Update for April, 2012

Talk at Solid State Startups
Mark signed us up to do a talk at the Solid State Startup meetup, http://www.meetup.com/Solid-State-Startups/ I ended up – a bit randomly — giving most of the presentation, even though Mark was actually much better prepared. I probably was much too open about some things, but hopefully it was at least interesting/useful for some folks. Afterwards we did meet some pretty amazing people, so that was really cool.

Our new office manager Allison start last Monday (23rd) and she is helping enormously, woo hoo!

We’ve had some talks with a new software developer and it looks like we’ll be working together on making the logic software awesome – so that’s going to be great.

Software Dev Officially under way
Speaking of which, Mark is now off the website and is officially developing the Logic software again. He just got it to build in Visual Studio 11, which it looks like we’ll be using on Windows going forward. I think we’ll also be switching to GIT (from SVN) as well as starting to use Make on OSX/Linux rather than completely custom build scripts. We’re also going to be adding unit tests but I’m not sure what framework we’ll use for that yet, as I’d like it to be cross platform if possible.

Mark’s Robot
Mark has been working on and off on this little robot for a while now, and actually got the parts a long time ago thinking we would make a ‘Saleae robot’ for a tradeshow. Well, we’re going to Maker Faire this year (in about 3 weeks now) so we’re hoping to have some cool Saleae robots to have Logic connected to. Be sure to come by the booth! We’ll have another post about that as we get closer.

UPS International
We’re now shipping UPS International, thanks to some nice web work by mark. The system calls a bunch of UPS APIs to get which services are available based on your location, as well as the cost and delivery time. For a lot of countries it’ll also get you an estimate of the “landed cost” – meaning the likely customs fees to expect. Unfortunately UPS International is much more expensive that USPS, although at least you’ll know it won’t take 2 weeks to get there.

TI Chronos Watch
Mark and I are both night owls and have trouble getting up as well as getting to bed. I’ve had an idea for a long time to make a watch that you could not take off, which would literally not let you go back to sleep in the morning; well, the perfect prototype platform for this is the TI Chronos watch http://www.ti.com/tool/ez430-chronos — we got a pair to play with. It has an accelerometer and a temperature sensor and all so sorts of other goodies. I also got some timed outlet switches to turn off the internet at a given time to cut off Netflix, so there is nothing to do at 1am but hit the sack. So anyway, we’ll see if that goes anywhere, but it could potentially be pretty cool.

Pebble / Kickstarter
Congrats to Eric & team for the amazing launch of their new Pebble Watch for iPhone & Android – they have raised about $7.5M on Kiskstarter so far, unbelievable. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/597507018/pebble-e-paper-watch-for-iphone-and-android We happened to be by their offices the day they started Kickstarter and they were already at ~$1.2M – one of the guys had written a script to pull down the latest total and print it out in huge letters on the screen. Awesome.

Maker Faire
We are going to be at Maker Faire later this month, May 19th and 20th. Mark your calendar! We thought this would be a good show to start with since we don’t need to be as polished as I’d like to be for ESC and those sorts of shows. That said, we’re going to try and have a fairly sweet setup so please do drop by, it’ll be fun.

VAT in Europe
We’re finally collecting VAT in the EU now. We’ve been below the thresholds but over the past year Logic16 has put us over, so we’re just about done getting VAT registered now. The website is all set up so you can claim VAT exemption and all that.

Logic16 Birthday
Happy birthday to Logic16! That’s May 6th. Can’t believe it’s been a year already…

So going into this whole subject I was really unclear as to what I was looking for was even called, and I’m still not entirely sure. What I really wanted was a flexible projection, where based on some combination of historical and estimated revenues and costs it would project out full financials – profit & loss, cash flow and balance sheet. The result was very eye opening and interesting.

The cash flow implications of tax payments are huge, as is how much tax advantage there is to making less profit. Since we’re not looking for the company to be maximally profitable right now (we’re looking to grow) it makes no sense at all to have any profit other than 1. You paid yourself something and 2. Inventory had to grow. The tricky bit is that it’s a fine line between being “minimally profitable” and running out of cash.

The way I did the budget/projections is as follows:

  1. Start with the previous few months of Profit/Loss and Balance Sheets (you can export these to Excel – I left those as originals and pulled them into another sheet to clean it up)
  2. Create an adjustment column so that each account can be adjusted for abnormalities.  For example, sales were especially high in January and February, but only because all the distributors were previously out of stock since we historically had trouble filling those orders. So those get adjusted down. Payments that only happen once/year get adjusted out, as well as things that are part of projects that could/should be planned.
  3. Take an average of the adjusted accounts, this is the baseline account revenue/expense to go into the projection/budget.
  4. Now take another spreadsheet and make columns for the next 36 months, and rows corresponding to all the accounts. This is where you get to “play” – experiment with adding more salary for example, as well as put in all those once of year type expenses, and any planned projects.
  5. Last, you make the results spreadsheet that takes the baseline, adds all the monthly planned values, and projects profit/loss, estimated taxes, owner draws, cash and cash flow, and whatever else is interesting (such as month/month growth in valuation).

So it’s not perfect by any stretch but it should be fairly workable and fairly easy to update with new monthly data.  What I don’t have is a decent way to do budget vs actuals.  One solution might be to just save an archive copy every month.

Line of Credit
We did just finish getting an application into Wells Fargo for a sizeable line of credit, so we’ll see if that goes anywhere. The application required all the financial statements and all that. Frankly we’re a pretty good credit risk but neither Mark nor I have any real estate to use as collateral so I could certainly see them walking away from it. If that’s the case I’ll go for an SBA loan, we’ve got everything ready for that too. If that fails for some reason we’ll look at a loan for an individual or even get funding through an angel investor.
In addition to that we’re also looking at hiring in some creative ways – cash + loan and/or cash + royalty. It’s not cash, but it is a nice way to finance things.

Old Blog Posts
About a month ago we published a bunch of really old blog posts that had gone offline when our old blog host turned off their service. So those that are interested in the really early days might want to check that out. Just keep hitting “Older Entries” at the bottom of the page and you’ll get there.

Breakout boards
Someone needs to build to following Sparkfun-style modules:  step-down switching power supplies at common voltages; an optical encoder to I2C/SPI adapter; a small CPLD module; a multi-voltage, small li-poly battery module.

Open House

Just a reminder that we’ll have our 2nd monthly open house on Thursday, May 24th @ 7-9pm.  http://www.saleae.com/openhouse  See you there!

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