Retail Trade

Diploma Dogs

Elementary school principal Clay McAllester came up with the idea for an interactive trivia game while teaching fifth grade in the mid-1980s. He tested the game in the classroom setting with great success -- his students loved learning while having fun. Armed with a master's thesis on the educational value of games, McAllester was ready to turn his game idea into a business. In early 2001, a sudden burst of inspiration led this educator to launch a home version of his game, Diploma Dogs.

In 2004, he developed a primary-level version of the game, Primary Pups. 

To learn more about Diploma Dogs, visit diplomad.ehost.com.

Owner/Founder
Clay McAllester
My Location
Gilbert AZ
United States
Employees
6
Year Company Formed
2001
My Successes

Diploma Dogs sold more than 10,000 copies in its first two years, and was featured in a quarter of Walmart's stores. The game is also available at Toys R Us and online at Amazon.com.

What's Great About My Mentor?

“Charlie is always very giving with his time,” McAllester says.  “He will stop at any moment to answer a question or listen to an idea."

How SCORE Helped

“I didn’t know how to move forward with my idea,” McAllester says.  “Some friends recommended that I contact the East Valley, AZ SCORE.  That’s where I met a lot of great new friends, including Charlie Betz.”

A retired business owner and CEO, Charlie Betz joined other SCORE volunteer mentors in evaluating McAllester's idea and helping him develop a sound business plan and financial projections. They also advised him on key decisions about putting the game idea in front of the right people, raising money to fund production, and managing expenses and cash flow.

 

This is a Word file that contains back-to-back templates for a Business Plan. The first template is for a startup business and the second is for an existing business.

This file is a series of useful Excel spreadsheets: Startup Costs, Personal Financial Statement, Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss, Variable Overhead Costs, Cash Flow, and Gross Margin.

This thirty-two page primer on Cash Flow will help you understand and manage Cash Flow by explaining the working capital cash conversion cycle -- the cash flow cycle

Entrepreneur’s Guide: Starting and Growing a Business in Pennsylvania is a 108 page booklet filled with current information about free services, check lists, helpful tips and licensing procedures. Because the information in this guide is not intended to be the final statement on any subject, you will also find addresses, web sites and telephone numbers for contacting business-related agencies.

Cash Flow and Pro Forma spreadsheets with all formulas already in the template

Business Plan generic template. Can be modified to fit your business.

Area Detector Systems Corporation (ADSC) Turns to SCORE for Help

Master one technology and get ready to learn the next. In the technology business, your product is always changing. Ron Hamlin knows that better than anyone. When he set out to manufacture X-ray machines that examine biological substances such as viruses and DNA, he had just received his PhD in this technology.

In 1983, Ron recruited his professor and a computer software expert to form Area Detector Systems Corporation (ADSC) from a spare bedroom in his Poway, California home. Within a few years, ADSC was yielding $800,000 in profit. But, the technology evolved and a new technology was on the horizon.

Owner/Founder
Ron Hamlin
My Location
Poway CA
United States
Employees
15
Year Company Formed
1983
My Successes

With Badewitz' advice, ADSC began to take off. The company gained several key clients, mainly big government labs in partnership with granting agencies of pharmaceutical companies. The mentoring relationship continues today, four years and 60 sessions later. "Charlie has adopted us...he has really made his mark here." Charles has even referred some of ADSC's key employees. Although the size of the staff has remained small—15 employees—revenues continue to climb. This year's net sales should jump from $3 million to $4 million. ADSC thrives on being small, claiming that what they do is too specific for a big company. "We have benefited by being in the shadows of the larger companies; it has enabled us to make several business mistakes and survive," says Ron.

In the next few years, Ron expects ADSC to enjoy as much as $7 million in sales of the company's latest biotechnology equipment. He'll also have another project to stay busy with: a two-year, $2 million product development grant from the Small Business Innovative Research program of the National Institutes of Health. "This is the largest grant ever issued under that channel," Ron says. "We've already hired four people to work on this project."

What's Great About My Mentor?

Hamlin met with SCORE Mentor Charles Badewitz, former president of Teledyne Philbrick Micro Electronics.  All the advice and information that Charles gave to Ron continues to pay off. "Charlie always uses his experience as a fighter pilot during World War II when he sees a business in trouble," Ron says. "When he told us, 'You're gonna crash,' I knew it was time for our company to grow up. He helped us with manufacturing and pricing, and helped us make some key hires. Each of those areas continues to be a strength of our business."

How SCORE Helped

On the brink of the new technology in 1995, ADSC turned to SCORE for help.

Czech Feather & Down Company

Her business is down. It’s always been down ─ and feathers! Cookie Vanous is the president of Czech Feather & Down Company. The company's roots go back to 1885, to the Czech community in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While the company has been handed down through the generations, the craft has remained the same: Each product is handcrafted by a single person, from the first cut to the last stitch. 

Together with her daughter, Dawn Schrog, Vanous oversees the handcrafting of feather and down pillows, comforters, feather beds and furniture cushions. The company has expanded and moved from Cedar Rapids to Mount Vernon, Iowa, where the team also handles repairs and restoration of down goods. 

Prior to September 11, 2001, Vanous' business was growing at a steady pace, but afterwards there was much less tourism and sales decreased. Vanous contacted SCORE to help get back on track.

To learn more about Czech Feather & Down Company, visit czechfeatherdownco.com.

Owner/Founder
Cookie Vanous
My Location
Mount Vernon IA
United States
Year Company Formed
1885
My Successes

Today, Czech Feather & Down is enjoying sales greater than before, and Vanous estimates they will increase at a faster rate. 

How SCORE Helped

In spring 2005, Cookie contacted Cedar Rapids SCORE for marketing advice and began meeting with John Ruth. Vanous worked with mentor Ruth to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to increase sales and satisfy staffing needs. Ruth advised Vanous on cross-marketing with local furniture makers and the nearby woolen mill. 

She credits Ruth and SCORE with opening her eyes to other possibilities. She says that SCORE is the best business organization she has seen that provides business counseling and training. She looks forward to a long-term mentoring relationship and has become a strong ambassador for SCORE.

Business Plan template sources from SCORE, Western Washington SBDC, Palo Alto Business Plans and other business plan information including an Amortization Calculator to provide monthly interest and principal payments for the life of the small business loan.

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