Watch the rePhrase Elevator Pitch.
Read the rePhrase Venture Pitch.
Leave some constructive feedback.
mcquaid, themusicwoman, carmen and 8 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
Very cool elevator pitch and I was struck by the similarity between your product and my product in terms of the underlying rationale. Both of our products assist students who have difficulty making meaning from text. Yours rephrases to a different reading level. Mine automatically adds relevant images.
Anyway, constructive criticism: Your video could be six seconds longer 🙂 That gives you time to do a 6-second mock-up of what the rephrasing application might look like. That is about the only thing I thought was missing. I thought the part where you spoke was well written, concise, and communicated all you needed to communicate in a very short time. And, VERY cool logo. Makes my logo look like a hack job!
(BTW – Your venture proposal will be one of the three I will be reviewing in more detail tomorrow. Right now, I am looking at all 10 and making an initial post re: the elevator pitch.)
Jim, you can probably appreciate how long it took me to make that logo! From start to finish, it was in the “hours” category. I looked for a site that made free logos & had free / stock images. Since a finished logo had to be paid for, I ended up copying my designed logo, complete with grid lines into a photo-editing program, and erasing the grid lines / colouring in pixels by hand! I like what I ended up with, but would also like it to be a bit sharper.
You’re absolutely right about those lost six seconds… that’s 10% more time I could have used! The final take of me you saw, though, was self-shot-take number 27. I was happy with what I ended up with by then!
I was really impressed with the logo as well for your venture. You are definitely addressing a problem teachers face – finding reading materials that are leveled to the ability of the reader. As a former literacy coach for our schools, I feel your pain. As schools and students purchase more and more e-books, I can see this becoming very useful – but in the meantime, scanning and uploading paper books will be a very time consuming tasks for teachers and parents and I am wondering if they would be willing to do that. Also, you might consider offering some literacy strategies for teachers to help them help students progress in their reading abilities – otherwise they could stay “stuck” at a particular level with little incentive or assistance in improvement. You have a great idea though and you show a lot of insight in your self-reflection!
Hi, Brenda. Being “stuck” is a worry of mine, too. I think rePhrase, if it ever really worked, would be but one tool in an LA / resource teacher’s tool box. Starting out, I think it would just work best on newer texts that schools already have in electronic form. If desired enough, scanned copies would also work (and would hopefully be less glitchy than Kurzweil when it comes to fonts, indents, and the like). Thanks for the comments!
Your confidence really shines though – giving me confidence in rePhrase – and the name perfectly encapsulates what rePhrase does. I admit that for something as compelling as literacy, I do find your delivery a little… dispassionate? It feels very get-the-job-done-right, but I’m maybe wanting a bit more heart. I think i’ll be giving your VP a good close read, but from the EP, I’m thinking that in an American context the costs of students failing reading levels goes beyond just the costs of their having to re-take a year. Under No Child Left Behind, schools can lose funding if the target % of students don’t pass their levels. I should say, they *are* losing funding, they are being threatened with closure, they are having programs cut, and entire schools have been closed due to underperformance. Unsurprisingly, the schools suffering the effects of NCLB are in poorer areas. This question may be answered in your VP, but i’m wondering about access to this service… In an American context, my understanding is that schools are funded through property taxes, and so that the schools that will best be able to afford rePhrase are richer school districts; will the poorer districts be able to get this service that they need?
Hi, Allie. I get the “dispassionate” thing. Maybe a little too Jedi, I was. I think I was trying to project confidence and capability / trustworthiness (so I’m glad that came through), but (as in real life, too), I could probably have used a bit more “oomph” as well.
To address the “who can use it” comments, I wonder if it could be worked into rePhrase’s pricing /availability plan that schools ID’d as needier / poorer would qualify for discounts or even free licenses…
Thanks for the thoughts!
I am intrigued with your venture. As I went through you venture pitch I can see where it would be useful in my school since it could help students with reading problems. I like the fact that it actually make words simpler so that students can understand because many times students do not understand what they read and therefore may get “turned off” from reading. Although the idea encourages reading, I would add more options for rephrasing in an attempt to cater to the different multiple intelligences of learners. For example, probably I would include sounds and animation to hold readers attention to. Great concept!
Hi, Keisha… maybe sounds and animations could be downloadable add-ons for the app, creating another source of revenue. Good thinking!
You’re also right about the “turned off reading” point. I have students of mine in mind when I think of this program. I want them to feel capable, be able to read what everyone else in the class is reading, join in the conversation, and grow in their skills.
You have an interesting idea here. I especially liked how you brought in all of the other educational research into your proposal. I think many times the reason why a venture falls flat is because they forget the basics.
It also looks like you have done extensive market research on how this program can eventually grow. The fact that you took the time to do that would definitely sway an investor. I have not taught in the K-12 environment, but I can see where your product could be useful. I think I have always taken for granted my level of reading and comprehension and never really thought about the students who are struggling. As a result, I think your venture could provide a little bit of help to students who struggle.
As with many of these ventures, it could be hard to gauge what people are willing to shell out their hard earned cash for. I do wonder if people would be willing to renew their license on a yearly basis, but that could be just my personal bias. I don’t like software or apps that do ask me to shell out money like that, but I think I am in the minority.
My reasoning for the yearly license was for a few reasons, I think:
– a program like Kurzweil is quite expensive (four figures around here). I wanted to price myself WAY below that, and make my product look quite enticing.
– some classes / schools will need this program more or less over the years as students come and go. This would allow them to get it when they need it and not renew when they don’t.
– the affordable yearly license would ensure I have a continuing source of revenue instead of a one-time purchase.
– the program may get tweaked from year to year, so a new download / license would be as up-to-date as possible
I was really impressed with your pitch and the idea you created! You are definitely targeting a current problem that many schools are faced with today- Implementing and finding reading materials that are leveled accordingly to the meet the needs of students. I also think the name rephrase is perfect for your venture.
Although I think you have a great idea and pitch here, I am a little unsure about the idea of having the teachers scan and upload the paper books. Maybe this is something you could add to your pitch?
Otherwise, I think you have a great idea!!
The scanning is something that crossed my mind about my idea as a drawback, as well – I figured I wouldn’t be the only person to think of it (as I see a couple have now). I think, where I saw the progression (whether I said it in my venture pitch exactly or not) was for the use with e-books first (no scanning needed), the use of scanned texts for those who really want them (it’s what we do with Kurzweil), and then… I imagined it as ultimately being something that would work best on a mobile. The user would use their mobile’s camera to see / capture text, and rePhrase would rephrase it for them. Google Goggles can translate… why can’t rePhrase reword?
Hopefully that alleviates your concerns, my dear investor. 😉
My concerns are alleviated!! 🙂
I will be
rePhrase is the world’s first ever automatic text leveler and enabler of adaptive text. What rePhrase does is take text from a chosen reading level and adapt it (without changing meaning as much as possible) to make it readable for almost any reader. Taking existing school texts and eliminating the need for many differentiated materials makes things easier on teachers, students, and school budgets.
Additional Information On How it Works:
• rePhrase determines the reading level of a body of electronic text that someone wants to read
• Next the reader will alter the difficulty with a sliding scale at the top of the interface
• Once a new reading level has been established, the program will use the abilities of a thesaurus and grammar check to change the words of a text without changing its overall meaning or hurting its sentence flow
• As students grow in ability, they can adapt or change the difficulty of the text to suit themselves
rePhrase is a well thought and developed idea. The elevator pitch includes the essential information to help me further my decision of investing deeper into this idea. The pitch included statistics, facts, was very precise about the idea and showed confidence. rePhrase definitely has a place in the educational market and have the potential to help schools improve their current reading scores. I believe for the future, this service could create their own reading line, which would enhance the status of this product and essentially create more revenue.
Thanks, Jenaca. I’m glad you’ve been convinced! 😉
I also like your reading line idea… what a great source of dynamic products and constant revenue!
Hi again Stephen,
I wanted to delve deeper into your Venture Pitch and provide some feedback in the form of a brief EVA analysis. As a potential investor, I am looking in your venture pitch for a variety of information:
You exude confidence and calmness in your on camera appearance. Did that confidence continue into your longer Venture Pitch? I think it did continue because I saw arguments made for this product that are reasonable and interesting. You educational background is an asset but I would want to know who you have heading up the business aspects of the company.
Good product that will be in demand:
I think rePhrase is a great idea but the road to develop an app that can accurately and quickly rephrase text AND retain the original meaning will be a challenge. I think a successful app in this case would almost need to border on a kind of artificial intelligence (AI) that hasn’t quite been developed. Synonymous word replacement is straightforward but meaning variability, meaning context, word use variability, word connotation variability, and so on might change the meaning of rephrased text so drastically that the original message would be lost. (See honest about challenges below)
How big is the potential client base:
I like your market description and you are absolutely right about its potential. You mentioned several ways that the user base could be increased such as bundling with new tablets or other devices. That is a very good idea if a deal could indeed could be struck!
Can the product compete successfully on the market:
You rightfully mention that there is no competition although if I was going to invest in your venture, I might look at some of the AI work being done. There are algorithmic summarizers that do an excellent job with text and the more sophisticated ones might apply some AI algorithms that go beyond mathematical models most often used.
Are you honest about challenges:
Your pros and cons section speaks well of this. I think you are enthusiastic and excited but also in tune enough with reality to know the limitations. Obviously, if you were to go further, you would need to look into other patents and any other products that even comes close to your idea, including summarizers. You would also need to look at feasibility. Can an app really rephrase text in the way you describe? That is, an app that can written now (not ten years from now…).
I think there is risk in the investment of this venture because, while the idea is very clear and the demand would be great and the problems solved would be significant, the road to the development of a successful product is not clear by any standard. I think your product, in order to be successful, would depend on yet to be developed AI components because your algorithms would have to somehow get a handle on the meaning of the text. Replacing synonymous simple words for more complex words will not work. My own knowledge of the AI research and history of AI failures over the last 60 years does not make me feel very confident.
P.S. The point I make in the Investment Risk section above is one I would aim at my own Venture, too. BreakOut Illustrator has no clear path to development because I am not sure the technology exists yet to actually do what I want the programming to do.
I’d like to know more about who would (like to) be in on this venture as well, to steer it into fruition. Anyone? Bueller?
You’re absolutely right about the technological challenges. One of the strengths of my product is also one of its biggest challenges – its novelty / ground-breaking nature. These technological / AI challenges will definitely be a large hurdle. It’s a risk… but I really do wonder if it would be worth it. If someone (or group) out there thought it was possible (I think it must be, at least partially so, as I envision it), I’d gladly partner up to see it realized. Maybe I should talk to two of my Godparents’ sons… they recently had success on Dragons’ Den with their Honibe products.
Thanks for your honest comments, Jim. It’s been great working with you and chatting with you throughout this course!
I like your rePhrase product.
As I was going through your Venture Pitch, I was also thinking … “How can this be implemented? ”
Few things came to my mind … database, theory of automata, and AI.
I think the application / program is doable. I am tempted to write the code. But, that’s not my role today 🙂
Now, what I am not certain is how much memory would the program require because it needs to look at how the words are put together … and look for a viable rePhrase without loosing its original meaning. But, this is minor.
I like your can-do / can-be-done attitude! Maybe you should contact me later with your programming hat on instead of your EVA one!
It’s uplifting to hear that, maybe, the hurdles are surmountable.
I really love your idea. I am in China right now selling online ESL courses to students…and I can obvioulsy see the potential in your product…but I couldn’t “see” your video – I apologize.
Your marketing and licensing agreement system seems to follow http://www.busuu.com. I would look to them for some ideas…
Something that I felt that you were missing was how you would sell your product. Marketing overseas is cultually different than western countries – as I am sure you are well aware. Getting local schools to even “consider” different ideas – is extremely difficult. How will you get to that “billion”dollar market?
That said, I think that you have a great idea and I really hope that it comes to fuition- because we would be interested in working with you….www.GlobalEd.ca
Hi, Verena. I have looked at busuu before – earlier in this course, I think. Perhaps I should delve deeper into the site for some ideas. Thanks for the direction and positive comments. If something ever comes of this, I’ll look you up!
Great idea venture indeed, Stephen, and there’s definitely a need for this product. I know that for high schools in Vancouver, there are ESL social and ESL science classes, in which students simply can’t join the regular class because of their limited English comprehension skills. It is not easy to find reading materials with simpler language, and yet, teaches concept at the same level of difficulty that suits these students’ needs. The result is that sometimes students who move into the regular science class might find it difficult to adapt when other students of the same grade have learned the foundations in the previous grades. An app like rePhrase will help these teachers provide reading materials that is closer to the regular class (ex. Science 10) and better prepare these ESL students when they join the regular classes.
One concern I have is how the program might deal with long sentences with complicated sentence structures. I often work with students who understand all the words, but couldn’t decode the meaning of the sentence when the words are put together.
Another concern is about learning how to read… sometimes translation programs give us something that’s understandable, but not quite grammatically correct. It might take a while to perfect rePhrase.
Since I don’t have the technical knowledge, I’m not quite sure if these problems can be solved with existing technology. However, I am convinced that this is a great idea and has a lot of potential!
Thanks for your encouraging remarks!
I too, aside from my low-level readers, thought of immigrant students as a great target market – students at grade level mentally, but behind the pack in English. Allowing them to more easily access the content in classes they attend would be a great help to them.
Long, complex sentences, phrasing (just think of the punctuation issues and possible shifts in meaning), and overall grammar are definitely big concerns of mine, too. I have no idea how to technically attack them… just how I’d like them to work!
Thanks again for your e-props!
Wow, Stephen. What a great concept. i especially like the logo. 🙂
Agree with many of the sentiments already expressed but I have to say I really appreciate your research into this project. As well, I think I spent a lot of time going over your list of pros and cons at the end of your document. Kudos to you for putting it out there. Again. Wow. I appreciate the fact that it is a new product so much of your information is difficult to acquire.
Hi, Michelle. Thanks for the compliment on the logo – I truly thought having a good one would lend some credibility to my venture. I remember looking at the Evernote pitch and thinking what the logo did for it – it makes it seem more real and memorable.
Thanks for the rest of the comments, too… hopefully David reads them all before grading me! 😉
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