MGT 402 Case 2 Able Planet How can a small company find capital to finance an innovative new product? Venture capitalist Kevin Semcken discovered Able P

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MGT 402 Case 2
Able Planet

How can a small company find capital to finance an innovative new product?

Venture capitalist Kevin Semcken discovered Able Planet,
a small startup in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, that produces head-
phones with an imbedded magnetic coil to enhance sound quality,
at a technology conference in Denver, Colorado. Semcken, who
suffers from a hearing loss in one ear, was intrigued and tested
the small company’s product by listening to Dean Martin’s “You’re
Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You.” “I was instantly a fan,” he
says. Semcken invested in Able Planet and soon became the com-
pany’s CEO and chairman. Two years later, the company’s unique
noise-cancelling Linx headphones won an award for innovation at
the Consumer Electronics Show, and orders began pouring in. In no
time, the company’s annual revenue reached $2 million.

Semcken was pleased with Able Planet’s progress, but he
had a bigger vision for the company. Inspired by stents, balloon-
like devices used in medical procedures to clear blocked arteries,
Semcken came up with the idea of earphones that incorporated an
inflatable disk that could conform perfectly to the size and shape
of a person’s ear canal. The result would be a set of earphones that
fit snugly into the ear canal, stay in place even during strenuous
activity, and block out ambient noise. He even had a great name
for the product: Sound Fit. Semcken saw the potential for Sound
Fit not only to improve substantially the performance of ear-
phones, but also to revolutionize the design of other products,
such as Bluetooth headsets and hearing aids. He had lined up
30 potential customers who were interested in learning more about
the innovative earphones and had convinced them to sign non-
disclosure agreements. What Semcken needed now was financing
so that Able Planet could manufacture production-quality proto-
types of the Sound Fit earphones and generate orders.

Then Able Planet’s banker called with bad news. The bank
was changing the terms of Able Planet’s $2.5 million line of
credit. Under the new terms, the bank would no longer finance
the upfront cost of raw materials and manufacturing. Semcken
was stunned because even though Able Planet was not yet cash
flow positive, the company had always made its payments to the
bank on time for the last 3 years. Without a flexible line of
credit, Able Planet would not be able to purchase the materials
and manufacture the headphones that its retail customers,

including Costco and Walmart, demanded. The credit line
restriction came at the worst possible time. Able Planet was
gearing up for the late-spring graduation season, its second
biggest sales period of the year after Christmas. The company
normally cranked up production for the crucial back-to-school
and Christmas seasons (which account for 60 percent of its
sales) during the summer, but the bank’s new restrictions on its
line of credit put its most lucrative sales seasons in jeopardy.

Semcken met with Able Planet’s two board members, Rob
Cascella and Steve Parker, both of whom are investors in the
company. They advised him to put the Sound Fit earphones on
hold for the time being and to focus on increasing sales of Linx
headphones. Without a way to finance production of the head-
phones, however, Semcken knew that opening new retail
accounts and increasing production would be impossible. He
needed $1.5 million to finance current operations for Linx,
build the Sound Fit prototypes, and market both products to
new and existing customers. Semcken traveled around the
country to call on 15 different banks, but none of them was
interested in making a loan. A crisis in the financial markets
had all but slammed shut the lending window at most commer-
cial banks. Semcken pondered his options.

Questions

1. Experts say that entrepreneurs who need between
$100,000 and $3 million often face the greatest obstacles
when raising capital for their businesses. Why?

2. How should Kevin Semcken raise the $1.5 million in
capital that Able Planet needs? Be sure to consider
sources of both debt and equity financing.

3. Write a short memo to Kevin Semcken explaining what he
should do before he approaches potential lenders and
investors to maximize his chances of getting the capital
that Able Planet needs.

Sources: Based on Jamie Kripke, “Case Study: Able Planet,” Inc.,
July–August 2009, pp. 58–61; “About Us,” Able Planet, www.ableplanet.com/
aboutus.html.

812

www.ableplanet.com/aboutus.html

www.ableplanet.com/aboutus.html

Cover
Title Page
Copyright Page
Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
SECTION 1 The Challenge of Entrepreneurship
Chapter 1 Entrepreneurs: The Driving Force Behind Small Business
What Is an Entrepreneur?
How to Spot Entrepreneurial Opportunities
The Benefits of Owning a Small Business
The Potential Drawbacks of Entrepreneurship
Why the Boom: The Fuel Feeding the Entrepreneurial Fire
The Cultural Diversity of Entrepreneurship
The Contributions of Small Businesses
Putting Failure into Perspective
How to Avoid the Pitfalls
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 2 Building the Business Plan: Beginning Considerations
Chapter 2 Strategic Management and the Entrepreneur
Building a Competitive Advantage
The Strategic Management Process
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 3 Choosing a Form of Ownership
The Sole Proprietorship
The Partnership
The Corporation
Alternative Forms of Ownership
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 4 Franchising and the Entrepreneur
What Is a Franchise?
Types of Franchising
The Benefits of Buying a Franchise
Drawbacks of Buying a Franchise
Franchising and the Law
The Right Way to Buy a Franchise
Franchise Contracts
Trends in Franchising
Franchising as a Growth Strategy
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 5 Buying an Existing Business
Buying an Existing Business
How to Buy a Business
Methods for Determining the Value of a Business
Negotiating the Deal
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 6 Conducting a Feasibility Analysis and Crafting a Winning Business Plan
Conducting a Feasibility Analysis
The Elements of a Business Plan
What Lenders and Investors Look for in a Business Plan
The Pitch: Making the Business Plan Presentation
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 3 Building a Business Plan: Financial Issues
Chapter 7 Creating a Solid Financial Plan
Basic Financial Reports
Creating Projected Financial Statements
Ratio Analysis
Interpreting Business Ratios
Break-Even Analysis
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 8 Managing Cash Flow
Cash Management
Cash and Profits Are Not the Same
Preparing a Cash Budget
The “Big Three” of Cash Management
Avoiding the Cash Crunch
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 4 Building a Business Plan: Marketing Your Company
Chapter 9 Building a Guerrilla Marketing Plan
Creating a Guerrilla Marketing Plan
Market Diversity: Pinpointing the Target Market
Determining Customer Needs and Wants Through Market Research
How to Conduct Market Research
Plotting a Guerrilla Marketing Strategy: Building a Competitive Edge
The Marketing Mix
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 10 Creative Use of Advertising and Promotion
Define Your Company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Creating a Promotional Strategy
Selecting Advertising Media
How to Prepare an Advertising Budget
How to Advertise Big on a Small Budget
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 11 Pricing and Credit Strategies
Pricing: A Creative Blend of Art and Science
Three Powerful Pricing Forces: Image, Competition, and Value
Pricing Strategies and Tactics
Pricing Techniques for Retailers
Pricing Techniques for Manufacturers
Pricing Techniques for Service Businesses
The Impact of Credit on Pricing
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 12 Global Marketing Strategies
Why Go Global?
Going Global: Strategies for Small Businesses
Barriers to International Trade
International Trade Agreements
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 13 E-Commerce and Entrepreneurship
Benefits of Selling on the Web
Factors to Consider Before Launching into E-Commerce
Ten Myths of E-Commerce
Strategies for E-Success
Designing a Killer Web Site
Tracking Web Results
Ensuring Web Privacy and Security
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 5 Putting the Business Plan to Work: Sources of Funds
Chapter 14 Sources of Equity Financing
Planning for Capital Needs
Sources of Equity Financing
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 15 Sources of Debt Financing
Sources of Debt Capital
Nonbank Sources of Debt Capital
Federally Sponsored Programs
Small Business Administration (SBA)
State and Local Loan Development Programs
Internal Methods of Financing
Where Not to Seek Funds
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 6 Location and Layout
Chapter 16 Location, Layout, and Physical Facilities
Location Criteria for Retail and Service Businesses
Location Options for Retail and Service Businesses
The Location Decision for Manufacturers
Layout and Design Considerations
Layout: Maximizing Revenues, Increasing Efficiency, and Reducing Costs
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 7 Managing a Small Business: Techniques for Enhancing Profitability
Chapter 17 Supply Chain Management
Creating a Purchasing Plan
Legal Issues Affecting Purchasing
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 18 Managing Inventory
Inventory Control Systems
Just-In-Time Inventory Control Techniques
Turning Slow-Moving Inventory into Cash
Protecting Inventory from Theft
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 8 Managing People: A Company’s Most Valuable Resource
Chapter 19 Staffing and Leading a Growing Company
The Entrepreneur’s Role as Leader
Hiring the Right Employees: The Company’s Future Depends on It
Building the Right Culture and Organizational Structure
Communicating Effectively
The Challenge of Motivating Workers
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

SECTION 9 Legal Aspects of Small Business: Succession, Ethics, and Government Regulation
Chapter 20 Management Succession and Risk Management Strategies in the Family Business
Family Businesses
Exit Strategies
Management Succession
Developing a Management Succession Plan
Risk Management Strategies
The Basics of Insurance
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 21 Ethics and Social Responsibility: Doing the Right Thing
An Ethical Perspective
Who Is Responsible for Ethical Behavior?
Establishing Ethical Standards
Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship
Putting Social Responsibility into Practice
Conclusion
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Chapter 22 The Legal Environment: Business Law and Government Regulation
The Law of Contracts
The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
The Law of Agency
Bankruptcy
Government Regulation
Chapter Review
Discussion Questions

Appendix: Sample Business Plan: My Friends’ Bookstore
Cases
Endnotes
Index
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

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