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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Applications’

Diary of a Tech Start-Up: Funding…Dance with the Devil or Not

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

One of the ongoing debates going on with our tech start-up is whether to seek outside investment or not.  The first point that is often made by one of us is that it is too early to be thinking about it.  Heck, we just launched the beta version of this site and are now getting our first customers…isn’t it a bit presumptive to think about asking for $$ from a stranger? 

This scenario reminds me of a scene in the greatest movie of all time — Waiting for Guffman.  Corky St. Clair is charged with directing a play about Blaine, Missourri’s history.  Corky approaches the City Council and states that the ONLY thing he needs to throw the play is “one hundred thousand dollars”.  When informed that the City’s annual budget is $100k and that includes swimming, Corky responds “there won’t be swimming in my play.”  How does this tie into our discussion for asking for outside investment?  Well, maybe it doesn’t but it’s a great movie.  No, my point is that we before we seek out investment, we need to clearly establish a need for our services and that we have a competent management team that will know what to do with the money if/when we do get it.  We can’t go in all Corky St. Clair, not having a clue as to what is a reasonable amount of investment and establish what we are going to do with the money will have a strong likelihood of showing a return on investment.  See Corky asking for money

Now comes a more pressing question.  Assuming the time is right (and we don’t ask for the entire City Council’s budget), do we seek out investment at all?  As Raj pointed out in an earlier post, there are now a lot of tools that exist that make starting and running a business very inexpensive.  To date, we’ve been self-funding KikScore and we’re pretty good at stretching a dollar.  While it would be great to have a swank office and have the ability to throw an awesome holiday party with a DJ, it may not be worth the equity and control we’d have to give up (it really depends on how good the DJ is).  We’re not alone in our thinking.  According to a recent posting on www.rockyradar.com84% of Inc’s Fastest Growing 500 companies never received venture capital (though many did likely get angel financing). 

Several of us on the KikScore team have been part of venture-backed companies previously.  Some of us had good experiences, some of us did not.  So, as we continue to grow our customer base and improve upon our core product, the debate within KikScore will rage — do we continue to self-fund or do we seek professional investment.  We’ll keep you updated (and we’d love to hear your thoughts about it).

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Posts Tagged ‘Small Business Applications’

2009 Trends in Ecommerce: Open Up That Box of Tools!

Monday, October 26th, 2009

The economy made the last few months a challenge for everyone including online merchants.  The good news for merchants is the growing availability in 2009 of cost-effective tools that can make an online shopper’s experience better.  Every online merchant should consider using these tools to enrich the experience for their customers and also reduce a merchant’s costs.

1. Widgets

    Widgets are everywhere.  Developers around the world have developed small applications that can be installed quickly and for free to nearly any type of website.  Widgetbox and Google Apps and Gadgets are just two of the places where merchants can go to download a host of widgets such as calendars, feedback mechanisms, sales and discount applications and many more.

    2. Outsourcing Applications and Staff

      Merchants now have a number of options to use outsourced staff to support their business and their customers.  Need back-office help or staff to support your customers.  Vendors like MyBusinessAssistant.com offer end-to-end support for merchants for answering customer service calls, providing phone numbers, serving as a virtual assistant to coordinate tasks.  Companies like FreshBooks give small businesses the ability to easily invoice, track expenses and manage the finance operations for the merchant.  These tools allow the merchants too focus on their business and allow them to better support their customers.

      3. Open Source Applications

        The growth of open source applications has only helped small businesses.  SugarCRM is an example of a completely free (they also have higher end paid options) open-source application that gives merchants a fairly sophisticated CRM offering so that they can track, monitor and value customers and leads, among many other things.  There are also end-to-end solutions for customer support applications that are open source that a merchant can buy at a fraction of a cost of an enterprise application.  Soon there will be open-source applications for nearly every part of a small business.  This will only help small businesses and make them more competitive while cutting their costs.

        What tools are you using or have begun using for your merchant?

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