**** Contest Suspended ****
I didn't get any great business ideas I felt I had to fund. My original thinking still holds: it is worth betting everything to create magic. I just didn't see the magic. If you contemplated entering thanks and best of luck. I would have had a hard time funding a start up and my planned bicycle ride across the country in September 2010. I've decided to focus on a life long dream of getting to Santa Monica on a bicycle. If you have great ideas I wish you nothing but the bes of luck.
Live Your Dream With My Money Contest
I updated several features of this post. Follow the link above to see the most recent version of my $100,000 business plan contest.
Win Martin’s Life Savings
I listened to my advice the other day. This is always a dangerous thing to do. There was something in my Tweet to new college graduates. “Create something great,” I urged “recession graduates.” “No jobs = no risk,” I encouraged explaining that I graduated in a recession (1980) and would do things differently. If I knew then what I know now, as the saying goes, I would have started a company.
Something you don’t understand at graduation is how hard it can be to recast yourself. It is not impossible, but we tend to keep doing the thing we were doing. When I was at Vassar I heard an interesting statistic. The head of Vassar’s career development office explained that we would probably change professions several times. Knowing how to do a particular thing, she explained, was not as important as knowing how to BE.
I’ve lived this truth. I changed my profession at M&M/Mars when I moved from sales to information technology. I changed again when entrepreneurship called and we created Found Objects (and FoundObjects.com). From sales to IT and from IT to marketing online adds up o three “profession” changes along with five job changes (more about Martin (Marty) Smith on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/martysmith1980vc ).
Changing professions is not easy as it sounds. Some die is cast in an unchangeable way. I won’t become a medical doctor or follow my father to Wall Street. Those and many other ships have permanently sailed. As I exhorted students to create something, start a company and be courageous I realized something. I was telling graduating seniors to do as I say and not as I’m doing. I have to put up or shut up. I have to put my money on the line to help recession graduates find their creative, “start something” future.
Who can apply?
Five groups may apply for Martin’s $100,000 award:
- Recent college graduates (2005 to 2009).
- Currently laid off or unemployed
- Family lost money to Bernie Madoff
- FOM (friends of Martin)
How do I apply?
Email business plan to martinsellingzoe(at)aol(dot)com before Labor Day (Monday September 7th). Expect a confirmation within 48 hours. If you don’t receive a confirmation after two days, please email me and confirm receipt.
Recession Business Plan Deadline: Monday September 7th (Labor Day)
Business Plan Outline
Here is information we need:
I. The Business
A. Business and Market Description
B. Marketing: Business’s Unique Selling Proposition
C. Competition: Strengths and Weaknesses
D. Blue Ocean: Where is the opportunity and why aren’t other
sharks already swimming there?
E. How will your company change the world?
F. Management Team (Bios, Resumes, Personal Capital Involved)
G. Board of Directors (Bios, Resumes, Personal Capital Involved…this can be a “dream team”
if there is some reasonable chance they would sign on)
II. Financial Data
A. How will $100,000 be used? Last?
B. What are total capital requirements of your business idea?
C. Breakeven analysis: when will business breakeven?
Pro-forma income projections (profit and loss statements)
(month by month detail for 1st year, quarterly in out years, years 2 and 3)
Pro-forma cash flow
D. Exit strategy
III. Strategy and Key Milestones
A. Describe Company’s “Crossing the Chasm” strategy.
B. Define 3 Go / No Go milestones.
B. Define 5 key business milestones.
C. Describe relationships between milestones, time and money.
For example: If strategic alliance A can’t be achieved by date (D1) alliances with
B, C and D must be in place by date (D2).
D. Who achieves what by when?
What do you want?
Martin’s $100,000 Business Plan Award is a loan. The winning company will carry the loan on its books at prime plus two points. Repayment strategies will be discussed and documented before funds transfer.
Are you leaving your day job as Director of E-Commerce?
No, can hardly afford to do that now can I :).
Who owns my idea/company?
Everyone has ideas. I learned this at Found Objects. Each day someone would tell us they had a, “million dollar” gift idea. Ideas are abundant. Successful execution of an idea is rare. An idea in your head is worth nothing. An idea in the world may be worth something someday. Ideas have to leave your head to be worth anything. Once ideas exit your grey matter life’s friction shapes them. If you believe your ideas are so ingenious, so unique everyone is trying to steal them please DO NOT apply. I have no idea what if any participation (beyond money) I will want or can afford. These details will need to be discussed and negotiated.
What else do you get
The winner of Martin $100,000 Recession Business Plan Award receives access to my network of friends, vendors and providers. If your business needs programmers, Internet service providers (ISP’s), graphic design work or hardware we’ve got that and more in my FOM network.
What if we need more money?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It is important for your business plan to accurately describe cash requirements by time. Second round financing right now, well let’s just say “good luck with that”, so positive cash flow as soon as possible is critical.
Who will win?
I have no idea. We may get 2 goofystupid ideas and a dog, and, if that is the case, my life savings will stay in the inflation ravaged CD they are in.
How do we know you have the money?
My banker’s email will be shared with 10 finalists.
What do I get when I win?
Ah, confidence that is good ☺. The contest is about the right to have a conversation about how we can work together. We will meet with as many of the ten finalists as possible evaluating if we can work together. Our work product from these conversations will be a ranked list. We may make offers to several people / companies on this list or we may offer all the award to a single company. We'll keep going until all the money is gone and a new company or companies are borne.
Application deadline is Labor Day (September 7th) and awards will be final by October 1st.
Sending a business plan constitutes a mutual non-disclosure agreement. I have an “advisory” group of 3 friends. My confirmation of your plan is an agreement to share your idea ONLY with those 3 friends. We always have three to five things in the works. If your plan is even close to anything we are already working on we will stop reading and explain we have a potential conflict. We’ll discuss the conflict and decide if your plan stays in the contest or if we need to exclude it. This contest is void where prohibited and in lieu of lengthy hard to read terms and conditions everyone agrees to BE NICE, BE ETHICAL and act like a human being.
We will insist you have a lawyer review our offer should we make one, but let's keep lawyers on the bench as long as humanly possible.