I had quite an adventure getting our latest venture, Mobile Money Minute, LLC off the ground in the last two years. I began writing the business plan in January 2007 and had saved enough money myself to bootstrap its launch in October 2007.
The first part of the business plan was providing a piece of proprietary software (an “online shareholder forum”) per SEC requirements to public companies. Then, in November 2007, the SEC changed the rule slightly, and we had to change our business model. So we took the site down indefinitely.
The second part of our business plan was making a television show for PBS or another network, called “Mutual Fund Circus,” about mutual fund and 401(k) investing. We immediately found an investment fund to invest in our project ($1.4MM). We had a conference call with them January 25, 2008, and set a closing call (papers would be traded, bank accounts would have money wired into it) for February 1, 2009. I got a call from our investment banker January 30 saying that the “fund”, which was backed by MBSs, which was formerly worth $80 million, was now worth $0. They would not be investing.
We searched for funding for the next few months while I shuttered our sales force due to lack of funds. We found another investment fund (this one with assets of $200 million). They gave us a verbal yes in May. We were approved by their board of directors in June, and were to receive the $1.4MM by July 15, 2008. Their fund was also backed by MBSs, and by July 15, they were worth $0. So we didn’t get the money!
We continued pitching the show, and got interest from PBS, but they would not commit to a series until a pilot was made.
Finally, as of this week, a new national television network, BizTelevision, is launching nationwide August 1, 2009. “Mutual Fund Circus” will be their flagship primetime program. In addition, we will use our “Mobile Money Minute” series of PSAs for personal investing as content for BizTelevision as well as other networks, sending important information to investors and the general public about money matters, via TV, radio, email and SMS alerts.
It only took two and a half years! Ha!
I have to say that all that time searching for funding, wondering if we’d ever find a home for the show or the money to produce it, was really a mixed blessing. While you’re walking through the tunnel, you do not see the light at the end. I really wondered if I was wasting my time. However, at the same time, taking longer than expected allowed us to improve every aspect of our business plan, and made our business not only better, more efficient, and more responsive to what our market wants as far as information is concerned. It improved our business across the boards.
Had we gotten the funds in January 2008, we had an entirely different (inferior) show lineup for our first 6 episodes of “Mutual Fund Circus.” Because we had to wait, I went to a business gathering in February and met (and got appearance commitments for our pilot episode) from Dr. Arthur Laffer (Reagan’s chief economist, inventor of the “Laffer Curve,”), Jon Najarian (CNBC commentator), Jim LaCamp (CNBC Contributor), Mike Norman (Fox News contributor) and others. We have an A-list show now.
Having to change the website because of SEC changes on the online shareholder forums allowed us to investigate the market further, and what we were going to build from scratch for $1 million (web portal), because we didn’t have the $1MM to do so, allowed us to look around for a while, and we found a similar, already-created software product in Italy, that we licensed (and have an exclusive license for) for $15,000.
More SEC changes, like making tagging and hosting public company filings in XBRL (a new computer language, Extensible Business Reporting Language, a business subset of XML) allowed us to experiment with how we could (being a small business) be more nimble and do it cheaper than the giants SAP and others, and we brought on board a professor of XML from a major university to design our software for us. We will be offering it alongside our TV show launch in 90 days.
So what didn’t kill us truly made us stronger. It almost killed us (at least our hopes) but it didn’t.
Anthony Migyanka, an economist, has appeared on “Cavuto” with Neil Cavuto, and is recognized by the Fox Business Network as an Investor Relations Expert. He has also contributed public company governance, stock market and economic trend commentary to other media outlets, including FamilyNet TV, The Dow Jones Corporation, and The Washington Post.
“Mutual Fund Circus™” with host Anthony Migyanka, will air on BizTelevision nationwide beginning Oct. 1, 2009, M-F, 5PM and 8PM EST.
“Mutual Fund Circus for Kids™”: Talking to Children About Money” will air on Saturday and Sunday mornings on BizTelevision nationally, beginning December 2009.