Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Laura Sandefer of Acton Talks about Acton Academy

Laura Sandefer of Acton Talks about Acton Academy

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Sacramento, California and grew up in Tacoma, Washington; Cresskill, New Jersey and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

What university did you go to?
I received my BA from Vanderbilt University and my MEd. from Peabody College.

What brought you to Austin?
Love brought me to Austin! I moved here to marry Jeff.

What is the idea behind your group?

The idea behind Acton Academy is to create a new model for educating children that combines the classic ideals of mentoring and apprenticeship with an injection of the evolving sim game technology (see Acton Sim games at and an undergirding of Montessori methodology. The purpose of it all is to inspire the innate human quest for discovery and meaning in both the children who participate and their parents. More simply put, we will be a community of lifelong learners.

What need does it fulfill?
Acton Academy fulfills the need to unleash the infinite possibilities of our children and get them off an assembly-line approach to education.

What exactly does your group do?
We teach and inspire children and families; and we write curriculum that is innovative, tested and effective.

Who is it for?
We are starting with children ages 4-9 but ultimately will expand up through high school following a plan of slow growth.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the group?
The biggest challenge we have faced and will continue to face is the creation of an economic model for a school. It is a massive challenge to keep the cost to attend at the lower end of the private tuition range here in Austin while ensuring that we will break even. We are committed not to ever depend on government funding or private donations. We want to create this so that others can establish a school, use our curriculum and survive financially.

What is the next step for you and your group?
Our next step is to buy furniture and classroom materials.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Be courageous. Jumping into something completely new is scary and there are so many arguments against going against the cultural norm. It is easier to be comfortable and go with the flow. Or to let other people solve the problems of the world. But good ideas carried out with love and lots of sweat are what make the world go ‘round.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Ten Outcomes of an Angel Investment by John Huston

One of my favorite podcasts is the Frank Peters Show. In a recent interview with John Huston who is the current President of the Angel Capital Association, he outlines the ten possible outcomes of an angel investment. I list them below here but recommend you listen to the podcast or read the full text here.

1)“Grand Slam Homerun” -- Exceeds a 10X in five years (>58% IRR)

2)“A Lucrative Exit” -- <58 10x="" 1="" a="" at="" br="" but="" irr="" least="" return="">
3)The “Harry Houdini” -- Escaped with a 1X return; No loss

4)“Lost a Little” -- Didn’t lose it all (<1x 0x="" a="" br="" but="" not="">
5)“My Grandkids’ Company” -- Company is successful but there’s no exit in sight. Maybe it will occur after my grandchildren inherit the portfolio?

6)The “Zombie” -- A walking dead venture which will never become a great company, nor will it die so I can declare the loss.

7)“Deductible Loss” -- It died without a tail and I got to declare the loss (or sold my shares for $1.00 to record the loss)

8)“Funeral Expenses” -- Not only did I lose all my original investment, I had to also cover the costs of winding down the venture, plus pay accountants to provide the final accounting needed so I could take my tax deduction.

9)“The Worst Gets Worse” -- “The loss that keeps on losing” due to ongoing litigation expenses even after the company has no value.

10)“Angel Hell” -- In addition to losing all my investment plus a considerable amount of my time, media coverage, tarnished my reputation, plus damaged my relationship with co-investors.

John mentioned that loss of the investment dollars in a deal is the least worry. He cites loss of c0-investor relationship, tarnished reputation, and loss of time as even bigger concerns in a losing venture.

Best regards,
Hall T.