Our first letter comes from a reader who recently caught his partner embezzling company funds. The partner is gone now, but the reader's problems are just beginning. He's turned to Network for help in solving them. In Resources: how retirees can reenter the work force, and the benefits they bring to small businesses.
Picking Up the Pieces About a year ago my partner and I started a company that designs and installs electronic security systems. After a few months we incorporated. Recently, I learned that my partner was embezzling company funds. After I tracked him down, I submitted for a new incorporation under my name alone. I had to move quickly to reassure my clients, and I did. But now I've had time to assess more thoroughly what's left of the company, and I'm unsure of my next step. We're missing cash. We're missing inventory. And we're missing several clients who have signed contracts but who don't return my calls.
I need money to get us through the next six months to a year, until the legalities are completed and we're back on our feet. I'm looking for a venture capital partner or a private investor. But I don't know how to structure the deal. What is 15% of my company worth? Should I look for a onetime injection of cash or several small ones? One investor or several?
Diamond Mine My company recently obtained marketing rights to supply precision diamond wheels used to cut the extremely hard materials used in the computer, communications, and high-tech ceramics industries. I need to establish a network of salespeople who know about that technology and its applications. Can anyone suggest how I might get in touch with such people? What trade publications should I advertise in to reach them?
Robert K. Nelson
Government Issue As a government engineer I have invented high-tech devices that might be useful not only to the government but to industry. In accordance with a law passed in 1987, the government is applying for patents for my inventions, but I will retain patent rights for licenses sold to private industry. How do I determine a good price for such a license? The dollar savings a licensee might enjoy will vary from one industry to another. Also, some applications of the product will result in new capabilities for the licensee. How do I put a price on such intangibles?
Gregory C. Hildebrand
Rio Linda, Calif.
The Temperature's Rising My company has obtained marketing rights for a computer-managed fertility monitor. I am wondering how we can market the product to OB/GYN doctors who treat infertility. It costs far more than the thermometers typically used, which are available in drugstores. Would leasing to doctors be an alternative to direct sales?