If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that we are part of the Boom Startup Ed Tech Accelerator . We have successfully closed our first round of funding, but we have gained more than money from the experience. Don’t get me wrong, though, we do like money.
Speaking of money, one of the presenters, Rob Gallup, talked about having founded 10 companies, sold several of them and gone through the ups and downs.
One point he made over and over was,
Save your money, because you never know when you’ll need that money down the road.
We expect sales to keep going up, but you never know.
Rob said it was kind of a joke around the office how cheap he was, and I may be getting to be that way a bit myself. When we moved to the new building on 4th and Wilshire, we got an interior office instead of an ocean view. So, the only time we get to look out over the ocean is when we are in a meeting. The ocean view offices are more expensive and they don’t contribute anything to the bottom line.
The point isn’t not to spend money but not to spend it unnecessarily. We just hired a full-time Director of Business Development who will be working with schools and school districts.
We have had a lot of people offer to do brochures, websites and other marketing materials at rates that parallel Hollywood movie studios. I’m sure that what they did might be artistic, but we aren’t producing a major motion picture, here on a blockbuster budget. That would be truly awesome if we could, but we are a startup. Electronic Arts is down the street. We have our own artists do the marketing materials and they are printed off at the printer down the street, who gives us a great deal as a long-time customer.
I don’t even believe it is that bad that we don’t have a multi-million dollar budget. Living in southern California, it seems like there is a commercial or TV show being shot on location around here every day. Yes, I would really like to have the staff that they do and and I often think how amazing our sound and graphics could be if we did.
Not that our team doesn’t do awesome work, like this Honduran white bat that Justin just did. However, we are a startup and are just starting usability testing for Aztech in December. It doesn’t make sense to make a scene with 1,000 flying bats when we’re not even certain that lesson will make it into the final product.
Another thing we don’t spend a lot of money on is rush orders. If we can get it 10% cheaper by waiting two weeks, I’ll wait unless there is some pressing reason we need it tomorrow. We didn’t have a waste basket in the new office for a couple of weeks until I had time to drop by Staples, because the only waste baskets you could buy in the yuppie stores near our office were $70 and up, which I was NOT going to pay.
We could blame Silicon Valley – why not, they get blamed for everything else – but I’m not sure why it is that many people see ‘startup’ and dollar signs appear in their eyes. Perhaps it’s all those stories about the free champagne, gourmet meals delivered to the office and lavish launch parties.
I wonder how many of the companies that do that go out of business and how many of them wish they had the money from those leather waste baskets, flashy corporate videos, ocean-view suites and cases of champagne.
As for our company, we are still here and I will continue to watch the budget, because even as we grow, well, you never know when there will be a downturn, and if there is, I intend to be in a good position to weather it.