Userful: Penguin Friends

Hi everyone,

My pitch was for Userful Company, for a new proposal called Pengiun Friends. I apologize for it’s being so late, I was talking with the president of the company, Tim Griffin, about the proposal and Userful.


No one has to look at my proposal (for reviewing), but if you’d like to take a look and let me know what you think, it’s available here:





1 David Wees { 11.30.08 at 7:33 pm }

Hi Crystal,

Your proposal looks quite interesting. It seems clear to me that you will want to expand your product to the Windows and Mac environments because my guess is, a very small percentage of schools use Linux as their base operating system.

In terms of competitors for your product, I am aware of solutions for monitoring printer activity on computers, monitoring and restricting access to websites (Squid proxy), and ways to allow a single computer to operate as many (thin-client model for both Windows or Mac), but I am pretty sure there is no single software tool that accomplishes all of these.

Your pitch is extremely clear and easy to follow. I liked the way you had the PowerPoint (or Impress?) in the background and you in the foreground, making it easier to follow both the presentation and your narration. I guess this has something to do with non-verbal communication? You’ve created a very professional presentation.

One problem with your proposal I see that is if your report is unfavourable, then your investor will lose their $50,000 since they will likely plan on investing more money to see your idea through. I think that you should point out that the individual pieces of your idea already exist and so the feasibility of your idea is very high.

Good work Crystal, I hope you get more people to review your product.


2 Crystal Pullman { 12.01.08 at 1:39 am }

Thanks Dave!

It is a powerpoint presentation, which I recorded with Camtasia . It records the video at the same time, and allows you to overlay the video in picture-in-picture style.

I agree about the potential loss of the investment, but when weighted against the potential gain, I think it’s a risk that investors may be willing to take. I also tried to be clear that it’s a total investment I’m looking for, so not necessarily from a single investor (although to investors, $50,000 may not actually seem like that much).

Thank you very much for taking the time to review my presentation, I appreciate it as I did put a lot of effort into it!


3 Crystal Pullman { 12.01.08 at 1:54 am }

Hi again Dave,

Forgot to mention – in this proposal I’m looking at conducting the research, and didn’t mention thin client, because Userful’s multiplier product works in a different way. Instead of having a server with thinclients attached, the server simply has extra hardware (video cards, USB ports, etc) to handle the extra monitors, keyboards and mice. The problem with products that take a thin client approach is that the clients often can’t handle sophisticated graphics (3D, video), whereas Userful’s approach can easily manage this. Also with Userful, there is then less latency.

The problem then is that Windows and Macintosh are designed in a way that makes it more difficult to use the hardware in this fashion, so it’s uncertain whether or not Userful would be able to gain enough information on and access to Windows and Macintosh to be able to remake their products that way. On the other hand, they could use Desktop and Manager, and then simply take a thin client approach instead of using Multiplier.

Does that help explain why I chose the research investment, vs. an actual project investment? I should have still mentioned the other products I suppose, if only to say how different they were, but it wouldn’t help to show that the feasibility of this project is high.


4 David Wees { 12.01.08 at 4:23 am }

Yeah Linux is much better at handling unusual hardware than Windows or Mac because the configuration is handled differently (I have edited my xorg.conf file many times so far while trying out Ubuntu).

I see the benefits of Multiplier over a thin client. I’ve tried using a graphics semi-intensive program over a network before, and its horrible, very slow on the computer and pushes a lot of traffic over the network, not good. Additional hardware seems like it would help handle that.

Nice idea, hope you are successful.

5 David De Pieri { 12.01.08 at 8:15 am }

Hi Crystal,

I’m really impressed with your website, how much it looks like the actual Userful website, even the favicon is the same. The mock imitation looks great.

I also like the video picture-in-picture aspect of the presentation. It doesn’t jump through the text of the power point or cut out so you can’t see what’s on the slide while you are speaking. I don’t remember other presentations doing something like this.

I like the way you initially ask for support for your “proposal” for research. Sort of a small step toward your venture as opposed to asking for piles of cash for something that may not pan out. I think this is a better strategy. Asking for money to do an in-depth analysis of whether the project is actually feasible is a good 1st step.
Like David W. mentions, I believe you’ll have to crack the nut of the small percentage of schools using Linux as their base OS, and then the ball will start rolling.

I also like the image you created for Penguin Friends (a penguin for Linux, a window for Windows, and an apple on the windowsill for Macintosh). There are many links on the site that link back to the actual Userful website, such as for the management team, Free The Penguins initiatives etc., so that people can find out more about the actual company. As well, viewers can read your website info on the company and view the mock pitch to learn more.

Very nicely done… 2 thumbs up…


6 Crystal Pullman { 12.01.08 at 12:32 pm }

Thanks Dave!

I tried to make the mock website as similar as I could. In fact, Tim was worried that people might think it was part of the actual website, which is why I added the disclaimer at the top. 🙂


7 D.B. { 12.01.08 at 7:43 pm }


Great presentation! I agree with what ddp and dw are saying above with regards to a few concerns that they have as well as their kudos for your project. Well done!

Were I an EVA, I’d want to know what my rate of return would be if I were to (or my group were to) contribute $50k to the project. If the project turns out to be feasible, what would we, as investors have to look forward to regarding: return on investment? Would it be stock in the company, portions of net/gross-profit?

The other thing I might question is the proportion of what is being sought for an investment ($50k) vs the most recent project ($1000k). What would that recent $1m project end up providing in ways of revenue/profit for the Userful stakeholders? Would their investment of $50k assure them a ‘cut’ later of the $1m project profit?

Nonetheless, a well done project. Great web site, and good integration by reference (and disclaimer) with the original site!


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