Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jenny Krengel of Dream Jobs Inc. talks about Off-Ramping and On-Ramping

Jenny Krengel of Dream Jobs Inc. talks about professionals off-ramping and on-ramping in their career, the challenges of balancing software development with customer requirements, and the mixed blessing of getting what you wish for.

What is your background?

I left my professional job as a salesperson for a computer software company to have my daughter. I started meeting a lot of professionals who had taken that same off-ramp. Some stay at home with their kids full-time, but I’m not wired that way. I’ve been working since I was fourteen years old and supporting myself financially since I graduated from high school. It was odd for me to take a step back, so when my daughter was 4 months old I started writing the business plan for Dream Jobs.

What is Dream Jobs?

Dream Jobs provides talent acquisition and retention solutions for sourcing professionals from a hidden pool of talent outside the traditional workforce and hiring populations. After I wrote my original business plan, I ran across validating concepts and research by Dr. Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Her Harvard Business Press book, “Off-ramps and On-ramps – Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success” is a collection of best practices which were a huge inspiration to me as I continued to develop my business. She also runs a blog on the topic. While her book is focused on the career issues of professional women, the work she does in research and policy change is a thought leadership position that encompasses both genders.

What services do you offer?

We offer two distinct products. The first is a public internet site called, and this site is geared toward matching approved, experienced professionals with small, medium and large businesses who need access to this talent. We are different than a typical job board in that there is an application process for these professionals.

How much does one pay for a subscription?

As we build our database, the sign-up process for professionals is free. Eventually individuals will pay an annual fee of $89 for exclusive membership.

Employers will pay depending upon company size:
For employers with less than 500 employees: $199 for 3 months, and $600 for 12 months (unlimited access to the database for both searching the database and job postings).

For employers with more than 500 employees (and for recruiters/staffing agencies) the price is $799 for 3 months and $2400 for 12 months.

What else do you offer?

The second product is under development and it is called This tool is a web-based human resource software that empowers large organizations to leverage skilled, former employees who are not available to work in a traditional capacity.

eDETOURS mirrors our original concept, but privatizes the employer’s talent pools of off-rampers and on-rampers for “internal use only”. We’ve taken corporate best practices from some of the leading firms who have tackled this issue of “brain drain” proactively. The services are evolving to help companies solve their retention and acquisition issues for employees. That’s the piece we’re now focused on.

What vertical markets do you serve?

Financial services, technology, healthcare and professional services are the first targets. These markets tend to have large populations of professionals with high acquisition costs, and where retention is a key issue for them.

What is an example of a company using your services?

We’re working with a major financial services firm based in NYC to provide the resources (and technology) to develop a program to help them manage those who want to step out of the standard job. Their current HR system doesn’t let them manage that talent pool well.

Is the site up and running?

It’s under development and will be available for demo in about 6 weeks.

How do you drive the subscription traffic?

In Austin it was one kick-off event and word of mouth. For our New York City launch we have secured two key sponsors: Goldman Sachs and American Express. We’ve found that financial services are proactively recruiting from this talent base, so we are going where the pull is. With more financial resources and as we get better prepared to handle the business operationally, we will drive our strategy more through SEO. HR has a problem with shrinking talent pools. There are three drivers behind that – the disproportionate size of the baby-boom generation who are leaving the workforce (78m over the next 20 years), there’s declining birthrates coupled with people living longer, and the millennial generation is requiring a different work structure (research is showing they’re not 8 to 5ers, and compensation is no longer a key driver for this generation.

How did you do last year?

Our first year in business we actually drove some revenue through our subscriptions and services. In Austin we have about 250 qualified professionals who are in the database that are either on-ramping—they’ve been out of the workforce for a while and are coming back in, or are off-ramping – professionals who want to reduce the number of hours they work each week and have more of a modified work schedule. We would rather drive a database of highly qualified professionals than drive masses of random warm bodies. We also have about 30 corporate customers locally and several corporate prospects who are ready for our product to launch.

What are the challenges you face?

I’ve kept our expenses very low. In my whole sales career, I’ve never had such a challenge in balancing the development of the software with customer uptake. It’s one of those catch-22’s in which I’m negotiating to get my software developed in sync with the requirements of the customer. Then there’s cash flow that has to be managed.

What is the next step?

We’re doing an event on May 5th in New York City, to launch Dream Jobs Inc. Our goal is to drive business for, as well as harvest some additional prospects for Dr. Sylvia Ann Hewlett is my keynote speaker which I am very excited about.

It sounds like things are going well. What’s it like?

It’s one of those things in which you get what you wish for and then it gets really scary.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sue Malone –Community Express Loans

Sue Malone talks about how almost any entrepreneur can get an SBA-backed $25K loan within one week after filling out a one page form.

So what kind of loans do you make?

I do from $5K to $25K loans. Simple. No collateral. No business plan. I fund companies who need just about anything -- build a beta unit, file a patent, or even pay payroll.

What do you charge for that loan?

It’s prime interest rate plus 4.5%. It’s uncollateralized. I do artists. I do things to give people a chance. I come to Austin twice a year to give a seminar on it.

What’s it called?

The Community Express Loan. It comes from the SBA. It’s a pilot program. I fight tooth and nail to keep it alive. We’re an SBA-licensed lender. They launched 13 of them back in the 1970s. We bought our license from Transamerica and put in $55M to back it.

Why do they want to kill it?

People in Washington don’t think we need it. They want to go back to funding the strip mall shopping centers at $350K loans that are collateralized. The Community Express Loan is a one –page application that can get approval in about a week.

Do you have any success stories here in Austin?

Yes. In Austin, I’ve done a dessert place, two women who have a marketing group here, an author, an artist, a mortgage broker, and a lot of restaurants. A nightclub called Blubbers and there’s more.

What is the default rate?

3%. It’s like microfinance.

How did you arrive at 4.5% + prime as your interest rate?

The US law allows us to go up to 7%. We could charge more but it’s all about cash flow.

How long do they have to pay you back?

Ten years.

What deals can you not fund?

Gambling, narcotics, sex and non-profits. I see a lot of that.

Is that a charter in your organization that says that?

I have an SBA license and the SBA statutes set that criteria.

Are you an SBIC?

No. SBIC’s were a good idea. Those were set up during the first Bush administration and they were trying to spread the risk. The pension funds that invested in them were not at risk because the SBA came in with a cash match. Before the dotcom bust you could get a 3x to 4x the cash match. But where they lost it was they put a cap on the profits at 10%. It really distorted the returns because the positive returns couldn’t make up for the losses. The SBA got out of it because they lost too much money since they capped it.

How did you get into doing this?

I went to the SBA and I said you’re not doing anything for small businesses. They pointed me to their microloan program. I looked into it and found they had done seven loans.

Why so few?

No one could meet the requirements. I said something has got to change. So I started this program. Just about anyone can come to me.

Do you look at their credit score?

We don’t look at their FICA or Beacon score. We only look at how they pay back their current loans. If they have a few missed payments that is okay.

Where can one get more information about the program?

You can find the loan application
here, and the web site provides the forms and instructions for completion.

Best regards,
Hall T.