Taking the Plunge into Franchising

A former Navy diver discovered security in surveillance systems.
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This story appears in the February 2007 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

Mark Hath was tired of being told what to do. After nine years as a Navy diver and nine more in the civil service teaching aircrews about aerospace physiology and water survival, he was ready to escape the rank and file of the U.S. military and find a job that would put him in charge. He liked the idea of buying a franchise, but money was an issue.

"All the franchises I looked at required a pretty huge outlay of cash," says Hath, 38. "You get into all these food industries and you've got leases to deal with. When you really get down to it, it's a huge [investment]."

When Hath came across MonitorClosely.com, a digital surveillance franchise, the first thing he wanted to know was how much it was going to cost him. With a 20 percent veteran discount, the startup costs came to a feasible $19,000. He attended training in August 2006 and has been in business in San Diego for about four months.

It doesn't take an ex-Navy diver to sell MonitorClosely.com's line of high-end security systems-you just need to be able to sell and to communicate, Hath says. With security concerns on the rise, the company caters to businesses as diverse as day-care centers and banks. Currently, Hath's main focus is marketing. He often scouts out local businesses that lack surveillance systems or have outdated models and sets up demos for possible buyers. Because the systems are accessible online, Hath can provide 24-hour customer service to his clients. He's even contracted out local installers to handle the technical aspects of the systems, which cost, on average, $3,000 to $5,000 for a small business and include everything from high-resolution cameras to monitoring units. Hath projects 2007 sales will reach $240,000.

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