CPAs and Evaluations

This week we learned what a CPA costs (at least THIS CPA) -- specifically, $300 a quarter before we start to generate revenue, then $550 a quarter afterwards. $750 a year to prepare corporate taxes. Unlimited, no-charge consulting on accounting and taxes. Do those numbers seem in line?

We also got our September invoice from our attorney -- this one adds up the fastest by far -- $3800 for a combination of work on our lease agreement, preparing (part of) our trademark registrations (which go out this coming week), and formation of our S-corp. To date, the attorney has cost us around $8000 -- and we're not done yet. Most of the legal heavy lifting should be done by the end of October (we hope).

Things are looking hopeful for signing the lease next week, at which point we'll schedule our building inspection (we have an escape clause in the lease in case we find anything that we consider to be a show-stopper) -- that will be another $750, please. We'll look at the structure and the utilities, as well as ADA compliance since we're potentially on the hook for bringing the facility up to code (both building and ADA compliance). This is where we negotiated a cap on our max exposure and another escape clause. Once we take possession we start the process of bringing the facility, as quickly as possible, up to the point where we can schedule the health department inspection. Until we have that in hand we can't bring our first (non-R&D) cocoa bean into the place, let alone start production

This week we got the formal evaluation results on five of our bars back from Mark Christian at C-Spot. What a GREAT experience and worth every penny paid. Happily, there were no major negative surprises we agreed completely with the ranking (which was the same as our ranking for the bars we submitted), the scores were well explained and made sense, as did the overall assessment and recommendations. There was a wealth of insightful, helpful and eminently useful information. Four of the five bars that we submitted scored quite respectably for this point in the game, and the one that didnt score as well we pretty much knew would not (this particular chocolate really needs to age for several months before it starts to come into its own, and this was a very recent batch). That being said, its clear that we still have some room to improve especially with regard to our tempering (these were all tabled, very small batches), molding (no cooling tunnel yet)and refining. The thing that got the most positive feedback and encouraged us the most is the one that we feel is most important flavor. This independent data point was really important to us not only as a guide to future improvement, but also as a sanity check.

We also started our consulting with Clay this week and exchanged our first e-mails. Its clear even at this very early point that this is going to bemoney very well spent. Avoiding just a couple of (easily made) mistakes will save us potentially thousands down the road, and on the flip side, doing certain things right or better than we would have otherwise will make our product and business that much more robust. Lots to digest, ponder, and investigate this coming week on these first exchanges.

The coming week: Once we get a final read on the lease, hopefully Monday or Tuesday, well get our liability policy (about $1200 a year). If the stars align just right were hoping to sign the lease later in the week and get the keys shortly thereafter.

Getting closer,

David and Leslie