Category — Mod02:Business Bootcamp

Pitch Analysis for RRU and Recombo

Okay, so here is my evaluation of Royal Roads University (RRU) open courseware and Recombo.  Having been my first time as an EVA I found this to be challanging task.  More research time on both topics is what I would need to go forth with an investment.  Teachers love these little organizational charts!! 

Criteria Recombo RRU
CEO Credibility -Seems to have a solid understanding a vision for what recombo is trying to achieve- Mentions walking away from business in 2005 if he doesn’t achieve results he wants, although it shows that he is focused on results as an investor I would never want to hear that type of negativity during a pitch

-Also it seems that is not the CEO of recombo, which leads me to wonder why he is making the pitch

– We are not formally introduced to a CEO therefore we don’t know who is behind all the ideas of opencourseware- I feel unsure of who will be ultimately accountable for the progress of the corporation/initiative
Management Team – Little is mentioned about the management team besides the former VP of Terra Lycos- Understanding the management team is important because without the right team the company has a critical flaw – No mentioned of a management team, however given that it is RRU is a university its name does provide some credibility
Business Model – I believe Recombo has a viable understanding of where they want to go and I would be interested in hearing more details about Recombo’s plan to improve elearning as they obviously see it as a niche market for their products – RRU seems to not deliver a tangible plan for how they will implement opencourseware.-Will it be all at once or will it increase gradually, how much will it cost and what revenue will it generate, I think RRU is looking to create revenue indirectly through enrolment

– opencourseware appears to be an altruistic venture and therefore is free to the user

Competitive Products Considering the eagerness of publishers to get into the corporate training market I believe there is a huge market to be captures in the near future – RRU does not explain the target market they will be pursuing for example what age demographic
Market readiness – Considering that computing is headed towards more integration everyday, the need need to translate information between programs is and will become more important and the market for Recombo’s products is ready for solutions – Since RRU does not mention what it would consider to be a success we don’t know what RRU’s exact goal is we need to see exactly where they want to go and how they are going to measure their success
Technical  innovation – Recombo makes no points about whether any of their technology is available only from them, however they may be leaders in their ideas – I see RRU as getting “on board” with this idea rather than having a technology which is unique to their institution
Exit Strategy – Recombo seems unclear about an exit however an IPO is mentioned and acquisition by IBM, however according to Brad it would need to have the right price – Destination is unclear, I am not sure how I see how I will get a return on my investment
Overall investment status – Although Recombos seems to have a sound plan and idea for an emerging market I would need to do more research into the IT industry to understand more about other perhaps similar opportunities before investing in Recombo.  Also I would prefer to hear about more about the sales in the company and its operating costs. – Granted that RRU and opencourseware sound like a wonderful altruistic idea for improving learning opportunities for everyone I would not directly invest capital in this venture as it is very unclear how I will generate a direct monetary return in the future.

September 21, 2009   5 Comments

The 60-second Pitch

Hope no one has posted this one yet…I’m finding it a little difficult to sort through all the blog posts here.  Google Reader isn’t really helping either.  Nonetheless, this article discusses how to make a good impression in one’s pitch.  Enjoy!

September 20, 2009   2 Comments

OLT Thoughts

I know I am bit late to post. I tend to agree with most of what everyone else says about the OLT pitch and Michelle Lamberson, so I will attempt to write something unique.

I didn’t feel that the video really did anything for Michelle Lamberson’s credibility. I felt that she seemed knowledgeable, but I didn’t really feel that I knew who she was from the video. I decided to search for more information. I found the following:

Michelle Lamberson is the Director, Learning Technology at The University of British Columbia. Her role, and the role of the Office of Learning Technology, is to provide campus-wide coordination and facilitation, linking units that are integrating technology to improve teaching and learning. Ongoing projects within UBC’s OLT include electronic portfolios, social software (weblogs, wikis), learning objects, understanding the impact of enterprise course management system use and web-enablement of scientific instrumentation. In addition to her learning technology role, she is currently teaching an online geology course. Michelle returned to UBC from WebCT in 2002, where she had worked for three years in a variety of roles related to training, event planning and best practice use of the system. Prior to that, she was the Faculty of Science EdTech Coordinator and geology lecturer at UBC. Michelle’s discipline area is Geology, receiving her degrees from UBC (PhD, 1993), Penn State (MS, 1987) and Boston University (BA, 1981). (

From this description, I would argue that Michelle Lamberson does have credibility. However, part of pitch is being able to sell yourself and an idea. I am not sure this was accomplished with this video.

Michelle Lamberson seems to have a clear concept of the role of OLT. She stresses that the OLT came from meetings with various UBC stakeholders who took part in a strategic planning process. Their objective is to collaborate learning technologies and create common ground between faculties. Interestingly, I took a course with Mark Bullen who seems to have a very different view of the conception of OLT. At the same time that the OLT was created, the Department of Distance Education and Technology was restructuring and planning to decentralize to the faculties. The creation of this office speaks to the central ‘hub’ that would support faculty initiatives; however, its arrival did not clearly address the issues of the duplication of support for LT in multiple central units. With DE&T and other central units, there was a need to remove duplication and create one group to facilitate

The cost efficiencies and need to create a consistent experience for learners was crucial. The concept was simple and necessary. It would be very easy to sell a pitch to remove redundancies to faculty heads and anyone involved in financial decisions.

September 20, 2009   3 Comments

Law Blog

I found this blog interesting and locally based.


September 20, 2009   1 Comment

Internet Resources

Here are two internet resources:

Rookies Venture Club. Seasoned screeners and coaches review presentations and provide feedback to allow entrepreneurs to refine their presentations before getting in front of an audience.

“How to pitch a business idea” This article offers 10 tips to maximize your pitching power.

September 20, 2009   No Comments

Ammar as EVA for Recombo 05, Ingenia and RRU


Coming late made me think of presnting it differently for a change, hope it’s not that distracting for you 🙂

Here it’s ;

ETEC522 – Pitch Pool Ammar Al-Attiyat as an EVA




September 20, 2009   2 Comments

Ingenia and UBC IT Services


I found that that Materi’s pitch was well paced. You could follow it easily, especially with the inclusion of slides. However, Materi did not display much passion when she spoke and in my opinion, this reduced the impact of the pitch.

Materi’s credentials are solid and her speaking at several conferences such as CSTD attest to her knowledge in this area. While she notes that the core team of designers and consultants have Masters or have appointments at Universities, we don’t know much else about the core team. No mention is made of the credentials requirements for the contract hires. While we can hope they hold the same level of credentials, this is not addressed. The size of the core team and the number of contracts needed for this venture is also not clearly addressed and this raises concerns as to whether this has been considered.

The business model does not really address how Ingenia will address the cultural, language and political/social environment of Vietnam. While they have partnered with a local Vietnamese software firm, will they be relying on them to conduct the majority of the business dealings? Materi also makes note of a project with the Ministry of Fisheries in Vietnam as an illustration of Ingenia’s experience in Vietnam, but no mention is made on the scope of the project or success. Testimonials from this project along with others would have been nice. The addition of a few quotes would have added credibility to the pitch. I am not sure if Ingenia have a technical edge; Materi mentions a Japanese Consortium already operating in Vietnam. I did not hear anything in the pitch to make me believe Ingenia offers anything unique or technologically innovative; rather it sounds more like they are resting their success on tapping into a territory which has not had much exposure to e-learning.   

The goal is to establish Ingenia as a major e-learning service provided in Vietnam. This goal is quite board with not much focus on specifics. I would have liked to know what is considered a major service provider (what percentage of the population would constitute as major? How many contracts would this equate to?). There is also no reference to timeline in this pitch. What are the major milestones of the project and what dates are attached to these?

UBC IT Services

Dodds is very confident in his delivery. He is well versed in the mission and vision and speaks to them with ease. Dodds does not speak specifically to the credentials of the management team, however in mentioning that 5 Vice Presidents sit on the executive steering committee this adds further credibility and indicates that there is a level of accountability.

The business model to partner with client groups and to work at a strategic level makes logical sense and emphasizes how IT services and assist them and to work collaboratively. Dodds emphasize on keeping the strategy current and evolving indicates that they are not resistant to change. A competitive advantage is the reputation of UBC and collaboration. By being in tune with their clients and by seeking out best practices through town halls and peers/competitors UBC IT services is ensuring they have their finger on the pulse of the future.  In the closing, Dodds mentions the need for a vision of the future state for 2, 3 and 5 years; as such I would have liked to have heard what the 2, 3 and 5 year future state of UBC IT Services is during this pitch.

September 20, 2009   No Comments

Open courseware: yes, Royal Roads: no

This is my evaluation of the Royal Roads pitch. The open courseware initiative at MIT is successful, and the creation of  the open courseware consortium both points towards the concept of open courseware as being successful. The pitch for RRU is asking for money without a cash return – not in itself a problem since I believe investing in education is a smart move, but for the reasons outlined below I feel this pitch is weak.

Criteria Royal Roads University open courseware project
CEO Credibility Presenter was committed, but no indication given as to her position in the project. Style was conversational, did not give me the feeling of confidence in her ability to guide the project through development and success.
Management Team Presumably the faculty at the university, but little information was given and no information was given about who would oversee the IT end of the development.
Business Model The goal of the open courseware project seems to be to increase enrolment and attract faculty by using the free courseware as a marketing tool. No information was given regarding how this has worked in other universities – no statistics about MIT’s enrolment since the inception of their open courseware project. No information given about what kind of marketing will be required to get students to try the courseware – interesting since the presenter talks about how RRU is a niche university that has a history of not sharing its ideas and research with the world.
Competitive Products The presenter avoided talking about the competition that MIT and 200+ other open courseware providers would create. If the concept is not new, and a large successful institution like MIT is in the picture then it would be important to cover how RRU will compete against them for students and faculty.
Market Readiness From the presentation I concluded that what they are asking for is money to develop this project from the beginning. It would take several years to create the technology and then at least a few more to create the courses within it. This is a very long-term investment. If they are planning to use the technology of the open courseware consortium that would take several years off the plan, but reduce the innovation factor.
Technical Innovation This plan has already been put into place at MIT. The only avenue for innovation that RRU has was hinted at when the presenter talked about being in a niche market. This was not elaborated on, so it is difficult to evaluate whether RRU would effectively solve a market problem that has not been addressed by any of the other open courseware universities.
Exit Strategy Presumably, success would be an increased student body, a decorated faculty, and a well subscribed open courseware project. Unfortunately the presenter did not address this, so the EVA is left to speculate. There seems to be no way for an investor to recover their investment, so this must be a “social wealth” style proposal where the investor is being asked to be altruistic.
Overall Investment Status? I like the idea of open courseware, and I think there is some possibility that it would attract paying students and faculty. I am also not opposed to investing in education for the social good it involves and the benefits to the economy of a well educated population. Unfortunately there was not enough detail about how all this would work for RRU in the presentation, which leads me to believe that there has not been enough investigation and planning to support this pitch. I would not invest in this project at this point. If there were to be a more evolved plan and pitch I would consider putting funds into it.

September 20, 2009   4 Comments

Noah on Recombo 05

Recombo 2005

CEO Credibility:

I think that Brad McPhee’s ability articulate how he and his company have morphed with market forces  shows that he and his team are paying attention to the market and are knowledgeable of the field within which they work.  McPhee is also able to clearly articulate how his product and services work and  how those functions help his clients and make his company solid.

Management Team –

I would be somewhat concerned with the management team.  The need to expand the company from 12 to 22 is a serious concern.  I think McPhee is aware of these challenges and alludes to them as he emphasizes the need to maintain the company culture.  McPhee identifies the challenges, but simply identifying them does not necessarily mean that they can be easily overcome.

Business Model –

A key component is that the company is adaptable. Recombo has a focus on their product and they have a clear goal of a 100 million dollar business.  They have lighthouse customer a publishing firm Mindreader and plan to use them as an avenue through which they can access Mindreaders clients. Mindreader has agreed to provide access as Recombo provides financial incentives to Mindreader when business is created through this channel. Recombo is primarily trying to prove their product and services in order to demonstrate success.  I think building a solid reputation while working through known avenues will be a great way to move the company to the next step.

Competitive Products –

I wish that McPhee had expanded upon the field in which he operates.  From the discussion I was not able to discern what competition Recombo faces.

Market Readiness –

They are ready for the market and are now taking time to build a company name and reputation.  By using a proven technology and spreading the word the company will be able to expand and enter a larger market with a proven technology and company.

Technical Innovation –

The recombo connector connects multiple interfaces and systems and eliminates the difficulties of having multiple platforms within a system.  The innovation itself is a great product, but as I am not aware of the market place in which it operates I do not know if they have the ability to maintain an edge over competitors.

Exit Strategy –

I think that the exit strategy is not clear.  Although they are looking the acquisition by a major player such as IBM, the target range and the price point is not yet decided.  I think that a set target needs to be established. Perhaps it is the 100 million dollar price.

Overall Investment Status –

I would invest money with Recombo.  But, I would first need to research the market place a little more before entering the arena.  McPhee could have elaborated a little more on the competition to build a well rounded view of the company in context.   I would also want an exit strategy to be specified.

Is Recombo still in business? It seems that the latest news is from 2008.


Just a few thoughts.


September 20, 2009   No Comments

Analyzing Business Ventures: Ingenia & Recombo2005

Based on my rookie role as an EVA, I summarized my perceptions of Ingenia and Recombo2005:


Recombo 2005

CEO Credibility Ramona Materi appears confident and knowledgable. She is very clear and concise in her presentation. Materi presents her credentials as an emerging “guru” in this field. She does not have a rapport with the camera and comes across as detached rather than charismatic. Brad McPhee’s credibility is affirmed by his introduction as the CEO of a company which has grown in the three years ETEC522 has been following Recombo. McPhee has a good rapport with the camera and comes across as knowledgeable, confident and charismatic.
Management Team Materi concisely summarizes the structure of the company and the management team. Her explanation is clear and in layman’s terms. While no details are given on the specific members of the management team, McPhee mentions the guiding principles of the team and the strategies
Business Model The business model is feasible. Materi ensures that potential investors are aware of the political and financial security as well as the challenges of the chosen marketplace (SE Asia). The business model appears to be feasible. It is evident the company has researched and as a result of that research has transitioned the company to be a service company in response to the current market trends.
Competitive Products Elearning is an emerging field, particularly in Asian companies. While Materi does not specify ONE product as a focus of  Ingenia, it is clear that Ingenia will be developing elearning services. According to McPhee, a critical and missing piece of the IT market is the content integration router  which provides a platform for customers to use their existing components to stream data.
Market Readiness The focus of Vietnam on establishing private sector businesses indicates there is a market for Ingenia. Materi’s comprehensive  presentation emphasizes a gap in the elearning  sector in Vietnam. The Recombo connector is attractive to both IT managers and product managers. As long as there is a gap in the data streams from existing LMS and performance evaluation systems, Recombo is well situated to achieve their  goal of  being a $100 million business
Technical Innovation Ingenia appears to be positioned to meet their goal of becoming a major learning services provider in Vietnam. Recombo appears to be uniquely positioned  in this emerging market.
Exit Strategy While Materi presents a solid timeline of the business development (15 months) and an expected rate of return, it is not clear when the expected rate of return will occur. McPhee is quite clear on the business focus of the company and even alludes to a possible merger with companies such as IBM as a possible outcome.
Overall Investment Status I like the assurances of payment in a well-known and dependable  world currency. I am reassured by the presence of financially and politically stable banking institutions in the target market place. The gaps in the timeline and the vagueness of what the “product” is make me wary of investing based on this pitch. I would want a Q&A session before investing. Based on the information presented by McPhee, I would invest and recommend investment with Recombo.

As a side note (not sure if it is appropriate here or not) I found the differences in the Recombo presentations fascinating. The 2005 presentation was (in my opinion) more polished and engaging than the 2004 pitch, with the same CEO presenting.

I was web browsing for ideas and stumbled across this chapter of a book which I found helpful. As a business “rookie” I am not able (yet) to judge it for merit.

September 20, 2009   1 Comment