Category: Happenings

PlanHQ: A $750K Virtual Investment

PlanHQ.com is an online Business Planning and startup development tool.  Doesn’t sound very sexy does it but you’d be wrong. Having been crazy enough to start three different businesses, I can painfully testify that writing and even more challenging…sticking to the thinking within a good Business Plan is extremely tough.  Plan HQ is an innovative web application that helps entrepreneurs and startups not only create a business plan, but allocate tasks and track progress across the key players. If Plan HQ gets the kind of traction it should then Plan HQ will be a great little business with any number of service and product extensions for the entrepreneur.  Move over 37Signals!

Business Model:
Plan HQ has a nice and simple business model…all elements of the application are hosted by Plan HQ. No downloads, no maintenance, no hosting, no contracts – If Plan HQ does work out for you or you stop needing their service, just leave.  Think ‘Salesforce.com’ for business planning.  Plan HQ offers a 30 day free trial (http://www.planhq.com/signup/) and then the fees are based on number of users on a monthly basis.  So membership types and prices:

Mini   = $9 month / 3 users / 5 active goals
Small = $24 month / 5 users / 10 active goals
Professional = $49 month / Unlimited Users / 10 active goals

Some Core Functionality:
The Plan HQ Product is sub-divided into some management categories that are usually ‘key’ for most startups and early stage companies and of course there’s a ‘Dashboard’ so you can manage and track the imperative tasks. Management ‘uber’ categories include:

  • The Dashboard – Covering main tasks, actions, upcoming goals, financials
  • The Market  – Your Markets, the Competition, Customers and basic market and customer analytics
  • Goals – Actual Goals, Add new goals, confidence of achievement and more
  • Financials – Performance, Indicators, graphs 
  • The Business Plan Document itself
  • Team – Who have you got, who do you need

Likes:
I really like the Plan HQ business model and the product itself, it’s especially relevant for those businesses that are focused on moving towards significant growth and the Venture Capital route.

  • The Product seems to cover the key elements of what a young company needs to focus on and allows enough configuration that the users are not ‘locked in’ to Plan HQ already good business management methodology
  • I hate to put it like this but for those ‘new’ to building businesses from just a plan, the product can really help ensuring the key team members focus on what’s important to any business but especially the ‘young’ business…Customers, revenues, the team and fund raising.
  • As its a web ap, this product is especially helpful for a distributed or virtual team and also for bringing angels, other investors and advisors easily into the key decision making process.  It could actually help get Advisors pulling their weight by locking them into real trackable actions. Wow! Could this product really do this?

Dislikes:
Not so much dislikes as potential questions and ‘like to sees’:

  • Paypal as a form of payment.  As a small business owner I don’t like adding my credit card to ongoing online services.
  • The positioning is ‘Create, update, track and collaborate around your business plan’. Business Plans eventually fall by the wayside as the business scales and grows beyond a certain stage or size.  As a ‘virtual’ investor, I’d like to see how all the data captured through initial usage and the service ’scales’ with the business. i.e. beyond the business plan and becoming an ongoing discipline and tool for managing the business ongoing.
  • I’d like to see a referral program and a ‘Reseller’ model.  For example, a startup I’m involved with ‘Advisor Garage’ (http://www.AdvisorGarage.com)  has 1000+ entrepreneurs, angels and VCs onboard.  This is a service many of our members would probably like to use – can our company ’subscribe’ and offer the Plan HQ service to our members for a fee?  I hope so! Let me know if any Plan HQ folks read this…

What’s unclear:

  • how the data exports or integrates with other systems – i.e. quickbooks etc
  • Are the ‘Permissions’ configurable? Will all signees be able to access all data? Would a CEO want that?

My Virtual Investment:
With my virtual $1M, I would ask PlanHQ to include me in their ‘Virtual Investment’ plans to the tune of $750K. Once they establish this market, their are so many obvious product extensions that driving great revenues will be easy and hey…they have the tool to manage those new businesses.  Great job Plan HQ!

http://www.planhq.com/

Andrew – Founder
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com/community

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Amie Street Celebrates First Birthday: Free Music For TechCrunch Readers

“To celebrate their birthday, Amie Street is giving the first 5,000 signups on the site $2.50 in free credit and five free song recommendations. Just use the promo code “TechCrunch.” Note that we are not receiving any compensation from this. Try it out if you like.”

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Advisor Garage – Globally Reaching Entrepreneurs and Advisors!

Global

Member recommendations and word of mouth is a wonderful thing!  Thought I would share some recent information about the countries that are discovering Advisor Garage.

This is the most recent website rankings for Advisor Garage in some key countries:

United States            30,532
Pakistan                    31,476
Turkey                      151,167
Poland                       174,313
India                          180,894
Canada                      222,707
United Kingdom         521,936
China                         541,736

This reach is reflected in which Advisors (and entrepreneurs!) are joining…we have added two elements to the Advisor Garage home page which gives some insights:

  1. A list of the most recent 15 Advisors to join and

  2. An RSS feed of the fifty most recent Advisory Pitches so entrepreneurs can read through them quickly and efficiently (http://feeds.feedburner.com/AdvisorGarageLatestAdviceOffered)

How the Global Reach is translating into new Advisors with just the latest 15 Advisors:

Latest Advisors
  rhoucken – Hamburg, Germany
  rreiner – Toronto, Canada
  Carlossol – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  selethia – Ladson, USA
  artemgoncharuk – Arlington, USA
  dmitry.kachaev – Arlington, USA
  pavan – Bangalore, India
  prasadt – Philadelphia, USA
  soconnor – Menifee, USA
  TechSpin – El Segundo, USA
  aa97m03 – Alexandria, USA
  TNNW – Levittown, USA
  pauchterlonie – Austin, USA
  alecbeckett – Providence, USA
  mhawarey – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The reality is that the United States is still the dominant country in terms of interaction and entrepreneur/advisor signups but we are also getting some great advisors joining from multiple countries…China, India, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and so on.

Wonder what would happen if we actually had a marketing budget? 🙂 the Mind boggles!

Want to add your Word of Mouth Power? Send contacts the following:

+++
A colleague has just launched a new web service bringing potential business advisors together with entrepreneurs and early stage businesses. For Advisors – It’s a great way to discover new deal flow and get involved in hot new companies. For Entrepreneurs – it’s a great way to take your business to the next level in 2007! 
It’s called Advisor Garage –  http://www.AdvisorGarage.com and was recently featured in Business Week!

Please sign up and forward this email to other great advisors and entrepreneurs.
++

Thanks!

Andrew
Founder
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com

Hot company which sells to Paris Hilton, Britney Spears & Shakira joins Advisor Garage

http://www.AdvisorGarage.com which leverages online dating technology to bring Entrepreneurs together with advisors, mentors and investors has just signed up at hot young company called BlingRing as a member.  BlingRing is an accessory company to celebrities including Paris Hilton, Shakira, Britney Spears and many others…

The Advisor Garage service is simple. Entrepreneurs such as ‘BlingRing™’ search through Advisor’s ‘Advisory Pitches’ to find an Advisor who meets today’s (and tomorrow’s) need. Alternatively, Advisors can search through the multiple entrepreneur elevator pitches until one looks attractive and then reach out to the entrepreneur via Advisor Garage.

Included recently within a Business Week online article ‘What Entrepreneurs Should Know’, Advisor Garage helps hot young companies and entrepreneurs connect with Advisors and decide if they want to create a lasting relationship.

With 300+ Advisors and more signing up every day and busily connecting with hundreds of exciting hot new companies in the United States, Japan, Belgium, the United Kingdom and other countries, Advisor Garage has the potential to really help young businesses and entrepreneurs.

As Bling Ring™’s customers include Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Love Hewitt & Jessica Simpson, and musicians such as Shakira & The Black Eyed Peas. We couldn’t be happier that Bling Ring has joined us at Advisor Garage, who know’s where it could lead…

Andrew
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com
http://AdvisorGarage.wordpress.com

Time to Check in on Advisor Garage…

Good morning, good evening or whatever is appropriate for wherever you are.  Thanks for stopping by…

As this is a blog about how we are working to get Advisor Garage into every home in the world….bigger than coke, Apple and Paris Hilton…cackle cackle! Hold it..I’ll stop right there.  Alright…its not true, I was just getting carried away.  I think that marks a distinction between Advisor Garage (http://www.AdvisorGarage.com) and other networking sites out there…We don’t want to me HUGE, we want to be small, exclusive to those that would gain real value and relevant!

When we designed Advisor Garage (and this is not a bad thing to consider if you are going through a similar process)…we decided on the functionality the site would have based on what we wanted it to be and do for its members.  So…? You say, don’t they all do that?  I would say most people building these kinds of site design it with members and their own business goals in mind i.e. being huge, making loads of cash, being the next ‘whatever’.

At Advisor Garage we purposefully avoided the ‘friend of friend’ tools that would give kudos to people by being linked to loads of others.  Advisor Garage would not be a shopping mall of people all working to gain attention amongst the hubbub and background noise of all the other members…we wanted Advisor Garage to be a small’ish group of people with similar goals and aspirations who would be motivated to connect and work together.

Let me explain what I mean…I joined linked in.  And so did almost everyone else with a computer.  Now what?  Well, I’m starting a business and would like to connect with someone who can help me get Advisor Garage onto the front page of ‘Wired’. So searching through Linked In…I find everyone who is connected to Wired and reach out.  The challenge is that those ‘Wired’ folks may be in the community for 101 other reasons. Ergo, there is a high potential for a mis-match.

Take Advisor Garage.  One side, Entrepreneurs…the other,people who are putting themselves forward to help entrepreneurs.  Could there be anything more aligned?

So does this mean it will be successful?  I really hope so…the results so far are we are growing every day and already have Advisors running well into the treble digits.  I have had quite a few entrepreneurs reach out to me with somthing along the lines of “Thank God for your site…we joined three weeks ago and we already have advisors that we are working with…”.  Thanks, its good to hear and more testimonials with help!

One little tip so it isn’t all about Advisor Garage…try to get your startup to revenue BEFORE you resign from your job!  I know its tempting to throw everything in and say ‘Vegas or bust’ but you don’t need to do it…if you make progress every day, even if its evenings or mornings, you’ll be surprised at where you get too in afew months and how close you are towards owning a revenue generating business.

Aha…you say…Advisor Garage isn’t charging so what about you?

Well, Advisor Garage is not our day job!  Fact!

We built it, we launched it, we get up before the sun does so we can work on it and go to bed too close to when we next need to get up. But we have day jobs and families…so until we are sure the value for Advisor Garage members is SIGNIFICANT…we won’t charge. And when we are sure its extremely valuable, we want it to be accessible, so it will be low, low priced!

 So no full time Advisor Garage for us! Shame! But wouldn’t it be so much big if we just did it every day? Maybe but we’d spend 50% of the time worrying about paying the mortgage so and ever depleting savings…so we built it, got it out there, and if people like it we hope they tell their friends.  Wink!

Hey, maybe one day…we’ll even get an office.  But I doubt it!

Andrew
http://www.AdvisorGarage.com
http://AdvisorGarage.wordpress.com