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  • David Vogt 6:57 pm on December 1, 2011
    0 votes

    Tags: A3, , , , voting   

    Wow!  One of our liveliest 522 interactions has been triggered by the most recent posts from David (Price) and Jeneca. The Venture Forum has happened for several years now but the pulsepress voting is a new experiment, so I’m (pleasantly) surprised by the culture clash I’m witnessing – because it offers a learning opportunity. First […]

    Continue reading Venture Forum Culture Clash – a learning opportunity Posted in: Blog Café
    • Doug Smith 12:22 am on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Vancouver is an interesting place for venture capitalists and investing because of some shady history and somewhat isolated location. I’m a bit out of touch these days, but a few years ago there was a lot of investment action in various industries (hi-tech, lo-tech, etc), where the originating capital was raised through the old VSE, mining and gold speculation. In these cases I think the investments were committed extensively through personal contacts and affiliations, and much less on actual venture analysis.

      Another example of how we can see the importance of personal connections and trust is through a very niche group of investors: former NHL players. These are men that are looking for investment vehicles while in many cases having very little understanding of the venture markets they are considering. They have advisers, but I think there is a lot of the old boys club that plays a significant role in their investment decisions.

      • Allie 11:25 am on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Fascinating!!! I immediately thought of:
        – the short-lived McLean’s restaurant (in Gastown) that a friend and I were discussing last night – specifically its short-livedness. Non-Vancouverites/non-hockey followers: McLean refers to Kirk McLean, former Vancouver goalie from the early to mid 90s, famous/beloved in Vancouver for the Canucks’ 1994 stanley cup run.
        – I also think the Courtnalls (Also mid-90s Vancouver players – one (both?) of whom were part of that 1994 run as well) had a restaurant across from BC Place. I *don’t think* it lasted very long… but I definitely don’t know the details.
        – Former BC Lions’ player(s?) (Cantor?) who are very public part-owners of Vera’s Burger Shack.
        – Fitness World’s rebranding as the Steve Nash Fitness Club
        – I’ve noticed Trevor Linden is getting in on the act and lending his name at least to a new fitness club venture.

        Of course, these are all highly visible examples associated with high profile, well liked franchise players. The hipster in me would totally go to the bar fronted by the journeyman player 😉

        My boyfriend is good friends with a tech venture analyst – who also reports that much depends on contacts and intuition. When I was putting my app VP together for this class, my boyfriend asked him a few questions about smartphone usage in my demographic (18-34), and the response was essentially, well, yeah, obviously loads of people have smartphones/tablets and their use is only on the rise. Full stop.

        My boyfriend – a grad student in science – has been called upon a couple of times as a consultant evaluating prospective ventures, and it really comes down to his snap judgment on what is good science and what he happens to think – in that moment – the marketability of the science happens to be.

        And so my feeling is that part of what it means to be reeeeeeally convincing is about whether the particular variables in a venture project happen to click into place with what the analyst/investor already knows/thinks. Does the proposed science happen to correspond with what my boyfriend-as-consultant’s existing mental models on what good science looks like? Does this investor happen to think that mobile devices are where it’s at for education, or does he/she have a different mental model of what learning looks like?

    • khenry 5:48 am on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hello David,
      Thank you for adding to, and clarifying, the lively debate, which I also enjoyed. I agree with both you and David W-P that in your first venture, particularly in the absence of a face to face meeting that visuals and voice are important if investors do not know you. However, what I enjoyed most from the debate was hearing reasons why persons chose the media they did and the considerations influencing design, choice and use of such media in determining what was the most effective way of pitching their product, given themes, concepts, restraints et al. I would like to also think conceptually and say that pitches can be more innovative and relevant if a balance is made between choosing a media that also reflects your product; provide essential information and a look at the team. Have a look at NoteWagon’s elevator pitch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ONC7O82YCs&feature=related . No video, very effective. Interestingly there is another 30sec clip of the CEO talking about it as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=Yo1nlEj1PII . Perhaps multiple access points or media in the forms of elevator pitches may be useful?
      They also appeared on Dragon’s Den https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjnI0W2w4-k

      At the end of the day the question is….would I get an email, a call or a visit to my website? If Steve Jobs stayed within the status quo of business and design would we have the ipad or the iphone??

      Re voting:
      From those I have read so far I have not seen a bad idea and often, as you pointed out, the idea is not the problem. Therefore perhaps a way to follow up on why it was graded down (constructivist criticism 🙂 ) would perhaps be more helpful. For those who are uncomfortable with this perhaps provide a way from anonymous tips/reasons.

      Personally I do not mind voting and commenting and I have really appreciated the insightful and solutions oriented comments of my colleagues. But here it also allows you to vote after. So I think persons can choose either way and you can just say votes should be in by x.


    • Angela Novoa 10:19 am on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi David,

      Thanks for clarifying and moderating some ideas that have been discussed during this week. About voting, as you say, maybe there are diferent cultural perspectives. Maybe, for futuro ETTEC 522 this explanation coludí be provided before the venture forum beggins. Personally, I was a little confused about the voting purpose, so that is why I preferred not voting negatively. But reading at David’s (Vogt) explanations and yours helps to clarify this issue.

      Now, speaking about a diffent issue, I think that the whole venture forum could be useful for us, a week before submitting the final venture, as peer evaluation activity. This feedback could be very useful for completing our projects. I have experienced effective peer evaluation in other MET curses, such as ETEC 531 and ETEC 532.


    • Angela Novoa 10:24 am on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      By the way, I meant David Price’s explanations and yours 🙂

    • Allie 1:44 pm on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Curiously, I’ve had a positive vote taken away. Not moved to negative, simply removed. My total votes (you can see this on the dashboard) have gone down

      I have to say, the idea of voting – and being voted on – at first had me quite alarmed. Now, having observed these voting patterns with great interest (I’m a elections nut! with a soft spot for stats), IMHO they have very little validity as an indicator of pitch quality or readiness. But, people have expressed that they either do not want to vote and are doing so only because they feel required to, or that the voting has made them feel badly. The risks far outweigh the negligible benefits.

      As we saw with the emerging market forum, where we used the pulsepress feature, and the EP evaluations we did early in term, we can be a tough crowd. We have no problem voting ideas down. I seem to recall our prof putting up a comment sagely reminding us that those pitches were for real ventures, and real people are behind them, and can read what we’re saying. Critique, he wrote elsewhere, is easy. Being an analyst – and I’m still paraphrasing Prof Vogt – is like being a great teacher – identifying nuggets of brilliance, diamonds in the rough. In response, we collectively chilled out.

      But, this is a social forum. And our own butts are on the line. We have investments in our colleagues; we have worked closely with some; others have become friends. We cheer when they rock it.

      As an anthropologist, it’s clear to me that something interesting is going on culturally when we feel deeply uneasy about hitting a yes or no button attached to a colleague – when the same group has no reservations about critiquing strangers, or voting down broad ideas, as in the emerging market forum (maybe it’s not interesting; it’s a bit predictable). The comments *about* voting indicate that we’re generally only voting on each other under some feeling of duress (‘I thought I had to’). Our voting patterns indicate that we’re more inclined to say yes with conditions, than to say no. We prefer to refrain from voting than to say no.

      As an overall group, we are not wanting to – and perhaps cannot? – separate our actual intellectual and emotional investments in our fellow students with our virtual investment $. Things would look different if were actually asked or required to part with actual dollars. But most, if not all, of us aren’t actually venture capitalists or start-up investors. We just play them on the internet. (! what a case study to expose the potentials and flaws of serious games !)

      But the voting is flawed in other ways. As David V suspects, the anonymity is totally in question. I know who voted me down, though I don’t hold it against them.

      The correlation between votes and comments is very weak. Some pitches have many positive comments, but many negative votes. More troublingly, the pitches with the most negative votes are those authored by people who have been vocal in ‘the debates’ referred to in this post.

      Bracing for negative votes!! (i’m joking)

      • David Vogt 4:36 pm on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Anthropology, indeed! Thanks for these constructive thoughts.

        One of the reasons I like the Venture Forum in 522, and want to find a way to keep it, and make it as authentic as possible without damaging psyches or communities, is that the real world of launching ventures is so anthropological (rather than scientific).

        For example, it is more like a lottery than an election. In real life perhaps 1% of ventures get any kind of “yes” vote, and decisions don’t happen by consensus. Yet it is hardly random. There are intense interpersonal factors that bring investors and entrepreneurs together, making a Venture Forum more like a speed dating event, and an investment more like a marriage. It is, after all, a deeply important commitment (more than financial) by both parties.

        So perhaps I could have simulated this better by allowing everybody just one (1) “yes” vote. I thought I was being generous to the cohort by allowing multiple “yes” votes, but this perhaps accentuates the hurt feelings generated by a negative or null vote (which are essentially identical). However, pursuing the dating-marriage metaphor further, I don’t know if we’ve found a way to make that process move that forward without hurt feelings either.

        For another example, it is not like education where constructivism builds toward the right answer, because there is no known “right” answer. In most cases, absolutely nobody can know whether a venture will eventually succeed. Investors are barely more knowledgeable than the average citizen – their success rates tend to be incredibly low overall (just marginally above what you might consider “common sense”). “Winning” for most investors means hitting a home run once in every ten to one hundred times at bat. So investors are just people who like to take risks, and generally have some management ability to optimize the potential success of their investments by working closely with the entrepreneur (which is why the interpersonal sense of being able to work together is so critical) to get the basic mechanics of the venture in order.

        What I’m saying is that good entrepreneurs still believe “yes” after hearing a hundred expert “no”s, because there’s a reasonable chance that they’re right. Their belief, and their perseverance in finding a way to listen to the message inside a “no”, then change their own perspectives slightly, and then find a way to communicate their vision in a slightly new way, over and over again, is intensely human. It is like crowd-sourcing in reverse. We’d all still be living in caves without that pioneering, indomitable, change-the-status-quo spirit.

        Thanks again,


        • David William Price 10:54 am on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

          For those of of who’ve invested a lot of time and money in real pitches, gone to bat, and had things not work out, we develop the perspective that it’s “the nature of business” and it’s “nothing personal”. I was excited to take this course because it involved an all-public forum, pitches, reviews, etc.

          Those of us who’ve done pitches get used to shifting our disappointment into a post-mortem analysis and a revision to our concepts for another kick at the can, and perhaps that’s the part that’s missing from this process… the chance for another kick at the can that keeps entrepreneurs rolling and persevering as you put it.

          When I took a teaching seminar in the summer, I had to do a live teaching segment in front of the class then get reviewed. What was most challenging was not the fact that I appeared to “bomb” during the somnambulant 330pm presentation slot, but that there was no chance to do it again and see how I could address issues raised in the class.

          Allie presents an interesting anthropological perspective, and you yourself mentioned culture clash. Perhaps having that culture clash happen earlier in the semester with chances to revise as we go along might help people adjust not only to the culture, but also help scaffold the challenges of managing the anxiety that rolls with public performance reviews and channel the anxiety into analysis, revisions, and another try.

      • David William Price 10:39 am on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Allie, brilliant comment. Nicely put.

    • Tamara Wong 8:03 pm on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Thanks for the clarification and additions to this debate! I am intrigued by the idea of using your face for an elevator pitch. I really like the idea and agree that it garners a degree of trust that is important to enticing investors. However, I have some points I’d like to make on why I didn’t include my face on my elevator pitch. My first and most important reason was this assignment terrified me!! I was way out of my comfort zone and was anxious about putting my ideas out there for weeks. I have little to no experience with ventures or pitches. I felt that seeing my face would be a detriment to my pitch as I would have communicated this fear even further. Also I am 26 years old and I look like I’m no more than 18, in addition to that I look shy and unsure of myself much of the time. While it garners trust to put your face on your pitch I wasn’t sure if mine would do more harm than good. I used my voice, which many said lacked passion, but even that was difficult as I don’t feel comfortable with my voice. I think that in some situations a face can garner trust but it is important to be self aware to assist you in understanding what your face will do for your company.

      I also want to make some points on voting. First is how can you tell if someone votes positively or negatively for you? Second, personally, I wanted to give each venture pitch a positive vote because each one I looked at was a great idea! For each pitch I thought “Now why didn’t I think of that?” I had some questions about how it would work but none of the questions were so big that I felt strongly enough to give a negative vote on the venture. I felt like I was baring my soul with my pitch and understood that these pitches could be intensely personal ideas and it was important to be constructive.

      I like the voting but as I voted I was also keenly aware of the importance of constructive criticism. I have been thinking about this issue for weeks as earlier on I received a comment that essentially said I wasn’t a good teacher, something that bothered me although I didn’t want it to. I think that the voting has a great place in this class and is helpful but maybe a reminder of internet etiquette and a professional code of conduct may be helpful at the beginning of the class. I have had this reminder in a another class and found it a useful guideline for what constructive criticism is.

    • David Berljawsky 8:44 am on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      I was surprised though at the comments that I read this week. I agree with aspects of both sides of the debate. Yes it is an elevator pitch, and providing face to face interaction is certainly the norm, but aren’t we asked to think outside the norm? I have read comments referring to Steve Jobs making a pitch, he was perceived as thinking outside the norm. So using that logic, why should we be making only video pitches when we promote our projects? Aren’t we trying as educators and as venture capitalists to create new and exciting initiatives? To quote Steve Jobs, “Think Different.” Of course, (and I’m guilty of this as well) PowerPoint may not be the most exciting medium, but that is not the point. It is still a valid form of expression.
      I personally do believe that some internet etiquette was breached this week. I can understand that if you are not comfortable with your work being analysed in public that this was very uncomfortable, and perhaps some of the criticisms could be seen as un creative criticism, ie: your project isn’t good, period. We had the option to have our work looked at privately. I thought long and hard about taking this route, but in the end decided to publish my project online, to help to contribute to the online community. I received some negative comments, and am near the bottom of the voting scale. I am fine with this as long as the responses that I received are valid and not mean spirited. Although I have read comments in other projects that could be perceived as the later under the guise of being honest. This is wrong and not in the spirit of the MET program, at least in the 7 other classes that I have taken.
      I don’t personally believe that the voting system is that flawed as it is. I do believe that by providing people with one vote it would be more accurate though, but that system could be flawed as well. It’s hard to know until it is being put into practice. As someone whose product is near the bottom of the voting scale I am personally not insulted or offended by the results I have been getting. This class is a learning opportunity and we are learning about what sells and what doesn’t sell. As someone with a lack of business knowledge this has been very useful to me. If we don’t learn from our perceived weaknesses and mistakes, what is the point?

      • schiong 9:28 am on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi David B.

        You have an excellent point.
        Honestly, I am new to giving pitches to people I do not know.
        For some reason, I get nervous. But, if you asked me to pitch the idea to people
        I know (like our school administrators or peers), I will be more “comfortable”.
        I guess that is the reality of life that we pitch to investors we have not met.

        I like the comments given because they are constructive… Well, I am assuming they are constructive or I am looking at it in a constructive perspective. hahaha 🙂
        “Think, hear, and speak of no evil?”

        I think words/ideas/statements can be viewed in a constructive or negative perspective. I am not sure if emotions or disposition got anything to do with it. hahaha. 🙂

        What I found really difficult are the following —
        a) I believe almost all of the projects presented are great. Sure, it lacks this and that… But, I love them. And choosing the top 3 was a headache.
        b) I am not good with words. So, I do not know if my questions or clarifications were conveyed in a positive way. I guess I need the rePhrase app here. hahaha 🙂 or porto to give me the right vocabulary or BreakOut to illustrate my point clearly. hahaha.
        c) I could not write a lot of comments because some of the people assigned in the same product already mentioned or highlighted the important ones. I do not like to repeat what was already been said.

        Actually, some of the products can be integrated to create a new service.
        Just quick one … possible integration on Looking at the Cloud + CityConneX + Connect LMS.
        Some of the learning applications can also be integrated. I noticed that what the other apps lack (features).. exists in another product presented. 🙂

        Of course, it needs tweaking. But, the possibility is there and it could be fun.
        I guess I just love to see the beauty in each product and find ways it could complement the other.


    • Allie 9:40 am on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi David et al,
      I wonder if in lieu of yes or no, there might be a scale? I mention this because I think you said earlier on in term that investors/analysts might see a good idea, but want to also work with the entrepreneur to tweak it, or refine it considerably before it is market ready – hence this is more than a financial commitment. I’m thinking of something like:
      4) yes this pitch is ready – little need for changes
      3) yes this idea is original and really interesting – let’s do some work to it (elaborated in comments)
      2) there’s a kernel of something really good here, but the pitch could be revised and resubmitted (elaborated in comments)
      1) I’m afraid I don’t think we’re a match/it’s not you, it’s me

      • David William Price 11:01 am on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        I think using a rubric is a brilliant idea. I tried using Vogt’s criteria from the week we reviewed real pitches because I thought it would be objective and fair to everyone (because that’s the criteria they used to evaluate others). While I felt those criteria were great for taking on the analyst role (which, quite honestly, was my focus) I think your suggestion is a brilliant one for handling the pedagogical side.

        I think it’s important not to take away from the effort people took to evaluate pitches. I spent hours viewing and reviewing and trying to answer questions from Vogt’s criteria. I also found that the world limits severely impacted my reviews… they became pretty telegraphic due to my efforts to squeeze down to the required limits while still touching not the criteria.

        A rubric with some more nuances would certainly help scaffold feedback.

    • Deb Giesbrecht 4:35 pm on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      I, respectfully, disagree.
      I feel, like Allie, that ETEC 522 did not provide a *safe* and collaborative environment in which to trial (and error) student work. Unfortunately I already handed in my class evaluation before this week, and therefore missed the opportunity to add my ‘constructive’ criticism. Fortunately though, I will have forgotten this course and its contents by this time next week.

      Have a great break everyone!

  • ashleyross 8:24 pm on November 26, 2011
    6 votes

    Tags: A3, , venture pitch, week 13   

    Hello, Here is my Elevator Pitch for A3! For more detail, please read through my LearnTRU Venture Pitch. Thanks! (* Note: There was a audible click in my EP so I uploaded a new version.) Reference Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.ldac-acta.ca/

    Continue reading LearnTRU Elevator & Venture Pitch Posted in: Week 13: Venture Forum
    • jenaca 2:07 am on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Ashley,
      What a great pitch! You caught my attention right away and I was engaged the entire time! I am shocked about the high number of dropouts and can’t seem to get 35% out of my head! I think this was a wonderful way to begin your pitch, as well as visually showing the comparisons!
      I am definitely voting for your product!

      • ashleyross 4:49 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Jenaca,

        Thanks so much for the positive feedback, it’s much appreciated. 🙂

    • jarvise 10:17 am on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      learntru is a well positioned and developed idea. I like the structure of your presentation. You clearly establish the need and the market, although there was no hard data on cash flow. You have positioned your product as a whole solution, through offering not only help with academics, but also with lifestyle, which would translate to self efficacy. I also think that through providing extra services, such as helping parents negotiate through extra funding applications that are available to them benefits both you and them. I thought your minimum commitment time was a little high, but I get that in order to peruse an activity on the weekend, it would take time. Did you consider offering fragments of your service as well? For example, if someone just wanted help with one aspect, they could pay only for that? Great presentation and great idea. I like your coordinated services model and would invest in this.


      • ashleyross 4:50 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Emily,

        Thank you for your feedback. I decided not to include any specific data on the financial aspect of the business mostly because it wasn’t a requirement for the assignment and I wanted to make sure that I gave as much attention as possible to the deliverables. In regards to offering fragments of LearnTRU, I feel as though it would go against the underlying concept behind the program, which is to help create an academic/non-academic balance in a child’s life. I realize that the minimum commitment could be considered high, but most sports or programs for young children are at least one day a week so it isn’t really any different as far as the time involved. Also, for families who have children with learning disabilities, they will help their child spend as much time as they need to become successful.

    • bcourey 5:42 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Ashley,
      You are addressing a very challenging problem – meeting the needs of a group of students who are traditionally overlooked and given minimum support – your stats are disturbing as we look at their drop out rate. When I first viewed your pitch, I wondered if the only difference between your service and any other tutoring program was the weekend activities, but then I noted that you provide a great deal of support for parents and a very individualized program for each student based on your assessments. I too wondered about the cost and what investors would get in return…but maybe you are a non-profit group? I also wonder if one evening per week for tutoring would give them enough support to upgrade their skills enough to be successful in their regular school day. Great presentation for sure!


      • ashleyross 7:03 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Brenda,

        Thank you for your comments. You’re right, one day a week would not be enough to help upgrade a student’s skills, that’s why LearnTRU spends equal amounts of time focusing on participants learning lifestyle and high-interest lifestyle. Although it could be split so that we focused on the learning lifestyle during the week and the high-interest lifestyle on the weekend, it is much more effective when the activities are done together each day. This gives the participant an outlet after working hard on their academic pursuits through the transition to the high-interest lifestyle, even if it is something as simple as going for a swim at the public pool during the week.

        I do feel as though the business can be profitable, but I need to finish researching the financial requirements of launching LearnTRU before providing you with more detailed information. 🙂


    • hall 6:19 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply


      I think your elevator pitch is a good one. I definitely like your sequence of your ideas from the identification of problem to solution of problem through Learn TRU. I think it was innovative. Developing countries would definitely benefit from your venture.


    • schiong 11:44 pm on November 29, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Ashley,

      Great product.
      I’ve never dealt with anyone with learning disabilities… so it is hard for me to imagine the market potential.

      just to clarify, would you be transferring the learner (diagnosed with learning disability) to your own “school”, or you send a consultant to shadow the student?


      • ashleyross 6:51 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Steve,

        Thanks for your question. The answer is neither, you could think of LearnTRU as an afterschool program that provides students with the tools they need to bring back to their classroom. The idea is for them to become self-sufficient and independent, while in the classroom.



    • jenaca 6:33 am on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      The Venture:
      LearnTRU is in the business of helping particpants learn using technlology to reach their ultimate goal by providing them with a learning lifestyle strategy that will stay with them forever. LearnTRU has blended a learning lifestyle and a high-interest lifestyle that aims to create the perfect ‘after-school’ and weekend learning environment for students with disabilities.
      LearnTRU has 3 main aspects:
      1) Assessment: To help clients discover their learning lifestyles through a series of questions that determine how they learn best and which tool(s) can help them in their academic pursuits
      2) Learning Lifestyle: Participants are taught how to learn by transforming any subject material so that it suits the learning style that was outlined during their initial assessment
      3) High-Interest Lifestyle: Involve students in activities outside of the normal lifestyles (horseback riding, playing musical instruments, snowboarding etc…)
      Additional Information:
      • In Canada, about 1 in 10 Canadians have a learning disability; 35% of those individuals who are identified as having a learning disability
      • LearnTRU is to help these young people find a hobby, sport or exercise that they enjoy, but more importantly one that will give them a sense of accomplishment.
      • LearnTRU clients will spend equal amounts of time developing their Learning Lifestyle and their High-Interest Lifestyle to help them achieve success in all aspects of their lives.
      • The minimum time commitment required to participate with LearnTRU is one evening during the school week and 4 hours on the weekend.
      My Thoughts:
      LearnTru is a well developed and structure idea. I like the vision of this venture and truly believe there is room in the market for this service. The elevator pitch intrigued me and motivated me to read your venture pitch where I found facts, statistics and information regarding the current market competetors and how your service differs from the once currently on the market. The feature I find most unique about yours is the last step in your pitch: high-interest lifestyle. Most of the other services do not currently include this and I believe this is the selling point of your service!
      learnTRU is definitely something I would invest in!

      • ashleyross 6:52 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Jenaca,

        Thanks again for your positive comments. I too believe that the high-interest lifestyle is one of the main selling points.



    • Keisha Edwards-Hamilton 8:02 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Ashley,

      LearnTru has a great pitch. The elevator pitch initially grabbed my attention and I love the value proposition. I was really surprised about school drop-out rates. However, right away I understood the problem . I could also relate to the problem and wanted to know more about how LearnTru could solve the problem which lead me to explore the venture pitch. A differentiation strategy is evident, but how feasible is this considering the target market. It is exciting, but can the market afford to pay for this service? The marketing plan seem terms of marketing, the plan seem attainable. Also the LearnTru team is solid and seems to be capable of turning the venture into a success. The idea of a niche is good as it caters to a specific group that need this type of service and the presentation clearly identified the market. Overall I love your preposition. It is unique and suits the target market you identified. This is definitely a venture that is worth pursuing.


      • ashleyross 6:53 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Keisha,

        Thanks for taking the time to give me feedback. ‘Can the market afford to pay for this service?’ Great question. To make it more affordable for the market it is important to help clients find and fill out the proper grants, there is a lot out there but most people (1) don’t know they exist and (2) have a hard time finding them and filling them out.



    • andrea 10:06 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hello Ashley,

      Well done on your clear and convincing pitches. Both look very professional, and are quite persuasive in establishing a need market for this service. After reading through everything I was left thinking that it’s amazing something like this isn’t already established – it’s just so common sense. It also feels like you’ve already started developing a brand. This was evident as well in your use of the “learning lifestyle” and the “high-interest lifestyle” tags. (It would be cool if you could do this for the learning lifestyle assessment you mention as well.) Your quote “LearnTRU is in the business of helping participants learn using technology to reach their ultimate goal by providing them with a learning and lifestyle strategy that will stay with them forever” made me wish that I could access this product myself, because who doesn’t want to reach their “ultimate goal”? 🙂

      You very clearly identify the market, offering, and buyer. One area that I thought could be expanded is your discussion of the competition. As a potential investor, I’d be interested to know what places like Sylvan Learning charge per hour to get a sense of what buyers are already comfortable with. Also, how many students in the Toronto area are attending tutoring programs? I would also like to know more about the types of technology LearnTRU will use. You give a few examples, but I’d be interested to learn a little more about how those are integrated into the approach. What does the licensing for these systems look like?

      My final question is around marketing. I think I understand that this product will be marketed to schools, who will refer students, and also to parents directly? Not knowing much about the Individual Education Program process, I would love to hear more details specifically about where LearnTRU fits in that process.

      Great job Ashley, and I’m curious to know, is this something you’ve developed or are in the process of developing?


      • ashleyross 6:59 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Thanks for your feedback Andrea, it`s really appreciated. You bring up some great questions.

        I found it challenging (in a good way) to choose information to include in my VP that focused on maintaining the interest of an investor versus a potential client. It is also why I provided a few examples of the assistive technologies, but didn’t go into too much detail. That’s why it’s great to be able to read everyone’s comments and questions and reply. 🙂

        When it comes to learning and technology, every student has different needs. Some students with LDs have dyslexia (trouble reading text) which is why applications like Kurzweil that transform text into speech, would be used for them. Others have dysgraphia (difficulty with writing) and applications like Dragon Naturally Speaking, that transforms spoken words into text, work well for them and others need a combination of both. I could write a novel about this but I’m sure you don’t want to read it. 🙂 What is important is to find what works for each individual participant and teach them how to successfully implement the programs into their daily education schedule. It all seems so simple but no one takes the time or has the time to sit down with these students to figure out how they learn best. Licensing varies on the technology, most are around $100 but Kurzweil is around $1500 plus then you need a laptop for these programs. The initial setup can be very expensive, which is why it’s important to get proper funding.

        I am planning on including all related costs and those of my competitors in my future VP. I decided not to include it the VP I submitted for this course because it wasn’t a requirement I wanted to focus my time on other aspects of the program. For a program like Sylvan it’s about $45-50 an hour after the enrollment fee of $50 and their initial assesment is about $150-200. But it varies depending on the client’s needs. Adding the percentage of students who attend tutoring programs in Toronto is a good point and one I’ll take into consideration.

        For the marketing aspect, yes I would position myself to receive referrals from schools and parents but also from psychologists. For students to be diagnosed with an LD they need to have a psycho-educational assesment done (which in Toronto costs anywhere between $1800-2400+). Once diagnosed, students can get an IEP at school which they can get extra time on assignments, tests and exams. It also allows them to write exams on a computer, in a private room and gives them access to potential funding for tutoring and technology. As I mentioned above, the primary issue is that no one has time to actually sit down and teach these students how to use the technology or determine how they learn best.

        The program isn’t completely developed yet, it is something that I am working on though and will hopefully be launching it in the near future. I hope I answered all of your questions, and sorry for the long post!



        • andrea 12:11 pm on December 2, 2011 | Log in to Reply

          Hi Ashley,

          Thanks for your thorough response. You obviously have a lot of expertise in this area. I can appreciate how difficult it can be to include everything you know and want your audience to know about your venture. You did a great job presenting the essentials in your pitches. Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions!

          Reviewing people’s pitches and the subsequent discussions here I’ve learned a lot about new markets and technologies.

          Best of luck in your continued development of LearnTRU!

    • verenanz 11:57 pm on November 30, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Good job Ashley. It is great to see a product focused on a market that “needs” support and development. I thought your idea was creative and optimistic. There were a lot of steps and a lot of choices within your product, which confused me a little…..but I think that it has great potential.
      Well done.

      • ashleyross 7:01 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Verena,

        Thanks for taking the time to read my venture. I am sorry to hear that you found my VP a little confusing, perhaps I can clarify quickly how the program works. The initial three steps are designed to provide us with enough information to build a foundation for each client and it is from this foundation that we develop their learning and high-interest lifestyle. These are non-optional. We then allow our clients to choose how many days a week they wish to work with us to implement the aforementioned lifestyles. It could be one day during the week + four hours on the weekend, or it could be five days a week, it completely depends on their schedule, budget, and requirements.

        The rest of the additional services are supplemental to the above, such as providing laptops and software, helping families inquire about funding, etc.

        Hopefully this helps. 🙂

        Thanks again,


    • Deb Kim 10:41 pm on December 1, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Ashley,

      This is a great venture idea. Your elevator pitch caught my attention, especially when you started with the number 35%. This made me think what it would represent. I also liked your venture pitch. You said that “In addition to the assessment fee and any associated equipment purchase or rental costs, the primary source of income for LearnTRU will be through annual contract agreements”. I think it’s a great idea. As I’m currently teaching students with special needs, I’ve been seeking for support in helping them learn in general. Your venture is a great idea to help both teachers and students. Great work!


    • Deb Giesbrecht 4:44 pm on December 3, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      • Pain Point: students with learning disabilities
      • Solution: LearnTRU – loved your use of acronyms. I think that this is a great idea. I think your venture idea has a lot of merit – it combines real-life experiences that boost morale and self-esteem with techniques on how to develop excellent study habits and routines. I think you have really identified a gap in the market that can be filled with your solution. I like your business plan and I think you have a well thought out and researched venture/market capability. You have identified that the market is ready for this type of solution and you have a flexible sales plan. You have identified a great team to work with and appear to have a lot of credibility. I did not see in your venture pitch how much you were asking from investors or return on investment. I did however, really like your sales strategy and thought overall the venture concept was not only feasible, but very doable and worthwhile cause. Great concept!

    • khenry 6:06 pm on December 4, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi Ashley,
      This was actually one of the first ones that I looked at but in my check throughs realised I actually did not post the response. Sorry. I really like the concept of Learntru. Your elevator pitch grabbed my attention and addressed pain points, solutions/product, and your target market. However, I did not get a sense of the team involved, how you will access your market or potential market share. I liked the use of the three step system presented, and how it was presented, and your inclusion of authentic learning activities. It is a great concept I hope you go forward with it.


  • David Vogt 4:19 pm on November 26, 2011
    0 votes

    Tags: A3, ,   

    Hi everyone – I’ve started to get questions about A3 submissions and how the Venture Forum next week will work, so I’ll try to summarize a few points here, and answer any further questions as replies to your replies. As described more fully in section 4A (Venture Forum) our next week should be thrilling!  You […]

    Continue reading A3 Postings and the Venture Forum Posted in: Announcements, Questions & Answers
  • David Vogt 11:44 am on November 20, 2011
    0 votes

    Tags: A3, FMN, ,   

    I was tentatively planning to post my own A3 relative to one of my emerging ventures, but I’m not sure I’ll have time to create a pitch worthy of our upcoming Venture Forum (!). However, as one on my ventures fits comfortably into the Mobiles discussion I thought I’d introduce it here, possibly for good […]

    Continue reading A Venture for Accountable M-Learning Posted in: Week 11: Mobiles
    • verenanz 1:13 pm on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi David….

      This looks really neat. Would I be able to use these kinds of Apps/services with my ESL students in China? Part of our focus, is to offer BC Brand teaching and the BC curriculum. I’m assuming that your partners would be in BC? Would this mean that students from all over might be able to experience BC field trips through m-learning?

      I would love to learn more….if my assumptions are correct….
      Verena 🙂

      • David Vogt 2:16 pm on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        Hi Verena –

        The Internet is essentially the same everywhere, yet one of the unique features of m-learning in this context is that it couples intimately with specific real-world contexts. In other words, these apps will be very place-specific: they will be available from anywhere but essentially meaningless and inoperable except in the place(s) in which they are staged. So this approach to learning will work anywhere, but these specific apps will only work here. While this might sound ‘limiting’, the learning benefits of coupling directly with everyday experience are enormous…

    • David William Price 7:19 pm on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      “think in terms of field trips staged on mobile devices where each portion of the lesson plan requires some action by the learner at some place in the real world, and each step of the learning journey is validated and ‘scored’ in real time”

      Very cool! This is the kind of m-learning creativity I’ve been pushing for this week… leveraging the affordances of mobile to support and encourage going out into the real world to learn (rather than doing a lot of reading on a tiny screen).

      Thanks very much for sharing!

    • khenry 9:16 pm on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Really great David V. I am very interested. And yes David W-P I think it is a great example that frames your questioning this week. I particularly like the aspect of situated cognition and contextual learning while being interactive, engaged and empowered through technology in real world, real time activities.


    • hall 11:31 pm on November 20, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi David

      I absolutely like your network. I think it is a wonderful network in Jamaicans and other people from the Caribbean could definitely benefit from this project.

  • David Vogt 11:10 am on October 30, 2011
    0 votes

    Tags: A3,   

    Responding to a few offline questions I’ve received about our upcoming A3 assignment I offer the following few focusing tips: – remember that the topic of A3 should be an ‘original’ venture, either an entirely new venture or an entirely new direction for an existing venture; – your role is to act as the visionary […]

    Continue reading A Few A3 Tips Posted in: Announcements
  • David Vogt 4:37 pm on September 13, 2011
    0 votes

    Tags: , A3,   

    Some tips about tagging, categories, experimentation, and our A1/A3 assignments.

    Continue reading A few coaching comments Posted in: Blog Café
    • jarvise 5:03 pm on September 14, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      Hi David,

      I don’t see the PulsePress feature when I’m reading posts. I saw it for the poll, but not for our comments. Am I missing something?


    • David Vogt 5:29 am on September 17, 2011 | Log in to Reply

      PulsePress hasn’t been applied uniformly across all posts (yet).

      I was concerned that we didn’t necessarily want a situation where students are rating each others’ posts, both positively and negatively. The “like” feature in many blogs works well, but I’m not sure we also want the “dislike”. What do you think?

      • jarvise 3:53 pm on September 19, 2011 | Log in to Reply

        I know what you mean… it doesn’t really seem productive to have a dislike feature. Even a ‘like’ might start to give someone a complex, if their posts are not liked very often.

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