Ernie’s UBC IT Services Pitch Analysis

Here’s my 2nd go at a pitch analysis…hope it makes sense…my eyes are starting to close!

  • CEO Credibility – Does this person exude capability and convey confidence that they will achieve success against all obstacles?
    • Ted Dodds appears confident and well-spoken.  He exudes a very professional, experienced demeanour.
    • He speaks of UBC’s mission, considers the students and the community
  • Management Team – Have they assembled a stellar team along with the other human and material resources required for success
    • Dodds suggests that UBC is a very decentralized university.  Each faculty has its own e-learning component.  He stresses the importance of formal and informal meetings and strategies, including the use of E-strategy Townhall meetings, which include invited leaders of other institutions (peers and competitors), boards members, deans, vice presidents etc.  He stresses the importance of collaboration between these e-learning stakeholders.
  • Business Model – Is this feasible? – have they done their homework? – are their arguments and information accurate and compelling?
    • Yes, I believe this model is feasible.  By working collaboratively with e-learning stakeholders, university leaders, and competing educational institutions, UBC’s reputation stands to gain.  In turn, registration may increase.
    • Dodds suggests that the E-strategy is a framework, not plan or mandate, thus giving more freedom to members of the community.
  • Competitive Products – What is a realistic market size, market share and selling price that these products or services can capture in a very competitive world?
    • There is a demand for e-learning and UBC IT’s vision is to be a active an collaborative partner in the e-learning community.  They are working together with other universities and educational leaders to create products that can promote e-learning.  Unfortunately, Dodds does not provided any statistics on market size, student enrolment, demand etc.
  • Market Readiness – How long and difficult is their critical path to success?
    • No time length is given but UBC is working with other educational institutions in the e-learning community.  It is leader in e-learning innovation.  Path to success is ongoing.
  • Technical Innovation – Do they have an edge, and can they keep it?
    • Dodds mentions that UBC is well known for “commercialization of individual research within the campus”.  E-learning innovation at UBC has brought about commercial products such as WebCT.  He mentions that UBC is taking a leadership role in opensource software and community source software which help to get campus level innovations to a broader audience.  Working with other campuses to create a community source system
  • Exit Strategy – Do they really know what success looks like – is their destination clear
    • Participation and altruistic relationship in the e-learning community helps to promote UBC reputation.  By taking a leadership role in opensource software and creating E-strategy townhall meetings for community stakeholders contributes to UBC IT’s success.
  • Overall Investment Status – Am I going to risk my investment capital on this proposition?
    • Yes, as an EVA, I would invest in UBC IT’s vision for e-learning.  Furthermore, I would encourage and recommend potential students to take a serious look at e-learning programs through UBC.

September 19, 2009   No Comments

Ingenia

As an educational venture analyst, I have responded in the following way:

1.  CEO Credibility

Ramona Materi exudes capability in that she is the co-chair of the Canadian e-learning Enterprise Alliance, the President of Ingenia Training, and the Director of E-learning BC.  Ramona Materi conveys confidence by maintaining that Ingenia has a place in the SE Asian market like Vietnam.  As well, Ramona Materi asserts that Ingenia can be successful in this market because Ingenia has young, strong, good people and quality products and services.  However, exuding and conveying do not translate into success against all odds.  Indeed, market forces/corrections, competition, currency fluctuations, operating costs, rules and regulations, government intervention, to name a few, play a major role in determining success or failure of any company, especially a young company like Ingenia.

2.  Management Team

Ingenia is comprised of a small core team of designers and consultants with Master and PhD degrees (with appointments at universities), but there is no mention of the team’s fields of related expertise, training, and/or experience.  The team is establishing partnership with a Vietnamese software company in conjunction with the World Bank.  However, the business partnership/establishment remains pending.

3.  Business Model

The team has done some homework in that it knows that there are 80 million people in Vietnam of which 75% of the population is under the age of thirty years.  The team also knows that other entrepreneurs have moved into the e-learning market, setting up a private campus, for example.  The argument is not compelling and I do not know if the information is accurate, but, as an EVA, I am interested in sales, past investments, the overall strength of the company, and marketplace dominance.

4.  Competitive Products

Ingenia is a consulting firm/services company, which is a harder sell than products, for the ROI can be longer and even more volatile because such companies can take a long time to establish; sometimes too long for investors (venture capitalists).  As an EVA, I am perplexed by Ingenia’s inability to gain some market share in Canada and the US.  After all, Ingenia is already twelve years old.  This is not what investors really want to hear.  I do not really know where Ingenia stands in terms of its valuation even though the company is seeking investments of $100,000CDN.

5.  Market Readiness

Ingenia has already been in business for twelve years, but the company has been unsuccessful in breaking into the Canadian and American markets.  As such, the company is trying to break into the Vietnamese market even though other companies have already moved in.  Ramona Materi did mention that the Japanese (i.e. Japanese companies established in Vietnam) think long term, but Canadians and Americans do not.  In turn, perhaps the Ingenia team should consider outside investors instead of Canadian or American investors.  Otherwise, Ingenia’s path to success might be long and challenging.

6.  Technical Innovation

I do not think that this company has an edge; I did not see, hear, or feel it.  Ramona Materi appeared to be honest, hard-working, forward moving, and forward thinking, but she seemed to lack the conviction, the pizzazz, the ‘pitch’ that presumably comes with selling an idea, a concept, or a product.

7.  Exit Strategy

Based on Ramona Materi’s pitch, I suspect that the team is looking to establish itself in foreign markets like Vietnam rather than the home market, which is said to be a very tough market because of stiff competition from established e-learning players in Canada and the US.  In turn, the team’s destination seems to be clear: foreign markets.  Here, Ramona Materi asserts that success is more viable in SE Asian markets, a relatively untapped e-learning market.

8.  Overall Investment Status

In the words of Kevin O’Leary (CBC’s Dragon’s Den), “Show me the money!”  I would not invest $100,000CDN in Ingenia because this consulting form/services company is already twelve years old, unable to boast past high returns.  And, although the ROI of 20-25% is pleasing, there is no mention of an estimated time line/period for the ROI.  As well, the American dollar remains low, whereas the Canadian dollar remains high: Ten cents to the American dollar is not enough of an incentive.  I do not think this will change too much with all the wars that the US is choosing to engage in.  Furthermore, Ingenia has had no outside investors (only internally generated funds).  Finally, Ingenia is a niche firm in a very specialized field, facing competition in a tough market at home (i.e. Canada and the US) and even in Vietnam where the Australians have already staked a claim in the e-learning market.  I can only imagine larger, wealthier American companies moving in very quickly into the Vietnamese e-learning marketplace.

September 19, 2009   2 Comments

HBS Elevator Pitch Builder

Here are a few links to consider:

http://www.venturecapitalexpos.com/

The following pitch builder seems interesting.  Please let me know what you think of it.

http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/pitch/

September 19, 2009   2 Comments

Materi and Ingenia

Ingenia Training

As a CEO, I found Ramona Materi personable and she seemed to know her market. However,  I didn’t find her very charismatic or interesting to listen to. I did enjoy having the power point to refer to as she spoke. She talks about Ingenia’s core team and it seems that they are capable, well-trained people. The fact that Ingenia contracts work out can be a plus and a minus. Contracting means you can hire people only when you need them but on the other hand, you have to rely on their availability.

Materi seems to have done her home work and have an understanding of   the market. Ingenia is attempting to enter an area of the world that is growing and that can be quite exciting but also risky. However, the CEO states that they will be targeting multinationals and Asian banks in an attempt to limit the risks. I would have liked to know more about what makes them stand out from their competition – what is their competitive edge?

Materi never talks about an exit strategy. She does have a goal – to enter the market in Vietnam – but she does not mention plans beyond that.

While I find that Materi’s pitch had some positive aspects, as an EVA I was not convinced that the positive outweighed the negative or unknown. I did not feel inspired to let go of my money and would not likely invest in this company.

September 19, 2009   No Comments

Tech Ventures

Surfing around, I discovered this:

Technology Ventures

http://www.stanford.edu/group/techventures/index.htm

Which lead me to some samples resources, such as this:

http://www.stanford.edu/group/techventures/resources/TechVentures_Chap1_2e.pdf

and

http://www.stanford.edu/group/techventures/intro_textbook.htm

If you explore, you can find videos, pdfs, sand sample syllibi. This may be useful.

September 19, 2009   No Comments

Recombo 2005 – Michel as EVA

EO Credibility

Yes, the speaker definitely displays confidence in Recombo’s ability to reach goals and achieve.  It is clear that Brad McPhee knows his product, the market and potential problems his business may face.

Management Team

The management team of Recombo is not discussed heavily but Brad does mention that he has a small team of experts and is looking to expand.

Business Model

Recombo prides themselves as a company that “plays well with others” both in how they and their systems operate.  This sharing is facilitated by their contract negotiations and their Content Integration Router platform.  McPhee explains that this router facilitates communication and integration of products like learning management systems and performance evaluation systems with the potential of allowing published content to be shared among Recombo’s customers.

Brad McPhee offers multiple examples of how his product can serve existing markets and make the common problem of integrating content from different systems using their infrastructure.  With this in mind it is clear that Recombo has found a need and utilized some creative business and technical strategies to progress their business.

Competitive Products

McPhee seems confident that there is a big market for his company’s services and products.  It is clear that he can offer a level of integration the learning management market rarely sees, allowing communication across platforms and systems.

There are many companies using learning management and content systems in their human resources and training sectors although Recombo gives no direct numbers within this pitch is can be assumed that with a small, focused company Recombo could offer these new services at competitive prices.

Market Readiness

They have been struggling in the past but now have a “lighthouse” customer that will hopefully prove Recombo’s ability to solve business problems.  As it stands, Recombo is providing a service and tools that bridge a common communication gap in training and education systems and, at least initially, this should give them an edge on the market.

Technical Innovation

At the time of this pitch Recombo seems to have an edge on the market.  After making changes to his company’s direction McPhee is confident that he has found a product and a service that is in need and cannot be met by competitive products.

Exit Strategy

McPhee is clear that success lies in a dollar amount for their business.  He is pushing for success through his “Lighthouse customer” which will expand their business by proving their publishing and learning management competencies.

If his company does not meet the goals laid out McPhee is honest with himself and comfortable with going public or selling to a larger corporation like IBM if need be.

Overall Investment Status

I think I would be willing to risk my capital investment to support Recombo.  It is clear that the company has changed greatly and maybe faltered slightly in the past but has quickly learned from its mistakes and adapted to the market both in their product offerings and overall strategies.

September 19, 2009   4 Comments

Ingenia – Annette as EVA

My evaluation of the Ingenia pitch is organized in a chart, which I hope will be legible. As you will see, I was not impressed with Ramona’s pitch. Not least for her complete disregard for the difficulties involved in brining Canadian intellectual talent up to speed with regards to the language and culture of another country. This pitch focused too much on the personal experience of the presenter, and not on the capabilities of the company.

Criteria Ingenia – Ramona
CEO Credibility Shows personal capability, but does not connect with me on a personal level, too focused on her pitch as opposed to her audience – makes me wonder if she would be able to connect with clients across cultural lines in Vietnam
Management Team Other than degrees held (and not even in what field) no information about the team – especially problematic in a consulting/services firm
Business Model Market exists among the multinationals for eLearning. Not sure what the role of government would be – Ramona says they will not be working with them but then mentions connections with government several times. Model is not clear.
Competitive Products If the service Ingenia provides is good, then they could be competitive in this emerging market. The inability to develop a clientele at home makes me suspicious, but they do seem to have an extensive client list. Testimonials would have been helpful.
Market Readiness Ingenia says they would need extensive market development time and money. There is no timetable for when projects or partnerships would start producing. There is no time given for how long it would take for Ramona’s team to become familiar with Vietnam, or if they would rely on local experts –all of which would take extensive time to get in place
Technical Innovation Ingenia is not the only eLearning consultancy/service firm in the market. The edge would come from the team, but we have not been given much information on them.
Exit Strategy They seem to still be in the exploratory phase of this project – hence the market development money, so I don’t think they really know what success is going to look like
Overall Investment Status? There are too many unexplained or unexplored factors here for me to risk my money. The idea of tapping into an emerging market like education in Vietnam is a good one, but I would need to know more about the team and the strategy to make the company Vietnam-ready beyond paying Canadians to translate everything.

September 19, 2009   2 Comments

Unlocking Knowledge, Empowering Minds

Pitch Pool Marking Rubric:

Royal Roads Open Courseware Initiative

I’m going to try to be even more succinct with my 2nd pitch analysis:

Aspect

Not Within Expectations

Minimally Meets Expectations

Fully Meets Expectations

Exceeds Expectations

CEO Credibility – Does this person exude capability and convey confidence that they will achieve success against all obstacles? Confident

Committed

Management Team – Have they assembled a stellar team along with the other human and material resources required for success unknown
Business Model – Is this feasible? – have they done their homework? – are their arguments and information accurate and compelling? Very feasible

Allows prospective students and staff a realistic opportunity to make informed decisions

Competitive Products – What is a realistic market size, market share and selling price that these products or services can capture in a very competitive world? Since the service is free then competition is minimal.
Market Readiness – How long and difficult is their critical path to success? Assuming that they have the technical ability already
Technical Innovation – Do they have an edge, and can they keep it? Following in MIT’s footsteps
Exit Strategy – Do they really know what success looks like – is their destination clear Increased number of students and courses
Overall Investment Status – Am I going to risk my investment capital on this proposition? The negative arguments that she brings forth are dealt with.

Summary:

Mary Burgess appears confident and committed about implementing an open courseware initiative at Royal Roads University. She is effective in explaining the benefits as well as dealing with the counter-arguments. I think that the pitch would have been more effective if Mary was on camera more often. Whenever she did her ‘walk and talk’ it held my attention more because the visual was more engaging and the quality of the audio was better than the voiceover audio. I felt that the pitch was a bit repetitive at times both in content of the argument as well as the content of the visuals being presented. As a minor criticism I would not have used the last video clip with Mary holding the baby. I know it’s cute but if this is a real pitch then it would seem out of place. In her closing remarks she could have made some reference to future students in which case having a baby in her arms would have made more sense. I love the idea of open courseware and I would enthusiastically support this endeavor.

Links:

MIT Open Courseware summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbQ-FeoEvTI&feature=PlayList&p=279CA243FCDCF6C0&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1

M.I.T.’s site: http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm

September 19, 2009   6 Comments

Internet Resources M2

Just a few links to resources that you may find useful.

Canadian Business Online Get advice, tips and strategies on starting and running a small business in Canada. A decent resource if you can handle the large number of ads.

Instigator Blog Entrepreneurship, Business, Social Media, and Marketing. Down to earth blog articles.

Dragon’s Den TV and Online Business hopefuls pitch their ideas to millionaire investors.

TED TALK: David S. Rose on Pitching to VCs

and I can’t leave this one out:

Richard St. John’s 8 Secrets of Success

September 19, 2009   3 Comments