Steps to Opening a UK Food Business - Part 3

"We're funded! And this [article on me from the Wall Street Journal] makes it official." - Alex Bloomberg, CEO of Gimlet Media and famed Podcast host.  

Money, money, money, money, money. 


I hate to start a post this way - but money is on my mind. You mightn't be shocked to know it. A dream like mine takes some intense capital. I've written about the dilemma I've faced regarding trading parts of my business for funding previously. And, while I may not have mentioned it since... doesn't mean that it hasn't remained an issue. 

I thought the problem solved for a while - but when backers back out.. well... it forces you to be inventive. SO: How best to earn some funds on the fly, and without losing too much of my shirt!

Enter Start Up Loans (For once, this is not a pseudonym - I definitely think that this program deserves a little publicity). It's a UK Government backed program designed to help Brits feel as entreprenurial as we Americans do. *laughs. No, seriously. That's what they're billing it as! Check out their 'About' page if you don't believe me. Colour me ironical. 

Essentially, they pair with different charities to distribute the money, each charity with its own unique laundry list of qualifying characteristics. Along with a sizeable loan, at a very reasonable rate, StartUp Loans partner charities provide mentoring, business advice and all around emotional support. 

According to their bio - they've given out £128,271, 272 to 24,377 companies so far... And next week (ish), it'll click up to 24,370 and 8. Don't let the shiny side fool you though - it took a pretty serious amount of hoop-jumping to get this far. I learned quite a bit about pitching to investors by working through this application. Maybe I'm alone here, but I THOUGHT that investors wanted to be shown that I had really analyzed the situation I was approaching, that I had thought through every eventuality, that I was being realistic... uhhhh... Turns out, they mostly want to see pretty numbers! Well, at least that's how I felt. What do you MEAN you don't want to take a look at my carefully crafted market analysis?!?!

Le sigh. 

As excited as I was for the loan, I was confused about how it was playing out... Until I was introduced to another StartUp. This one deals with businesses too - but its a tad cooler, if you don't mind my saying so. If you haven't listened to this podcast yet, wow! Start now. The first four episodes felt like they were actually made about Crown & Queue. And amid the many valuable pearls that the host Alex Bloomberg (lately of Planet Money and This American Life) threw out, he mentioned one thing that really sunk in for me regarding my loan. In one episode, he talks about the insane variety and variability of  investors that he met while trying to drum up financing for his startup. Sure, some of his wanted to talk numbers, numbers, numbers, but other ones were more interested in getting  "a sense of him" and whether his "passion was convincing".  He doesn't say as much, but his success pretty much shows, that if, at the end of the day, they both believe in you, then who cares?

Not meeeee! 

Here's to having enough to make ends meet, my friends!!



Tune in next time for another exciting adventure a Contractor tries to convince our heorine that the logic of leaving a job half-finished is floorless. Prizes to anyone who guesses what he left undone. 


"I have no problem getting financing...

I have a problem catching ideas that I fall in love with..." - David Lynch

As I sorted my thoughts regarding this post, an overwhelming jumble of song lyrics, quotes and books came tumbling into mind. Money. Well, whether she works hard for it, whether it makes a rich man's life always sunny or the world go round, we can all agree that money weighs heavily on just about everyone. 

But most of all on the hopeful entrepreneur.

Sure, there is probably the odd spoiled dilettante starting up a start-up who doesn't have to concern herself about where she'll get the financing. But, generally speaking, it seems likely that most hopefuls don't fall into the category of 'already wealthy'. And facing each and everyone of these - and myself, I shouldn't let it go without saying - is the decision of what we're willing to do in order to get what we need. 

Nod, if you're catching that slight whiff of prostitution... *laughs.  My partner is fond of reminding me of the Crack Whore* who gave 'it all up' for $5 - because that was all she needed to buy her fix. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he isn't actually comparing me to a street hustler... but the analogy stands. How do I determine what Crown & Queue is actually worth when it isn't worth anything right now? And how do I figure out how much I'm willing to risk its potential future in order to secure the funds that it needs in the present? 

So do I give up future money or future control? Translation: Interest or Equity. 

If I go the interest route - bank loan, personal loan, etc. I'm (no-pun!) banking on making this idea pay. Especially in the personal loan department as I'll continue to be liable for the interest and capital even if I go belly up. Y'ouch.  There's absolutely no buffer in this option. Plus, because I have so little rep or pull right now, the pricetag on a sufficiently sizeable loan is going to be pretty hefty. BUT, on the flip side, if I am genuinely successful, I'll have repaid these loans within the next couple of years (mostly) and have a thriving business over which I have complete control. Hmm... Let me rephrase that, a thriving business over whose profit I have complete control . P.r.e.t.t.y attractive.

Though the equity route is pretty sexy too.... You've got to picture me the day I found out about Seedrs... I was all like:  "Whhhaaaaaaa? These people are going to give me heaps of money and I wont have to pay it back if I fail?!!? Where do I SIGN?!"  Sheesh.

Don't worry, I evenutally figured out that it wasn't so simple. If I source funds from Seedrs, or anything like it, or offer up Equity to a friendly investor**, I am basically giving up part of the ownership and control of Crown & Queue in exchange. I'll owe these people FOREVER, and they may not always take a backseat when it came to decisions. But in the short-term, I'm very realistically getting something for nothing. Plenty of those songs, quotes and books I mentioned earlier have very strong opinions about how safe or desirable an agreement like that is. 

I'm very curious, given those parameters, what route you'd have pushed me to take...

But since I've already started moving in a direction, it'll have to be posthumous because... bit of news... I've just started moving forward on my first loan. I know, I know, I played that one close to the chest. But yes, introductory financing is now in place!

Not that it has really solved any of my mental dilemmas. 

In the end, I eventually decided that true freedom has a price (in this case to the tune of 6%) - and if I wanted to have someone looking over my shoulder I'd continue working for other people. I figure, if I can't raise the funds I need by putting up my marker, well, there's still plenty enough time to selling off C&Q's 'body'....



*No, this isn't a euphismism for someone whom I am protecting... I'm pretty sure she really was a crack whore! It's an article or news segment he saw somewhere. 

** And yes, I do mean my friends

“Support for the arts -- merde!...

A government-supported artist is an incompetent whore!” - Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land. 


Alright - so the observant of you may have noticed that I dropped off the face for some time there. 

Surprisingly, as starting your own business starts to become more real, well, you lose time for writing about it and have to live it for a while. Don't get me wrong, no complaints over here, but I do have an overactive guilt-o-giver and I'm feeling it big time for dropping the ball post-wise. So, apologies. 

Anyways - to pick up where I left off. The PLAN, the PLAN! It's finished!

Well, sort of. 

I made an astonishing discovery as I neared the 'completion' line on my plan - a true, genuine, workable plan, one that suits your business and really reflects where you are moving to... is probably never completely finished. I have answered all of my own questions though - and put together several copies that suit different audiences. 

In fact, while I was taking a blogging hiatus - I presented the plan to TWO DIFFERENT AUDIENCES. And received fairly positive feedback. Hint. I'm kinda being modest... Because... drum roll.... I GOT THE SPACE I WANTED! I heard back from the Archland that they voted unanimously to offer me a space in their family. Pretty nifty. Not gonna lie. 

I also presented the plan to an audience of very accomplished and multi-discipline-educated semi-peers (a.k.a. my family) and heard a lot of positive feedback too. Constructive criticism wasn't lacking either - but I didn't get any, "Don't quit your day jobs!". 

So right now I'm working on the moola angle. Researching banks and money lenders. And being faced with a pretty momentous choice. To equityfy or not to equityfy. In other words, should I offer up some company equity in exchange for funds? Most often it seems, this is the only apple that the sharks will bite*. But how to determine what my company is worth? What is fair exchange on an unidentified potential future profit. That's the topic of my next post... But any thoughts in the meanwhile? Trade straight $ for $ (in the form of interest) or offer up the business equivalent of 'what's behind door #3?!'. 


*Yowza. What a mixed metaphor. That's a bad as a henhouse on the moon! (Yup. That's it. Now, I'm really not making sense anymore).