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?
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
studyunderstand 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!
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.