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SunnyMay 24, 2018
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22min00


A finely crafted, tightly defined, highly detailed business plan seems like a perfectly rational tool for getting your entrepreneurial ideas off the ground. But Carl Schramm thinks you should burn it. Schramm, an economist, Syracuse University professor and former president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation — a non-profit that encourages entrepreneurship — says that crafting a business plan is one of the biggest misconceptions about how to start a company on the right footing. His new book, Burn the Business Plan: What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do, says the true blueprint for success requires innovative ideas, real-world experience and keen judgment. Schramm joined the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111, to explain why inventors and entrepreneurs should light a few matches and get on with it. (Listen to the full podcast using the player at the top of this page.)

The following is an edited transcript of the conversation.

Knowledge@Wharton: Why is a business plan unnecessary?

Carl Schramm: It’s the basis of much of the teaching about how to start a business, and so much of what’s taught is basically conjecture. My book is developed off 10 years of research that we did at the Kauffman Foundation. If you look at all our older major corporations  — U.S. Steel, General Electric, IBM, American Airlines — and then you look at our newer companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, none of these companies ever had a business plan before they got started. Empirically, it appears as if you don’t need a business plan.

Second, the business planning process is largely generated as a preview for venture capital. As I show in my book, from empirical studies, much less than 1% of all new startups ever see a venture capitalist. Much less than 1% of all new companies every year have venture backing of any kind. So, I largely view the creation of a business plan as something of a waste of time.

The third problem is that it seems to make starting a business somewhat like a cookbook. If you do this, and then you do this, and then you do this, the cake will come out okay. And that’s really not how it happens.

“Empirically, it appears as if you don’t need a business plan.”

Knowledge@Wharton: Let’s talk about age because many entrepreneurs are in their late 30s or 40s. These are people who made a shift in their career paths.

Schramm: Precisely. It goes to this question of, “What are we doing when we’re trying to teach high school kids?” Even grammar school children get courses and exposure to entrepreneurship. At the university level, it’s now a major in probably 3,000 colleges and universities. And the whole schema, including the notion of a business plan as the formal way to teach how to start a business in a college classroom, is geared to 20-year-olds.

Much of our mythology is that unicorn companies are started by people, like Mark Zuckerberg, who are in their 20s. But the reality is, the vast majority of people who start businesses are middle-career people who have been surprised by the fact that they actually had an idea, and their idea was good enough to build a business around.

Another thing wrong with how we write about entrepreneurship, how it’s taught, is that somehow people set out to be entrepreneurs as if they set out to be a dentist or an accountant. The vast majority of entrepreneurs were really amazed to find out that they became an entrepreneur. In my case, I was a professor at Johns Hopkins for 15 years, and then one day my research sort of slapped me in the face. I said, “Holy smokes, if I want to really make this work and actually change the world, I can’t do it by writing an academic paper. I have to start a business.”

Knowledge@Wharton: How should we teach our kids about entrepreneurship?

Schramm: I don’t think [the current curriculum] can be tweaked. I think it should be abandoned. I think it should be overthrown. Because if you look empirically at where entrepreneurs come from, if they have formal training, it’s not in entrepreneurship. It’s in engineering or the STEM subjects, the technical subjects.

Many, many more entrepreneurs come out of MIT because it’s an engineering and a technical school. Same thing for Caltech. Caltech doesn’t even teach entrepreneurship. At MIT, there’s one professor in the business program there who teaches entrepreneurship. But it doesn’t matter because if they didn’t teach it at all, these schools would be producing many, many new businesses all the time.

Knowledge@Wharton: You said not much funding comes from venture capitalists or angel investors. How are entrepreneurs getting the money they need to execute their ideas?

Schramm: One reason people can become entrepreneurs at midlife is they turn to their own savings, their own assets, to friends and families for loans. By the time you’re 40, which is the average age at which people start businesses, you’ve settled your student debt. You’ve got a house. You’re likely to have a spouse who has a job, which is a huge protection if you start a new company because she or he has health insurance and other benefits. So, most companies are self-funded.

Knowledge@Wharton: In the book, you also talk about the incubator. But you think the incubator isn’t having the desired effect that a lot of people are hoping for. Can you explain?

Schramm: Again, empirically, very few companies come out of these incubators. I was trained as a labor economist. I’m in the middle of writing an essay about incubators, and the premise is that as we turn towards 3% and 4% GDP, and much lower rates of unemployment and much higher demand for well-trained people, no one is going to want to spend time in an incubator. They can get a job. And that’s a really important part of the drama of becoming an entrepreneur.

In the book, I make the case that the most effective place to learn how to be entrepreneurial is to go into a big company. That’s where you see innovation happen. More innovation happens in big companies than, for example, university laboratories. It’s also where you learn all the skills that make a business work, where you’re exposed to what scale looks like in a business. This is critical and this is experiential knowledge. You can’t teach scale in a classroom. It has to be felt. You have to see it, to experience it.

“The vast majority of people who start businesses are middle-career people.”

Knowledge@Wharton: You give real-world examples in the book, including the story about vacuum cleaning company Dyson.

Schramm: Yes, Dyson is a fantastic story. James Dyson was an industrial designer by background, and he came to the view that vacuum cleaners had been a technology that hadn’t moved very far. He was using a vacuum cleaner and noticed that the more you used it, and the dirtier the dustbin got, the less power it had. This became the question that triggered his search.

Dyson built over 1,000 prototypes. He quit his job. His wife was a teacher, and he lived off a much more modest income. His wife did all the money-earning in the family. When he began to push his product out, no companies in the United States or England wanted any part of it. They resisted it because they were making a lot of money on selling paper bags for conventional, old-fashioned vacuum cleaners. He had to take it to Japan. When it became successful in Japan, American and British companies tried to steal his design. He successfully defended against that.

The best part of Dyson’s story is he never had outside investors. [Dyson] never wanted to be a public company. It’s a huge company now. He’s like most entrepreneurs. If your idea clicks and you can make it work, and you haven’t taken your company public — that is, you still control it — you’re going to work there for the rest of your life. They become places where your own creativity works, and you can keep at it. You can keep designing. Really, it becomes your life.

It’s an important point, particularly for people who are in higher education. Students in universities are programmed to think that somehow people who work in the government or in nonprofit or NGOs are somehow more creative. They’re like the people who take art and art history and design in college, or people who write music. They’re a different breed, and they’re really geniuses.

The reality is that 95% of kids graduating from college this year are going to work in companies. They’re not not creative. Look at our huge economy. That all happens because of people who are creative and gifted in business and the invention of things that help other people. And [taking] these things to market [requires] very, very creative skills.

Knowledge@Wharton: Would you say that passion and determination are two of the great qualities that a lot of entrepreneurs have?

Schramm: Yes, it’s true. Students in college are told to follow your passion and start a company. But a lot of times, the passion doesn’t make any sense. I’ve seen students who are passionate about having a web app for frying pans. I sort of make fun of it in the book. I’ve judged business plan competitions at the college level and seen the same idea come up five times. Invent a sensor for a frying pan, and it tells you on your phone when your eggs are cooked. Kids are passionate about that, but it’s not an idea that’s ever going to work. They’re making the simplicity of cooking an egg into a complex technical project.

Passion really clicks when you’ve got an idea and it starts to have market feedback. The thrill of it is when other people are saying, “What you came up with is valuable.” What they’re telling you is, “You created something out of your head that makes my life easier, and I value it. So, I’ll give my money to you for your idea.”

Knowledge@Wharton: Is Yeti one of those great ideas?

Schramm: Yeti is a fabulous story. It’s one of those things where those guys didn’t expect to be entrepreneurs. The idea snuck up on then. They love to go fishing, and they fell through regular Igloo boxes because they’re not all that well made. One of the two brothers said, “You know, what we ought to do is make a cooler that’s so sturdy, you could stand on it.” Yeti cooler came out of something just that simple.

Knowledge@Wharton: What are 20-somethings missing to be able to build that great company?

Schramm: They’re missing experience. If you really want to be an entrepreneur and you don’t have a really great idea when you’re 21, getting out of school, don’t fret. Just wait. What shall you do while you wait? Go learn stuff. The stuff you should learn is easiest learned in big businesses because you’ll go out there and watch the innovation process work.

I consult at several companies, and what I’m watching all time is these companies constantly trying to renew themselves with new, better products. They spend a lot of money on research and development. Anybody who’s working in one of these companies can see the constant iterative change that’s taking place. You actually get innovation into your normal daily routine. I think that’s one of the greatest things that you can learn.

The book points to the fact that many new companies come out of old companies. The entrepreneurs see stuff, and two routes are the way this happens. The companies decide that they’re going to stick to their core competency and reject a brand new idea. They often say to people, “if you love this idea so much, go do it with our blessing. You can have the intellectual property.” In some cases, like IBM, they actually finance the startups. That was the case with Cerner, the health care data company.

“More innovation happens in big companies than, for example, university laboratories.”

The other thing is a much more difficult problem. That is, people who go to management and say, “This is the better way to do it,” or “Here’s a new application or a new market, and we have all the technology. If we configure it differently, we can own and capture this market.” MBA-type managers often say, “no, we’re going to stick to our core competency. We don’t know how to do that. It’s not our karma, it’s not our destiny.” And frustrated employees walk out. I interview people like that in the book. They say again and again, “I could have made all this money for my old employer, but they just wouldn’t listen to me.”

Knowledge@Wharton: Are companies wasting their human capital?

Schramm: It’s happening in every single company. You’ve got creative people in there. They might be running a machine. They might be on the production line. They could be any place in your company. They could be at the loading dock. They see things, and they could do things differently.

One of my favorite examples that’s not in the book is container boxes. It’s one of the great logistics revolutions that permits all of our prices for consumer goods to be much, much lower than they would have been. The boxes on the back of a trailer that come off the trailer, go right on a ship.

That was developed by a truck driver in Newark, N.J., In the old days, when trailer trucks were inflexible, they were fixed. Every time you went into a yard or a loading dock, people had to go on the dock, take the stuff off and reload it. He said, “You know, it’s a big steel box. Why don’t you just take the whole box, the whole back end of the truck, and put it on a ship?” This is a truck driver who saw that. He gave us the container revolution that made a world revolution in logistics.

Knowledge@Wharton: There are some very well-known companies like Microsoft and Apple and Facebook that didn’t have a plan at the outset. But now they are working through a variety of plans.

Schramm: That’s right. They went and tried it. We have this drive in our society. I think it’s in human nature. We don’t think that important things happen by chaotic means. If you look around, there are academics and experts who are struggling constantly to make the process of starting a business somehow logical, planned, orderly. These are sort of cookbook approaches.

You don’t have the right answer at the beginning. You never have the right answer. The market changes, technology changes. Your customers’ tastes are changing. Price points change. Your competitors change. You’ve got to be at this all the time. And a lot of times, that’s a hidden assumption in all the advice that’s given to entrepreneurs. If you crack it once, you can go right to the bank. You buy a jet. You’re over with. You do a public offering, and you’re rich and out by 30.

That’s not the case at all. You start a business, that’s only the beginning. And it’s the beginning of trying to make it big because growth is what’s important. Scale is the critical issue. The only way you can get there is constantly reacting to the market and all the signals it’s sending as to what it needs.

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SunnyMay 24, 2018
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3min00


DON’T write a business plan within the first six months of launching a business – it’s worthless and could even counterproductive, suggests new research from the University of Edinburgh Business School.

Professor Francis Greene and his co-author found that the key to starting a successful business is being flexible and responsive to opportunities – not having a rigid plan. The researchers discovered that the most successful entrepreneurs are those that write plans between six to 12 months into starting their business.

“Our research shows that writing a plan first is a really bad idea,” said Professor Greene. “It is much better to wait, not to devote too much time to writing it, and, crucially, to synchronise the plan with other key start-up activities.

“Writing a plan between six months to a year increased the probability of venture viability success by 8% – but writing one earlier or later than this proved to have no distinguishable impact on future success.”

Entrepreneurs often have to adapt their business dramatically once it becomes clear what their target market actually is, he pointed out, meaning a plan too early is often just a waste of valuable time.

When it came to writing the plan, the optimal time to spend on it was found to be three months. This increased the chances of creating a viable venture by 12%. Spending any longer than this was futile, mostly because the information used to inform the plan loses its currency.

The Edinburgh results come from studying over 1,000 would-be US entrepreneurs. The researchers charted their attempts to create a viable new venture over a six-year period, from 2005 to 2011.

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SunnyMay 23, 2018
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6min00


By Heather Somerville

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Uber cut its losses almost in half and its ride bookings jumped 51 percent since one year ago, the Silicon Valley ride-services firm said on Wednesday, showing that months of scandal and retreating from overseas markets has not slowed its business.

Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] also reported a one-time gain of $2.5 billion (£1.8 billion), income that came largely from selling its business units in Russia and Southeast Asia.

The overall improvement of the company’s finances comes after a year of controversies that involved sexual harassment allegations, lawsuits from drivers and employees, allegations of trade secrets theft, federal investigations and the revelation of a massive data breach.

Also on Wednesday, Uber said it would hold a secondary stock sale for employees and existing investors that could total up to $600 million. Coatue Management, a new investor, and existing Uber investors Altimeter and TPG will purchase the stock at $40 apiece, valuing the company at about $62 billion.

The deal does not bring in new money for the company but rather allows employees and investors to get some cash for their stock even as the company remains private, a sign that Uber management is trying to appease long-time shareholders antsy for a payout.

In Uber’s previous secondary stock sale, which closed in January and was led by SoftBank Group Corp <9984.T>, there were so many eager sellers that shareholders could sell only a fraction of what they wanted.

Uber reported ride bookings of $11.3 billion for the first quarter, up 4 percent from $10.8 billion in the previous quarter and 51 percent from $7.5 billion a year ago. Its revenue was $2.6 billion, up 8 percent from $2.4 billion last quarter and up 73 percent from $1.5 billion a year ago.

When excluding the gain from Uber’s sale of its Southeast Asia business to rival Grab and Russia business to competitor Yandex, as well as other one-time transactions, the company lost $312 million, much less than the $775 million it lost last quarter and an improvement from the $598 million lost a year ago.

Uber said it spent $700 million over five years in Southeast Asia and $170 million on its Russia business during its more than three years there. Deals in these regions followed Uber’s sale of its China business to competitor Didi in 2016, as overseas markets prove increasingly costly and difficult.

But Uber cautioned not to expect a profit any time soon.

The company plans to reinvest the money on growing its food-delivery and its bike-renting services. Uber last month bought JUMP, an electric bike service startup, as part of its effort to expand its transportation offerings.

“Given size of the opportunity ahead of us and our goal of making Uber a true mobility platform, we plan to reinvest any over-performance even more aggressively this year, both in our core business as well in big bets like Uber Eats globally,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said.

Uber also still has risky and expensive businesses including its autonomous car unit, which has been under scrutiny since a self-driving Uber SUV hit and killed a woman in Arizona in March. Uber on Wednesday said it had shut down its Arizona self-driving car operation, although it plans to continue testing the vehicles in California and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The results reflect the second full quarter under Khosrowshahi’s leadership, who replaced founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick after he was pushed out by investors. Khosrowshahi plans on taking the company public next year, and must trim losses and prove a path to profitability to satisfy public market investors.

But Uber still lacks a chief financial officer and has not had someone in the role since 2015, despite a protracted search, raising questions about the viability of a 2019 IPO.

The secondary stock transaction will launch next week and likely close in June, Uber said. The share price and valuation of the new deal exceeds the $33 per-share price and $48 billion valuation that the SoftBank consortium paid earlier this year, when it took a 17.5 percent stake in Uber.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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SunnyMay 23, 2018
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18min00





The following excerpt is from The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. and Javier Hasse’s book Start Your Own Cannabis Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound

This article is part of Entrepreneur’s series on How to Start a Cannabis Business. We seek to promote financial inclusion through cannabis. In previous articles, we’ve looked into numerous aspects of getting into the marijuana industry, including questions you should ask yourself before jumping in, where to find funding and factors that could determine your success.




If, after considering all of these elements, you’ve decided you want to start a cannabis business, you’ll need to come up with a few more things to get your business actually funded and set up.

Your mission

In the early stages of your planning, you’ll want to clearly define your company’s mission. This will help you remain focused and not get diverted by all the ideas that constantly arise during the process of building a business. Come up with a few phrases that unequivocally state what your company does and what it wants to be doing in the future. You can ask yourself questions like these to help parse out your mission:

  • Do you want to become the king of edibles?
  • Become the number-one producer of cannabis in your state?
  • Run the leading cannabis oils company?
  • Break ground as the first cannabis-focused human resources agency in your region?

In other words, narrow your focus to set your mission apart and avoid the pitfall of trying to be all things to all cannabis customers.

Related: Is Your Company’s Mission Up to Snuff?

Matt Gray, founder and CEO of HERB, the most engaged cannabis community in social media, adds, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Doesn’t matter if you’re a dispensary, a producer, or a product brand, what’s most important to the consumer is to know that you care.” Of course, the way you communicate this is deeply intertwined with who your customer is. You should know who you want to make products for or offer services to.

To illustrate his point, Gray points to HERB’s mission. After seeing a friend go through a traumatic experience that had him on the verge of suicide and recuperate using cannabis, Gray started a platform aimed at educating users on marijuana’s benefits. “From day one, our mission has been to smash the stigma around cannabis and show people the magnificent potential of this plant,” he says.

“Having my why clear has allowed me to build a great company, a strong community, and a magnificent team. Once people know why you’re doing what you’re doing, they’ll be ready to care about what you do and how you do it.”

So before moving on to a more formal business plan, ask yourself why you want to get into the cannabis business—beyond just making money. What do you want to accomplish, and why?

Related: Why Discovering Your ‘Why’ Is the No. 1 Business Move

Run the resulting statement past people close to you and ask them if it makes sense, if your mission is clear enough, and if it generates any kind of emotion. If your family and friends, people who aren’t necessarily involved in the cannabis industry, can grasp what you want to accomplish, your team will likely be able to do so as well.

 

Your business plan

Probably the most important element of your business’s initial development is the business plan. One vital reason for creating a business plan derives from the necessity to raise capital: You need something to show potential investors, even if they’re friends and family members.

An ideal business plan should provide an overview of the market and include your business’s vision and mission. Viridian Capital Advisors’ Scott Greiper suggests a few other questions you might want to answer as you craft a plan:

  • What’s your go-to-market strategy? Will you pick a direct or indirect chanel?
  • Will revenue come from one-time transactions, or will it be recurring?
  • What’s the level of price competition in the market, and have you factored that into your business model?
  • Can gross/operating margins be maintained in a downward pricing environment?
  • What are your ongoing capital requirements relative to your increase or decrease in
  • burn?
  • Will growth be organic, or is M&A an important component of the overall growth strategy?

Related: 10 Questions to Answer When Writing Your Mission Statement

For investors, the viability of your business model is fundamental, adds Greiper, who’s helped raise more than $500 million for emerging growth companies. “This is a hypercompetitive environment,” Greiper says. “So the metrics you put in your business plan and financial model have to be relevant and current with the facts on the ground, [basically factoring in] a continued decline in wholesale prices and increased and better-funded competition that’s coming in with better management teams.”

Your benefit

A business plan isn’t only intended to show investors the profitability potential of your enterprise, but also to show regulators how your business will benefit the community. To that end, consider the following:

  • How many jobs will you create?
  • Will you benefit any minorities or marginalized communities?
  • Will your store, office, or production facility be located in an economically disadvantaged area?
  • Will you help sick people?
  • Will you have a positive impact on the opioids epidemic?

Related: 4 Ways Your Company Benefits From Giving Back

A typical business plan will include the following:

  • Executive summary. This is a short yet enticing summary of the business. Although it usually appears first, this section is often written last, after you’ve crafted all the other pieces of the plan.
  • Product/service description. Here you include specifics about what you’re selling,
  • why it’s a viable idea, and what goes into the production.
  • Industry analysis. Investors want to know the industry basics. Talk about the big picture of cannabis, and back up your statements with facts and numbers.
  • Competitive analysis. Who’s competing in your product/service space? This is where you lay out what you do differently and how you do it better than the other guy.
  • Marketing and sales. Here you talk about your plans for getting the word out about your business. How will you promote the product? Where will you advertise? How will you sell it? Do you plan to use traditional or more conceptual types of marketing?
  • Management. In this section, you tell readers who’s running the show. Potential financial backers are particularly interested in this information because they want to know to whom they’re entrusting their money. Include all the key people involved with day-to-day operations. If this is a solo venture, include a bio that features your applicable experience.
  • Operations. How does that day-to-day work get done? This part of the plan details the “how” of the business.
  • Financials. The goal here, with the help of your accountant, is to make realistic projections based on researching similar businesses, then specifying what you think you’ll need in terms of financing.

Related:
Why the Mission Statement and Business Plan for a Cannabis Business Are Unique
Why Your Business Beliefs Are More Important Than Your Business Plan
Improving Start-up Survival Rate: “Design Thinking” to The Rescue

Copyright 2018 Entrepreneur.com Inc., All rights reserved






This article originally appeared on entrepreneur.com



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SunnyMay 23, 2018
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4min00


Writing a business plan within the first six months of launching a business is worthless, and even counterproductive, new research from the University of Edinburgh Business School suggests.

Professor Francis Greene and his co-author found that the key to starting a successful business is being flexible and responsive to opportunities – not having a rigid plan.

The researchers discovered that the most successful entrepreneurs are those that write plans between six to 12 months into starting their business.

“Our research shows that writing a plan first is a really bad idea. It is much better to wait, not to devote too much time to writing it, and, crucially, to synchronise the plan with other key start-up activities,” says Greene.

“Writing a plan between six months to a year increased the probability of venture viability success by 8% – but writing one earlier or later than this proved to have no distinguishable impact on future success.”

Entrepreneurs often have to adapt their business dramatically once it becomes clear what their target market actually is, meaning a plan too early is often just a waste of valuable time.

When it came to writing the plan, the optimal time to spend on it was found to be three months. This increased the chances of creating a viable venture by 12%. Spending any longer than this was futile, mostly because the information used to inform the plan loses its currency.

These results come from studying over 1,000 would-be US entrepreneurs. The researchers charted the entrepreneurs’ attempts to create a viable new venture over a six-year period, from 2005 to 2011.

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SunnyMay 22, 2018

12min10


When Ismail Ahmed pitched his idea for an online money transfer company at a London Business School competition, the judges pointed out a flaw: customers had to prove their identity in person. The time-consuming process could have deterred people from using the service.

So Mr Ahmed began using quicker online ID verification, which he says helped him to attract more users.

Since founding WorldRemit in London in 2010 — while studying for an executive MBA at LBS — Mr Ahmed has grown the company to more than 2m customers who make more than 1m transactions every month, sending money to 145 countries.

Mr Ahmed won the LBS competition, and a prize worth £10,000 that included services such as legal advice — but it is not all about the spoils, he says. “The services helped me build my first website, but the feedback from judges was the biggest benefit of competing.”

Increasingly generous

Richer rewards than ever go to those who triumph in business plan competitions — making the contests more popular and prestigious to win. This week, the Chicago Booth School of Business will award its Social New Venture Challenge prize, worth $75,000.

When the Hult Prize contest for students to solve social challenges launched in 2009, for example, it drew 300 participants who received no prizes. This year 115,000 students from more than 100 countries fought for a total of $5m in prize money.

Competitions usually attract students who want to experiment with business ideas in a low-risk environment, because it does not cost them anything to compete. But there are specific reasons why students enter the Hult Prize.

“They are looking for careers that focus on more than the bottom line,” says Ahmad Ashkar, founder and chief executive. “They want to produce economic return and sustainable, social impact. Entrepreneurship is a way for them to do that.”

[The competition] gave me access to top venture capitalists, which would be very hard to do otherwise because I didn’t have credibility

One example is Roshni Rides, a rickshaw transportation business that helps refugees in south Asia get to important locations, such as hospitals, using pre-paid transaction cards. It was founded by Rutgers Business School students, who won last year’s grand Hult Prize — $1m in funding.

Business students are also increasingly keen to compete now that investors are more willing to fund their ventures, according to Jodi Gernon, director of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. Harvard runs the New Venture Competition for MBA students and alumni.

“We do not take equity stakes, but there is a tonne of external money that investors and some competition judges want to put into start-ups coming out of the student population,” she says.

One such start-up is RapidSOS, which created a smartphone app to help emergency services pinpoint callers. It raised $16m after winning the 2015 New Venture Competition and has since raised more funding.

Opportunities

Michael Martin is a Harvard MBA who co-founded the New York City-based company. He says he was approached following the competition by Dan Nova, a judge and partner at Highland Capital Partners, who led the $16m fundraising round.

“The competition was more than a way to make a name for myself,” Mr Martin says. “It gave me access to top venture capitalists, which would be very hard to do otherwise because I didn’t have credibility.”

The most successful competitors are often the most diligent researchers, according to Richard Perlman, a serial entrepreneur and Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Startup Challenge judge.

This year, 70 teams submitted “pitch decks” — a brief presentation outlining a business plan. Exceptional presentations demonstrate knowledge of competitors, obstacles, market and accurate revenue projections, Mr Perlman says.

What judges want

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology runs the $100k Launch competition, where a shortlist of teams are each year selected for the quality of their plans and to pitch in the finale to a panel of judges in front of an audience. Nael Rasamny, an MIT $100k judge and co-founder of investment firm Outbound Ventures, says contestants should use pitches to stress enthusiasm for their business idea.

Tuesday, 8 May, 2018

He cites the example of an entrepreneur who, after being made homeless because he was unable to find a job, created a company that provides free education in exchange for a cut of students’ future earnings.

“He put his personal story into the first 30 seconds of the pitch — convincing me that he was passionate enough about the idea to push through the hard times that inevitably come with entrepreneurship,” Mr Rasamny says.

Is it worth the effort?

But with so many business plan competitions, is there a risk that being a winner will become a meaningless accolade?

Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, believes that it is still worth competing. He says that competitions have become more prestigious, as some well-known brands have emerged from them.

They are high on endorphins, but the reality is they are 5 per cent of the way to success

One example is GrubHub, the 2006 winner of the New Venture Challenge at University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The online food ordering company went public in 2014.

If you do win a competition, success is never guaranteed, however. “The risk with competitions is that winners fail because they self-delude themselves into thinking they no longer need to evolve their business plans,” Mr Aulet says.

“They are high on endorphins, but the reality is they are 5 per cent of the way to success.”

Five more prestigious competitions

Rice Business Plan Competition
One of the wealthiest business plan contests, more than $2m in prizes was awarded in April 2018 (this year’s contest has closed)

New Venture Challenge
Past winners include Braintree, the payments business that was acquired by eBay for $800m in 2013. Organised by the Chicago Booth School of Business. This year’s competition opened in October 2017, and the final will be held on May 30 2018

MIT $100k
The competition received more than 300 applications in 2018 and involved nearly 300 volunteer judges. The $100k prize runs from October through to May. This year’s $100,000 grand prize was awarded on May 14

Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Startup Challenge
All University of Pennsylvania students are eligible to participate. This year’s final was held on April 27

Harvard Business School New Venture Competition
The Social Enterprise Track awards a $75,000 grand prize to a venture driving social change. The prize was awarded in April

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SunnyMay 22, 2018
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1min40


देश की दिग्गज टेलिकॉम कंपनी एयरटेल ने एक बार फिर रिलायंस जियो को टक्कर देने के लिए नया प्लान लॉन्च किया है। इस बार कंपनी ऐसा प्लान लेकर आई है जिसमें ग्राहकों को 3जीबी डेटा प्रतिदिन मिलेगा। माना जा रहा है एयरटेल ने यह प्लान रिलायंस जियो के 498 रुपये वाले प्लान की टक्कर पर उतारा है।

यह है प्लान की पूरी डीटेल

एयरटेल के इस प्लान की कीमत 558 रुपये है, जिसकी वैधता 82 दिन होगी। इस तरह 3 जीबी प्रतिदिन के हिसाब से ग्राहकों को कुल 246 जीबी डेटा दिया जाएगा। डेटा के अलावा प्लान में अनलिमिटेड वॉइस कॉलिंग व प्रतिदिन 100 एसएमएस की सुविधा भी दी जाएगी। इतना ही नहीं, अगर ग्राहक 3 जीबी की लिमिट खत्म कर लेता है तो उसके बाद भी इंटरनेट चलता रहेगा। हालांकि स्पीड घटकर 128kbps रह जाएगी। फिलहाल यह प्लान एयरटेल के दिल्ली-एनसीआर सर्कल में उपलब्ध है और इसे धीरे-धीरे बाकी जगहों पर भी लाया जाएगा।

बताते चलें कि जियो के 498 रुपये वाले प्लान में ग्राहकों को मुफ्त कॉलिंग और एसएमएस के अलावा प्रतिदिन 2 जीबी डेटा मिलता है। उस प्लान की वैधता 91 दिन की है, इस तरह जियो कुल 182 जीबी डेटा देती है।

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SunnyMay 21, 2018
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7min20


Ken Selzer shared his plans to use his proven business plan for success if elected for governor during a visit in Pratt last week.

Kenneth Selzer used a methodical business plan focused on customer service and job efficiency to put the Kansas Insurance Office in order during his tenure there since 2015. The Republican candidate for governor visited Pratt Thursday morning and said he will use that same business approach to fix Kansas if elected to the state’s highest office.
“I am a financial expert, a CPA with the right experience and the right tools to make this work,” Selzer said. “As a team player I get my employees involved. We have proven it can work on a broader scale.”
Selzer said that not only does wasteful management and spending need to be eliminated from current Kansas government, but that agriculture must grow in order for the state to become economically stable again.
“We need to do top to bottom audits on all agencies to cut unnecessary expenses,” he said. “Take for instance the Kansas Department of Transportation. They are the third largest expenditure in the Kansas budget spending over 1 billion dollars on road maintenance and operations. We need to run that department more efficiently in order for all Kansans to benefit.”
Getting the largest segment of Kansas budget dollars is education, followed by Medicaid, KDOT, corrections and a host of other departments. All of these departments need to operate with more transparency, something Selzer said he leads by example.
“There is a lot of secrecy in state government,” he said. “We need to get more out of our tax dollars and the only way we can do that is if we know where it is going. We can do a lot more with the dollars we already have throughout government, and I lead the way by example.”
Selzer recently disclosed the past three years of his own personal tax returns to make good on promises of transparent leadership.
“We need to demand more accountability throughout the system,” he said. “We need more alignment with our local communities as to what the priorities should be.”
In education, Selzer said schools should be training students to fill the job needs in their own communities, rather than sending them off to other states, draining the talent pool in Kansas.
“Are we graduating kids for the jobs we have available right here?” he said. “We need focused accountability from our school systems so we know our tax dollars are being used efficiently. We also need to slow the out-migration of our best and brightest students.”
Selzer also said that Kansas leaders at the state and national levels need to stand up for the agriculture and support that which could make Kansas grow.
“Kansas won’t grow if agriculture doesn’t grow,” he said. “We are an agriculture state. We need to focus on new markets for agriculture and should be thinking about ways to strengthen agriculture, the backbone of our economy.”
Selzer said that as the only gubernatorial candidate that grew up in agriculture, married in agriculture and still invested in agriculture, he is the best man for the top job.
“My rural roots provided me with a work ethic that propels me on today,” he said. “I have a sense of fairness and inclusiveness, plus strong morals. The values I grew up with and put to work in my career as an accountant, CPA and insurance commissioner are what we need in our state government today.”
Selzer is a fourth generation Kansan who grew up in McPherson and Marion counties. He has been married for 37 years to his wife, Deb, who is from rural Miami County. They have two daughters and one grandchild, and operate a farm south of Olathe.
He graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.
Selzer is an alumnus of Leadership Kansas and currently serves on the Advisory Council of KSU College of Business and is a member of the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees.
A certified public accountant, he was elected as Kansas Insurance Commissioner in 2014 by a large margin in a crowded primary.
As a 2018 gubernatorial candidate he faces a crowded field of competitors that include incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and former state senator Jim Barnett. The Republican primary winner on August 7 would challenge the Democratic winner from a field of 16 that includes former Kansas Ag Secretary Joshua Svaty and state Senator Laura Kelly. The general election will be November 6, 2018.

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SunnyMay 21, 2018
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5min10


Business owners tend to start a business and not write a business plan.

Usually, writing a business plan is the last thing on an entrepreneur’s mind because entrepreneurs are ready to hit the ground running.

Also, many small business owners do have a business plan in their head but not on paper.

According to bing.com, the definition of a business plan is a plan of future strategy: a plan that sets out the future strategy and financial development of a business, usually covering a period of several years.

As a business adviser, I like to refer to a business plan as a road map for the entrepreneur. Plans tend to help businesses steer in the right direction. Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

A business plan tells the story of where you are today, where you want to be and how you are going to get there. A written plan allows you to share your vision with employees, bankers, vendors, etc. A typical plan consists of a management plan, marketing strategy, financial projections, competitor analysis, customer demographics, research and an executive summary. Each section takes time, thought and research to complete. As you can see, it is not something that is usually completed overnight, and the main content has to come from the entrepreneur.

One of the most important and overlooked parts of the business plan is the exit strategy. An exit strategy is a plan of how you will leave the business once you decide to sell your business or retire. Having an exit strategy helps you make better business decisions now based on the number of years you think you will be in business. For instance, if you plan to be in business for five years versus 20 years, you will make different management and financial decisions based on this planning. You may decide not to take a loan that will take you 15 years to pay off if you plan to sell your business in five years.

Another thing to consider is a business plan is also something that can be revised as you see fit. This means it is not something that is set in stone. Business plans change as owners get more seasoned, business grows or opportunities come along. You should always look over your business plan to see if you are following it, if it is working and if you can do things better. Reviewing your business plan can be done on a quarterly or yearly basis, or as you see fit. A business plan is not meant to be put on the shelf so you can say you have one. You need to use it.

If you have already started your business without one, it is not too late to put one together. For more information, contact the UHV- SBDC at 361-485-4485 or sbdc@uhv.edu.

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