Laura’s Venture

Hi everyone – Several of my assessors have had difficulty accessing my files, so I’ve uploaded it to YouTube (I’ll just take it down next week, easing my paranoid privacy concerns). I’m most anxious for feedback, so, with apologies for the length of time this has taken, here’s the link:

I’m enjoying all the pitches!



1 nancy castonguay { 11.29.08 at 8:11 am }

Hi Laura!
I still can’t access your work. The page does not load. Any suggestions? Is it just me?

2 Laura Macleod { 11.29.08 at 9:26 am }

I think I’m going to kill myself. Let me go fiddle.,..

3 Laura Macleod { 11.29.08 at 9:29 am }

Okay, try it now. Erk.

4 D.B. { 11.29.08 at 3:28 pm }

[I know what you mean re: privacy concerns and uTube. I’ve sent you by email a much more detailed evaluation.]

Great presentation Laura!

Great idea, good analysis, good to see the project systematically dissected and presented.

Very logical and comprehensive, it looks quite feasible too but it might end up being extremely labour intensive for the amounts specified, perhaps your estimates might need to be revised upwards for initial costs and recouping. As an EVA I’m convinced but would invest subject to viewing some prototypes of what you are proposing, especially the ‘network sites in a box’ concept and how it would work with different subjects.

5 nancy castonguay { 11.29.08 at 5:17 pm }

Very impressive Laura…

You touched on a very real issue Laura, that is, the general lack of support and available resources for online course instructors.
You definitely have done your homework on this, your market is well defined and your predictions appear to be solidly based. I believe that this is a creative solution for your publishing company since, as you mentioned, the attrition rate for textbook use is on the rise. Affiliating textbooks to toolkits increases the textbook value, especially if toolkits are dynamic and periodically updated or modified on the basis of peer reviewing and commenting. Although it seems obvious to me that your organization is very much concerned about instructor support, I like that you have placed a great deal of emphasis on student achievement because the toolkit would ultimately lead to increased face-to-face / synchronous instructor support and consistency across courseware. This will be most attractive to colleges and other institutions that are generally less concerned about instructor workload, and achievement driven. In addition to demonstrating obvious ease and familiarity with the field, your presentation shows that you have devoted a great deal of time in planning. In my opinion, the business model you are proposing would make the venture doubly interesting given that the cost of the toolkit is shared between faculty and students. The option to subscribe for half a year would be especially enticing for semestered programs that may not require a full year’s subscription. I think that the value proposition here is augmented by the fact that materials are reviewed by peers. Those who have actually used course materials in context are best positioned to assess strengths and fallacies of materials. They will also be able to offer a more pragmatic approach to using the various resources than would the publishing house, which does not generally put materials to the test in real-life situations. Your creating use of visuals made this presentation very engaging. Your voice was paced, assertive and inspired confidence. I think this venture would be worthy of funding.

6 Joey Dabell { 11.30.08 at 10:32 am }

Hi Laura:

Per the initial request, I sent my feedback through Dr. Vogt. Under the circumstances, and in keeping with the spirit of the Venture Forum, I’ll repeat it here.

Great presentation! I had to start with just your Executive Summary, but in the end was also able to view your full pitch presentation video. In your Executive Summary I liked the goals you stated for your project – “to increase the quality and consistency of course content… “. Clearly a venture that is able to do this is providing a much needed solution to a very real problem, and I wanted to know more. Your summary provides a good overview of the financials. Still it did not give me a strong overall sense of your project. It would be great if the summary could also include just one or two points about the people, the technology, the market, and your approach.
Your video was very professionally done. I liked how you set the stage by drawing your audience into your opening scenario. You clearly and concisely describe what your project is about, what problem it is trying to solve, its scope, and thoroughly explain how you plan to solve the problem. Using the English Toolkit as an example further helped to illustrate your solution. The problem of English levels in schools is very real, much in the news, and presumably one your investors would readily identify with.

I’m not strong on the business side, but thought your business model was pretty innovative and very well thought out. Your costing model made a lot of sense to me. You addressed the issue of market expansion with a good indication of how you plan to achieve this, and you addressed the plans for generating revenues well. You gave a good overview of what others in the market are doing. At the same time you were able to highlight how your venture distinguished itself.

I liked that you acknowledged not only the need for development time, but also the need for review, revision, and piloting your project. I found your timelines to be pretty realistic.

You gave a great summary in your value proposition. I appreciated that you highlighted the benefits for your investors, as well as your company and your customers.

The only things I didn’t see, and that would be important to include in a pitch to actual VCs, were a description of your team, an exit strategy, and funding request. Your project is an innovative approach to helping relieve some of the stresses currently besetting the education system. You are clearly knowledgeable in this area and did a good job of instilling investor confidence in your solution. With the few missing points addressed, I would recommend your project for funding.


7 Kenneth Heales { 11.30.08 at 1:57 pm }

Hi Laura
This venture is very well laid out, giving clear expectations of investment and growth. The presentation is very professional which would instil confidence in potential investors. The actual structure of the product is easy to grasp and the benefit is obvious to instructors. As well, the marketing of this product has a very clear strategy which shows a logical progression of growth for the company. You have clearly identified the potential market for this product and have developed a strategy for pursuing that market.
Another good point about your presentation is that you have identified which products would compete with Acme Toolkit and pointed out how your product is an upgrade over what already exists in the marketplace. You point out the shortfalls of these products and how your product will improve upon existing models.
Your investment requirements are very clear and you have done a good job of projecting potential revenue over time. Your requirements for funding are also very specific which makes it quite clear what is expected out of investors. The fact that there is so little quality product in this area that is being used also enhances the investment potential for this product.
I would have liked to have seen some sort of prototype or example that would have allowed me to see firsthand what the product looks like. I was also curious if there is a potential for a product like this to be used at the secondary school level. There is a large potential market there as many high school teachers feel overwhelmed with their work load and inadequate prep time.
Overall, I think that this product is a winning idea. With a more detailed prototype or example of the product, I could certainly see investing in this venture.
All the best,

8 Gillian Gunderson { 11.30.08 at 6:01 pm }


I was finally able to see your pitch!

The confidence with which you spoke reassured me that you had really researched and understood your venture. As a VC, I would be impressed by your presence.

You included all of the components that I am learning to look for in a presentation. However, I also would have liked to hear about the team a bit more – you do make reference to experience in the market, so it’s not completely missing.

Good market, good idea – I think there is definitely a need.


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