|By David Strom||
|December 14, 2012 02:05 PM EST||
One of my favorite times of the year is the end of the school term when I serve as a volunteer judge at the Washington University business school class called the Hatchery. Student teams present their final class projects, pitching a new business venture to a group of us in the business community who judge and rank them. It is an intensive day or two of presentations and rapid-fire questions, and generally a lot of fun. And the kids even dress up for the pitches.
Many of the pitches though had fatal flaws. Here are some of them that I found during the day’s activities.
- Capital requirements way out of whack. Asking for too much or too little. I heard presentations asking for as little as $10k and others for more than a million. Somewhere in between is the sweet spot.
- Confusion over net and gross margins. When the judges asked the students to explain their numbers, some of the teams got tripped up on understanding the difference between these two, which could mean the difference between a successful business and a flop.
- Channel conflict from the get-go. One team had a great idea, to work as wholesalers, but was adding their own direct service on top. That kind of channel conflict right off the bat isn’t encouraging. On the other hand, many of the teams came up with the idea of having campus managers to expand their reach nationally across the college market, which was quite clever and compelling.
- Paying the founders too much. If you are asking for lots of VC funding, plan on living off the land the first couple of years. Carrying a $750k aggregate first year salary nut isn’t a good idea. Bootstrapping is the name of game, and while a few of the teams got this into their DNA, it was a lot less than I expected.
- Not understanding the right people skill mix to get the business started. In some presentations, we saw pie-in-sky requirements for new positions on the management team. While there is high unemployment, you aren’t going to find this experience easily.
- Is there really a market for your service? This is a very hard question to answer easily, and none of the teams spent a lot of time addressing this issue. Some of them had really great ideas but not necessarily a market big enough or specific enough of buyers.
- Crazy price points. Do some sensitivity analysis to see if people are really going to pay what you think. You might be asking too much or too little for your product or service.
- Underestimating your web tech. One team was going to the cloud, and take advantage of Amazon’s free first year of hosting. That is great, but what happens in year 2?
- Using online ads to pay for your venture is so 90s. Click-through rates are plummeting rapidly. Betting on ads to carry you through is very risky. Diversify your revenue stream.
Now I don’t want to leave you with all gloom and doom. It was great to spend time with all the students, and seeing them very excited about starting their ventures (some are already up and running, even though the kids are still in school). I wish all these budding entrepreneurs all the best, and can’t wait until the next crop comes through next spring.
SYS-CON Events announced today Object Management Group® has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 28, 2016 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,465
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
May. 28, 2016 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,294
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
May. 28, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 773
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
May. 28, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,429
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
May. 28, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,912
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
May. 28, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,240
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
May. 28, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,005
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 28, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,403
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
May. 28, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,322
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
May. 27, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,299
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
May. 27, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,195
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
May. 27, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,864
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
May. 27, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,152
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
May. 27, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,049
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
May. 27, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,579
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
May. 27, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,210
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
May. 27, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,138
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
May. 27, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,234
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
May. 27, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,154
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
May. 27, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,392