As libraries across the suburbs expand resources for entrepreneurs, some of them are turning to a Naperville software designer's program that helps users create a business plan.
Intercept, a program created by Mark Quigley's company DezinerSoftware, prompts users to analyze things such as expenses, marketing, financing and potential customers before they launch a new venture. The program guides users, even those who don't have financial expertise, through all the steps needed to create a business plan detailed enough to use in a pitch to investors.
The fact a library would be interested in his product was a surprise to Quigley, 59. But when he connected with NaperLaunch, the business startup center at Naperville Public Library, he found a whole new field of opportunity.
"It was a complete stunner to us that they'd be involved in it, but they're pretty forward-thinking here," Quigley said. "They've opened up the world to us of what, to me, was an unknown world: the world of libraries."
Quigley, his 29-year-old son Matt, and their team of five others who run DezinerSoftware now are marketing their online program to public and university libraries locally and nationally.
"We see our app just becoming another tool in the world of people wanting to start businesses," Quigley said.
Six months in, he said the business is growing faster than expected, adding two or three libraries a week for trials or purchases of Intercept -- on top of other private customers outside the library realm.
Total customers number in the hundreds, and Quigley said DezinerSoftware hasn't even started paying for better advertising placement on search engines.
"That's unbelievable growth," he said.
The profitable partnership began when Matt Quigley presented DezinerSoftware's business plan in November at a College of DuPage Entrepreneurship Center business conference called Ideas to Profits. He captured the conference's grand prize and won $5,000, and he also caught the attention of Kent Palmer, business librarian at Naperville Public Library, who oversees the NaperLaunch business startup center.
"I'm constantly looking for resources that are going to help entrepreneurs," Palmer said.
The Quigleys' software seemed like one such resource because it takes the mystery out of creating a business plan, Palmer said. Every entrepreneurial website he's checked in his role as a business librarian, such as those of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Entrepreneur magazine and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, lists "write a business plan" as the first or second step toward launching a new company.
"We've never had a complete tool to be able to say 'This is how you go do it,'" Palmer said.
So the library brought the DezinerSoftware founders in for a meeting, signed up for a trial and bought the software for use by cardholders.
At least a dozen potential entrepreneurs who have attended workshops or presentations hosted by NaperLaunch have begun using Intercept to explore their business plans, Palmer said.
The program can take between a week and six months to complete depending on the complexity of information a potential entrepreneur wants to analyze, Quigley said. A subscription costs $79.99 a month, but that's less than the $5,000 or more he said it can cost to hire an accountant to complete the financial elements of a business plan.
"If somebody is thinking about being an entrepreneur, it should be somewhat of a four- to six-month investigation to really do your due diligence," Quigley said. "I encourage you to basically get your Ph.D. in whatever business venture you go into because you need to now more about the business venture than anyone else."