Google for Entrepreneurs goes to San Diego to empower veterans and military families

In addition to all they do for their country overseas, service members are also a markedly entrepreneurial group: although veterans represent only 6% of the U.S. population, they account for an impressive 13.5% of all U.S. small business owners. This entrepreneurial spirit is contributing to business growth around the country, and last week we decided to head down to San Diego to see how Google for Entrepreneurs and Startup Weekend could help.

On August 9, Google for Entrepreneurs, along with the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Startup Weekend, hosted a series of events focused on giving business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs from the military community the training and tools they need to take advantage of the web to build and grow businesses. More than 200 service members learned about free tools to create a web site, track and measure their web presence and market their product or service.

Engaged and full of pride, the veteran-owned businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs came from across California. Misty Birchall, a Navy veteran and founder of PubCakes, delighted attendees when she gave us a taste of her passion for combining baking and craft beer. Marine Corps sergeant turned organic farmer Colin Archipley brought many participants from Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training, an entrepreneurial incubator program he founded to help transitioning veterans train for careers in sustainable agriculture. Even the underdogs (and undercats) were well-represented—Precious Paw Prints, an online retailer selling creative pet accessories owned by Marine veteran Kiersten Carlin, shared that small business can win by providing a higher level of quality and service that larger brands cannot.

Over the following weekend, aspiring entrepreneurs from the veterans community attended the local Startup Weekend, where they formed teams to turn their idea ideas into products. By Sunday night, five teams had launched businesses.

Being a successful entrepreneur means having an appetite for risk, an ability to navigate ambiguity and a passion to get things done at all costs; it’s no mystery why such a large number of small businesses are started by veterans or service-disabled veterans. They certainly have what it takes to be entrepreneurs.

You can read more about our recent programs for members of the veterans’ community here.

Supporting entrepreneurship in France at Le Camping

Entrepreneurs all around the world are building technologies that empower their communities and address both local and global audiences. Last week, a team of Googlers from 10 countries gathered in Paris to spend time with entrepreneurs and startups at Le Camping, an accelerator program that’s part of Silicon Sentier, an association focused on supporting promising digital projects in the Ile de France region. We celebrated the results of the first two seasons of the program and welcomed the new startups for season three.

Le Camping’s program selects 12 new startups each season (one season lasts six months). They “camp” in what used to be the facilities of the French Stock Exchange, symbolizing the bridge between the old and the new economy. During this time, the “campers” are coached by 60 mentors, mostly entrepreneurs but also engineers. We’ve been working in partnership with Le Camping for the last two seasons to provide hands-on training and mentorship to the 12 companies in each class.

We’ve already seen great success from the program. Out of the 24 teams from first two seasons, 40 percent of the startups have raised funds, 60 percent have paying clients and all of the startups belong to a strong and reliable community. The program does not take equity in the startups or charge them to take part; all that’s required is vision, passion and the desire to address a global audience.

This is just one of our efforts to support entrepreneurs in France. Last year we also launched Startup Cafe, an online platform which provides access to educational video content from several business schools designed for entrepreneurs, tools to help start a business and, with the help of the Agency for the Creation of Entrepreneurs, a map of public organizations that can help entrepreneurs.

We believe that the Internet and entrepreneurship are key drivers of economic development. A study from the European Commission highlighted that small enterprises are the driver for growth and employment: they generate nearly 70 percent of jobs in Europe and 60 percent of economic value added. McKinsey’s "Impact of Internet on the French economy" reported that when French SMEs use more web technologies, their growth is faster, their operating revenues are higher and their profitability is stronger.

We look forward to continuing to support entrepreneurship in France and are excited to follow the progress of the teams in season three of Le Camping: Home’n’go, Explee, Sketchfab, ForgetBox, Stormz, Fleex, Veezio, JellyNote, Augment, Webshell, Poutsch, Whale Street. Stay tuned!


In Nashville, the sweet sound of entrepreneurship

Nashville and Silicon Valley have a lot in common. They're both filled with smart, creative people building businesses together. Nashville's start-up scene may be less well known, but it's bursting with energy and creativity like the rest of the city, and on April 19, we brought our Google for Entrepreneurs program down to the home of honky tonks to learn more about how we might help out.

Event crowd in our rustic music hall venue.

Google for Entrepreneurs was a full day of sessions exploring topics from how to use Google+ and Youtube to publicize your content, to ads and analytics tools for businesses to our various platforms for developers. The crowd of 430 attendees ranged from tech startups like, which is building a beautiful HTML5 micropublishing app, to ArtistGrowth, which is creating a platform for artists to organize and monetize a music business from their phone. A group of eight enterprising Googlers led conversations on getting your business on the global map, while the Creator’s Freedom Project hosted a panel of local artists discussing how creative people can make a living using today's technology. We closed the day by discussing how music and tech can work together to make the Internet awesome. Then, naturally, it was time to let the live music and beverages flow. For more photos, check out our web album here.

Google panel taking any and all questions.

We’d like to thank all our partners Flo {thinkery}, Entrepreneur Center, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Technology Council and Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission, as well as Karl Dean, the Mayor of Nashville and Beth Harwell, Speaker of the House (Tenn.) for making this event truly memorable. In one amazing day, we came together to bring the magic of Google to Nashville and made friends with one talented city. We look forward to connecting with more entrepreneurial cities around the country, and the world.

Let’s fill London with startups...

London has become one of the world's great digital capitals. The Internet accounts for eight percent of the U.K. economy and has become, in these days of tough public finances, a welcome engine of economic growth.

We believe there is even more potential for entrepreneurs to energize the Internet economy in the U.K., and to help spur growth, today we’re opening Campus London , a seven story facility in the east London neighborhood known as Tech City. Google began as a startup in a garage. We want to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to be successful by building and supporting a vibrant startup community. Our goal with Campus is to catalyze the startup ecosystem and build Britain's single largest community of startups under one roof.

The U.K.’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt. Hon. George Osborne MP, launched Campus at this morning's official opening. The Chancellor toured the building, meeting some of the entrepreneurs currently making their home in Campus and learning more about their innovations, ranging from fashion trendsetting websites to personalized London leisure guides. He then flipped the switch on a commemorative graffiti plaque.

Campus is a collaboration between Google and partners Central Working, Tech Hub, Seedcamp and Springboard. It will provide startups with workspace in an energizing environment and will also host daily events for and with the community. We will run a regular speaker series, alongside lectures and programing, as well as provide mentorship and training from local Google teams.

Visitors will have access to a cafe and co-working space, complete with high speed wifi. We welcome members of the startup community: entrepreneurs, investors, developers, designers, lawyers, accountants, etc. and hope that this informal, highly concentrated space will lead to chance meetings and interactions that will generate the ideas and partnerships that will drive new, innovative businesses.

The buzz around Campus from within the startup community has meant that today, on day one, Campus is already at 90% capacity, with more than 100 people on site and an additional 4,500 who have signed up online to visit.

We are looking forward to getting to know the community. East London is emerging as a world-leading entrepreneurial hub, and we’re excited to be a part of it. Take a photo tour of Campus here, and if you’d like to learn more, visit us at

Let’s fill this town with startups!

(Cross-posted from the European Public Policy blog)

Providing a springboard for women entrepreneurs in India

Meghana Musunuri was a typical female entrepreneur in India. Born and brought up in Medak, she received a good education and spent time abroad both studying and working. Eventually, she decided to return to India and make a difference in her native country. After teaching in London for more than eight years, Meghana opened the Fountainhead School in Hyderabad in 2009. Meghana was smart, driven and passionate, but like many of her contemporaries in India, she needed guidance on how to use the web to broaden her business and her education mission. To help Meghana and the many other women entrepreneurs like her, we recently launched Women Entrepreneurs on the Web (WEOW).

Women Entrepreneurs on the Web teaches participants how to use web-based technologies to improve and grow their businesses. WEOW is divided into five different units or “circles,” all designed for women entrepreneurs with varied degrees of online presence and expertise. Entrepreneurs at various stages in their startups can enter the program through any of these circles.
  1. Building an online presence: creating a website, a YouTube channel, and a business page on a social network like Google+
  2. Collaborating effectively: tools like Gmail, Calendar and Docs
  3. Connecting with customers: hosting Google+ Hangouts, creating and distributing targeted offers and discounts
  4. Promoting your organization: online product demos, creating viral videos on YouTube, advertising through AdWords and AdSense
  5. Tracking and optimizing your online presence: Google Analytics, Google Alerts, ripples on Google+, the +1 button, webmaster tools
Meghana completed all five circles of the program and today, her school is completely online. She’s hosted several Google+ Hangouts for students and parents from the Fountainhead School’s Google+ page and is also using the page to post news, resources and recaps of in-person workshops. There’s more from Meghana on what she learned from the WEOW program in this video.

Rupa Aurangabadkar, another WEOW participant, recently launched a design company, Colorquill. She’s now working on a series of digital videos that will showcase each step of creating a mural and will distribute them via her YouTube channel. Archana Doshi of Archanas Kitchen has started offering cooking classes online via Google+ Hangouts. She also plans to have guest chefs sign up to offer culinary lessons via her website.

As part of our launch event at Google Hyderabad, Yolanda Mangolini, our head of diversity and inclusion, spent time with 30 women entrepreneurs. During this meet-and-greet, she highlighted company initiatives that focus on female empowerment, like the Google Anita Borg India Memorial Scholarships, Grace Hopper Celebrations and several outreach programs run by the Women@Google employee group. She also talked about our goal to build an organization that reflects its globally diverse users. Watch the highlights in the video below:

For updates on WEOW India, visit our website and YouTube channel. To date, we’ve had more than 300 women sign up for WEOW, and we plan to roll out WEOW to more offices and countries in the future.

Helping entrepreneurs in the Crescent City

I made my first visit to the Gulf Coast as a Red Cross shelter manager six weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. What I witnessed there made me believe in the potential for individuals and businesses to come together to rebuild a community devastated by disaster. Every year since, I’ve returned to New Orleans to engage in and lead much of Google’s commitment to the area, which has included the direct use of Google Earth to aid in rescue efforts, search tools to help during the aftermath and many service hours put in by Google volunteers.

Almost seven years later, I find myself amazed at the recovery and revitalization of the entire region, specifically in New Orleans. The city has come to embody a spirit of perseverance and evolved into a model for economic and community redevelopment. In 2010, Google provided $102 million of economic activity for Louisiana businesses, website publishers and nonprofits—and there’s still more work to do. Next week, we’re heading back to NOLA once again, this time to serve as the Premier Partner for the fourth annual New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week (NOEW).

Our support for NOEW is diverse and wide-ranging. Among other activities, we’re providing seed grants to up-and-coming educational entrepreneurs in the Education Entrepreneurship Challenge, as well as hosting “Google 101” (and 201) workshops for entrepreneurs and one-on-one Google Office Hours for small business owners. On Saturday, March 10, we’ll be working with Brad Pitt’s foundation, Make It Right, to help the organization engage with supporters globally during their NOEW charity event. At 8:00pm ET the Make It Right Google+ Page will host a live hangout with Brad Pitt and special guests Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson and Aziz Ansari. Following the hangout, real time updates from the evening will be posted exclusively on the Google+ page, and visitors can view photos, ask questions of celebrity guests and watch videos from the evening.

Our sponsorship of NOEW 2012 is one piece of our ongoing work supporting entrepreneurship in New Orleans. Other support includes bringing a major partner, Startup Weekend, to NOLA as well as increasing Accelerate with Google in the region. We look forward to contributing to the entrepreneurship ecosystem to provide real economic opportunities for the New Orleans community, its people and its businesses.

I look at the week ahead as a celebration of the potential that one person has to make a difference—one volunteer, one business owner, one celebrity, even you. What I know for sure is that this one person is looking forward to returning to a city that has captured her heart through its people, its spirit, its music and ah yes, most definitely the food. Hope to see y’all there soon!

Adapting AdWords for time-strapped small businesses

This is the latest post in our series profiling entrepreneurial Googlers working on products across the company and around the world. In this post, you’ll read how a small team took a successful grassroots approach to helping businesses advertise online. - Ed.

In early 2010, I was talking with some friends from Google’s India office about how to help small, local businesses advertise online. We found that small business owners the world over had a key commonality: very little time. We decided to tackle this problem head on, with the hopes of making the advertising process quicker and easier for small businesses.

My colleagues in India flew out to our headquarters in California, and we teamed up with a Google Maps product manager who had some first hand experience working with small business owners. One of his friends ran a small mountain clothing store in New Hampshire called The Mountain Goat of Hanover, which had just moved to town. She was responsible for staffing, bookkeeping, inventory management and many other time-intensive tasks—all with very little help. She had the desire to try promoting her business online, but learning to manage a new form of advertising wasn’t something she had time for.

Kendra Dynok, manager of The Mountain Goat of Hanover, helps a customer.

The Mountain Goat of Hanover was our first case study, but it seemed like any interaction we had with a small business led to a conversation about how it advertised. A photographer in Virginia, a San Francisco dentist and a contractor re-doing my kitchen all told the same story: Online advertising should be simpler.

What all of these business owners needed was advertising that was measurable, affordable and quick. While they could use AdWords, they needed something even faster: a tool that they could set up easily and then walk away from, trusting that their advertising would be managed efficiently.

A handful of us started building a new tool for advertisers that met these requirements and within a few weeks, we were beta testing it with the owner of The Mountain Goat, the photographer, the dentist and the contractor—inviting more small businesses as interest grew. We literally went door to door in San Francisco and Chicago, asking local businesses if our tool could help them advertise better. Soon, we had more than 50 businesses testing the new ads product and within a few months, that number was over 2,000.

Our team runs somewhat like the small businesses with which we work. We’re a small, close-knit group of friends that spend most of our time huddled in a room making decisions on the spot and moving fast to launch a product in a matter of months. By the end of 2010, we’d launched our tool, which we called Google Boost at the time, in 25 cities across five states. And just last week, we officially launched AdWords Express to all businesses in the U.S. We would never have been able to do that outside of Google, where we were able to leverage the existing AdWords system, infrastructure and dedicated teams. By making it easier for people to implement effective advertising campaigns, we’ve been able to bring tens of thousands of small businesses online—and we’ve only just begun.

From acquisition to in-app payments in less than one year

(Cross-posted on the Commerce Blog)

This is the latest post in our series profiling entrepreneurial Googlers working on products across the company and around the world. In this post, you’ll read why one team decided to sell their company to Google, and how they went from acquisition to product launch in less than a year. - Ed.

The decision to sell your company is one of the hardest an entrepreneur can make, and as the CEO of Jambool, I thought long and hard about Google’s offer to acquire us when they came calling in August 2010. Ultimately, we decided to join Google for two reasons: one, we shared the goal of offering consumers and merchants unified online payment solutions, and two, we realized that Google was serious about helping us integrate our technology into their digital tools by providing us with infrastructure and other support. Less than a year later, we’ve already taken a major step to help Google deliver on this vision with Google In-App Payments, which we announced last month at Google I/O. In-App Payments enable web application developers to receive payments for digital and virtual goods without the user ever leaving the application.

Me on stage at Google I/O introducing Google In-App Payments

When we first joined, we expected to spend a lot of time ramping up, meeting people and learning Google’s technology. In reality, our shared vision for the product enabled us to quickly partner with teams across the company to build out our product at scale. As a startup, you spend the majority of your time building teams from scratch to focus on functions like product, sales, marketing, operations and legal. At Jambool, I’d divide my time across operations, raising funds and meeting with outside developers. But at Google, we were able to combine our efforts with teams already in place who could manage those areas while we focused on the core product.

We set an ambitious goal of launching in-app payments nine months later at Google I/O, which motivated us to work quickly. We worked with Google’s established teams—especially Chrome, Android and Google Checkout—to build a simple API and intuitive user interface. During the last few weeks before Google I/O—when we were still working around the clock just to finish the product—we were invited to announce our launch as part of the day two keynote. That gave us even more drive to finish on time. And, thanks to the Chrome team, we found partners like Angry Birds and, which really demonstrated the product’s usefulness and got developers excited about our broader vision of seamless digital payments.

As a startup, we never imagined we’d stand on a stage like the one at I/O and instantly reach consumers, businesses and developers around the world. In the first 24 hours after the announcement, thousands of developers signed up to use the API. This is something we wouldn’t have been able to do so quickly on our own, and it’s a testament to the big things a startup can accomplish by joining Google. We’re already looking forward to what the next year brings as developers around the world start to build great businesses on our platform.

If you’re interested in integrating your apps into Google’s In-App Payments API, we invite you to sign up and send us feedback.

Accelerating diversity outreach to businesses in local communities

(Cross-posted on the Google Small Business Blog)

This is the latest post in our series profiling entrepreneurial Googlers working on products across the company and around the world. Here, business development manager Chris Genteel tells how Googlers across the U.S. are diversifying our marketing and sales outreach efforts to help communities of minority-owned small businesses around the country build an online presence. - Ed.

In May 2009, a team of Googlers and I attended the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference near our office in Ann Arbor, Mich., where we talked with dozens of small business owners. These folks were true entrepreneurs and clearly not afraid to try new things, yet many were unaware of Google’s products and services, such as AdWords and Apps for Enterprise. In fact, many of them didn’t even have an online presence.

The following Monday, two women Googlers who were new to the team and passionate about Google’s diversity initiatives busted into my office already on a mission—to help educate small businesses on Google tools in order to help them better connect with their target audience. They had attended the conference as well and decided to start a 20 percent project to increase awareness of and engagement with small, minority-owned businesses. Two months later, we proposed a business plan to Bonita Stewart, vice president of sales, to start reaching out to businesses. She approved our proposal and gave us the go-ahead to lead the initiative; it was our responsibility to find people who wanted to help.

We found our first volunteer when an intern on the team decided to make our initiative her 20 percent project, and, throughout that summer, more people were inspired to contribute their expertise part-time as well. Before we knew it, we had more than 40 Googlers working on what eventually became Accelerate with Google—a program to help minority-owned small businesses grow their online presence by working with organizations and partners who encourage the adoption of web tools within their local communities.

Throughout 2010, we traveled across the country to places like Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami, Chicago and New York to learn more about the minority-owned, small business community. Along the way, we built partnerships with leading business organizations, such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, which already have respect and support from these communities. Our original goal was to build partnerships with minority community organizations nationwide, but that quickly developed into a larger mission to not only help small businesses move online, but empower them to be the web tools educators in their communities as well.

This May, we’re excited to be part of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council annual conference; they’ve been our chief partner and recipient of a grant for $175,000 to support the development of our program within its business community. We’ve trained Council representatives to be experts in Google tools like AdWords, and in turn they’ve led workshops for small business owners on how to build an online presence. We’ve built a similar partnership with the Louisiana Council by funding a $100,000 initiative to build outreach to small businesses in the area through programs such as Google Certified Partners and Trainers, which help people certify and demonstrate their proficiency in our ads tools.

All of this is just the beginning. This month marks the two-year anniversary of the initial inspiration for this project, and our team will once again be attending the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, this time with a very different perspective. A project that began as a side job has now become a full-time role for myself and one of the project founders, with our ad hoc group of Googler volunteers still helping out part-time. We’ve seen measurable shifts in online engagement with the communities we’re working with—adding more than 100 minority-owned businesses in 2010 alone—and I’m excited to keep pushing this initiative out to business owners everywhere.

Google Workshops: a place for Googlers to get their hands dirty

This is the latest post in our series profiling entrepreneurial Googlers working on products across the company and around the world. Here, mechanical engineer Dan Ratner gives you a peek at a collection of machine workshops on campus that were used to construct the prototypes for the Street View trike, snowmobile and trolley, among other personal and 20 percent time projects. -Ed.

Wood, metal, welding and electronics shops are probably not what come to mind when you think about Google but in fact, we often have to build physical products to help us collect and organize information that’s found outside of the web. We do this at the Google Workshops, a hands-on facility equipped with everything from an oscilloscope to a miter saw and even a plasma cutter. Day and night—and even on weekends—the workshops are alive with Googlers working on personal projects—such as home furniture or model airplanes—as well as work-related ones like green business prototypes or components of our self-driving cars.

Googlers using a MIG welder in one of the workshops

In 2007, I took a trip to Barcelona, where I became inspired to share with the world the magnificent architecture lining the narrow alleys through which even a Smart Car can’t squeeze. When I returned home and saw a pedicab pedaling along the pier in San Francisco, I decided how I was going to do it. That spark of an idea became the Street View trike, which collects outdoor imagery from parks and cultural sites, and was my first attempt at creating a mobile unit to traverse areas unreachable by car. Over a weekend, a couple of engineers and I hacked together a somewhat rudimentary trike design and quickly followed that up with a second and better prototype that enabled us to capture usable imagery during a test run at Emerald Park in Dublin, Calif. Our initial images proved that the concept was feasible, and after a bit more work on both hardware and software, we were invited to use our prototype trike around Legoland, our first participant in the Street View Partner Program. Our prototype and 20 percent project eventually evolved into a production-quality trike fleet and full-scale operation employing many Googlers around the world.

Me on the Street View trike, capturing imagery in Legoland

People have asked us to visit historical buildings, national landmarks and other places that even a trike can’t reach—and we’re always trying to find new ways to do so. However, designing a new vehicle requires more than just sticking a camera on top of an apparatus. We often spend hours in the workshops testing out entirely new components made out of wood, metal and—it must be said—quite a bit of duct tape in order to find new and better ways to capture remote imagery. We worked extensively in our own facilities on components of the Street View snowmobile and trolley—from wiring up electronics to milling metal.

Our first prototypes sometimes start out rough around the edges—the first trolley prototype was actually built from an off-the-shelf, narrow dolly designed for schlepping around beer kegs—but our polished production vehicles wouldn’t exist if we didn’t first make early stage “hack” prototypes in our workshops.

Innovation at Google comes in many forms—it can be an idea, a program or even a handmade prototype. For me, it’s in a workshop with a table saw, 3D printer, TIG welder, vertical mill and a variety of raw materials. As a robotics enthusiast and mechanical engineer, these are the kinds of challenges and opportunities that bring me back to work every day.

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