Preparing a Business Plan

BY CALLUM McDONNELL

Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.
— - Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company

We’re now well under way in this year’s programme. Last week, our incubants were brought to the cosier and friendlier Tangent space at the front of the Berkeley Library at Trinity.

Our two speakers, Rihanna O’ Kelly and Jason Bradshaw, came from JPA Brenson Lawlor, one of Ireland's leading Business, Accounting and Taxation Advisors. They sat next to our incubator teams and answered plenty of questions, including when they should think about incorporating, what is the fairest way to divide equity amongst the co-founders and how detailed their finances should be. Each team gladly took the opportunity to seek some good advice and validation for their ideas.

We went over what should be in a Business Plan and a Shareholders Agreement. David Ola, the Incubator Manager of TES, stressed on the importance of having a Business Plan and Co-Founder Agreement from the early stages of a business.

Business Plan vs Co-Founder Agreement

A business plan is a written document that describes your business, its objectives, strategies, the market and realistic financial forecasts. Writing your Business Plan can sometimes be tedious work and you should seek professional advice from an accountant and/or solicitor.

A Co-Founder Agreement on the other hand, is a contract between Co-Founders. It sets out the ownership, initial investments and responsibilities of each founder. This agreement should also cover any potential disputes which may arise, it can provide protection as it shows what the co-founder agreed too.

Image courtesy: Seartec

The Importance of a Business Plan

A good business plan is crucial to the success of your business. Not only will it provide a good road map on where you should be heading, it is also an essential part of securing financing. It is therefore extremely important that your business plan is free from mistakes and spell checked by at least 10 other people.

Key Elements of a Business Plan

  1. Your business plan must look extremely professional and match the language of the intended reader. The use of professional language is important, buzzwords such as “cool” “amazing” and “the next big thing” should be avoided.

  2. Always include a detailed market analysis. This will help you really understand your competitors. A potential investor will realise your market knowledge and be more confident to invest in you.

  3. Have a marketing plan and sales forecast. This should be a detailed report on how you plan to make your company profitable, including how you are currently acquiring customers and your strategy for getting more in the future.

  4. Show your financial projections and ensure you can reasonably back them up. You should use information based on your revenue growth and the market trends, combine this with your sales strategy to make accurate financial projections.

Start today!

A clear Business Plan and Co-Founder Agreement can take up some of your valuable time, but they are also extremely important and should be completed with care.

If you have any questions or issues with completing your Business Plan or Co-Founder Agreement, you may contact any member of the TES committee!

Incubator Finance Open Night

BY CALLUM Mc DONNELL

Ekaterina Edwardovna Lait is currently a third-year Computer Science student, who in her spare time works on her start-ups and takes on the role as President of the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society.

As the host for this year’s first Open Night, Kate explained all the different forms of financing options available for start-ups. She then introduced four unique case studies amongst the newly formed teams and asked them to use what they learned to decide on what financing each case should apply for and prepare a quick PowerPoint to present.

First things first… Why should you finance?

Financing from a venture capitalist or a loan can be the ideal way to get your business up and running. The influx of cash can help you scale your business and reach more customers. It is advised that you work out how long your company can go without funding, otherwise known as “bootstrapping” and try and fund your business through revenue. This is the best funding as it is debt and equity-free!

Image from akseleran.com

What are the available finance options?

There are many ways you can secure funding for your start-up:

  1. The three F’s
    The first place you should look for funding is the three F’s (Friends, Family and Fools). Those close to you want to see you succeed, and can be very supportive. Remember to always be honest with them and make sure they know the risk involved.

  2. Venture Capitalist
    A venture capitalist is an investor who will give you money in return for equity or a percentage of your company. They may also want to have a say in the running of your company. So make sure you do your research on the investor and know what they expect from you.

  3. Crowdfunding
    It is the idea of getting a large group of people to invest a small amount in return for some equity. Crowdfunding is particularly useful for B2C (Business to Consumer) companies as it can serve as a good marketing tool for gaining customers.

  4. Bootstrapping
    This is a common funding option for most start-ups. This involves using personal funds to cover business costs. This way, you get to keep control of your business and also all the profits!

Image from geminisolutions.in

The case studies

The case studies varied in the sizes of the companies, from a high-end ladies’ suit shop just starting off, to an established clothing manufacturer looking to expand globally.  Each team was given 45 mins to answer three questions about their case:

1.    Is the business profitable?

2.    What funding, if any, does the business need?

3.    What is your plan for a secure funding?

Each team created a PowerPoint to showcase their work and a few were selected to present. The PowerPoints were excellent. The teams really showcased their new knowledge effectively and gave good, convincing arguments on how their business should be funded.

How will you fund your idea?

Introduction to Design Thinking

BY SHREYA PATTAR

““Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”

— Steve Jobs

Joseph Lanzillotta (Joe) completed his Undergraduate in Business Studies earlier this year. Last week, he spoke to the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society about ‘Design Thinking’. He is now working for Tangent, in the business end of the beekeeping industry- “I didn’t think I would be here”, he says.

In a two hour long session, Joe explained the process and importance of design thinking, helped the teams find their true customers, and identify those customers’ real pain points. He then asked the teams to use this information to form customer personas, which they then tested on each other to see if they were truly addressing the problems.

So, what is design thinking after all?

Simply put, design thinking lets you turn your products into experiences. It is a process which helps create solutions for product problems. These solutions are multifaceted and multi-dimensional, and are of great importance since they involve identifying and understanding the problem, and not only tackling them on the surface.

Image via the Stanford d.school.

What does design thinking revolve around?

There is one thing that greatly influences design thinking- empathy. Design thinking is a customer-centric process, and revolves around the needs of the customer. The concept can be applied best when we see, know and feel what the customers are feeling, and see our product and its uses from their perspective. A part of the process is also to come up with solutions beyond the central idea, in order to facilitate all possible concerns.

Why should you care about design thinking?

Design thinking is a key factor in building customer interest and participation. It can be used to anticipate the problem before it arises and be ready with a solution in advance. It is good for understanding the customer and developing the product suited for the customer. A successful product is one that not only results in the growth of the company, but also adds value in people’s lives. Such a product becomes an experience, and garners brand trust and loyalty.

What is the process of design thinking?

Design Thinking Cycle courtesy of Compucom

Design thinking is a non-linear process. When you start testing, it may make you re-define your idea. You may then revise your ‘Ideate’, ‘Prototype’ and ‘Test’ phases.

How do I start with design thinking?

The easiest way to approach design thinking is to create a set of questions, and answer them one at a time:

  1. Who is your target customer?

  2. What are the concerns of your target customer?

  3. How are you going to solve the problem?

Once you answer these questions, cross-check how much of it is what you think, and how much of it is data. You must realise the difference between ‘what you think’ and ‘what you actually know’ to make the most of this process.

Remember:

Design thinking is more than a process— it is a mindset. It’s about circling back to the same questions but coming up with different answers every time. Think about the customer and let your product solve their problems.

Does your product eliminate the customer’s pain point?

Keeping it Lean with Gene!

BY CALLUM Mc DONNELL

This year’s TES Incubator program began in fine fashion.

Gene Murphy, a serial innovator, Bank of Ireland’s resident entrepreneur and an all-round nice guy, was the first of this year’s guest speakers.

Gene started the evening in fine spirit by grilling each of the teams for a 30 second pitch of their ideas and asking why they felt they should be taking part in the Incubator.

His first tip to all emerging start-ups was to develop their Minimum Viable Product and get out in front of their customers. He motivated the teams to start small and aim high.

David Ola, TES Incubator Manager, briefing the team

As it was our first event, the teams were all still a little unfamiliar with each other…

Que the quirky ice breaker!

The groups were mixed up and put into 4 teams, 8 random words were placed on the board and the teams were asked to come up with some interesting and quite frankly ground-breaking ideas.

The start of something new?

Team One was given the words “Chocolate Wi-Fi”. From these two completely random words the team came up with the idea of a free redeemable 15-minute Wi-Fi code for every chocolate bar a consumer purchased. Cadbury sales will skyrocket in the next few weeks with this news, you read it here first!

Team Two was given the tricky task of building a business based on “Submarine Cats”. They went straight into tackling the issue of the fear of water. To solve this, they introduced an exciting new adventure where people would link up with their new feline friends for comfort and take off in their yellow submarine. The spokesperson for the team believes, in the future, Submarine Cats can cure sleepless nights with the Kitty Nap hotel.

Continuing the trend of eradicating aqua-phobia, Team Three invented “Chicken Wave”, the first Chicken-inspired ‘Buoyance Aid’! Add to this their extended range of the ‘Roast Chicken Surfboard’ and ‘Chicken Wing Bath Toys’. It’s safe to say we can really see this idea taking flight (or an occasional swim)!

Team Four had the most impressive challenge, “Burrito Banter”. They decided to tackle both- the lack of lunch time conversation and the oversized burrito conundrum. “Burrito Banters! All-you-can-eat bite-sized burritos let you enjoy the delicious flavour without compromising on the conversation!”, pitched a team member. Seems like the perfect Tinder date to me, if I ever manage to get one…

Now, moving swiftly back to the real business, each team was given a blank Business Model Canvas and asked to fill it out with their original ideas, sadly not for their new world-beating concepts.

Gene and our Incubator Ambassadors helped each team through the Business Model, step by step.  

They focused on the ‘Needs, not the Wants’ of their market and looked at what set them apart from their competitors.

Gene concluded the session with inspiring anecdotes and examples of the ‘dos and don’ts’ of running a small-scale start-up.

We ended the night with some delicious Camile take away, and many thought-provoking ideas and concepts. 

 

 

 

Which of the four teams’ innovations did you like the best? Comment below!

Incubator Opening Night

BY CALLUM Mc DONNELL

This year, the Trinity Entrepreneurial Society kicked off the commencement of Incubator Cell by hosting a pitching session in the Bank of Ireland Workbench in Trinity. The 13 hopeful start-ups pitched their ideas to an illustrious panel of judges for a spot in this year’s Incubator. We were pleasantly surprised to see very high levels of creativity and innovation in all the pitches. 

The first start up to present in the night was Conecto. Their platform looks to solve the problem of making friends in a professional environment by matching together employees of large companies on basis of their hobbies and interests.

Next pitch was from  Daniel Twomey of DTW (Depression to Wellbeing). Daniel leverages his experience as a PE and Sports Studies teacher along with his ongoing studies towards a doctorate in physical activity and positive mental health. He aims to provide his clients with an overall health and wellbeing programme that focuses as much on mental health as the physical well being. 

Keeping up with the theme of coaching and tutoring, the ExamLearn.ie team were next up to present their new platform: Tutorello. This online tutorial platform will match students in need of grinds together with tutors for online video-chat grinds. Jack Manning, Founder of Tutorello said that he is going to provide an ‘AirBnB-style’ approach to grinds.

Next up were Student+; an online marketplace that is looking to connect students together to create a second hand market . Their founders, Abdul Abshir and Jaime Castellanos have big sights in mind. They pitched confidently stating that they plan to taking on DoneDeal.ie and Adverts.ie by targeting the student niche.

Speaking of student niches, the next team to pitch was Puzzle. They are hoping to make use of the unique position of students in the job market. Puzzle has come up with a solution to hotel understaffing issues; matching hotels to staff for once-off shifts. Alex, Angelica and Ciarán of Puzzle explained the mutually beneficial theory behind their idea. To plug the hotels’ staffing shortages, Puzzle matches hotels to staff so that the students don’t have to commit long-term to the job. They described it as the Tinder of hotel staffing - let’s see if it catches fire! 

The last presentation before the interval was from Sourced. Their aim is to tackle fake news and to remove the echo chamber effect by allowing their users to find and read news stories based on their topic rather than the virality or their source. Their algorithms will ‘boost’ stories that appear in multiple sources and are correctly sourced to the top of the webpage, while stories that are likely to be ‘fake news’ will be demoted to the bottom of the page, making them much less likely to spread.

Mark Byrne of Gach Construction welcomed us back after the interval with his plans to build a single platform for every aspect of the construction industry. He believes that Gach Construction can match companies involved in every aspect of a construction project to help deliver cost- and time-effective builds. From project managers to plumbers and electricians to builders, everyone involved in any stage of construction will be able to find each other easily through the platform.

From construction to medicine, next up were DocScanner. Their aim is to be ‘the Skycanner of doctors’ with their online patient-to-doctor matching service. It will allow people - mainly tourists and short-term residents - to find their local GP service. The aim is to reduce the rates of no-shows in GP offices and to reduce the overcrowding in hospitals.

Next up was another consumer platform: Swiftly. Their on-demand delivery service hopes to be able to deliver anything in half an hour or less. There are three target markets that they will initially cater for before branching out: businesses, disabled and/or elderly people and the lazy. Look out for their pilot launch in Trinity Halls in March 2019!

From mass-market to niche-market, next up to present were Talka. Talka is a tool that can be used by speech therapists to keep track and monitor the progress of their patients. The platform provides an electronic version of traditional speech therapist tools, such as flashcards, and uses voice recognition technology to gamify the experience for the users. They feel that this is particularly useful for children who may otherwise be hesitant to keep up-to-date with their speech therapy exercises.

Next pitch was the most unique of the night. Caballis sells pic’n’mix-style horse treats. The idea has already proven to be a success - the 100% natural treats have gone down well at horse shows in Ireland and the UK. They are now hoping to start selling online to grow the business beyond the niche horse show markets.

Next up were Herbivore, who are looking to further the veganism movement by creating Ireland and the UK’s first vegan delivery restaurant. Their unique approach seeks to partner with existing restaurants to use a small portion of their kitchen space in order to provide a nationwide delivery service.

Capping off a fantastic evening of presentations were Flow. They aim to reduce the reliance on paper receipts by introducing digital alternatives. The idea came to founders Ross Kelly and Celeste Dougherty when they grew frustrated at the sheer amount of paper receipts they had to trawl through during their recent internships. Their hope is that Flow will provide the solution to this problem faced by businesses and consumers alike.

After the pitches were finished, the teams, judges and audience members headed to the Pav for some networking and a few drinks.

We are delighted to announce that the teams taking part in this year’s Incubator are: Swiftly, Puzzles, ExamLearn.ie, DTW, Sourced, Caballis Horse Treats, Talka and DocScanner.

Keep an eye on our blogs to stay up to date with how all of the teams are getting on!