What’s the Business Model?

Refreshment and information at a BB&T seminarA corporate sponsor of VT KnowledgeWorks, BB&T, offered a seminar on the current state of the economy for investors at its Blacksburg, Virginia branch near the Virginia Tech campus.  The event was arranged by Susan Shephard, Financial Center Leader, AVP.

As the founder of a member company of VT KnowledgeWorks, I am in constant conversation with fellow company founders and VT KnowledgeWorks advisors and associates about business models and revenue streams.

When the presenter, Larry Forbish, Investment Counselor with BB&T Investment Services, asked, “When did the Dow first reach 10,000?”, I thought quickly to the year I was invested in Internet stocks and said, “1999.”  My answer was correct, but my investments weren’t.  The talk in 1999 wasn’t of business models, but of big hits.  The Dow plunged to a record low, or plunged a record percentage, or plunged whatever in 2000, and so did my net worth.

When one of the audience members at the seminar asked about a particular company and the merits of investing in the company’s stock – and Forbish asked, “What’s the business model?” - I felt very gratified.  Business models matter.  He described the company’s current sources of revenue, many of which sounded like “financial instruments” supported by bailout funds, none of which was from the product it was manufacturing.

I felt a little as if I were eavesdropping on the very investors many start-ups seek.  What do they care about?  What do they value?

The same factors we do.  We have the very same very discussions at VT KnowlegeWorks about creating companies worthy of investment.  What are my company’s core competencies?  Am I still operating in them?  If I diversify, am still in accord with my mission?  Will investors find my company of merit and value?

“What drives the economy,” Forbish said, “is corporate profits.”

I have a corporation.  I am doing what entrepreneurs do – giving maniacally of my time, treasure, effort and heart to derive a business model from my big idea to make it profitable.

In my one small way, with my start-up at VT KnowledgeWorks, I may help drive the economy.

Well, cool.

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VT KnowledgeWorks is a unique growth enhancement program open to entrepreneurs in the New River Valley of Virginia and beyond.  Acceleration center and incubation facilities are located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Latimer, Mayberry & Matthews IP Law, LeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

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