I am considering patenting an algorithm I invented for my Web-based business, but patents are very expensive and I am not sure it's worth it. What would you recommend?
You can do a provisional patent which "locks up" the idea for one year. In that year you can see whether the biz is viable and whether it's worth doing a full patent. A provisional patent should be around $1500.
I know there are tons of resources out there for entrepreneurs but what would a quick short list of the best places to seek advice be?
I know it sounds trite, but everything is online. Whether they are informational blog postings on venture capital or marketing or youtube videos on facebook ads, almost every topic and tutorial is available online.
Elana, have you ever owned a business? If so, what was/is it? If not, Where does your impressive entrepreneurial expertise stem from?
I have actually not owned a business, but was an early employee at a startup, tech-focused investment bank. We advised early-mid stage companies while also growing our own firm. Best of both worlds in that I learned a lot from the successes (and failures) of our clients as well as our own highs and lows. I think I benefit from being able to leverage learnings from a wide variety of companies at a variety of stages.
I have a single member LLC with a boilerplate operating agreement. With new co-founders coming on board and the need to set up more complicated provisions like a vesting schedule, should we seek out a lawyer or are there available resources to help us?
I always think it is smart to seek counsel early on. There are a lot of local lawyers who understand that startups don't have a lot of cash. Protecting you, your employees and co-founders is usually less expensive than any issues down the line. Find the right lawyer that will be a partner with you and your company as you grow.
What are some of the coolest new startups in the D.C. area right now?
Two words- "wheel bite." Unless you are a longboardee (or hang out at the Dingman Center) you've probably never heard the expression. One of our student ventures, Wheel Shields, is solving this very painful problem with wheel covers that prevent riders from falling, while also enabling new "tricks." Wheel Shields' founder Chase Kaczmarek is so passionate about this that I'm considering starting to longboard myself. Pictures to follow.