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POWER PITCH

by John Jonelis

What happens when you give kids—kids gifted in math and science—a real chance to bust out with their God given talents and excel?

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  • What if you trust them to lay their greasy little hands on equipment normally available only at elite universities?
  • What if you allow them to direct their own time?
  • What if you challenge them to construct their own goals and learn by themselves how to accomplish them?
  • What if you dare them to build real startup businesses at such a tender age?
  • And what if you throw them into a competition against a panel of critical judges from the real private equity world?

What happens? Good things! Good things happen! They happen here at IMSA – the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. I’ll give you an intimate peek at the inner works of this educational powerhouse so you can see for yourself what makes this one of the biggest success stories in the country.

Showcase – Chandra Gangavarapu

This is a high school with a serious entrepreneurship program. Many of the ideas, business models, and pitches produced here outshine what we’re accustomed to in the business world. Mere students, you say? Some of their companies have gained funding and gone to market. And many of these same students intern at real-world startups throughout Chicago.

According to Britta McKenna, Chief Innovation Officer at IN2, “Kids love to have real-world problems to actually work at. This space provides that opportunity.”

Today’s event is the grueling POWER PITCH. Each team presents its company twice before separate panels of judges—the finalists pitch three times.

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What Do the Judges Say?

The judges are all smiles as they feed at the idea bar after the first round. Competitors get whittled down by secret ballot. I corner John Lump. He’s a colleague at Heartland Angels and a professor at DePaul where I’ve lectured at his invitation on risk profiles in private equity. See IN YOUR FACE RISK.

This a practical guy who’s knee-deep in the real world of business as VP of Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. I can count on him for an honest opinion. Here it is verbatim:

John Lump — Judge

“I love being a judge here. Second year I’ve been doing it. And it’s exciting and a lot of fun. The enthusiasm and energy of the kids is just fantastic.”

Swelly – Tyler Stock

“I saw several interesting businesses.

  • Swelly is a temporary insurance company.
  • Blabl is a company to help students with speech disabilities.
  • Rethink Numeracy is one that helps students with Downs Syndrome learn math—a more visual approach.

Some really cool ideas here.”

Blabl – Ayan Agarwal

“Obviously these entrepreneurs are quite young. There are some still in Jr. High. You’re talking kids that are 10, 12, 13 years old and already starting businesses! At Heartland Angels, we see entrepreneurs in their 20s up to their 50s and 60s. So these kids need much more mentoring. But I think you’re going to see some business opportunities here.”

Rethink Numeracy – Akshaya Raghavan

I touch base with Moises Goldman. As I’ve said before, he’s an old hand at private equity in Chicago and a VIP here at IMSA. I’ve known him a long time, and trust what he says. He’s a guy that projects humility, but receives deference and respect.

Moises Goldman – Judge

Today Moises is bursting with exuberance and he speaks with more passion than I’ve ever seen. What he says is as intuitive and emotional as it is insightful.

“Two of these kids blew me away. The company is called Fast Exit. One brother is 12 and the other is 15. Twelve and fifteen! I looked at the father and just jokingly said to him, what is it that you do? These kids are very, bright. Very, very bright—both of them.

[Moises is talking about the Orr brothers, Joshua and Maxwell. The older brother is in 8th grade at Avery Coonley. They are each pitching their own companies today.]

“What blew me away was that they’re two brothers, so I look at the father and I just wonder, what are his challenges as a dad with these two amazing kids? Because the social environment that they have—it must be an alternative universe to the one that I’m used to—that I grew up in.”

Jim Gerry with Joshua Orr of Fast Exit

[I suggest to Moises that their home life must be very nurturing.]

“Yes, somehow. But I’m amazed. That really blew me away—that blew me away. Last year, the older boy had a drone project that was a game you could adapt to Dave and Busters in that kind of environment.”

[I recall that drone project and ask if they’re both planning to attend IMSA.]

“The 12-year old—I don’t know. The 15-year old is applying for the coming year.”

OneNote Quiz – Maxwell Orr

Today there are 17 judges at Power Pitch – Patrick Bresnahan, Dane Christianson, Moises Goldman, Joe Jordan, Sanza Kazadi, Christine Krause, Maria Kuhn, John Lump, Josh Metnick, Nancy Munro, Kelly Page, Jacob Plumber, Lance Pressl, Julia Sanberger, Chris Stiegal, Tom Voigt, Joe Zlotniki. I agreed to be an alternate and fortunately don’t get that tap on the shoulder. I want to see the whole event.

Shop Cheetah – Catelyn Rounds, Julian Kroschke

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Entrepreneurship

IMSA’s entrepreneurship program is called TALENT—Total Applied Learning for Entrepreneurship—led by Dr. Carl Heine, Britta McKenna, and Jim Gerry. Jim is technically retired from the program but still volunteers his time. This is too much fun to stay away.

Heat2Heal – Sushil and Pranav Upadhyayula

At this place, students get real-life experience and opportunities to solve real-world problems and bring ideas to market. The goal is to instill the thinking patterns and mindset of an entrepreneur:

  • Develop a product
  • Form a team
  • Communicate ideas
  • Formulate a business plan
  • Protect intellectual property
  • Work your network
  • Raise funding
  • Start the business

Really? These are high school kids—some even younger. In a world of schools dominated by gangs, drugs, and fear, who would think them capable of such positive desires and accomplishments? Then I come across one of the quotes on the wall:

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IMSA Fast Facts

  • Teaching philosophy – The Socratic approach. Self-directed learning and problem-based learning.
  • 99.8% of IMSA students attend college.
  • 70.1% pursue majors in science or math.
  • 47% of faculty is PhD.
  • Alumni hail from every district in Illinois.
  • This is the school’s 30th year.

The IN2 Entrepreneurship Center at IMSA

I snag Dr Carl Heine, as he moves between presentations. He’s director of IMSA TALENT, their entrepreneurship program. I ask him if IMSA still has a presence at 1871, the huge incubator in downtown Chicago, or if all the activity is at the new IN2 facility.

Dr. Carl Heine, Director of IMSA TALENT

“IMSA is still a member of 1871. We take our students on Wednesdays to intern at companies. They’re embedded in startup teams. We can’t teach a class that’s better than that.”

“We do it every Wednesday. 1871 is just one location. We have students at the James Jordan Foundation downtown. Three of them are interning there right now, working on summer curriculum. There are students at a variety of other spots, too.”

[“This year’s Power Pitch is better than I’ve ever seen.”]

“POWER PITCH is an event that makes people feel good about the future. I hope you feel that way as a result of your involvement.

“The top three high school teams are advancing to the Next Launch regional competition in Indianapolis on May 17. If you would like to continue to work with your favorite team as a thought partner, a mentor or more, the purpose of IN2 and TALENT is to make that happen.”

Yoda

[I decide that Carl is the Yoda of IN2. I ask him, “What other events are coming up?”]

“This has been an academy for 30 years now, so we’d like to have a celebration. We’ve put it on March 30th this year, so there’s a 30 and a 30. As part of that, we’re doing the ribbon cutting for the IN2 space, and the new science labs that are part of a capital campaign that just wrapped up as well. And we’re celebrating the accomplishments of the institution over the last 30 years.”

This is just brilliant!

IMSA trains students not to fear any subject. I noticed THEORY OF ANALYSIS on the course syllabus. Normally, that’s offered only at the university level and it’s a course that’s hated and avoided by math majors nationwide. Never be intimidated by difficult subjects.

Award Ceremony

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17 Student Teams

IMSA’s President, Jose׳ M Torres, and the Stephanie Pace Marshall Endowment present the awards.

The top three high school teams—Blabl, Heat2Heal and Flameless—advance to the Next Launch Regional Competition in Indianapolis on May 17. The two winning middle school teams are Fast Exit and Shop Cheetah.

Blabl– Ayan Agarwal

 

Social Good Category Finalists & Winners

  • BlablAyan Agarwal – A mobile application that engages speech impaired children in conversation with an avatar – $1000 prize, Top 3 HS team
  • Heat2HealSushil Upadhyayula, Pranav Upadhyayula – A hands-free, self-powered Arthritis Wrap that converts body heat into electricity to provide targeted massaging & heat therapy for stiff joints – $500, Top 3 HS team
  • Rethink NumeracyAkshaya Raghavan – Teaching numeracy to children with Down Syndrome, leveraging their learning strengths.
  • Double-CheckRishi Modi – A protective biometric alternative to prevent ID theft.

Heat2Heal– Sushil Upadhyayula & Pranav Upadhyayula

Social entrepreneurs create self-sustaining businesses that promote social good. The STEM category is for-profit tech companies.

Fast Exit – Joshua Orr

STEM Category Finalists & Winners

  • FastExitJoshua Orr – A life-saving solution for managing exit signs – $1,000 prize, middle school team.
  • Shop CheetahCatelyn Rounds, Julian KroschkeA groundbreaking store navigation system that saves times and routes customers through the store$500 prize, middle school team.
  • FlamelessSivam Bhatt, Nikhil Madugula – Extinguishing cooking fires automatically with sound waves – Top 3 HS team.
  • SwellyAneesh Kudaravalli, Tyler Stock – A mobile app that allows users to get flexible insurance on personal items in an instant.

Shop Cheetah – Catelyn Rounds & Julian Kroschke

 

Other Competing Teams

  • AlertAshritha Karuturi, Priya Kumar – An app that efficiently connects homeowners to rescue workers, saving time and lives.
  • Be BettahZoe Mitchell – The food search engine and cookbook series that allows for bettah nutrition without changing your lifestyle.
  • Electrofood Alex Orlov – A microbial fuel cell that converts food waste to electricity.
  • OneNote QuizMax Orr – The personalized quiz generator.

Flameless – Sivam Bhatt & Nikhil Madugula

  • SafeSeatElliott Cleven – An app to alert parents if their child is left in a car unattended.
  • ShowcaseChandra Gangavarapu – A web app for musicians and dancers to gain recognition for their art.
  • Social BreadVainius Normantas – Using social media advertisements to raise funding and awareness for communities in need.
  • StrobeJayant Kumar, Zaid Kazmi – LED light strip supplements for fire and carbon monoxide alarms to assist the hearing impaired.
  • Verifact!Shreya Pattisapu – An effective and efficient way to couter fake news.

 

Read Part 1 – THE NAME IS IN2

Hope you enjoyed Part 2 – POWER PITCH

Coming soon – INQUIRY & INNOVATION

 

 

IN2 Contact Info

Address – 1500 Sullivan Rd. Aurora, IL 60506

Website – https://www.imsa.edu/

Carl Heine – heine@imsa.edu

Britta McKenna – bmckenna@imsa.edu

Tami Armstrong – tarmstrong@imsa.edu

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Photography by John Jonelis

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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ENGINEERING YOUR PITCH

jockey-and-horse-t-ms-officeInsights from the Cornerstone Angel Meeting

by Stephanie Wiegel

Angel investment deals aren’t made on the spot as the TV show Shark Tank suggests. Instead, entrepreneurs are excused from the meeting after delivering their pitches. If you’re vying for early investment money, what’s said behind these closed doors can make or break a deal. Continue reading

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DRIVING VALUE WHEN FUNDING RUNS LOW

funding-tDavid Johnson

Overview

The funding environment for early stage startups has been shifting for some time, but as shifts accelerate, founders, executives, and investors should look to reassess their strategies to ensure that they remain optimal in a capital constrained environment. Q2 2016 saw the lowest rolling 12-month average deal flow for early stage investments since Q2 2013, this in spite of actual early stage dollars invested having increased by 127% over that period. Increasingly, early stage investors are looking to place fewer but more sizable bets on startups that are perceived as having the most promise. This can, and likely will, lead to a widening gulf between early stage startups that have a clear path to additional funding and those that may struggle to generate investor interest.

chart-1

Source: PwC/NVCA MoneyTree™ Report, Data: Thomson Reuters

This change is being driven by a number of factors, including venture capitalists hitting bandwidth limits (even for the most talented of multi-taskers, there are only so many investments one can effectively manage), maturation of certain investment theses (notably “Uber for X” models and consumer focused mobile apps), and the changing funding environment that has allowed early stage VCs to seek a level of market traction that in years past had only been expected of more mature startups. As a result of these changes, the business press is increasingly flooded with stories of well-funded startups failing, seemingly out of the blue, as anticipated follow-on funding rounds fail to materialize, and angel and VC investors pivot to focus on companies with a clear path to cash-flow breakeven. In this kind of funding environment, what is a startup entrepreneur to do?

funding

The good news is that, regardless of funding, the levers of sustainable value creation have not changed. Companies that provide differentiated, value-added goods and services to their clients are companies on a firm foundation. But every good strategy must take into account the resources available for that strategy’s execution, and as the early stage funding market shifts, startup leaders must take the time to objectively assess their current situation and look to chart an optimal path.

For those startup entrepreneurs concerned about the near-term future of their companies, assessing a company through the following three lenses can instill a disciplined, value creating mindset that is well suited to a shifting landscape:

 

  1. Cash Management. Too few startups understand the drivers of their company’s cash flows, and every report of well-funded startups abruptly failing without sufficient funds to cover employee payroll (a failing that could leave employers facing criminal charges) highlights this failing. Management should understand the near-term sources and uses of cash if there are no changes (“base case”), identify steps to conserve cash if needed, and have a clear sense of the amount of time the company has before the cash runs out.
  2. Business Model. While the effort to attain product market fit gets more press, developing and refining the correct business model is a key milestone for every successful venture. The ability to demonstrate a viable business model will significantly enhance the options of any startup.
  3. Goals. Are the current goals in-line with the company’s current cash situation and stage of business model development? A rule of thumb for liquidity constrained environments is to never count on new funders. If your current investors would be unwilling or unable to invest follow on amounts, plan accordingly.

 

Conclusion

Funding does not create good companies, but a lack of funding coupled with a persistent cash burn can kill any company. The key to avoiding this fate is acknowledging the possibility and taking steps to objectively assess, and if necessary modify, a strategy before it is too late.

 

About the Author David Johnson is a career change agent who has served as an advisor, board member, interim manager, investor and operator at organizations ranging in size from pre-revenue startups to Fortune 500 organizations. David is a frequent speaker and writer on the topics of value creation and performance improvement. He can be reached at david@abraxasgp.com or 312-505-7238.

Images courtesy David Johnson and MS Office

abraxas-logo

225 West Washington Street, Suite 2200, Chicago IL 60606 www.abraxasgp.com

This article appeared in NEWS FROM HEARTLAND – The Journal of the Heartland Angels

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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INVESTING: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CASH

by Scott M. Anderson

Angel investing is influenced by many factors affecting the startup including: technology, unmet demand, scalability and, most important, the founding team. These and many other factors will have a critical impact on the success or failure of the investment. However, there is one common factor to them all: Cash. cash An investor and founder are in the elevator together. The investor says “Nice idea, how much capital do you need?” The founder says “$750K”. Investor says “Why $750K?” Founder says “We believe it’s the right amount based on other startups I’ve heard about.” Or she might say “It seems like the right amount based on the size of other angel investments.” Or she might say “It just seems like the right amount.”

Those responses are all wrong!!

A more appropriate response would be: “We’ll need $450K to fund losses the first two years, $250K to buy tooling and another $50K for inventory and other working capital needs.” After hearing this better response, the investor thinks: “As with most founders, I’m certain her numbers are worthless. However, this founder seems to have specific numbers which suggests she’s analyzed them and may be a good overseer of my invested money. I’m interested in her assumptions. I’d like to meet with her again.”

At a minimum, any founder must have a high level understanding of how much capital is needed and the reasons why. She must be prepared to communicate these reasons as part of her elevator speech. Similarly, each investor should ask for and expect an immediate response from the founder, which reflects her understanding of why the investment is needed.

How does the founder determine what she needs? And how does the investor determine if the investment amount is right? A cash projection will meet the needs of both parties. An analysis of the startup’s cash inflows and outflows will confirm the company’s investment needs. At a high level, the cash projection is easily calculated as net profits + capital expenditures + required working capital (such as inventory stocking required to achieve sales). More complex business models would require a more in‐depth treatment.

The investor met with the founder again and received the following projected Income Statement (in $000s). table-1 Let’s examine these numbers to see if they confirm the founder’s response in the elevator:

  1. First 2 years of losses of $450K. The loss in year 1 is $242K and the loss in year 2 is $208K. These sum to total losses of $450K. RESPONSE IS CONFIRMED.
  2. Tooling cost of $250K. The Capital Expenditures (CAPX) in year 1 is $250K and $0 thereafter. RESPONSE IS CONFIRMED.
  3. Working Capital needs of $50K. The working capital is required to be $20K and $30K for years 1 & 2, respectively, totaling $50K. RESPONSE IS CONFIRMED.

The founder has provided numbers at the meeting which agree with those she cited. That’s good. The founder would lose all credibility if they did not support her elevator speech. But, has the startup asked for enough at $750K? Let’s examine a projection of the cash in the startup’s bank account. With an investment of $750K in year 1, the following is a projection of the startup’s cash in the bank: table-2 The cash bank balance is projected not to be negative at the end of any year over the projection period and the total financing received exceeds the total cash out, so an investment of $750K would be adequate based on the earnings performance projected by the Income Statement. However, the large cash balance of $238K at the end of year 1 suggests that the timing needs of the startup may not match the investment. In fact, the investor would rather invest the excess cash of $238K in year 1 for a different investment which would pay off within 12 months. Such an alternative investment would enable the investor to realize a financial return on the excess cash while still fulfilling his total commitment of $750K to the startup. Following this thinking, if the investment were made in two installments versus one, the following projected cash balance results: table-3 A two installment investment better matches the startup’s need since no excess cash exists at any time during the financing period. The investor would suggest to the founder that the $750K investment should be made in two installments: $512K in year 1 and $238K in year 2. An investor’s diligence process should be stepwise: a layer of information is requested, and provided by the company. Additional information is requested and provided, until the investor is completely clear about the startup’s execution strategy.

From the founder’s perspective during the diligence process, it’s critical that each diligence level be consistent with all prior levels. In our example, the founder responded in the elevator with a high level description of why she needed $750K. That was diligence level one. The projected Income Statement, CAPX and working capital projection provided by the startup was diligence level two. Fortunately for the investor and the founder, the level two diligence substantiated the information established in the elevator.

My recommendation to the investor for this startup is that the next diligence layer should focus on the detail behind the rows on the Income Statement. Examples include: with sales, which customer(s) will account for 80% of the sales in the projected years? For cost of sales, what are its major components? What explains the increase in gross margin percentage from year 1 to year 3? For the expense row, what are the major expenses and what explains the increase in year 2?

Responses to each of these inquiries will have a direct impact on the cash projection. A complete diligence discussion is beyond the scope of this article. However, the diligence process would continue until the investor is satisfied with the strategy and underlying assumptions. Throughout the process, focus must be maintained on the cash projection to understand how the diligence analysis will impact the amount and timing of the anticipated investment.

Scott M. Anderson is a principal at Anderson Financial Services, LLC and has been performing cash projections for decades as an investment banker, a workout specialist and, recently, as an advisor to investors and startups. He can be reached at scott@andersonfsllc.com.

Image from MS Office

This article appeared in NEWS FROM HEARTLAND

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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TRUMPED

donald-trump-tby John Jonelis

Political outsider elected president! Nationwide shock! Emotions run wild! Markets in turmoil! Worst riots since Orson Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast!

Loop Lonagan watches the mayhem on television. People on the streets shout lewd obscenities—carry hate signs—crawl over cars—destroy businesses—throw bricks at police. “Da theater o’ dee absurd,” Lonagan mutters, “Did deeze folks even vote?”

He continues his impromptu soliloquy. “Why don’t deeze malcontents all move t’ Greece?” Ah, Greece—where socialism is in full bloom and the weather is gorgeous. “Maybe President Elect Trump will offer free one-way luxury cruises to da Mediterranean and make da Greeks pay for it.” Lonagan figures that will make everybody happy.  But then he reflects that Greece is bankrupt. Socialism didn’t work there.

riots-washington-times

European-style Riots in Chicago – [The Washington Times]

The riots disturb Lonagan because he now sees a political party that generates looters. His own! “Hmmf!”  It shames him. He’s embarrassed for the European decadence of his people. This is not our way. Americans don’t throw temper tantrums after elections. We vote. We accept what happens. We come together. These are principles Lonagan grew up believing.

He pats his bull terrier, Clamps. The dog lets out a long satisfied sigh while Lonagan takes a stiff slug of scotch. “You never worry ‘bout dis kinda stuff, do you Clamps old buddy?” In this election, with a choice between the crass and the criminal, Lonagan never expected a good outcome. In his view, which he loudly stated to everyone that would listen, “Anybody with half a brain knows we’s gonna get one o’ two things—Cleopatra II or Nebuchadnezzar III. I dunno which is worse. So why all da fuss?”

trump-obama

Improbable White House Briefing – [Associated Press]

As a practical man, Lonagan figures the real game is to do well no matter who is in office. On the night of the election—during all the hyper uncertainty—when index futures were tanking big time—Lonagan capitalized on the unexpected.  He went Long all he could during the after-hours session on slim capital and crazy margin, using all the leverage he could muster. Now, during the riots, he’s cashing out of those positions to the tune of millions. But what if—

A small tug at his sleeve and he suddenly remembers his duties as a babysitter. He shuts off the TV and takes Jim Kren’s little girl into his arms.

“G’night Uncle Loop”, she says, wrapping her arms around his neck, “I love you,”

“I—uh,” he squeezes out the difficult words, “I love you too, Angelica.  Lemme tuck you in.”

And when he sets her on her feet, she bursts out, “And tell me a bedtime story!”

“I dunno, Princess. Last time yer papa grilled me fer an hour—”

“But I want to hear what happens to the Dragon Lady and the Big Bad Duck.”

He stares at her good and hard. Precocious little tike. “No, babe, it don’t seem right to—”

“Please, Uncle Loop. PLEEEEEZE!”

Lonagan wipes a hand across his jaw. It’s nine o’clock. Mama and papa are out. He’s supposed to use his judgement in emergencies like this. “Okay, Princess.” He can hardly believe what he hears himself saying. “We’ll do anudder chapter o’ da Dragon Lady ‘n’ da Big Bad Duck.”

Angelica claps her hands and jumps in place, her long curls bouncing on her shoulders. “Thank you, Uncle Loop!”

“Go brush yer teeth er somethin.’ I’ll be right up.”

She calls out, “Clamps!” The enormous bull terrier bounds up the stairs after her.

57661370ca0ff_image

Crazy Political Campaign – [Associated Press]

Lonagan goes over the images of this absurd campaign and pours himself three more fat fingers of scotch. He’s playing with dynamite and curses his lousy imagination—using hardcore news to create a bedtime story—stupid, just stupid. Chicago-style political intrigue on the national stage is a tough lesson for anybody. It’s the wrong material for a youngster. Maybe it’s child abuse. He wishes he never told her that story, but he did and now she wants the rest of it.

He pours more scotch. Maybe, just possibly—if he sticks to the script and keeps the whole thing in a child’s world—it might all turn out fine. All the Lonagans love happy endings. Plunking down his empty whiskey glass, he checks his watch. Five minutes. Showtime. And keep it clean!

Upstairs, Angelica is curled up with Clamps, rubbing the dog’s ears. The animal squeezes its eyes closed in ecstasy and rumbles a soft, deep rhythmic growl. He’s the only dog Lonagan knows that can purr.

clamps

Clamps is at Peace – [John Jonelis]

After pulling the covers over those two, he settles his rump on the foot of the bed. “Okay Princess, lemme catch up on da story. Best I can remember, yer at school, it’s recess, ‘n’ yer gonna play soccer. It’s da Jackasses—I mean da Donkeys vs. da Elephants. You’se is picked fer da Elephant team, right?”

She nods.

“Da best player is da Dragon Lady ‘n’ da whole Donkey team treats her like some kinda queen. I mean she’s got skill. She’s got clout. She’s got her team all hand-picked and organized. She’s got—whadayacallit—a ground game. And she cheats—oh yeah, she cheats—big time. That’s called politics. That’s Civics lesson 101. Am I givin’ ya da straight goods?”

“Yes, Uncle Loop.”

“Okay then. So we already know her plan with da Duck.  He’s s’posed t’ start a big fight. Then he’s s’posed t’ take his regulation soccer ball ‘n’ summa da best players on yer team with ‘im. Then they’s s’posed t’ go off t’ play with some udder kids. So yer team loses.  That’s called splittin’ da ticket. That’s Civics 201. I think dat’s da way I told it last time.”

Angelica blurts, “I know, I know! That Dragon and Duck! They planned this whole mess together! And now my team doesn’t stand a chance!”

Lonagan grins. “Okay, so ya got basic conspiracy theory all figured out now. Yer learnin’ fast. That’s Civics 301. But da Dragon’s smart and mean, see? Maybe cunning’s a better word. There’s deeper waters goin’ on here. Way deeper. Now she rolls out her REAL plan.”

The girl knits her brows while scratching the thick short fur on Clamp’s neck. “I don’t understand.”

“Sure ya do, kid. Da Duck’s a big bully and he’s got dis huge ego, see? C’mon, you know that. Ever’body knows that. So, da Dragon taunts ‘im. Mocks yer team. Calls you a buncha morons. Says she can cheat all she wants. Who’s gonna find out? Yer all trash—nobody’s gonna believe ya. How d’ya feel about that, Princess?”

“I’m just so mad!”

“Okay, so after all da yellin’ ‘n’ pushin’ around, da Duck gets mad too. Now he turns against da Dragon. He’s gonna fight her now, insteada doin what they cooked up beforehand. He’s too proud t’ quit da team after all da abuse she spits out, so bein’ da biggest, he takes over. And da Dragon Lady is smilin’ da whole time. Ever see dat smile? It’s enough t’ zap yer spine outa joint.”

new-normal

Clinton’s prepares to smile – [The New York Times]

Angelica sits straight in bed. “But Uncle Loop, that means the Dragon has to play against the Duck. That doesn’t make sense. She would never plan it that way.”

“Ah, Princess, lay back ‘n’ relax.” He tucks the covers under her chin. “Doncha see? She WANTS t’ play against da Duck. She figures he’s her easiest opponent ’cause allota his team won’t play so hard for ‘im.  I mean, plenty o’ kids don’t like dis guy so much.  He’s her handpicked patsy. Has been since day one. She’s so sure she can beat ‘im, it tastes like candy. Ever’body says she can’t lose. She already watched him bust up da udder team ‘n’ now she’s ready fer da killshot. Pick yer opponent.  That’s Civics 401.”

Angelica squeezes out a tear. “So my team loses anyway? This is an awful bedtime story!” 

“Don’t cry, Princess.  Stop ‘n’ think! da Dragon’s got a buncha great big weaknesses. Mosta da kids don’t like her so much neither.  And she don’t see what’s about t’ happen ’cause she’s—whadayacallit—a nar-sisist-sisist-sisit.”

“A narcissist?”

Cute kid. “Yeah, what you said there. She’s selfish ‘n’ she’s ruthless.  She ain’t got no idea how udder people feel. She don’t like ’em.  She don’t understand ‘em. She don’t care about ‘em. All she cares about is herself.  It’s gonna bite ‘er big time. She’s got dis big master plan, but da more complex da plan, da more chances fer a mistake.  Somethin’ unexpected always happens.  Da Dragon’s set herself up fer a big fall.”

The girl just stares at him

“Doncha get it?  Same kinda thing happens in all competitions.  Like when ya play pinochle with yer folks.” 

“What’s that, Uncle Loop?”

Lonagan shakes his head.  Kren always boasted about the way his little girl played.  “Just a card game, kid.  Allota times da udder side thinks dey hold all da cards.  Then comes da big shock.”

“I don’t understand.”

 “Look Angel, every hand o’ pinochle’s got a different set o’ special cards, see?  They’s da most powerful ones ‘n’ ever’body’s gotta keep track o’ dem real careful-like.  Sometimes, da udder players don’t do that so good ‘n’ you snap down one o’ deeze big fat cards.  You just trumped da udder side!  Let’s get back to soccer.”

“What trump card does my team have, Uncle Loop?”

“Ah, you figured it out!  You got outrage, anger, drive, determination–stuff like dat!” He throws his arms out in a broad gesture.

Clamps lets out a powerful bark and Angelica strokes the animal’s massive head.  “Everybody is so angry.”

“No, take a look over there, sweetheart. Her team’s all smiles.  They’s so sure.  They just know they’s gonna win.  They’s—whadayacall—overconfident.  It’s da players on yer team is steamin’ mad.  They’s breathin’ smoke.  So what happens when people get all pumped up like that?”

She sniffs. “They fight?”

“Bingo! I seen it happen again and again in sport after sport.  They fight like wildfire!  Ever’body gives a hunert ‘n’ twenty percent.  They win da game!  A surprise victory!  A major turnover!  Somethin’ nobody expects!”

“So you mean that my team wins?”

“Yeah, Princess, you win!  Den da recess bell rings ‘n’ it’s back t’ class.   Look, ya gotta get some sleep, so listen up—lemme give ya da moral o’ da story. Sh— I mean stuff happens. Stuff nobody expects. So’s when you’se is growin’ up, learn t’ expect what nobody expects. Dat’s where ya find success.  Ya get it?”

She nods silently.

“Ya don’t look sleepy yet. Anudder story, maybe?”

She shakes her head no, and hugs Clamps tighter.

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Dazed Trump tours the White House after Briefing – [Associated Press]

 

Lonagan closes Angelica’s door and sits on the stairs. For months he’s heard stupid quote after stupid quote from The Donald. Now the guy’s president elect. So he searches his phone for some quotes from Hillary and comes across a nasty collection that shocks him.

  • Clinton on voters: “Look, the average Democrat voter is just plain stupid. They’re easy to manipulate. That’s the easy part.” [Read it on Tumbler]
  • Clinton on voters: “… you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it.” [Read it in the New York Times]
  • Clinton on Benghazi: “What difference at this point does it make?” [You saw it on television]

As Lonagan reads more of her words, the invective gets strikingly shrill and profane. Finally he pockets his phone. He refuses to think any more about the foul stench pouring out of Cleopatra’s mouth.

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Clinton cursing – [Tumbler]

Maybe the country got lucky, maybe not. Lonagan doesn’t know such things.  He believes that every politician, without exception, is a self-serving bastard.  Maybe that’s all we can expect, but at this point, he wishes with all his heart that President Elect Nebuchadnezzar eats his bitter greens and becomes the leader this country needs so badly.

The opinions of Mr. Lonagan and his wild conspiracy theory are not endorsed by the management.  Mr. Kren has been made aware of possible turmoil planted in the mind of his young child.

Read Part 1:

“THE DRAGON LADY AND THE BIG BAD DUCK”

 

Photo credits: Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Times, Tumbler, John Jonelis

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under big money, chicago, Conflict, Entrepreneurship and Politics, investor, Jim Kren, loop lonagan, the chicago machine

ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH, THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

20161004-_jajdscn0159tby Jim Kren

Avid fisherman John Jonelis was enjoying some late night fly-fishing on the Pere Marquette River in Michigan when he had a close encounter with something not swimming upstream.

“I’m casting a fly called a Crystal Bullet with a number 4 hook on a sink tip,” said Jonelis. “This beautiful Chinook Salmon practically bends my number 10 Recon in half but after about an hour, I land it. Al snaps a picture, then all this happens. Me and my salmon get lifted by a glowing ray into some giant saucer-like ship that smells of fish inside.”

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Taken moments before alien abduction – Photo by Al Faleskin

“A tiny man in a silver suit approaches me carrying a long stick with knobs and buttons. He points it at me and the salmon I caught, and babbles something I can’t understand. Then in a flash, I drop like a lead sinker back in the river. But the alien keeps my fish!

“I think those aliens are fishing with some kinda tractor beam.” said Jonelis  “That’s not sporting and it’s against the regs for sure.”  

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Pere Marquette River, Michigan

Jonelis was found by his fellow fishermen at 5:00 am the next morning and carried back to Bueter’s Salmon Camp. His fishing partners, Al Faleskin and Bob Paine, were not available for comment.

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Small flies, big fish

John Bueter examined Jonelis. “He was soaked through and babbling about losing the big one and space aliens and whatnot, and still trying to cast even though he lost his fly and tippet and was sitting at a picnic table. I’ve seen fishermen act like that before, so I administered a stiff belt of Wild Turkey bourbon. Someone should let those spacemen know it’s catch-and-release around here. The warden will get after them if they don’t throw their fish back. He could confiscate their ship.”

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Taken the following day

Even after losing his salmon, Jonelis displayed an upbeat attitude. “The fishing’s great—and it’s an easy drive from Chicago!  I’m definitely coming back every year. I just hope those aliens catch their own fish next time.  They shouldn’t steal mine—that’s just not the way fishermen treat each other.”

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Jonelis’ classic Eureka Timberline

Jonelis refused any more questions and retired to his tent with the bottle of Wild Turkey. “He’ll be okay after he sleeps it off,” said Bueter. “I’ve seen it before. A good fisherman always gets back at it.”

Also read – HOW TO TREAT THE OLD MAN

WARNING: Angling is addictive and expensive can be hazardous to your health. Please fish responsibly.

Bueter’s Salmon Camp runs every year, the last weekend of September and sometimes the following weekend too. It’s walking distance from Bueter’s Cloud 9 Resort and an easy day’s drive from Chicago.

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Bueter’s Salmon Camp

For more information, contact John Bueter: j.bueter@sbcglobal.net

Cloud 9 Resort, 3360 S M-37, Baldwin, Michigan 49304, phone 231-745-3070 www.cloud9baldwin.com

Read a great article on Bueter’s Salmon Camp.  Also Bueter’s Salmon Camp Facebook Page Then see more Salmon Camp on Facebook

 

Image credits, Al Faleskin, John Jonelis.


Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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IN YOUR FACE RISK

by John Jonelis

“Oh, you’re an angel investor! Isn’t that risky?” I hear such drivel all the time. Are people afraid of outsized returns? Or perhaps they don’t understand risk, don’t know how to measure it, or how to take control of it. Yet all that is quite easily done and it’s a real charge to play the game using a Monte Carlo simulation (MC). I’ll show what’s likely to happen if you follow three simple rules. Then I’ll break one rule—just a little bit—and we’ll use the simulator to see what happens.

fear-color

Rules of the Game

Rule #1 – Diversification and the Law of Large Numbers—This is the only free ride in the investment world. Invest in as many dissimilar companies as possible.

The portfolio technique known as the Efficient Frontier suggests you indulge in alternative investments to the tune of 10% of your overall portfolio to maximize return and minimize risk—that’s right, both! Angel investment is definitely in the alternative camp, so restrict your fun to 10%. No more! It’s true—angels are like anybody else. They also own stocks and bonds, futures and options, currency spreads and real estate, antique cars and art collections.

Rule #2 – Identical Minimum Sum—Nobody knows whether a company will succeed or fail. Nobody. Even the best, most experienced, wisest, most savvy investors can’t tell. So out of your alternative portfolio, invest the identical minimum sum in each and every deal—no more, no less—no exceptions! Make it as small as you can. 2% is a good number to shoot for. Ideally, with profits taken along the way, you’ll eventually own 50 to 100 companies!

Rule #3 – Join an Angel Group—Contrary to public opinion, most investors aren’t multi-millionaires. An angel group allows you to invest small sums in concert with others in the group, and coincidentally, it makes it possible to obey Rules #1 and #2.

I also assume that a personal research staff isn’t in your budget. A good angel group solves that problem by splitting the workload among its members according to their particular expertise. A strong group will accelerate your learning curve. The trust and camaraderie you build with other members makes angel investing a real joy. My own experience as a member of Heartland Angels has broadened my horizons and given me so much more than I could ever contribute.

It’s not a rule, but read the book ANGEL INVESTING by David Rose. You’ll be glad you did.

dice

Beware

If you don’t like to help companies grow from raw idea to industry leader; if you aren’t willing to participate in the fascinating and often perplexing details of a new business venture; if you can’t stand people; if you’re afraid—then invest in a mutual fund or put your money in gold coins and count them every day, just for something to do.

 

Picture Your Risk

I’m visually oriented. To paint the picture of risk, I use a Monte Carlo engine. MC is a sophisticated and arcane statistical tool that any child can use. If you’re a spreadsheet whiz, you can set it up yourself. I downloaded a program called Equity Monaco that makes it easy to enter investment outcomes, and analyze results.

NOTE: If you find yourself gazing at a bunch of confusing readouts with a vacant stare, read my paper, ALTERNATE HISTORIES. It’s written in plain language. It’s short. You’ll be an expert in no time.

angel

How Angels Make Money

Angel investing is long term—3-10 years. But like any investment class, you’ll cash out of one deal and put that money in another. It’s a continuing cycle. It’s also a homerun strategy. Can a homerun strategy be a winning strategy? Let’s run the numbers and see.

First, we need a data set of ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill trade results. Turns out, the Kauffman Foundation keeps statistics and publishes them.

Here’s the bottom line, according to Kauffman, 38.1% of startups grow and get acquired by a larger company, at which point all the investors throw a party! 11% become lifestyle businesses. These may provide a nice living for the employees but it takes the investors a really long time to cash out. 50.9% of companies go belly-up. Of those, 0.9% just disappear!

startups

Actual Angel Returns

Let’s keep this simple. From the investor’s perspective, all the returns from Kauffman’s wealth of past data boil down to five distinct outcomes. I express these as multiples of cash invested. (“10x” is a return of 10 times your investment.) Then I list the probability of each outcome.

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Return as a multiple of investment vs. probability

Kauffman Foundation

 

Using these numbers, and applying our rules, it’s simple to build a simulated portfolio that represents likely outcomes.

Let’s assume that 10% of your portfolio amounts to $50K. Your angel group’s minimum investment is 10K. That means you need to plunk down 10% of your stake per deal, rather than the recommended 2%. You’re undercapitalized! Your Identical Minimum Sum, is high.

What does that mean to you? You’ll participate in fewer trades than some rich slob. All other things being equal, your results will be less predictable. The rich get richer, etc. etc. But you’re young and aggressive. Let’s say you go ahead anyway.

Now create a list of outcomes, based on Kauffman’s stats.

how-deals-shake-out

Notice that you follow all three rules. You invest exactly the same amount each time. Using an angel group, you invest the smallest amount you can get away with, and you participate in as many attractive deals as you can.

 

The Face of Risk

We’re ready to run our simulations. Feed those numbers into your MC engine and let the computer do the work. (I apologize for omitting legends from the charts, but the numbers in my program are too tiny to read. Hey, these are actual screenshots from my software package. So permit me to clue you in:

  • The X axis is about 100 deals.
  • The Y axis runs from zero to almost $2,500,000.
  • All equity lines start at $50K—your alternative portfolio.

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10 possible equity curves

Here’s an MC output of 10 runs from the set we just built. Each line is a distinct equity curve that represents your portfolio. All are possible. Notice that two of them go negative quickly and never recover. But the rest do quite well. This isn’t enough data to draw any valid conclusions. Let’s run more simulations, using the same data set.

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30 possible equity curves

Here we have 30 equity curves. The projections are getting clearer. Let’s run a few more, using exactly the same data set.

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100 possible equity curves

Ah! Here we go—100 outcomes. The variation is nice and tight. Kurtosis is evident in the plot—in other words, the most likely results cluster around the mean. Looks like a good experiment to me. Let’s use this one.

 

ANALYSIS

Analyzing these plots is amazingly intuitive. For this experiment, the equity lines all start at $50K—your portfolio. A few outcomes go negative, but most look quite promising. The luckiest investor walks home with $2,450,000. MC plots don’t necessarily follow a standard distribution, but the mean looks to be about $1,450,000. Let’s focus on that number.

If we achieve the mean, we’re looking at an average return of 28 times investment. Does 28x get your attention? It gets mine! It even raises suspicions about possible survivorship bias in Kauffman’s numbers. But these are the best statistics we have so we’ll go with them.

How much is 28x as an annual percent return? That depends on turnover of deal flow. The shorter the hold time, the larger the IRR. 3 years is better than 10.

By the way, you may be wondering which curve is yours. There’s no answer to that question. But since your portfolio is so small, you’re more likely to find yourself on the fringe. An investor that’s filthy rich and participates in many more deals, enjoys a more predictable outcome and probably lands close to the mean.

 

BREAKING THE RULES

Let’s find out what happens if we break just one rule. And who doesn’t do that? So you invest $100K in a really juicy deal. It’s the best prospect you’ve ever seen and you figure it’ll make you rich. This thing can’t miss! Hey, it’s just one investment—how much difference can it make? You have just violated the Identical Minimum Sum rule. I know. I made this mistake once.

We add it to our data set and run the simulation. For this, we increase your portfolio size and retain all the same trades from the last run. This is what the hotshots call sensitivity analysis.

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100 possible equity curves – breaking one rule

Whoa! Look at what that one lapse in discipline does to your projections! The mean is now flat—zero times return! Half the outcomes are negative. No, I don’t’ want to play in this sandbox.

Successful investing is primarily adherence to a solid set of rules. That’s called discipline. The goal of discipline is to keep the probabilities in your favor. Discipline defines success.

That doesn’t mean that a successful angel can get by without a good skillset. You need to exercise brilliant judgement. You must perform your due diligence. Knowledge and experience are huge. Always keep the human side in mind. And you need to follow-up. Watch your companies closely as they pivot and grow. I leave you with this thought:

david-rose-quote

Also read – ALTERNATE HISTORIES

 

John Jonelis is a writer, investor, fisherman, author of the novel,

THE GAMEMAKER’S FATHER, publisher of Chicago Venture Magazine, and editor of News From Heartland.

The term IDENTICAL MINIMUM SUM is from the author.

Thanks to David Rose and his book ANGEL INVESTING.

Statistics from the Kauffman Foundation.

MC plots from Equity Monaco by TickQuest.

Graphic courtesy MS Office.

DISCLAIMER – Do your own due diligence. It’s not my fault if you lose money.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Chicago Ventures, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Financial Markets, Heartland Angels, Information, Innovation, Invention, investor, new companies, risk in, vc, venture capital