I periodically get questions from readers of this blog about business plans. I was pondering the best way to work through a “business plan series” (similar to the Term Sheet series and Letter of Intent series) when Dave Jilk - my partner in Feld Technologies (my first company) - dropped a few documents on my desk, including the original Feld Technologies business plan. A scanner, Adobe Acrobat PDF maker, and a little OCR later, I had the document in electronic format.
While I don’t read business plans anymore (executive summaries are enough for me), I believe the business plan is a critical document for an entrepreneur to organize his thoughts around his new business. In today’s world of excessive PowerPoint presentations, the art of sitting thoughtfully and writing out the plan has – in many cases – been lost. The best way to explain what should be in a business plan is to show one and, as I read through the original Feld Technologies plan, I was pleasantly surprised by the content. In many ways it is simplistic and reflects the relatively naive thinking of a 22 year old working on his first business. However, when I think about how Feld Technologies evolved, the document framed the business very effectively.
If you are looking for sex, violence, insider trading, hackers, and rock and roll, stick with Tom Evslin’s blook hackoff.com. If you want to see a late 1980’s business plan and some of my commentary along the way, enjoy. I’m going to go linearly through the plan – the actual plan text will be in purple so it’s easy to separate the plan text from my comments.
351 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
April 28, 1987
This business plan has been submitted on a confidential basis solely for the benefit of selected, highly qualified individuals. It is not for use by any other person, nor may it be reproduced. By accepting delivery of this plan, the recipient agrees to return this copy to Feld Technologies at the address listed above when so requested by Feld Technologies. If a conflict of interest is perceived at any point, please return this plan immediately.
Confidential Plan Number: 01
Version Control Number: 1.029
Delivered to: Mr. David J. Jilk
Don’t forget the cover page. I know it sounds silly, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received a plan or an executive summary without contact info, printed it out, and then been at a loss how to contact the person that sent it to me. My cover page was conspicuously missing my name (at least it had Feld on it) and my email address (I didn’t have one in 1987!) I called (617) 492–4642 to see who would answer – I got a modem. Finally, note that 351 Massachusetts Avenue was the address for ADP, my fraternity at MIT.