Bad Times Are a Bad Time to Start a New Company? Tell That to GE, IBM, and GM.

Sometimes a downturn /crisis /depression /recession /deflation /stagnation /stagflation /panic can be the best time to start a new company.

Yes, bank credit is tight, but companies of all kinds are giving discounts on their products and services.  Employees are easier to come by.  Have you posted a job opening lately?  You better have a big inbox.

Here are five companies that started during tough times:

Procter & Gamble – Panic of 1837
IBM – Long Depression of 1873-1896
GE – Panic of 1873
GM – Panic of 1907
FedEx – Oil Crisis of 1973

Read more:

8 Places to Get Financing

This is a good post on CNN Money on alternative places to get money – alternative meaning not banks.

Virgin Money (used to be Circle Lending) is a cool idea – it helps structure deals you do with friends and family.  That’s where most early stage money comes from anyway, and I know too many families and friendships that suffered when investments went sour and there weren’t structured deals.

“The French Have No Word for Entrepreneur”

As attributed to George W. Bush.  Did he misunderestimate as well?

Check out this article in Newsweek.  Having lived and worked in France, I’ve always said it’s not a place to work, but a place to get laid off, and retire.  But now the government has just dramatically reduced the financial requirements on starting a new business.  They estimated 200,000 new ventures by the end of 2009, but as of mid-February, there were already 62,000.

This is a sea change.

PennVention Contest

I just finished scoring the my five entries in this year’s PennVention contest.  (

PennVention is a really cool competition put on by the Weiss Tech House at the University of Pennsylvania, and over the years I’ve found the teams to be savvy both from a tech and business point of view.

My entries this time around were a new way to detect a lethal disease, an online manufacturing hub, a new kind of open multimedia venture, unique tableware, and revolutionary new solar technology.

They can always use mentors and judges, so if you’re so inclined, drop them a line.

First Wave of Stimulus Bill Towards Small Businesses

The SBA announced it’s making $255 million available in interest-free emergency loans to small businesses.

I expect we’ll see more of this sort of thing.

These loans only apply if you already have bank-issued business loans, but the cool thing is that for the first time, the SBA will guarantee the loans, making them risk-free for the banks.

The SBA has but 15 days to work out the details.