ARRAY Development University of Toronto at Scarborough

Frequently Asked Questions


   Can we place student numbers on our team's Web site?
   Dear Professor Goldmann. Can you help us with the composition and organization of our team? We only have 4 people, is it enough?
   We only have 4 people in the team, is it enough?
   We have just organized a team. What should be our next steps?
   Dear Professor Goldmann. For the Key questions for our Business Plan, we have to state our credentials - do these credentials have to be true, or can we pad our resumes a bit. For ex. I am the CMO, but I don't have any real marketing experience yet. Can I make my credentials up?
   Dear Sir. After looking at the list of guest speakers, I am wondering if each speaker will focus on a different area of ecommerce such as effective marketing, measuring performance, communication, survival, etc...
   Hi professor, in you course outline you listed reading assignments for each week. Where can I find them?
   I have a question regarding the group project for MGTC50. I am currently working on an Internet application idea that would align perfectly with this project to my employer. I was wondering if I could use this idea and work through the business plan by myself instead of working with a group of other students. My reasons for working alone are due to confidentiality issues. I think integrating my class project with an idea for work will be very exciting as I feel there will be a real opportunity that the idea could be launched during the Christmas selling season.
   Which factors are considered when grading an individual presentation?
   How the individual presentation slides should be organized?
   Just to let you know I have dropped the course. I'm not an entrepreneur enough to do well in the course. So there will be a space open for others.
   You mentioned in class that the business (for our group project) should be global. By it do you mean that we should be able to impliment our business model in other countries, like the megawheels model? Or by global you simply mean that somebody from Hong Kong can do business with us?
   Our group project is on a venture capital referal service. And we are launching it in Canada. Should we consider the US firms that are doing something similar in the US as our competitors, even though we are launching our business in Canada?
   Do you mark the Business Plans totaly based on the presentation?
   Or, will you go over the content of the slides after the presentation and base your mark on both the presentation and the content of our slides?
   Regarding Question #3 on the Business Plan "Where are the main market geographically and vertically?" I understand the geographical aspect of location but I do not understand what you want in regards to the 'vertical' aspect?
   What are the criteria for evaluating the elevator talks?
   In addition to the Key Questions, what information should we provide in the viewgraphs to make it a "winning presentation"?
   As the CEO, my biggest problem with a group is that inevitably a few people end up coasting and not pulling their weight. The end result is that the same mark is given to all the group when certain members contributed vastly different amounts of work and time to the project - thus the mark is not necessarily indicative of learning or effort.

Q.   

Can we place student numbers on our team's Web site?

A.   

A student number is a confidential part of the student's record and must not be displayed publicly with the name. In accordance with the University policy, do not place student numbers on any internal team Web site, whether they are under passwords or not.


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Q.   

Dear Professor Goldmann. Can you help us with the composition and organization of our team? We only have 4 people, is it enough?

A.   

No, I'm not in this loop. It's entirely up to the students to network. Come 10 minutes before the class or stay after the class and ask people around.


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Q.   

We only have 4 people in the team, is it enough?

A.   

No, an optimal number is 5-9 people in a group. Our main concern is that if one or two people from the group leave the course, the rest will be put in big disadvantage. It's like in a real corporation. So it is in your better interests to have some redundancy in team's numbers. If you can't find the fifth person, you can combine yourselves with some other 4-people group and spread some roles further (i.e., VP of Business Development, VP of Technology, etc.).


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Q.   

We have just organized a team. What should be our next steps?

A.   

1) Please provide everybody's names and email addresses (no student numbers please).

2) If it is a company, what is its name?

3) Ask your Director of Communications to write a brief PR announcement about the birth of this company (no longer than 3-4 paragraphs please), approve it among yourselves and email it to Dr. Borins and myself. Please also provide a brief (1 paragraph) description of the business in the same PR announcement. There are numerous examples of how to write an effective PR announcement on the Internet, I suggest your Director of Communications to look around.

Your PR announcement should be rooted in reality but made exciting. There is nothing wrong to tell everybody that you are, say, 4th year students at a leading undergraduate business program in Canada and that you are started your enterprise it as a part of your entrepreneurial course on developing Internet business ventures. It's the truth and it's exciting. Make the truth exciting, demonstrate a momentum, I'm sure it's possible.

4) Start as a group to work on the 12 slides Business Plan presentation that answers the 5 questions presented at: http://www.ARRAYdev.com/commerce/UofT/UofT-1.htm#KeyQuestions


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Q.   

Dear Professor Goldmann. For the Key questions for our Business Plan, we have to state our credentials - do these credentials have to be true, or can we pad our resumes a bit. For ex. I am the CMO, but I don't have any real marketing experience yet. Can I make my credentials up?

A.   

No, misstating credentials is always a bad idea and always backfires at the end. You should only say truth, nothing but the truth (but not necessarily all the truth, only the relevant information).

Regarding being a CMO but not having any real marketing experience yet, look harder. I.e., do you have some marketing courses or courses with marketing content which you can claim as references? Books on marketing that you read? Experience with marketing your ideas within the company that you worked for? Any sales experience in your past? It all definitely counts.

At the end, just stating that you have a strong interest in marketing matters will be better than inventing things.

And of course, the very assignment that you are doing now will be your first practical marketing experience on the startup level. That's the whole idea of our course, to provide you with an opportunity to build up your practical marketing experience and corresponding references. I.e., your future marks, professors or fellow team participants that could attest to it -- it all would provide you with the vital references for the future.

That's why it is so important that you do your assignments at this course on a high academic and practical level.


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Q.   

Dear Sir. After looking at the list of guest speakers, I am wondering if each speaker will focus on a different area of ecommerce such as effective marketing, measuring performance, communication, survival, etc...

A.   

Speakers at MGTC50H3 are not invited as guest lecturers. As this is a venturing course, they will mainly reflect on the most important issues that relate to establishing and success of new ventures, based on their own experience -- which typically spans many years and covers many successful and less successful new enterprises. As well, the value of their class presence is hopefully in better understanding by students which VC is doing what, how they might differ and how to appropriately relate to them in your future endeavors.

Regarding key areas of iCommerce such as marketing, performance, communications, survival, etc. that you are referring to, this will be partially covered in our lectures and, more important, in the selection of articles by which the students have to prepare their presentations.


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Q.   

Hi professor, in you course outline you listed reading assignments for each week. Where can I find them?

A.    Please read: http://www.ARRAYdev.com/commerce/UofT/UofT-1.htm#Articles

The Caring Extranet: Implementing Extranet Business Communities. By Nahum Goldmann, ARRAYdev.com, Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce (JIBC), October 1999, vol. 4, no. 1 To rapidly restructure itself, an organization needs to establish a special framework, a multiphase program for managing the transition process. This article describes how to define such a framework. It introduces a new fundamental concept of the Extranet Business Community and describes what it consists of, what makes it different from conventional ways of running a business, and how much it might cost.

Implementing Extranet Business Communities, zipped rtf, By Nahum Goldmann, ARRAYdev.com, The Journal of Electronic Commerce, 1999, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 14-24


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Q.   

I have a question regarding the group project for MGTC50. I am currently working on an Internet application idea that would align perfectly with this project to my employer. I was wondering if I could use this idea and work through the business plan by myself instead of working with a group of other students. My reasons for working alone are due to confidentiality issues. I think integrating my class project with an idea for work will be very exciting as I feel there will be a real opportunity that the idea could be launched during the Christmas selling season.

A.   

It won't be desirable as a rule. Part of your challenge in this course is to interact in a group rather than to work as a lone ranger.

I suggest that you speak first to your employer whether they would be interested to involve other students in this project, e.g., if the students would sign a non-disclosure and employer would invite them to a dinner at the end as a token of appreciation. If the answer is positive, create a team for your project as the CEO. Being able to convince and involve your employer and fellow students would definitely count positive in your own evaluation of entrepreneurial achievements.


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Q.   

Which factors are considered when grading an individual presentation?

A.   

It is neither possible nor desirable to describe the article in all its details in a brief executive-type presentation that we run in the class. The added value of your work on this assignment is to extract the business essence of the article on the viewgraphs and succinctly present it in just several bullets. Remember, less is more. You have to be quite convincing in your presentation on what subsequent action has to be taken based on the article, not necessarily what exactly the article said. That added value usually requires a substantive effort.

When you do such presentations, you should always think of a very busy top executive to whom you have a rare chance to present results of your own research. You only have 3 minutes of her time. She is unlikely to have patience to listen to all minute details. What essential points do you plan to tell her to force her subsequent action?


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Q.   

How the individual presentation slides should be organized?

A.   

As a rule, they should not exceed 2 slides per article. A formal bibliographic citation should be included at teh top of the first page, and your name on a header or footer for all slides. Students should never place their Student Numbers on any document intended for public presentation.


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Q.   

Just to let you know I have dropped the course. I'm not an entrepreneur enough to do well in the course. So there will be a space open for others.

A.   

Thank you for your message. I feel in some sense we already succeeded with you, as to sort out your priority in relation to being an entrepreneur or not isn't a simple task. Our objective is for students not to have "false positives" either. We wish you well in your future endeavors.


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Q.   

You mentioned in class that the business (for our group project) should be global. By it do you mean that we should be able to impliment our business model in other countries, like the megawheels model? Or by global you simply mean that somebody from Hong Kong can do business with us?

A.   

Both. You have to check every business idea for:
a) Can I expand it to the world?
b) Can somebody from far away use Internet to take my business away?


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Q.   

Our group project is on a venture capital referal service. And we are launching it in Canada. Should we consider the US firms that are doing something similar in the US as our competitors, even though we are launching our business in Canada?

A.   

Absolutely. It is either your potential competitor or a partner, even if they do not have plans yet to expand to Canada.


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Q.   

Do you mark the Business Plans totaly based on the presentation?

A.   

No.

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Q.   

Or, will you go over the content of the slides after the presentation and base your mark on both the presentation and the content of our slides?

A.   

Absolutely yes.

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Q.   

Regarding Question #3 on the Business Plan "Where are the main market geographically and vertically?" I understand the geographical aspect of location but I do not understand what you want in regards to the 'vertical' aspect?

A.   

It's companies that are connected by a common business concept, not necessarily by the geographic location, i.e., automobile industry, or entertainment industry, or shoe manufacturers or hospitals or municipalities or legal companies, or domestic help agencies, etc., etc. They usually have something in common, i.e., domestic help services are always buying brooms so for broom vendors they constitute a special and lucrative vertical market.

As your ability to reach various vertical markets and make profit from selling them differs, and as a startup is unlikely to cover all of them simultaneously, you might want to specify which top 3-5 verticals are most promising to concentrate on scalling up your corporation. I.e., in the above example a broom manufactirer would say in the business plan that they have a list of all 10,000 domestic help agencies in the US and Canada, that an average agency typically buys 100 brooms a week, hence the annual size of this vertical market is 100x50x10000 = 50M. Hence selling 1M brooms a year they'd only penetrate 2% of it, which is a very reasonable assumption. If on the other hand they have to sell 10M gadgets to a vertical market which usually buys only 2M gadgets a year, it clearly spells trouble.


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Q.   

What are the criteria for evaluating the elevator talks?

A.   

The key requirement is to cover in 60 second as many of Key Questions in our table Business Plan: Key Questions as you can. We mainly evaluate whether profitability of a plausable concept has been adequately expressed to be of interest to a potential investor. The best way to prepare yourself is first to make several dry run presentation to friends or colleagues, find out what they understood from it and whether they found it attractive to invest -- and modify it accordingly.


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Q.   

In addition to the Key Questions, what information should we provide in the viewgraphs to make it a "winning presentation"?

A.   

You have to briefly present the team and say something good about team's experience or at least determination.

You need some hard numbers that reflect the size of the offering. I.e., when you cover the key question: Where are the main markets geographically and vertically? you have to give some numeric indications of their size. The numbers should make sense, so do your research.

Another set of hard numbers that is required is 3-years Revenue Projections, Income Statement Projections and Start-up Expenses and Operating Capital. Again, it would be desirable to have some credible numbers here not taken from the air. The best way to derive them is by doing your own internal Business Plan with numbers that would subsequently be shown on the viewgraphs.


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Q.   

As the CEO, my biggest problem with a group is that inevitably a few people end up coasting and not pulling their weight. The end result is that the same mark is given to all the group when certain members contributed vastly different amounts of work and time to the project - thus the mark is not necessarily indicative of learning or effort.

A.   

Yes, it is always a concern.

On the positive side, hopefully it taught you the critical issue of assessing the situation fast and fighting for the best people in the pool when the companies are formed. You should learn not compromise in that regard.

In the past, one of our groups had such a conflict and the CEO there decided to fire people who didn't performed well. After that, the situation rapidly improved, the group "kissed and made up", and everybody was working towards the common goal. As the CEO, you definitely have an option to make sure that everybody contributes, it's your burden and your responsibility.

As well, as a group, you might considering to decide that the CEO has additional points to distribute in the group and also the rest of the group to distribute among themselves. We might (although not obliged) take it into account when assigning final grades, as long as it is a zero sum game (i.e., with the mutual agreement at the start of building the company) some people gain but others would get less points).


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