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An Introduction to De Constructing Colorado: The 8 Cities

Angel Capital Summit - October 7, 2010 - 2:28am
Heat Map of 8 Cities

Colorado is a very interesting place to live when it comes to finance, purchasing large ticket items, and knowing where to best start a business. This series of articles is written to educate investors, advisors, and entrepreneurs about the make up of Colorado from an investor stance as well as new business and we will be drilling down into eight cities to clarify or enlighten the audience.
These articles will be statistical in a way that makes sense on a high level and the best thing is there will be pictures. I even put some in this first post because I am always a little disappointed when you read that there is cool stuff ahead and there isn't a sample. Well here goes, the sample is research that brought me to the eight areas. It is not too difficult to use numbers to skew information and my job is to dismantle the information and rebuild it to make sure that decisions can be made based on information with substance.

A source of information complied from public records and Business Journal data states 4,411 New Businesses Opened in Colorado in the Past 12 months. Another source that compiles data from public records, investor questionnaire, seminars, stockholder, and shareholder lists, as well as telemarketing and other proprietary sources states that there are 9,687 Accredited Investors in Colorado. The third-party vendors have been in business providing quality data one for decades and the other for over a century, and they have each built a reputation as a good data provider.
The List

LITTLETON

FORT COLLINS

LAFAYETTE

GOLDEN

BROOMFIELD

LONGMONT

ENGLEWOOD

LOUISVILLE

Click HERE to see the Full Story with Pictures
Categories: Blog articles

Part 3: The 4th Bottom Line - Markets Create Jobs

Angel Capital Summit - September 13, 2010 - 9:11am
Kevin Johansen

Part 3: The 4th Bottom Line - Markets Create Jobs

Isn’t it obvious? We certainly think so…

Nothing moves unless it’s sold. Period. Beyond the occasional Pet Rock™, pretty much everything bought is thought to be useful for some reason by the buyer. That’s why they bought it. If there’s no market for a thing, there’s no way for it to connect to a consumer. So creating markets creates jobs.
Ergo sum: More & better markets results in more jobs.

So taking care of markets and the business ecologies they evolve up from via the creation of good policies and legislation that work to insure a level playing field, stability, rationality and a modicum of predictability is KEY.

But who creates markets?

(May I have a drum roll, please…)

Categories: Blog articles

Part 2 : The 4th Bottom Line - Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Angel Capital Summit - September 2, 2010 - 6:05am
Kevin Johansen

Part 2: The 4th Bottom Line - Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Businesses add jobs for a small set of very specific reasons. (Granted, there are those businesses that do ‘create’ jobs out of thin air, but they generally don’t scale well or are investible, as a couple of the main reasons jobs are ‘created’ out of thin air are nepotism and cronyism. This puts the company into the ‘not interested’ category for investors. ‘Crony’ is a good old word, isn’t it? Wish it was retired…)

Number 1 on this list is because they’ve customers needing to be served.

Good businesses find their customers the old fashioned way: They earn them. And serving existing customers with existing products is fine and good. However, it’s a competitive and global marketplace and doing the same thing over and over again without improving anything generally results in your competition figuring out how to take your customers from you. Preventing that is part of building a successful and durable business – a big part of which is the ability and willingness to innovate, as innovation + market research + hard work = new sales to new customers – AKA ‘growth’.

So innovation is the key.

We’re good at that here in the U.S. of A. – still WAY better than anyone else in the world. But there are a lot of things working against our ability to innovate, research, build and sell. With your help the ACS volunteers hope to put that list together, prioritize it, identify potential solution sets and from there find ways to implement them. Call this soil prep. Everything grows better in the spring if you take care of business in the fall…

Categories: Blog articles

Part 1: The 4th Bottom Line - Our Responsibility to Our Business Ecology

Angel Capital Summit - August 27, 2010 - 9:34am
Kevin Johansen

Part 1: The 4th Bottom Line - Our Responsibility to Our Business Ecology

Fellow Travelers,

Using as clear and simple a voice as I can I’ll try to explain one of the taglines for this year’s Angel Capital Summit…

The tag line goes thus:

Governments Don’t Create Jobs
Businesses Don’t Create Jobs
Markets Create Jobs
Entrepreneurs Create Markets

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series. This part talks about the phrase ‘Governments Don’t Create Jobs’. They don’t. What they do create, however, are policies and legislation. Some of these help entrepreneurs, some don’t - and some hurt. The ones that hurt the most are those that bias the system in favor of a single company or industry, as they institutionalize unfairness.

All we really need and want is a level playing field and stability in 3-5 year windows.

The need for a level playing field is obvious. If the game’s not fair fewer people will play. (And right now we need EVERYONE on the field…) Stability is important for projections, which we generally do in 3-5 year windows. If we can’t amortize it or clearly see the potential ROI or IRR in a 3-5 year window, we’re less likely to risk it. (And right now we need to make a LOT of well informed risks…)

Taxes?

We generally don’t care much about them unless they’re unfair. Otherwise, they’re just a cost of doing business – something that we budget and plan for. Noting that what’s happening today with individual income taxes is considerably LESS than what was happening 20, 30 & 50 years ago – i.e., “the good old days” – like our parents and grandparents before us we’ll survive whatever FAIR taxes that get thrown at us, and be happy to pay them as we all know we – and our employees, partners, vendors and customers - need good schools and roads and the other kinds of infrastructure and security governments help provide.

So here’s what we’re asking you as our freely elected public servants to do with policy and legislation:

Keep it simple. The less we have to pay experts to help us understand things, the more we can invest in our own businesses. Less fine print. No loop holes. In plain language. You know this as it’s what you want yourself as a citizen and a tax payer.

Keep it fair. There are a LOT of us out here, but we’re distributed widely and thus not very well organized - which means that you don’t hear from us in a single voice all that often. This means that to be fair you sometimes you have to seek out our opinions and listen to them. As in now, please. Besides the fact that this is what we elected you to do, we’ve collectively a real opportunity to learn something new here, and to make a difference.

Keep it reasonable. That’s all we ask. Tax breaks for the rich? Not interested - even when we become rich ourselves. We want no special privileges - nor do we want any others to have them at our expense or at the expense of our communities. (It’s arguable that special privileges are what got us here, and we’re not enjoying the visit.)

And no offense to accountants and attorneys, i.e., the folks that help us figure all this stuff out and stay between the lines. We all need them. But they don’t BUILD anything, and in our world you either build it or you sell it. Everything else is overhead.

So again, please keep it simple, fair and reasonable…

Next: Part 2 – Businesses Don’t Create Jobs

Categories: Blog articles

Unemployment Is A Disease. We’re The Cure.

Angel Capital Summit - August 24, 2010 - 5:53am

Unemployment Is A Disease. We’re The Cure.

Fellow Travelers,
I caught this short - compelling and unnerving - video about unemployment on YouTube the other day:

It reminded me of too many slow motion videos I’ve seen that had something decomposing in them. It’s cancerous. Gangrenous. Necrotic. Ugly.

The solution?

Amputation, maybe. Maybe we should let those businesses that are ‘too big to fail’ do so, and see what springs up from the ashes.

Antibiotics for sure. TARP funds help, particularly those being applied to improving the infrastructure. But these are band-aids. They treat the symptom, not the cause. Better policies and legislation in support of entrepreneurship would help more.

Stopping the bleeding & the spread, however, should be our first priority. Industry by industry we’re absent policies designed to protect and nurture the job creation that comes with entrepreneurship. In some industries – like manufacturing – we’ve no national policies whatsoever. However we DO have GATT, WTO, NAFTA and lots of other acronym organizations out there that we, as small business owners and entrepreneurs, generally don’t have much of a voice in or benefit from.
But it’s US that are paying for them, nonetheless...

We protect owners & managers of large businesses, but not employees or the self employed. That’s insane. It’s like protecting teachers and administrators and not the kids. It’s like putting bug spray & fertilizer on your plants in the summer but not doing soil prep in the fall. It’s like…

It’s time to fix this. The cure’s likely going to hurt. Most do. But we did this to ourselves. If the cure didn’t hurt we’ll likely do it again.

Embrace transparency. Level the playing field. Encourage engagement.
The best games are always fair ones - and thus games that more of us will play.

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles

Part 2: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Angel Capital Summit - August 22, 2010 - 6:22pm
Kevin Johansen

Part 2: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Fellow Travelers,

Getting the right mentors involved with your business is always a challenge. Like dating (Remember dating?), it’s something of a numbers game. Pick your metaphor- kissing frogs, turning over rocks, waiting for Godot, etc.

The bottom line is that it’s not easy.

So we’re making it easier. The Business Profiling process on the ACS is a checklist driven process. (Entrepreneurship is COMPLICATED. Checklists are a way to manage complexity. Pilots use checklists. Doctors use checklists. Now you can, too.) A blank checkmark means that you need help.

When a mentor in your ACS Partner group clicks on your file to open it they’re asked to see blank check marks as targets to hit. From there, they can make comments on your Business Profile for you to read, ping you via email w/ their thoughts, connect w/ other mentors in your ACS Partner group to discuss your Business Profile and then communicate their collective thoughts to you - or simply pick up the phone and call you.

So the question then is: Are you talking w/ the right mentor?

More is better: This particular kind of ‘numbers game’ means that an ACS Partner with a large number of mentors is more likely to help you generate a good ‘mentor match’ than one with fewer. So if your group isn’t large enough, grow it! Invite more mentors – as many as you need or want. We’ve plenty of room.

(On a side note, this ‘numbers game’ has created an interesting dynamic between some of the ACS Partners. As most of the ACS mentors have businesses, and as most of these businesses are looking for clients, being a mentor is sometimes good for business. So what’s been happening is that some of the ACS Partners are offering their mentors to other ACS Partner groups. We had about 400 volunteers helping to mentor the entrepreneurs last year. We’ll likely have more this year. Need some? Let me know and I’ll get you connected.)

More soon…

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles

Part 1: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Angel Capital Summit - August 20, 2010 - 8:37am
Kevin Johansen

Part 1: The Angel Capital Summit Process: Mentoring, Deal Screening - And Learning All the Way

Fellow Travelers,

This ACS process is pretty simple, really. It mirrors how entrepreneurs build their businesses offline, so we brought it online to speed it up. We’ve also improved it in a number of ways via the use of Web 2.0 & 3.0 thinking & tools and the healthy use of social media.

What you’re used to: If you’ve ever applied to present at an angel investor fair in the past, it’s likely because you received a ‘Call for Business Plans’ via email. This invitation asked you to send your BPlan to someone in the organization hosting the event by a specific date. This got you busy.

The date was generally 2-4 months in the future. You had that much time to build and/or fine tune your business plan. During this period you sought as much advice as you could get and used it as best you could. During this period you also got progressively more nervous as the submission date approached. If you’re like most of us you likely waited until the last minute – 11:59 PM – to hit the ‘Send’ button on your hopes and dreams.

From there, you waited…

A couple of weeks later you likely got one of two emails: ‘Thanks for applying, but you weren’t selected…’ – or - ‘We’d like you to come in for an audition’
If you auditioned, your Company was likely one of 2X to 4X the number of presentation slots available. If you presented well, you moved forward. If you didn’t, you didn’t. And if you didn’t, you may or may not have been told why.

What the ACS does: Instead of a BPlan you’re asked to build a ‘Business Profile’. This is a learning process in itself, as to complete it you’re required to think of your business as an investor will. Historically, about 20% of you haven’t been able to do that. This means that you’re not ready to talk w/ investors. This is good, as it keeps you from embarrassing yourself and burning contacts.

You’re also asked to take the ‘Benchmark Survey’. The resulting ‘Benchmark Report’ shows you where you’re at compared to your successful peers. Really. The Executive Summary is graphic. You’re either in the green or in the red – you’re either on the success path, or off it. And all of this is FREE.

From there, the mentoring begins.

The Business Profiling process is checklist driven. A completed Business Profile generates a ‘completeness rating’ from 0 to 100. This rating is generated by the checklist.

A blank check box is a signal that you need help - it’s also a target for an advisor to hit. The job of ACS Partner group you’re working with is to spot these learning opportunities and then help you connect to the right advisor at the right time for the right reasons.

Sexy, huh?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles

10,000 Investors to the Angel Capital Summit

Angel Capital Summit - August 19, 2010 - 4:45am
Kevin Johansen

10,000 Investors to the Angel Capital Summit - It's our goal to invite them.

Fellow Travelers,

So far, we’ve contact information for just over 9,300 accredited investors here in Colorado. We’ll be sending them an invitation to the ACS in September. If they’re interested, we’ll also invite them up onto the ACS Executive Committee and ask them to help us pick the ACS Finalists. But our primary goal is to get them connected with the ACS Partners in their neighborhood.

Here’s the list of ACS Partners so far.

Want to help with this?

Trying to get a new angel network started?

Have investors you’d like to connect with us?

Want more investors for your ACS Partner group?

Want to become an ACS Partner?

Let me know…

Best,
Kevin Johansen

Categories: Blog articles
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