Monday, February 23, 2009

Live notes from Oklahoma Entrepreneurs Conference

Sherri Stickley
"Innovation is what keeps economies vital."
"Entrepreneurs actually thrive in tough times. In tough times, it's our entrepreneurs who start firms, hire others, and generate wealth.

Financing 411 Panel - 2pm Monday
Bryan Nolan
Technology Mavericks
Since Nov 05
Digital cloning - Artificial intelligence with imaging. Bringing a picture like you to life. Picture the hall of fame bringing hall of famers to life.
Order taking at fast food, airline check in kiosk.
Graduated with a class of 24. Northwest Oklahoma. Made him responsible, creative. Graduated in 1992. SWOSU, Never worked for anyone except himself, his own entities. OSU. Bought a tanning business, then a sports grill. Sports manufacturer. Met Stan Clark (Eskimo Joe's) who told him to focus on business full time and quit juggling. Moved to Dallas, did several businesses there. Moved back to Oklahoma in 2002, smart grid, military defense (sniper detection). Now the digital cloning.
"I would have *died* to have a mentor." Ultimately Stan Clark mentored him.
Most of us start by borrowing Friends, Family, and Fools. (Keys to the Vault)
Next offering will be almost $10 million, so it changes the whole level of everything. Due diligence.
I've had a roller coaster run at this. Fail your way forward. Get to market quickly and with as little money as possible.

Agi Lurtz
Online MedSource
From a very large Catholic family. We're all megalomaniacs. All seven kids have run their own businesses. Born in Minnesota. Have had seven businesses, that I would count as businesses, before this one. Actually started a little newspaper in second grade. Sold it up and down the street.
Ended up giving care to her parents. Took 10 years. Most times taking half a day off work every day. So much work that I started confusing the medicines that I'm allergic to with the medicines that dad was allergic too.
I realized that I'm not alone as a caregiver.
Started with communication between doctors and caregivers. Now a full blown medical records company. Have always been completely online business.
All her other businesses were bootstrapped. But everyone wanted to invest in Online MedSource.
You have to be very careful, because you are selling a piece of you. All the people who give you money are now your partner.
Pitched a doctor on using the service. ... She invested a quarter of a million dollars right there.

Would you go out and get sales BEFORE you are prepared to deliver on those?
Agi - depending on what your idea is, I don't know that I would try to take money before I had a viable product or service. Already bootstrapped her way to a product. An 18 hour day is an easy day for me.
Bryan - If you can get sales, and deliver in a timely manner, let your customers know the timeline. All sorts of products take pre-sales. And you can use that money, properly.

What one piece of information could have saved you a lot of time?
Agi - Get a business coach. Period. I don't care how much money you have or don't have. Very different than a coach. Best investment ever, in every aspect of business. I thought I knew it all after seven business. I knew nothing. Nothing. Keep a diary. Learn from that every single day.
Bryan - Mom and Pop mentality. You've got to break that. You've got to have thick skin. You're going to have a lot of rejections. Keep you debt low. Treat every dollar as if it is your last. Otherwise you're going to be back eating ramen noodles, and I've been there. There's always risk involved in anything. Get a mentor, or a coach, or some kind of group that will support without being competitive.
Each new level of capital is a whole new world.

Best and worst advice you ever got?
Bryan - business parters are like a marriage. Family can sometimes be not the best advice. Attorneys are a necessary evil. Use every advice you recieve. Evaluate that information, get additional opinions. Attorneys try to minimize risk, and entreprenuers take risk. that's what they do.
Beware friends and family who will crash your ideas. They see you bussing tables, and can't think of you some other way.
There will be failures. "Build upon your successes and failures, that is what is going to get you up that next rung each time."
Agi-You've got to have passion. It will carry you through the ramen noodles, and everything. Don't do a business, because you think you can make a lot of money. Do you research, truly listen to other people who know. If your banker and your accountant like it, then you're in.
Both said that family and friends give the worst advice. Either too positive or too negative.

What's the biggest mistake you ever made?
Agi - $132 in checking account, and started first business. Did not have enough money. And I did it any way. Spent $127 on stationery. Made two huge sales, and that jump started her. You learn to do so much for so little for so long, that then you can do anything with nothing. You learn how to pick yourself up and brush yourself off.

Do you ever turn down interviews that might have been beneficial to ?
Agi- even did an interview with a high fever. But do pick and choose. If it will help get your name out there, go ahead. If you have a funny feeling, ask around before doing it. Unless.... you've done something awful.
Bryan - Protective sports bra. Started writing to all the new product editors - jammed up their phones, massive amount of calls. People were mailing checks and cash. Carefully think through how you'll handle the new attention.

How do you deal with Dreamkillers?
Agi - If you do the research, and you're really passionate, and 2 and 2 equal 4, screw everybody else! They aren't the ones willing to do 18 hour days. Ex told her she was dumber than dirt, she would never amount to anything.

Difference between consultant and coach?
Agi - Might help you figure out whether it's a good idea. Tiger has five coaches. My business coach, the very first meeting, made it real clear to me. I'm going to be your friend, but I won't be nice. Will hold your feet to the fire. Create that system for everything in the business. If you haven't started your business yet, when you decide you're going to start a business, why are you starting it? Are you starting it to make money, or just to make a job for yourself? Do you want to make a lot of money, pass it down to your heirs, or maybe it sell it? Then build your business from day 1 to sell.
Bryan - A coach is for you, a consultant is for your business.

Grew up to five people, and now are stuck. Where can I go to pursue financing? 
Here in OKC, I2E and OCAST will help high tech startups through the whole process, with a small startup fee.

How cautious were you in pitching your idea?
Agi - Get an NDA, non-compete, etc. She has a 5 pager.
The greatest secret in the state are the incubators. Very little rent, month to month. All the help and handholding that you could use.
Bryan - I've filed six patents for the last several years. Can do a mutal NDA, it's only as good as you're willing to defend it. It gives you some protection in court. Can check for other lawsuits against them, if they are a public company. Most investors, though, don't have time to steal your idea. A competing company, you might be poached.

Second session 3pm Monday
Rob Garibay
Action Coach - Franchise
World abundance through business reeducation.
A lot of color in the slides helps your retention.
Overall goal of Coaching is
the alignment of vision and goals. and the dreams and lives.

Six steps to massive results:
1. Mastery
2. Niche
3. Leverage
4. Team
5. Synergy
6. Diversification - Results

Find the barriers that keep people from buying, and craft a guarantee that removes those barriers.
Consultant is for the business - a specialist task or project oriented.
Coach - is for you - a generalist, relationship oriented.

Every business has ups and downs. Every once in a while, you need someone to come in and give you an adreniline injection.

A little increase, 10% in *each* metric, can make a big shift in profits.

All entrepreneurs have trouble with - the team. Keys:
1. Strong leadership. Look in the mirror.
2. Common goal. (have to know what it is first)
3. Rules of the Game - culture
4. Action Plan - systems
5. Support risk taking.
6. 100% involvement/inclusion - don't allow people to become outcasts.

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