Rick Leimbach helps startups with the numbers and business plans that can help launch and grow a business. When it comes to working with folks who are making the key decision to pursue a new venture, however, he’s zeroed in on a different KPI.
“The deliverable is not numbers. My experience is that the deliverable is confidence,” he said. “Most people I’ve talked to have an idea, a premise and most importantly a passion. Typically they come in and lack the confidence to take the next step because of the financials.”
Leimbach is looking to help entrepreneurs gain that confidence and sound financial footing with Startup Portal. The venture is opening a new space this week in Westminster.
It brings some notable entrepreneurial activity along Baltimore Boulevard in the Carroll County town. At the space, Startup Portal’s team members will meet with clients who are using its paid service (which starts at $100 per month). It will also host events and sessions designed to help educate startups and gain experience pitching.
Leimbach brought years of experience working with business financials to found the company. Over the last seven years, he’s drawn on experience as a CFO to advise companies on financial reporting, bookkeeping, accounting and more.
Serving as a judge in 2016 at Towson University’s business plan competition, he saw how entrepreneurs could benefit from a platform that could help move a business “from plan to profit,” as the venture terms it. That inspired Startup Portal. Leimbach has continued to be involved in the community, working with the cohort of founder fellows in MICA’s Baltimore Creatives Acceleration Network (BCAN) and getting in face time at the recent student entrepreneur conference organized by Innov8MD.
Startup Portal works with entrepreneurs to offer financial guidance as they build both companies and crowdfunding campaigns. Every venture is built on a story, but there are also the hard numbers to consider that make it a business.
“The premise is as you’re walking in to think about your story and where you want to go with it, we can help you get started,” Leimbach said.
Using cloud-based tools, his company takes a startup’s initial business plan and offers financial guidance with models and metrics. As a startup progresses, it also provides the accounting and other back-office services.
With these services, the space — which, Leimbach points out, is 25 minutes from Baltimore’s Beltway — is home to Startup Portal’s workspace, where its team of four people is based and clients will be frequenting.
“Our environment is cloud based, so there’s no printers and no paper,” Leimbach said, adding that they use tools such as Google’s G-Suite, Quickbooks and Slack.
Alongside that financial work, however, the space is also designed with plenty of IRL interaction in mind. That’s where the goal of inspiring confidence comes in.
In one half of the 1,200-square-foot space, Leimbach is making room to host events where entrepreneurs can learn. With all of the functions that are involved in running a business, Startup Portal wants to bring in others such as attorneys and marketing pros alongside accountants. And he’s planning themed nights around different kinds of businesses, where entrepreneurs can learn from folks about “how they got there and hear their story of the successes but also what not to do,” he said.
It can also serve as a spot for more informal time where entrepreneurs can practice how they present their business, or a pitch to a bank or investor, and get feedback. They will also likely set aside time during the day where entrepreneurs can sit down with Startup Portal to share their stories.
After hearing about the space, Leimbach said he liked the central “main street” location in Westminster. Going forward, the goal is to have an “open door” for entrepreneurs.
“From the standpoint of getting people to take that next step, I think a physical space will play out very well,” he said.
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