The All-Digital Recording Studio
The year was 1993, and I had graduated from college as an Electrical Engineer. Yay! Unfortunately, the economy was in a significant slump, and engineering jobs for recent graduates were nonexistent. So, I moved to Orange County, where the hot jobs were. Yeah… And ended up making copies at Kinko’s. Blah!
My prospects for the future were grim, and I decided that the only way out was to start a business. I had many ideas but wanted to concentrate on professional audio. This equipment makes records, live performances, and radio stations.
I chose to develop a digital mixing board, a device combining audio from multiple sources. For example, a drum set has six or more microphones that must get combined or “mixed” down to two (stereo) (left and right).
So, my epic quest began. I researched existing technology and then developed block diagrams to show what I wanted to create. With this inadequate preparation, I headed to the bank, explained my idea, and asked them to invest. After all, I had been putting my minimum wage earning from Kinkos there for a year, and surely they would come through with loads of cash. While the loan officer was friendly, I got a quick “no.” Why? It turns out that I needed an investor to fund my company, and banks only provide loans with your collateral. In hindsight, this is obvious, but I was young.
After the shock wore off, I reasserted locating an investor and learned they wanted a business plan. This document would show a potential investor the financial and technical detail so they could quickly see if a new business had potential. So, I went to the bookstore and purchased three books. One of them even came with software! Unfortunately, each poorly written book had radically different approaches. Side note: The software was worthless.
So, I picked out the best nuggets from each book, crafted an approach, and spent three months writing. And… Even I could see my plan was junk. But I had an ace up my sleeve.
My mother had a friend who wrote business plans. Yay! Unfortunately, he saw my desperate plight as an opportunity to shake me down for money. Boo! (Side note: I keep using the word, unfortunately. Authors call this “foreshowing.”) Thankfully, there was good news. My father had a friend, and he took one look at my document, laughed, and identified the problems. Fortunately, he was patient and became my mentor.
For the first time, I laser-focused on a document. Every sentence had a goal, and I treated it like a precious gem interlocked with other gemstones to form the perfect piece of jewelry. Never had I tried so hard to make something perfect.
Unfortunately, the problem that started me down this path still existed. The economy was poor in 1993 and just as bad in 1994. I worked every angle to get my business plan in front of people. The “dot-com bubble” had not started, and nobody wanted to create a new company. I also had another problem I did not understand until years later.
Investors, by definition, are wealthy and do not get rich by making mistakes. My business plan revealed I was a recent college graduate and did not have a team or a working product. These facts made my business a non-starter.
I eventually dropped that project but learned a lot about business, life, people, finances, English, and documents. I had never focused so hard on my words and saw the power of a properly structured sentence. This knowledge and drive became the legacy of my failed effort. I like to think that I got an unofficial MBA and an unofficial degree in technical writing for my efforts. Yay???
This was not the last time I tried to start a business and failed. In total, I made four attempts. The last one was an epic failure, but I thought I had solved the problems because I had dedicated partners, the right plan, and the right idea. What an expensive and glorious mess.
The question remains. Would I change the past? One of my biggest regrets was not getting my master’s degree, and I should have spent the business plan time on this effort. It probably would have been easier. However, I am proud of my failed accomplishment because I can say, “I tried my best and learned a lot.” Painful lessons are often the best.
So, I am glad I attempted to get The All-Digital Recording Studio off the ground. But what about my other three attempts? Those were all mistakes that I wish I could erase. So, if you have a time-traveling DeLorean, please drive it my way and send me back.

You’re the best -Bill
June 21, 2023
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