CTI's strategic focus is centered around helping small rural businesses find specialized funding and helping them use that funding to enhance their business through technology. If the company will not benefit from CTI's services, as per the evaluation, CTI will not offer its services to those clients.
Fundraising and revenue will be generated through a combination of SBA grants and local empowerment zone grants. In addition, clients will be expected to pay for a % of the costs involved, depending on their financial status. The largest expected revenue generator is through the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program sponsored by the SBA. Under this program, The Center for Technology and Investment may qualify for an Oregon State grant of up to $50,000, and a matching Federal Grant of up to $125,000. In addition, smaller business development grants at the State and Federal level will help continue funding for the organization.
Federal and State grants alone, or even combined with small business client revenue is still not enough to allow the company to achieve its mission. A low cost monthly retainer fee will be required of all rural participants. Depending upon the client, this fee might range from between $50-100 monthly. In exchange for this low monthly fee, the client will have 100% access to CTI services, and they will often find that the cost savings, and revenue developed through a relationship with CTI will more than pay for the low monthly retainer. The retainer may go up or down depending on the level of funding achieved each year by CTI. Each December, an amount equal to 50% of the proceeds over and above operating costs will be sent back to the client. The other 50% will be put back into the company to encourage additional rural growth in other parts of the nation.
Additional funding will be acquired through telephone, email, and snail mail soliciting of households sympathetic to the empowerment of business owners and future business owners. This funding is contingent upon the top-level funding described in the paragraphs above.
CTI expects retainer and donations to constitute the bulk of the funding. Modest growth in line with the market, and conservative estimates make this funding plan highly realistic in comparison to funding for similar organizations such SBDCs. In fact, CTI is hoping to achieve SBDC status itself, and earn a grant (Under "Donations") of at least $50,000 by year two.
COGS are minimal as most costs associated with running the business reside in the P&L statement.
CTI's competitive edge is its ability to communicate one on one through a person like Bill Franklin, someone with a deep love of technology, and rich history within the technology sector, but also a person with the skills to handle rural citizens one on one. He is someone who has lived in rural Oregon for many years, and so understands his clients and potential clients well enough to know the names of their wives, children, their hobbies, and more. Bill is a consummate communicator who fits the profile of his clients, this is the kind of advantage necessary to thrive in a rural economy. It's as much who you know, as it is what you know.
CTI plans to market its services through traditional WOM sources (friends, family, etc), as well as through more professional means such as mailbox flyers, door to door sales, and conference booths.
The marketing for these services is designed around how traditional, rural citizens network. The strategy is to reach these potential clients one on one, demonstrate what CTI can do for them, explain the difference in mentality between a for-profit consultancy and one that is designated nonprofit, and then build on the relationship to actively encourage to existing clients that they bring more business to CTI. At some point, this may even include a finders fee or some other financial incentive, although CTI hopes that its clients are loyal enough and happy with the service that they will recommend the organization for free.
The attached table demonstrates the milestones for CTI. Bill Franklin will oversee all of the necessary tasks, and will defer to the board in cases where the board is available to fill in for Mr. Franklin. Since Mr. Franklin will also be working with each customer individually, it is very possible that some of these tasks will be handed over to one of his board members.