Blog Archives

Perfecting the art of the pitch

Greetings DMSers. Nice job with the mini-pitches yesterday about your markets. Our next one will be Thursday, Nov. 12 and will focus on revenue generation. You’ll have 3 minutes total to talk up how you’re going to monetize your concept.

Since we’re focusing on The Pitch (remember it’s two parts: the verbal and the deck), I want to share some resources that can help in the development of your story:

The exact pitch deck strategy I’ve used to raise $125M since 2011 by Mitchell Harper. While some of his content is beyond the scope of our class exercise, several tips are really worth using.

He has another post, How to nail your investor pitch and walk away with multiple term sheets, with great advice also. Check out #5 through #9, which all apply in some way to our assignment.

Finally, I mentioned a great piece in This American Life about a journalist pitching an investor on the streets of San Francisco. Listen to that one here. Dive into the “I’ve got 99 problems and a pitch is one” segment. Great storytelling.

Tomorrow is all open lab time to work on the Money & Marketing Plan and your product mockup.



Marketing & PR for your startup

Good morning DMSers. In today’s class we’re going to start diving into the marketing and public relations section of your business plan. A lot of ground to cover here.

Aside from the Briggs text, I’d like to share the following resources which may prove helpful in the coming weeks:

Demographics of key social networking platforms from Pew Research Center.

Connecting with Customers: How to Market to Their Emotions from Entrepreneur.

Bootstrapping Your Way to Success, also from Entrepreneur.

More to come at 2 p.m.


Heading into the Final Stretch

Greetings DMSers. I hope everyone had a wonderful three-day weekend.

We’re only 32 days from course completion! Since we missed class yesterday, here’s an update on our next steps:

What’s Happening Monday

  • Verbal pitch: the next level of our pitch will include a discussion of your top competitors. You want to briefly cover two or three explaining their product offering, price point, standing in the industry. Then, clearly identify how your product is superior to your competitors. Time should not exceed 7 minutes including all the other content we’ve covered to this point. And, you need to have a visual component.
  • Product reviews: A few weeks ago, we looked at your logos and home pages or startup screens for your products. At that time, I indicated that each product would require mockups that walked users through the main features you have to offer. I’m sure you’ve been diligently working on these designs. Monday, we’re going to show the products on the big screen. I’ll select a student to act as your market and walk the class through her/his expectations of your product’s UI and functionality. Bring electronic files you’ll be able to open on one of the lab computers.
  • Grade updates: I’m wrapping up the grading on Homework 4 and your final blog this week. I’ll have full updates in print for each of you in class.
  • SETs: If you have not had time thus far to do your SET for the class, we’ll have time to do it during class Monday. You should have it in your Wildcat mail account.
  • Q&A: What burning questions do you have as we head into the final stretch?

Business Plan Reviews

I reviewed several draft business plans yesterday. Below, I’ve identified some common mistakes or issues to think about:

  • Repetition: While it’s natural to have some level of repetition, you do not want to be too repetitive in the business plan. Each section should focus on specific content and provide additional insight not found elsewhere. Think strategically about what info to include where.
  • Industry overview: it’s important that you offer some insight into the general state of the industry in which your product will exist. For example, several of you are doing productivity apps. You’ll want to address things like: how many productivity apps are available on the market today? How much money is made in this section of the industry? How many Americans use productivity apps? Then, the competition section focuses on your top-tier competitors.
  • Lack of source citations: Be certain to cite sources of facts and provide links to key research, articles, etc. There are several areas of the business plan where you should be pointing to primary and/or secondary research and credible sources of data.
  • Revenue generation: A hybrid approach is necessary. Advertising only, as clearly outlined in Briggs and several other sources we’ve used this semester, will not be enough for a sustainable business model. Additionally, you need to be very specific in your planning. For example, if you’re incorporating advertising as a revenue stream, you want to cover:
    • What types of advertising will you offer?
    • How and where in your product will those ads appear?
    • How many ad spaces do you have to sell within your product?
    • How much will you charge for the various ad spaces?
  • Writing news releases: there are lots of online sources. Here’s one I’ve shared with some of you.

Have a great rest of the week!

Diving into Mobile

Happy Halloween DMSers.

I wanted to share a few quick notes regarding upcoming course elements.

It’s All About Mobile

Tomorrow’s blog topic is about mobile and its business impact on the industry you’ve selected for your new product. Additionally, one element of your business plan requires you to outline a mobile-first strategy as part of your marketing and PR plan.

I thought this article in Forbes, 7 Ways Mobile Will Change Business in 2014, would be of interest.

Monday’s Activities

We have a jam packed Monday session, which will include:

Verbal Presentations

  • Entrepreneur interviews: these are informal and should focus on your interview subject and key points that you learned from this source. Also, how has this information influenced your product development.
  • Product pitches: In less than 5 minutes you’ll need to cover your problem, solution, market, primary feature and revenue generation. Some type of visual element is also required.

Business Plan Review

  • Your draft business plan is due. Bring it in print format.
  • We’ll break into small teams for focused review and critique.

Have a safe Halloween and a highly productive weekend working on your DMS products.

Ethics of Sponsored Content

Greetings DMSers.

Yesterday we started a discussion about revenue streams and how they link to the business plan you’re developing this semester. Under the trending category we briefly touched on the notion of Sponsored Content.

Yesterday, Ad Age published a wonderful article written by Michael Sebastian that you should read: News Organizations Face Tricky Trade-Off with ‘Sponsored Content.’

I anticipate Sponsored Content will be a topic of heated discussion on many fronts in the news and PR sectors. Keep an eye out for interesting pieces to share with the group.

This Friday’s blog topic focuses on advertising from the customer’s perspective. I look forward to reading your blogs identifying companies that do advertising well vs. those that do not.

Give Me The Green Stuff

Monday’s class will focus on financial issues — how can you make money with your journalistic skills and how does this financial ability link to your business plan.

Prior to Monday’s class be sure to:

  1. Check out Briggs Chapter 3: Make Your Money Plan
  2. Read Paul Graham’s Ramen Profitable post
  3. Review The Business Plan assignment

We’ll have a hands-on activity to help you get started with the financial decision-making process for your startup.

Deadline Changes & Homework Notes

From our last class session:

  • Homework 3: is not due until Monday, Sept. 30. Today,  you should be close to finalizing your research plan and your product sketch, while starting to reach out to your potential market.
  • Homework 4: all you need to have ready for Monday is an idea regarding who you would like to target for this task. Just basics — why this person, how does she/he connect to your interests in startups or being an entrepreneur. Don’t worry about the rest of the tasks listed in the assignment.
  • Tomorrow’s Blog: is about product naming. Bring to class ideas for your product’s name and we’ll do a short critique.

I will be around tomorrow if you need assistance or access to the Mac Lab. Otherwise, have a fabulous weekend and best of luck with your market research.