Thursday, January 11, 2018

Best Lawnmowers of the Year: Comparison Test

TORQUE: 7 lb-ft

DRIVE: Rear-wheel

DRIVE CONTROL: Fixed-handle; right-hand peed-control lever

NOISE: 93 dbA

Likes: "A sweet ride." That's how TROY-BILT LAWN MOWER described the quick-clipping Craftsman. One example of its smart design is the spring-loaded height adjustment. Pull up on the large red grip at each wheel and pivot to the correct height setting. Let go of the handle, and the height-adjustment pin snaps sharply into its hole. Other nice details include the well-shielded drive belt under the deck and a responsive squeeze-handle drive lever.

Dislikes: Louder than other mowers. Grass built up under the deck, at the rear mulch plug, though it didn't interfere with mowing. (We also tested the $500 Craftsman 37103. We found it pleasant and clean-cutting, but too slow for our tastes.)

Note: This mower has been discontinued, but the Craftsman 37830 is available and offers similar performance.

TORQUE: 6.25 lb-ft

DRIVE: Front-wheel

DRIVE CONTROL: Fixed-handlebar; speed-control bar

NOISE: 92 dbA

Likes: Easy starts. The key-ignition option worked well, and the mower started almost as easily with a pull.

Dislikes: We reviewed two of these mowers and found the rear-wheel brackets on both to be flimsy. In fact, one of these brackets broke right out of the box. We welded it. We also found that the drive belt under the deck was poorly protected—an hour's worth of cutting left the belt area plugged. In the past, Poulan Pro products have tested out as rugged and reliable, but not this mower.

TORQUE: 8.3 lb-ft

DRIVE: Rear-wheel

DRIVE CONTROL: Fixed-handle; dual-thumb speed-control lever

NOISE: 89 dbA

Likes: The luxury car of walk-behind lawnmowers. The Honda leaves a velvet finish, thanks to a unique dual blade and a domed plastic deck that keeps the clippings suspended as they are cut and recut. The mower stays unusually clean as it cuts, both in wet and dry grass, or even as it plows through a pile of dry leaves. Niceties include a large fuel cap that's easy to turn and tool-free air-filter access.

Dislikes: Someday, Honda will redesign the deck-lift levers, which are small and uncomfortable to use. In the meantime, they mar an otherwise outstanding machine.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

5 Reasons Bootstrapping Your Business is the Best Thing You Can Do

Let’s be honest, fundraising is a major chapter in every startup’s success story. It’s one of the most exciting, terrifying, and rewarding parts of starting a company. Having a stranger write you a check for six or seven figures not only validates your idea, but it validates yourself as an entrepreneur. Clearly, others believe in you enough to put their money where their mouth is. I myself have raised over $1 million for my startup, Buddytruk, as well have written several articles on how to fundraise for your business and how much to ask for. That said, there are several reasons why you should not fundraise when starting a business, and given today’s venture landscape, now may be a better time than ever to bootstrap your company to success. Here are five reasons you should pass on fundraising and investor meetings in 2016:

Monday, April 10, 2017

5 Lessons Learned the Hard Way for Building an Authority Website

Eight years ago Jason Wachob was physically crippled from a business venture that went bust.

“I flew 150,000 miles coach in a single year for my last start up company,” Jason said in a recent interview. “When you’re 6’7”, that’s torture.”

By the end of 2006, the former Columbia basketball standout’s business had tanked. He had nothing to show for it but two bulging disks in his lower back.

“It was excruciating pain. I literally couldn’t even walk a block,” said the New York City dweller. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Every doctor told Jason he needed surgery. “As an afterthought, the last guy said, ‘Oh, you might want to give yoga a try too.’” Jason had to laugh here. “So I started light yoga for 15 minutes in the morning and evening. Within six months, I was completely healed.”

After the yoga cure, Jason looked into sleep, nutrition and exercise for more healing. Then the MindBodyGreen concept came to Jason in an epiphany.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Most Essential Things You Need in a Business Accelerator

When Chris Bergman entered Cincinnati-area startup accelerator The Brandery in 2011, he wasn’t sure exactly what the program could accomplish for his company.

“I was a skeptic. My hope was that if it taught me something about how to raise money, that would be good enough,” says Bergman, cofounder and CEO of ChoreMonster, which has developed an app to reward kids for helping out around the house.

Bergman is still reaping rewards, financial and otherwise, from his three-month stint with the accelerator. “I’ve had conversations with investors that have turned into capital, I’ve made invaluable networking connections and I’ve learned a lot about how I want to manage my company,” he says. “Our business wouldn’t exist today without The Brandery.”

Startup accelerator programs are popping up every day, available to a wider range of entrepreneurs than ever before. They’re no longer limited to Silicon Valley, and no longer just for tech companies; there are industry-focused programs centered on fashion, food and socially conscious endeavors as well.