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    27 Replies Latest reply on Jan 20, 2008 10:44 PM by fiirst

    Start Up Questions

    StudyTyme Newbie
      I applogize in advance for the length of this post.

      I'm looking for information and advice regarding my start up. I am starting a niche software company. This company is being built around a unique product with no current rival competition and for the first 3 years has a renewable annual 11 million target market. After three years that market becomes 21.6 million customers that are also renewable every year. Both of my markets will be captured markets with a target price of $35. My products are a "no brainer" for both target markets. I only have to do macro marketing to the "Parent" target and the secondary targets will be covered by the "Parent". I will not have packaging costs and a minimal overhead.

      I will be patenting my Bus. Method, and both software components in the US and select International markets.

      My actual start up costs are $70K with conservative before tax profits 1 yr = $3.2 mil, 2 yr = $9.7mil, 3 yr = $16.2 mil. My Bus. Plan is solid and was reviewed by a SCORE rep, (though he was not of much help) who said "He'd invest" Other business excutives I've discussed my project with (under a NCND) tell me "it looks like your going in the right direction". (Also not of much help) While I appreciate the encouragement, I need criticism and direction more.

      While I can appreciate your skepticism, assume everything I've stated is accurate and the figures as reliable as can be expected for a new product that has been market tested that fulfills an overwhelming need. I've been developing and researching the business model for the past 11 months.

      Personal Info: credit 685 + not a late payment in 7 years, high card balances 18K, modest savings, renting house


      Assets: CPA consultant, VP consultant in related field, Senior architect for Qwest as software project manager. All three are on board of directors with shares/positions offered at future date.


      Liabilities: I have no experience in the field I am entering. Once my company can afford experienced leadership, it is first on the list. Worst case would be within 3 months of launch. I should be able to attract the right candidate with share options earlier. I will remain majority share holder and CEO, but day to day running will be someone else. (I will not put my company's future in the hands of someone only a Manufacturing Management background)

      Here is my plan to proceed.

      Next two weeks:


      File LLC, obtain EIN, DUNS#, Open Checking and Savings account. Get bus credit card and charge minor expenses and pay immediately. (I would most likely change from LLC to S or C Corp down the road to take advantage of employment taxes once established.)


      Find a professional to poke holes in my Bus. Plan before I go to banks for loan.


      (Need recommendations)


      Edit plan and approach banks. Seeking $100K which includes loan payments for 1 year. (Need list of start up friendly banks, what terms and interest I can expect, what is a good deal, any recommendations, how long does it take once your approved, If a scaled down plan requires $70K should I be more aggressive in initial marketing and ask for more)


      Take money and have software developed and file Provisional Patent App on Bus. Model immediately and Provisional utility app on method of software upon completion. Three month development time. Two months testing in identified beta test groups. I need to be in the market in 8 months.


      Two months prior to launch implement my Marketing Plan and train sales managers in regions.


      Submit press release. Attend trade shows, and approach "Parent" markets.


      Six months after launch, apply for international patents to license to someone else, or choose to develop the markets ourselves.


      Second year, start developing second phase of in the logical progression of my product line for other electronic devices.


      That's pretty much it in a nut shell. Again I apologize for the length of this post, and my inability to provide details as to the product. It would void the ability to obtain international patents, and start the clock on when I would have to file a "Regular" Patent Application.


      If anyone sees things I should do different, or can suggest where I would want to pursue a loan and any information on obtaining a loan, I would greatly appreciate it.



        • Re: Start Up Questions
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Study Tyme, You have come to the right place when you say that you are looking for information and advice regarding your start up. As I read your info you sound like you have a great handle on this new venture.
          A quick question. Do you know about SCORE?? SCORE is a FREE service that helps people going into
          business. SCORE is a partner to Bank of America and provides FREE business plan assistance.
          You already have a bus plan and SCORE or I would be happy to try and poke holes in your plan.
          You can find SCORE on line and you can contact me at "
          More to follow. Good luck, LUCKIEST


          1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Start Up Questions
              StudyTyme Newbie

              Yes I've heard of SCORE and have had to consultations with them. Mixed results overall. I am scheduling another for financial review. If you are willing to sign a NCND I may take you up on your offer to review my Bus. Plan. Where are you located?

                • Re: Start Up Questions
                  StudyTyme Newbie

                  First off, thank you all for you thoughtful and insightful comments. I absolutely welcome all comments especially criticism. I will try to address as much as I can.




                  You are correct in my lack of assets and how it most likely will hurt my chances of getting a decent loan in this market. The three "F's" are an option that I would pursue as a second choice. Getting a loan may turn out to be an exercise of futility, but I want to go that route first. I have had offers of investment from a few people that I have sought advice from and people in my "Parent" market. I would rather not give shares to people for money alone at this point.


                  It is my understanding that BOA does not like Start-Up loans. Can you confirm this? Do you know of any institutions or lenders that are Start Up friendly?


                  Moogrdocom and Ed O' Gee,


                  No I'm am not planning on quitting my job until at least until product launch. 70K (plus my 15K personal investment) is what it will take to get to launch and loan payments until first quarter invoices are due. 70K is outside my ability to float for a year. My $35 price point is easily attainable from my secondary target market. My numbers are provable and on the conservative side if anything once you have read my Bus. Plan. I have the research to back them up.




                  I understand your skepticism and encourage it. I do need to be able to prove every point, especially the things I haven't thought of yet. I was hoping to get more information on where I should look to get a loan for a start up in this market, but I don't mind answering questions.


                  I agree with your assessment of thinking you have no rival competition is a mistake. There are several completely unrelated products on the market that do similar things as my product. None of them use them in conjunction with each other and the "MAIN" selling point is a completely new function that is not on the market, that has passed a patentablity study by a registered patent agent and a prior art search. The closest analogy I can come up with is you invent the TV, and someone says a newspaper is your competition. Yes they are correct, but it's just not the same. You can get news from both, but the TV is so much more. My closest competition is not even a radio by comparison. (No my idea has nothing to do with audio or video) Again the function being patentable is the best proof that there is no "direct competition" and with a well-written patent app, it will protect me on this and other embodiments other than computer based.


                  I will look up the book you recommend. I agree completely with the quote.


                  My wife and I are working on the debt. We had a death in the family, and a funeral got put on credit cards. It is hard to recover from that kind of debt load when you've never carried a balance previously.


                  My Qwest Project Manager is just overseeing the software creation. I have 11 quotes on the programming from software development companies. Some local and a couple overseas. I've chosen one local company with a pretty solid team. My PM helped me with the selection, but does not know them personally. He said after my project is done, he'd outsource small projects to them based on what he'd seen so far. His pre-employment agreement with Qwest is not an issue as per Qwest's attorney.


                  My initial patent (Bus Plan) is going to cost me $5,000. My patent agent needs one of his projects prototyped, and I am doing them at my day job to cut my expense. Once, he is ready to have an injection mold built, I will be doing it at my cost for his writing my initial software patent.


                  Brand. Yes I have had professional created, a logo that will be trademarked as well as the product name with the money from the loan. Trademark search has been done.


                  Patent attorney exp. Yes he is a mechanical engineer. Since I am not actually patenting the "Software" but the method and including other embodiments other than software in the claims section, I believe he is competent to do the job. I've read some of his previous work as well. If there are any concerns, I have budgeted a secondary review with another agent who has agreed for a nominal fee.


                  Niche. Well what can I say; it's a pretty big niche. I did not know what else to call it. Demographic may have been better.


                  Company set up. Well, I know my strengths, and have a decent idea of my weakness. I am surrounding myself with people who make up for my weaknesses. Also they lend the experience I lack in this field.


                  Do you still feel I am deluding myself? If so, thank you for your time and consideration in your posts.


                  No, no programming has begun yet. As I've stated earlier I have had 11 quotes and the consensus is 3 months development time using Agile methods. It will be modular in design where nodes will be independent and able to turn on and off from the base. I do expect it to actually take close to double, because whatever goes to schedule. My software is actually not that complicated, with a lot of open source components available, just marrying them together without bugs is my concern.


                  My initial questions still stand.


                  Can I get contact info for Start-Up friendly lenders if BOA is not interested in a Start-Up?


                  What kind of rates do start up loans go for, and what are the terms.


                  Where else besides score and SBA are good resources for Bus. Plan Review. I'm in the Denver Area.


                  Should I ask for 70K, 100K, or more and negotiate down?

                  Any suggestions on other ways to build company credit.

                  Sorry again for the length of the post

                    • Re: Start Up Questions
                      xenopod Adventurer
                      For your software are you intending to sell licenses for the software to your customers or would this be some sort of centrally hosted solution? If I remember from your first post you indicated a desire to allow some to use in their own datacenters. Which would indicate to me a license.

                      You also mention wanting to combine your proprietary code with open source code. I would make sure you have your legal representation review the open source project licenses you intend to use. Specifically you could not sell a software license if the open source projects you intend to use were GPL (and many other licenses) as you would be violating the license of the software you were using. It would also be necessary for you to return your code modifications to the communities your open source projects come from (depending on the license). You would also need to release your code often under the same license as the source you were borrowing or integrating into your own system (again depending on which license is specifically used on the software you are interested in).

                      So I would be extremely careful if you are going to create a software product using open source components in your product. Consider what role your software plays in your total product, is a license to use the software the product or is the answer to some question your software can address the product?

                      If you need to sell licenses in order for your business to be proceed then I would generally avoid considering using any open source code, because one mistake could undermine your IP.
                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Start Up Questions
                          StudyTyme Newbie


                          Thank you for your input. One of the two components is a license to join a hosted network. The desktop app is as I understand it where some open source code would be used. The SRS explicitly states that no third party licenses are to be used in the development. This is an area that is my greatest weakness. My PM will be overseeing the development. I would assume he knows about your concerns. Though I have not asked him specifically. He has discussed the architecture at length with the team we will be using. I will verify with him, that this has been covered leaving us with no exposure. These are the types of questions that I don't know enough to ask on my own that keep me up at night.

                        • Re: Start Up Questions
                          DomainDiva Ranger

                          You have done a fairly good job of covering all the bases. I understand the concept of doing it different,having a new take on an old way of doing things.....but please get the competition identified and then decide HOW you will market your product to compete with them. Have you even thought about designing a marketing program? Ours is done and we are not going to launch until Fall 08. we know exactly what we will do and how we will do it...and I have sales people as well that freelance for tech companies..a couple of hotshots recommended by my CTO.

                          I would get something in writing from QWEST. As far as the code, things already sound like they are getting complicated and you are not sure who has what to may want to make a mind model of the code complexities so that you can see the links and liabilities.

                          I love that your patent attorney is an engineer and that you are working out a barter situation. As Paris Hilton says: Thats HOT!

                          It is difficult wearing all of the hats when its your baby but you can do it....your main issue is keeping up with everyone and what is going on. How often are you having fact time with the team? Have you devised or found a way to manage your group online? We use is fabulous, everything we do is posted, we have meetings, which are saved and we do face time 3-4 times a year.

                          It is really hard to tell how much $$$$ you will need for code. I will have spent 170,000.00 for code by the time we launch, that includes licensing code from another developer (Dude I need code but I'll pay... :) ) but that does not include a friend of the CTO wanted to (and did) write a lot of the code because for him the app was too hot to be believed.....(he received shares in the company after I found out...).

                          We started out with 100,000 from our angel used that up and I have secured a loan from the same person. My visual designer is working for free and everyone else from the attorney and accountant donates time for their shares. I am paying for travel out of personal funds...still working the day job to keep up.

                          And NO I am not of the opinion that you are deluding yourself. :)

                          But get on that marketing thing as well....when things start to roll it will be a me. Make a spread sheet of people/applications that are competing with you. Then list what they do versus what you do. That visual will give you a good first look at how you need to structure your marketing. Please don't park yourself on google and 'wait' to be discovered. That is SO 2007.
                            • Re: Start Up Questions
                              StudyTyme Newbie

                              I do have competition identified in my Bus Plan. As a matter of fact, one strategy (Plan D) turns my closest competition into a partner that pays my company for advertising. I have 5 potential sources of revenue currently identified.


                              I do have a Marketing Plan summary in my Bus. Plan as well. I will admit that it is not as developed as it needs to be, but the outline is solid. I plan on working on the specifics and develop the training procedure after financing has been procured. My concept is actually pretty simple. I have already had a professional presentation created, and identified a company to create a display for trade shows.


                              Qwest as given him a release to work on our project, but as far as code goes, I'm sure it will have to be reviewed once it is written.


                              I've been very fortunate to be able to creative in several of my associations. I also have an option from a software company to have them create it on their dime for a percentage, with a buy back schedule that pays them 3X and I get my company back. I would rather use a different company for the software development though.


                              I have always worn hats. The job I did best in my career was Project Manager. I've set up manufacturing plants from bare building to production. ISO certification and countless new product lines from drawings to production. I use MS Project. That is my strong suit. I manage well and put the right person in the position to get the job done. I have a good core team; I just need a good sales manager. I'll do the job till someone better comes along. I think my Marketing Consultant could do it I just don't know if she will take the job.


                              Software costs: Another phase out of my realm of expertise. I have a quote built off of a high level SRS with the project broken down in MS Project with time tables. We have also built in incentives to the time tables, testing results, and costs. Beyond that, I don't know what else I can do. I would welcome suggestions.


                              I think I'm a prepared as I can be (by myself) for the whoosh of the roller coaster. I would like to have the finances to develop my team down one more level but, it is what it is for now.


                              Having read several of your responses prior to posting here, you were one of the people I was seeking information from. I value your input. If you would like to discuss this more off the thread and are willing to sign a NDA, I would love to get more input from you.




                                • Re: Start Up Questions
                                  DomainDiva Ranger
                                  Aw shucks....Randy

                                  I will shoot you an email this evening from my account. NDA is no problem...make sure it contains non disclosure as well as non use. ;)
                                  • Re: Start Up Questions
                                    fiirst Newbie
                                    Hi Randy,

                                    Sounds interesting. Only suggestions I would make are -

                                    • get super serious about the competitor research and parallel fields that may have a product that your potential customers consider competitors/alternatives that you maybe aren't thinking of just yet.
                                    • test test test your business plan and project plans against people outside your immedaite field so they are being critiqued without your perspective influencing the review.
                                    • get financials under control early so you can demonstrate strong mgt not just project mgt, ms project can do bits here but real fincial control is better use a real pacakge or a web one, I use but there are lots out there.
                                    Good luck!
                          • Re: Start Up Questions
                            BDS INC Adventurer



                            You need investors not a bank loan. Not being critical but based on what you wrote you have no real assets. With credit quality the way it is, most banks are tightening credit restrictions. Now I am not saying there are not start up friendly banks out there. BofA actually lends more money to small businesses than anyone else, however before anyone lends you money they are going to want to know they can get it back.


                            My advice is go to friends, family, even work colleagues and find people who will be inspired enough by your vision to write you a check. If I were you, I'd even go the angel investor route. You'll have to give up some ownership eventually but I think this is a better way without hard assets to get your business off the ground.


                            • Re: Start Up Questions
                              moogrdotcom Adventurer
                              Is there any reason you would have to quit your day job to run this business? 70k investment up front isn't that much but you may be able to float much of that on your own. With opportunity as large as you expect the personal return should be enough to cover your risk. Getting outside investors would add a twist of not only proving your numbers but also exceeding them for there gain. My concern though is 35.00/seat is a lot of "Seats" to sell to reach your numbers - how would 75k enable you to do that?
                                • Re: Start Up Questions
                                  Ed O'Gee Adventurer
                                  If his savings are "modest" then I'd have to agree with BDS about getting investors involved. Maybe not angel investors because to your point he'd have to truly prove out his numbers, but raising 70K from friends, family, and colleagues who believe in him does not seem like a tremendous task given the scope of the venture he says he has.
                                • Re: Start Up Questions
                                  DomainDiva Ranger
                                  #1: I am having a problem with 'no current rival competition'. How deeply have you researched your idea? How many variations on your idea are on the market already?

                                  The first mistake that entrepreneurs make is in saying "I have no competition". You may have something different but you will always have competition. There is always someone out there willing, wanting or doing in a different way what you are proposing. You had better have this covered in the business plan and exec summary as well. Investors want to know the downside before they think about the upside.

                                  Take my start up for example, even though we are a browser based biz app, we have identified any product or entity that SUPPORTS the status quo as competition..that includes office supply stores for selling file folders and bankers boxes and FedEx & UPS for shipping these items. You have to take a good look at anything in the business world that can and will possibly make you miserable. Web based..client based...other biz app based.

                                  Cliff Ennico addresses this in the fist chapter of his Book: Small Business Survival Guide. I would strongly reccommend that you read this chapter in this book before you do anything else. Knowing what you may face in the marketplace is empowering. If you are afraid of knowing who your competition is then you may want to rethink your 'plan'. Its a good one except for the "I have no competition'. Right.

                                  The next thing you need to do is to reduce the personal debt and get that credit score up.

                                  The third thing is that Senior Architect from better find out if he's lifting code from his buddies (Dude I need code...and yes this happens a lot) and whether or not hes working on your project while on duty with Qwest. Also he may have signed some kind of non compete or services contract with Qwest. You need to get some more detailed info on this. You could be in a code war in a few years.

                                  The fourth thing is the patent idea. Thats good but plan on spending nearly 20,000.00 on it.

                                  The fifth item here is brand. How are you planning on branding your idea? Do you have a logo? Plans to trademark?

                                  Discussion of 4 & 5: Patent & trademark attorney? Will your patent attorney be experienced in technology and have an engineering degree? (Trust the Diva on this inexperienced patent attorney trying to do a tech patent will loose his shirt when the first peer patent prior art is submitted by someone else). Did you even know that there is a website devoted to peer patent reviews by the public no less and prior art disputes can now be submitted online?????

                                  Niche software with numbers like you are quoting? Dude....

                                  I like your company set up....mine is similar, except that I have not recruited (and will not) recruit other people in active employment at other technology companies.

                                  Finally you are headed in the right direction...but please take off those rose colored glasses. You need to be able to discern the path in front clearly and in HD and that includes all of the things you may not want to see or hear.

                                  Now...go get em!
                                  • Re: Start Up Questions
                                    DomainDiva Ranger
                                    You discussed 'international patents as well..."Do you have any idea of the COST to do this?

                                    Your start up costs are 70K?

                                    You are starting a 'niche' software company? Is your kernel already programmed? Do you even have it designed? Kernel code and development can take up to 2 years...1 year if you have a dedicated team. That means a team that does nothing but the code for the kernel.

                                    I for one am looking forward to your responses to the member postings here.
                                    • Re: Start Up Questions
                                      guru2008 Wayfarer
                                      I am very interested to know on a scale of 1-10 how cofident are you that your project will suceed? is the only thing holding you back is the $120,000.00 to push the button to complete first phase product deployment? do you have your cash burn figured ? and a buffer.
                                        • Re: Start Up Questions
                                          StudyTyme Newbie




                                          Well, I would have to say 9.95. My product has a huge social benefit, needed across the world. I have multiple exit strategies identified if the .05 becomes an issue. As for pushing a button, it is a little more complicated, but yes the foundation is built. Financing is now needed to proceed. As for burn rate, I need to be to bring on 1 "parent" target brought on board by 1 year from next April. Under a NCND, and without offering for sale, I have a verbal commitment that "if a product like that were to ever hit the market, we would definitely put it in each of our facilities (13)." This from the person who makes the decision. Those 13 "parent" targets have 24000 more in the US alone. That one sale would translate into 200K in sales $75,000 after expenses. More sales obviously would be pretty much profit as all overhead had been already absorbed and only a nominal expense is added with more sales. If I remember my plan it is approx 3% increase of sales dollars for the first year. Then next year it becomes .07% of sales dollars for the same "Parent".


                                          So to answer your question, my loan will cover all expenses for 16 months. If I haven't made a single "Parent" sale by then my secondary marketing will have been active for 9 months. These sales will also cover expenses and generate profits. I truly believe second tier financing will not be needed.


                                            • Re: Start Up Questions
                                              guru2008 Wayfarer

                                              OK!! Randy

                                              1- What's the worst case scenario you can think of excluding "insurable risks"
                                              2- How many personal risk are you willing to take.
                                              3- If for a moment you were a banker what compelling reason would your client have to present you in order to approve their loan?


                                                • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                  StudyTyme Newbie

                                                  Worst case 1 - Patents Denied due to Prior Art filed within the last 18 months. You can not check "Art" within the previous 18 months.
                                                  Microsoft strong arms my company into bankruptcy.
                                                  A new computer platform comes out that replaces windows for home computers.

                                                  2 I sold my Motorcycle to fund the past year. I am investing 15K of personal money. Personally, I am putting up everything.

                                                  3 Best reasons are: Product, Potential, the need it fills. The Bus Plan covers it all. The full plan is 34 pages long.
                                                  (Yes I know not to submit all 34 pages for a loan.)




                                                    • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                      guru2008 Wayfarer
                                                      Randy I'm really thinking loud here!!! two things first if my memory's correct you have a pretty good credit score? Ok first what about a walk right into any old bank and just put my best foot forward and see where the chips fall (not the bank you really want to do business with). second if your really an all out kind of guy and really want to fly this bird yourself start parlaying your unsecured lines of credit 2-3M/C, 2-3 Visa, 2-3Amex,1-2 Discover. with that said you really have to be paying very close attention because it can spiral the wrong way the terms and conditions really need a crystal clear understanding to avoid disaster.
                                                        • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                          StudyTyme Newbie
                                                          It does look like I will have to knock doors to find banks that give loans to StartUps. I was hoping to get a list of places to start. My bank doesn't touch anything under 500K. My credit union doesn't do bus loans. I do have one lead that is solid and have talked to the rep once who told me what I would need to provide. I would really like to practice my pitch on a couple other places first just to work out bugs.
                                                          As for the credit cards, my score isn't too bad. I could take my 15K and pay off my balances and it would raise my score pretty quick. The problem is if I do that then I don't have any money to put into the company that banks want to see. I could try to get a few more credit cards and that would get me more money available to put into it, but 1) it would kill my credit with too many cards and 2) it wouldn't be enough money to fund the project.

                                                          It was a good thought. I'm searching now for credit unions in my area that do give Bus Loans.

                                                            • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                              guru2008 Wayfarer
                                                              Randy I get the sense that you have a very good handle on your business objectives and in a good way over anaylize. now where I was going was if you just walk into a bank that you don't know start a small relationship with. "checking account" note small banks usually are friendlier or just walk in set a meeting and throw your deal in the air its bound to get some response bankers know bankers who know investment groups and if he or she gets a strong sense of trust your networking night pay off also if all else fails this first round of rejection might toughen you up for round two and get you in the game. also the credit card scenario could bring your score up. I personally have on a discover card $15,000 on a Discover card zero% interest till August 2008 and have it in an interest bearing account at ING for about 5% so they are currently paying me to hold their money GO FIGURE...........



                                                              Guru 2008
                                                  • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                    loan guy Wayfarer



                                                    No problem with your post. I find it very informative. thanks. I understand condition of a business in terms of getting financing. You have done alot of research and if capital for 75-100k is what you are seeking , that should not be a problem. email me at

                                                    • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                      StudyTyme Newbie
                                                      Wow, 900+ views and still no real leads on lending institutions that work with start ups other than one from walkerlending. What should I read into that?
                                                      • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                        Lighthouse24 Ranger

                                                        Your post probably has 900+ views because (if other members are anything like me) people just saw the subject "Start Up Questions" and forgot they'd read this once already -- or several times!

                                                        It looks as though four people have provided a similar response -- that you'll likely have to seek investors or private lending rather than bank financing (and I'd agree with that assessment). In any case, the "poke holes in my business plan" part that you mentioned comes first, and I think anyone who has responded so far would be willing to give your plan a quick review and comment. You could then decide if some paid professional guidance was needed to make it "investor ready."

                                                        Hope this helps. Best wishes.
                                                          • Re: Start Up Questions
                                                            StudyTyme Newbie
                                                            That you for taking the time to post. While the advice to seek outside investment may prove to be the route I will have to go, I would think someone who is interested in a post about start up questions, specifically financing would know of a bank that gives loans to start ups. I would prefer them to tell me no we you're not qualified for a loan. As for my Bus. Plan, I have sent out two emails to people who have responded.

                                                            Thank you again for your input.