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This Week in Entrepreneurship (and self-employment)

Post devoid of specifics or confidential information, and I might have left stuff out

One thing is for sure, life as an “entrepreneur” is never the same week to week (this recognizes that “entrepreneurship” or being self-employed ranges from being a single practitioner consultant to owning a retail operation to starting a high-tech company). One of the things that I wrote earlier is that it is clear that “one size doesn't fit all" on this board. But right now, there is such an appeal to being a “wage slave.”

Since I've posted here last, we've (the company) gone through the continuing process of following up on our earlier success of having our company's product/technology accepted by the standards committee of one of the major end-user governing bodies in our “space.” This is important because it will be (come September when these standards are actually published) the first time a third party has recognized the compelling nature of what the company is doing, and open a number of end-user and partnership doors.

We were also encouraged that at least one of the major potential licensees/customers, while distracted by some of their own internal issues, is quite interested in discussing a licensing agreement with us (largely based on our acceptance for the “industry standards”)(but there is never enough time in a week, and other important contacts did not connect this week)(lesson, we have no control over other company's priorities). Related to this, one of the government jurisdictions interested in our “product” had asked us to perform some materials testing, and yet, now a month after the request, the supplier of the material has yet to provide us with the sample (we would have paid for the sample, but they had indicated that it wasn't necessary…the delay is typical of the “BS” that entrepreneurs often face – we don't control other peoples' schedules or priorities).

Two new initiatives were started this week, both related to the core business. One will be pushed starting tomorrow...the other will have to wait until fall.

A meeting with a major defense contractor in our area (a potential partner, acquirer etc.) continues to be postponed (excuse being summer vacations - what's vacation???). Despite statements that the meeting is going to happen (now since May), I've not received a return phone call or response to two emails (from my contact) this week that provided additional updates to our technical and business development, and requesting a meeting date.

A discussion with a potential cross-marketer/licensee (that we met at the standards conference 3 weeks ago) earlier in the week led to a request for more information (but without a confidentiality agreement, that information was less specific than it could have been). They are supposed to be sending us a 2-way confidentiality agreement so we can “more safely” transmit quite proprietary information. Of course, three other companies that we met at that meeting have not yet returned follow-up emails and/or phone calls (my general rule is to keep calling on a periodic basis – like twice a week – until they tell me to stop calling).

A critical meeting with a potential gov't sponsor was postponed again, although it now looks good that we'll have that meeting the week after next (its importance cannot be over emphasized, nor can the cost of moving 3 people to DC for the meeting)…and of course, if the meeting happens when it is now supposed to happen, I'm going to have to renege on a promise to my daughter to help her move to her new apartment since I won't be in town that day.

On the investment/funding front, this was no less frustrating than any other week. One guy, who has promised to forward his deal letter and terms/conditions to us still has not (even though he's promised both me and my contact to him that he would)…his is still the “best deal in town” if it is real. Two other investment groups exist right now. One (quite well-known names in our field associated with it) has accepted our preliminary information, but has yet to sign a confidentiality agreement with us to permit transfer of proprietary information. The second, we met with last Thursday (they have a specialty in our 'technology space'). Despite a great presentation, I expect to be told that they'd be happy to help us after we've secured our first customer or gov't contract (at which point, I'd likely not need them or their money). ON top of that, it was beastly hot this week here, and I had to wear the "dreaded" suit and tie...ughh!

Put your thumb and forefinger together with a narrow space between them, and that is how close we are to falling of the cliff, and yet, we've never been in a stronger position.

A third potential investor was introduced to me by a friend who has brought us investors before. There has been no reaction or response yet from this “benefactor.” Who knows what news this week will bring?

Our presentation has never been this perfect (presentation of course is only maybe 30% of the game when it comes to raising VC funding). One of my more artistic/creative friends has offerred to try to do an animated presentation that could be copied to a CD and sent to prospects. This would be good, of course.

Stress continues to rule!

Was notified by my patent att'y that fees were due on Sept. 1st. Of course, we don't have the funds at the moment (high 5's), but then I found out that there is a “grace period” of six there is "still time."

My “tech. guy” is hanging in with me, despite lack of salary for the last few months. I'd wanted to find a way to cede him some real equity (instead of “options”) but found that it couldn't be done without a tax consequences.

Landlord is being quite tolerant, but we're still a few months “tardy” and our lease is up in September (and yes, having an office is quite important to our credibility).

Company funds are short (at least shorter than I'd like them to be). This week I had to sell securities to have the funds to meet personal obligations for the first time.


This is a life I chose to live (or was it chosen for me?), but if I knew then, what I know now, I'd likely have:

(1) become a shoe salesman
(2) tried to find a job as a college prof.
(3) started working at Home Depot
(4) applied for “that” job opening in California

I have re-started my job search, just in case. In the event a "job" is in my future, relocation to a far distant state is a very high likelihood.
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