Born in So Cal, wanted out no connection to people. Came to Bath, waited tables. Lots of people asked where to get coffee.
Nobody did it, so I finally did – “But I’m just a waitress, with no business experience.” Bath is great for that, but there was no hub for it. First: a community meeting spot. Second, yummy treats. Use as much local as possible, local roaster, local bread, cheese, bakers. Costs a little extra, but it’s worth it.
8 years in May. We were successful
The other business people on the street were very welcoming – from the landlord on down. Working in Bath is pure pleasure. Even the hard family situations work themselves out – kids off the hook self police, etc.
Really early on, watched a yuppie mom and a BIW blue-collar worker strike up a conversation, and felt that made the business a success.
People come here as groups, couples come here to resolve disputes, etc. What a gift to hear people’s stories, the hard stuff and the easy stuff.
I can’t afford to pay living wages, but we keep the staff because of the connections. One staff member was bought a ticket to Honduras – because he could.
One of the top real estate folks in this area knew Ashley since she worked here, She helped Ashley get the house and bought it herself for Ashley and got it fixed up. Arleigh was given a car b/c somebody who comes here wrote about her in a contest, she won.
I’m successful b/c I have connection with my community, my co-workers, my neighbors.
What better gift is that?
No web presence at all? Nope. One regular manages a FB page, I’ve never seen it. Leaving to take care of her daughter at home.
John Bliss: Face time with a three-year old way more important than Facebook.
Most important – the personal relationships.
I’m a Venture Capitalist and a developer, that happened because I went to Faneuil Hall and after a few drinks they went to check out 60 State St, the big high-rise under construction. On the top floor, saw an amazing view. By the end of those drinks that evening, I’d decided to rent the two top floors.
If you magnify your small need, you end up with a biiig need. Most VC deals are Big needs.
Since I couldn’t afford to pay rent, I borrowed money, furnished it with my family’s antiques and rugs. Turnkey set of offices at the best Financial District address in Boston.
I got a rent which was extraordinary b/c the developer rented at 15$ sq. foot, then I rented it at $125/sq. Foot. Harvard biz review, Boston redevelopment agency, city councilor, John Kerry’s Senate campaign, etc.
Turned a $10,000 loan into a million net after taxes in my pocket. I realized that a real estate deal made a VC return, 30-50% annual. More really, since I started with zero. It’s more about your vision and the positioning. It’s not about business itself. You can reposition any business.
Two ways to compete:
Red ocean : full of blood and sharks.
Blue Ocean: positioned in a way that noone can compete with
You’ve disrupted a market, that’s where the opportunity comes from. Ask yourself: how can I position something to disrupt a market?
Those floors were 100% rented for ten years.
SRI think tank in Silicon Valley for ten years. Went down to LA, saw the downtown real-estate, met a Hollywood lawyer guy (driving a Rolls) who had done the same deal he did.
He repeated the pattern.
In 10 years – 40 other people tried to do the same thing. Other buildings were getting tenants from his startups. NY, lots of this.
Deals are all done in places like this (in Café Crème.) It’s a deal factory!
Economic Geographer Richard Florida talks about creative economy. It’s not art – creative people hang together. People who start companies HAVE to hang out together. In Silicon Valley, Boston, NYC, this is standard practice. Deals happen in the cafes.
Every place should have a place like this. In the VC community, everybody knows where these places are. It’s the atmosphere of a place, the culture of the place you create.
This is as well as it’s ever been done in all the cities I’ve seen. AND Tonnie made it personal, in touch with your heart. Richard Florida says every city should create this.
Web: Maine Enterprise Schools. Angus King
When Steve Jobs was kicked out, he started the next computer company, I became a developer for that. He asked us all what our deal was. My deal was a “telephone scratch pad” much like the iPad.
Steve Jobs has always been the leader in the innovations. His ideas of positioning in a market to make himself the leader of that market. Vertically integrated software system. Gates really can’t match that. He’s a role model for positioning and innovating your business.
Recently got a good book: Switch.
They discuss the appeal you make in your business, and break it into three parts. “elephant in the living room” framing the argument. The elephant is your emotional side. If your business can’t compete, it can’t appeal to that emotional side of you, you should hang it up. If the elephant isn’t motivated, it won’t move. To be successful:
Motivate the elephant
Clear the path
If you can do that, you won’t have to beg for the money.
John then detailed the Sewall House deal and how it was perfect for a VC-type return for the investors who had agreed to go in with him.