Looking for an Investment? Ask for Advice Instead…

Posted November 13 2010

I get pitched all the time to be the lender of last resort for failing companies, or for a million bucks for a new start-up that is going to revolutionize the dance club/social solar/biotech/digital tree trimming/social pet space.

Traditionally these pitches go like this:

a)      I’ve got this brilliant/amazing/revolutionary idea ( so does everyone else)

b)      I wrote up a business plan ( or had a friend do it for me )

c)      Give me a million bucks  ( I need to hire people to do all the work )

d)      We’re going to get RICH! You get 15% for taking all the financial risk, but thats ok because this is going to be 200x bigger than facebook…

However— I’ve never really done anything successfully before, and haven’t started actually executing since I figured I’d have some other sucker do all the work with your money and if things don’t work out– oh well — risks of investing right?

Fail – Triple Fail – I may be a fool, but you will have to find a greater fool to invest in your “angel round.”

In fact, the beauty of having an executive assistant at Build.com is I can filter these people out. If your meeting/call to harass me for money gets extended out 2-3 months, it really means I just don’t want to talk to you about your idea.  I have an exceptional executive assistant, and if your idea doesn’t move her, do you really think it will impress me?

The Right Idea at the Right Time

Now on rare occasions, someone books my time for pure advice. In fact, they are usually presented through an introduction from a mutual connection, and they want to glean what they can from me to use in their start-up. They may be only at the executive summary stage, or maybe they have a product already.

A good example was with a friend named Robert Strazzarino. Robert came to me looking for advice, not money, for his college scheduling software. www.collegescheduler.com He had a business which was doing well, but just getting its legs. Sales wise, things were challenged – no financial projections, no sales plan, just software and a handful of clients. The guy was brilliant, driven, and “got” it. In fact, every time we met he distilled the best pieces of my advice, executed on it, and lo and behold, the business grew… Dramatically even.

My first mistake was giving him great advice.  The business just kept growing, and about 100% of growth ago I could have plopped down 10% of what it would take today to buy myself a little piece today. Doh!  Well, I’m disappointed in that decision, and on a sidebar am hoping to exploit him for his wonderful business and technical acumen by including him on a different project I’m working on.

So, fast forward to November 2011. When Andrew Gazdecki sought me out for advice and was introduced by Peter Strauss and Robert Strazzarino (two people I trust and admire,) I knew I should take the meeting. Andrew bootstrapped and built BiznessApps.com, an absolutely brilliant little concept of making inexpensive iPhone apps for small to medium sized businesses.

Bizness apps will build for YOU or YOUR SMALL / MEDIUM sized business an iPhone app for  $39.00 a month!

To put it in perspective, Build spent a 5 figure sum on our iPhone app! Sure, Andrew’s apps are simple apps, but who doesn’t want their own app to promote their business for $39.00 a month?

How can this work for you?

  • Folks at a local watering hole may want to know that their bar is offering $3 drinks and can get contacted through a push notification that there is a special going on NOW. Bar empty? Drive in patrons in no time at all. Want your to go menu easily accessible, its all there!
  • An insurance agent may want their own app so they can communicate more effectively with their customers for claims management and quick communication purposes.
  • A Restaurant would want an app for the same reasons as bars, plus easy access to menus, amongst other features.
  • Ultimately if a customer is “Brand loyal” enough to you or your establishment to install your app, for 39.00 a month you should offer them the option!!!!!
  • These are just a few use cases, the possible client list is endless.

The applications are numerous and the costs are cheap. I encourage all my business friends to sign up and give it a try for $39.00.  You spend exponentially more than that for a little piddly advertisement in your local free newspaper for a week or worthless yellow pages ad.

While I think the site needs major help, and the product is still just out of beta, AND there are some pretty competent ( higher priced! ) competitors in the space, I wanted in.

After the pitch, passion, and intelligence Andrew displayed, I didn’t waste any time and made an offer to invest. He was a little off guard, since he didn’t come looking for money. In fact, he was opposed to raising money. Even more of a reason to invest!

Today I am happy to be an equity holder in BiznessApps.com and would appreciate your patronage. Scratch that. You are foolish to not have your own promotable iPhone app for your business. Oh, and did I mention the app is 100% refundable if you are not pleased?

Not an apple zealot? Who cares, some of your customers are… And all you android nerds will be pleased to know that it will be coming soon to an Android OS near you.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this concept / investment, and why you would or would not use it? Was this a bad investment? Lets start a conversation.
-Chris

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