Two useful pitch resources

The two linked resources below come from TechCrunch.

The first is about enthusiasm and its importance as an element of a product or service pitch. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the poster child for this resource.

The second is a recipe of sorts that you may wish to consider as you begin to assemble your own pitch for assignment 3 in this course.

This week you have been critiquing pitches, a task that I suspect that you will find more straightforward than crafting your own. It requires a great idea, organizational agility and presentation talent to build and deliver a compelling pitch. Do you have the right stuff?


September 17, 2009   1 Comment

Royal Roads OpenCourseWare Pitch

Mary Burgess states that the Royal Roads OpenCourseWare venture would have both an altruistic value and a benefit to Royal Roads University. I think it is difficult to argue with the altruistic benefit of sharing knowledge and promoting informal learning. As an EVA, I believe that people would still pay to be accredited and to receive instruction. I don’t think that there is a problem with competition from members of the OpenCourseWare consortium because OpenCourseWare is offered for free and to benefit from the venture it isn’t necessary to lead people away from using OpenCourseWare offered elsewhere for free (such as MIT) to get them to use Royal Roads OpenCourseWare for free. Furthermore, from what I can see, for the most part Royal Roads and MIT offer different kinds of programs and I’m not sure that there would be much direct competition between them.

The intention to make Royal Roads courseware available for free online indicates confidence in its value, a sense that its quality speaks for itself. It is possible that being able to see the course material before enrollment may attract potential students and possibly prospective faculty, but it would be difficult to establish this kind of cause and effect relationship by looking at the experiences of universities in the OpenCourseWare consortium because there are many factors that can affect student enrollment. I agree that offering courseware for free could enhance the reputation of Royal Roads.

I have questions about what the venture would involve. Is it just a matter of posting course syllabi and handouts online and advertising that they are available, or will it involve creating new content such as videos of lectures, podcasts, and so on? The answer to this would have consequences for the cost of the venture, its viability, and how excited I would be about it. As other EVAs have mentioned, there are also questions about who would be involved in the venture and what their qualifications are.

My main concern is with the issue of licensing. Much more would need to be said about copyright issues and how likely the creators of course content would be to get on board with the project. Other EVAs have mentioned that it isn’t clear what the audience for this pitch is. If it is to faculty, who would be concerned about their intellectual property, then, as a faculty member, I am not persuaded that people will not steal my course content just because from a legal standpoint they should not steal it.

September 17, 2009   4 Comments

RRU ready to invest? …

I may sound harsh here, but I’m going to start by saying no to investing in this one – for numerous reasons. (Comments most welcome if you disagree with what I say because I’m new to being an EVA.)

Burgess takes too long to get to the point in her pitch. The introduction is much, much too long. Actually, I’m curious: who is her audience? Would she not pitch this idea to people inside the university? If so, is it necessary to go into so much detail about RRU’s history? Please tell me if I’m wrong here. Regardless, I would spend a little less time talking about the historical significance of RRU … and the history of OCW, too.

Her words appear to have said a lot about RRU, but the rhetoric is empty. She said a lot about its history, its successful marketing team, its “innovative pedagogy”, and its “effective use of technologies”, but no concrete examples were given. Nor were there suggestions about how RRU’s OCW would be different from other universities. Yes, she showed that some research had been done with regards to how other universities adopted OCW, and she commented on common criticisms about this practice; however, there was very little (if anything) about how RRU would overcome the criticisms made about MIT and other universities. Instead she provides comments that are full of logical fallacies (sorry …), such as “The bottom line is it‘s the right thing to do”. Is it? I’m not convinced, yet. (Although, I do support the idea of OCW.)

Burgess does do well when mentioning how OCW would benefit the university. Yet there is little information about how this will be accomplished. Will they ensure high quality materials that are competitive against MIT’s OCW? Is that feasible? Will their methods for delivering content be innovative? How?

I also question whether her plan for how OCW would truly benefit students. She didn’t seem to give enough evidence for this. In fact, I got more of an impression that the OCW would be used more for marketing purposes, attracting more students, attracting more faculty.

And, which I’ll admit that I’m perhaps being too harsh here, I was not impressed by her delivery. For example, she relied too much on pathos (such as commenting on the university’s credibility) and ethos (such as visuals in the presentation like … the baby – why a baby?).

September 17, 2009   8 Comments

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

Burgess, M. (2008).  ETEC522 Assignment 3.  Retrieved September 16, 2009 from

MIT (2009).  MIT Facts.  Retrieved September 16, 2009 from

September 16, 2009   7 Comments

A ‘Dragon’s Den’ Pitch

Here is a pitch in which the co-founders of, 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

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