Monday, October 19, 2009
Here are some of the highlights of the interview **PLEASE NOTE: These are selected quotes and may not be verbatim**:
Webber's comments about Exemplar:
"The Exemplar model is different from the traditional law firm factory."
"Your secret sauce is:
• Your hiring practice;
• Your decisionmaking practice;
• Your billing practice."
[With regard to the hiring process]: "People chosen to work with you must pass a litmus test."
"You [sic] focus on and invent new language – e.g., customer vs. client."
[On Exemplar's Full Service Model]: "You’re not in the law business as it is simply defined. In other words, you are not simply doing legal work for a client. You are also in the consigliore business. You’re adding advice and counsel and strategic business help, which is why all lawyers are educated in business or have business experience. You’re giving organizations that come to you for help more than legal help; you’re giving them ‘counsel’. A ‘trust consigliore’ is what businesses need today. This is a different and a great business."
[On expanding the team]:
Moderator: As concerns human capital, you have a young core team and want to bring in an older generation to work with you. During our discussions Jessica, you mentioned that you were nervous about this process.
Jessica: We have a ‘no asshole’ rule. We have slow growth because we are protective of our model. Yet, we don’t want everyone to be like us. While the young people are excited about the new model, the older people are hesitant about it because it is so different. It is a challenge growing when you bring in someone who is older and more experienced, but is answering to you or other attorneys who have tattoos or high heels. Even when you work collaboratively, older attorneys ask for coffee and we say Whoa! What? It presents a challenge to your culture.
[On Inspiration and Best Ideas of the Firm]:
Where do you get your best ideas from, in terms of firm and future?
Jessica: When we are sitting around drinking we have inspirations concerning our core values and how they can be implemented. We are currently going through a rebranding, have created a new logo and are launching a new website.
Our branding person asked the firm:
• If your firm was a person, what would it look like?
• What music would it listen to?
• If your firm was a politician, what would its platform be?
• If your firm was a food, what would it taste like?
The cornerstone of our company is to keep social ideas running.
Check out the whole interview for more insight not only into Exemplar, but into best practices for building YOUR entrepreneurial venture!
Friday, October 2, 2009
The news is in, and the way we have been incentivizing work for decades has been proven to be harmful to productivity. Carrots and Sticks are on the way out. Worker autonomy is on the way in.
That is the gist of a recent talk by Dan Pink, a former speechwriter to Al Gore, a published author, and a contributing editor to WIRED magazine.
Dan makes a compelling case for reevaluating how we structure incentives for employees and even ourselves. He describes a social science experiment called the "Candle Problem," designed in 1945, where participants are asked to accomplish a simple task. The task has a very simple solution that requires some creativity to discover. So when a modern experimenter revived the experiment and timed two groups to see which could solve it faster, the results were surprising.
When participants are told that fastest participants received a cash reward, they do significantly worse. It takes them, on average, three minutes longer to reach the solution than people who were simply told the average time it should take to find the solution.
Dan explains that traditional rewards work well when there is a "simple set of rules and a clear destination" because "rewards . . . narrow our focus, concentrate the mind. Where you just see the goal right there, zoom ahead straight to it, they work well . . . . But for the real candle problem . . . the solution is on the periphery." In fact, as the cash prize increases, people do even worse.
The implications for modern work of all kinds are staggering. We've seen straight-forward jobs like manufacturing either go overseas or become automated by machines and computers. We're left with nothing but "Candle Problems" with no clear rules and many possible solutions.
The presentation really hits home for me, because my candle problem is often legal research, or crafting arguments, and trust me-rushing in head-first on either of those is a great way to spend a long time going nowhere.
You'll have to watch the rest of the clip (runtime 18:40) for the juicy details and snappy jokes, but in the end Dan suggests that intrinsic, internal rewards (like granting employees greater autonomy) are more effective than extrinsic, carrot-and-stick incentives.
What are your "Candle Problems?" How are you going to approach them from now on?
Gerrit is a legal intern with Exemplar Law Partners, LLC.
Monday, September 28, 2009
A recent study suggests that prevalent entrepreneurial traits may be heritable. The study, conducted by Scott A. Shane, made preliminary findings that certain common “entrepreneurial” traits are passed through DNA. These traits include the tendency to identify business opportunities and start new businesses, self employment income, and personality traits such as extraversion, openness, and sensation-seeking. According to the study, there are common underlying genetic schemes that support these characteristics.
Well I guess you can’t argue with DNA, and as the famous Ron Bergundy once said, “It’s science…” But doesn’t circumstance count for something? It has to. Entrepreneurs are risk takers, go getters, and pro-active self starters. These are qualities that—if not acquired early through adopting the values of one’s surroundings—aren’t likely to be acquired at all. An individual’s attitude, perception and values toward money and business are heavily influenced by their parents. While there is a strong link between a parent’s education and the likely education of their children, I would argue the same goes for professional values. It follows then, that an entrepreneurial upbringing fosters an entrepreneurial attitude, and this may have very little to do with DNA.
What happens to a child with the “entrepreneurial” DNA that grows up with a nuclear safety technician father and homemaker-mother? Does this affect the child’s chances of squeezing value from their economically adventurous genes? I suppose the question comes down to “Nature vs. Nurture”—and according to “Wedding Crashers”—nature wins every time.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
So, as entrepreneurs, want do we do for each other? We VOTE. So do it, yo! And a little secret? You can vote once for each email address you have... sneaky...! Have an amazing day, entrepreneurs.
Monday, August 24, 2009
• Your lawyer or accountant about seeking VC funding, chances are they can refer you to someone in their network that can help you, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel…
• Someone you know who received VC funding and gain from their insight, preferably in your same sector.
Be prepared to
• Submit very sensitive information such as your credit history as well as some proprietary info
• Be grilled by the VC if you’re invited to the interview
• Lose some control over your company as VCs bring in market best practices that you were not aware of, or bring in someone better to do the job than your pal Joe.
• Know the legal documents you will be signing as part of the VC process such as the Term Sheet and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) among others. Your friendly neighborhood VC attorneys put together templates of model legal documents at National Venture Capital Association .
• Subscribe to internet websites such as www.privateequityinfo.com, www.venturedeal.com, www.capitalvector.com, www.PEHub.com or www.privateplacementletter.com
• Learn more about the VC industry by subscribing to journals such as Reuter’s own Venture Capital Journal (see www.VCJnews.com) and Private Equity Week (see www.PEWnews.com) or Buyouts News (see www.buyoutsnews.com)
• Check out VC “tweeters” at www.venturemaven.com, which maybe relevant
Research your potential suitors
• Research suitors at Venture Capital associations such as National Venture Capital Association at www.NVCA.org and the New England Venture Capital Association at www.NewEnglandVC.org ($300 annual dues)
• The majority of investments are going to Biotechnology, Medical Devices and Software with the majority going to Silicon Valley followed by New England
• Recent IPOs were mostly of companies that were incubated in 2000 – 2003, a challenging cycle
• The hottest trends are in Cleantech/Energy and the Internet
• Your VC should bring more than money, they can add value in more ways than one.
A final thought, you’ll thank me for this:
Try to combine the famous 10-second elevator sales pitch with your business card and include the following on the back of your card:
• What? What novel idea you hope to offer – the supply side of your pitch
• Why? Why is there a need for your idea – the demand side of your pitch
• How? Is it proprietary – is it feasible
• Who? The people that make it happen
• When? Is it ready for production or still on the drawing board
• Use bullet points and don’t forget to KISS it (Keep it simple smarty)
o This way busy VCs might recall you when the time is ready
EZ the VC
Disclaimer: Please note that the info provided is for the sole purpose of educating the reader and does not entail an endorsement in the above mentioned organizations or websites.
Friday, August 21, 2009
The first line of investors:
This group typically includes your family, friends, American Express, Mastercard, Visa, oh and your Discover card.
The second line of investors:
Typically, this involves your suppliers (as creditors, they do finance your company) and especially if they are strategic suppliers who share your market interests. More often this group includes Angel Investors who are affluent individuals who organize themselves into Angel groups and can focus on anything from broad community-based investments to narrow geographical or sector-focused investments.
Angel Investors are similar to VCs in that they are as professional but because they invest their own funds (rather than manage the pooled assets of third-parties) and enter at earlier stages typically have a greater risk/reward appetite than a VC.
Another investor is Uncle Sam. The US government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) has the “New Markets Venture Capital” program which primarily focuses on economic development of low-income areas. Another program from Uncle Sam is the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program which helped fund companies such as Intel, Staples, Apple, AOL and Sun Microsystems to name a few. Unfortunately, this program was significantly curtailed in 2005.
The third line of investors:
The Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Investors. But who are these nameless benefactors? Anybody with a lot of money, except for your bank, that’s who. They include everybody from Former US Presidents and Vice Presidents (Bush Sr. and Gore, respectively) to university endowments and state agencies such as CalPERS.
Name brand companies such as Intel have their own PE/VC arms; Intel Capital invests in technology worldwide.
Heck, even Communist China is now in on the game via its China Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s sovereign wealth fund set up in 2007 to manage $200 billion of China’s $2 Trillion currency reserves, but already owns 9.9% of Morgan Stanley and also has an interest in Blackstone Group, one of the largest firms that specializes in Private Equity and R.E. investments which also happens to be publicly traded, who knew!!!
The fourth line of investors:
The public at large. Members of the general public become investors via an Initial Public Offering (IPO) where you can offload some equity in your growing company in exchange for some valuable consideration. This is where you and your equity partners can be expected to go your separate ways. But it does not necessarily have to end there as some partners may decide to stay on and cultivate strategic alliances for the venture in the market place.
Investors come in all shapes and sizes from mom and dad to China…
EZ the VC
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Anyway, VCs inject funds intermittently and when benchmarks are met. You will need to know the names of these “rounds” beforehand to know where you stand in the funding cycle and in a “nutshell”:
The initial small-amount investment made by investors other than the VCs (family, friends, and credit cards) to kick-start the venture for little or no collateral.
Another round of pre-VC small-investments used to fund marketing and product development when you finally have something tangible. Angel Investors (think of them as you fairy god parents) come in and typically throw in a six-digit investment as debt or equity without meddling into the company’s affairs.
First-round or early stage capital
Once your idea is proven viable or worth further investigation, the VCs make their initial investment in exchange for ordinary shares in your company.
The venture is ideally breaking even. VCs assesses the venture’s situation and as the venture reaches certain success milestones such as actual market sales, more VC funding follows. If the VCs have second thoughts, they may re-think their investment entirely.
Mezzanine financing or third-stage capital
This follow-on funding that helps to expand the venture’s working capital. Ideally, the venture is starting to turn a profit and only needs more capital to “expand”. Funding is typically via debt or preferred stock. Here the venture is typically benchmarked against the competition, if any.
Bridge financing or fourth-stage capital
The last step in VC funding that sets the stage for the VCs divestment/exit either via IPO or trade sale. This is where both you and the VC get a nice big fat reward for the risks endured and can happen anytime between three to seven years of the VC’s engagement.
But be warned, that at anytime during the investment funding cycle, you or some other manager may be asked to step down from your post, but not as an investor. This is only natural as the venture starts to grow and take a life of its own.
After that, you can take that long planned trip to the Bahamas that you’ve been dreaming about.
EZ the VC
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
What do I need to do?
First, you can choose to approach a VC directly but a referral from a trusted professional such as a lawyer who works with VCs would be better.
Second, bait them with a smart business plan. Ideally, one that has an executive summary that attracts, maintains, and develops the VCs interest in your company, complete with supporting documents. The plan has to be realistic in that it objectively maps out the plan and corresponding cash flows including future growth, contingencies, and most importantly, the VC’s eye-catching liquidation options. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they’ll start nibbling on the actual business plan and might even be interested in funding it.
When writing the plan try a Who, What, Where, How and Why format to explain and must include:
• The concept itself
• The potential market size: Is there a recognized market for the idea? Give a 2 year plan and the several benchmarks to be achieved within that time-frame
• Market Analysis using known business management models such as Porter’s Five Forces Analysis – to describe the supply and demand as well as issues and solutions
• Execution: Operations, R&D, marketing and sales plan
• Address all the pitfalls and contingencies, examples include:Why your management team won’t be picked off one by one by your competition because they all have equity invested and thus vested interest, and Key-man Clauses
• Team members: Resumes; Feature the veterans who have the wisdom of several economic cycles under their belts
• Financials – the second most important document for VCs. Show how little cash you need to remain self-sustainable once you break-even but most importantly, you must be realistic
• Liquidations routes – the most important issue for VCs
• Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) – the most important issue for the entrepreneurs
Third, if the VCs are even remotely interested, they’ll invite you (please bring your entire team along) to meet with the partners and grill you till you’re burnt to a crisp (just to see how you react to pressure). Keep in mind that VCs receive tons of business plans which are mostly discarded, so just to be interviewed by the partners is a big-step along the process of funding. But don’t wait to hear from the VCs, rather, be proactive and follow-up with the contact person and quickly fill in any blanks that may exist.
Fourth, the VC begins to conduct their internal due diligence processes. If your venture meets the VC’s requirements, it will be offered a “Term Sheet” which goes into the details of the VCs “private placement” for shares in your company in exchange for this “round” of funding. This will include among other things:
• The amount of the investment
• The pre-money and post-money valuation of the company – very important to
• Price per share of company stock
• Anti-dilution provisions – very important to the VC
• Voting rights
• Board representation – a must for the VC
Keep in mind that less than 1% of all submitted business plan eventually reach the funding phase.
EZ the VC
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
So why are you so upset?
Ooh… Your “burn rate” (cash spent per month) is exceeding forecasts because your company is growing beyond your wildest expectations and your reliable funding sources like your Mom and Dad, credit cards, and best friends are maxed out, yikes!
Have no fear, VC is here…
No, VC is not an STD but an acronym for Venture Capital; a viable alternative to more debt financing that can come at a cost.
Venture Capitalists typically invest in companies with huge growth potential, usually in high-tech start-ups. Because VCs invest in “potential” early rather than in latter but proven tangible growth, they are similar to start-up entrepreneurs in that they face great risk which can potentially lead to a complete loss of invested capital should the start-ups fail (remember the dot-com crash? Ouch).
So why do VCs invest in potential?
Because the potential rewards can be even greater; the risks are offset by proceeds from successful portfolio companies distributing multiple returns on VC investments. How? Professional VCs use their cumulative investment experiences to minimize their exposures and maximize their limited resources.
But why VCs, you ask?
VCs play an important role in economies by investing in companies that are cash-strapped and cannot secure bank loans because they don’t have any tangible assets to trade as collateral. VCs typically begin to invest cash in exchange for shares in the portfolio company and later supplement with debt financing.
VC is a broad sub-component of Private Equity, an asset class of equity securities in privately held companies, that is typically funded by High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) or Institutional Investors via pooled investment vehicles or funds operating as LLCs.
VCs also offer value beyond the traditional financing role by adding skill sets and industry connections not easily attainable by new enterprises. But VCs also take a more hands-on approach to their portfolio companies by securing Board of Director positions that can influence company decisions and via restrictive covenants among other things.
It’s my company, why would I want to give up control to some VC, you say?
VCs can be a “double-edged sword” in the sense that you give up some control over the venture only to gain in strategic guidance, operational expertise and corporate governance among other things. It’s like being married; you yield some individuality to “synchronize” with your VC partner and benefit from the resulting synergizes, after all it is long-term partnership at least until the IPO or other liquidation event.
Ooh… that’s why…
Ultimately, you can go it alone and maintain control over your successful venture, but if you want your successful business to grow you’re going to need financing. Chances are that your best bet is a “suitable” VC, especially if you have no collateral.
By the way, VCs tend to discard virtually all the investment opportunities offered to them, so if a VC comes knocking do get to finicky, go open your door. Can you imagine where Bill Gates, Pierre Omidyar, Steve Jobs or Michael Dell would be if they didn’t?
Think about it…
EZ the VC
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Pardon our french but... what. the. hell. How is that ethical rule protecting these firms' clients? Are client really going to be confused as to whether their lawyers practice law? We've never had a customer come up to us and say "Gee, we didn't realize Exemplar Law Partners, LLC, was a law firm - shouldn't it only contain last names? It would alleviate the confusion for me." Though colloquially our firm has been shortened to the snappy "Exemplar," customer appreciate this small gesture of creativity and individuality. The Texas ethical rule referred to in Mr. Clark's blog is simply archaic, and deprives Texas lawyers of a simple way to be innovative in the industry. C'mon people - let's get out of these little ruts so we can really move forward to the real issues facing the legal industry today.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Microfinancing is MACRO- everyone is talking about it- and seems to be benefiting from it - but how can you get in on it? An increasingly large group of private organizations provide entrepreneurs, who are often ignored by financial institutions, with microloans and other basic financial services such as savings accounts, insurance policies, and monetary remittances. More importantly, microfinance offers hope to entrepreneurs in less fortunate areas who might otherwise consider illegal means of finance, like predatory moneylenders, who oftentimes charge an annualized interest rate of 1000% for a monthly loan.
Microfinance is not a new concept. Modern microfinance has been around since the 1970s, but, as Marguerite Robinson explains in “The Microfinance Revolution,” has only recently developed into an industry. The attraction of socially responsible investments (SRIs) and the ability to make an enduring economic and social impact is a primary motivator for this growth. The Internet has also shed light on the difficulties of starting new businesses in less fortunate areas, such as third world countries. It has also allowed would-be philanthropists the opportunity to join peer-to-peer (P2P) sites, such as KIVA and Microplace, and place soft loans of $25 or less with a credit-worthy but struggling entrepreneur. Lastly, technological advances have increased the efficiencies of delivery while simultaneously reducing the costs of funding giving the philanthropists more bang for their buck.
Alas, not all is well in Camelot. Shockingly, most small scale philanthropists willingly give microloans not knowing that the P2P’s local field partners (LFP), were charging exorbitant interest rates of up to 70% as well! This is due to the high administrative costs of delivering funds to remote clients in distant regions. Yet some microlenders have learned to reduce their costs significantly and develop more efficient models (which are less susceptible to waste), like Bangladesh’s Association for Social Advancement or ASA (Hope in Bengali), which has become self sufficient and is no longer accepting funds. Some have even received ratings from the American Institute of Philanthropy, such as Grameen America and FINCA (see http://www.charitywatch.org/toprated.html#peace).
So what can you do to help and, more importantly, avoid doing more harm than good?
1) Perform your due diligence and check the LFP profiles on your P2P site
2) Compare the LFP’s average interest rate against both the P2P’s benchmark and the local money lender rates. For example, KIVA offers LFP info at http://www.kiva.org/about/partners/
3) Be selective in where you allocate your microfund investment. This will encourage positive competition that should support the more efficient partners, which, in turn, should induce the laggards to improve their business models and pass on the benefits to those who truly need it. Deutsche Bank recently reported that the industry has 1 billion micro-borrowers who need $250 billion whereas the industry currently has an estimated loan volume of about $25 billion. Hence, demand far outstrips supply by 10x.
Remember, for many out there, you are the instrument of HOPE! So try to make the most of your social investment by simultaneously improving on the efficiencies of a most virtuous cycle.
To learn more check out these links:
Association for Social Advancement
Bank Rakyat Indonesia
Needs and Services
(An innovative offshoot of the micro-industry)
E.Z. the Lender
Friday, June 26, 2009
By: Anna Bielejec
Consumer susceptibility to the sensational finger-pointing and mud-slinging of negative advertising is on the rise and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Actually, there is. While curbing our general attraction to negative advertisements is not something we, as consumers, might actually be capable of doing, we can curb the opinions that we later form from them. Sure. Negative ads can be rude, crass, mean, dirty, spiteful, and absurd. They can also be harmless and entertaining. Apple’s famous “Hi, I’m a Mac” hipster dude, and his balding “I’m a PC” nerd co-star, is a subtle yet effective way at conveying to consumers the message that Mac computers are better than PCs. Could Mac have made a friendlier commercial? Maybe, but who cares about that? They are recognizable, memorable, and oh so witty (sort of).
Scientific analysis of the psychology behind negative advertising has provided insight into why it is so effective. Psychiatry professor at UCLA Dr. Marco Iacoboni conducted an experiment utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques to monitor the brain activity of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry supporters during the 2004 presidential campaign. During the test, when subjects were shown images of the candidate they opposed, far more brain activity was detected than when they were shown an image of the candidate they supported. As such, this experiment underscored our subconscious favoritism for negative stimuli.
I like to think of the brain as a nightlight in an outlet at the end of a dark spooky hallway. It lights up the moment things go dark. During the day, the hallway isn’t spooky and the nightlight is off, because when it’s light outside the hallway is boring and familiar and nothing about it catches your eye. There aren’t any giant spiders and the crooked baseboards are just as dusty as they were the day before. This comfort and familiarity ends abruptly the moment nighttime appears, though. When daylight retreats and darkness falls, in steps the unknown, the controversial, the spooky. You know. The point at which your hand-held spider-dar breaks and you realize your makeshift Proton Pack is missing. This is when the nightlight lights up! Such is the case when it comes to our brains and advertising: they’re plugged in, but they’re only truly riled up when the hallway spiders come out. Thus, like a nightlight, our brains light up, right on cue, with every publicity scandal, political debacle, and every other negative bit of press that our metaphorical hallway spiders could be ascribed to, night after night, week after week.
All this talk of spiders tells us several key things. First, it tells us that our brains respond favorably to the emotion that savvy advertisers evoke in us and that these responses occur automatically and subconsciously. Second, in the face of such automatic responses, it also tells us that there is absolutely nothing we as consumers can do to thwart the brain’s inevitable hunger to experience this emotion. So, if there’s nothing we can do to change our internal programming for negative advertisements, what can we do? The answer is simple. We, as the consumers of the world, can exercise our brains with, wait for it, rational thought. This novel idea requires us to consciously analyze information and issues for ourselves, however emotional it may be, before we make any ultimate decisions in response to what was initially presented. Simple? Maybe not. Crucial? Absolutely. Spider-proof? I’ll let you decide.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Good morning, fellow Entrepreneurs! In October, our CEO Chris Marston will be traveling to San Diego for a 2-day conference - "Inside the Law Firm of the Future." The event is largely an off-shoot of the popular book "The Firm of the Future," written in part by Ron Baker (who will also be in attendance at the conference).
Whether you're in professional services or you use them, this is a conferecne you don't want to ignore. It will be the way customers will demand to consume professional services in the future, so it is vital that we all become educated (and excited!) about the coming change.
To read more about the event, visit www.insidethefirmofthefuture.com
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
If I hear the phrase "in this down economy" one more time, I swear to God I'm going to throw an old-school temper tantrum. Yes, it's happening and yes, we have to deal with it. Many people are turning to entrepreneurship to make ends meet, and seeing opportunities where they otherwise wouldn't have. Take this student, for example, who was helping his folks around the house while job hunting. His time at home lead to a new business - cleaning out dryer ducts, of all things! However, Chris King's business idea is the perfect example of true grass-roots entrepreneurship - find a need in the market that isn't being met and meet it. No one was thinking to clean out their ducts, but doing so saves both time and money for homeowners by shortening dryer time (and thus saving electricity cost and energy depletion).
Simple concept, right? Maybe, but if it were, we would all own our own businesses. Ideas for great businesses, and viable models, can sometimes be difficult to spot; especially if you're exploring the concept of entrepreneurship for the first time. However, as King demonstrates, it's not impossible. If you're contemplating starting your own business, here are a few simple tips to keep in mind:
1) Be Observant during every day activities. The most successful businesses are built around making basic tasks or every day life easier. You needn't reinvent the wheel to be successful in entrepreneurship; you simply need to tweak it. Look around yourself during otherwise mundane activities and locations - the grocery store, post office, or even the subway during your morning commute. What are people struggling with or complaining about? Perhaps they have a need you can fill.
2) What grinds your gears? Entrepreneurship doesn't always have to be based in altruism, so be selfish for once. What ticks you off during the day? Your squeaky bathroom door? The kitty litter on the floor near the litter box? The constantly cluttered coffee table?(Both personal pet peeves of mine in my own life.) How can you address this situation in way that would resonate with other people? I'm not saying that these particular ideas haven't been addressed in the market - maybe they have. (However, I still haven't found a suitable solution for containing kitty litter in small spaces..) But I'll bet if you look hard enough at the things that grind your gears, you'll think of a creative way to solve that issue.
3) Lend a Hand. Now more than ever, Americans are BUSY. Forget this down economy crap - we have places to go and people to see. Each task we have to engage in as part of the journey just slows us down! This is the American mentality. As an entrepreneur, what can you do to alleviate this? Go old school. Walk a neighbor's dog. Mow a lawn. Cook some meals for someone elderly that lives alone. There's a reason these ideas are still around - people require these services! Not everyone, but in your neighborhood there may be enough of a need (here's where the nitty-gritty research piece comes in) to sustain a small business.
Are these tips revolutionary? Probably not. But they are tried and true, and I'm putting them out there to get your mental gears turning (or grinding, whatever) and think about how you can get off your butt and pursue entrepreneurship. For entrepreneurs, the time is ALWAYS now.
Monday, June 22, 2009
"Why Business Plans Don't Deliver"
It gives some great tips of business plan pitfalls and how to avoid them. At Revolve, we review lots of business plans and come across these exact same issues often. Think of it as free advice from the WSJ! Enjoy!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
A big shoutout to all of our fellow entrepreneurs and our customers - you guys keep us going every day and make us proud to be innovators like you.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Our customer, GeoMed Analytical, was recently featured in The Boston Globe! GeoMed is developing techniques that will detect metal in medical samples - demonstrating true entrepreneurship in innovation and technology. Please click here to read about GeoMed Analytical and some of the companies that are a part of U Mass Boston's Venture Development Center. Congrats to GeoMed for its accomplishments thus far! We hope to see much more of you in the public eye in the future.
Friday, May 1, 2009
As part of Exemplar's valiant crusade to the the abomination that is the "billable hour," our CEO, Christopher Marston, has been featured on a podcast put together by Information Architected, Inc. You can view the relevant blog entry here or you can go straight to the podcast here. The podcast explores the pros and cons of the traditional law firm billing set up and the(inevitable) death of the billable hour. You can also retweet the podcast if you feel so inclined!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
So my find of the day yesterday was Matt Homann (who I'm also following on Twitter now), who is currently attending the Legal Tech conference in NYC. Incidentally, one of our own attorneys, Mr. Steven Shapiro, is also attending the conference and tweeting his way through it. You can follow him @sShap, and the conference #LTNY, on Twitter.
Much to my chagrin, Mr. Shapiro will also be attending NY's ComicCon on Friday and has promised me an autograph from Mike & Jerry, creators of the wonderful Gabe & Tycho on www.penny-arcade.com. If I don't come back with a signed wrapping paper roll, heads will roll (kidding...maybe).
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
It's not simply about the billable hour, but about entrepreneurs and innovation across the industry. Sounds like we're in the same club!
Monday, February 2, 2009
To gain perspective on our rationale and why we are moving forward to enforce our rights, we would like to cite to some a sample of specific false and/or defamatory statements made by Mr. Doug Millison, the individual referenced in our earlier blog, and how they are harmful to our business. This combination of tweets (a small sample of over 150 made within approximately 72 hours) and statements made to us via email clearly demonstrate Mr. Millison’s state of mind, his falsehoods, his overzealous determination to continuing defaming Exemplar, and his misunderstanding of the facts.
(via Email): “I suggest that in future, you instruct and train your employees to let people know, up front, that you are soliciting new clients for your fee-based services. You know as well as I do that legitimate agents do not charge a fee to authors when they are trying to help them put together a deal like this.”
As referenced here, a (book) “deal” was never discussed, nor was an agency relationship discussed because Mr. Millison knew Mr. Shapiro was an attorney, not an agent. Unlike an agent, Mr. Shapiro had no financial stake in Mr. Millison’s work. Exemplar did not offer to “represent” him, nor have we ever represented any artists as agents, nor do we ever promise “deals.” Mr. Millison is not telling the truth about such offerings and is encouraging others to do the same.
(via Email): “Exemplar Law did not disclose to me before our conversations and before soliciting a proposal from me, that they would need $1,000/month in order to answer a questions about the proposal.”
This is simply not true. Mr Millison was informed of our services and pricing structure during his first phone call with our attorneys.
Finally, Mr. Millison has made several statements which demonstrate that he will continue to spread his statements, regardless of their falsity:
“I will continue to tell and disseminate my story…you cannot stop that and you will only destroying your company's brand image.”
By responding to the above statements, among others, Exemplar is merely enforcing its rights. This can hardly be considered “bullying.” To those that “retweeted” Mr. Millison’s statements, we understand you did so to protect a fellow professional. However, as demonstrated above, Mr. Millison’s statements were false, and his state of mind is such that he will not stop. We hope you can understand why we must now protect ourselves. At this point, damage has clearly already been done and will not be remedied without action.
Dear Exemplar Customers and Friends,
As you have come to us with your paradigm-shifting business ideas, we have worked passionately to represent you and to empower you to achieve your goals. We have created great successes together through mutual trust, teamwork, and strategy. We hope that we have earned your trust by turning your ideas into thriving businesses and by doing so with the upmost integrity. At Exemplar, we have the highest respect for all of our customers and because of this we want to create a conversation about this posting with the people who know best about Exemplar – Our Customers!
We have heard first hand from many of you, through emails, phone calls and thank you cards that you have appreciated our services and the value we have provided for your businesses. We know many of you have valued the customized plans created for your business, and for the time attention devoted by our attorneys via phone calls, emails and personal meetings. Since we do not bill by the hour, we hope this approach has shown many of you that we genuinely care about the success of your businesses.
We invite you now to share your stories and the relationship you have with our firm by posting a testimonial below. You may also email any of our attorneys directly, and we will be happy to share your story, if you would like. An ongoing dialogue can be followed through #exemplar on Twitter.
For those that are unfamiliar with our firm, and its unique approach to legal practice, please visit our website: www.exemplarlaw.com and http://www.exemplarlaw.com/why_us/. We pride ourselves in creating custom services for each customer, but for an overview of our services, especially in the entertainment industry, please see: http://www.exemplarlaw.com/content/entertainment-group
Thanks to all of you for your continued support!
It has recently come to our attention that a misunderstanding has occurred with respect to a situation involving our firm and a Mr. Doug Millison, a writer who approached an attorney at our firm, Mr. Steven Shapiro, via Twitter. We would like the address the situation below in the hopes such misunderstanding may be cleared up among the individuals that have heard only one side of the situation:
- Last week, Mr. Millison (@dougmillison), approached Mr. Shapiro through Twitter. Doug was a writer who, like many, was hoping to get his current project published.
- A dialogue began and Mr. Shapiro, as a courtesy, offered to informally make mutual connections between Mr. Millison and industry professionals at this week's New York ComicCon.
- Mr. Shapiro asked for a "One Sheet" of the project, a customary request for anyone looking to find out more about an entertainment project.
- Mr. Millison was fully aware that Mr. Shapiro was indeed an attorney working in the publishing and entertainment industries, and was made aware of Exemplar's services and pricing structures during a phone call last week.
- The promise of a "book deal" was never discussed, and Mr. Shapiro never offered to actively solicit the project or to place it with specific individuals or publishing companies.
- The "One Sheet" sent to Mr. Shapiro was seven pages, an inappropriate length for a potential contact to easily and quickly digest (which is the purpose of a "One Sheet"). In Mr. Shapiro's professional opinion, the project needed substantial revision before he could present it to any potential contacts in the industry he might come across at ComicCon.
- Unlike agents, attorneys often help writers and other entrepreneurs to substantially refine their business presentations through redrafting and strategic planning. Thinking that Mr. Millison may be interested in receiving such assistance, Mr. Shapiro offered to provide it through our Portal™ retainer.
- Mr. Millison became upset about the offer, and proceeded to post, via Twitter and on other social networks, false statements, among which stated that Exemplar was a "scam."
- At this point, it became clear that Mr. Millison misunderstood the role of an agent, who actively promotes specific projects in exchange for a percentage of the any future proceeds. This was never offered to him nor contemplated, as Exemplar never operates as an agency.
- Mr. Shapiro offered to merely mention the project to some folks at ComicCon that may be interested in it. As an attorney, he felt it would be irresponsible to do so without assisting Mr. Millison in refining a substantial portion of the project's presentation. Such services are outside the scope of agency and are traditional services for which attorneys charge.
While it is unfortunate that Mr. Millison misunderstood this, it is certainly no reason to skew the situation into something it never was, and to lie about what Exemplar does. We hope this will help clarify what transpired, and we will be keeping our Twitter friends, customers and others up-to-date on this situation through this blog and through #exemplar. Please view Exemplar's site for information on what Exemplar does do, and for testimonials from our customers. We also invite you to view our posting above, which will explain some of the remedies we are seeking to right these wrongs and why. Thank you!