Friday, March 14, 2008

Berkeley Business Plan Competition - Semifinal Round

It's been busy on the work front lately. We had to submit our business plan for the semifinal round of the Berkeley Business Plan competition. Our mentor bailed on us (he went on vacation) so we were left up to our own demise. Fortunately and unfortunately, we reached out to a friend in the VC community and fellow Haas alum, Alex Ortiz, to take a look at our plan. The reason I said unfortunately, is that it required us to rework quite a bit of what we had. And unfortunately, because this was on Sunday night and our plan was due Tuesday. We had lots of work to do and little time.

It was actually quite fortunate that we had him look at it. I think after we incorporated his changes, it actually really started to look like a legitimate document the Rajiv and I were both proud of. I'd invest in this company after I read it! I guess I already am, so the true test is when we approach investors.

What we learned from Alex?

1) Know your audience
One of the main concerns he had was ensuring that we were directing the document to the right people. Know your audience! We were initially selling the idea as a benefit to consumers - to get buy in on the idea. Unfortunately, it's not your consumers that are funding you - it's your investors. So although proving the merit of your idea is vitally important, we had to focus more on showing them the money.

2) The more eyes the better
Since Rajiv and I had been the only ones who had looked at it, it was also good to just get some feedback on flow, grammar, and style of the document - which he had quite a few comments about. It was hard for us to see what we were writing since we'd read and re-read the document so many times!

3) Be explicit - don't make assumptions
Another important piece of Alex's feedback was ensuring that he understood what we were doing and what we were offering. If you are doing something new, make sure you spell it out - with images, mockups, or whatever else best describes what you are doing.

As for the rest of the competition: our presentation is due on Tuesday and the following Wednesday we will be formally presenting to VC's at Berkeley. We find out that day if we make the finals. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Yes. Curious to see what some real players think about our idea? Definitely.

No comments: