|Due By (Pacific Time)
||12/15/2016 01:00 pm
analyze someone else's business proposal. Below are links to presentations of businesses that were actually started and went through the TechStars accelerator program. Pick one and analyze whether it's a good bet. analyze whether a potential employee should devote the next few years to helping build the company.
It is very important to follow ALL instuctions given.
Write this in memo form (cf. http://writing.engr.psu.edu/workbooks/memo_format.html ), but it should be about five pages. Bullet points, charts, and pictures are often a more concise way to get your point across. Make sure to cite your sources if you have outside sources (and if you're critiquing, say, their market size computation, you better have outside sources.)
Attach is a pdf of paper ideas that should be considered.
- This is critique, not criticism. Use the de-risking and iteration thought processes and the tools and frameworks we learned in the course to assess whether the company can make a go of it. You are assessing not just the ideas as presented, but the possibility that the team and idea can evolve into a successful business. Do not critique the product, critique the business!
- In the files section of courseworks are some ideas on how to approach this (final paper ideas.pdf) It is a compendium of ideas. Do not use all of them, just the ones that make the most sense given the plan you are critiquing! Most serious business proposals make sense along most dimensions, it's usually just the critical dimensions of change that introduce elements of uncertainty. Isolate those and analyze them. That is, if you were analyzing Zappo's, you would not need to analyze whether people will continue to wear shoes, we can implicitly agree on this; you would analyze whether people would buy shoes online and whether the company would make a contribution margin doing so after increased costs of customer service and shipping but decreased costs of retail space.
- Remember, this is an analysis, not your opinion. Some assumptions may require subjective judgement, but in general do not use either your own feelings about the company's chances (unless you are, in fact, an expert in their market and have significant experience) to back up the assertions you make. If you find you have used the words "I think..." or "In my opinion..." you're probably on the wrong track. These words are signals that you completely skipped the analysis and are giving a conclusion anyway. If you find yourself writing "Given the assumptions detailed above, the analysis shows..." then you are on the right track.
- Do an independent analysis. Just because the person on stage says something does not make it true. They're probably not lying, but they are selling. They will present their research in the best light, make optimistic assumptions, and even, occasionally, errors in analysis. Their pitches are just that: pitches.
- On the other hand, they are dedicating their working lives to these ideas and have probably thought about them for far longer than you will, so do not take their belief lightly. Make sure you verify key assumptions they use and do the important analyses they have skipped over. Cite all your research. While I care more about the analysis than the data, having found third-party data on key aspects of these businesses is a plus (and using someone else's work without giving credit is plagiarism, even on the internet.)
- Have a conclusion. Yes, or no? Would you invest? Would you join the company as an employee, partly paid in stock options? Are the founders spending their time wisely? Try not to be wishy-washy. People have come to both conclusions on all of these companies (ie. some people have invested, some have passed) so your answer won't be wrong and you won't be graded on it. You'll be graded on your analysis.