TIE Khudee Final Three – You’ve got to be kidding me!

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The Winners of the famed and heavily-promoted TIE Khudee Business Plan competition were announced in perhaps one of the biggest disappointments for the entire crowd at the TES conference – all the judges, bloggers (me), advisors and enthusiasts – everyone was about speechless through this.

From recent news that over 130 plans had been received, and finding out that some of the G&W companies had not been selected as a finalist, I was very optimistic about these results.

However, the huge disappointment was that the final three presentations:

  • Were basically student classroom projects out of their marketing / entrepreneurship courses
  • Only one of the three had actually built a prototype and done pilot tests to describe feedback
  • The other two were really just at the “drawing on a paper napkin” stage – just arbitrary ideas about the magical things the product would do and how they would magically make money
  • None of them had absolutely no differentiating factor nor competitive advantage, nor did those teams have any appreciation for marketing or distribution challenges
  • Yet they were forecasting a “minimum of” (actual quote) Rs.32M in sales in year 1
  • Had powerpoints that would make Seth Godin hurl, and would make Guy Kawasaki want to donate free macbooks to them – even when I was designing a Satellite base-station I’ve never drawn a system diagram with over 50 boxes and 40 different arrows just to describe a business model… have never seen a slide with 25 bullets before this either.

Couldn’t they find ONE group that had actually jumped ship and were working on their product full time — a group that was actually taking up the risk of building something that their life depends on?

Couldn’t they choose to not waste the time of the silicon-valley VC judges by actually showing something useful from this country?

Oh I dont know – something like paktranslations.com, Orgoo, BumpIn, HelpHee, SourceOne, Mulazamat, Lootmaar?? And that’s just tech industry in the past 3 months?

Read on for details about the final three startup business ideas. Judge for yourself.

Finalist 1 – “ECO Block” from LUMS

The Big Idea: Create an alternative to red-bricks used in construction… “We will create bricks from dry ash by setting up production factories in Sindh”.

The Distribution Plan: The magically produced bricks (no detail of prototyping of process) will magically be transported (no details of supply channel) to these construction companies who will choose to use these untested, unproven, never-used-before bricks in some of the biggest construction projects (office towers) in Karachi.

The Revenue Model: All they have to do is magically close 2-3 of these construction companies per year… ofcourse this is just until year two when a second factory will just pop up from the ground like a SimCity game.

Why should a VC-fund invest: Because our SWOT analysis says we’ll succeed

Finalist 2 – “We Care, They Care” from CBM, Karachi

The Big Idea: So, like, theres lots of women working professionally right? And like, they have kids right? So we’ll build a daycare center where these kids can be dropped off — we’ll call it an “on-site corporate daycare center” but hope no one notices the extra words.

The differentiating factors:
I’m not making these up nor spicing this up – this is exactly as they were:

  • We’ll be getting some of the best child psychologists to interact with your kids, and to be able to study understand your kids better
  • You can subscribe for Daily Status Reports about your toddlers – not sure if they’re sent over email.
  • We’ll put cameras on those toddlers and give you a live video stream of them that’ll be available up on our website!

My gosh.

The Revenue Model: Basic per-kid charge ; Value-added-services such as live video streams and daily reports.

The Business Model: Get 600 kids across 5 daycare centers over 6 years. They were actually speaking like this which was a bit unsettling.

Why should a VC-Fund Invest: Because they can then give back to society at large through the fund.

Finalist 3- Pani Ghar

Frankly, I couldnt make sense of a single slide or much of their pitch so I’m not sure what the revenue model or business model was.

The Big Idea: Nestle and others only serve the upper 50% of a 50Million consumer market – build a way to distribute affordable pure-water for the bottom 50% – people with monthly household incomes of Rs.10k or less

Positive Points: They’ve been running a live pilot for the past year and had adoption numbers to share; Also, this actually seemed to be a non-univ startup who had been involved with this with their own energies.

Negative Points: I’m afraid they might have lost this bit due to communication and pitch presentation – They spent 65% of the time walking through the technical details of the production process… and the pitch construction unfortunately made it hard to get excited about this immediately, even though I think they’re addressing a decent big idea.

Why didnt G&W startups get finalized?

I dont think this is because of any type of bias or because the system is unfair. I think the startups we’ve covered at Green & White have had good potential but in some cases the founders dont seem to know where the exact value is.

Lets take Mulazamat e.g. – their startup had potential but it had nothing to do with their platform or their big idea. Their video platform is a dime a dozen these days and anyone with a camcorder can record these things.

Their ability to find out where the value was relied on them working relentlessly to build up content and actually prove that this can be used as a viable platform that someone is willing to pay for as a service.

I know we would have paid at CDF for job listings, and I know atleast 3 other companies that would have in Isb alone.

Instead, the Mulazamat founders took the route that could probably be described as “build out a demo, get it promoted through green & white, and use that as enough evidence of demand that a very optimistic business plan can be justified”.

Sure, from what I hear, things have worked out well for them — but its when people can clearly see that you’re considering your big idea to be just a “thing we wanted to do on our side”, that your primary focus is now some other company, that your plans arent aligned with identified progress over the past few months, that the business plan overall loses weight.

All in all, I hope these business plans improve over time – because I honestly cant live through another PPT slide with 25 bullet points.

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12 Comments

  • You’d think lums graduates would atleast know how to make a presentation.

    good coverage, thanks for sharing.

  • Very astute and detailed coverage. Some lessons to be learnt. TiE Karachi will be holding a similar event – I am sure they will appreciate some of the advice.

    Tell me something Osama, did any of the tech startups you mention above apply for this competition? It would be interesting to know.

    Presentation skills – ouch! Sounds painful.

  • Very accurate and detailed coverage of TES. The mentioned points are an eye-opener not just for the finalists but for everyone.

    People keep telling the entrepreneurs to think big, global and world changing. But the selected plans are strictly local in scope. Ironic isn’t it :)

    O and there were ’20 line stories’ along with 25 bullet points as well. I suggest TiE should have a ‘Presentation Competition’ next time :)

  • Please add which should have been top 3 and also make a case ‘for’ them. This is missing.

    Btw, if the remaining plans are even inferior than the top three, then its the problem with our entrepreneurs not with the competition.

    Nice passionate analysis anyway.

  • i appreciate the coverage..
    I lead one of the thirty teams that were rejected …so was eager for the details of the final round.
    A business plan shud not neccesarily be global …from a venture capitalist perspective it should be viable in terms of Pakistan..
    what is sad is that the winning team ..i mean how could the win with out having spelt out the details of project viability..with out even explaining succinctly how they were making bricks out of dry ash …i thought the top three would be the creme of the top thirty..pretty disappointing!

  • i appreciate the coverage..
    I lead one of the thirty teams that were rejected …so was eager for the details of the final round.
    A business plan shud not neccesarily be global …from a venture capitalist perspective it should be viable in terms of Pakistan..
    what is sad is that the winning team ..i mean how could they win with out having spelt out the details of project viability..with out even explaining succinctly how they were making bricks out of dry ash …i thought the top three would be the creme of the top thirty..pretty disappointing!

  • I have a slight disagreement to stated analysis of TIE.
    1. I dont think its necessary to develop prototype for presenting a business plan.
    2. Student class room, projects are generally innovative. I can guess, most people from Pakistani industry would be talking about making a ERP, or some minial offshoring works that industry is doing.
    3. I am personally known to many people who were judges of TIE. I would seriously need to be convinced for fault in their judgements.

    Finally, winning TIE is no acheivement.Though i would say that, loosing might help people in getting prepared to first lesson of technoprenuership – Never be afraid of failures and experimentations.

    I can quote examples after examples – People who failed in their first startups made good fotunes.

    Lets encourage the participants and especially the winners.

  • @Jehan: I know of atleast a couple that put in their plans but I would let them announce this themselves.

    @Hira: Actually you do – e.g. the day these LUMS guys actually try to build up their first set of bricks and use them half of their plan and roadmap will be thrown out, their assumptions would change and the numbers that say 67M in sales the first year would drop to zero in the first year. I’d love to see how they can set up a production process that can roll out their first batch in less than a year – this isnt a money problem, but a problem of them going beyond the plan on a paper and actually delivering.

  • The business plan has to be judged on current prevaling environment conditions. You should not evaluate a business plan, on “Your preceived changes in external environment”. However, sales projections are always “best educated guess”, i guess the teams were able to convince judges on their assumptions.

    You used the term, “LUMS Guys”, do you expect some favorism , or the winners were from LUMS.

    As i said, lets accept the results. And “encourage” all the participants. Its for the betterment of whole country.

  • @Osama – Thanks for such detailed coverage of TES.

    @Jehan – i did submitted the ‘Executive Summary’ for Mulazamat.com but can’t make it to the Top 30 :(

    Always see the +ve side of the event (consider the -ves points also), ideas are coming in, more and more peoples are getting motivated to start their own venture by sharing the Killer projects, Investors are coming, this is just the beginning. Inshallah we will improve on this.

    Looking forward for the TiE Karachi Event. My suggestion for Karachi Event, please allow Camcorders and create some kind of video blog or allow VideoBlogging :), so that all young entrepreneurs can learn from the event. I am missing all the workshops held at LUMS :(.

    See this Link

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=TiECon&search=Search

    Congrats to all the winners.

  • @Ali – I totally agree with you. Participation is the key. There is so much learning and mentoring that takes place during the process as has been seen through the MITCEF Business Acceleration Program and the TiE Business Plan competitions. You win even if you don’t get into the finals.

    The motivation aspect is important, the sharing and discussing of ideas is absolutely essential. There were some very accomplished entrepreneurs and VCs in the group. Just to be able to hang out with them, discuss an idea, pick their brains must have been worth a lot.

    I shall pass on your suggestion regarding videoblogging to the TiE Karachi team for consideration. The more widely workshops are viewed, the more young people (and some older ones too) will benefit.

  • >The Business Model: Get 600 kids across 5 daycare centers over 6 years. They were actually speaking like this which was a bit unsettling.

    you forgot to mention Rs 24,000,000,0 Revenue in the fifth year actually :)

    And the Pani ghar presentation was most impressive of the three with solid figures and solid talk!

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