup founder can easily find the best program to apply for.

2. YouNoodle.

Based out of San Francisco with offices in Santiago (Chile) and Munich (Germany), YouNoodle showcases startup competitions and programs from around the world since 2010. The website is great for matching startups with the right competitions, accelerators or startup programs via its simple filtering feature. The platform also provides a judging and voting system to governments, nonprofit organizations, colleges and enterprise customers who are planning innovation challenges and contests. I happened to be one of the judges for the Colossus Inno 2017 competition that awarded $100,000 grand prize to BluSense Diagnostics from Denmark. I must say the user experience is pretty intuitive to use. YouNoodle is also known for running competitions from prestigious institutions such as NASA, Stanford’s BASES or Amazon startup.

3. F6S.

Founded in 2011 and based out of London, F6S is one of the world’s largest founders’ online communities with over 2.7 million of them in their database. The site provides a platform for founders, investors and institutions to interact by creating profiles on the site. The site is easy to navigate and lists many acceleration programs, contests and events. It sorts the programs by type, location and also details the information of all the acceleration and incubation programs listed.

4. Gust.

Gust is probably the oldest living online platform that connects global startup founders with prospective investors. Started in 2004, it has helped over 500,000 startup founders to receive seed money and has raised over $1 billion in investment capital for them. All a startup founder needs to do to get connected is to build a profile and share it with investors on the site. Entrepreneurs can also easily find and apply for open accelerator programs on the site.

 

 

Melvin Wong is the founder of Kodorra who educates entrepreneurs to run their businesses with the least cost possible. He’s an award-winning entrepreneur with global business experience in 17 countries covering U.S, Europe, Asia and South America. Melvin sold his online sports games company to an American/Japanese company in 2016. Melvin embodies the “pay it forward” principle where he was a speaker, mentor and judge at numerous entrepreneurship programs and competitions.

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5 Tips From A Writing Coach That Fiction Writers And Entrepreneurs Can Use

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by Annalisa Parent, CEO of Laurel Elite Books and author of “Storytelling for Pantsers“

Last year, The New York Times published an article titled “Why Kids Can’t Write.” The article points out that many would-be writers struggle with knowing where to start – and a problem that’s not limited to today’s youth.

There are millions of adults in the workforce who feel inadequate when it comes to sharing their thoughts in writing. Clearly, we are a country of citizens who are desperate for some insight into how we can improve our ability to express our thoughts and tell our stories in writing.

We all have stories to tell. The problem is, many would-be authors get stuck on how to tell the story, and tell it well enough so readers will read it and yearn for more. Many people get hung up on school leftovers such as commas and gerunds, and while grammar is important to a quality message, getting your message out should be the writer’s first concern. Many writers put the cart before the horse in this regard, and that’s where hang-ups and writers’ block come from.

The best way to improve one’s writing skills is to write and to get meaningful feedback. Engaging in a lot of writing will help people hone their skills and become more comfortable sharing their thoughts.

Here are five writing tips everyone can benefit from:

1. The first draft doesn’t have to be the last draft.

In my experience, it rarely is. It’s okay to write several drafts to discover your message. In fact, I encourage it. To get to that final draft where you message is crystal clear, sometimes it takes asking for meaningful feedback to help a writer through the discovery and thinking phase.

2. High quality.

First drafts can meander, but aim for final drafts that are high quality. High quality writing is clear, concise, and on point, rather than just filling the pages with anything and everything. It’s better to have a little that is high quality than a lot that is just filling space and not saying a lot.

3. Clarity.

Go back and read what you wrote and make sure that your thoughts are clear. If they are not clear to you, then they won’t be to other readers. Aim for clarity so that it makes sense to the reader and they connect with it.

4. Finding writing flow.

Some of the best writing comes when you are in a groove and loving what you are doing. When you lose track of the time and could go on and on, you have found your writing flow. The convergence of neuroscience and creativity have opened the doors into finding creative flow easier and staying there longer.

5. Get the feedback loop right.

Many writers find themselves discouraged from seeking advice from the wrong source. As the saying goes, “free advice is worth what you pay for it,” and free advice from someone who’s not an expert only exacerbates the problem. This is a stumbling block for a lot of writers who could otherwise be successful in sharing their message with the world.

I could add many more strategies to this list in order to help people become better, more efficient writers and storytellers. It’s not just kids who need better ability to express themselves today. Many adults are struggling as well. Following these five tips can help people become more confident, comfortable, and their words will flow much easier. The more confident someone becomes with their writing skills, the more they will be able to reach their reader and get across their intended message.

 

Having taught over 100 writing courses, Annalisa Parent has reached countless writers around the world. She offers coaching writing services that have been instrumental in helping writers to go from idea to publishable piece and have the confidence to take their work to the market. She is also the chief executive officer of Laurel Elite Books. and author of “Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline“.

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Build, Buy Or Build To Buy

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by Ryan Gerhardy, CEO of Pitchly

I gave a presentation at a legal technology conference last week. Afterward, I met the CIO from one of our law firm clients who was in the audience. He wanted to thank me for the work that we have done with his firm over the past two years, which I greatly appreciated. He also shared that, initially, he was leaning toward building an experience management solution in-house, and that it was only at the insistence of the firm’s CMO that he relented and engaged our firm. He expressed that he was happy that the CMO persisted and that he was looking forward to expanding the engagement with our team.

Well I couldn’t ask for a better conversation to kick off a conference. Entrepreneurs are understandably gratified to hear customer success stories. Our conversation also had me thinking about our other clients, potential clients and the firms that decided to go a different direction.  One of the reasons that we won this firm’s business was our willingness to work with their team to add features to our platform and devote resources to ensure that it met their current expectations, while soliciting their feedback for further product enhancements.

When I got back to the office, I reviewed some of the other accounts that we were currently working with, and I noticed some patterns emerge.  We weren’t winning or losing business to other developers, rather it generally came down to three options:

  1. Buy – the client saw the value in our platform and they subscribed to our cloud.
  2. Build their own – the firm had substantial internal development resources and decided that if our solution couldn’t address most or all of their needs, they would custom build their own solution.
  3. Get by – the need for managing staff experience had not reached an inflection point, so they would keep using generic content management & personal productivity applications for the near term.

The decision on whether to purchase or develop the innovative applications that your firm needs to compete has changed dramatically with cloud solutions. Law firm principals are often faced with a critical decision when it comes to technology: should we purchase an “off the shelf” application or should we use in-house resources to develop a custom application that meets our exact needs.  There are sound arguments to be made for both approaches.

The develop in-house side would point to the existing investment in staff talent. For sure, no one understands the pressing needs more than the people who work within an organization every day. If in-house development resources have the bandwidth, why not assign them the important task of creating a new platform or application?

The buy side will point to the firm focusing on what it does best. Even if developer talent exists within the firm, odds are the resources are, limited, distracted by day-to-day projects, and may only have some of the knowledge required to complete the project. For example, creating an experience management platform requires subject matter expertise, programmers, quality assurance, implementation specialists, professional services engineers, and a roadmap of future functionality requests.

What is instructive about my recent experience, is that the build versus buy versus just get by decision has changed from a pure A, B or C selection. There are two significant paradigm shifts in software development which have altered the equation.

First, the acceleration and acceptance of cloud-based services have allowed more entries into the market for core platform development.  The ability to subscribe to a service rather than make an “all in” commitment to a platform. We are all familiar with protracted and costly professional services engagements associated with ERP, CRM and other core enterprise solutions.  Firm executives often find themselves in a position similar to families that undertake a major house remodel: it cost more and took much longer than expected, while several unforeseen obstacles changed the project scope. The cloud services model requires the developer to continually meet the changing needs of the client, or they are free to move on.

Second, and equally as important, cloud services platforms are increasing offered with web service APIs that allow the client, vendor or even a third-party integrator to easily customize the solution to meet the exact needs of the firm, without requiring proprietary knowledge of the vendor. This flexibility provides the client with the best of both worlds: the immediacy and cost-effectiveness of commercial software with customization of a home-grown solution.

Relating these two qualities to the encounter I had with our client CIO, it points to the benefits of a hybrid build/buy decision.  This client saw that our platform could meet many of their knowledge management needs, in addition to allowing them to custom design tombstones for proposals. The cloud platform could replace the existing relational database and office productivity applications that were serving as a piecemeal solution.  But the compelling factor was our willingness to adapt our product to accommodate the workflow and data management needs for the firm’s transactional practices. No doubt that given time, the firm could develop a working program in-house to address these needs, but the ability to leverage our platform cut months, reduce complexity and save hundreds of thousands of dollars from the project.

As you consider your own build versus buy decision, consider the benefits of a hybrid approach where you work with a vendor to identify your priorities, assess product feature development and staff skill sets, and aligning of firm and vendor goals and incentives. With the right partnership in both platform functionality and allied business models, you may find that “buying to build” may produce the winning combination.

 

Ryan Gerhardy is the co-founder and CEO of Pitchly, the leading cloud-based content service platform for M&A professionals to organize and activate their proprietary client experience. For the past four years Ryan has been a senior associate with late-stage venture capital firm Next Level Ventures. He has extensive professional experience as an investment banker and venture capitalist and has provided valuable strategic and operational guidance to nine fast-growing SaaS companies including Iowa-based Dwolla and BirdDogHR.

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How to Become a Professional Speaker: Tips on Getting Started

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By Adam Witty

Speaking in front of a targeted audience of peers and potential customers is one of the most powerful tactics in creating and building your authority, establishing your brand, and securing your place in the market.

But as successful as you are in your business, unless you’re on the speaking circuit A-list, you can’t sit back and wait for event planners to call and offer you a spot at their next event. Booking a speaking engagement in front of the right audience requires a certain amount of work.

How often have you gone to a conference and thought you knew more than the speaker? Why weren’t you the one up there speaking to the room full of business influencers and future clients? There are a lot of successful business people who are puzzled as to why they’re not getting more opportunities to speak.

As somebody who has spent more than a decade advising people how to forge their authority through a variety of tactics, including speaking, I’ve come to some conclusions.

A major factor is most people are not well-marketed as speakers. Google an entrepreneur’s name and you’ll land on their company website. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find their bio under the “Management” heading or on the “Founders” page. If organizers are looking for someone to speak from that specific organization, then that might be good enough. But generally organizers are looking for a stand-alone personality, an experienced expert in their field and a proven speaker.

This is why I encourage people to distinguish themselves as an authority with a personal website—a distinct place where they can be featured as a dynamic thought leader and speaker. Having a personal website connotes a whole different brand than being part of a corporate website.

Setting up a personal website

Here are the three key assets you should have on your website:

A speaker’s kit. This is a two- to four-page PDF attachment that can be downloaded or sent to those requesting more information about you as a speaker. This includes your bio, three to five popular keynote topics you can speak to, logos from past events and media appearances, and quotes from people who have heard you speak. If you have any media, include that in there. Show them that you’re a big deal!

A promotional speaker’s reel. This is a highlight video that establishes you as an entertaining and thoughtful speaker. Such a video is typically two to four minutes long and provides highlights from several different speeches. Think of it as a “Best Of” reel.

A raw 10 to 20 minute unedited video of you on stage giving a keynote speech. This is being requested more and more frequently by event planners. Are you engaging? Informed? Relatable? How does your audience respond? Event planners want to see that.

You’ve probably picked up on the Catch-22 conundrum here. You need video of yourself speaking in order to secure a speaking gig, but you need a speaking gig in order to create the video.

Booking your first speaking gig

So let’s break this down. How do you make this happen? Where do you speak? How much do you charge? Let’s start with that last question.

Nothing is the answer. Start speaking for free. This allows you to gain experience and develop those visual assets we just discussed: the video and pictures. Once you have established authority, you can slowly start charging a speaking fee.

Now let’s tackle the other question: Where?

If you perceive your first speaking engagements not as income-producing, but as investments in your future—an opportunity to gather the assets necessary to have a viable, impressive speaker sales kit—then the “where” in the equation becomes broader. Here are some ideas:

  • Universities—Contact the dean of the appropriate department at a local university and offer to be a guest lecturer. In lieu of payment, ask if the school can video the presentation. Universities usually are equipped to do such things.
  • Chambers of commerce and Rotary Clubs—Most chambers and Rotary Clubs organize recurring events for their members, such as monthly luncheons, quarterly breakfasts, or other networking programs. They are always looking for engaging speakers.
  • Local businesses—Approach the HR departments of some of the larger local companies and offer to share your knowledge with their employees. It could maybe be a brown bag, lunchtime session.
  • Libraries and community centers—If you can share information on a topic that’s relevant to its members, you’ll be welcome as a speaker.
  • Networking events—Is there an organization like 1 Million Cups, the entrepreneurial education and engagement program, in your community? If not, maybe there’s something similar.
  • Your clients—Don’t forget to go right to the source. Ask your clients what groups they belong to and whether they accept outside speakers.
  • Other speakers—Reach out to other professionals who have spoken at appropriate industry events. They can tell you where to look and hook you up with connections that should come in handy.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

Thinking before you speak

And finally, here are some useful tips:

  • Do the research—Before you approach an organization to speak, make sure what you’re offering is specifically relevant to the organization and its members.
  • Be aware of timing—If you’re in an industry where your expertise is particularly timely, coordinate and focus your outreach around that calendar. For example, tax lawyers and accountants would be of particular interest around tax time. Financial planners would be relevant at the beginning of a new year, when corporate and personal budgets are being designed. Health and wellness professionals? Tap into the “new year, new you” feeling at the start of the start of the year.
  • Present a complete package—Many of the places you’ll be reaching out to are not-for-profits with limited staff and resources. The more complete and well-thought-out your presentation is when you offer it, the more attractive you’ll be. If you present an attractive package on a silver platter, a group can’t say no. Another option: Consider teaming up with two or three of your peers to create a panel in your particular field.
  • Differentiate yourself—Yes, I know you’re special and you know you’re special, but to event organizers, you’re another email in their inbox. Focus on what you can offer that distinguishes you from all the other professionals who are vying for the same speaking slot.
  • Video every speaking opportunity, however small—If you can’t use it for your reel, you can study and learn how to better your presentation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” Without a doubt, speaking is the most effective way for people to see how awesome you are and for you to grow your business. Take the time to create a smart campaign. It’ll be worth it.

RELATED: Lessons on Public Speaking from 12 Superstar Entrepreneurs

About the Author

Post by: Adam Witty

Adam Witty is the founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks, the authority marketing specialists. Working with business entrepreneurs and professionals to elevate their brands and grow their businesses through publishing, he has built the company into one of the largest business book publishers in America, serving over 1,000 members in 40 U.S. states and 13 countries. Adam is also a sought-after speaker, teacher, and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors.

Company: Advantage | ForbesBooks
Website: www.forbesbooks.com
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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How to Assess a Resume: 12 Ways to Identify an Outstanding Employee Candidate

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Companies receive a lot of resumes, and a good number of them are discarded fairly early on in the hiring process. So, what element makes a resume stand out, allowing the applicant to move on to the next round of the hiring process?

To find out, we asked 12 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

Q. Is there a key item a resume must have in order for a job candidate to advance to the interview stage of the hiring process?

1. Specific results

Resumes should follow the old copywriting rule of claim, proof, and benefit. When a resume makes a claim and backs it up with proof, then this will have the strongest impact on whether the person can move ahead to the interview stage. When providing proof, a resume should offer specific results, and then explain the benefits of those results. —Mauricio Cardenal, Roofing Marketing Pros

2. Relevance

Hiring managers primarily look for one thing on resumes: relevance. This includes experience that is relevant to the job description and special skills that are relevant to the preferred qualifications. A candidate whose resume is clear, concise, and draws these direct parallels will always make the short list and be invited to interview. —Jackie Ducci, Ducci & Associates

3. Length of employment

Our businesses have been around for over a decade, and we plan to be around for many more decades to come. I need long-term team members who can learn about our company and help push growth forward while moving up in the company. I do not even read resumes of people with less than five years at their last company unless they are just out of college or experienced a major life event. —Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

4. Customization

I see a lot of resumes from people who have made no effort to customize their resume for the position. They include irrelevant details, they don’t respond to requirements that are in the job post, and they show no evidence of research. Generic “tech” resumes that the applicant has sent to dozens of businesses don’t impress. I want to see tight, concise resumes that show an understanding of what the role entails. —Vik Patel, Future Hosting

5. Alignment of core values

A candidate with strong potential will study our website and incorporate our core values somewhere in their resume or cover letter. Even if a potential employee doesn’t directly address the values, we look for words and indications that show an alignment to our values, such as proactiveness or positivity. —Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

6. Quality references

If a job candidate is willing to put high-level references down, that tells me they worked hard at their previous job and are proud to have others speak on their behalf. If what I see is a collection of references from 10 years ago, red flags go up. —Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

7. Proper grammar and spelling

As the most important document to represent yourself and your career path, your resume needs to be perfect. Nothing detracts quicker from your resume’s first impression than poor grammar and spelling. Not only does it not reflect well on you, but it also may be an indicator that you are unwilling to ask for help from friends and family, which could reflect future behaviors in the team environment. —Eric Mathews, Start Co.

8. Decent formatting

Even if a candidate has relevant experience, there are a blinding myriad of CVs to review. The keywords we look for are sometimes hidden in resume formats that do not help highlight experience. We’re looking for relevance or a quality in the candidate that convinces us they can complete the work. —Codie Sanchez, www.CodieSanchez.com

9. Quantifiable success

Our hiring team can quickly assess a candidate’s ability to succeed in our company by analyzing their use of data in their resume. We look for individuals who can quantify their accomplishments. This helps us get a sense of the tangible impact they have had on other organizations, giving us insight into how much real value they may be able to bring to our business. —Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

10. Ability to follow directions

The only real information I get from a resume is an overview of how well an applicant reads a listing and follows the instructions therein. I’ll ask for something specific, just to gauge the applicant’s responsiveness, but then I immediately move on to their portfolio. I rarely feel like I get a real sense of a person from a one page list of skills. —Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide

11. Growth

When evaluating resumes, I look for growth. Has this candidate grown from job to job? Has their position escalated in each job location? If not, then they were seemingly treading water, which is not what I want. I want people who are hungry. —Adrien Schmidt, Bouquet.ai

 

12. What makes you memorable

The resumes that stand out do something different. They don’t just focus on education and experience—they give an idea of who the person really is. Completed a marathon? It shows a level of commitment; you worked full-time while earning your degree? Powerful—it shows that you have a strong work ethic. Share what you normally wouldn’t put on a resume. That way you’ll be memorable. —Antonio Neves, THINQACTION Inc.

RELATED: From Biscuits to the Boardroom: A Recipe for Hiring Success

The post How to Assess a Resume: 12 Ways to Identify an Outstanding Employee Candidate appeared first on AllBusiness.com

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Blockchain Could Be Crucial for Moving AI Tech Forward

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Blockchain Could Be Crucial to Move AI Tech Forward

Many startups are attracting capital and developing products to make artificial intelligence (AI) more accessible, as well as better protecting personal data via blockchain tech.


Blockchain to Decentralize Artificial Intelligence

Venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and academics are rushing to embrace the awesome synergy resulting from the application of Bitcoin’s (BTC) 00 blockchain technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

Dr. Ben Goertzel, CEO of SingularityNet and chief scientist at Hanson Robotics, affirms that blockchain might help make AI more accessible for small and mid-size companies. Indeed, he’s asserted that AI could be ‘democratized’ through the use of blockchain technology.

According to The New York Times, Dr. Goertzel and Dr. Dawn Song, a computer science professor at the University of California, propose that:

The blockchain could be a crucial way to push back against some of the most worrying trends facing the field of artificial intelligence.

Likewise, DeepBrain’s management believes that blockchain can help small-size companies that do not have the necessary funding to break into the expensive AI industry. A company press release says:

DeepBrain Chain is the world’s first AI computing platform powered by blockchain. It uses blockchain technology to help AI companies save up to 70% of computing power costs while protecting data privacy in AI training.

Blockchain Key for Data Protection in the AI Environment

One of the primary virtues of a centralized blockchain is that it eliminates intermediaries and any central authority. Decentralization is essential to allowing AI networks to exchange vast amounts of data without a singular authority in place controlling the data or the algorithms.

Nathaniel Popper of The New York Times writes that several startups are already setting up blockchain-based marketplaces for trading data. For example, Popper refers to Ocean Protocol, which is a decentralized data exchange protocol for sharing data and services through the use of blockchain. According to the company website, Ocean is designed to unlock data for AI allowing sharing and selling in a secure environment.

Nathaniel Popper

In this regard, many entrepreneurs concur with Dr. Song and Dr. Goertzel that blockchain has the power to facilitate a far-reaching distribution of data and algorithms. Therefore, blockchain is likely to play a key role in determining how AI will continue to develop.

As a result, Song and Goertzel, in an interview with The New York Times, highlighted the importance of ensuring that machine learning capabilities should be under the control of the data owner rather than big companies.

For example, people are concerned about the fact that Google and Facebook have immense power to obtain and store personal data. But to counteract this problem, Professor Song is now developing Oasis, a blockchain-based technique to protect the data being sold, “so that no one — not even the company using the data — will get a copy of it.”

What are your thoughts on combining the power of blockchain and AI technologies? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter (@bengoertzel, @nathanielpopper).

The post Blockchain Could Be Crucial for Moving AI Tech Forward appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

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Reaching Python Development Nirvana

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Use pyenv + Pipenv for local Python development

The missing guide for setting up a great local development workflow for your Python projects.

“Python Environment” by xkcd

This is an opinionated way of developing with Python locally. You’ve probably discovered that it’s a pain in the ass to manage different projects with dependencies targeting different Python versions on your local machine.

To complicate things, there are multiple ways of installing Python too:

  • Preinstallation by the OS 😔
  • Using a package manager like brew or apt 😕
  • Using the binaries from www.python.org 😫
  • Using pyenv—easy way to install and manage Python installations 😎

This guide uses pyenv to manage Python installations, and Pipenv to manage project dependencies (instead of raw pip).

Installing pyenv

Let’s install via brew:

$ brew install pyenv

If you’re not on Mac, please see pyenv’s installation instructions.

Add the following to your ~/.bash_profile , or ~/.bashrc (depending on your shell) to automatically initialize pyenv when your terminal loads:

eval "$(pyenv init -)"

How does pyenv work?

See all available Python versions:

$ pyenv install --list

Let’s install Python 3.6.6

$ pyenv install 3.6.6
Installed Python-3.6.6 to /Users/dvf/.pyenv/versions/3.6.6

pyenv won’t change your global interpreter unless you tell it to:

$ python --version
Python 2.7.14
$ pyenv global 3.6.6
Python 3.6.6

pyenv allows you to install different versions of Python local to a directory. Let’s create a project targeting Python 3.7.0:

$ pyenv install 3.7.0
Installed Python-3.7.0 to /Users/dvf/.pyenv/versions/3.7.0
$ mkdir my_project && cd my_project
$ python --version
Python 3.6.6
$ pyenv local 3.7.0
$ python --version
Python 3.7.0

Now whenever you find yourself in my_project you’ll automatically use the Python 3.7.0 interpreter.

🤚Did that make sense? If not, stop here and take some time to play around with pyenv—it works by installing all Python interpreters in ~/.pyenv and dynamically adjusting your $PATH depending on your current directory.

What is Pipenv and how does it work?

Pipenv is the officially recommended way of managing project dependencies. Instead of having a requirements.txt file in your project, and managing virtualenvs, you’ll now have a Pipfile in your project that does all this stuff automatically.

Start off by installing it via pip, it’s a rapidly evolving project so make sure you have the latest version (2018.10.13 at the time of writing):

$ pip install -U pipenv

Using Pipenv for the first time

Let’s set up Pipenv in your project:

$ cd my_project
$ pipenv install
Creating a virtualenv for this project…
Pipfile: /Users/dvf/my_project/Pipfile
Using /Users/dvf/.pyenv/versions/3.7.0/bin/python3.7 (3.7.0) to create virtualenv…

You’ll find two new files in your project: Pipfile and Pipfile.lock.

If you’re installing in a pre-existing project, Pipenv will convert your old requirements.txt into a Pipfile. How cool is that?

This is what your Pipfile should look like for a fresh project:

[[source]]
url = "https://pypi.org/simple"
verify_ssl = true
name = "pypi"
[packages]
[dev-packages]
[requires]
python_version = "3.7"

Notice that we didn’t activate any virtual environments here, Pipenv takes care of virtual environments for us. So, installing new dependencies is simple:

$ pipenv install django
Installing django
...
Installing collected packages: pytz, django
Successfully installed django-2.1.2 pytz-2018.5
Adding django to Pipfile's [packages]…
Pipfile.lock (4f9dd2) out of date, updating to (a65489)…
Locking [dev-packages] dependencies…
Locking [packages] dependencies…
Updated Pipfile.lock (4f9dd2)!
Installing dependencies from Pipfile.lock (4f9dd2)…
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To activate this project's virtualenv, run pipenv shell.
Alternatively, run a command inside the virtualenv with pipenv run.

If you inspect your Pipfile you’ll notice it now contains django = “*” as a dependency.

If we wanted to install dev dependencies for use during development, for example YAPF, you’d add –dev to the install step:

$ pipenv install --dev yapf

What is Pipfile.lock?

Pipfile.lock is super important because it does two things:

  1. Provides good security by keeping a hash of each package installed.
  2. Pins the versions of all dependencies and sub-dependencies, giving you replicable environments.

Let’s see what it currently looks like:

{
"_meta": {
"hash": {
"sha256": "627ef89...64f9dd2"
},
"pipfile-spec": 6,
"requires": {
"python_version": "3.7"
},
"sources": [
{
"name": "pypi",
"url": "https://pypi.org/simple",
"verify_ssl": true
}
]
},
"default": {
"django": {
"hashes": [
"sha256:acdcc1...ab5bb3",
"sha256:efbcad...d16b45"
],
"index": "pypi",
"version": "==2.1.2"
},
"pytz": {
"hashes": [
"sha256:a061aa...669053",
"sha256:ffb9ef...2bf277"
],
"version": "==2018.5"
}
},
"develop": {}
}

Notice that the versions of each dependency are pinned. Without a very good reason, you would always want this file committed to your source control.

Custom Indexes

Until Pipenv it was difficult to use private Python repositories, for example if you’d like to host private Python libraries within your organization. Now all you need to do is define them as an additional sources in the Pipfile:

[[source]]
url = "https://pypi.org/simple"
verify_ssl = true
name = "pypi"

[[source]]
url = "https://www.example.com"
verify_ssl = true
name = "some-repo-name"

[packages]
django = "*"
my-private-app = {version="*", index="some-repo-name"}

[dev-packages]

[requires]
python_version = "3.7"

Notice that we told my-private-app to use the private repo. If omitted, Pipenv will cycle through indexes until it finds the package.

💡Pipenv will also consume any environment variables in values, which is useful if you have sensitive credentials you don’t want sitting in source control (this was my contribution )

Deploying

When deploying it’s important that your deploy fails if there’s a mismatch between installed dependencies and the Pipfile.lock. So you should append –deploy to your install step which does just that:

$ pipenv install --deploy

You could also check which dependencies are mismatched:

$ pipenv check

And see which sub-dependencies are installed by packages:

$ pipenv graph --reverse
pip==18.1
pytz==2018.5
- Django==2.1.2 [requires: pytz]
setuptools==40.4.3
wheel==0.32.2
yapf==0.24.0

Once-off commands, scripts and activating venvs

If you’re actively developing a project, it’s helpful to activate the virtual environment:

$ pipenv shell
Launching subshell in virtual environment…
(my_project) ➜ my_project

Or, if you’d like to execute a command inside the venv:

$ pipenv run python manage.py runserver

You can also add scripts to Pipfile similar to npm package.json:

[[source]]
url = "https://pypi.org/simple"
verify_ssl = true
name = "pypi"
[packages]
django = "*"
[dev-packages]
yapf = "*"
[scripts]
server = "python manage.py runserver"
[requires]
python_version = "3.7"

Now you can execute the script:

$ pipenv run server

We’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve like to learn more about Pipenv, I encourage you to read the great documentation.

I hope this was helpful to you. And I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you have in the comments!


Reaching Python Development Nirvana was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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As a new mom — I take all the help I can get!

Forex stock trading

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

As a new mom — I take all the help I can get!

The day after I came home from the hospital, I quickly realized that all the housework I had been doing until the day before I delivered was suddenly impossible. I could barely walk let alone stay awake!

Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash

Getting help at home during parental leave

My mom who lives close by, took a couple days off from work to help out around my home. My grandma who lives with me took care of all the cooking. This gave my husband and me time to rest and take care of our little one.

My husband and I had decided to take 3 months off for parental leave. During that time, various family members came to visit and help out. We were fortunate to have family that wanted to help and were willing to do it on our terms.

I know it’s hard to set boundaries with family members, and so much of it is cultural. But it is was important for my sanity. With my own parents, I pushed them to let me know at least 48 hours in advance instead of dropping in anytime they felt like it.

I also asked them to watch my little one for 2–4 hour blocks of time, so I could take a nap or just get out of the house.

With my in-laws I kept my terms straightforward: come anytime after the first month, enjoy the baby, help out with household chores, and watch the baby, so I could get some rest.

I was really thankful to have as much help during those months, because our little one was quite colicky and it was hard to soothe him and take care of ourselves and our home.

I’ve also heard from some of my friends who didn’t have family close by or could take time off, ended up hiring nannies or postpartum doulas.

Before my delivery, I kept hearing the following from close friends and family:

“I struggled with bouts of the baby blues months after my delivery.”

“My wife suffered from postpartum depression.”

“It took me more than 2 years to heal my body.”

“I had to go back to work 6 weeks after my baby was born and I was still exhausted.”

Instead of thinking that things would be different for me, I faced reality and decided that I wasn’t special.

I needed help to heal

I’ll admit it felt great to get back to working out 5 weeks postpartum. Having that time to getaway and decompress worked wonders.

It also felt great to not have to worry about making dinner, taking out the trash, cleaning the house, and so on.

For once in my life, I gave myself permission to sit on my butt.

There were a few times I’d get worked up, and was fortunate to have a partner remind me to relax.

As parental leave came to an end, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be returning to part-time or full-time work, but I knew I’d need help nonetheless.

How I found a childcare provider that met my needs

My husband I figured we’d start with a part-time nanny and then ramp up.

We chose this over daycare because we preferred having someone come to our home. It would give us a chance to take breaks throughout our workday to see our little one. And we were fortunate to be able to afford this option.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

We did a lot of due diligence as we reviewed nannies

I checked out a few different care providers including Care.com, Bambino, and SitterCity. SitterCity seemed to provide the most straightforward experience. For about $100, I could post the type of care provider I was looking for and I’d receive responses for people who met the criteria. I likened it to recruiting for my business.

We immediately received a handful of people who were interested. We interviewed a few either in-person or on the phone. There were two that we liked in particular based on their experience, demeanor, availability, and of course price point. We did reference calls on both as well as a background check.

One of them was farther away then we would have liked. We were concerned about rush hour traffic and being flexible enough to get to us at a moment’s notice if needed or stay later if we needed the help.

With the remaining care provider, we decided to do a test run. We had them come and take care of our little one for half a day. Unfortunately, the day before our first test run, they called to tell us they had accepted an offer for a full time job elsewhere. We were disappointed but they were considerate enough to recommend someone else to help.

So we went through the test run with the care provider they recommended, who turned out to fantastic!

Photo by Laura Lee Moreau on Unsplash

Parents talk a lot about turnover and absenteeism with childcare providers

It’s hard to have guaranteed childcare. Daycares won’t take a sick kid, have long waitlists, and a lot of nannies burn out. While it’s hard to guard against sickness and emergencies, I wanted to make sure that our childcare provider was aligned with us. To that end, we setup an LLC to provide all the benefits a business would pay its employees. Hence, we pay our nanny the hourly rate requested, provide paid vacation time, and pay into other benefits such as health insurance and unemployment.

Yes it’s an upfront expense, but I think of it as an investment. An investment in my little one, and my ability to continue to have the freedom to run my company.

I eased back into work by working part-time, about 3 days a week.

I spent the first two weeks at home training our care provider. Since our little one had colic we figured it would be challenging for anyone who was getting to know him. During those two weeks, I was able to suss out our care provider’s experience level and see how coachable they were. And again, we were pretty fortunate to have found the right fit.

After the first month of work, even with all the help at home, I was exhausted. Though I was only working 3 days a week, I had a 2 day commute, and I was spending 4 days caring for my little one. I didn’t have a lot of down time for myself. I decided to add 2 half days to our childcare schedule, and it has helped tremendously. I work 4 days a week and have a little extra time during the week to either work, workout, run some errands, or just relax.

Taking time for myself

Because I love my baby I always want to be with him if I’m not working. It took me awhile to realize that this can be exhausting. So once a month, I get a whole day to myself. I like to call this mommy’s day off (hat tip to Ferris Bueller). On this day, my todo list is no longer than 3 items and those are usually activities like reading, yoga or getting a massage. I’m fortunate to have a partner who supports mommy’s day off!

Gone are the days of my 60-day Bikram Yoga challenges, but I do my best to squeeze in 3–4 workouts a week. 2 days of strength training and 2 days of cardio or just a long hike or walk.

Aside from working out, I’ve become a pretty voracious reader. You can check out my GoodReads account here. Reading helps me relax, stay current, and can be squeezed in-between or during other activities like commuting, pumping, and when my little one naps.

All other hobbies got put on the back burner.

So that’s my new life at home, and I gotta say I love it! I don’t feel like anything is really missing. I’m very fortunate to not feel overwhelmed because I have a lot of help at home thanks to my partner, my family, and our nanny.

Seeing the struggles my parents went through, I always aspired to be a calm and patient mom. Running my own business has given me the freedom to be that so far. And I’m sure in a few years, my little one will be curious to get out and explore more of the world, and I’ll be happy to tag along with him!

Got questions for me?

Feel free to let me know in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them! And subscribe to my weekly newsletter here if you’d like to receive additional posts like this one.

Enjoyed this post and want more?

Help others enjoy it too by hitting the 👏🏽 !

Check out these additional resources on managing parenthood and your career:

  • Breastfeeding maybe best, but boy does it put new moms to the test!
  • The Privileges Of Parental Leave
  • How To Pause For Parenthood Without Killing Your Career
  • How To Change Careers Later In Life And Transition Into A Technical Role
  • Startups And Mom’s Can Mix
  • Pregnancy and startups
  • I’m CEO of an early stage SaaS startup and I’m about to have a baby. This is what I’m doing for maternity leave.


As a new mom — I take all the help I can get! was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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