Re: DSM: Startup funding (was: Almost Democracy

From: Mike Sadofsky (sadofsky@mediaone.net)
Date: Tue Nov 06 2001 - 08:57:56 EST


Christopher,

I must have missed a lot in the founding years at Sudbury Valley when
your " independently wealthy sponsors" were there to make the school a
reality. Let me assure you, there weren't any!

SVS was established when a substantial group of founders agreed to
make it happen. Yes, someone had enough assets to obtain a personal
mortgage on the property, and as soon as we could find a lending
source that would cooperate, this was converted to a group guarantee.
But the school became a reality because staff went without salary for
many years, some working outside jobs for income, some relying on
spousal income to maintain the family, and all contributing a great
deal of physical, mental, and emotional "sweat" to make it happen.
This was a group of very middle class people, all hard working, none
wealthy by any realistic standards.This was not very different from
the startup of a new business (perhaps with the absence of venture
capitalists and the potential for significant financial rewards.)

In retrospect, I think we may have underestimated the difficulty in
achieving staff compensation and financial stability. We assumed we'd
be a magnet for families seeking the SVS learning environment for
their kids. As soon as we realized this wasn't happening quickly, we
revisited our 'business plan' and established a focus on growth. It
took many years to reach an equilibrium between income and expenses
that included reasonable staff salaries, but we persevered.

Just wanted to add my perspective in light of your comment.

Mike Sadofsky

On Tue, 06 Nov 2001 06:46:57 -0500, you wrote:

>Todd Robinson wrote:
>
>> Maybe someday I'll make some
>> money and then I can create a trust fund that will help pay salaries
>
>This makes me wonder about how startup schools are funded.
>
>Teachers can work for free (maybe...I'm not sure how I'd manage). And the startup
>group can sell SVS Press materials, but that could only go so far. How do you
>manage real expenses? How do you obtain a property? It seems that SVS was
>blessed with independently wealthy sponsors who were willing to risk a substantial
>"loan" with very good terms. For those of us who don't have a spare $100k with
>which to get started, what do we do?
>
>What have the startups done to actually go? I'm also thinking not of schools with
>five students, but ones starting with 20 and shooting for hundreds.
>
>If you want to point me to valuable past discussions here, I'll happily go check
>those out.
>
>Thanks,
>
>Christopher Weeks
>
>
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