ModelNote is an innovative business modeling application, which will change the way you think about your business, investment and social ideas. ModelNote allows you to play with your idea – its assumptions, projections, implementation or even financing options and get a quick yet powerful assessment of its expected performance and financial feasibility.
There are many business professionals who do not really believe in modeling and planning (especially for start-ups). In our opinion there are two major reasons for that:
1. They usually do planning as they do financial reporting – as a fixed reporting document. Planning should be a continuous process to proactively identify risks and opportunities in the external and internal environment. It should be more of a game plan to obtain competitive advantage in your market rather than another document for the investors or the banks.
2. They usually interpret planning as predicting. Predicting is like: what will happen next. Planning is more about what if this happens next. While we agree that maybe in some cases we cannot even consider all the possible what-if options, this is not true for some of the risky factors. For example, sales might be very, very difficult to project, but costs are usually not. So even for a start-up it makes sense to have some planning and risk assessment of costs or investments.
We believe ModelNote could be used effectively as a simple yet dynamic planning tool for those purposes.
ModelNote was designed for:
- Entrepreneurs: ModelNote is your back-of-the-envelope tool to assess your next project. Just input your expectations and plans about investment cost, sales, expenses, etc. and get a quick assessment of financial needs, valuation, expected return and other analytics. In addition, tap a tab and get a full set of profit and loss account, balance sheet and cash flow statement ready for your business plan.
- Social entrepreneurs: ModelNote allows a quick and dirty assessments of financing needs, viability gaps, which you need to consider so that your project is sustainably financed.
- Corporate finance professionals: think of ModelNote as the next stage of your business calculator boosted with powerful modeling features, automatic finance and accounting calculations, advanced analytics and pre-built financial reports. ModelNote will allow you to stop spending time on spreadsheet modeling of every single option/project you consider and start focusing on decision making.
- Appraisers: ModelNote would allow you to perform quick DCF valuations or test your valuation models
- Bankers: the financial modeling capabilities of ModelNote are enhanced also with project finance features (such as debt to equity ratio financing, debt service coverage ratio, etc.) so that to you can have a quick assessment of a business proposition or even perform a fast test of the results of the client’s financial model.
ModelNote will help you tackle many crucial questions about your idea or project. Based on your data ModelNote will answer:
- What is the necessary investment for your project
- How this investment should be feasibly financed
- What the profitability of your project is
- What the expected return from your investment is
- What the value of your project is
- How fast you would be able to recover your investment
- How your project compares to industry norms (profitability, leverage, return).
There are many reasons why you should use ModelNote:
- It is all about planning: while spreadsheet models are usually developed as fixed projections (e.g. in a business plan), ModelNote could be used as an easy and dynamic planning tool with flexibilities which would not require rewriting formulas.
- It is adaptable: ModelNote offers a large number of features and customization options which would allow you to adapt it for various needs (project assessments, corporate and project finance, business plans, valuations, etc.)
- It is effective: ModelNote is designed to focus on your project and decision making and not on writing formulas and technical tasks
- It is easy: ModelNote is easy to learn and use. You just need to have basic understanding of financial and accounting concepts (e.g. what is revenue, cost, discounting, etc.). Even there you will find help notes in the app or on this site
- It is flexible: you can change many settings in ModelNote, during or after the model is done. For example you can modify the time schedule of your project after the model is completed (try that in a spreadsheet!)
- It is reliable: do you know what is the percentage of the spreadsheet models containing errors? 88% according to scientific papers (Panko, Raymond R., 2008, What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors, panko.shidler.hawaii.edu/SSR/Mypapers/whatknow.htm). Now we wonder what is the percentage of correct decisions based on these spreadsheets? ModelNote would not allow you to insert a wrong formula or an incorrect cell link
- It is fast: even large models are visualized and calculated quickly on your tablet
- It allows analyses in a context – the return of you project or the leverage could be compared to industry averages for example
- It allows export: you can easily export your model in terms of charts (pictures) and numbers (MS Excel format) if you need to use them in another documents or additional analyses
- It is free: all features of ModelNote are free for one project
- It is in progress: we intend to add more exciting features to ModelNote which would allow for additional tasks and more analyses.
There are three steps to prepare your model/plan in ModelNote:
1. Select your model settings
2. Insert the necessary inputs
3. Get your results.
This simple logic allows you to spend more time on your idea, its assumptions, implementation and financing options, etc.
Check out the demo project in the app. You can watch also some of the How-to videos on this site for more specific guidance.
ModelNote processes your data using standard accounting and corporate finance formulas to generate automatically financial statements and major performance indicators. All ModelNote calculations are performed on a monthly basis but the results could be reviewed on a monthly as well annual basis.
One important note is that if you update certain estimates (e.g. revenues, costs, etc.) or settings, ModelNote might need to refresh the calculations. This is performed by getting to the main console and then back to the Analysis or Financial Report tabs.
This is an accounting concept aiming at (1) reducing the value of an intangible asset by its wear and also (2) to allocate the cost of the asset during the time used (rather than recognizing it in full immediately).
Amortization expense is an item with no direct cash flow effect (it is not directly related to the payment of the cost of an asset) but it has an impact on the profit and loss statement and therefore on the taxes paid in a given period.
see Repayment method
In ModelNote cash reserve represents a cash amount provided in the last month of the investment period to cover potential future operating losses. A new project usually requires some time to take off and start generating positive cash flows and profits. In order to meet cash needs during that time a cash reserve was considered. It should be noted that this item is considered as part of the financing of the project.
This is a measure of the cost of the funds used in your business, expressed as a percentage rate (applied on the funds, just like an interest). This is the discount rate which will be used by ModelNote to perform a valuation of your project. The CoC in this case considers all the funds invested and their respective cost – that is why it is also called Weighted Average Cost of Capital.
As an example if you have invested just your money in the business probably you would require some return for the risk you have undertaken and then the CoC should be this required return (let’s say 15%). If you expect also a bank loan for your business then the CoC should be a weighted average of the cost of your money and the cost of the bank money (usually the interest rate of the loan is the cost of the bank money). So if you need to invest USD 100K in your business and you will provide USD 70K (or 70%) while the remaining USD 30K (or 30%) will come as a 5% interest bank loan, then the CoC for your business will be 70% x 15% + 30% x 5% = 12%.
Please note that CoC is not easy to estimate as it should reflect the risk of your project – the higher the risk, the higher the required return (or CoC) for your project. Professionals use various approaches for estimating the CoC, incl. Capital Asset Pricing Model, build-up approaches, etc.
You can find information and estimated rates of CoC for larger companies in various geographies and types of business on the site of prof. A. Damodaran here:
see working capital
This is an accounting concept aiming at (1) reducing the value of an asset by its wear and also (2) to allocate the cost of the asset during the time used (rather than recognizing it in full immediately).
Depreciation expense is an item with no direct cash flow effect (it is not directly related to the payment of the cost of an asset) but it has an impact on the profit and loss statement and therefore on the taxes paid in a given period.
see Repayment method
The expected value of your project at the end of the explicit forecast period. It could be a considered a residual/a terminal value of your project or the value you will receive if you exit the project at the end of the forecast.
ModelNote uses the exit value to estimate certain key performance indicators in the Analysis tab (incl. a valuation of your project). You can choose between:
(1) direct input of an exit value – an estimate derived by you
(2) multiple on the annual Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) or
(3) multiple on the annual free cash flow generated at the end of the forecast period.
With the latter two options a market-based valuation method could be performed. Many operating companies are often valued by applying multiples on an operating measure – e.g. sales, profit, cash flow, number of customers, unique visitors (for sites), etc. derived from public companies or M&A deals. Option 2 allows you to use a multiple on EBITDA so that the value of the project is estimated at the end. For example if you select a multiple of 7x EBITDA, this mean that the last annual EBITDA of your project will be multiplied by 7 and the resulting amount will be added (and later discounted) to the cash flows to estimate some performance indicators such as: net present value, internal rate of return, etc.
More about the market valuation and EBITDA multiples could be found on the site of prof. A. Damodaran here:
Option 3 would allow for a valuation with multiples on cash flows. This option could be also used to apply another popular valuation method: capitalization of income. With capitalization of income, the value is equal to the income divided by a capitalization rate. For example if your project generates USD 100k p.a. of cash flows and you have estimated a capitalization rate of 20%, the value would be 100/20% = 500. In ModelNote this could be simulated by selecting a multiple equal to 1/capitalization rate (or 5 in our example as 1/20% = 5.0).
ModelNote allows you to use three types of financing options:
All equity: under this option all cash needs during the Investments stage will be financed with owner’s capital or equity. This is the default option even if you do not need financing calculations.
Equity with fixed debt: under this option, you can define a specific amount of debt while the remaining financing needs during Investments stage will be covered with equity.
Proportionate debt and equity: under this option all financing needs during Investments stage will be covered with both debt and equity in a predefined proportion (e.g. 60:40).
It is important to understand that the financing options work only for the Investments stage (for now). This means that potential financing needs during the Operations stage will not be covered automatically by this functionality. This will be manifested as negative cash (and a warning) in the balance sheet of your project. If you need to cover financing needs during the Operations stage you can use the cash reserve which will basically draw some funds at the end of Investments stage and use them to cover future losses.
If you do not need financing calculations (e.g. the focus is only on the project performance) then do not insert the Financing element at all.
A period usually provided by debt providers at the beginning of the operating stage (until the project takes off operationally) with no principal repayments.
Asset with non-physical nature, such as software, patent, trademark, permit, etc.
A spending which could be used (or bring benefits) more than a year. Typical investments include land, buildings, machinery, equipment, vehicles, computers, software, etc.
ModelNote allows you to insert investments (actually their cash outflows) only during the Investments stage. During that stage typically most costs should be capitalized as assets. For now, ModelNote would not provide functionality for investments during the Operations stage so such spending could be included as costs (e.g. maintenance or material costs).
The initial stage of the projects when the major investments are made.
Most projects have at least two distinct stages: (1) an investment stage and (2) an operating stage. During the investment stage the company acquires assets (e.g. buying a property or machinery) or develops assets (e.g. developing an application, building a warehouse, etc.), which will be exploited later in the operating stage. If you do not need an investment stage (e.g. your project is already operational) just insert nil months of investments.
The stage when acquired/developed assets (during the investment stage) are used to provide services/manufacture products, etc. If your project is with indefinite operating life you should consider extending this operating period until your project is reaching a mature phase or at least until your investment loans (if any) are fully repaid.
The repayment of the debt could be performed by two options (for now):
Annuity: under this option the debt is repaid in equal installments (equal payments which include both interest and principal). This is the typical repayment scheme of a car leasing. You can find more information about the annuity in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annuity_%28finance_theory%29
Equal principal repayments: under this option the principal is repaid in equal portions during the repayment period while the interest is estimated on the basis of the outstanding debt amount.
It should be noted that all repayments and calculations are performed on a monthly basis.
ModelNote allows you to apply monthly seasonality patterns on revenues and costs. You can select predefined or manually modified patterns.
This is the corporate income tax applicable for your project. If you do not have a single rate you might choose an effective rate for your industry or a marginal tax rate for your country.
More information and tax rates by industry and country could be found on the site of prof. A. Damodaran here:
Europe, etc. by industry: http://people.stern.nyu.edu/adamodar/New_Home_Page/datacurrent.html#discrate
Marginal tax rate by country: http://people.stern.nyu.edu/adamodar/New_Home_Page/datafile/countrytaxrate.htm
ModelNote assumes indefinite loss-carry forward of project losses, which means that the losses typically accumulated at the beginning of a project will be used to decrease the taxable income in future (profitable) years. While this might not be always possible, this option was considered closer to reality (especially if the planned project could be combined with other profitable projects).
You can find more information about the annuity in Wikipedia:
The period of use of the assets developed during the investment stage. This period is used to depreciate the separate types of assets equally during their useful life (straight line depreciation). If you do not have specific asset type just there is no need to change the respective useful life settings.
see working capital
see working capital
working capital in most cases includes three major items – receivables (sales amounts the customers have not yet paid), payables (costs we have not yet paid to suppliers) and inventory (stock of products and materials we keep so that we can operate normally – e.g. manufacture, process, sell, etc.). So net working capital is the sum of the receivables and the inventory less the payables. It is an indication of the capital employed in the current operations of a project.
In order to estimate the receivables, the payables and the inventory for your project ModelNote will need some average turnover periods – e.g.:
- For receivables: when on average your customers pay. This is also called Average Collection Period of Sales or Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) and should be close to the expected contractual terms with your customers. If your project is operational, this period could be calculated by dividing the average receivables by the average daily sales.
- For payables: when we pay suppliers. This is also called Average Payment Period to Suppliers or Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) and should be close to the expected contractual terms with your suppliers. If your project is operational, this period could be calculated by dividing the average payables by the average daily costs.
- For inventory: for how long we keep inventory. This is also called Average Turnover Period of Inventory or Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO) and should be related to how fast you expect to manufacture and sell your products. If your project is operational, this period could be calculated by dividing the average inventory by the average daily material costs (e.g. cost of goods sold) incurred.
Note: in some cases end-of period (rather than average) data for receivables, payables and inventory might be more appropriate.
More information and DSO, DPO and DIO by industry and country could be found on the site of prof. A. Damodaran here:
Europe, etc. by industry: http://people.stern.nyu.edu/adamodar/New_Home_Page/datacurrent.html#cashflows
This chart illustrates the evolution of the free cash flows to the project (a.k.a. free cash flows to firm – FCFF) and the net income during Operations. In ModelNote the FCFF are equal to the sum of the cash flows from operations and the cash flows from investment activities. The point when the FCFF or the net income intercept the horizontal time line is a break even of operations when the project becomes profitable.
The ratio of the cash available for debt servicing to interest and principal payments. This is an important ratio when applying for a bank loan as it indicates the capacity of your project to meet its debt obligations during Operations. In ModelNote this ratio is estimated by dividing the sum of the cash flows from operations and the cash flows from investment activities to the debt service charges (interest and principal) in the respective period.
You can find more information about the IRR in Wikipedia:
IRR is a widely used measure of the profitability of an investment. Basically it is the expected average compounded return of your investment/project. Technically the IRR is the rate of return that makes the net present value of all project cash flows (both positive and negative) equal to zero. See also Net Present Value. In ModelNote the IRR is estimated using the free cash flows of the project (i.e. the sum of the cash flows from operations and the cash flows from investment activities).
The benefit of the IRR is that it could be compared directly to other rates of returns. For example if the IRR of the project is above your required rate of return or discount rate then the project is attractive and should be undertaken (if the IRR is the only decision criterion).You can find more information about the IRR in Wikipedia:
The leverage is the proportion of debt and equity in your project. The Leverage chart indicates the proportion of equity as compared to the total invested capital (debt and equity). The upper scale shows some general ranges of low and high leverage. The bottom scale – typical leverage levels of a number of industries – data for public companies in the USA and Europe as of the last quarter of 2014, sources: Capital IQ, Morningstar. So based on the stage of the development of your project and its industry you can compare it to market oriented data and averages.
This is an estimate of the value of a project equal to the sum of all discounted cash flows generated by the project. Such cash flows might be negative (e.g. investing funds in the project) or positive (e.g. generating profits). The discount rate used (cost of capital) should be based on the project and its risk characteristics. See also cost of capital. In ModelNote the NPV is estimated using the free cash flows of the project (i.e. the sum of the cash flows from operations and the cash flows from investment activities).
Basically if the NPV is positive, the project is an attractive investment which should be undertaken (if the NPV is the only decision criteria). Negative NPV means that the project would not generate enough return (future cash flows) for the estimated risk (as indicated by the discount rate).
You can find more information about the NPV in Wikipedia:
This is an indicator of how fast your project is expected to recover the initial investment (ignoring discounting). Although not the best measure of return, the payback period is intuitive and often used in addition to more comprehensive indicators (NPV, IRR).
You can find more information about the payback period in Wikipedia:
This chart shows the expected evolution of the Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin of your project during Operations. You can benchmark the latter margin to industry averages - data for public companies in the USA and Europe as of the last quarter of 2014, sources: Capital IQ, Morningstar.
The chart illustrates the IRR as compared to the discount rate and selected rates of required return (bottom scale). The latter include average ranges of required returns for government bonds (~ risk free rates), corporate bonds…up to venture capital investments and startups. Based on the stage of development of your project and its risk you can benchmark your return to these indicative levels.
The major terms you certainly need to know include:
- ModelNote is free – all features for one project. If you need more than one model, there might be a small one-off fee.
- We do not bear any responsibility for how you use ModelNote, for errors in the app or your data and settings. ModelNote is a tool which allow you to plan more effectively your idea. It is not intended to replace your critical thinking but rather enhance it.
For more information, please see the detailed terms in the next section.
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