This started off by reviewing the presentations of the 11th Annual UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition at the Haas School of Business. After reviewing the presentations, I was to select three of them and then address the following questions:
- Identify the three presentations (by name of team/venture) and rank them as 1 (best), 2 (second best) and 3 (3rd best).
- Identify 1-2 strengths and 1-2 weaknesses for each of the three presentations.
- If you were on the team you believe is the best, what would you do differently and why? If you were on the team you ranked as third, what would you do differently and why?
- The need for AutoTB’s product is evident and requires little explanation. AutoTB’s presentation backed this up with facts and figures regarding existing cases and the growth of tuberculosis.
- AutoTB presented a timeline for growth, funding requirements, and an expected return on investment. Whether I am confident in their numbers or not, as an investor I know what the founders are expecting in terms of financial input and output.
- Of the three teams I reviewed, AutoTB’s product is the one who’s feasibility I am most concerned about. Other than the fact that they have a great team consulting them on the product already, it is not clear that this is a thing that can even be done.
- Is this a problem that has a clear end? Can tuberculosis be wiped out and no longer threaten developing nations? If so, what is the company’s roadmap for future products?
- Ulteamail has an existing product and a small group of beta users. Being able to demo the product during their presentation was a highly effective selling point.
- The product solves problems for decision-makers. This should make it easier for Ulteamail to sell into companies since they are dealing directly with the people making these decisions.
- From what we can see of the demo, this product does not replace email. That means that, as a user, it is just one more place I have to go to do work.
- The “Getting Things Done” and “Project Management” spaces are fairly crowded. There is some question as to whether there is room in for competition in that market.
- The financial numbers in their presentation were so fantastic as to seem unbelievable. That does not mean they are unattainable, but the presenters do nothing to sell the veracity of those numbers.
- This seems to be software that large companies might find attractive.
- The founders have experience in the market they are trying to sell into. The may have an easy time finding initial customers.
- The presentation sells the product well, but gives no indication of the business model. It left me with more questions than answers. For example, who is the target market? It seems to be every Fortune 2000 company.
- The presentation makes this product sound like a single sell item. My experience with software packages like this is that they require purchase of the product and then consulting to get them up and running.
AutoTB’s presentation was well done. They quickly addressed all the major bullet items a business plan should describe. The major weakness of their business plan is that it relies on the development of new technology. If that technology is not feasible, the entire business plan falls apart. In order to make the presentation more effective, I would add something to address the feasibility of the product. Although it sounds to the layman like something that can be done, it would be more effective to put more emphasis on the product’s development than “it will be ready in one year.” That part of the presentation sounded more like a desire than an absolute. Obviously, many technology startups are based on technology that may or may not pan out. That being said, the unpredictability of the technology is the major weakness of AutoTB.
Logicularity did a fantastic job of describing their product. After watching their presentation, I have no doubt that this is a product with a market. Unfortunately, I just do not know what that market is. After hearing their presentation, I have no idea how the company plans to make money other than by selling software. To improve their presentation, Logicularity needs to quickly sell their product concept, and then move on to their business model. They would benefit greatly from spending up to half of their presentation going over the Five Component Model described by Kaplan and Warren (2013). Just be quickly touching on those five points, they would give a much clearer picture of their venture’s potential.
Kaplan, J. M., & Warren, A. C. (2013). Patterns of Entrepreneurship Management (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.