Sunday, August 20, 2006

Reader Mail

Every now and then I get e-mails from readers. Sometimes it's readers sharing some interesting things with me and sometimes it's readers asking questions about what is it exactly that I do.

Just a few days ago I got an e-mail from one of my readers asking me some questions that many readers in the past have asked me. So I think the least I can do is to try my best to answer them as well as I can

(Do keep in mind thought that Boss Stewie is after all an entrepreneur that is yet to prove himself so don't take my words as seriously as you would take Michael Dell's words)

Here is the e-mail (I took out his real name as requested)
Dear Boss Stewie,

This is MaN|acZ. Just call me
MaN|acZ or LeeCH.

Anyway, I have some questions to ask you.

1) I'm curious like how do you get yourself paid for
your startup? (I assumed since you have no working
experience, where did you get your money?)

2) How long you expect that you'll be able to gain
back what you've invested?

3) How does a typical life of your work day like? I
actually do have plans to start up my own company. But
I just afraid that I'll run out of money before I can
make it.Please advise.

Thank you.

And my reply

Dear Maniacz,

I assume that the 'business' you're planning to start is a dotcom like mine.

Let me try to answer your first question.

The only time I earned money of my own was during my past two summer holidays where I did internships at two different investment banks.

So you can imagine that the money I earned and saved was hardly enough for me to embark on this business.

Therefore, after working out the business plan and deciding on the minimum capital that we needed, we started exploring options of how to save cost or come up with the money.

For example, I met up with a representative from the Multimedia Development Corporation based at Cyberjaya to explore the facilities they provide up-and-coming internet entrepreneurs.

Upon hearing my businesss plan, the representative discussed the kind of help they could possibly provide my little dotcom.

Among the possibilities we discussed was assistance in finding graduating MMU students to work for my little dotcom and on top of that, an offer to subsidize 50% of my labour cost.

We could also use their workstations that come prepared with original licensed software web developers would need that could potentially cost you thousands and thousands of ringgit if you decide to do it on your own.

And of course on top of all this, there is the incentive we all want: a cash grant.

I recently heard of an internet company that not too far back received a RM1.6mn grant from the MSC.

Apart from exploring the possibilities of working together with the MDC, we managed to find some venture capitalists that were keen on investing in our little dotcom.

Now there are two ways of financing your business if personal finance is not enough. You could borrow money from a bank, or find venture capitalists.

The first option is less advisable for internet businesses since most internet businesses (though this depends on your business model) typically won't generate much revenue in the first couple of years so servicing the loan interest every month will probably kill you.)

Besides, banks aren't likely to lend money to internet businesses especially since they don't have much collateral to offer.

The second and more feasible option for internet businesses is to find venture capitalists to take up an equity stake in your business.

Before starting this business, I had 'accidentally' come across a venture capitalist that was interested in negotiating a financial package.

I had also received a call from an old friend in the Middle-East some time back and he too was asking if he could take up a stake in the business.

If you work with venture capitalists, you could probably negotiate a monthly salary for yourself. I've seen real life examples of this happen so they're very possible.

I believe that all these options in finding the right financial package makes the statement of "No Money To Do Business" just an excuse from people who like to talk about doing business but aren't determined enough to actually walk the talk.

Billionaires like Sergey Brin, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs started with no money as well. The difference is that they were determined enough to find money to do business.

As for my partner Ming and I, we are both lucky to have some financial backing from our families (possible partly because the start-up capital for our business is relatively small).

So after exploring these options and keeping our capital to the minimum, we decided that we could at least for now say no for banks and venture capitalists.

Since the first answer has already been long enough, I will answer your second and third question as briefly as I can.

As to how long before I gain back what I've invested, the answer is: Probably in no less than 2 years and possibly even NEVER.

As to how the typical day for an entrepreneur is like, there isn't really a 'typical day' at this stage.

Every day seems to have different challenges and every day my partner and I are given new problems to solve.

Keep in mind that many dotcoms don't make much money at all for the first few years of operation.

So if you're worried about running out of money half way, have a backup plan.

Keep in mind that all the 3 billionaires I mentioned earlier (Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Sergey Brin) have all at one point of their lives almost lost every penny to their name in order to keep their company going.

I hope I will never have to go through that... but I know I'm just being wishful.


MaN|acZ said...

Dear Boss Stewie,
Thanks for posting up my email. But, can you please remove my name from post?


Boss Stewie said...


Anonymous said...

If i get rich from being a boring chemical engineer in the future (that's one BIG fat 'if') i'll invest in ur business! Worry not with suicidal around! i demand high returns though. :D

MaN|acZ said...

Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience.

Good advise. by the ways.

Anonymous said...

So LengMou was your huge plan to gather us unknowing MMU students eh?? Hah!

Boss Stewie said...

suicidal: yay.. my future money problems solved!

man: no worries

lance: ahh dammit... caught with my hand in the cookie jar

Anonymous said...

dun get student like jason from MMU.. hahaha

Boss Stewie said...

yes cely.. i'll keep that in mind

Anonymous said...

Dun cheat little girls and boys from MMU.

Anonymous said...

Boss, why are u looking to hire MMU students specifically? There are numerous other tertiary institutions that specialize in IT albeit MMU is more well known. But not all MMU students are pro in IT. Can you give a bit more info pls.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim, well done! Keep up the good work! i have been reading your blog quite a bit, and i am very impressed and encouraged! Nowadays it is not easy to find a young man like you who has the heart to share with others without anything in return! May God bless you bountifully!

Anonymous said...

You blog set up is : clean layout, good sence of typo, leading is just right, it does not strain the readers's eyes, good choice of colour! Calm and relax! All these will make the readers want to stay on! You are good!

You must be a very observant and sensitive person!
Able to talk about anything under the sun! Keep focus! you will go far!

In business sometimes you need a person like Ming! Sometimes you need to agree to disagree! Sometimes you need to eat your own humble pie!
Just like a well used rubber band will not break easily! It is more elasticity!

Anonymous said...

I like this post. It brings out the Mr. in you. You're actually being useful for once. Will it last I wonder...

Anonymous said...

It sure brings out the man in him... =P

Boss Stewie said...

lance: more like don't get cheated by mmu boys and girls

nicholas: MMU students are reputedly the best IT students in malaysia. i hear that their final year projects are far more difficult than those of any other colleges.

anonymous: thanks very much for your very sweet comment. i hope what i share will at least be worth something some day...

anonymous: thanks again for your very nice comment... what you say about having partners that agree to disagree is true.. something that i have to learn to understand more :P

Boss Stewie said...

hasan: thanks hasan.. looking forward to seeing u in two weeks

Dawn said...

Oh so THAT's how businesses start up. lol. Good info. been wanting to find that out for ages but never got the initiative to really go dig up the info. Where do you find venture caps in m'sia btw? if you don't know anyone?
did you major in business in england?

Boss Stewie said...

hey dawn.. no i did economics in england...

if you don't know anyone, there are plenty of venture caps... i know of a few in my own office building