Essay Contest pg 2


The idea for DCgrew out of our recent experiences in private equity. We were approached several times to partner with small groups of people to create innovative products or services (which didn't fit our investment profile).  From 2008-2011, the range for most of these proposals (about 16 of them) was $2K-15K and the highest proposal was $100K (2008).  You can contrast this with our private equity deals involving start-ups that ranged from $1MM - $3.75MM over the same time period.

We are presenting DC7 as a new type of hybrid company that combines seed capital, technology consulting and advisory services to facilitate a more comprehensive Innovation Portfolio for Idea Sponsors.  

An Innovation Portfolio is simply a hedged approach that an investor or company takes to limit the risks involved in undertaking innovative projects-- sort of like keeping 10 stocks in your portfolio instead of just one. Modern Portfolio Theory was a major advance in finance, but it wasn't really explored until the 1950s-- fairly late considering markets have been around for 700 years. And since roughly 5 in 6 start-ups fail (reference) and 90% of new product launches fail (source) this approach allows the person or entity to undertake several ventures and spreads equity and cost among multiple partners. We believe this new type of stategy is becoming necessary as a corporate initiative so that companies can stay competitive in a much more rapidly commoditizing market (addressed in extra credit).

An Idea Sponsor is a person or business that has an innovative plan and is willing to put up some capital to market test the idea or to start a company. Idea Sponsors sometimes have a great a deal of expertise in the area and sometimes they just want to try something new. However, they often lack the time, skill and extra capital needed to feel comfortable implementing the many ancillary and technical components the venture requires. The typical solution is to outsource these components to various software, marketing, advertising, and other consulting companies. This often leads to serious problems managing everything and takes the sponsor's focus away from the core parts of the business.

Some examples of past Idea Sponsors include: 
  • engineers
  • professors
  • medical doctors
  • lawyers
  • entrepreneurs
  • real estate developers
  • a medical office
  • a multi-family consortium
  • a golf course
Some examples of past Business Plans include: (also see Current Projects)
  • custom-built billing software for a medical office
  • a new type of custom made tie sold online
  • a wood-burning bio fuel station that attaches to a large industrial plant
  • a web site to enable professional feedback for academic papers from overseas
  • a mobile-phone-based GPS & time-sensitive coupon app for small, local businesses.
The diagram below depicts how the process works.

The Expert Community consists of very smart people like you helping with advice, contacts, information and feedback and working in small increments of perhaps 1-10 hours in a month (whatever is desired) every couple of months or so. The key here is that Experts focus only on what they know best and leave the other parts to other experts. An expert might also choose to mentor a start-up and commit x hrs a month to it. Or step back after one session. Your reward? Cash and/or equity. You decide. There will likely be a matching process based on your criteria, expertise to the venture, etc.

DC7 Commons: Many start-up companies share a number of common components that are reproduced by each team separately.  It is not unusual at all, as an investor, to see not only the same components recreated across several start-ups, but also the same problems, failed or inferior approaches and setbacks. Similar technical, web, CRM, CMS, legal, accounting, marketing and advertising solutions and consulting are often (re)researched and (re)developed with each new group of innovators.

In addition, many technical applications share many components (source code, products, licensing, architecture) which appear conspicuously similar and form a fairly obvious pattern. These shared components, which are most often not a core part of the venture, often comprise a substantial amount of time and money in the first couple years of development. 

Notable Current Comments

9/22/2011: "Looks great (...) the time-for-equity concept seems like it could be a bit shaky."

9/22/2001: "...will have to review above again... and again."