Hi Laila, While I think what you propose…

Hi Laila,

While I think what you propose could be a useful tool, as an EVA, I’m not sure if there would be enough return to warrant an investment.

In terms of CEO and team, we’re all in the “same boat” in this course, so I can’t really criticize that aspect of your proposal.  I’m sure that as the originator of the proposal, you would make a good and motivated champion for this venture.

Overall, I do like some aspects of your venture concept, but there some things that I think could improve your pitch:

  • I’d like to see the “pain point” presented in a way that makes it sound like a more pressing issue – something that is in serious need of a solution.
  • I would also like to see more income potential.  $2000 per institution seems very low, especially at the start of your venture – you would need many institutions to sign up with your service to even pay one annual salary (presumably you would like to be paid for your efforts).  You might consider going directly to the people who would use this service (but I know your main competitor is already doing that).
  • Targeting undergraduates might actually be a better idea – much larger pool of students.  The problem with this service for graduate students is that many of them, at least in the sciences, are working on things that might be proprietary, or are “competing” with other labs to publish their findings first.
    • I’ve seen a PhD student in my lab get “scooped” by another lab –  they were studying the same molecule and published their findings first.  On that day, about a year or more of his work suddenly became a “wasted effort” – he would now have to continue and do further work (that he would have to publish first) to be able to make a “substantial, novel contribution to his field” and graduate.  Students like this would not want to use your service because they wouldn’t want to let their “competition” know what they were doing until they had an article submitted for publication.

In terms of marketability, there are a lot of universities in the world, but you’re not going to get your product into all of them (especially at the beginning).  You’ve selected the Canadian market for “expansion” from your original base in the UK, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to focus on the larger market to the south.  It seems like a more obvious choice, so I would have liked to see a rationale for not going into the States early.

I did like the fact that you highlighted easy integration into common LMS portals – I think it would be a big advantage for your product when talking to institutions. But you still would need to attract students to your product – if you have no users, your venture won’t live long.  I would like to see how you would attract users to your system and how you plan to differentiate yourself from Rubriq in the minds of the students.  If I was the CEO of Rubriq, I would roll out the argument that “you get what you pay for,” so price probably shouldn’t be your main selling point.

Your venture plan could also be improved by assuming that there may be some resistance and potential problems involved in getting your product into universities – a $5000 budget per institution seems unrealistic.  You will need to travel back and forth, you will likely need multiple trips to close a few deals – flights, hotels, meals, car rentals will eat into that budget very quickly.  If you want to sign up 10 institutions every 6 months, this will mean a lot of travel for what would likely be a team of a few individuals (an IT expert to deal with the software/tech support side, a sales specialist and a trainer).

As an investor, I am happy that you’re trying not to ask for ridiculous amounts or money, but I feel like $50000 may not be enough to successfully get your venture off the ground in Canada.  So, I worry about whether your plan is realistic.

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