Directions: Below and attached is the template for the Idea Summary for Round 1.  You are required to use this template.

Deadline: October 30 at 11:59pm - You must submit your Idea Summary on our StartupCompete application page!
And visit our main website for more details. 

Guidelines (Please refer to the rules page for the latest guidelines):
  • Page length: 1-15 pages which includes the cover page
  • Use of pictures is encouraged
  • File format: Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx)
  • You can change the fonts and layout in this template, to suit your tastes.  
  • We recommend you leave the original questions in the document.  Many judges use them as "guideposts" when doing their evaluation.
If you are unsure of how to answer a question, it is ok to say "We don't know".  The Idea Summary doesn't have to be perfect, or even complete.  But it should be compelling enough that the judges will want you to advance to Round 2.

Looking for good examples of Idea Summaries? View the Round 2 teams from previous years.
And check out these additional resources and pieces of advice.

Write a summary description: In a few paragraphs, describe what problem you are solving, how many people are experiencing the problem, and what your solution is.

Important Note: The summary paragraphs will be posted on our website, underneath your video.  Please do not write anything sensitive or confidential for this first question.

-------------Everything below this line will be private and only shared with the judges.

Tell us more about the problem you are solving.  Why is it a problem and how big of a problem is it?
Is it something painful for customers?  Do many people share this problem? Convince us, briefly, that this is something people want to solve (i.e. that it is painful in some way) and something that many people want solved.

Who do you think your target customers are and how many are there?
If your target customers are people who have a certain kind of illness, how many of them are there?  If your target customers are college students in the US, how many are there? The Duke libraries (and the business databases available at the Fuqua Library) can be helpful for this kind of market research.  Try to do a "bottoms up" approach where you count the number of customers that fit your target profile, rather than a "top down" approach where you choose a large number and guess that "a percent" of that number must be willing to buy your product/service.  Check out this post on "Addressable Market: Making the Estimate" by Duke alum Mark Peter Davis '01

Do you think your customers are looking for a solution?
Are they satisfied with what is out there? Have they tried everything and other solutions just don't work? Often times a company's biggest competitor is that the "customers are ok doing nothing".  Given a choice of using your solution or doing nothing, what will they do?

Tell us about your solution.  How does it work and what are the benefits?
A picture can be helpful here.  Assume we agree that there are customers out there and they need a solution, tell us what your solution is. Help us believe that your solution is one that makes sense to solving this problem. 

Do you have any regulatory hurdles, and how will you get around them?
This matters more for healthcare (med device and pharmaceutical) ideas, though it can apply to other industries that are regulated.  If it doesn't apply to you, you can delete this question.

Do you have intellectual property (IP) that can be protected?  Is it protected?
This matters more for technology based ideas (especially medical device, pharmaceutical, hardware, some forms of software). In general, there are four types of intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets.  Here is a decent overview on the basics of intellectual property (powerpoint)
For our document, we ask this question as it relates to patents.  But if you feel that other forms of IP will be important for your business, you can answer this question. If, however, you feel this question is not critical for you, you can delete this question.

What's your plan for developing your product or service including some dates and milestones?  
A milestone often is a point where a product is ready to be sold to customers, or a key technical breakthrough is proven in a research study. Here are a couple of posts on milestones for tech startups (revise to suit your industry): Milestones to Startup Success and "Quora: What are the typical milestones and timeline..."

Tell us about your competitors and the competitive landscape

How much funding to get to a company exit?
A company exit is a special milestone where a company, usually through an acquisition (being purchased by another company) or through an initial public offering (IPO) is able to return capital (money) to the founders and to other shareholders.  Most investors want to invest in a company so that when the company "exits", they make back their money and then some.  They are trying to make enough money where their returns are higher than if they were to just invest in the stock market. 

Phil Libin (CEO of Evernote) argues that your life's work should have no exit strategy (video).  He also talks, in the Q&A, about how some west coast investors are achieving a return before their portfolio companies reach an exit. 

Jessica Mah of inDinero (which she started while she was a student at Berkeley) has a good article titled "How much money should my company raise?"

Bobby Bahram spoke at the DukeGEN Speaker Series on how to create your startup financials (video).

Tell us about yourselves (Who is on your team, what are you studying, what year are you)
This is important.  Tell us why your team is a good one to invest in?  Have you built something before? Can you build this company? 

Looking for a technical co-founder?  Read this insightful post by Duke alum Jason Freedman '02 "Please, please, please stop asking how to find a techincal co-founder"

Use of Funds - if you won $50,000 how would you use it?

Anything else you would like to share with us? 

Written by Howie Rhee, January 30, 2012; Updated August 3, 2013

For more information, please refer to the rules page

Howie Rhee,
Jul 31, 2013, 6:04 AM