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Gift Baskets Sample Business Plan

If you are beginning a business that specializes in gift baskets then you will find this sample business plan most useful.

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Gift Baskets Business Plan

Executive Summary

Introduction
Basket of Goodies (BOG) is a premier gift basket retailer. BOG is concentrating on making gourmet gift baskets out of a wide range of high-quality ingredients. In addition to having several flagship baskets, BOG will also offer the option of a custom basket allowing the customer to choose the ingredients themselves. BOG will be selling to individuals as well as corporations. Initially the bulk of BOG’s business will be generated by individuals from word-of-mouth referrals, but as time passes, corporations will become a growing percentage of sales.

Once up and running with some momentum, BOG will be steadily producing profits. It is projected that BOG will be making a profit by December. By the end of year three, it is projected that BOG will be generating a net profit of approximately $21,000.

The Company
The Basket of Goodies’ mission is to create the finest gift baskets available. BOG, soon to be located in Salem, OR, will be hand assembling our products out of premier ingredients, local when possible. The business will be based out of Susan Presento’s home. Although this will be a home-based business, toward the end of year one Susan will have an employee.

Susan Presento, founder and owner, managed a flower shop in Salem for three years and this has given her insight to the gift giving practices of Oregonians. The primary gift baskets that will be offered are: smoked fish basket, fruit basket, pasta dinner basket, and picnic basket that has caviar, crackers, fruit, and smoked fish. BOG also offers a custom basket which allows customers to pick items from a list and BOG will assemble the basket with its custom ingredients.

The Market
The purchasing of gift baskets is very “seasonal.” More than half of the gift basket purchasing occurs during a wide variety of holidays.

BOG’s competitive advantage will be based on two factors, low overhead which allows reasonable prices, and an unrelenting desire for the highest quality product and service.

  1. Low overhead
  2. Highest quality product and service

BOG’s sales strategy will be targeted at obtaining both the individual and corporate clients through word-of-mouth referrals. Customers will be able to place an order at the office, over the phone or via the website.

1.1 Mission

The Basket of Goodies’ mission is to create the finest gift baskets available. We exist to attract and maintain customers. When we adhere to this maxim, everything else will fall into place. Our products and services will exceed the expectations of our customers.

1.2 Objectives

The objectives for the first three years of operation include:

  • To create a home-based company whose primary goal is to exceed customer’s expectations.
  • To increase the number of clients served by at least 20% per year through superior performance and word-of-mouth referrals.
  • To develop a sustainable home business, surviving off its own cash flow.

Company Summary

BOG, soon to be located in Salem, OR will offer a wide range of gourmet gift baskets, production as well as custom units. BOG will be hand assembling the baskets out of premier ingredients, local when possible. The business will be based out of Susan Presento’s home. Although this will be a home-based business, toward the end of year one Susan will have an employee. If the business goes per the forecasted plan, the business will achieve profits by the end of year one.

2.1 Company Ownership

The Basket of Goodies will be a sole proprietorship, owned by Susan Presento.

2.2 Start-up Summary

BOG’s start-up costs will include all the equipment needed for the home-based office, legal fees, website creation, and start-up advertising. The home office equipment will be the largest chunk of the start-up expenses. This equipment includes a computer system, fax machine, office supplies, cellular phone, and pager. The computer should have a 500 megahertz Celeron/Pentium processor, 64 megabytes of RAM (preferably 128), 6 gigabyte hard drive, and a rewritable CD-ROM for backing up the system. Additionally, there will be the expense installation of a broadband connection. While a broadband connection is not totally necessary, it only costs between $40-50 per month for service and will make working on the Internet significantly faster and easier.

The home office will also require a few pieces of furniture such as a desk, chair, and bookshelf to transform a standard room into an office.  Lastly, an additional land phone line will be required. The legal fees are used for the formation of the business as well as for reviewing/generating standard client contracts. The Web creation fees at start-up costs are for design and creation of the website. The start-up advertising will be the production of brochures.

Products

BOG sells gourmet, hand-assembled gift baskets. Their premier baskets are: smoked fish basket, fruit basket, pasta dinner basket, and picnic basket that has caviar, crackers, fruit, and smoked fish. BOG also offers a custom basket which allow customers to pick items from a list and BOG will assemble the basket with their custom ingredients.

For the customer baskets, BOG will provide a list of options grouped into four different categories. The customer then chooses two items from each of the four categories and the gift basket is made for them. BOG highlights four previously mentioned premier baskets. In addition to these, BOG will typically have one or two specials, often seasonally based.

Market Analysis Summary

BOG will be going after two distinct market segments, individuals and corporations. Both groups buy gift baskets as a goodwill gesture, typically for different reasons. Individuals typically buy the baskets as a present with over half of sales occur during holidays. Corporations buy the baskets as presents as well, but usually for events unrelated to the holidays. By going after both of these groups, sales will be less seasonal (relative to if only the individuals were targeted).

There are many different “gift basket” retailers in Salem. BOG will differentiate themselves through the use of premium ingredients in their baskets. The gourmet baskets, coupled with a custom option and reasonable prices (attributed to low overhead) will spell success for BOG.

4.1 Market Segmentation

BOG’s has two distinct groups of customers, individuals and corporate customers:

  1. Individuals- The individuals are people who are looking to give a friend, relative, colleague, etc., a gift basket as a gesture of goodwill.  These customers typically do not have a specific type of gift basket in mind when they look at BOG’s product offerings, they just want to give a gift.
  2. Corporate- The corporate customer is typically buying the basket for a colleague at work, either as a sign of appreciation, for a special event, or as a thank you for a customer. The corporate market can be further broken down to banks, health care, employment gifts, real estate, apartments, special events/promotions, corporate headquarters, hotels/vacation resorts, and automobile dealerships.

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

BOG is focusing on individuals and corporate customers because they are the largest segments of purchasers for gift baskets. Individuals are the target purchaser of gift baskets. They purchase baskets typically as a thank you in response for something the recipient did or just to be nice. The gift basket is unmistakingly a gift so upon receipt there is no ambiguity why it was sent or at least what it is trying to accomplish. Within the individual category, women are 69% more likely to be the purchaser of a gift basket compared to men. This is not to say that women more often purchase gifts, it just indicates women are more likely to buy gift baskets.

BOG is focusing on the corporate customers as they currently represent approximately a third of the purchasers of gift baskets. The corporate customer could be buying the basket for someone within their company, or they could be buying it for a customer, vendor, etc. The trend for the corporation to purchase gifts is not a new phenomenon and therefore would appear to be a solid market segment to pursue.

4.3 Industry Analysis

There are many different forms of competition in the gift basket business:

  • Similar gift basket type retail stores: There are several of these stores located in Salem. These competitors offer a wide range of gift baskets, however none of them are concentrating on the higher end, gourmet product line.
  • Nut/fruit companies: There are several stores that concentrate on nuts and or fruit baskets.
  • Bath product gift basket companies: There is currently one gift basket company that concentrates on bath products. Bath products have a slightly smaller population of people who appreciate these products (as women predominately appreciate bath products more then men do).
  • Regional gift basket: There is one retailer that sells gift baskets composed of local products. These type of baskets tend to appeal to people that are buying gifts for people that are not from this area.
  • Candy gift baskets: There are several candy stores that offer, as one on their products, a candy gift basket. Similar to the bath products basket, candy typically appeals to women a bit more so then men.
  • Florists: Flowers are a similar product that competes with gift baskets. Once again flowers tend to appeal to women more so then men.

The purchasing of gift baskets is very “seasonal.” More than half of the gift basket purchasing occurs during a wide variety of holidays.

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Professional Services

Security Guard Business Plan Sample

Protect your community by starting a security business using a security guard business plan similar to this one.

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83-security-guard-business-plan

Protect your community by starting a security business using a security guard business plan similar to this one to compile your own.

1. Executive Summary

Batten-Hatchez Security is a start-up security company founded by Chindit Batten, an experienced former police sergeant and security company manager.

Located in Coastalburg at its launch, the business will provide security guards, security audits, and referrals to equipment providers to commercial buildings, retail businesses, and, eventually special event venues and other clients.

The business seeks to acquire capital from an angel investor and will expand to additional cities in our state and beyond if successful.

Related: Free Business Plan Template Download

In the current political climate, with increasing fears of terrorist activity, and the current economic climate, which promises an upswing in general and in outsourced services especially, this business is launching at the right time.

The business will target large retail stores and building management companies first in order to establish a strong base of clients in Coastalburg.

Batten-Hatchez will grow its employee base of security guards carefully, based on client contracts, and use both full-time and part-time guards. The business expects respectable sales of in the first year, almost doubling by the end of the third year. Gross margins will be similar to the industry average, based on guard labor costs vs. billings.

Related: How To Start A Business With (Almost) No Money

After the initial investment and launch, a lean first year, and the establishment of an office and training space in the second year, the business will be poised to expand through its own financing after three years. After the business is proved replicable in additional cities, the business may be sold to provide an exit for the initial investor and founders.

Objectives

Batten-Hatchez Security will base its success on meeting the following objectives:

  • Employ 25 full-time equivalent security guards by the end of the third year of operation
  • Supply security guards to 15 buildings on a full-time basis by the end of the third year of operation
  • Earn $2 million in revenue with net profit over $300,000 in its third year of operation

Mission

Batten-Hatchez Security will remove worries for clients who require security guards for their buildings, facilities, and events by providing excellent customer service for clients and in-depth training for their employees.

Keys to Success

Batten-Hatchez Security believes the keys to success in its industry include:

  • Listening carefully to client concerns and objectives to create customized security guard packages
  • Knowing what the client does not know (bringing deep security expertise as well as knowledge of legal regulations and liability to the table)
  • Training security guards carefully and maintaining their training and certifications (e.g. to carry firearms)
  • Monitoring the quality of security guard service to offer quality assurance

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2. Company Summary

security-company-summary

Batten-Hatchez Security is a startup security company founded by Chindit Batten, a former police sergeant and security company manager with fifteen years in law enforcement and ten years in security work.

Related: 21 Steps To Start-Up

The business will provide security guards to commercial buildings, retail businesses, and special events. The business will launch in Coastalburg but will expand to additional cities if successful.

Company Ownership

Chindit Batten is CEO and founder of Batten-Hatchez Security.

He currently owns 60% of the business and the remaining 40% of shares are owned by his partner and co-founder, Viipuri Hatchez, COO. The business is incorporated as an S Corporation to enable additional investment for its launch.

The founders shares will be diluted as up to 40% of shares will be given to investors.

Start-up Summary

Batten-Hatchez Security will launch as a home-based business out of the home office of Chindit Batten. Initially, this will reduce the cost of rent and equipment.

Related: Conducting a Business Plan Market Analysis

Training for security guards will be provided in temporarily rented office space as needed.

Other start-up costs include the costs of incorporation and permits, such as concealed weapons permits, business license, and police clearances (legal fees), the initial website and brochure design and printing, and the first insurance premium for the business, including liability insurance for the guard’s work and carrying of firearms.

Long-term assets include mobile phones and headsets for all guards and employees, as well as two-way radios for guards working as teams.


3. Services

security-company-camera

Batten-Hatchez Security will provide well trained guards for one or more of the following purposes:

  • To guard entrances and screen guests/employees
  • To monitor clients’ premises with video surveillance equipment
  • To protect clients’ assets, employees and guests
  • To deter crime with visual presence
  • To organize response in the case of fire, evacuation, or other emergency
  • To respond to customer and employee health emergencies and accidents
  • To eject unwanted customers or trespassers
  • To liaison with police and city emergency responders

In addition, the principals of the firm will offer the following:

  1. Security audits and recommendations for security plans
  2. Referrals to providers of security technology (camera systems, etc.)

Batten-Hatchez will be a licensed, insured, and bonded business and will offer both armed and unarmed guards, based on client needs and budgets.

Related: Are You Building A Business Or Creating A Job For Yourself?

All guards will be certified for security work and to carry firearms. Whenever possible, the same guards will be sent consistently to the same clients. However, substitutes will be necessary from time to time and the business will ensure that detailed data about the job is transmitted to substitute guards on those occasions.

Batten-Hatchez Security will build trust with clients as a partner, rather than simply in the specific guard or guards they grow comfortable with. Guards will keep in constant communication with their team via portable two-way radios and with the Batten-Hatchez office, as necessary through mobile phones.

The Batten-Hatchez office will be not be staffed full-time at launch, but the CEO and COO will be within reach by phone wherever they work. Guards who encounter criminal activity will alert the authorities immediately rather than going through a communications centre.

Once the Batten-Hatchez office is established outside of the home of Chindit Batten, it will be staffed full-time with a rotation of three call centre personnel who will cover the dispatches. Guards will either be stationed at desks or patrol on foot at all facilities.

Clients must provide vehicles if their jobs require vehicle patrol (i.e., a facility with several buildings), but this will not be a focus of Batten-Hatchez Security.


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4. Market Analysis Summary

security-market-analysis-summary

The market for security guard services includes building management companies, retail businesses, event venues, and other businesses. IBISworld.com reports that the security services industry as a whole was $29.7 billion in 2008.

While this number includes investigative services and armoured car services, it is estimated that security guards accounted for $22.3 billion. This represents approximately 540,000 employees in the security guard industry.

While market revenue has dropped 2% in 2008 due to the recession, it is expected that the market will rise again due to increasing outsourcing of security services by companies who will delay hiring their own full-time employees as the recession ends.

The continuing and growing concerns about security brought on by international terrorism are also expected to contribute to growth in the industry.

Of the potential targets available in Coastalburg Batten-Hatchez Security will focus on building management companies and retail businesses at the outset.

Related: 3 Key Law Areas To Know When You Launch That Start-up

These businesses require steady security needs and serving them is simpler than serving special events.

Market Segmentation

The market analysis table shows the market segmentation for Coastalburg among the major market segments for security guard services. Growth is slow among these markets as new development is not prevalent in Coastalburg currently.

Building management companies generally install surveillance equipment and employ security guards to monitor that equipment, to staff front desks/security checks, and sometimes for general patrol.

These companies often work with a number of commercial or residential buildings and look to establish a relationship with one reliable vendor for all of their security guard needs. While some buildings require night-shift guards, others require only day coverage.

Large retail businesses use security guards to deter theft and to provide safety. These include department stores and other retail stores over 4,000 square feet, although some smaller stores may use security guards if they sell high-priced items (designer fashion, jewelry, technology, etc.).

Retailers require more guards during the day. Some simply lock the store at night while some larger department stores use night patrols as well.

Related: How Do You Hit The Right Target Market For Your Business?

Event venues use security guards to monitor guest lists and fire capacities and to organize emergency response. Nightclubs and bars may be included in this category. However, most nightclubs and bars employ their own security personnel (or “bouncers”) directly and do not use vendors.

Event security has the same risks as other security, but there is limited time for security audits and situations change fast, making this a higher stress business that requires better trained guards. Events tend to happen in the evenings with weekday nights for corporate events and weekend nights for private events.

Educational institutions, such as primary and secondary schools and colleges, generally employ security officers to guard and patrol their buildings and campuses. Often these institutions employ their own in-house security staff, but they will sometimes use outsources security vendors. These institutions require night and day patrols.


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Target Market Segment Strategy

Batten-Hatchez Security will target the first two of these target markets initially, building management companies and retail businesses. Both segments require ongoing security vendors and are eager to establish long-term relationships.

Once relationships are established, good customer service, quality assurance, and competitive pricing can ensure that the relationships are retained and that the security provider is considered a true partner in the protection of the building or businesses’ assets and people.

Furthermore, the other two target markets listed will be taken on at a later date, if at all. Event venues require more specialised services and may be a slower market to tackle.

Related: Target Market Worksheet

Educational institutions are often eager to establish their own security staffs, making this a difficult market to establish a strong foothold in as well.

Service Business Analysis

According to IBISWorld, there were 41,000 security services firms in the U.S. in 2008 running 56,000 establishments. The average size of a firm was $700,000 revenue per year based on these numbers, meaning that the industry includes both small and larger companies.

There are few barriers to entry, as long as basic legal requirements are met, as the capital investment in the business is very low. The industry depends on a supply of labor, often using retired police officers as security guards.

As security guard services are sold business-to-business, marketing and advertisement is generally targeted on the markets and industries the security companies seek to serve. Businesses generally search for security guard providers on the Internet or through referrals from other companies they trust.

Competition and Buying Patterns

Top players in the industry include Securitas AB, Allied Security LLC, The Brink’s Company, and G4S plc.

Huge players provide services for a huge range of markets, including governments, chemical and petrochemical, colleges and universities, commercial real estate, financial institutions, health care facilities, manufacturing and industrial, residential communities, shopping centers, and temporary security services.

Smaller security companies achieve success based on the expertise and reputation of their founding managers and the growth of a team with a similar track record. The continued success of a company depends on client satisfaction, leading to referrals.

Larger institutions and governments may receive several bids for security contracts, while smaller businesses (such as many that Batten-Hatchez Security will target) often prefer to try out security companies and move on if they do not meet expectations.

The smaller the amount of assets being protected, the more willing a company will be to risk their security on educated hunches about a security company without feeling the need to do due diligence on a number of options.

IBISworld reports the following about the security industry:

  • While the public’s perception of the rising crime rate assists revenue, the most significant factor which increases the demand for this industry’s services is a breach of an existing security system, a break-in or a near break in. The economic crisis has hurt demand over the past two years but things will soon begin to improve.
  • In Coastalburg, security guard service competitors include securityguard.com, Top Guard Security, US Security Guard Services, and Trend Security Corporation.

Click here to view this full business plan


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Professional Services

Recycling Waste Materials Conservation Sample Business Plan

If your business will specialize in recycling waste materials then this sample business plan is the ideal example.

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Waste Management Conservation Business Plan

Executive Summary

Mid-Atlantic Recycling, LLC’s area of business will be to collect, recycle/compost, and market waste from municipality waste processing plants for use use as a consumer good. This recycled product will meet two critical needs:

  1. It will give municipalities a feasible and cost effective alternative to landfilling the waste, and
  2. It will help meet the growing demand for organic soil enhancers and fertilizers. The material that will be recycled is human waste sludge.

Our recycled waste will be targeted toward fertilizer manufacturers, nurseries, landscapers, farmers, government agencies, golf courses, and others. All of these potential customers will benefit from the compost’s numerous soil enhancing characteristics.

Additionally, we will offer a service to waste processing plants owned by municipalities. Currently these plants face several issues regarding the disposal of human waste sludge. Landfills are filling up and costs of disposal are rising. Also, due to recent legislation, as of 2008 many landfills will no longer be able to accept human waste sludge. Mid-Atlantic Recycling will solve this problem by accepting this waste at a nominal charge and recycling it into a useful product.

Mid-Atlantic Recycling is entering a niche market in that human waste sludge has not been recycled on any sizeable scale in West Virginia or the Mid-Atlantic region. This is a unique and viable concept that addresses the needs of various customers and reaches an untapped market with tremendous growth potential.

One of the most attractive aspects is that the business is projected to attain a strong cash position and achieve profitability in the first year of operation. Due to a large need for these products and services, and a lack of direct competition, our projection of quick profitability is attainable.

Our in-depth research pertaining to human waste’s positive soil enhancement characteristics and its many potential uses is well advanced. The concept has been tested on a small scale and the results, upon analysis, were found to be a high quality compost. Research will be an ongoing process for the company; one particular area of interest is the possibility of qualifying the product as a fertilizer. In this case, the profitability of the product would nearly double. Mid-Atlantic Recycling is working with the West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service to investigate the feasibility of selling the material as fertilizer.

We already have an advance order for 500 tons, and one fertilizer manufacturer and a large landscaper have committed to purchasing 600 tons of our product annually. Additionally, various municipalities have expressed keen interest in paying us to accept their waste.

1.1 Objectives

  • Flush sales for the first twelve months of operations and growing each year thereafter.
  • Establish the recycling facility in Monroe County, WV;  to include six composting units in Year 1.
  • Open additional facilities in Year 2 and Year 3 to serve other areas of the state and the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Continue to market Mid-Atlantic Recycling by contacting and soliciting business from additional municipalities and compost using customers.

1.2 Mission

Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s mission is threefold. Our first responsibility is to ensure the financial well being of the business. Second, is to provide municipalities with an economical, alternative for the disposal of human waste sludge. Third, is to provide a top quality, recycled material to the consumer so that they may benefit from compost’s many good properties and organic elements. In addition, we hope to build in the consumer a positive feeling about the feasibility of using recycled human sludge as a fertilizer.

Opportunity Rationale
Human waste sludge has long been a waste problem for municipalities which operate waste processing plants. In metropolitan areas that handle large amounts of waste, human sludge is generally disposed in volume at municipal landfills. Driven by state and federal mandates, recycling and composting of municipal solid waste has increased dramatically during the past decade. There are nearly ten thousand curbside recycling programs in America, and nearly 15,000 drop-off centers for recyclable material.

Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s business model presents an opportunity to recycle a landfill bound waste, save the landfill space, and give the consumer the opportunity to benefit from the many positive properties of the composted material.

Human waste sludge contains a high nutrient value which can be composted to produce a quality plant food and soil enhancer at far lower prices than chemical fertilizers currently on the market.

1.3 Keys to Success

The keys to success in our business are:

  • Overcome perception issues that may exist with using compost made from human waste sludge.
  • Establish and build relationships and trust with customers to help shield from future competition.
  • Expand rapidly to control the market.
  • Offer reasonable prices.
  • Get investment.

Company Summary

The legal name of the company will be Mid-Atlantic Recycling, LLC. Mid-Atlantic Recycling will be formed as a Limited Liability Company in West Virginia. Due to its tax benefits, a LLC will be advantageous.

2.1 Company Ownership

Mid-Atlantic Recycling is owned by its founder and president, Oliver Pyne. Mr. Pyne will be an active participant in management decisions.

2.3 Company Locations and Facilities

Mid-Atlantic Recycling will operate in Monroe County, WV, near the community of Lindside, WV. The Lindside location is approximately 10 miles from Peterstown, WV. The recycling facilities will be located on a 58+ acre property owned by company president, Oliver Pyne; 5 acres will be set aside for the recycling facility set up and operation. This site is ideal as it provides access to local municipalities and to Interstates 77 and 81. Also there is room for expansion as the business grows.

Additionally, Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s business location is located in a federally designated “historically underutilized business zone” or HUBZone. As discussed under the Competitive Comparison section below, this designation gives Mid-Atlantic Recycling certain advantages in selling to the government.

As the business expands to additional counties in subsequent years, we will need to lease property on which to site our facilities.

2.3.1 Government Regulation

Because Mid-Atlantic Recycling recycles a waste product and incorporates it into an environmental product, the company is under the potential jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency. The recycling and sale of human waste may be regulated by federal or state authorities. Mid-Atlantic Recycling will obtain all required federal and state permits and licenses to operate its facilities.

Products and Services

Our products and services offer needed solutions to municipalities and the market for organic soil enhancement products. Mid-Atlantic Recycling will be the market leader as the first company in the region to collect, compost, and recycle human waste sludge for use as a fertilizer and a soil enhancer. Mid-Atlantic Recycling realizes that consumers today are more conscious of recycling and of their environment. Because of this trend, there is a growing trend among consumers to move away from traditional chemical based fertilizers more natural organic materials.

We will offer one major service and major product. Our major service will be to offer municipalities an alternative means for disposing of human waste sludges generated in waste treatment plants. Our major product will be recycled (composted) human waste sludge for use as a fertilizer.

A sample of our compost has been analyzed by the West Virginia University Agricultural Service Laboratory. A copy of their analysis is attached to this business plan; this analysis verifies the very high quality of the material we will produce. According to West Virginia University, this material may qualify as a fertilizer in which case the material’s value is much higher than if it is considered a compost.

3.1 Product and Service Description

Nationwide, many landfills are closing or exhausting their remaining capacity. However, due to environmental restrictions, zoning laws, and other regulatory and bureaucratic delays, very few new landfills are opening to offset the looming space crisis. Meanwhile municipal waste, including human waste sludge, continues to flow in greater volume. Handling their waste streams has become a major problem for most municipalities. With more waste created daily, landfills nationwide are rapidly facing a capacity crisis.

In West Virginia this situation has been made even more critical due to recent passage of legislation requiring that by 2008 only landfills lined with a very heavy duty liner will be able to accept human waste sludge. Thus, in the not too distant future, most landfills now accepting the sludge will no longer be able to accept it. Additionally, it will be very impractical, and cost prohibitive, to install the required liner in working landfills. Therefore, options for disposing of human waste sludge are about to become very, very limited, which means disposal will become much, much more costly.

Considering this environment, we will offer municipalities an extremely valuable service — an alternative means for disposal of their human waste sludge. Municipalities currently pay landfills a “tipping” fee to dispose of their waste. The tipping fee is typically $15 to $50 per ton; the average tipping fee in West Virginia is $32 per ton. As noted above, in the near future many landfills will stop receiving human waste sludge and prices are expected to increase dramatically due to simple supply and demand. Not only will tipping fees increase, but as municipalities have to go farther and farther afield to find accommodating landfills, transportation costs for the waste will also increase. We will help them solve this problem, and ultimately save them, and their tax payers, money. We will place skid boxes at their waste treatment plants and remove the sludge for them. The tipping fee, a fee for skid box rental, and a fee for picking up and returning the skid boxes will be paid to Mid-Atlantic Recycling by the municipalities. This will be done at a price competitive with or lower than what they are now paying.

Mid-Atlantic Recycling will receive the sludge and recycle it using an organic composter. This will be a 3-day recycling process. At the end of the three days, the human waste sludge will be converted to a compost material safe for use in agricultural applications. Potential customers include turf farms, fertilizer manufacturers, golf courses, nurseries, landscapers, Government agencies, and homeowners.

3.2 Competitive Comparison

The Mid-Atlantic Recycling business model adds great value through both our service and our product.

Our service, accepting human waste sludge from municipalities, partially relieves the burden on rapidly filling landfills, and provides an alternative disposal channel to municipalities facing a legislative deadline which threatens to cut off their traditional means of disposing of the waste.

As noted earlier, there is a trend in the market away from chemical fertilizers toward more natural organic soil enhancements. Our product, composted human sludge, responds to this market trend. Compost has many advantages over traditional fertilizer. Traditional chemical fertilizer sells for approximately $250 per ton while our compost will be priced at around $50-$100 per ton. Our compost is similar to fertilizers; however, it reacts differently from most fertilizers. Compost releases nutrients over a long period of time, on average two to three months. The chemical reaction in present fertilizers takes place immediately and usually lasts no longer than three to four weeks. After three to four weeks, the customer may have to buy more fertilizer, costing both time and money. On golf courses, when chemical fertilizer is applied, golf must cease for the day; however, when compost is applied, golf can continue uninterrupted. As demonstrated, compost has many advantages over traditional fertilizers.

Our human sludge compost also has distinct advantages over other types of composts as well. To be a viable, lucrative, growing business, we must be a reliable source of compost supply to our customers. To serve the market and grow in it availability of our product cannot be intermittent or “hit and miss.” We must be able to meet the demand every time within a reasonable delivery time. By the inherent nature of the business, human waste sludge will always be available for composting  in large, dependable quantities, at one or a few locations, at a constant/stable quality and at a stable cost. Other composts cannot compete with this in that similar quantities are not available from so few locations which increases their labor and transportation costs related to collection. Additionally, if collection is from farms, they may use horse manure, poultry manure, cow manure, hog manure, etc. in varying quantities over time. This inherently will result in a product that constantly changes in content and quality. In fact customers view other composts as being of unpredictable availability and unpredictable quality. Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s compost will not have these deficiencies and will be viewed as the superior compost product.

In addition to the above, the following paragraphs describe federal small business programs that Mid-Atlantic Recycling intends to take advantage of. These programs are available to us due to our location and the status of our owner as a Native American (minority). Mid-Atlantic Recycling will leverage these programs to ensure entry to the federal market. This information was taken from federal government Internet sites.

The Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program: Firms in this program have the opportunity to negotiate sole source contracts and participate in restricted competition limited to HUBZone firms. Also, HUBZone firms are allowed a ten percent price evaluation preference in full and open competition. In such cases, the price offered by a HUBZone firm will be determined lower than the price offered by a non-HUBZone firm as long as the HUBZone firm’s price is not more than 10% higher than the price offered by the otherwise lowest, responsive offeror. Companies can apply on-line at SBA’s website for expedited HUBZone program admission.  According to research done by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, government entities are the largest single buyer of compost products.

Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) program: This program offers several important incentives:

  • Price evaluation adjustment: qualified SDBs receive a price evaluation adjustment of up to 10 percent on procurements where mandated by regulation. The price evaluation adjustment for SDBs bidding as primes became effective October 1, 1998. Regulations mandate this approach in competitive acquisitions over the simplified acquisition threshold (usually $100,000) where the SIC Code for the prime contract is authorized by U.S. Department of Commerce benchmarks. The price evaluation adjustment does not apply to 8(a) acquisitions and small business set-asides.
  • Evaluation factor: qualified prime contractors can receive a credit when using SDBs as subcontractors. This evaluation factor for SDB participation became effective January 1, 1999. The incentive applies only to competitive negotiated acquisitions over $500,000, or $1,000,000 in construction. Firms certified by the SBA as SDBs remain on the list of SDB-certified firms for a period of three years.

The 8(a) Program: SBA’s 8(a) program, named for a section of the Small Business Act, is a business development initiative that helps socially and economically disadvantaged Americans gain access to economic opportunity.

Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $3 million for services. While SBA helps 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, the agency also encourages them to participate in competitive acquisitions.
Federal acquisition policies encourage federal agencies to award a certain percentage of their contracts to SDBs. To speed up the award process, the SBA has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with 25 federal agencies allowing them to contract directly with certified 8(a) firms.
Recent changes permit 8(a) firms to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract.

Mid-Atlantic’s owner is a Native American which will qualify him to participate in the SDB and 8(a) programs.

The federal market is particularly appealing because the need for compost and fertilizer materials in highway and other federal construction projects is extremely large.

3.3 Sales Literature

We will prepare a general brochure with information and maps about Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s products and services for dissemination to potential customers, including both municipalities and compost users. Sales personnel will visit each potential customer with pricing, maps, and reminders of the facility. Sales literature will be very important, with the need to establish a high-quality look and feel in order to create a trusting sense of professionalism.

3.4 Technology

Composting is biological decomposition of organic materials. Bacteria, fungi, protozoans, insects, worms and other organisms typically play a part in the decomposition process. Composting is nature’s means of recycling. It will turn grass clipping, leaves, vegetables, fruit and other organic materials into a very beneficial soil amendment. Composting is also an effective means of reducing the amount of solid wastes going into our nation’s landfills. Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s process will greatly speed up the natural composting process.

As briefly described above, the human waste sludge used in Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s process will be picked up from municipalities in skid boxes provided by Mid-Atlantic Recycling. Accepting the waste, rental of the boxes, and transportation will all be sold as a service to the municipalities.

Upon arrival at our recycling facility, the sludge will be placed into one of six organic in-vessel digesters. These vessels are proven for composting various types of animal manure. In addition, Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s president, Oliver Pyne, has tested the unit’ ability to successfully compost human waste. The material compost produced was tested by the equipment manufacturer (CV Organics, Inc. of White Springs, TN) and found to be a high quality compost. Additionally, the compost material was recently tested by West Virginia University Agricultural Service Laboratory and found to be an exceptional soil amendment.

These recycling/composting units work as follows. The unit is 50 feet long. The sludge is placed into one end of the unit. To make compost, additional dry fibrous material such as sawdust, wood chips,  or bark must be added. We will acquire a steady supply of these from International Paper Company.

The unit turns slowly, making four revolutions per hour, to ensure that adequate oxygen gets to all of the composting material. Also, the unit is set on a very slight, 2 degree, angle so that as the unit turns, the material slowly migrates toward the opposite end of the unit. During the composting process, the material heats up (due to the natural reaction) to temperatures of approximately 140 degrees Farenheit; this kills any harmful bacteria in the composting material. Temperature can be controlled to ensure optimum composting environment. Also, the moisture levels can be controlled to ensure optimum composting. After three days, the material has reached the opposite end of the unit where it is removed.

Advantages of this recycling/composting method are as follows:

  • Recycling is completed rapidly in three days. Other methods take 90 plus days.
  • Waste materials in the unit are isolated from the environment.
  • The manager has precise control of moisture, temperature, and aeration during the process to ensure the most efficient composting possible.
  • In-vessel composting can maintain a rapid decomposition process year-round regardless of external ambient conditions.  The material can be used for improvement of organic matter content and fertility of soil.

3.5 Future Products and Services

In the future, Mid-Atlantic Recycling plans to expand by opening additional recycling facilities throughout West Virginia and beyond. We ultimately intend to become the method of choice for disposal of human sludges.

Market Analysis Summary

There are customers at both ends of our supply chain that will benefit from our services and products. Municipalities will benefit from our service by having an alternative means of waste disposal. Other potential customers who will benefit from our compost product include turf farms, fertilizer manufacturers, nurseries, landscapers, golf courses, homeowners, and even the federal government for use in highway construction reseeding. Therefore, we have two basic market segments; those waste treatment facilities which will benefit from our services and consumers who will benefit from our product.

The Worldwatch Institute reports that landfills are overflowing and the costs of disposing of sewage and garbage is rising. City leaders can relieve over extended municipal budgets, prevent the contamination of drinking water, and help farmers build healthier soils by recycling garbage and human waste back to farms. At least 13 U.S. states have 6 years or less before all of their landfills are completely full. (Paper 135: Recycling Organic Waste: From Urban Pollutant to Farm Resource.)  We offer a service by which municipalities can dispose of their waste without it having to be land filled anywhere. This is of great value to this customer.

At the other end of our process are the users of our compost. According to Cornell University (www.cals.cornell.edu/dept/compost.feas.study.html) composting is experiencing a resurgence of activity which is driven by increased understanding of the agronomic benefits of compost utilization, and rising disposal costs for municipal wastes. Also, according to Purdue University (www.ctic.purdue.edu/Core4/Nutrient/ManureMgt/Paper35.html) consumption of compost in the commercial market is growing due to people looking for a more organic or natural substitute for traditional chemical fertilizers. Recycling is at the forefront of responding to this growth trend in the Mid-Atlantic USA. We will initially focus on selling compost to fertilizer manufacturers, nurseries, and landscapers. We already have commitments from a fertilizer manufacturer and a landscaper to purchase 600 tons per year or more of our compost material.

Five major market segments for compost have been identified:

  1. Agriculture (for food and nonfood crops and sod farms).
  2. Landscapers (for industrial and commercial properties; golf courses, cemeteries, and athletic fields; landfill covers; and damaged soils).
  3. Nurseries (for plant and forest seedling crops and reforestation projects).
  4. Public agencies (for highway median strips, parks, recreational areas, and other public property).
  5. Residents (for home landscaping and gardening).

4.1 Market Segmentation

The following table shows information regarding the number of potential customers in our target markets. This data is based on information taken from superpages.com.

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

To target our customers, we examined the market trends. Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s products target buyers of organic fertilizers and soil enhancers. This market has grown significantly in recent years and we expect to capture a quarter of this multi billion-dollar market.

This market growth is fueled by a more health conscious consumer. People are better informed about the potential side effects associated with chemical fertilizer products both to their health and to the environment.

The growth of a more organic approach to gardening comes at a time when chemical options are diminishing. In 2000, the federal Environmental Protection Agency reached agreement with the makers of two widely used pesticides — Diazinon and Chlorpyrifos — to phase them out because of health problems associated with overexposure. Popular brands of Diazinon include Ortho and Spectracide; Chlorpyrifos is marketed under the trade name Dursban and is included in numerous familiar products, including Ortho Lawn Insect Spray (Washington Post, Thursday, May 10, 2001).

According to an executive with the Scotts Co. in Marysville, Ohio, the pace of research into organic products continues feverishly, and their use is bound to increase.

Sales of organic foods have risen sharply. Organic food sales at the retail level totaled $10.4 billion, according to Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. This year, retail sales of organic foods are expected to exceed $15 billion — with more than $32 billion projected by 2009 (CNBC, Dec. 3, 2004).

Findings from a 15-year study at the Kamlath Institute, Newton, Pa., might lead to a solution that could help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The researchers suggest that regenerative agricultural management systems based on organic fertilizer can preserve carbon and nitrogen in the soil, thus reducing emissions. Moreover, they maintain that organic methods can produce the same yields as conventional systems that use synthetic fertilizer. If the major corn/soybean growing region of the U.S. were to adopt these organic practices, they say, the percentage of estimated annual carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion in the nation could be reduced by one to two percent (USA Today, June 1999).

Mid-Atlantic’s products will help fill the growing need for organic fertilizers, and soil amendments, while helping to solve the problem of dwindling landfill space.

4.2.1 Market Needs

Several companies compete in the fertilizer market. Their major selling points are performance and price. However, health conscious consumers have created growing competition between chemical and organic products.  Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s competition can be divided into two forms: direct and indirect.

Our direct competitors would include other compost producers capable of producing sufficient product to supply the growing compost demand. There is no other compost producer in West Virginia that meets this need. Therefore, we have no direct competition in the state. Additionally, there are only a handful in the entire Mid-Atlantic USA; therefore, our direct competition on a regional basis is extremely limited.

Our indirect competitors are fertilizer manufacturers (who also are a part of our target market). As noted elsewhere in this business plan, the trend is away from chemical fertilizers, toward natural organic soil enhancers. Thus the market for chemical fertilizer is decreasing while our market is increasing.

4.2.2 Market Trends

Current trends in the market greatly favor the start-up of our recycling business.

Laws have been passed in West Virginia placing greater restrictions of the types of landfills which can receive human waste sludge. These laws take effect in 2008. Municipalities are already seeking alternative means of disposal as disposal prices are expected to skyrocket as landfill space decreases dramatically. Our recycling service solves this problem for municipalities.

The organic industry now boasts sales in excess of $9 billion at retail, with growth forecast to continue at 25% per year (http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/marketfarming/2002-October/000063.html). The demand for compost to use in organic farming and other applications is growing rapidly.

4.2.3 Market Growth

The possibility of growth in this market is realistically huge. Consider the following simple facts:

  • Municipalities must have an alternative means for disposing of human waste; we offer a great alternative to meet that need.
  • Market trends are skewing more and more toward organic soil enhancements and away from chemical fertilizers; we meet this need as well.
  • We have no direct competition in West Virginia and very little in the Mid-Atlantic region.

All of this means that Mid-Atlantic Recycling is poised to see tremendous growth.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

Our service offers a feasible, even desirable, alternative to traditional means of disposing of human waste. Our product is a value added, soil enhancer that appeals to the growing environmental conscientiousness among consumers. Direct competition is almost nonexistent. We intend to position ourselves as the logical, economical choice for human waste disposal and compost production in West Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.

4.3.1 Distributing a Service

Indirect competitors are those companies that offer only chemical soil enhancers and plant foods. Mid-Atlantic Recycling feels that these companies are an indirect form of competition because though the products they promote attempt to give the same results as our direct competition, they fall far short of current market expectations, and it will only be a matter of time until these companies’ products will be out-dated. Even so, Mid-Atlantic Recycling does acknowledge that as these companies’ products become outdated, many companies will be certain to phase-in their own organic substitutes in place of the chemicals. This, in itself, presents a potential market for our compost.

4.3.2 Competition and Buying Patterns

To be a player in the organic fertilizer and soil produce market, Mid-Atlantic Recycling identified market needs to gain an overall competitive advantage. The following explains our product’s competitive advantages. Our product is:

  • Organic: Our organic product allows us to be responsive to the dominant market trend. We offer all of the advantages that organic products have over chemical competitors.
  • Comparable application times:  Based on the West Virginia University laboratory analysis, our product is comparable in potency to chemical fertilizer. Thus the application time is also comparable, which saves money and labor since there is no need to purchase and apply additional products.
  • Recycled: This part of our product has to do with marketing. We are a company that cares about the consumer and the environment. We offer a valuable product, at low cost, that saves landfill space.

4.3.3 Main Competitors

As noted earlier, direct competitors are essentially non-existent in the Mid-Atlantic region. Our major indirect competitors are chemical fertilizer manufacturers. However, their products are more costly and do not address the market’s trend toward organic, natural soil enhancers.

Some municipalities have begun composting operations in an attempt to deal with waste disposal issues. They typically use a method in which sludge is placed on the ground in windrows which are turned periodically for aeration. This is an inefficient method of composting primarily because it is slow, taking 90 or more days, which means that availability is uncertain for consumers. Also, in this composting method high enough temperatures are not achieved to kill harmful bacteria and seeds that may sprout into weeds. Additionally, municipalities are not businesses, which means their marketing capabilities are limited. Their market primarily consists of local homeowners and businesses, which ignores the greater market. Also, this composting method requires a lot of ground space which restricts the operation. Finally, odor can be a problem for municipalities due to nearness of local residents or businesses. For these reasons, municipality composting efforts are not considered a competitive threat.

4.3.4 Business Participants

Mid-Atlantic Recycling’s direct competition includes companies that produce an organic soil enhancement product. Organic soil enhancers are no longer a niche market. They have grown into a strong sub-market in the fertilizer and soil enhancement industry, and they now present significant competition for chemical fertilizer competitors. Major direct competition includes FSH, makers of Holy Cow Compost, and Scott’s, makers of Iron Bull. Other examples of competing products are Monkey-Doo, Roots Organic, and Milorganite, the original (75 years) sewage sludge based organic fertilizer.

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Telecommunications Sample Business Plan

Any telecommunications company needs a proper business plan at the start.

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Telecommunications Business Plan

Executive Summary

The telecommunications revolution has arrived: Personal communications and unified messaging systems are at the vanguard of this technological phenomenon. Dating from the 1984 deregulation of local and long distance telephone service, competition has accelerated and sought out every nook and cranny of telecom products and services for both consumers and businesses. From that day only 15 years ago, when consumers were tied to a fixed phone with its fixed phone number, mobile and cellular phones have proliferated to meet the demand for communication anytime, anywhere in the world. Companies that have not foreseen change–or kept up–are quickly consigned to the technological and financial graveyard, Iridium being just the latest example. Financial muscle has been displaced by quality and depth of management and speed of execution as the final arbiter in the marketplace. AT&T finally realized this and brought in a technology-savvy CEO who could pull the trigger on needed change; Iridium did not and paid the price.

TeleSpace is well positioned to become the market leader in personal communications and unified messaging. Now that business and the consumer have telecommunications mobility with numerous phone and fax numbers, pagers, and email, they are demanding simplicity and speed: One identifier for their complex business and personal lives that will find them anytime, anywhere, and deliver their communications. They want and need MyLine.

MyLine has been an operating system for over five years and has a loyal, though small, core of customers. The technology is clean, elegant and maintainable. The system has a complex array of features, some critical, most not. MyLine has had limited success because it was engineered and marketed like the pocket knife of the early TV ads: Rather than the sleek cutting tool the consumer wanted, the early knife had a corkscrew, screwdrivers, awl, key chain, etc. It weighed twice as much as it had to, and came with instructions, instructions for a pocket knife! Consumers knew they were in trouble before they even used the product.

Internal market research has shown what the consumer wants, and MyLine has it! There are five primary target markets, three of which will be discussed below, starting with the businessman and consumer who just wants to get phone calls no matter where: In the office, in a car, in a plane, playing golf, wherever. If the customer is on earth, MyLine will find him/her. Then there’s the Soccer/Sports Mom, totally mobile and often just as totally unreachable-except with our toll-free, 800 MyLine. And the military market, for both professional and personal use, is inviting. They demand mobile, reliable, and confidential communications–MyLine is ready and able to enlist.

The overall telecommunications market is huge, well over $200 billion. The personal communications and unified messaging sub-industry, with its hundreds of millions of actual/potential users, is difficult to quantify at this stage. Management estimates that projected sales of about $40 million in the third year, with sales running at the rate of $5 million per month by the end of that year, would still be only approximately a one percent market share. To become the market leader, a five to ten percent market share would probably be needed. Management plans to achieve this within five years.

1.1 Objectives

TeleSpace’s primary corporate objectives are:

  • To become the market leader in personal communications and unified messaging products and services within five years.
  • To become the lowest cost provider and drive an aggressive pricing model through the industry.
  • To have the best and most responsive customer service by year-end Year 1.

1.2 Mission

MyLine is already the most technologically-superior personal communications system in the world. TeleSpace management will build on MyLine’s brand and technical reputation to become the market leader in personal and business communications, and unified messaging systems within five years.

1.3 Keys to Success

There are three keys to success for TeleSpace:

  • Marketing must generate sufficient sales volume to drive an aggressive pricing model while still achieving planned profitability projections.
  • Strategic partners must be found to private label MyLine and promote it through their distribution channels.
  • Equity capital must be secured at a reasonable valuation.

Company Summary

TeleSpace, Inc. develops and markets programmable personal communications and unified messaging services for individuals and businesses. The company was incorporated in early Year 1, and operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AmericomUSA, Inc., a public reporting company. In response to overtures from AmericomUSA senior management, TeleSpace management has proposed a leveraged buyout of the company from Americom and has incorporated this proposal in a Letter of Intent (LOI) sent to Americom. A copy of this LOI is included in the plan appendix. Briefly, the proposal calls for TeleSpace management to purchase 81% of TeleSpace common stock from Americom, with an option to acquire an additional 10% within two years. Americom will deliver all rights and ownership of the MyLine technology and customer base and cease active association with the company. They will not be represented on the Board of Directors. Management expects this negotiation to be completed by the end of October, Year 1, when management will actively pursue equity capital to finalize the acquisition and fund corporate operations.

*Attachments are not included in this sample plan.

2.1 Company Ownership

TeleSpace, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AmericomUSA, Inc., a public reporting company. Mr. Robert Cezar, Chief Executive Officer of AmericomUSA, Inc., owns approximately 58% of the common stock of AmericomUSA.

2.2 Start-up Summary

Start-up costs, shown below (exclusive of salaries), are comprised mostly of legal fees, marketing collateral, advertising, and consulting fees. Start-up costs are being financed by the parent company, AmericomUSA.

2.3 Company Locations and Facilities

TeleSpace corporate offices are located in Arroyo Grande, CA. Existing space of 900 square feet is adequate for existing staff, but new facilities have to be leased when sales representatives are hired.

Products and Services

TeleSpace, Inc. develops and markets programmable personal communications and unified messaging services for individuals and businesses. The MyLine system can best be described as a personal communications platform, a remotely programmable “telocation” service which allows the user to access MyLine services from any telephone device or personal computer anywhere in the world.

3.1 Product and Service Description

The MyLine system can best be described as a personal communications platform, a remotely programmable “telocation” service which allows the user to access MyLine services from any telephone device or personal computer anywhere in the world. MyLine is a virtual telephone number which allows the user to control inbound telephone, fax, and data calls and receive them anywhere, but only on demand. MyLine is the only telephone number users will ever need. They receive every telephone call, fax, or email sent to their MyLine number in real time or stored for later use. Or they can screen and elect not to receive any particular communication, delete or divert for later handling. MyLine includes a proprietary security system to prevent unauthorized access and has real-time billing and accounting capabilities. The latter can generate, using a telephone or personal computer, comprehensive billing records by project and/or general ledger account.

3.2 Sales Literature

Initial radio and Internet ads and sales collateral will be developed by the company’s marketing, advertising, and public relations agency in Silicon Valley. This is a well-known firm specializing in high-tech clients.

3.3 Competitive Comparison

In 1992, AT&T launched their Easy Reach service which, although simplistic in design and use, signified the need for a universal telocation virtual number and thus found immediate acceptance. MCI reacted by introducing its Personal 800 Follow Me Service. These services today require users to subscribe to their networks, lack a broad range of integrated services, and offer limited remote control capability.

There is one striking difference between MyLine and competing technologies: The competition has not integrated all means of communication. Some offer voice mail and follow me technology, others offer this, and other features, on a piece meal basis, not totally integrated. MyLine is the only totally integrated voice, fax, data, and email system on the market.

3.4 Fulfillment

The company now maintains its servers locally for supporting MyLine. As volume grows, management plans to co-locate at Above.Net’s facilities in San Jose, CA. A strategic marketing partner will also be sought, especially for the toll-free, 800 number.

3.5 Technology

The MyLine hardware platform is a state-of-the-art digital industry standard, and its design provides unique redundancy and flexibility. The MyLine system places the user on an electronic highway of digital call processing, operating on a Novell Local Area Network (LAN), integrating computer and telephone information into computer telephony technology. The LAN is connected to the Public Switch Network with the capability of using the ISDN/DSL features provided by the long distance carriers.

MyLine users have a personal communications exchange as a zero-blocking private global network providing voice, fax, and data transfer between themselves and any other MyLine or non-MyLine user. MyLine overlays and utilizes the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or the Public Switched Data Network, providing access to anyone with a MyLine number. The network routes all incoming and outgoing requests and data to a central hub for distribution to external routers, the Internet if needed, or delivers the request directly to local destinations.

The MyLine switching center provides the telephonic connection to the PSTN, which the network utilizes as its gateway. The MyLine system utilizes a Novell Netware Global Messaging Service which operates on Novell Netware file servers, providing a standardized platform and format for global message distribution to other Novell Netware servers, compatible applications and Internet addresses. Thus, access to the MyLine system is virtually unlimited. All communications within the network are encrypted, either with public/private key algorithms or with the proprietary MyLine rotational encryption algorithms.

3.6 Future Products and Services

MyLine features can be summarized in the following categories. A comprehensive feature set is available upon request by potential investors.

  • Call forwarding.
  • Selective call screening.
  • Automatic callback.
  • Wake-up services.
  • Conference calling.
  • Call waiting.
  • Call wonferencing (integrating call waiting and conferencing).
  • Voice messaging.
  • Paging.
  • Real time billing/accounting.
  • Information on demand.
  • Number referral.
  • Fax store and forward.
  • Email.

Market Analysis Summary

Dun and Bradstreet estimates that 1999 sales of the U.S. telecommunications market will be over $150 billion, of which the personal communications and unified messaging market is three percent, or $4 billion. If the company can achieve a one percent market share within three years, its sales would be $40 million in a market growing eight percent per year. These estimates are conservative, given the accelerating growth rate of telecommunications and unified messaging in particular. There is ample space for the company, and many competitors, in this huge and fast-growing marketplace.

4.1 Market Segmentation

TeleSpace has targeted five primary market segments:

  • General consumer and business market.
  • Sports Mom toll-free.
  • Domestic Traveler/Calling Card.
  • International Traveler.
  • Military.

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

The company will market its products to customer segments that require the basic mobile telecommunication services (such as voice messaging, fax, and email) in a single solution. Other features will be specific to each customer segment. The company will spend substantial marketing efforts in determining which set of features are the most attractive to each customer segment. Offering customized quality product to each customer segment at a competitive price level will be one of the marketing goals of TeleSpace.

4.2.1 Market Needs

All customer segments that we target seek reliable communications that are easy to use. However, feature preferences vary in between the segments. ‘Soccer moms’ that spend so much time driving their kids around are in need of an ‘always on’ accessibility. A permanent 800 number is what they covet.  Business travelers, on the other hand, have a strong need for a universal communications portal that will take care of all their communication needs. In this respect, TeleSpace will specifically tailor its market offering to each customer segment.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

TeleSpace is part of the telecommunications industry, including the following sub-industries:

  • National and international carriers (AT&T) which dominate the long distance market and offer unified messaging system (UMS) to their customers.
  • Regional operating companies (Pacific Bell, GTE) which provide local service and switch long distance traffic to the carriers and CLECs. They also offer UMS to their customers.
  • Competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) provide both local and long distance service and market UMS to their customers.
  • Resellers aggregate traffic and provide discount long distance service and UMS to their customers.
  • Unified messaging and personal communications service providers with in-house switching capability, such as TeleSpace, that offer MyLine and similar services to all consumers and businesses.

4.3.1 Business Participants

The personal telecommunications and unified messaging system sub-industry of the overall telecommunications market is a new, technology-driven, and immature industry characterized by a high growth rate, low barriers to entry, several large, and many small, competitors. The industry evolved during the last ten years as a spin-off the the telecommunications de-regulation, and subsequent explosion in competition and technological innovation. Overall industry sales should continue to accelerate for at least the next three years as consumers learn they can have their own unique local and 800 phone numbers for anyone to find them anytime, anywhere. Several industry leaders have emerged including:

  • AT&T: The overall industry leader is expanding both vertically and horizontally into new markets and technologies and will probably have an impressive UMS.
  • Excel Communications, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Teleglobe, Inc., a large public telecommunications company. Excel is aggressively marketing its UMS.
  • Linx Communications, Inc.is a leading national communications service provider which recently received venture capital financing. See Competitors, Section 4.3.3.
  • Nextel Communications, Inc. is a large public company providing digital and analog wireless communications services throughout the U. S. See Competitors, Section 4.3.3.
  • Sprint PCS offers a wide variety of UMS services marketed primarily to its long distance customers.
  • Voice Mobility, Inc. is a public company offering UMS for CLECs, wireless and other communication providers. They offer a MyLine clone to providers who re-market to their consumers.

There are numerous small competitors, the primary of which are described in the competitor section.

4.3.2 Competition and Buying Patterns

The primary buying factors in personal telecommunication systems are price, accessibility, and ease of use. There is significant brand loyalty based on the company’s experience with its current customer base. Once an individual has acclimated to the MyLine system and memorized the access routine, he tends to be reluctant to switch to another service. Very much the same attitude prevails in consumer long distance, where demonstrable savings fail to sway a large segment of the population to switch carriers. AT&T still has over 60% of the market even though they are the highest cost carrier in a commodity business. Powerful branding and advertising, even with premium pricing, will create a significant barrier to competitors taking our customers. Being the market leader, like AT&T, will strengthen the company’s branding position and also make it more difficult for the competition.

Management feels the primary competition will be other well-branded companies like Nextel and Linx Communications, which have deep advertising pockets, feature-rich and competitive services, and an established brand. All the major telecommunications companies, including the Baby Bells, are moving into UMS because they have the infrastructure to support it and the brand to promote it. They will have the initial advantage in branding and marketing muscle, but their services to date are inferior. The marketplace is big enough to support all this competition and then some.

4.3.3 Main Competitors

Our main competitors include both telecommunications and unified messaging companies, most of whom have deep financial pockets, and all of whom appear to be competent at packaging and marketing their products. They are shown below with brief descriptions of the company and product(s):

  1. Webley Systems offers a UMS called the personal assistant, which Small Business Computing and Communications Magazine has rated the most sophisticated product they have rated. The personal assistant provides subscribers with a phone number where you can leave faxes and voice messages. Messages may be accessed either through a password-protected website or by phone, where you can listen to voice mail or have email or fax headers read. It also supports fax forwarding and broadcasting and offers an effective voice recognition engine to navigate through menu choices. The assistant will notify you by pager when new messages arrive and can also screen and selectively forward calls to any phone number you designate. You can also load your contact list into the assistant and have it place calls for you while on the road, including conference calls. However, the assistant only supports one email account at a time.
  2. StarTouch International, Ltd. entered the UMS arena in July, 1996 with its Electronic Secretarial Administrator (ESA). ESA offers a switch-based service including call answering, forwarding, voice mail, fax, broadcasting, and conference calling. The company claims to be debt-free and to own their own switch. Overall, ESA is impressive and competitive, though sign-up is difficult and rates confusing.
  3. Nextel Communications, Inc. is a large public company offering a digital, nationwide service competing with other cellular service providers such as GTE, Cellular One and AT&T. Nextel operates on radio taxi frequencies, and their system is based on radio “walkie talkie” style communications for short-range communications. The service is thus tied to the range of their wireless transmission system. Within that range they do offer many features including caller ID, paging, voice mail, call waiting and forwarding, and conference calling. Nextel offers a national system within their transmission range with unlimited long distance. For example, a national account with 1,000 minutes costs $135/month with an additional $.10 per minute for call forwarding.
  4. Linx Communications, Inc. offers a Web-based unified communications platform called LinxWeb, a personal Web portal that manages personal daily communications including phone calls from any landline or mobile phone, messages, pages, and faxes. LinxWeb is very similar to MyLine. Linx has teamed with Focal Communications to co-locate their switches in Focal facilities across the U.S.
  5. JFAX.COM unified messaging provides a single phone number in one of 60 cities world-wide allowing faxes, emails, and phone calls to be managed via your email account. The system is accessible via phone but best accessed through computer.

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