Recombo vs. Ingenia…

Not being a “business person” per se, this has been pretty interesting – lots of new terms.  Since I really like watching “Dragon’s Den” and “Shark Tank” this has been kind of fun/cool.  I have emulated Ed’s idea and included a table with my thoughts on two companies, Recombo 2005 and Ingenia.

What to “watch for”

Recombo-2005

Ingenia-?

CEO Credibility

Brad seems very motivated, intense, knowledgeable and committed to a goal/goals of company and customer. Been with company for a number of years as well. Don’t know his education background or actual degrees/credentials.

Ramona also is very committed, knowledgeable, been there since 1998, but not as intense/goal oriented perhaps. Her academic credentials and experience are impressive.

Management Team

Brad does not really describe his management team.

Ramona mentions all consultants are Masters/PhD’s. Beyond that, not much.

Business Model

Given that the interviewer has tracked the company for a number of years, presumably the model has worked well. The idea of incentives for the lighthouse customer in order to access their client list seems solid; he endorses “win-win” strategies. IBM is interested which seems to reinforce their business model.

It would appear they have done due diligence in terms of researching the demographics of Vietnam, what the government is pushing(private sector), who is investing(Asian Dev. Bank), other major players that might access their services, the amount of competition(little) and the overall need.

Competitive Products

Prices/fees are not given; went to website and would have to phone to get info. Digital signatures seem to be a main service, i.e. contracts over the internet that are legal. Don’t know what this service should be worth.

Again, no fees/prices given; contact them to get quotes. Lots of testimonials on webpage. Not really sure what consultants earn for this type of work. Visited three other sites – no fee structure given; phone to get a quote.

Market Readiness

They have been going for four years at interview time, just almost doubled employees, major lighthouse customer, depending on whether they get the 700 company name list they might be a 100 million dollar company maybe.

According to their info, conditions are very good for this company to succeed. Their “skills/niche services” are predicted to be needed and the country seems to have a lot to offer for what Ingenia does.

Technical Innovation

They do seem to have an edge; the connector/adapter seems able to talk btw any system and interpret data and change data in real time. Seems like they have a product that others do not have or would want.

I’m not sure they have a technical edge/innovative product/service; rather what they do is going to be in demand in the market they have targeted. They talked about limited dollars for development so I don’t know that they will be “leading edge”.

Exit Strategy

Brad seems very clear on this. For the right price, they would sell to a VC interest. But at what point this happens…hard to tell.

I get the sense that they do have goals/direction and have done their homework but they don’t spell out what their long term goals are.

Overall Investment Status

I would invest with Brad and company. Seem to be growing, have a product that is desired, IBM interested, like their philosophy on customers/employees. Don’t think they are looking for investors – maybe a “big buyer”; mentioned IPO as a possible route.

Again, like what I heard. Seems like they are qualified, have a market worth exploring, conditions are good. Don’t like lack of dollars they have (presumably that’s why they need my dough). Didn’t address how long to get 25% return and is lower compared to other companies.

September 16, 2009   1 Comment

RRU Open Courseware Pitch

To open with full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Open Courseware (OCW), Creative Commons licensing, and the notion of free knowledge.  However, as an Educational Venture Analyst I would have to turn down the Royal Roads University (RRU) proposal based on the pitch.

One of the main thrusts of the pitch is that opening RRU courses will raise the university’s profile.  MIT OCW became widely known because they were MIT – they already had a significant global profile.  Has the profile of the Dixie State College of Utah (also an OCW member) been raised since they started opening their online courses?  Burgess gives little data about the affect opening their courseware has had on other institutions nor does she address the technical requirements or costs of this initiative.

Burgess (2008) also makes the bold claim that “being open can really help us with learner recruitment”.  However, MIT’s freshman enrollment before OCW was approximately 1050 students (Arnaout, 2000).  The freshman enrollment eight years after OCW?  1051 students (MIT, 2009).  Perhaps there are other recruitment metrics Burgess is anticipating for the small university but she doesn’t mention any.

While I appreciate Burgess’s passion for a very noble venture, the pitch simply did not establish sufficient details on the benefit to the institution to warrant pursuing.

Arnaout, R. (2000).  MIT Cuts Size of Class of 2004 To Prepare for Housing Crunch.  Retrieved September 16, 2009 from http://tech.mit.edu/V120/N8/8enroll.8n.html

Burgess, M. (2008).  ETEC522 Assignment 3.  Retrieved September 16, 2009 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1avzWv3_JDw

MIT (2009).  MIT Facts.  Retrieved September 16, 2009 from http://web.mit.edu/facts/enrollment.html

September 16, 2009   7 Comments

Ingenia Training

Ingenia Training is a boutique consulting firm that provides training and educational services.

CEO Credibility

The CEO for Ingenia clearly explains the identified challenges or obstacles, but has a clear vision of how to resolve them if encountered. I found interesting the fact that the CEO does not “hide” or diminish the obstacles of the market, rather she presents alternatives and solutions for them.

Management Team

The CEO does mention that Ingenia is integrated by a group of professionals with postgraduate degrees (most with masters and a couple with Ph D’s) with enough expertise to solve problems and propose solutions. The CEO uses the terms “young” and “strong” to define the company.

 Business Model

Ingenia has “done their homework”; they’ve visited Vietnam (their target market) and have apparently done research on population tendencies and educational habits.

Although they do present some arguments and relevant information from their market, the fact that they’ve visited the country only a couple of times is somewhat  surprising- especially if their intention is to offer a service oriented towards education and training.

Competitive Products

The pitch for Ingenia does present a realistic market size- they initially intend to start off with Vietnam and continue with the rest of Asia. The selling price does not seem too high, BUT the expected return is somewhat low (around 25%) and they do specify that there are already a couple of companies (Japanese) that offer training services in Vietnam.

 Market Readiness

They do not specify a certain time lapse to get their company on and about in Vietnam, but they do specify a 15 month period of market development trips.

Considering the market competitors and the difference in cultures, I think the path to Ingenia’s success is difficult and critical if they do not submerge in the culture to understand how and what might work.

 Technical Innovation

Ingenia does have an “edge”, they’re discovering a new market, but they don’t necessarily offer a new product for the market… they’re offering a new way to provide a service.

 Exit Strategy

They do have a vision of where they’d like to be, but the path to reach that goal is somewhat unclear.

 Overall Investment Status

As an EVA, I would currently not risk my investment capital in Ingenia. I would need to see proof that they know their targeted market well and that they’ve firmly established connections or relations to advance to the next level.

September 16, 2009   1 Comment

Recombo 2005

Well, this was an interesting pitch.

To be perfectly honest I have a hard time actually visualing what it is recombo does.  They obviously do work in network intregration and network servicing, but as an EVA I would need to clarify specifically how they function and what services they provide before I can decide if the long term future of the company is something I want to be involved in.

That being said, because they have been growing over the past few years there must be some substance to the products and services they provide.  I’m intriguied by the lighthouse client they have and think that is a particularly good sign.  Its allowed them to expand significantly; hopefully the pace of expansion is appropriate for the company.  I can envision many scenarios where they either expand to quickly and lack resources to sustain the company or are left shortstaffed or lacking in material requirements.  With that in mind, I think Brad McFee has done a good job of explaining how his company will cope with the expansion.

As an EVA I actually liked his exit stragety; he was pragmatic and regocnised that ultimately everything has a price.  Although I may not necessarily agree from a moral standpoint, from a bussiness perspective its impossible to deny that the end goal how to make the most money from your venture.

Despite this, since I don’t completely understand the business plan and haven’t seen any solid financial data I would be a bit wary about putting my own money into it.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it eventually, but I certainly would need more information.

September 16, 2009   1 Comment

A ‘Dragon’s Den’ Pitch

Here is a pitch in which the co-founders of http://hungryhouse.co.uk, Shane Lake and Tony Charles, enter the ‘Dragon’s Den’ in an attempt to convince five investors to invest!  Part 1 is mostly the pitch and a few questions, Part 2 is a continuation of the questions, and they get grilled!

YouTube Preview ImageYouTube Preview Image

September 16, 2009   1 Comment

The 522 Firehose

By now most of you are experienced with the unique WordPress-based ‘flow’ of the 522 course, especially in how it is different than the discussion group format of Vista, etc.   At first blush, it may not seem as easy to follow and participate in, but stick with it – find your own best way to stay afloat and master the current.  If you haven’t done so already, check out DavidP’s early posts about external RSS monitoring tools.

After Module 3, WordPress will primarily become our home base as we potentially explore a number of different platforms offered up by the moderation groups.  Your willingness to explore new technologies and crowdsource their value is appreciated.

Please share your concerns and ideas regarding the 522 experience here.

September 16, 2009   6 Comments

Recombo 2005

In 2005, Recombo seems to be a company that has finally settled on a direction, and has started to make a name for themselves, attracting at least one large customer. Brad McFee emphasizes focus as their current direction. This means focusing on a single product path and working with one major client to establish themselves and to prove to other prospective clients that they are the major player in their narrow field.

Recombo is a growing company, with plans to nearly double in size. This is in preparation for potential new clients, and so that they can adequately service Mindleaders, their new lighthouse partner. An interesting aspect of Recombo’s business model is that they are going to try to also service Mindleaders’ customers. While there are incentives for Mindleaders, it could sour the relationship.

Brad McFee is candid about the company’s exit strategy. If there is enough money on the table, then it might just make sense to sell out. Nevertheless, McFee has a plan to grow his company independently, and hopefully service all four of the major players, including Mindleaders, in his target field.

As an investor, there are a few concerns with Recombo. First of all, they are a company in transition. To me, transition means that they were doing something ineffectively, or that they have taken a new direction. Either way, they are venturing into new territory, and they are gambling their future on one player. The other concern is the overhead involved with their line of work. Mr. McFee spoke about creating content before being able to provide a quote for customers. While this does ensure that they price themselves appropriately, it also means that there’ll be a lot of work done by a lot of employees before the potential for profit even exists.

At this time, I would weigh my investment as much on Mindleaders as I would on Recombo, since it seems that Recombo’s success depends on their lighthouse client.

September 16, 2009   1 Comment

Personality

Just a quick point that many of you are putting too much weight on the personality of the pitchperson rather than the substance of their pitch.  This is entirely reasonable – we are humans after all – but remember that both honest and dishonest people can be very good at conveying trust in situations where better caution might be waranted.   Angels and Venture Capitalists are unanimous that successful investments begin with the ability to both “like” and “trust” the pitchperson, but obviously their due diligence has to go deeper than this.   Try to look beyond the words and image to form an impression of the enterprise that is being described.  Could you also like that entreprise???

September 16, 2009   No Comments

A Bit lost

Hello

I think the idea of looking ahead is important with these assignment dates quickly emerging.

1. I am not able to find an outline for the upcoming assignments 1 and 2 on the blog site.

2. I have the names of the group members but do not see the email addresses for beginning our group collaboration.

Thank you

Mark

September 16, 2009   8 Comments

 
Cindy (Leach) Plunkett
Finger Lock

Finger Lock

Hi,
You’ll see me listed as Cindy Leach, but I am now Cindy Plunkett, just haven’t gone through all of the red tape to change my name at UBC ;o)  I have a B.A. Hons degree in English from Nipissing University, a B.Ed from the Primary Integrated program at UBC and a Teaching and Training Adults diploma.  I worked for 10 years as a technical trainer and writer in the software industry for a financial planning software company called PlanPlus [www.planplus.com] and Amdocs a Telco and IP billing software company [www.amdocs.com].  
     I now have a 9 month old daughter Hannah who keeps me very busy as well as working full time as a Training Specialist for the last 5 years at the Universtiy Health Network in Toronto, ON, Canada [www.uhn.ca].  UHN is comprised of 3 hospital sites (Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret) and has over 10,00 employees.  It is one of the largest teaching hospitals and hospital networks in North America.  I do 1:1 training, small group training, custom workflow training for new residents, blended learning as well as creating eLearning modules.  We are just moving to a new LMS (Sum Total’s Total LMS).  The hospital also uses other eLearning tools like Code Baby, Adobe Captivate, Second Life and we are currently working on the development of scenario based online games.  In my evenings I am a karate instructor with Brooklin Wado-Kai [Brooklin Karate], teaching in both the children’s and the family classes.
 
I look forward to working with all of you!
Cheers
Cindy 

September 16, 2009   1 Comment