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MasterPlans: The business plan experts. Custom business plans by professional business plan writers. Business plan consulting by professional business plan consultants.

The Growth & Impact of Comic-Cons

Thomas Wilson
August 7, 2015 by

Recently I attended the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) which is the 2nd largest comic book convention in the world (trailing only New York City’s Con) and is considered the crown jewel of the pop culture convention circuit. I have been going to SDCC since 2008 and have seen the steady growth in awareness of the show: today it attracts far more than just people in the comic book industry – it has become a mecca for the general population. As a kid I read about SDCC in my Wizard or Comic Scene magazine and I always wanted to go simply to meet my favorite creators and see some original art. Now, as a professional in the industry, I am able to make that happen for work reasons, but I never dreamed that SDCC would evolve into the large-scale pop culture event it has become.

After starting out in 1970 with a paltry attendance of 125 people, attendance hit around 130,000 each of the last 5 years and could easily exceed that if the San Diego Convention Center hadn’t reached capacity. Tickets went from an easy get weeks before the show to selling out in minutes over the 8 years I have been attending. Preview Night, which starts at 6pm, went from a lightly attended formality to a full-blown attendee day with some collectables selling out completely in the 3-hour window before the real Con even got underway.

Some of the highest grossing films (the Marvel movies) and one of the most watched TV shows (The Walking Dead) have their roots in the comic book world. With more and more of the entertainment industry being fueled by the main content featured at SDCC, interest in SDCC has soared. This interest has helped raise the profile of other Cons around the country and the world since the demand is so great, creating a new “pop culture convention” industry. And you’ll see all levels of entrepreneur at these Cons: a CEO of a successful publisher pitching their upcoming stories, a veteran comics illustrator selling original drawings, an up-and-coming comics illustrator pitching his talents or stories to publishers and Hollywood producers, a cosplayer with a strong social network following selling prints, an actor assuring the faithful that their portrayal of a beloved character will be true to form – all trying to capture the attendees’ dollar.

MasterPlans has written comic book focused business plans and I have been lucky enough to design a few – even adding my own custom illustrations to give it a more authentic comic feel. If you are in need of a business plan or even custom illustrations, MasterPlans is your one-stop shop for all your business plan needs – tell them Thomas sent you!

ThomasAtSDCC

NBA Logo Revamp

Thomas Wilson
June 26, 2015 by

Since the NBA season recently concluded with the crowning of the Golden State Warriors as the new champions, we’ve officially moved into the off-season. The off-season is a time when teams look to change and improve their organizations, whether it be from a personnel standpoint or simply by tweaking the look of their franchise. With the draft now upon us, some teams will be unveiling updated logos when their picks are announced – and others have already begun doing so.

The L.A. Clippers unveiled their new logo with a humorous video which may have raised expectations too high. To leave behind their history of underachieving, the Clippers wanted this rebranding to invigorate the fan base. But frankly this new logo is a step backward… it would seem that the new owner brought with him his questionable aesthetic taste that besmirched many Microsoft products. I prefer the look of the older Clippers logo – it is a classic and difficult to replace. If you must rebrand, you need to do better than what they settled with, in my opinion.

Another team hoping to reestablish themselves in the league after a prolonged malaise is the Milwaukee Bucks, who gave a preview of their look for next season all the way back in April. Now this is a look that I can get behind. It tweaks what they had to give it a more retro feel, and simplifies the overall image for easier reproduction and use. Plus, the subtle basketball in the antlers is a solid touch.

Finally we have the Atlanta Hawks, who enjoyed a successful season on the court (a surprise to many) attaining the best record in the Eastern Conference before being upended in the playoffs by the Cavs. The Hawks decided to rebrand anyway, introducing something that harkens back to the Dominique era. The new logo is a modification of the “pacman” logo that dominated their look for most the eighties, and I am glad it is back. According to message boards, so are most longtime fans of the franchise, if not the whole league(Uh oh – a great logo can be poorly applied).

Whether you have an established look and feel or have yet to make your mark, let MasterPlans help you improve your logo or begin anew with our professional logo services. Just ask for Thomas!

Changes are Afoot for the EB-5 Program

Marisa Marconi
June 24, 2015 by

We here at MasterPlans are not immigration lawyers, but we do specialize in writing business plans for L-1, E-2, and EB-5 immigration visa petitions. As such, we try to stay abreast of any new developments related to visa programs, as changes to legislation and policy sometimes affect how we approach plan development. This is especially true in the ever-evolving landscape of the EB-5 Visa Program for immigrant investors.

My news feed was abuzz at the beginning of June with updates about the American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act. Introduced by Senators Grassley (R-Iowa) and Leahy (D-Vermont) earlier this month, the bill is intended to strengthen and reform the EB-5 Regional Center Program.
Much controversy has surrounded the EB-5 program recently, as allegations of fraud, misconduct, and national security issues related to a few projects approved through the Program have been publicized through national media outlets. In response to calls for reform and in the face of the Regional Center Program’s pending expiration in September of this year, Senators Leahy (an avid supporter of EB-5) and Grassley (a critic of the program) co-authored the bill, which has bipartisan support in the Senate.
The changes proposed in the bill are extensive, and many represent significant departures from the EB-5 program as it functions today. The bill extends the Regional Center Program and introduces a host of regulatory requirements for Regional Centers while at the same time redefining and modifying some of the fundamental components of the EB-5 program as a whole.

The table below provides an at-a-glance summary of some (but certainly not all) of the key changes proposed:

MarisaTables

Notable are the changes to indirect job creation, a more restrictive definition of TEAs (Target Employment Areas), and an increase in the minimum investment amount. Currently, the ability to count indirect jobs is a major advantage of the Regional Center Program and makes the program a perfect source of capital for large-scale construction projects. The requirement that 10% of the total be direct jobs could make some funding models obsolete and automatically exclude many potential projects from the Program. It is unclear whether the 10% of direct jobs must be backed by a W-2 or can be considered direct from an economic modeling standpoint. The former will have a much greater impact on the Program than the latter.

Similarly, the revised definition of a TEA is much more restrictive than current guidelines. This severely limits where a project can be located. Many urban centers that have heretofore had many projects supported by EB-5 investment will no longer be eligible for the lower investment amount. This not only limits the number of potential projects that can be supported by EB-5, but one could argue that it significantly impacts the potential for job creation. Projects in urban centers have been historically successful and easily marketed to foreign investors, resulting in the creation of thousands of jobs in census tracts that suffer from high unemployment. On the other hand, promoting rural development and development in economically distressed areas was the original intended purpose of the reduced investment amount and – in this sense – the proposed bill strengthens the program’s intent to meet that objective.

Not as controversial is the increase in the minimum investment amount, as it has been largely expected as an item of reform for the EB-5 Program.

Heralded as a major boon to the Program by EB-5 stakeholders is the mandated processing times. Extensively long processing times (12 months or longer) have hampered the program in recent years.

The new legislation proposes significant reforms and sweeping changes to much of the EB-5 Program as it currently stands. The bill is still to be debated and amended before (and if) it is passed in time for the looming September expiration of the Regional Center. If passed, the impact of these changes on the EB-5 program, the types and number of projects funded by EB-5 investment, and the implications from a marketing perspective to potential EB-5 investors will only be known as they play out.

Perhaps the most definitive point of the bill is that exemplar projects that are filed and pending NOW will be grandfathered in if the new legislation takes effect. All the more reason for projects that are ready to go to market (or investors who are ready to directly invest) to prepare the necessary paperwork – including a Matter of Ho-compliant business plan – and file sooner rather than later.

Get Inspired

Margarett Waterbury
June 23, 2015 by

Need a little inspiration? This month marks the 17th anniversary of the Wharton Business Plan Competition, where teams of University of Pennsylvania MBA students present their business ideas for a chance to win cash prizes.

There were some good ones this year, from a new way to monitor body temperature to agricultural systems for supermarket rooftops. The eight finalists’ concepts touched on virtually all the major trends going on in the startup world right now, things like:

  • Customizability
  • Big Data and quantification
  • Wearables
  • Mature industry disruption
  • Meeting Millenial’s grown-up needs
  • Medical innovations
  • AgTech

What’s your world-changing idea?

I Scream, You Scream, Most of Us Scream for Ice Cream

Margarett Waterbury
June 10, 2015 by

It’s been an unseasonably warm spring here in Portland. Today, the high is 83, down from almost 90 yesterday. I know, I know, it’s not exactly scorching, but here in the Northwest we’re accustomed to Juneuary and June Gloom, not shorts and flip flops before the 4th of July.

Climate change might be bad news for the nation’s grain farmers and homeowners’ insurance underwriters, but I bet the International Dairy Foods Association’s Ice Cream division is feeling pretty optimistic. Our office is just a few blocks from Salt and Straw, and sunshine like this seems to send my browser to their specials menu with alarming regularity. It doesn’t help that I just worked on a project for another company that sells ice cream, which gave me the opportunity to be completely delighted by goofy statistics like these:

  • Nearly 10% of the nation’s milk production finds its way into ice cream
  • The average American eats ice cream almost 30 times a year. Sounds like a lot, but that’s down – way down – from its peak in 1989: 41.3 times annually.
  • Thanks to Ronald Reagan, July is National Ice Cream Month. He encourages us to observe the national holiday with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
  • U.S. consumers spent $13.7 billion on ice cream last year
  • The most popular five flavors, in order: vanilla, chocolate, cookies n’ cream, strawberry, and chocolate chip mint
  • The official industry name for “a frozen novelty such as a water ice novelty on a stick” (what you or I might call a popsicle) is a “Quiescently Frozen Confection.” Try asking your kid if he wants one of those.

In the spirit of summer, I took a poll.

SummertimeIceCream-MargarettBlogPost

It turns out we are pretty average when it comes to frozen dessert preferences: 58% of us chose ice cream as our summertime dessert-of-choice (66% if you count gelato.) 16% of us like Quiescently Frozen Confections, and a couple of outliers claim they don’t eat frozen sweets at all. I have to say, I have a hard time imagining a nice frosty hot dog cone catching on, but maybe I’m just old fashioned: my favorite? plain old vanilla soft serve.

Plan for Success

Margarett Waterbury
May 29, 2015 by

MPCoffee
Still on the fence about whether a business plan is right for you? Some recent research at the University of Oregon might convince you otherwise. Check out this fascinating and comprehensive article on Inc.com. Some takeaways:

  • Businesses with plans grow, on average, 30% faster
  • 71% of fast-growing companies have plans Plans aren’t just for startups; established companies might actually have more to gain from planning
  • Businesses with a plan get funded far more frequently than those without
  • Entrepreneurs with a plan are more than 150% more likely to actually start their business
  • Having a plan decreases your risk of failure

Are you ready for that last push? Give us a call today!

Lessons from the Stardates of the Future Pt. 1

Pavel Rubin
May 29, 2015 by

A successful business requires a strong leader. Humanity has seen a variety of successful leaders throughout history; from businessmen to diplomats, from tyrants to emancipators. Amongst all of the leaders I can think of, generals and statesmen, admirals and chieftains, only one man stands out. A man too great for factual existed, a man from the future, a man of the stars. That man is Jean-Luc Picard.

Born in La Barre, France, on July 13, 2305, Jean-Luc Picard has been a prime example of impeccable leadership and a lifelong devotion to upholding morality, righteousness, and the prime directive. The uncharacteristically capable and absolute leadership Captain Picard displays through his voyages in space through the distant future is not just a model of excellence in leadership, but a general ideal for all human leaders to uphold. The actions and decisions taken by Captain Picard as a leader should serve as a guiding path for today’s aspiring business leader. This series will address lessons that could be learned from Jean-Luc Picard.

Part 1. Communication

picard

In an article recently published by Forbes, titled “Five Leadership Lessons From Jean-Luc Picard”, Captain Picard is praised for his ability to speak to people in the language they understand. Forbes states:[1]

One of the key challenges to Captain Picard during his voyages was the problem of communication. Even in an era where universal translators could translate virtually every language imaginable, communication is more than just a matter of language. The different races that Picard encountered had their own cultures, customs and values. In order to work effectively with them, he mastered the ability to communicate with them on his own terms. When he was challenged by Klingons, he had no problem getting back in their faces and swearing at them. In Klingon culture, that’s how one earns respect. When he was confronted with the Sheliak, who refused to grant him more time to resettle colonists on a planet they wanted, he wrung concessions out of them through their hyper-detailed, legalistic manner of negotiation.

Captain Picard has a track record of successful interactions with a number of alien species throughout the galaxy. Many of those encounters could have easily turned hostile if it was not for Captain Picard’s tension diffusing communication skills. If you think of Jean-Luc Picard as a businessman, and the alien races he encounters as his clients, then you can see how Captain Picard established amiable and mutually agreeable client relations through open, honest, and respectful communication. Instead of allowing conflicts to boil, Captain Picard eliminates them before they even arise through his great tact and understanding of his client’s needs, wants, personalities, and cultural norms. Many profitable business deals and client relations have gone sour due to misunderstanding and disagreements that arose from improper communication. Follow Picard’s lead and attempt to study and understand your client. Learn to speak their language. Make it so.

1.Knapp, Alex. “Five Leadership Lessons From Jean-Luc Picard.” Forbes. March 2012. Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/03/13/five-leadership-lessons-from-jean-luc-picard

Font Refresh

Thomas Wilson
May 22, 2015 by

Rumors are swirling that Apple will unveil a new font, simply called San Francisco, to update their desktop and mobile platform operating system font. San Francisco has been seen as the operating system font on the recently released Apple Watch, and people speculated it was a sign of an upcoming brand change when first released. With the worldwide developers conference coming up in June, the rumors and opinions are being heard at a furious roar.

As a designer I am excited when I hear of a new font being developed for a major brand – not everyone noticed, but Apple just changed their system font from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue last year. Of course in this internet age of opinion and hyperbole, that change was decried and exalted much like with these rumors of San Francisco’s impeding roll out. I am a fan of the new font; it appears to be a combo of the classic Helvetica Neue and DIN – one of my favorite fonts.

I am also excited about the chance to try San Francisco out and use it in future projects. Of course it won’t work for every design but who knows, there may be the perfect project for the newly-conceived typeface. I am on the constant hunt for the perfect font from project to project, so San Francisco is at least one more option.

Whether you have a company identity already selected or no company identity at all, using the design services at MasterPlans will provide you with a professional look and feel to grab investors – let Miri know Thomas sent you!

sanfrancisco_comparison

Celebrating Client Success: A New Way to Care for Patients with Kidney Disease

Margarett Waterbury
May 13, 2015 by

The other day I spoke with a former MasterPlans client named Derrick Love-Jones. Derrick is a Nurse Practitioner and the Chief Executive Officer of Nephrology Rounding Solutions, a company that provides contracted Nurse Practitioners who specialize in onsite patient care at dialysis clinics, primary care offices, and patients’ homes.

He recently raised funding to finance a major expansion of his business: the launch of The Kidney House, a new primary care clinic dedicated to serving dialysis patients. In fact, his investors responded so favorably to his pitch that he ended up raising even more than he’d originally asked for.

We had the pleasure of helping Derrick with his investor plan. He agreed to talk to me about his successful fundraising experience, but our fascinating (and inspiring!) conversation ended up covering much broader ground – what inspired the launch of his business, how he views its purpose, and even what motivates him to persevere in the face of challenges and adversity.

Tell me about the origin of The Kidney House

One of my jobs as a charge nurse was to find a primary care doctor for my dialysis patients. And it was the hardest thing to do. I got a lot of “dialysis patients are difficult” from primary care practitioners. What really got me was when one doctor said to me “Derrick, you really need to give up on this idea of The Kidney House, because these patients are dying.” Many doctors feel that it’s too late for these people; they’re already at the end stage of life. Without dialysis, they would die in a week. To me, that was an eye opener.

And it’s true that many are dying. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on those folks. It’s not that doctors don’t care about these patients; it’s that they’re so overwhelmed. They’re not getting the reimbursements they need, health care is changing rapidly, it’s the perfect storm. But I’m going to battle that storm. There’s an old Jewish proverb that says “saving one life is like saving the world.” And I so believe that.

The Kidney House is my answer to the primary care provider gap. When my nurse practitioners are in front of those people, they no longer have to search for a PCP. Now, they can offer The Kidney House. And that’s what I love: knowing that I can send my patients somewhere that I feel good about.

How did your capital raise process go?

I had people interested in helping me out, but I hadn’t expanded because I didn’t have the funding to do it. You have to have money. I’ve had enough business experience that I know that you need a business plan. You cannot go to anyone for money – friend, family, a banker you’ve known for 20 years – unless you have some type of a business plan with understandable financial statements. I think I did my first business plan in the late 80’s, and I swore up and down that I’d never ever do it again. It was the most difficult, time-consuming, painstaking thing I have ever done in my life! And I consider myself a very astute person, I love to learn, I’m very disciplined coming from the military. And it was painful. I hated it. So I swore I’d never do it again.

I’m one of those people who does a lot of research. So a while ago I came across MasterPlans, and I read through your website, and I stored it in the back of my mind, knowing that me, I’m going to need a business plan again. Years later, here it came: a perfect opportunity for me to branch out on my own. I needed to put together something really nice to present this great idea, and MasterPlans was it.

I took the plan to the investors, and I pitched my whole idea of what I was doing and how I would tie in The Kidney House, and they were like “Wow Derrick, you have to do this now.” So they gave me more money than I expected. And now I’m in the middle of a remodeling project and hiring more people. It’s just so awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.

What motivates you to do this difficult work?

When that doctor told me that dialysis patients don’t matter because they’re already at the end of their life, the machine is what’s keeping them alive, it just broke my heart. No one should have to be given up on. It totally changed the way I look at what I’m doing now. It’s no longer just a job for me; it’s a way for me to repair the world. My mom told me this, years ago as a kid: “Derrick, you’re here for more than just taking up space on this Earth. Before you’re born, before you can see, your spirit is standing before the Almighty and he gives you a mission to go down and repair the world.” She told me that one way we can do that is by taking care of our fellow man.

I truly have a passion about what I do. I have a passion about taking care of these patients. I will never forget it. And I tell my staff that, this is why we’re here. And it inspires them to take care of the patients the best they can.

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