April ALAP Meeting Recap – Selestial Soap

Selestial SoapMLUI hosted another fine As Local As Possible (ALAP) Investment Group meeting on April 12!  We changed up the format a bit this month to discuss group business during both the first (in between yummy bites of potluck goodness) and third hours.  Here’s a quick summary of these topics:

*Membership:  with several months under our belts, we are now confident it is time to more openly spread the word about ALAP.  We will work on some basic content to help with this (including a combined hand-out (paper and/or electronic) that appeals to prospective members and fund-seeking, triple-bottom-line entrepreneurs).  Such content will help us get the word out to our respective social networks, local media like the Express and TCTicker, and sustainability-connected groups like ISLAND, SEEDS, and MLUI.  In order to manage logistics, we will strongly encourage RSVPs to make sure our current meeting space is sufficient.

*Speaker Sourcing:  In addition to the combination member/entrepreneur recruiting noted above, we will get the word of what we are doing out to other organizations that regularly interface with entrepreneurs (such as Northern Michigan Angels, SCORE, community bankers, etc).  We will be sure to emphasize that ALAP members are focused on making loans to triple-bottom-line-focused local entrepreneurs.

*Meeting Format:  we talked quite a bit about this including frequency, structure, etc.  For now, we’ve decided to skip the May meeting as many of the regular ALAP members will be getting together in the weeks ahead to work out an operating agreement for a local investment club.  So our next regular ALAP potluck will be June 14.  We also discussed taking July and Aug off and then from September alternating the ALAP potluck and ALAP investment club (once formed) meetings.  Depending on our speaker sourcing efforts, we may alter the 7-8pm hour to include two 30-minute entrepreneur slots rather than the current format of one 60-minute slot.  We also liked the idea of mixing in a local Pizza order from time to time to give the potluck preppers a break.  Generally though, we like the 3 hour format of (6-7pm) networking/potluck/5-minute quick pitches, (7-8pm) featured entrepreneurs, and (8-9pm) group business.

After our “working” potluck hour, we heard a five-minute talk from ALAP member Paul Murray who continues to develop a business model for his Life-House Eco Living System.  Paul’s current concept includes a 20-room healing lifestyle center with year-round greenhouse food growing, living-foods nutrition on-site, and ultra-green construction.

Following Paul, we heard about the new developments underway at Selestial Soap.  Joining Ruth were her new CEO/investor Stephen Ezell (www.eha-ventures.com), COO Bob Selkirk (sorry about the spelling Bob) and guest Tom Krause who is helping the Selestial Team with a possible commercial real estate deal.  Ruth gave a product overview of Selestial’s surprisingly deep product line which includes surfactant-free liquid laundry detergents, softening rinses, stain sprays, household cleaners, and even an all-natural insect repellent.  Stephen who runs a venture-capital advisory and joined the Selestial team only a week ago, walked the group through his assessment of Selestial’s potential and the introductory steps the new team is taking to quickly ramp up growth.

Those interested in learning more should follow up with Stephen (Stephen@eha-ventures.com).  He mentioned that there may be a near-term real-estate investment opportunity in “Phase 1” of Selestial’s restructuring as well as a possible equity opportunity later this year.

For ALAPers interested in working on the planning of the investment club, our next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 pm Wednesday April 25 at Barb Tholin’s home in TC (directions will follow for those on the investment club planning group email list.)  As mentioned above, our next ALAP potluck will be Thursday, June 14 with the invited entrepreneur TBA.

Have a great weekend everyone,


PS:  Here’s a link from Paul Murray on the self-directed IRA front.