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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 10, 2000. All rights reserved.
Chicken & Egg Financing
The entrepreneur says, "I want to hire a marketing
guru, I just need the money," while the investor says, "If
only they had a marketing guy, I’d love to put my money in." It’s
a song and dance that Randy Harmon, a business consultant with
the Technology Help Desk & Incubator at 100 Jersey Avenue in New Brunswick,
sees often when working with dotcom start-ups. "The biggest challenge
is not the unavailability of financing, it’s the lack of management
team," he says. "Entrepreneurs will always tell me `as soon
as I get my financing I’m going hire a marketing manager,’ but venture
capitalists say `I really like that technology, if only they had a
marketing person on board.’ The whole point is that it’s very difficult
for an entrepreneur who does not have a complete management team to
capture venture financing."
Harmon speaks on "Launching and Financing a Technology-based Business"
at the Venture Association of New Jersey on Tuesday, May 16, at 9
a.m. at the Westin in Morristown. Harmon will be joined by Richard
Mattessich of Buchanan Ingersoll and Ellen Sandles
Venture Association’s private investor network. Call 973-267-4200.
A project of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center, the
Technology Help Desk & Incubator has an information and referral hotline
(800-432-1TEC) that is billed as "a one-stop gateway to information,
commercialization, and management assistance services and referral
to a statewide and national network of business development resource
organizations." It lives up to its billing and can help firms
with technologies that vary from multimedia software to — literally
— nuts and bolts.
"Find me the money" is what most entrepreneurs say when they
call, says Harmon, who went to Cornell’s School of Industrial and
Labor Relations, Class of 1975, and stayed in Ithaca to be county
employment and training director before getting his MBA from Rutgers
and joining the SBDC. Harmon directs these clients to the Small Business
Innovation Research grants or Small Business Technology Transfer grants.
"These will help entrepreneurs develop the technology," he
says. "As the technology advances, and they develop the business,
then their risk drops and they may get early stage financing or identify
a financer." He also encourages inventors and entrepreneurs to
bootstrap using credit cards if necessary.
As for finding management for many of these start-ups, that’s a more
daunting task, says Harmon, who is trying to create a reserve pool
of management talent to pair with companies by recruiting alumni from
Rutgers’ School of Management on a part-time and full-time basis.
Even with financing and leadership in place, getting a technology-based
business off the ground is not a piece of cake, says Harmon. "If
there’s a single universal truth about entrepreneurship it’s that
everything takes longer than the entrepreneur’s most conservative
investment," Harmon says. "If there’s a second universal truth,
it’s that it takes more money than the entrepreneur’s most conservative
Career turnarounds come along with regularity, but the
most successful ones often draw from an old career to enhance the
new situation. That’s what Cara Staley did. Before she founded
the Brain Tumor Research & Education Fund, she had a company that
sold medical devices to orthopedic surgeons. Her 180-degree turnaround
came when her husband died of a brain tumor after a three-year illness.
"Going back to the sales business felt so meaningless," says
Staley, "that I decided to take my business skills and do something
I felt passionate about."
Her foundation presents David M. Bailey, former software analyst
and brain tumor survivor, in a concert on Saturday, May 13, at 7:30
p.m. in the Princeton University Chapel. Bailey’s music, which is
in the James Taylor/Gordon Lightfoot tradition, carries a message
of hope, faith, and love of life. The concert is free, and a freewill
offering will be taken. Call 609-818-0387.
Staley has made her new business, the foundation, into a textbook
case of how to leverage past business contacts to make gains for the
future. "I had a business repping to orthopedic surgeons in the
area," says Staley, an alumna of Louisiana State University, Class
of 1975. "As my husband, Robert Staley, grew sicker, I let the
business go so I could be with him."
"Most people don’t know that brain tumors are the second leading
cause of death from cancer in young adults," says Staley, "and
that by next year brain tumors will be the number one cancer-killer
of children. I thought that if I can get passionate about implants,
I can get a lot more passionate about selling something that has something
that has so much meaning to me." Her foundation is now located
at 404 Reading Street, Pennington 08534, 609-977-4249, E-mail: email@example.com.
There is no known cure for brain tumors, and the outcome has remained
the same for 25 years. Since fewer than 1 percent of neurologists
specialize in the treatment of brain tumors, Staley wants to dedicate
her fundraising for this year — a projected $2 million —
to sponsor fellowships for physicians in neuro-oncology.
Her husband, Robert Staley, had been director of sales and marketing
for Accumed, a company in Portland, Oregon, and also for EBI, a manufacturer
of bone growth stimulators in Parsippany. To line up grants for the
foundation she turned to the orthopedic community and went to a meeting
of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
It worked. One executive she met there sent out letters to 20 top
executives in the field saying that he was going to make a "meaningful
contribution" to the fund, and he also gave Staley their direct
line phone numbers. "It was a great way to do something for me,"
says Staley. Another executive, from EBI, signed EBI up as a major
sponsor of the Bailey concert.
Other important gifts have been in the form of time. Mark Malkin,
associate attending neurologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer
Center, chairs the organization’s advisory board, "and that gives
us a lot of credibility," says Staley. Another gift of time that
she treasures is Bailey’s, a software analyst who was diagnosed three
years ago as having a year to live. He quit his job, started composing
and performing, and now donates time — to give people hope (www.notbychance.com).
State-of-the art wind turbines, solar cells that produce
electricity, electric-powered vehicles, and the latest fuel cell products
bringing space-age technology into our kitchen will be on display
at the Green Festival on Monday, May 15, at 10 a.m. at the New Jersey
State Museum lawn in Trenton.
Test drive 50 earth-friendly vehicles, including cars from the American
Tour de Sol, the U.S. electric vehicle championship, or visit the
Clean Power 2000 exposition, a showcase of leading national and international
solar, wind, and fuel cell companies including BP Solarex, GreenMountain.com,
NJResources, Energy Unlimited, and GPU Solar. Then a workshop entitled
"Communities Going Solar" highlights the economic and environmental
benefits of renewable energy systems in New Jersey, and options in
"green" energy suppliers currently available to New Jersey
consumers. Call 609-275-7444.
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