Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh, even better (maybe)

I talked to a supervisor at the state agency with funds to support enterprises like mine. Well, it would seem that they're considering a grant rather than a loan for my firm. The grant would cover a little less than half of my projected shortfall (about one month's payroll, benefits, and expenses).

At least that was the preliminary assessment I got today. Nothing is official until the complete evaluation is done, then reviewed by committee, then recommended to the next level, then decided, then processed, then issued... but, it would seem that a situation like the one I am presently in (namely the need for a couple months of "working capital" to cover the gap between receiving an award and getting the funds) is precisely what the program was designed to resolve. I should know mid-January in any case.

Meantime, I've given the go ahead to my banker to set up the line-of-credit. Best would be if I don't need it all. But it's sure nice to know it's available if I do. Guess I might not be needing outside investment after all, eh?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Catching up

So much to say. I'll just start and see where it leads:
  • I'm now patent pending. A long and somewhat arduous process. But it's done and submitted, with the blessing of my patent attorney. About $5000 down, and perhaps two or three years to wait. But I can open my mouth now (a bit) and let the world know what I've got and how I intend to use it (at least as much as I dare).
  • I just had a big audit today from the government agency that oversees contractors. I think... I passed, which means I may be okayed (in the next couple weeks... paperwork takes time) to proceed to the two year contract! Yippee! Well, almost. I'll drink a toast when the contract is in hand.

Well, those are the two biggies! I have been considering lately inviting investment in my company. I've realized over the past six months or so, as I've been buried in administrivia (yes, entrepreneurs too, not just faculty), that what I most want is to focus on the research. I had been thinking that taking on investors might be a means to facilitate that. I had been thinking that selling off a bit of the company might be a way to buff up the cash-on-hand in order to hire some more staff for administrative details, and that it might permit me to acquire the expertise and commitment of others to the success of the enterprise, whose money would be on the line as well.

It's not entirely past tense, but it seems to be moving there. See, one of the issues that has arisen lately, as I approach the point where I actually have this two year contract in hand (as well as a full staff of employees, with salaries and benefits to cover), is that the government pays in arrears. The company invoices about once a month for expenses already incurred, and about a month later they pay. Okay... so what covers those two months of expenses? Problem, you see?

When it was just me, I could pay myself a couple months later. That was the plan, you see: We moved somewhere we could afford, and we calculated that our savings could cover us for a while. But now those savings are significantly diminished, in large part because we put a big chunk into buying this house, then another even bigger chunk into buying the office building. And... I can't expect new hires to be happy enough to go a couple months without pay. So... I have to be creative.

In the past week, I've gotten word from one bank that they'd be willing to issue me a line-of-credit sufficient to cover those expenses. But I'd have to pledge my personal savings and such (you know, things like the house and cars), and pay about 6% interest. It's possible the state may offer my firm a bridge loan at 2% (but they aren't exactly quick in making a decision). So, I'm still considering taking investment, but not entirely enthusiastically.

Meantime, woo hoo! I... I can't believe I'm here, that I'm sitting on top of a company doing the most exciting research I can imagine, creating jobs, owning a home and an office. All is well in the land of us. What a change!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Tonight I got an email from one job applicant, whom I was hoping to invite out for an onsite visit in the next couple weeks. He wrote to say he'd taken a job elsewhere. Last week, I got word from one of the two who came out a few weeks ago, that she as well had accepted an offer elsewhere. So, I've got one new hire coming in the early spring, a couple part-timers and me. That leaves two vacancies as I had planned them, and a bit of uncertainty on my part how I will fill those slots, and whether I will simple proceed as I have been or rethink my tack.

It's hard not to see these two disappointments as a set back. Not severe or insurmountable. Not even as concerning as the details and logistics of getting these two contracts actually awarded (and not still pending). Not as pressing as filing the patent applications, or obtaining bridge funding to get me from the end of one contract to the start of the next two (since payment is always in arrears a couple months, but I still need to cover not only my own expenses, but salary and benefits, etc. for a full staff--that is, once I have one!).

Still a setback. Still disappointing. But I remain committed. I will find the right people. I will build the staff.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

...and another reason I like...

"And another reason I like working for you.." is how my wife started a sentence last night, as we drove home from a dinner date. What a marvelously good place to be in life.

I have:
  • a wonderful, delightful relationship with my best friend, my wife;
  • three charming, and sometimes infuriating boys, growing, developing, challenging;
  • a house which we can afford;
  • a degree of respect that I spent years longing for;
  • passion and excitement about the ideas I spend my days considering;
  • confidence in the potential of these ideas to have a positive impact on peoples lives;
  • hope that this line of work will sustain me for the next 10, 20, 30 years

I can sweat the small stuff.