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News from Tower Systems about locally made POS software for specialty local retailers.

The startup as as mistress


My company turns 25 in January next year. While we continue to record good growth we’ve parented a small start up this year, investing around $30,000 and are a few months away from another start up which is a million dollar investment.

Starting new businesses is both frightening and exhilarating, especially if you are playing in a space foreign to you. We are more than a year in on the bigger of the two new ventures and we still have several months work to do. The only experts we could draw on are working with potential competitors.

We’ve funded this new venture so far and are about to seek capital outside to extend our intellectual resources and capital. Having not been in the need of capital for 25 years it’s an interesting situation. It’s compounded by the difference between the new business and our existing business and the possibility that the new business could eclipse the existing business in a couple of months if successful.

I am enjoying the dilemmas along the way but am concerned for the existing team and that the focus on the new business might think their efforts are not the main game anymore. While we have been open (internally) about our plans and included existing team members along the way, there is little feedback to indicate their feelings.

When you are $200,000 or so into a new venture and still months away from even getting close to any revenue it’s not unexpected that some doubts surface. Given the age of Tower Systems I feel as if I’m seeking a teen bride by pursuing this start up. Ridiculous as that may sound to some, I am sure there is a similarity in feelings. For example, the excitement of the start up takes one back to decades before. I wonder if I’m pursuing this for the same reasons a bloke married for 25 years would pursue a teenage girl: to prove he can; to feel younger; to find a goal in life beyond the mundane? I don’t think that’s me as this start up has an important social value for the community and a specific small business sector. We have built into the model a stakeholder dividend without the need to be a capital investor.

In the meantime I’ll find off the feeling I’m being unfaithful while enjoying playing with the startup and encouraging it toward its first steps.

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By Mark