Tuesday, April 29, 2008
That's a trait that entrepreneurs have to have. They must believe in themselves and their goal. They don't give up. The Wall Street Journal just ran an article on perseverance and personal health. There's a link in my sidebar. Take a look.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I had a yellow grading sheet for each presenter. I had to grade the contestants on specific criteria. Amazingly, most of the presenters never got to some of the points. They mostly got hung up on giving their credentials, describing how great their product or service was or going into the need in the marketplace. Two presenters completely lost me as they dove into the technical aspects of their inventions, complete with diagrams that made no sense.
The judges had to tell these entrepreneurs how to improve their presentations. What amazed me was how they looked so eager to hang on every word we said. Sometimes I thought I sounded like Simon, telling people that I couldn't understand what their business was.
But some of the ideas for new businesses were really good. I hope that the entrepreneurs learned from the experience and will do well at Crossroads.
Here is a rundown of the point we had to grade on:
Product/service - what do you do?
Market - what's the size of the market?
Competitive Analysis - Is the product unique?
Finance -- how will you make money?
Management - Do you have the talent to meet your goals?
Funding -- what do you need? how will you use it?
Crossroads is run by the Connecticut Venture Group. http://www.crossroads-cvg.org/
Monday, April 14, 2008
- Use full sentences that make sense.
- Ask someone else to read over your responses before you send them in.
- Make sure you answer the questions asked.
To sign up for a chance to present, go to:
You'll see that there are many categories. Fill out the form for your business's stage:
2008 Connecticut Venture Group Funding Applications:
PRE-SEED and SEED STAGE Funding Application (R&D or Proof-of-Concept Phase)
Apply here if your product, technology or service requires funding for further development or testing, patent protection, or you require assistance to complete a comprehensive business plan, or other resources before you are ready to start up.START-UP Funding Application (Ready to Launch)
Apply here if you have a business plan, a proven concept or product, a management team identified, and are ready to start up.EARLY STAGE and EXPANSION STAGE Application (Sales < $5,000,000)
Apply here if you have started up and have annual sales under $500,000 [EARLY STAGE], or sales are over $500,000 but lest than $5,000,000 [EXPANSION STAGE].LATE STAGE Companies (Sales > $5,000,000)
Apply here if you have annual sales of at least $5,000,000.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Here are some tips for building a model in Excel:
1. Write down your assumptions on a separate worksheet or in Word.
2. Develop formulas and links that carry through all the sections of your workbook.
3. Do your homework -- research the marketplace to understand volumes, prices, costs, etc.
4. Divide your workbook by worksheets (using the tabs at the bottom of the page):
- One summary sheet that is the profit and loss statement
- A Revenue sheet that has all the revenue, cost of goods sold and gross profit assumptions -- metrics, sources, prices, quantities, growth rates, etc.
- An Expenses sheet that has all of your overhead expenses.
- A Capital Expenditures Sheet
- A Depreciation Schedule.
5. Make sure you construct your formulas to carry from page to page. That way, if you change a revenue assumption, it shows up on the profit and loss sheet. This makes it easier to try out different scenarios.
I'll write more about financial statements later.
Please post questions or send me comments -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, April 4, 2008
That's why David Brooks's column, "Pitching with Purpose," in The New York Times earlier this week was so interesting to me. It was about great baseball pitchers and great pitching. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/opinion/01brooks.html?ex=1364788800&en=782ad8a401682876&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
To be a great pitcher, you have to ignore everything around you and clear your mind. You just have to focus on executing the pitch you want to throw. The article is worth reading simply because it has lessons for life -- and lessons for entrepreneurs. Remember that Amazon started out as an online store for books. The company only branched out later.
Entrepreneurs -- focus your pitch!
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
My son, who goes to USC, says that Homeboy sells its food on the campus as part of the campus farmers market. That's great because USC is very close to gangland neighborhoods.
When I had a government grant to counsel low income people on how to start businesses, one of the organizations I had an alliance with believed that the same entrepreneurial spirit and skills that inner city drug dealers have could be re-channelled into selling legal products and services. Homeboy seems to be doing just that. I hope more organizations like this pop up and are successful.