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

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

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

Recombo’s Pitch

Initial Response to Recombo

My initial response to the Recombo pitch was positive. I found Brad McPhee to be knowledgeable, confident, personable and realistic. He appears to have a good grasp of his market niche and knowledge of the other players. I don’t personally know how innovative his product is but it certainly seems to be in demand and able to fill several needs. As I heard recently on “Dragon’s Den”, his product is not a “one sku wonder”! He was focused on a clear goal, being a “100 million dollar” company, yet admitted that if the price was right he might sell before hitting that mark. I felt that he was able to see ahead yet still be flexible.

In terms of market readiness, Recombo is already in the market and has reasonable plans for expansion. I do worry a bit about the rate of growth (he talked about needing to double his work force in 10 months). Through personal experience I know that extremely rapid growth can sometimes be problematic for a company. However, his calm, matter-of-fact manner put me at ease.

Would I risk my investment capital? Yes, I think I would.

September 14, 2009   No Comments