Bulu Box cofounders Paul and Stephanie Jarrett stumbled across LivePlan, a cloud-based business-planning resource, by accident in the months before launching their venture.
Marketers by profession, they were looking for resources to help them organize their ideas and formulate some reasonable projections. That planning helped them raise $550,000 in seed funding in 2012, but the two entrepreneurs still use LivePlan regularly to keep on the on track and keep the plan fresh as other funding opportunites arise, said Stephanie Jarrett. "We thought we might not use it again, but we kept it because it keeps us on track," she said.
LivePlan helps entrepreneurs and small businesses organize relevant strategy and projection information more concisely, in a format that is meant to be more appealing for potential investors or backers. You can import data from applications including Excel and QuickBooks to get thing started. The screenshot below shows the cash position dashboard:
Bulu Box, based in Nebraska, offers nutritional supplements and vitamins on a subscription basis, but it lets its customers try things first. Every month, it ships different samples, and members opt whether or not to buy the full-sized products depending on their unique health concerns. An annual subscription is $110.
One of the features that Jarrett especially appreciates is something called "Pitch," which is basically what it sounds like: a one-page way of describing your ideas to investors and backers in a way that is compelling enough to close a deal. "It really forces you to communicate your business very concisely," Jarrett said.
A LivePlan subscription is priced at $19.95 per month; although there is currently a 60-day trial offer.
The company behind the service is Palo Alto Software, which has been a market leaders in this software category for more than 15 years with products such as the Windows-based Business Plan Pro application. The company is also behind Bplans.com, which offers free sample plans and templates for companies that need a little more outside handholding. Another fun bit of trivia: the company's founder, Tim Berry, was a co-founder of Borland International.