Seeking Sources of Venture Capital

Stress-Free Summer Travel Breaks

Unwanted Notoriety: How to Handle It

Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the May 28, 2003 edition of U.S. 1

Newspaper, and a correction was made on June 4, 2003. All rights

reserved.

How to Win That Foundation Grant

There are 65,000 foundations in the United States, and

nearly all of them share the same basic mission — to give away

money. "The trend is that the money is steadily rising," says

Charles Pulliam, vice president of Columbia, South

Carolina-based

Research Associates. Founded in 1985, the company helps non-profits

of all kinds to craft grants that will pull in some of the cash to

fund their programs.

On Monday, June 2, beginning at 8:30 a.m., Research Associates gives

a week-long Certified Grants Specialist course at the Hasbrouck

Heights

Hilton. Cost: $659. For more information, call 803-750-9759 or visit

www.grantexperts.com

Research Associates was founded by Mike DuBose, who had worked

as a grants administrator for two South Carolina governors and seven

South Carolina agencies. In addition to training grant writers —

12,000 of them to date — the company writes grants on behalf of

non-profits. "We have over 90 percent approval on grants,"

says Pulliam. The grants, mostly written for elementary and secondary

schools in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, have totaled

$200 million so far, and the company is "looking to expand to

other states," he says.

A soft-spoken, low-pressure type of guy, Pulliam says his company

is unique in certifying grant writers, but he encourages anyone

interested

in perfecting the skill to take training from competitors as well.

He says that participants in his company’s grant writing courses come

from state agencies, city governments, and all kinds of non-profits.

"There has been an increase in (participants from) faith-based

organizations," he notes. Anyone is eligible to take the courses,

which attract some freelance grant writers. While some participants

pay their own way, Pulliam estimates that about 80 percent are

sponsored

by their organizations.

In studying students’ evaluation forms, says Pulliam, the company

noted that many participants wanted "someone to stamp their

ticket."

In other words, they wanted some recognition of the fact that they

had received formal training in grant writing. As a result, the course

ends with a test. Participants must pass it to be receive a

certificate

declaring that they are "certified grant writers."

Success in writing winning grants depends on a number of skills, some

Research Associates can instill, and some — Pulliam admits —

it cannot.

Writing skill. Narratives within a grant application spell

out the applying-organization’s mission, discuss its programs, and

explain why it needs the money, and how it plans to use it to make

a difference. Laying out the facts in a compelling manner takes

organization,

focus, and a certain flair for making a case in a compelling manner.

The stronger the grant writer’s narrative skills, the better chance

he has of making the case. Such expertise can not be taught in a

one-week

course.

A way with numbers. Pulliam himself excels at putting

together the narratives, but claims no prowess with numbers. It

doesn’t

take an advanced math degree to write the budget sections of a grant

proposal, but some facility with numbers is important. This is

especially

true, says Pulliam, because "some grant reviewers do not even

look at the narrative; they just look at the budget."

The proper structure. Here is where the grant writers’

course appears to earn the lion’s share of its fee. A grant, like

a resume, is a structured document. Not only does it have to contain

specific types of information, but it has to lay it out in the way

that foundation decision makers expect to see it. Pulliam says that

his organization has the format down to a science. Based on its

experience,

it is able to teach students, for example, just how many bar charts

should go on a page.

The look of the document. Perhaps the biggest error that

non-profits make in submitting grants, Pulliam finds, is that they

toss them together with too little effort. Often, a person who already

has a full-time job within the non-profit is assigned to knock out

a grant proposal. The resulting document may find itself "dead

on arrival," says Pulliam.

Like a resume written in pencil or a contract with numbers repeatedly

crossed out and re-written, a grant proposal with uneven margins,

blatant grammatical errors, and dog-eared pages will quickly be tossed

into the trash.

In addition to the certified grants specialist course it is

about to give in Hasbrouck Heights, Research Associates offers an

advanced course, senior certified grants specialist, which focuses,

says Pulliam, "on administrative issues and higher-level

foundation

concepts." It attempts to teach participants "how to jump

inside the reviewer’s head."

Information on the advanced course, as well as on books and software

to take some of the guesswork out of the grant application process

are available at the company’s website, www.grantexperts.com

Top Of Page
Seeking Sources of Venture Capital

In this current flow of business, we find ourselves

blessed, or cursed, with interesting times. An absolute

socio-technological

explosion has created market cravings for an dizzying array of goods,

processes, and services. The military, the healthcare industry, retail

— every sector is hungering for new, better, and more

cost-effective

technology. At the same time, the entrepreneurs with the wherewithall

to deliver have seen the flow of invention-breeding cash reduced to

a trickle.

Still, a number of new companies are somehow getting funded. Find

out how on Wednesday, June 4, at noon, at the Doral Forrestal, when

the New Jersey Entrepreneur’s Network (NJEN) devotes its meeting to

a discussion of "Leveraging Your Resources: Free Services from

a Variety of Sources." Cost: $45. Call 609-279-0010. Featured

speakers include Alex Gelbman of Video Technology; Rick

Weiss

of Viocare Technologies; Wayne Tamarelli of the Jumpstart Angels

Network; Michael Conte of the New Jersey Economic Authority;

Lou Gaburo of the New Jersey Incubator Network; and Randy

Harmon of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center.

Those venture capital funding corporations that once rented plush

office space and booked appointments with all comers are long gone

— burnt up in the E-commerce and stock market crashes. While

individual

angels and government resources still exist, they are tougher to find.

Organizations such as the NJEN have stepped in to help out until the

venture taps revert to the open position.

Linking the person with a dream to the person with the cash is a

passion

for NJEN’s founder, Dan Conley, owner of Silicon Garden Angels

+ Investors Network (www.oncallCFO.com). Boston born, Conley explored

every part of the country before deciding on New Jersey. His

management,

information, and marketing degree from the University of

Massachusetts,

interlaced with service in the U.S. Marines, gave him ideal training,

as he puts it, "for the study of risk and business."

The current depression of virtually all business indicators may make

it seem as if startup capital is a thing of the past, but Conley

insists

the cash has just shifted to different pockets:

State services. One has only to look at the list of

speakers

for this forum, and at their organizations, to see that

angel-entrepreneur

networks are alive and well. The New Jersey Business Development

Center,

the Economic Development Authority, the Small Business Incubator

Network,

and other state programs, if low on funds, still provide excellent

links. But in reviewing these, Conley offers a strong caveat.

"Most

of the state business programs are broke," he says. "The New

Jersey Commission of Science and Technology, along with its $14

million

in business startup grants, has been eliminated. Everyone is getting

cut back." The mentoring services are still in effect, but state

funds are at a minimum.

The private sector. Very few people know how to get a

firm up and running on investment capital like Bob Quaranta.

Stepping out of the sales force of Motorola, he founded a one-man

corporation called Cellular One and became the grandfather of cell

phone distribution. He has since started three successive companies,

each financed with over $100 million. His latest firm, Accellerated

Care, will bring the doctor back into the home by digitally connecting

the physician with the patient in rural areas. The investors are

lining

up.

Quaranta insists that local venture money is beginning to creep back.

"Investors are rightfully risk-weary, but there are enough people

looking for projects." What has changed, Quaranta says, is what

investors are looking for. That new and great idea, which will catch

public imagination and take off, is just not shaking money loose from

the tree any more. Instead, he finds investors totally fixated on

management, management, management. "Do you have the team to bring

this company and its product to fruition?" they want to know.

Their second question involves whether the competition has beaten

you to your proposed niche.

Finally, Quaranta notes, "investor and entrepreneur should be

seeking a partnership, not an adversarial relation. The entrepreneur

should seek not only money, but team members who can add good counsel

and bring aboard potential customers for merger."

The fast track. "If you are right now thinking of

starting a new firm to sell your new invention, don’t do it,"

says Conley. "In these tight times with these uncertain markets,

it’s better to join with someone whose feet are already running on

the fast track." He suggests studying the list of all competitors

and similar companies and then testing the waters for a possible

partnership

with them. Funds for expansion are much more easily unearthed than

are funds for a new, unknown entity.

The federal government. "Always go where the money

is," advises Conley, "and at this point, that’s the federal

government." The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program

has $1.5 billion reserved for businesses of under 500 people. The

money is ear-marked for private industry and for non-profits that

are able to help the government with its technological needs.

Virtually

every governmental department, from Defense and NASA right through

Health & Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency doles

out some SBIR money. Even the Treasury Department awards some of its

freshly-printed capital.

Funding comes in two stages. The first is $60,000 to $100,000 to

conduct

feasibility studies, and the second is a two-year contract of up to

$750,000 to produce a prototype.

If the project has commercial applications, companies can move into

the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, where

third-stage

funding is provided to get the technology to market. More specialized

programs can be found via such agencies as the Office of Small and

Disadvantaged Business Utilization and NASA’s Small Business

Incubators,

operated nationally and regionally.

Finally, if you have the entrepreneurial skills and the track

record, but no current invention, Quaranta suggests another avenue.

Offer to launch a product for someone who has an invention, but lacks

the time or skill to market it. Launching a project demands a specific

set of abilities, which investment groups or manufacturers often lack

in their management team.

"You have to be a master of many trades, yet always willing to

jump in and learn something new," Quaranta states. "You’ve

got to know how to sell, but also how to hire and to mold the right

people into a unit. But above all, you’ve got to have that

entrepreneurial

passion — the stuff that keeps you going 12 hours a day, seven

days a week, and loving it."

— Bart Jackson

Note the correction to this story at this link:

www.princetoninfo.com/200306/30604c02.html

Top Of Page
Stress-Free Summer Travel Breaks

So, it’s orange out again? Big deal. That is the

attitude

of an increasing number of leisure travelers. "I have adopted

the philosophy that I’m moving on with my life," says Gloria

Adlerman, owner of Monroe-based Atlas World Travel, "and I’m

seeing that in my clients too."

For a time, she says, "virtually no travel was taking place."

Waves of terror alerts, and then the threat of war, kept residents

of central New Jersey close to home. But, with the end of the fighting

in Iraq, tourism seems to have turned a corner.

"It was a pivotal time," says Adlerman. Her clients are coming

back. And it’s about time. The travel industry has suffered huge

losses.

How has she hung on? "With great difficulty," she says. Her

business provides services to both business travelers and leisure

travelers, and neither group has been out and about much during the

past 20 months or so.

With summer upon us, however, the urge to get out and explore is back.

Adlerman discusses some vacation options, many tailored to the needs

of stressed, time-pressed workers, when she speaks on "Short

Vacations

for Business People" on Thursday, June 5, at 8 a.m. at a meeting

of the Middlesex Chamber at the New Brunswick Hyatt. Price: $30. Call

732-821-1700.

Adlerman, who holds a master’s degree in city planning from Rutgers,

got into the travel business by accident. She graduated some 30 years

ago, at a time when government money for city planning projects was

scarce. Casting about for something to do, she and a friend took a

travel agent course. She was hooked right away. "Travel represents

adventure," she says.

She opened her agency in 1975, and has been traveling every since.

A native of New York, she has lived in the area for 46 years. Her

husband and frequent travel companion, Mel, works for her part time,

while tending to his own insurance business.

"I’m not a timid traveler," says Adlerman. She feels safe

on airplanes, and would not hesitate to spend time in Europe. Still,

she admits, there are some regions that are still too volatile to

recommend. "I wouldn’t go to the Middle East," she says.

Given remaining uncertainty, this could be an ideal time to plan a

vacation in any number of less stressed locales. A prime example is

that perennial American summer favorite, a tour of the national parks.

"Nothing is sold out," says Alderman. On the other hand, not

every date is available. "I’m finding that tour operators are

consolidating dates," she says. They may advertise a tour starting

every Saturday, for example, but if dates don’t fill up, they are

lumping one tour together with one or two others and offering

departures

on fewer dates.

Many area residents Adlerman sees are booking the national park tours,

while others are signing up to tour Alaska, often by boat. In fact,

she says, cruises are becoming one of the most popular vacation

options.

"It’s a very relaxing vacation," she says. "You can really

unwind. You only unpack once." There are plenty of activities

— including recent additions such as onboard ice skating and rock

wall climbing — for those who want to be active. For those who

want peace and quiet and quality time with a good book, even the

busiest

ships are full of quiet, private spots.

Cruises are an excellent option for burned-out office workers, and

are a great choice for families as well. "They appreciate the

security," Adlerman says. Typically, ships have mini-camps for

children, and are scrupulously careful about releasing them only to

their parents. She suggests that parents take a careful look at port

attractions in planning a family cruise. An island with inviting

beaches

could trump one where ancient ruins are the main draw if children

are young, while the converse could be true if there are teens in

the party.

New flexibility makes cruising even more appealing, in Adlerman’s

view. She especially likes "personal choice dining." In place

of the old dining arrangements — a seat at a table for 8, at

either

7 p.m. or 9 p.m. — she says that many ships now let vacationers

make a reservation at any time they wish, and let them sit only with

a significant other if that is their preference.

Cruises, in conjunction with tour operators, sell their customers

shore excursions. Independent travelers tend to prefer to go their

own way, but Adlerman says that choosing the excursions can be a good

idea in a number of situations. "I just took a cruise to

Mexico,"

she says. She had done her research and knew exactly what she wanted

to do onshore — visit a particular area of Mayan ruins. By

choosing

to sign up for the excursion, she says, she was assured that she would

be able to do so, and would travel on a reliable bus and learn about

the area from a knowledgeable, English-speaking guide.

Touring alone, by taxi, can be risky, she says, pointing out that

sometimes the driver will claim to know all about the area, but that

the traveler may well get back onboard his ship and learn that he

missed much of the area’s most interesting attractions.

While cruise ships leave from New York and from Philadelphia, Adlerman

is not tremendously enthusiastic about leaving from these

close-to-home

ports. Cruises from New York to Bermuda tend to be expensive, she

says, because there are so few of them. Less competition translates

into higher fares. Cruises from these ports to the Caribbean are not

ideal because the time it takes the ships to get all the way down

the coast and into the Caribbean means little time on shore. Still,

she says, some families like this option. The ships often make a stop

in central Florida, affording an opportunity to take kids to Cape

Canaveral or to Orlando attractions.

Florida, lying close to the Bahamas and not far from Mexico and the

Caribbean, is a popular place to begin a cruise, and Adlerman says

there are any number of choices for $1,000 a person, or less,

including

airfare, for a seven-day vacation. Many of her clients like sailing

from ports in Florida, she says, because it offers the opportunity

of adding a few days to the vacation, perhaps by visiting Disney World

or spending a few days in a beach town.

While some business people do try to squeeze a vacation into less

than a week, Adlerman says seven days is about the shortest vacation

that will return a worker to his desk refreshed and ready to go.

"You

have to factor in the time needed to unwind," she points out.

Cruising, national parks, and the wilds of Alaska are looking good

to travelers this year, but vacation patterns were different when

Adlerman started out in business. "International was much

bigger,"

she says. "And vacations were longer." There were far fewer

cruise ships, and cruises were much more expensive. In the

not-too-distant

past, she recalls, the four or five-day jaunt to a European city was

a popular mini-vacation option, but she rarely has requests for these

trips anymore.

And what is her own favorite vacation destination? Rather than

returning

to a favorite year after year, the travel pro says, "I always

strive to go to new destinations." Still, she shows enthusiasm

for the big vacation trend of the new century. Just back from a cruise

on the Princess Grand, which features a wedding chapel, a

swim-against-the-current

pool, and a two-story "teen fun zone," she is now planning

to take her grandchildren on the same cruise. "I love the

ship,"

she says, "the kids will love it."

This year vacation choices, for travel professionals, as well as for

the clients they serve, are tilting toward all the comforts of home

— and all the security associated with home. These are not

off-the-beaten

track adventures. They are stress-busting breaks, vacations where

there is rarely a newspaper in sight, and there is no evening news.

With luck, we will all soon forget what "orange" means, and

our fractured world will heal enough so that Adlerman will be able

to report that cruise business is down and jaunts to Casablanca, the

pyramids of Egypt, and the Dead Sea are all the rage.

Top Of Page
Unwanted Notoriety: How to Handle It

How terrific it would be to see the name of your

business

and your business phone number on the front page of the New York Times

in a four-column color photo?

Or maybe not so terrific, when the story is connected to an

international

tragedy.

How do you handle the notoriety? That’s the problem faced by Jim

Mentis,

the account executive at Jilco Trailer Rentals, who fielded dozens

of calls when his company’s name and phone number appeared in a

photograph

on the front page of the New York Times. The story about the deaths

of 18 undocumented immigrants trapped inside the truck trailer in

Texas broke on May 15, and the calls began.

"There were hundreds of calls, from Channel 10, and from

newspapers

from Texas and all over the country," says Mentis. "I asked

for advice from the owners, Gilbert and Steven Pavone. They said to

answer truthfully. We are not at fault, we are just in business like

everybody else."

Jilco Trailer Rentals has two locations, one in Gloucester City and

one at 377 Half Acre Road in Cranbury (609-655-5001, www.jilco.com).

It has more than 600 trailers for sale, particularly refrigerated

ones, and it also leases and repairs trailers, and sells parts.

"The trailer that was involved in the tragedy was registered to

the gentleman who got arrested, and we have sold him trailers in the

past, but not in over a year," says Mentis. "We don’t know

if we had sold him this trailer because we haven’t been given the

vehicle identification number. The one thing I did notice was that

the rear doors were damaged. I would never have sold him a trailer

like that. We don’t ever sell equipment in that condition."

It’s entirely possible, says Mentis, that the Jilco mudflaps were

on another company’s trailer. "We could have sold him mud flaps.

We sell them at a good price." Isn’t that just a free ad?

"Companies

that buy parts from us don’t mind doing it," says Mentis of the

mudlaps, which cost $8 apiece.

Mentis says there were more crank phone calls than anything else,

but that he took all the calls. "I don’t like being rude to

people."

The one call that he expected, he didn’t get: "The New York Times

did not call, believe it or not."


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