Time and Money

October 16th, 2006 by Hugh

As we all know, time is money. When a business has run out of one, it’s also run out of the other. So timing is crucial.

The thing that concerns me most about Exbiblio is time. It all seems so tight to me, that there doesn’t seem to be any margin for unpleasant surprises. And it’s already behind schedule. I would think that an ordinary business would be looking very actively for investors to buy it more time, and a strategic partners to help it get its product to the customers. Exbiblio doesn’t seem to be doing either of those things – at least, not in full gear. But then it isn’t an ordinary business.

I put my concerns to Martin, and he responds that he wants to hand a product to investors and partners, not just a “vision” with hypothetical sales projections. Exbiblio won’t have a product until early next year. So actively approaching partners is on hold.

There is a view that actually, it’s easier to sell a “vision” than a product – because a “vision” can be a sales pitch, and a product can be put to the test. Martin senses “dishonesty” in that approach.

He points out that investors aren’t just a cash cow, they are “real partners”, and as such, they deserve to have the full picture.

More importantly, I sense he wants an upper hand in the negotiations – and perhaps it’s not just about how much equity Exbiblio would give away for how much money. He wants very much to prove that Exbiblio’s way of doing things – its cherished “values” – make real business sense. If it has has already made a successful product that people really want, then the “Exbiblio way” will be more compelling.

So Exbiblio is not in full fund raising mode, though no doubt it would be happy to talk to potential investors, especially individuals who share its values. The plan is to have a product in hand early next year. Investors can try the product out for themselves, and decide if they find it compelling.

If Exbiblio is certain that it can find some “bridge funding” to keep working while it raises equity, then it can all work out yet… but the timing will keep us all on the edge of our seats.

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