Category Archive:Funding

ByCarolyn Keane

New Licensing Model Offers Free Patent Licenses to Startups and Small Businesses

Earlier today, iPEL, Inc., launched its new website and a brand-new model of patent monetization, which offers free and paid licensing options to operating companies.  iPEL has also defined a set of business practices that a Non-Practicing Entity can follow in order to call itself an Ethical NPETM.

iPEL was formed with $100 Million in initial capital, in May of 2017, by Brian Yates, a well-known patent monetizer, and Rasheed McWilliams, a respected patent trial attorney.  For the last year, iPEL has been actively building its worldwide patent portfolio, which currently includes more than 1,000 distinct patent families.

iPEL announced its Initial License Offering, available only through the end of 2018, which provides all companies an opportunity to secure a license to iPEL’s entire worldwide patent portfolio, through one of two licensing programs: (1) free licenses for small businesses and startups, and (2) paid licenses for larger businesses.

Both categories of licenses should be a welcomed change for operating companies, who historically learned of patents owned by one of Mr. Yates’ companies by being sued. Indeed, the dozens of NPEs that Mr. Yates has owned were often amongst the most active patent plaintiffs in the US and were responsible for more than 1,000 patent infringement lawsuits, against a majority of the companies on the Fortune 1000.

With iPEL, it seems clear Mr. Yates is intent on pursuing a very different monetization model. “It’s pretty funny,” said Mr. Yates. “Several people thought I retired or left the patent monetization business, because during the last year, I have not created dozens of new NPEs or filed hundreds of new patent lawsuits.  But, I just turned 43 years old, and I have no desire to retire anytime soon.  I love what I do and am incredibly proud of what we are doing with iPEL.  And, even though it has been fun keeping the details of iPEL a secret, it’s going to be a lot more fun watching iPEL impact the entire innovation ecosystem.”

Although Mr. Yates and Mr. McWilliams would not share the full scope of what iPEL has planned, it is clear that they want to change the NPE narrative.  Providing a defined list of best practices and clearly defined pre-litigation licensing options are definitely new talking points for NPEs.

Even the most vigilant anti-NPEs, however, will have a hard time criticizing iPEL’s offer to grant small businesses and startups a completely free, no strings license to its entire patent portfolio.

iPEL’s free license is available to any company whose gross annual revenues do not exceed $5 Million USD (or the equivalent in any other national currency) and is for a one-year term.  Although the license is renewable, it is not available to affiliates or subsidiaries of larger entities that do not meet the revenue restrictions.

“We know that small businesses and startups are the most likely to engage in paradigm-shifting innovation” said Mr. Yates, CEO of iPEL. “Those companies are not afraid to take risk, to ask big questions, or to dream. Unfortunately, in almost all instances, those same companies cannot afford to buy all of the patent licenses they need in order to implement their new technologies. iPEL wants to help these companies succeed, by giving them a large portfolio of patented technologies, upon which they can freely build.”

“There is no reason patent licensing cannot and should not be a celebrated exchange of innovation and technology between those with rights and those who need to leverage those rights in order to produce and distribute products,” said Mr. McWilliams, President of iPEL. “Patent and technology licensing has been a part of the fabric of American culture since the earliest days of our history as a nation.”

“Regrettably, patent licensing has become a maligned practice over the last decade in the United States,” said Mr. Yates. “This has allowed the many benefits of patent licensing to lay unrealized, and for innovation to stagnate. My hope is that by giving free, non-exclusive rights to iPEL’s valuable patent portfolio, startups and small businesses will create more jobs and create exciting new technologies.”

Of course, there is a self-serving piece to what iPEL is doing as well. If startups and small businesses do successfully build on the patents in iPEL’s portfolio, then they will at some point becoming paying licensees. “Sure, it just makes good business sense really,” said Mr. McWilliams. “These small companies don’t have the ability to pay for patent licenses, and a patent infringement lawsuit could cripple them before they even get started. We’d love for them to build on our valuable technologies without worry, and once they can afford it, purchase an ongoing license. It is a win-win for everyone.”

At the end of the day, iPEL hopes this new, startup-friendly model becomes an industry standard. “Despite the false narrative that has been spread by many willful infringers, NPEs are a vital part of innovation and the global economy.  And, at iPEL, we are holding ourselves to the highest professional standards, by giving all companies an opportunity to secure licenses on reasonable, pre-litigation terms.  And, small businesses and startups should never be afraid of an NPE jeopardizing their company.  For those reasons, we challenge the rest of the industry to follow our lead,” Mr. Yates said. “It is time for NPEs to stop allowing infringers to define us as a bunch of heartless monsters. Everyone should abide by the Ethical NPETM practices and support small businesses and startups. It’s simply the right thing to do.”

More information about iPEL’s Ethical NPETM criteria, its worldwide patent portfolio, and its free and paid licensing programs, is available at www.ipel.com.

New Licensing Model Offers Free Patent Licenses to Startups and Small Businesses

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ByCarolyn Keane

The Cade Prize rewards inventors and entrepreneurs…..

The Cade Prize rewards inventors and entrepreneurs who demonstrate
a creative approach to addressing problems ​in their field of expertise
​resulting in an innovative, not iterative, invention.

The Cade Prize is one of the largest cash prize competitions for innovation in the state of Florida. It is open only to Florida residents and Florida based companies. Since its launch in 2010, it has drawn hundreds of creative thinkers from Pensacola to Miami. Every year the applications are drawn from diverse sectors. Previous entries have included biomedical, healthcare, IT, tech, environmental, and agricultural ideas. The Cade Prize attracts cutting edge inventions that have a real possibility of making it to market.

The Cade Prize is in search of entrepreneurs, inventors, researchers, and early-stage companies planning to take their idea to market. $50,000 in cash prizes (provided by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida) along with in-kind incentives are awarded to the final top four finishers of the competition each year. The goals of the $50,000 prize are to provide seed capital and publicity for great ideas with market potential. For the first time, awards will be given to the top four entries. The award for first place is $25,000, $15,000 for second place, $7,500 for third place, and $2,500 for 4th place. Individuals and companies with inventions that will remain in Florida for at least one year after the Prize is awarded, are eligible to enter. “Outside investment” is defined as funding from investors; This does not include grants, personal funds, or loans from friends and family.

The Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention is excited to announce that the 2018 Cade Prize is now accepting applications from inventors and entrepreneurs in the state of Florida. For the first time, the Cade Prize will award the top four finalists! The application fee is waived until June 22nd at midnight. Beginning June 23rd, the application fee will be $55.

For more information, please visit www.cademuseum.org or email Ashley Bryant at abryant@cademuseum.org.

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ByCarolyn Keane

Families, Invent Away! Frito-Lay Announces Return of “Dreamvention” to Find the Next Best Invention Idea

Actress Cobie Smulders Teams Up with Frito-Lay Variety Packs to Inspire Families to “Dreamvent” Together for $250,000 Grand Prize

Frito-Lay Partners with STEM-Focused Museums to Offer Free Admission and Help Spark Creativity


PLANO, TexasDec. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Families that play together can invent together. Frito-Lay Variety Packs, one of the flagship brands from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, is calling on families to dream big in the second year of its “Dreamvention” program and submit ideas to solve an everyday problem for a chance to win $250,000. Frito-Lay, which initially created Dreamvention after seeing so much ingenuity from families in their daily lives — from big inventions to daily life hacks — is bringing the program back after receiving thousands of creative ideas in its first campaign. After all, Frito-Lay Variety Packs believes that if you can dream, you can invent. Families can submit invention ideas and learn more about the program starting now at MyDreamvention.com.

Cobie Smulders, a mom of two young children who knows the importance of spending meaningful time with family and making each moment count, is helping Frito-Lay encourage families to brainstorm invention ideas together. Smulders, best known for roles such as Robin Scherbatsky from “How I Met Your Mother” and Maria Hill from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has long had a passion for creativity and scientific endeavors — she was even an aspiring marine biologist in her youth before she pursued acting full time.

“As a mom of two kids, we’re always making really weird stuff together!” said Smulders. “It’s really cool to join them on these projects and help them with their imagination. That’s why I admire the Dreamvention program, because it gives families a platform to showcase their creativity, hard work and determination. I can’t think of a better way for families to spend time together than by encouraging each other to dream big.”

To spark creativity for Dreamvention, Smulders and Frito-Lay are partnering with four STEM-focused museums across the country to offer families free admission between December and February, with Smulders helping kick off the first event today at the New York Hall of Science. Families will get hands-on Dreamvention experiences to inspire their own invention ideas to submit online. To see the museum schedule, visit MyDreamvention.com.

About Dreamvention
Earlier this year, Frito-Lay Variety Packs announced the inaugural “Dreamvention” contest where thousands of creative inventions were submitted by aspiring entrepreneurs from coast to coast. These imaginative and practical inventions were narrowed down to five finalists and an eventual $250,000 grand prize winner, including:

  • Maria DeLong from Brownsburg, Ind., who submitted “Pleasant Awakening” (finalist)
  • Anna Kreager from Cedar Park, Texas, who submitted “Chalkers” (finalist)
  • Julia Luetje from Leawood, Kansas, who submitted “Storm Sleeper” (finalist)
  • Grace Murphy from Needham, Mass., who submitted “Shoe Purse” (finalist)
  • Andrew Young from Batavia, New York, who submitted “Toaster Shooter” (winner)

All of these ideas were brought to life for the finalists to experience, with the help of MAKO Designs + Invent, a full-service consumer product development firm, through official prototypes of their inventions. Families can see the prototypes at the museum stops between December and February.

“This year’s competition was fueled by the passion and creativity that aspiring entrepreneurs brought throughout the contest, proving that if you can dream, you can invent,” said Jeannie Cho, Vice President of Marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “We are pleased to announce next year’s competition to keep this celebration of innovation and family connection going.  And we’re looking forward to what families will ‘dreamvent’ together next as they work to bring their best ideas to life.”

About the Contest
Families can participate by thinking up a fun invention idea, creating a simple drawing and short explanation of it and uploading both1 to MyDreamvention.com starting now through February 26, 2018 for a chance to win. Five finalists will be announced in October 2018 at which point Frito-Lay will pass the baton to America to vote for its favorite Dreamvention. The winning invention, based on votes, will be announced in December 2018.

Here are a few tips for how families can get started:

  1. Have a brainstorm with family and friends.
  2. Look at everyday things and think of a way to make it better.
  3. Think of an everyday problem you have and dream up a way to fix it!

You can also “Dreamvent” on-the-go! Frito-Lay Variety Pack features pre-portioned, single servings that can be taken with you wherever you go. Variety Packs include everyone’s favorite Frito-Lay snacks, such as Cheetos cheese flavored snacks, Doritos tortilla chips, Fritos corn snacks, Funyun’s onion flavored rings, Lay’s potato chips, Rold Gold pretzels, Smartfood popcorn, and SunChips multigrain snacks. Variety Packs are available at retail stores nationwide for a suggested retail price of $2.69 – $13.99.

To submit an invention idea and to learn more about the contest and the official rules, please visit www.MyDreamvention.com.

For high-res images, broadcast-quality b-roll and other press materials about Dreamvention, please visit www.magicbulletmedia.com/MNR/DreamventionFamilies

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/families-invent-away-frito-lay-announces-return-of-dreamvention-to-find-the-next-best-invention-idea-300570419.html

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ByCarolyn Keane

Turning Your Patent into a Business: A Practical Guide to Equity Crowdfunding

By Irwin Stein & Adoram Shemesh
November 11, 2017

Once your patent has been awarded you may still need additional capital to turn that patent into a business. Fortunately it is not as difficult to find investors as you may think. Equity crowdfunding is on the path to surpass venture capital as the preferred way for start-ups and small businesses to raise capital.

In a nutshell, equity crowdfunding is the sale of equity (or debt) in your business directly to investors using an online platform instead of a stock brokerage firm.  It is also less expensive than hiring one. Although direct to investor funding over the internet has been around since the late 1990s, it came of age with the JOBS Act in 2012.

The JOBS Act provides for three regulations that govern distinct types of offerings. The offerings differ by how much money you can raise and from what type of investor you can raise it from.

Regulation A (Reg. A) permits offerings of up to $50 million dollars. This is a “registered” offering meaning that the company needs to file a registration statement and investor prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). An audit of the company’s books for the two most recent years is also required unless the company has been in operation for a shorter period of time.

There are two main benefits to an offering under Reg. A. The first is that you can solicit and obtain funds from any member of the general public including younger millennial investors. This might be a benefit to a company whose product is targeted to this audience, like a video game company or a company whose technology might interest younger consumers as opposed to baby-boomers.

The second benefit is that once the offering is complete, the shares you have registered are freely tradable in the public market including the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange. There are specific listing requirements for these markets, but companies that go through this process then have access to mainstream capital markets. Also if the company does well, the shares are liquid and can be sold by the insiders.

The downside of Reg. A offerings is that they are time consuming and expensive.  It can take 6 months or more for lawyers to prepare the paperwork and for the SEC to review, comment and approve an offering.  Legal and accounting fees alone can easily reach 6 figures.  There is also an annual audit and given that you will likely have thousands of small investors; you will probably need at least one employee to deal with investor relations.

There is also the cost of finding those thousands of investors. There have been several successful Reg. A campaigns that have raised $10 million or more. The upfront marketing costs for an agency to design and execute a campaign to reach those investors can also be substantial. If you are using Reg. A to raise $10 million or more, a budget of $250,000 or more would  be appropriate.

On the lower end of the scale is Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg.CF) which allows companies to raise up to $1,070,000 per year directly from the general public. There is no need for an audit if the raise is less than $107,000 and above that only a CPA review, not a full audit of the last two years is required. There is no SEC review process, just a filing.

Anyone can invest although investors of lesser means are limited to a total investment of $2200 or 5% of the lesser of the investor’s income or net worth within each calendar year.  It is not unusual for a company raising $1 million to have thousands of shareholders who put up $100 each.  As with Reg. A the legal and marketing costs can add up.

A Reg. CF offering must be made on a crowdfunding portal (website) which in turn must be registered with the SEC. At this time there are about 30 portals that have registered and some are better than others in terms of their visibility and reputation. Several specialize and only host offerings for companies involved in green energy or companies owned by women or minorities, etc.  Selecting the right website or portal can be crucial to your offering’s success.

Most companies find that the most cost-effective way for them to raise funds is Regulation D. Reg. D is an exemption from the registration requirements of the federal securities laws. It has been around since 1982 and today is an active $1.7 trillion per year market.  That is much more than traditional public offerings or venture capital.

Traditionally these private placements were sold through stock brokerage firms and many still are.  The firms and issuers were always limited to making these offerings only to people with whom they had a prior business relationship.  The JOBS Act changed that to allow issuers to advertise and solicit investments from accredited investors, those whose income is over $200,000 a year or possess over $1 million in assets outside of their primary residence.

The vast bulk of the money raised through equity crowdfunding is raised using Reg. D. As a practical matter the cost of preparing the legal paperwork is usually less than with either Reg. A or Reg. CF.

Accredited investors are presumed to be more sophisticated and the amount of information that needs to be provided is usually less. At the same time, they often ask more thorough questions before they invest.  The company will have to designate a knowledgeable person to help investors who want to kick the tires.

Accredited investors are relatively easy to reach and because they are taking a larger slice of each offering (often a $10,000 -$25,000 minimum investment) issuers need to reach out and connect with a far smaller group of potential investors. This substantially reduces the upfront marketing costs.

In sum, a Reg.A offering raising $5 -$10 million can cost several hundred thousand dollars whereas a Reg. D offering, raising the same amount, may cost less than $50,000.  You can use Reg. D for a $1 million raise as well and unlike Reg. CF if you get a good response you can accept more than $1 million to provide your business with some extra cash.

Unlike venture capital or angel investors with equity crowdfunding the company seeking funds controls the process and the terms. The hard part is to present to investors a better deal that will make yours a more attractive investment than the other offers they receive.

There are multiple ways to structure a Reg. D offering that provides investors with a good return on their investment. For patent backed ventures; a licensing, royalty or revenue sharing structure is often possible. That allows the company to structure the financing “off the balance sheet” in a way that the owners of the company retain ownership of 100% of the equity.

There is no way to sugar-coat the fact that 90% of start-ups fail. A study published by MIT last year suggested that the likelihood of growth is 35 times higher for firms that apply for patents. That fact is not lost on investors, but you may want to remind them of this fact when you are seeking their investment.

That is one of the reasons that I am working with PatentAngels, an IP-centric investment platform that is focused on Reg D offerings for companies with registered patent rights.  The IP aspect increases the level of certainty for investors, especially when making investments online and they may not be able to meet the management team in person as traditional VC’s do. Think about it, if you made an online investment in a company with multiple unknowns, would you rather know they at least have their technology patented?

I advise any company that is getting ready to start raising funds to take the following actions:

  1. Get dressed. By that I mean get your corporate books and financial statements in order.  Have your Board of Directors in place and make certain that they are people who have some experience to the business that you are in.
  2. Have a detailed business plan that is well researched. Any investor will discount your financial projections but that does not mean that your projections should not be based in reality.  Know your market, your customers and your competitors.
  3. Hire the right people.  Having a patent is great, but investors expect execution. You are going to need marketing and sales executives and a CFO.  Hire them or at least identify them so that investors can evaluate their skills and experience.
  4. Know how much money you need and be prepared to describe how you will spend it. A line item that says “general overhead” does not tell investors what they want to know.  If you need office or manufacturing space, you should have a good idea of how much space, where it will be located and how much it will cost.  You should be able to estimate how much each executive salary and benefits will cost and how many other employees you will need.
  5. Be prepared to mount an aggressive and focused marketing campaign to drive investors to your company. There is a big difference between a presentation that says “look at this great widget I patented” and one that says “look at this great patented business I am building!”

Equity crowdfunding has created a new, intelligent and efficient way for small companies to access the capital markets. If you have taken the time and expense to obtain a patent for your product, it is certainly worthy of your consideration.

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ByCarolyn Keane

An Essential 9-Point Checklist for any Entrepreneur Looking to Sell an Online Business

An Essential 9-Point Checklist for any Entrepreneur Looking to Sell an Online Business

Image credit: SanneBerg | Getty Images
There are many reasons why an entrepreneur ultimately decides to exit a business. Some of the best incentives? Moving on to new opportunities; recapitalization; and, perhaps best of all, an especially lucrative buyout offer.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Business

No matter what the reason, if you’re the one moving on, take the necessary steps to extract the maximum value possible from your sale. With all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into building your business, don’t let yourself be shortchanged on the way out.

Here are nine actionable steps you can take to better prepare your business to be sold to a discerning buyer, along with suggested resources to help you accomplish them.

1. Detailed financials

Having strong accounting principles in place, from the beginning, will help put you in a position to succeed.

Industry stalwart Quickbooks provides you with all the tools you need to track your financials and generate detailed reports. It makes the process easy, too — Quickbooks automatically syncs with most bank accounts– drastically cutting down on data entry.

2. Verified traffic

Google Analytics is an indispensable tool for monitoring and verifying your website traffic. It’s the first step to knowing who your prospects are, what they want, where they’re coming from and how far they’ve gotten through your conversion funnel. If you have a website and haven’t set up Google Analytics, stop whatever else you’re working on and do it now.

Being able to show verified traffic to a buyer, over as long a time frame as possible, will greatly enhance the salability of your business.

3. Stand-alone branding

Building a brand strongly tethered to a founder’s persona might feel right when you first start. But if that brand becomes successful, it’s preferable that the messaging not be too closely tied to its founder. That can actually become an obstacle when it’s time to sell, particularly if the founder is to have no ongoing role in the business after the exit.

Related: Time to Sell Your Business? You’ll Need Metrics.

Consider building a stand-alone brand right from the get-go. Your brand should be aligned with your values and your company’s core mission. A smart branding strategy can help you achieve those aims without the founder being the “face” of the business.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for building a brand. But it’s more important than ever.

Branding guru David Lemley’s Retail Voodoo site, while not specifically geared toward online businesses, is a great resource for learning more about the importance of branding strategy and its potential ROI.

4. Keyword analysis

Knowing what keywords your prospects are searching for can help you, and any potential buyer, assess whether your site is built on a solid search engine optimization (SEO) foundation.

To find out what keywords your site should be targeting, use tools like SEMrush to uncover which organic and paid keywords drive traffic to your competitors. The Google Keyword Tool enables you to get the most accurate search volume and PPC (price per click) data for those keywords.

A site that ranks high in search engine result page (SERP) listings on relevant keywords will earn a higher valuation. Prospective buyers can be assured that their acquisition target is ahead of the game for organic traffic and has a clear marketing strategy for both free and paid clicks.

5. Content marketing

ROI in content marketing has a reputation for being slippery to measure. Despite this, content is the foundation of SEO. Having a proven content marketing strategy, with positive search traffic results to back it up, can measurably increase the value of your business.

Content marketing isn’t just about your blog. It applies to many channels: social media, product descriptions, guest posts, Youtube videos, etc. Anything content-related that drives traffic to your site and promotes lead conversion fits under this umbrella.

Once upon a time, all you needed for a solid SEO strategy was to stuff your site with keywords. Google is much too smart for that now, as are your customers. There’s simply no substitute for quality content. Deploy it, using a coherent strategy for improving your search rankings. Your bottom line, and your valuation, will grow.

6. Outsourcing

Outsourcing is an important element in fostering limited owner involvement — a key factor buyers look for in any online business acquisition. While building the right remote team takes work, having it in place, and having your standard operating procedures (SOPs) well documented, will greatly improve the salability of your business.

While there are many options for outsourcing, often industry-specific ones, two of the most reputable companies remain Upwork and Toptal.

7. Legal

Make sure you have clear and verifiable rights to all of your intellectual property. This includes any trademarks, copyrights or patents your business might hold. These can be an invaluable asset to your company, and any serious buyer will want to ensure that these are owned (and thus able to be sold) free and clear.

Additionally, make sure to get non-disclosure-agreements (NDA) in place with anyone you enter into negotiations with. Do this before you start talking seriously — and certainly before you reveal any sensitive information, financial or otherwise.

An option here is offshoring, or outsourcing of legal assistance, through legal process outsourcing (LPO). For relatively simple tasks, such as forming an LLC or S-Corp or running a trademark search, LegalZoom may be another viable option.

When it comes to something as important as protecting your IP, however, always employ our own counsel.

8. Know your value.

After you’ve taken all of the steps above, you or a qualified professional should be in a very good position to assess the true value of your business. There are industry standard-valuation methods for this: Typically the seller discretionary earnings (SDE) model is used to value a business worth under $5 million, while “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization” (EBITDA) is used for companies valued over that amount.

9. Know your buyer.

One of the many reasons to consider approaching an M&A advisor to help with the sale of your business is that he or she will have already done the due diligence required to vet qualified buyers. These professionals will entertain offers only from candidates who have met stringent criteria. If you elect to go it alone, all of this responsibility falls on you, the seller.

Related: Expert Advice to Help You Prepare to Sell Your Business

Final thoughts

Building a successful business, and growing it to the point where it might attract attention from a buyer, is no small feat. Neither is coming to the decision that it’s time to move on. You may be ready to take your foot off the gas on this particular vehicle, but don’t stop before crossing the finish line. Follow the steps outlined above to ensure you get the maximum possible return when selling your online business.

 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/304690?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email

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ByCarolyn Keane

How to Write a Business Plan

How to Write a Business Plan

Now that you understand why you need a business plan and you’ve spent some time doing your homework gathering the information you need to create one, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get everything down on paper. The following pages will describe in detail the seven essential sections of a business plan: what you should include, what you shouldn’t include, how to work the numbers and additional resources you can turn to for help. With that in mind, jump right in.

Executive Summary

Within the overall outline of the business plan, the executive summary will follow the title page. The summary should tell the reader what you want. This is very important. All too often, what the business owner desires is buried on page eight. Clearly state what you’re asking for in the summary.

Related: How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

Business Description

The business description usually begins with a short description of the industry. When describing the industry, discuss the present outlook as well as future possibilities. You should also provide information on all the various markets within the industry, including any new products or developments that will benefit or adversely affect your business.

Market Strategies

Market strategies are the result of a meticulous market analysis. A market analysis forces the entrepreneur to become familiar with all aspects of the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned in order to garner its share of sales.

Competitive Analysis

The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle.

Design & Development Plan

The purpose of the design and development plan section is to provide investors with a description of the product’s design, chart its development within the context of production, marketing and the company itself, and create a development budget that will enable the company to reach its goals.

Operations & Management Plan

The operations and management plan is designed to describe just how the business functions on a continuing basis. The operations plan will highlight the logistics of the organization such as the various responsibilities of the management team, the tasks assigned to each division within the company, and capital and expense requirements related to the operations of the business.

Financial Factors

Financial data is always at the back of the business plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important than up-front material such as the business concept and the management team.

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ByCarolyn Keane

Many ‘invention promotion’ companies nothing but scams

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Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes it comes when we least expect it.

For me, the “a-ha!” moment often hits in the dead of night, or when I’m in the middle of a meeting or driving. We Americans are a nation of problem-solvers, and it’s no wonder that we’ve come up with some of the world’s best ideas. The list of world-changing inventions dreamed up by Americans is astounding.

Sometimes, what you or I think of as a revolutionary idea has already been tried; other times they’re not practical, not marketable or are hamstrung by red tape and competition. But every once in a while, somebody comes up with something amazing and makes millions. It’s this quest for fame and fortune that drives many people to take their idea for a “better mousetrap” and go for it.

TV shows such as “Shark Tank” have propelled many inventors to riches and glory, as celebrity investors decide whether the ideas are worth a shot. An industry has even sprung up around the potential profit in new inventions, promising to help get your idea patented, protected and marketed.

Related: Feds bite down on ‘Shark Tank’ winner

But, as some budding Edisons have discovered, many “invention promotion” companies are nothing but scams, designed to hook the hopeful into spending big bucks with dreams of getting their products to market.

Also read: Freezing your credit after the Equifax breach

Back in March, the Federal Trade Commission busted a Miami Beach, Florida-based company called World Patent Marketing, which had allegedly promised would-be inventors it could help its clients successfully develop and market their products. Instead, the FTC told a federal court, all but a few consumers found themselves shelling out big bucks with nothing to show for it. In all, the FTC’s complaint alleges, the scheme bilked consumers out of more than $10 million. The complaint also accused parent company Desa Industries and its CEO Scott Cooper of involvement in the scheme.

The company is accused of using a variety of tactics to lure new customers and reassure existing ones, such as made-up “success stories” about people the company had helped. Adding insult to injury, some customers claimed that when they tried to complain or wrote negative online reviews, the company used intimidating tactics to shut them down, including threatening them with lawsuits.

One potential inventor told the Broward County, Florida, Sun-Sentinel that he had given $300,000 to the company to promote his idea for a net device that could be attached to a cellphone case to hold keys and other small items, only to come up empty-handed.

For its part, Cooper’s legal team has noted in court filings that the invention-promotion business is risky, and that fact is made clear on its website and promotional materials as a warning to potential clients.

If you do come up with an extraordinary idea, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office advises that you proceed carefully. The agency has a brochure at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ScamPrevent.pdf that lists some of the warning signs of an invention-promotion scam, and notes that the law requires invention promotion companies must disclose the following information:

  • The total number of inventions they’ve evaluated in the past five years and the number of those that received positive and negative evaluations.
  • The total number of customers with whom they’ve contracted for actual invention-promotion services.
  • The total number of customers who have received a net profit after working with the firm as a direct result of that relationship, as well as the total number of customers receiving licensing agreements as a result of the company’s work.
  • The names and addresses of all companies associated with the company.

If you want to find out more, visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0184-invention-promotion-firms, as well as http://ipwatchdog.com.

Contact Bill Moak at moakconsumer@gmail.com.

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2017/09/17/many-invention-promotion-companies-nothing-but-scams/666212001/

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ByCarolyn Keane

Judge Extends Freeze on Accused Scammer’s Assets

One emotionally disabled 25-year-old New York farmer dreamed up Socially Accepted, a social networking site for people like him or others with Downs syndrome and autism to find friends.

Another North Carolina man thought he invented a device, Teddy’s Ballie Bumpers, to prevent toys from rolling too far under sofas and other furniture.

And a Broward County surgeon envisioned millions of people buying SmartNet, elastic netting snapped onto the backs of smart phones and tablets to secure objects that might otherwise drop or get lost.

They had ideas and they all testified Thursday in federal court that they were scammed out of a total of nearly a half-million dollars by a Miami Beach company.

After hearing their testimony, a federal judge extended for at least two weeks a freeze on millions of dollars in assets amassed by the head of that $26 million Miami Beach patent promotion operation — one the federal government alleges was a scam.

The assets were locked up and World Patent Marketing at-least temporarily shut down last month after the FTC sought a temporary restraining order against the company and its founder and CEO, Scott Jason Cooper.

Cooper, 43, is asking to regain control of the assets, including a waterfront mansion he bought for $3.2 million last April and a 70-foot yacht worth more than $1 million.

But he has more basic needs, attorney Michael Pineiro told the court Thursday. “He can’t access his bank account to pay for food to feed his children,” he said, adding Cooper also can’t pay his lawyers, something Cooper’s mother is currently helping with.

After four hours of argument and testimony Thursday, U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles was not yet persuaded to lift the freeze, giving the attorneys two more weeks to obtain more information about bank accounts, credit card histories, companies and trusts which may shed light on whether more assets exist.

So far, a court-appointed receiver has found World Patent Marketing, or WPM, had gross revenues of $26 million from November 2014 through January 2017, but has only about $350,000 left in the bank.

Cooper is also seeking to restart the company, but the receiver, Jonathan Perlman, is for now siding with the government, saying “it is unlikely that WPM can be operated profitably, while also lawfully.”

“It is undisputed, and Mr. Cooper agrees, that no WPM inventor has ever realized a profit from their invention using WPM’s services. Nor has any customer, through WPM, sold a meaningful number of units,” Perlman wrote in a report filed Wednesday with the court.

Read the rest of the story:

https://www.nbcmiami.com/investigations/Judge-Extends-Freeze-on-Accused-Scammers-Assets-418650953.html

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