Re: DSM: Startup funding (was: Almost Democracy

From: Mike Sadofsky (sadofsky@mediaone.net)
Date: Tue Nov 06 2001 - 12:59:10 EST


Christopher,

I regret that your interpretation of my remarks is "defensive
posturing." I had no intent but to try and answer a question, the
basis of which was not apparent. Perhaps my first paragraph was a bit
too flippant for this forum.

I am quite certain that Dan Greenberg's writing in "Announcing ..." is
quite precise and accurate. But the fact is that these numbers did
not indicate wealth in 1968 and don't do so now. Perhaps that's the
issue.

Those start-up figures represent a fraction of annual tuition for the
initial enrollment group, and relate to buying & partially rehabbing a
reasonably large, if rundown, facility. Other costs were pretty
negligible. In the years since then, many schools have started in
rented space - by-passing or deferring the need for facility
acquisition capital.

As for a contingency plan, I think we were so confident of the model
we never contemplated anything but success. When that didn't come
fast enough, we hunkered down and worked harder.

Ill defer to others to offer you some of the detail you seek.

Mike Sadofsky

On Tue, 06 Nov 2001 10:15:20 -0500, you wrote:

>Mike Sadofsky wrote:
>
>> 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!
>
>Well, since you were there, it was probably me that missed something. But you know, if
>I've misunderstood some of my reading, you could just correct me without the defensive
>posturing. I was in no way attempting to play down the huge sacrifices that were made
>in order to make the school blossom forth from nothing but an idea. I have the
>greatest admiration for you folks. Really! I apologize if my earlier note sounded
>like I was dismissing the overall contribution.
>
>On the other hand, my apparent misinterpretation arises from page 46 of _Announcing a
>New School_ in which Daniel Greenberg writes:
>
>"As for the cash cash seed money, it required $24,000 in down payment...and...something
>like another $16,000...to cover the initial repairs and modifications... This meant a
>total of something over forty thousand dollars in cash that we put up personally."
>
>That kind of spare cash sounds like independent wealth to me -- even today, much less
>in 1968 dollars. So did that not happen, or do we have different understandings of
>wealth?
>
>To be fair, he also writes that the contribution of staff time equaled something like
>$100,000 and notes that the school couldn't have happened without that generosity. I
>think the school wouldn't have happened (at least the way it did) without either of
>those two ingredients.
>
>> 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.
>
>I don't understand how this works. Is this reference to the $56,000 mortgage or to a
>larger figure that accounted for the bulk of startup and operating expenses?
>
>I've read _Starting a Sudbury School_ and I've reread the money stuff, but it's all
>pretty vague. Maybe that's just the nature of it -- that you can't give hard and fast
>ideas on how to gather money. If I pursue an SVS startup, I'm prepared to work three
>weekdays each week for free as long as it takes. I assume that I can find others who
>would also be willing. But every time I visit the matter of acquiring a physical
>plant, I just don't see the money for a down payment. It sounds like the SVS property
>was ~$80K, but what would it be worth now? Half a million? How would you go about
>getting that?
>
>I keep going back to the fact that I need to become wealthy first and then go about
>such a project. Which is weird since funding such a project (and others) is more
>important to me than the normal reasons for gaining wealth.
>
>And really, if anyone else has been through the very early stages of startup thinking
>and has addressed the money issue successfully, I'd like to hear their experiences.
>And what contingency plans were there for SVS if money hadn't worked out as it did?
>
>Christopher Weeks
>
>
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