Sunday, 12 August 2012

Re-thinking the way forward

Mike's meeting with the director of the Industrial Research Assistance Program went like this:  Great idea, good market research, do you have $50K to put into the $200K grant you are seeking?  Uh, no.

His suggestions after that are really quite good.  Scale back the $200K plan, finish a very basic prototype that just one law firm volunteers to test and validate and go from there.  Here's the thing - we don't need IRAP to be able to do that.  And maybe that's a good thing.

We have a basic philosophical problem with taking government money.  It bugs us that Canadian angel and VC investors demand that startups be first vetted by government bureaucrats who have never been self-employed and put their life savings on the line.  They have a guaranteed job and retirement pension.  They don't know risk from a hole in the ground.

When you take government money, you are pinned to staying in Canada.  What if an investor wants us to relocate elsewhere?  What if WE want to relocate somewhere else?

So, we will continue under our own steam.  Andy, our programmer, knows what needs to be done for a basic prototype for the legal application and can do it.  He's been on the road in his camper for months, coding away on our platform on a thin stream of income.  He is a shareholder in the company so his work benefits him too.  Even before we start marketing the legal application, we will be ready to market another application we are calling "Move" (Andy came up with the name).  It's exclusively a tool for large enterprises that use Documentum for content and file management.  He's pretty proud of what he has created and we are too.  Already Mike's contacts in Documentum have asked for a brochure and told him "we run into this challenge all the time with clients - show us what you've got".

These events also tell us more about where we need to be - or can be - this fall and winter.  If we were working with a government grant and a couple more hired programmers, we'd really have to be in Calgary.  Now we don't.

After a month of applying for various new consulting contracts, it looks like Mike will be going to New Jersey for 6 months - but, its very possible they will allow him to work remotely after an initial month or two.  If so, we'll be in Mazatlan this winter.  If not, we'll both be in New Jersey with visits to Mazatlan.  Either way, we'll rent out the house again.  New Jersey might actually be fun. After all, right across the Hudson is the most exciting city in the world!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

We have an "Advisory Council" for software

I know, I know - two posts in one day!  It's raining and it's two different topics.

We have a marketing consultant now, working on a marketing plan for the legal market application.  He's pretty excited.  After conducting many interviews and focus groups with IT guys and lawyers in law firms across Canada, he says we've got something here - if we can build it.  And you know that means money.  However, several of the lawyers and IT guys have agreed to serve as an advisory council for us going forward.  That's big - lawyers NEVER do anything for free.

An application for a development grant has just been submitted, and will be bolstered by this marketing plan.

More news to come.....

My new career in house-sitting

Some people might think I can't stay still.  Others say I'm the most grounded person they know.  All I know is - I want to see more of the world before I die, or succumb to a debilitating disease such as Alzheimer's (and I have a pretty good chance of that given my genetics).

So, I've been cruising the various house-sitting website as a voyeur, drooling over assignments in places like France, Italy, Greece, Costa Rica, and I happened to see a very new one for 12 days in Lake Chapala in September.  Hmmm.  I'm back in our house in Alberta, kinda settled down, I'll be pretty bored by late September, and I have no idea where Mike will be then.  He could be off to some exotic place like Columbus, Ohio leaving me here all by myself.  So I applied.  The home-owner was surprised at how quickly she got a response - she literally had posted it less than 15 minutes before my email.

Here it is:

Yes, it is a casita on a property with a house where the owner lives, and it is normally for rent. My "charges" are these two:

Don't they look adorable?

I have been wanting to check out Lake Chapala area and now I can.  I even have a vehicle to drive.  Sweet!

Of course, Mike may accompany me if he has work he can do from there.  I'll let him. ;)