For about a month, the Kinethics team members – who are researching a training program to help corporate employees address corruption – have been saying to each other, “We need to start looking at the money.” For about a month, we’ve been putting it off. Finally, this week, with our prototype in place and the logistics (more or less) fine-tuned, we realized: It was time.

It’s hard to talk about money, especially when we started out with the sense that things were going to be expensive. Watching our costs build up was nerve wracking, and trying to project revenue felt like a shot in the dark.

Realizing that high costs are involved made us hesitant at first to even think about money. We made a list of the people we needed to hire, looked at salaries, and froze. The costs involved with hiring in the first year alone had seven figures. It seemed like a whole lot of money, and it was getting so, so real. We hadn’t even reached operational costs yet. But it was already so many digits–our estimate was close enough, right?

It wasn’t, of course. The costs were going to keep growing, and we needed to understand all of them. To get over my big-number terror, I did two little things that made things a little less scary.

First, following one of Executive Director John Clark’s suggestions, I converted all the figures on the spreadsheet so that they were in thousands. Our seven figure numbers went down to four. Sure, it was actually still the same thing, but it made the numbers a little easier to look at and swallow.

The second thing was to not look at numbers at all. Instead of listing each item and the cost associated, one by one, I just went ahead and listed everything we would need to pay for. Because I wasn’t watching our total costs go up with every new item, I didn’t try to persuade myself that we didn’t really need, say, to pay rent.

Our projections aren’t perfect–there are still many things we have to fine-tune–but now that our estimates are a bit more approachable, I feel confident that they’ll be ready for Pitch Day.


How can we move forward while waiting on IRB approval?

First pitch: The IRB application

Tackling global corruption: We have a value proposition

How might we address global corruption?

When you hit a wall, narrow down

The answer almost always lies with the customer

If you don’t think you have anyone to talk to, look harder



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