General feedback from the judges to the participants from Spring 2011
- Some of the best ideas appeared to leverage the research or innovations from other areas of Duke (engineering, life sciences, etc.) and that provided a very substantial amount of credibility as well as confidence in having a team of experts involved in the venture.
- Consider these points
- 1. In today's world, you can do some testing/market research of your product at almost no cost. If you are not willing to bet the money you spend on a weekend at the Outer Banks on testing your idea ($300-500) why should anyone think you are serious about this Business Plan?
- 2. Go and talk to people who have started a company. Ask them for advice and feedback before you submit.
- 3. Go lure one or two RELEVANT people into agreeing to join your team 'if you get funding'"
- The executive summary (and business plan) should be a fact driven analysis of the business (less fluff or interesting but irrelevant information). Also, make sure to discuss competition and barriers to entry (first-mover advantage is not enough).
- Go with what you know. The best business plans I read were those where there was a real connection - students who had done original research, or who were solving a problem that they faced themselves. If you can build a product based around a problem you face, you are your own customer, and you can really build in direction based upon the challenges you want to solve.
- Not much consideration given to the competition each would face--a universal concern of mine. More attention to grammar and spelling. Work on your writing and delivering the message. It can get obscured
- Think about how the plan will be profitable. Take the time to have someone look over the final executive summary for a spelling and grammar check.
- Find someone who has built or funded a business and have them edit your business plan for real world
- Spend more time on differentiation.
- Clearly define:
- 1. The problem that you aim to solve, and who experiences the problem
- 2. Your solution to the problem
- 3. Why your solution is credible, including having the right team with expertise
- 4. How you would monetize the solution to the target group with the problem
- 5. What you need to execute this plan
- Do the following
- 1) Look at typical formats for executive summaries and follow that
- 2) Be professional in writing, not conversational
- 3) For Life sciences track, need more research on regulatory pathway/reimbursement
- 4) Put more time into near term cost estimates-most numbers appeared nrealistic "
- Many of the executive summaries lacked the consideration of the question: "What makes my idea unique, and what prevents the competitors from entering the market?"
- Clearly articulate the problem/opportunity you're addressing, the magnitude of it, and the elegance of your solution.
- Tell me the problem, provide a solution and tell me how you will provide/finance the solution.