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“Back of the Napkin Numbers” session kicks off Entrepreneurship Week

President and Lead Finance Consultant of Optics Consulting, Will Pouncey, speaks at the Troy University IDEA Bank as part of Entrepreneurship Week.

President and Lead Finance Consultant of Optics Consulting, Will Pouncey, speaks at the Troy University IDEA Bank as part of Entrepreneurship Week.

Troy University’s IDEA Bank kicked off Entrepreneurship Week Monday with a Coffee & Collaboration session followed by a presentation on creating financial projections for start-up businesses by double TROY grad and business owner Will Pouncey.

President and Lead Finance Consultant of Optics Consulting, Pouncey helps business owners in three key stages of the business life cycle: startup, growth and sale. In his session titled “Back of the Napkin Numbers,” he spoke about how to accurately form financial projections in the startup phase. 

“Good financial projections can help entrepreneurs increase their confidence when starting a business, effectively pitch to founding partners and team members and maximize their chance of receiving funding and investments,” Pouncey said. “In the pre-sales stage, entrepreneurs don’t have historical data to utilize for financial analysis. Instead, they must be creative and resourceful. This form of financial projection is commonly called ‘back of the napkin numbers.’”

To do this correctly, entrepreneurs must make accurate assessments in three key areas: opportunity, performance and cost. Pouncey said to define your targeted market and gauge demand for the idea/product, how the business or idea compares to competitors, what supplies will have to be purchased up front and how much will have to be spent monthly to keep the business going. 

Pouncey said the main takeaway of his presentation is to get really specific about the data points that matter and not worry so much about the ones that don’t

“You’re really focusing on how to assess the total possibilities for something and not looking in places like the total market or what the 10-year idea is,” he said. “Getting specific with what matters now and what we’re going to be able to do in the short term is the main point.”

Will Pouncey gestures to a slide while speaking.
Will Pouncey graduated from TROY in 2018 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Economics. In 2020, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Economics.

Pouncey graduated from TROY in 2018 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Economics. In 2020, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Economics. After a brief stint in economic consulting alongside one of his graduate school professors, Pouncey decided to start a business consulting company and said what he learned through his master’s program and the support of his professors is what helped make him successful.

“Dr. (Phillip) Mixon gave me a lot of advice with thinking through the original idea. I would go and sit in his office and we’d just talk,” he said. “He’s been doing similar things and has the experience for that, so that was really great to be able to draw off of, but the main thing was just the education that I got through my master’s program, learning a lot of the quantitative skills and how to do good research.”

Located on South Court Square in downtown Troy, the IDEA Bank’s mission is to develop Troy University and Troy, Alabama into a regional center for economic growth by creating entrepreneurial resources and collaboration opportunities for our community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, local businesses, and leaders. 

The IDEA Bank aims to support student-centric entrepreneurship and new ventures in the southeast Alabama region by providing students with the knowledge, resources, and support system to launch their ideas locally. Pouncey, who is also an SBDC advisor, said young, small business entrepreneurs are going to be the building block of future innovations and solutions. 

“New ideas and new innovations are not going to come around from big behemoth companies. In terms of consumer markets where it really takes boots on the ground identifying problems and gaps and being able to come up with solutions to that, I think that most of the good ideas in history have come from small entrepreneurs that have identified a problem,” he said. “Just from a smaller scale, if you don’t have that dream of doing something huge, being able to just create more jobs and improve the community–like the new coffee shop downtown–that’s going to be another great thing that people have access to that is a quality of life thing. If good people are trying to raise their quality of life, they’re young and hungry and want to do a good job, that’s even better.”

With the creation of the IDEA Bank, a whole new group of budding entrepreneurs will have more opportunities beyond the classroom to have one-on-one talks with business professionals who can lead them in the right direction.

“For anyone that knows that they want to be their own boss or they want to make their own way and their own opportunities, having the people here to talk to and bounce ideas off of is critical,” Pouncey said. “If I hadn’t surrounded myself with good people, I would not have come up with 90 percent of the things I came up with. Being able to have a community around you and not be by yourself in a vacuum is huge. It can be tough to do it by yourself.”

Entrepreneurship Week lasts until Sept. 24 with free, public programs daily.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, three guests from the community who’ve started businesses will share their experiences and what they wish they would have known from the start in a roundtable discussion. The event begins at 4 p.m.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Graphic Design Professor Chris Stagl will walk participants through the process of creating a logo for their companies and cover branding strategies from 2 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. 

Two sessions are offered on Thursday, Sept. 23. The first is a virtual session on strategic and authentic brand storytelling. Chayil Media Publishing owner Danielle Wallace will present “Bridging the Digital Gap with Brand Storytelling” from 12 p.m. until 1 pm. From 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., award-winning filmmaker, student entrepreneur and author of “You’re Just a Statistic” Ty Rickard will present the week’s keynote presentation at a reception in his honor. Rickard built a profitable media production business by 15 years of age and gained a national clientele of celebrities, musicians and global brands before graduating high school. 

The IDEA Bank will round out the week with an open house from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday.

While the sessions are free to attend, space is limited, so reservations are required for all but the open house and the Coffee & Collaboration sessions. Register online or contact Director Lynne Firmin-George George via email at lfirmin@troy.edu.

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