Pitch Pool Assessments: Recombo 2004, Recombo 2005, Ingenia, UBC OLT, UBC IT, Royal Roads

Recombo 2004


CEO Credibility

ü      Brad at this point has poor presentation skills

ü      He does not exude confidence, in fact his voice is weak and his speech often stumbles

ü      His lack of a clear goal or vision does not leave me confident in his company’s success


Management Team

ü      It is interesting to note that neither Brad’s credentials nor those of his team are discussed during the pitch.  An oversight on his part after doing some research on the web as Brad does have some excellent credentials and experience behind him.


Business Model

ü      The general lack of focus leads me towards a ‘no’ as to whether this is feasible.  They are looking at too wide an area with tools, platform and service.  They need to have a clearer vision to share to compel the investor


Competitive Products

ü      Brad has not convinced me that his product is ready to compete with the existing competition and take a market share.  Price point was not discussed but is relevant.


Market Readiness

ü      The product is already in the market place but I’m not convinced the company is ready or prepared for growth.


Technical Innovation

ü      The company does have a unique edge with their ‘connectedness’ this is where I think their focus and vision should lie.


Exit Strategy

ü      Right now, overall Recombo is lacking a clear vision and goals, without these I don’t think that it is possible for them to accurately define what their success looks like.  They do not have a clear destination for themselves


Overall Investment Status

ü      At this time I would not be willing to risk my money on this proposition


Recombo 2005


CEO Credibility

ü      Brad at this point has improved his presentation skills

ü      He is very confident in his company and the product

ü      His lack of a clear goal or vision does not leave me confident in his company’s success


Management Team

ü      It is interesting to note that neither Brad’s credentials nor those of his team are discussed during the pitch.  An oversight on his part after doing some research on the web as Brad does have some excellent credentials and experience behind him.


Business Model

ü      Recombo has obviously learned from past successes and failures and have remodelled the company

ü      They are now focused on being a solution based company and are willing to turn down business that does not fit into their new vision

ü      Brad’s presentation, however, does not compel me to believe that they have done all of their homework to be competitive in this market



Competitive Products

ü      From the presentation it appears that the product is scaleable and adjustable for various markets, however, it’s niche is not readily apparent


Market Readiness

ü      The product has its first lighthouse client and has an interesting approach towards incentives for existing clients to produce new leads.  However, the sales teams approach does not seem to be focused and unified


Technical Innovation

ü      The company does have a unique edge with their ‘connectedness’ but do they offer their client’s and edge?  I am not convinced.


Exit Strategy

ü      Brad talks about focus but doesn’t seem to have a clear focus for growth and success.  They do not seem to have a clear vision of where they want to be with their product (other than a million dollar company)


Overall Investment Status

ü      At this time I would not be willing to risk my money on this proposition.  There is still work to be done on this company.

Further Remarks

ü      I took the opportunity to investigate Recombo’s website.  They have changed the focus of their product yet again.


Ingenia Training


CEO Credibility

ü      Confident, clear speaking voice

ü      Excellent credentials

ü      Concise Presentation


Management Team

ü      Solid business, highly qualified team

ü      Industry leader

ü      International expert

ü      Good successes already


Business Model

ü      Good research into the market

ü      Ripe for growth in eLearning and custom content

ü      Aware of the competition

ü      Already have contacts in Vietnam

ü      Money is available for the product

ü      Solid focused goal


Competitive Products

ü      From the presentation it appears that the product is easily able to take a good piece of the market share in this country that has yet to be tapped into

ü      The price for investment is clear and clearly broken down


Market Readiness

ü      The product is ready, the path to success should be relatively short


Technical Innovation

ü      If they act quickly and take the large market share than I believe they will have an edge that they can keep


Exit Strategy

ü      Their vision and goals are very clear and focused


Overall Investment Status

ü      I would invest in this proposition.  Although the return on investment is relatively small I do believe it is feasible


Further Remarks

ü      From further research on the Ingenia website it looks like they were successful in securing the IDRC/Government of Vietnam as a client


UBC Office of Learning Technologies


CEO Credibility

ü      Although the director was not a great speaker she does seem very knowledgeable about the various intricacies of overseeing the learning technologies for such a large institution with so many unique faculties and individuals that require accommodation inside her office’s vision


Management Team

ü      The UBC Office of Learning Technologies is filled with highly qualified individuals


Business Model

ü      The office does have a strategic plan

ü      They ensure that they work collaboratively with all individual and faculties

ü      They provide facilitation and co-ordination across UBC, which is difficult in an institution that values de-centralization

ü      Works collaboratively with IT services to ensure that the infrastructure can support the learning technologies


Technical Innovation

ü      This office values advanced and innovative users

ü      They look to the future and value online interaction


Exit Strategy

ü      Although the focus has to be on broader goals to encompass so many unique faculties and client groups, they still seem to achieve a clear focus and strategy for the future


Overall Investment Status

ü      No office is perfect and learning technologies are still continuously emerging and evolving.  This is a very difficult office to hold and please so many separate interests while keeping a common vision.  I think the director does an admirable job.


UBC IT Services


CIO Credibility

ü      Wow, Ted is a very well spoke individual

ü      He is clear, concise and exudes capability and confidence


Management Team

ü      All 5 of the UBC VPs volunteered to sit on the executive steering committee


Business Model

ü      Ted is very much aware that it is essential to have a clear vision, and the ability to articulate and share that vision with others

ü      The office has an eStrategy framework

ü      Annual town hall to discuss the strategy

ü      They give voice to the entire community

ü      Align their goals with the strategic goals of the faculty and the university


Competitive Products

ü      The office makes a point of keeping track of the innovators within the UBC community

ü      Liaise with other universities

ü      Keep current with the work of other institutions


Exit Strategy

ü      I was very impressed with the clarity of Ted’s vision.  He has a clear definition for success for his department


Royal Roads Open Courseware


CEO Credibility

ü      Miss Burgess speaks confidently and believes in the success of her proposal


Management Team

ü      It is made apparent that the current staff at Royal Roads are highly competent

ü      However, no mention is made of the team that would design and implement the Open Courseware – are they the same?  eLearning courseware is different than teaching in class


Business Model

ü      Although Miss Burgess talks about open courseware at other institutions and the benefits of open courseware, there is very little substance about how this would be implemented at Royal Roads

ü      Is the infrastructure already in place?  Are the courses fit for online learning?  What type of budget are they looking at?  Where is the evidence of a business proposal?


Competitive Products

ü      The selling price is zero dollars, Miss Burgess has done little to convince what the return on investment will be


Market Readiness

ü      This was not addressed at all during the presentation

ü      Are there courses already created?

ü      How much hardware requires purchasing

ü      What will the software requirements be?

ü      How long will this take to implement from start to finish?


Technical Innovation

ü      There are already a number of universities that offer Open Courseware.  Miss Burgess has not emphasized what will be unique about the Royal Roads open courseware


Exit Strategy

ü      I believe that Miss Burgess has a clear picture of what she would like to see, unfortunately she has not paved a clear road of how she will get there.


Overall Investment Status

ü      At this time I would not be willing to risk my money on this proposition.

September 24, 2009   1 Comment

Recombo and Ingenia

September 21, 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

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

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

EVA of Ingenia and Recombo by Barbara Mair

A lot has been said in the blog about these two companies.

I would add that the CEO of Ingenia comes across as a very credible person in the education field although since the venture is taking place in Vietnam she is not focusing enough on her credibility in this market. In the case of Recombo, the CEO is highly knowledgeable about his product that has now become a service and i believe he would profit from being a little less technical in his pitch and a little more market driven.

As several of you have expressed neither one of the CEOs goes into the management team enough to judge if they are the right team for what they are trying to do, again Ingenia would benefit by explaining the partnership with the company who knows Vietnam well and telling us if anyone on her team has in depth knowledge about doing business in Vietnam. In the case of Recombo going from 12 to 24 people in a short time without outlining what these bring to the table could be dangerous and a source of cash burning.

Both business models could be successful given the right conditions, although i am not convinced by either of them as they stand in these pitches, they both will evolve although Recombo could be close if this lighthouse customer is as successful as they anticipate.

In the case of Recombo they have evolved from being a product driven company to a service company recognizing the pain and solving a business need for their partner. They are staying focused on developping this “distribution channel” for their products and services and i believe this will help them evolve further in understanding the end customer’s needs and adapting to them, they do sell the uniqueness of their products for the market they are addressing. Ingenia on the other hand has not found the uniqueness of their products, we do not know what the competition looks like in the market they are going after, Vietmam and they have had no success in their own local market. So it is to be seen whether they do have the right products.

I believe that Ingenia could be successful but i would not invest in it until i saw more proof of their ability to do business oversees in Asia.  Recombo i believe has got the product/service right although they are not clear on the exit strategy whether they are building up a company to sell or to expand to other customers or partners…. Looking at these as an EVA, of the two companies ithink Recombo is a surer bet.

September 18, 2009   1 Comment

Ingenia Pitch

As an EVA I was impressed by the qualifications of the core team. The venture also had a clear focus. I was concerned that Ingenia’s experience in the past has mainly been with governments and that their proposed projects will be mainly with multinationals. I would want to find out more about how significant this switch would be. Ramona is aware of, and honest about, the stiff competition Ingenia faces in the North American market and proposes an overseas venture partly to avoid this competition.

As I watched the pitch I was reminded of a recent report by the Educational Policy Institute on the effects of the recession on post-secondary education. At the end of this report (pages 28-29) the authors claimed that in Asia and Africa there is a high demand for education branded by large Western universities, and that Canada has been slow to respond to this demand. I noted that Ramona mentioned the success of an Australian university in Vietnam. Of course, Ingenia is not a large Western university and it is not offering post-secondary education. However, Ramona mentions that there is a strong presence of multinational companies in Vietnam, which is Ingenia’s focus, and this would suggest that there is a demand for the kinds of services Ingenia provides.

I would like to know more about Ingenia’s partner team and their experience. I could see this partnership as helping to overcome some of the problems that might exist with the venture. There is a question about what products they plan to use, as I assume that they will have to support Vietnamese. I understand that most of the connections in Vietnam are dial-up and that this is why Ingenia is proposing to buy a low-bandwidth portal in BC, but the slow connections may have ramifications for how attractive elearning will be and again what products should be used. I would like to know more about what solutions they implemented in their previous experience in Vietnam. When she discusses the need for insurance, Ramona admits that it is a difficult market and I would want to know more about potential risks.

I noticed that the Canadian government offers some resources for Canadians considering doing business in Vietnam. http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/vietnam/commerce_international/index.aspx?lang=eng

September 18, 2009   2 Comments

Your Choice Ingenia or Recombo?

In my comparison of Recombo 2005 and Ingenia both CEO’s appear to be driven, qualified and charismatic in their pitches but as a result of David Vogt’s scaffolding post I will attempt to describe why the representation of Recombo by Brad Mcfee seems to be a more salient company for my investment over Ramona’s pitch for Ingenia.

Both companies do not describe their management team in an effective manner but I feel this is appropriate given the succinct element of a pitch. The Business model outlined by Recombo markets a specific technology tool (content integration router) which in my mind is a positive quality because as Brad Mcfee states retains the element of “focus, focus, focus” and as Byron Kask states in his weblog entry maintains an element of  “not being too diversified”. Another strong point is the notion of incorporating incentives into their contracts, which will encourage other customers to use their product. This seems like a clearer picture then the one pitched by Ramona where the main features of this plan are based on indicators of “lots of potential money”. She does a good job of clearly presenting and outlining why Vietnam is a good potential market. As well, the provision of a plan for addressing the economic security of the Ingenia venture through links to Asian Development Bank, an Australian private university and Japanese investment are sound points but to me the prospect of working in the Vietnamese market is somewhat more of a risk although potentially more lucrative in a quicker timeframe.

Overall, the market readiness may be more broad scale for Ingenia but as Ana Cecilia Tagliapietra explained in her weblog the challenges of the Vietnam market and the non-exclusive nature of their product are significant challenges. In contrast the exclusive nature of Recombo’s technology, their clientele, and commitment to customer satisfaction/success before expansion sounds like a better approach. Ingenia’s diversified approach of targeting solid customers in a be there first strategy as opposed to Recombo’s focused and steady approach is as much a choice in investment philosophy as it is a choice which CEO presents the best pitch for the best business opportunity. But for my investment I would go with the Recombo technology.

September 17, 2009   2 Comments

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”



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