In December of 2011 I answered a phone solicitation from Sierra Investments with regard to their company helping startup companies like mine with company targeted grants.
I was helped (lied to) initially by a lady named Lorraine Quinn. She gave me this big spiel that there were numerous companies in my area who had all this money to give out in grants for startup companies like mine. She said these companies got a huge tax write off for the grant money they invested.
Ms. Quinn then called me back within a couple of hours and said they had identified several entities in my area that had a total of $389,000.00 in grant money available for my business (used car dealership) but I had to act within 72 hours to lock down the funds.
The catch was that it would cost me $3,950.00 for Sierra to write the necessary business plan to enable them to submit the grant application. My business was really struggling to get off the ground and even though it sounded too good to be true, I signed up. $4,000.00 was about all I had left out of my lifes savings which I used to open my store. The business plan was at best weak and basically a cookie cutter plan (copy-paste-copy-paste).
That all happened in December of 2011. It is now 2012 and I never received one call from Sierra to let me know how my application was progressing. I had to call (every 3 weeks) to get to talk to anybody and it was always the same spiel - "We have not received any progress on your application but we are in the process of re-submitting it to other grant providers.
One month I was speaking to the lady "Mercedes" who was actually responsible for writing my business plan and as she was giving the "nothing has happened yet but we are resending to other grant providers" when I asked her how many grants they had been awarded that month. To my surprise she told me that they had not been awarded a grant in the past 90 days! I should have asked if they had been awarded any at all for 2012.
Anyhow, thanks for letting me vent. Wish I had known about your web site earlier. It is my belief that Sierra Investments is just a rip off company.
Oh yes, I just remembered that they tried twice over a 6 month period to get me to give them another $5 - $6,000.00 to do another form that would put my grant up to $760,000.00! They really got upset when I wouldn't do it. I told them if they were so sure that I would qualify to just submit the paperwork and I would pay them after the grant was awarded. Of course they didn't go for that. They are a RIP OFF.
I hope this letter helps someone from making the same mistake I did. I have fought to keep my business going since August of 2011, and even though I have 23 years experience in managing car dealerships I am within 30 - 60 days of bankruptcy. It's a tough job market out there when you are 60 years old. Employers don't seem to be interested in experience anymore. They are more interested in keeping their cost of health insurance down.