Sunday, July 26, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
a) Capture My Attention Quickly - Perhaps its starts with your overarching vision, but find a clever way establishing and leading our interest in your product or service quickly.
b) Make it Easy to Read and Compelling to Turn the Pages - Think about that spy novel that drives you aborb the content and turn the pages as the plot unfolds.
c) Follow Business Plan Protocol - There are many protocols & templates out there and they all lead the reader through a time tested process. All of the heading and topics will need to be addressed so there are no short-cuts to be taken. One client suggested that since their product was so unique they had no competitors and "never would' - therefore they left the section completely out!
d) Cadence your Content with Appropriate Emphasis - A colleague of mine at MaRS - Andy Haigh (email@example.com) has developed a 25 page format for the business plan. His rationale is simple - create something that the reader can digest in a single sitting - lean towards 25 pages rather then 60. The flow goes something like:
- Executive Summary (2-3 pages) - Company description, Value Proposition, Key Highlights
- Introduction (2-3 pages) - What is the problem that the company is trying to solve?
- Product & Technology (2-4 pages) - How does your technology solve the problem?
- Market Size (2-4 pages) - Start with the big numbers and narrow it down to your market.
- Go to Market Strategy (2-3 pages) - How do you plan on attacking the marketplace?
- Competition (2-3 pages) - How are you "better, faster, cheaper" ?
- Management (2 pages) - Do you have the team to make it all come together?
- Financial Summary (2-3 pages) - Financial Model, Investment Opportunity, Cash Flows.
- Strong Summary (1 page) - Re-iterate Key Points
e) Visualize at Every Opportunity - 25 pages of solid text will not work for your reader. Since a picture tells a 100o words - the photogragher or graphics designer are the world's most effective writers. Use charts, graphs, pictures, white space and section headings to help illustrate the points and focus the reader.
f) Proof Points - Do you have the customers, beta trials, strategic partnerships and trending financials to clearly demonstrate that you have it right?
g) Strong Finish - Having lead the reader through a compelling 25 page journey, re-iterate the key points to leave them with a lasting impresssion.
I have tried to capture in a few words what is clearly a significant art form. Have Andy and I missed anything? We look forward to your feedback.
Friday, July 10, 2009
- Do you have a "CAPY"- someone who can help you raise your next round(s) of Capital?
- Do you have an "Indy" - someone with deep industry Domain knowledge?
- Do you have a "Connector" - someone with Contacts and connections?
- Do you have the "Devil" - someone who will always play the alternative advocate?
- Do you have the "Seasoner "- someone who has been there and done it before?
All of these roles will be critical to any early stage company looking to get to the next level.
Does your company have what it will take?
Friday, July 3, 2009
We created a panel consisting of an Angel investor (Henry Vehovec www.mindfirst.com), a Venture Capitalist (Michael Curry www.investeco.com) and a representative from the Innovation Accelerator Fund (IAF) (Shriley Speakman www.oce-ontario.org). Over a beer or two James and I sifted through a signficant number of applications and chose 4 companies that were clearly up to the challenge. These included Thoughtspeed (www.thoughtspeed.biz) - a ecommerce health application, IDAlerts (www.idalerts.ca) - an identity theft protection company, Refined Data (www.refineddata.com) - a risk management software system and Real Tech (www.realtech.ca) - water quality test instrumentation. Each company was given 6 minutes to present their unique story and another 6 minutes to answer questions from the panel and audience. The panelists were then asked to provide their constructive feedback to each of the presentors. In a stroke of innovative genius, Radi and Sharon found some SMS voting software and with a little help we were able to have the sold out audience vote the company that they were most likely to invest their own money into.
The winning company was Real Tech represented by their CEO Jodi Glover. Congradulations to all of the presenting companies and to the audience for their support and appreciation. The event was such a success that James and I are already scheduling the next visit to the Pub to plot the next version - I am thinking something like: "...Ontario's Got Innovation Talent..."
What do you think?
Late last year I signed up to be an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) within the Ontario Commercialization Network. This network includes many well known brands including MaRS (www.marsdd.com), Communitech, Tech Alliance, ISCM, OCRI, OCETA and BioEnterprise. Most of my EIR is centred in Peel, Halton, Hamilton and occasionally in Toronto. I initiate my work from the RIC-Centre (www.ric-centre.on.ca) in Missisauga. This brand is emerging as one of the key resources in the commercialization network. Supported by the Ministry of Reaserch and Innovation (MRI), the Brampton / Caledon / Mississauga Board of Trades and the University of Toronto Mississauga, we are helping young organizations "...Accelerate Their Time to Commercilization." The work is challenging, fulfilling and a ton of fun - especially if you can see the progress these companies are starting to make.
Consequently, I now have a steady and reliable feed of interesting and exciting stories about our Innovation Economy in southern Ontario. The time is ripe for me to get onto the computer and create a regular feed of information for my newly minted Blog. As a result of my 'slow off the mark' approach, I have some key catch up to do this month.
Once again, I ask the Question: ".... Is there anyone out there........?"