Monthly Archives: July 2012

Personal Business Plan

Everyone does an individual “personal business plan”. It’s not about the startup or company project. It’s about your personal career plans over the next 3 years or so. So everyone should do their own. Students in my class find it to be one of the more rewarding assignments and often get really into it.

The entrepreneurial process is at its core concerned with “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to the resources already under control.” This process is as applicable to your career as it is to starting a company. The goal of this assignment is to identify where you want to be and how you will get there. Do not worry about your current resources. Think entrepreneurially!

Your personal business plan should include a long-term vision statement, the “external” opportunities that exist, your “internal” (personal) strengths, and a strategy for yourself and your life over the next two to five years. In addition, please share one “failure” from your past and what you learned from it in terms of maximizing your potential for the future.

The assignment should consist of a succinct essay (up to 750 words in bullet points or prose) that summarizes the areas discussed below, as well as the one “failure” wherever you feel it best fits.

Vision and Opportunity
  • What are your goals (career and/or educational) after this class?
  • What is your purpose, your values and your mission? List the 3 key questions that guide your choices. These should be essential questions that serve as touchstones to direct your life and work. For instance, how can I have impact? What do I love? What do I fear? What engages my passions? How do I want to be remembered? The answers to these questions may well change over time, but when the questions themselves are fundamental they tend to last a lifetime.
  • What is the market and opportunity that align with your goals? Don’t restrict yourself to matters of career or work; think more broadly about your opportunities to make a difference.

Marketing and Implementation Strategy
  • Create your market positioning statement. This may be directed at a hypothetical employer, industry, organization, or the world at large.
  • What compelling value will you offer to your employers and society?
  • How will you differentiate from other Stanford students? How about from the broader populace?

Risks and Mitigation
  • What are the key milestones and checkpoints in your plan?
  • How will you measure/determine if you have successfully attained these milestones? How do you define success?
  • What external factors might affect (positively or adversely) your attaining success?
  • Develop contingency and risk mitigation strategies.

Personal Board of Directors
  • If you could assemble any 2 or 3 people to advise and mentor you, who would they be? They may be alive or dead, family or world leaders, friends or strangers.
  • Why would you choose each of them? Is it their wisdom, their accomplishments, their words, their creativity, their character, their heroic deeds or something else?

 

Evaluation Criteria and Rubrics

Peer evaluations for demo deck are different from the OAP reviews. This time you will evaluate each other more equivalent to the way investors evaluate your work (Check out video on Acid Test for more information). You should use the push button on your team’s demo deck to push your demo deck for peer evaluations. Note: you will not be able to edit your final presentations after your push them for peer reviews. You will have a second chance to edit your presentation and demo deck once the peer evaluations are over.

The Quality of the Presentation

Is the presentation engaging? Does it present a compelling and interesting story about the team? Does the team give a convincing presentation that makes you excited about what they’re doing? If you
could invest or join them, would you?

1-10 scale with 10 being the best, where you found the presentation to be very high quality, engaging and convincing.
A 1 would indicate a poor quality presentation where key information was left out.

The Market

Has the team shown in a convincing way that this is a larger and growing market that they are pursuing? Did they analyze the market that they are selling into? Do they rely on secondary sources or did they also collect some of their own data?

Here a 10 would have estimated the market size in a thorough way and would be addressing a large and quickly growing market.
A 1 would have skipped the market size analysis altogether.

Quality of the Business Model

Did the team clearly explain how their business model works and how they would make money? Did the team appear to have tested their business model in the real world? Are they already making sales? Do you believe they could make sufficient money to earn good profits and cover their costs?

A 10 would have a clear, easy to understand business model where it is clear that they’ve been testing each aspect and moving towards a model where the money flowing in would clearly be significantly more than the money flowing out in costs.
A 1 would be a case where they did not clearly explain how the business model works or where they hadn’t done anything to test key risky assumptions.

The Marketing Strategy and Marketing Page

Does the team appear to have the right marketing strategy? Have they narrowed in on the appropriate target market? Are they running marketing experiments and tracking their results? What is the quality of the marketing page?

A 10 in this case would have run several marketing experiments that were informed by their tests and where they were able to track their results and are getting a good return on their marketing efforts.
A 1 would be a case where they clearly haven’t thought much about marketing yet, or haven’t really done anything to try out a marketing strategy or use their marketing page.

Prototype

Does the team already have a working prototype? Does it already have users or customers?

A 10 would be a case where there is a working prototype with a sizable number of users and paying customers.
A 1 would be a case where they haven’t created a prototype despite the fact that they have a web or mobile app. If they have a physical product then it is acceptable to not have a prototype yet since those can be costly to build.

Final Team Presentation

Opportunity Execution Project gave a chance to your team to think about how to take your idea from a business plan on paper and turn it into a real company. For your final team presentation you will submit:

  1. An executive summary: no more than a paragraph
  2. A 10 minute video, or 10 slides

Your video should include a description of your product and the business model, as well as your team and how you got here. For the latter, it is always helpful to tell an appealing personal story.

More specifically your video should include the following:

  • Fundamental Problem. What is the fundamental problem you are solving for the end user of your product? What is the fundamental problem you’re solving for your customer (if it is different from the end user)? Give a quick recap of your OAP – just a reminder of your key points and the takeaway.
  • Product. What are you building or planning to build. A demo of your prototype if you have one.
  • Team. How did you find each other? How did you get here? Try to tell an appealing personal story.

From the following list, you should choose the ones that are applicable:

  • Business Model. You now have had some more time to think about your opportunity. Do you have any additional thoughts/changes about the business model?
  • Sales and Marketing Strategy.How would you sell your product? What distribution channels would you use? How would you create demand for your product?
  • Risk.Regarding financial, technical, people, and market risks; which one is of most concern? Which would you choose to address first and why? How would you manage or minimize each of the high-priority risks going forward?
  • Partners and Allies. Who will be your major partners? How will your product be made? Will your company produce all of the parts, or will it use external suppliers? How would you go about attracting these partners and allies to work with your company?
  • Funding. How would you fund your venture? Would you bootstrap, take money from venture capitalists, take funding from a corporate investor, etc?

Note that you can create multiple reports, the one you publish on your team blog will be used for your demo page. The details about the demo page format and specifics will be available early next week.

Team Foundation Server 2012 RC – Install & Configure

In this post, we will walk through the process of Installing & Configuring Team Foundation Server (TFS)2012 on a Windows 8 machine that has Visual Studio 2012.

If you are using TFS 2010 for the Scrum Process , see the blog post @ https://kishore1021.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/scrum-process-for-software-development-using-microsoft-visual-studio-scrum-1-0-process-template/ to configure TFS for Software Development using Microsoft Visual Studio Scrum 1.0 Process Template.

Following are the steps to Install & Configure Team Foundation Server 2012.

1. Download TFS by clicking on Install Team Foundation Server RC at http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us/downloads#tfs-group. If you are a MSDN subscriber, go to Subscriber Downloads and search for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012. Click on the Download button next to Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 RC (x86 and x64) – DVD (English) as shown in Fig 1.

image

Figure 1: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012 RC (x86 and x64) – DVD

This will download the ISO file to the download folder on the machine and the file name is en_visual_studio_team_foundation_server_2012_rc_x86_x64_dvd_865710

Note: System Requirements for Team Foundation Server : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/tfs/dd578592(v=vs.110)

2. Right Click on en_visual_studio_team_foundation_server_2012_rc_x86_x64_dvd_865710 and click Mount as shown in Fig 2.

image

Figure 2: Mounting the VS TFS ISO File in Windows 8.

3. Click on the tfs_server.exe file to begin the installation as shown in Fig 3.image

Figure 3: TFS 2012 Installation files mounted on Windows 8.

4. This launches the Team Foundation Server Setup as shown in Fig 4.image

Figure 4: Team Foundation Server Setup Wizard

5. In the Team Foundation Server Configuration tool, choose Basic, click on Start Wizard as shown in figure 5.image

Figure 5: Team Foundation Server Configuration Center

Note: If you want to install Team Foundation Server with the least amount of preliminary work, use the basic configuration, which comes with SQL Server Express. This way, the installation wizard configures everything for you. With the basic configuration of Team Foundation Server, you can track bugs, tasks, and other work items. You can put files under version control, and use Team Web Access to log and resolve bugs. However, you will not be able to configure reporting or SharePoint with the basic configuration.

If you want to install Team Foundation Server on a single server with reporting and a team portal, use the standard configuration, which makes installation much simpler. With the standard configuration, you first install SQL Server and the report server, but Team Foundation Server can install SharePoint Foundation 2010 for you.

6. The Basic Configuration wizard appears as shown in Fig 6. Read the Welcome screen, and then choose Next.

image    Fig 6: Team Foundation Server Basic Configuration wizard

7. Team Foundation Server requires SQL Server, but you have many options, including an option to let Team Foundation Server install SQL Server Express for you. Perform one of the following actions:

  • Choose Install SQL Server Express to host the configuration database on an instance of SQL Server Express, and then choose Next.

  • Choose Use an existing SQL Server Instance to host the configuration database on an existing instance of SQL Server, and choose Next. Then, in SQL Server Instance, type the name of the server that is running SQL Server or the named instance that will host the configuration database, and choose Next. Choose Test to test the connectivity to SQL Server.

I selected Choose Install SQL Server Express as shown in Fig 7. Review the information, and then choose Next.

image

Figure 7: Install SQL Server Express selection

8. The wizard validates your configuration as shown in Figure 8. Click Next

image

Figure 8: Validation of TFS configuration

8.1. The validation failed on my machine as shown in Fig 8.1. The good things about this wizard is that it also mentions the reason for validation failure. In my case, I just needed a system restart because I installed some updates earlier that needed a system restart.

image

Figure 8.1: Validation failure

8.2. Restart the system and open the Team Foundation Server Administration Console from the start menu or to open the administration console at a command prompt, Type TFSMgmt.exe, and then press ENTER. The Team Foundation Server Administration Console appears as shown in Fig 8.2. Click on Configure Installed features

image

Figure 8.2: Team Foundation Server Administration Console

9. Click on Next as shown in Fig 9

image

Figure 9: Readiness Checks.

10. Click on Next as shown in Fig 10.

image

Figure 10: TFS Configuration Progress.

11. Click on Close as shown in Fig 11 and Restart the system.

image

Figure 11: Installation status review.

12. Finally, the Team Foundation Server Administration Console appears as shown in Fig 12.

image

Figure 12: Team Foundation Administration Console after successful setup and configuration.

Microsoft Creates Bing Fund to Nurture Innovation Startups

Microsoft Launches Bing Fund, An Angel Investor With An Incubator

Microsoft on July 12 announced its new program from Bing division called Bing Fund.  Bing Fund describes itself as an Angel Investor with an incubator. That pretty much explains everything. Bing Fund is looking for startups that are building online or mobile experiences that incorporate fresh insights. Microsoft will offer the startup with the following

  • The opportunity to access certain technology assets developed by Microsoft Research
  • Assistance from Bing Fund team members who specialize in design, engineering, marketing, and building businesses
  • Consultations with Subject Matter Experts at Microsoft, some of whom are world experts in their areas
  • Exposure to Microsoft executives
  • Connections with our partners and customers
  • Funding
  • Co-workspace for startups located in the Seattle area.

Below is the Information about seeking Bing Fund:

We’re inviting promising startups based in the U.S. to work with us for at least four months. Instead of following a class format, we’ll evaluate and accept candidates on an ongoing basis. Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Startups that are building online or mobile experiences that incorporate fresh insights.
  • We want startups with both inspirational vision and ability to execute
  • A working prototype, preferably a site or application and gaining momentum
  • A compelling business plan that describes the problem being solved, a general idea of the market potential/competitive landscape, and unique market advantages

“Our program is tapping the creative energy of startups, small and agile risk takers, and we’re backing that creative energy with the vast experience Microsoft employees have in design, technology development and business strategy.” says Rahul.

Bing Fund Website @ http://www.bingfund.com/

FAQ @http://www.bing.com/community/Site_Blogs/b/thedetails/archive/2012/07/10/bing-fund-faqs.aspx

Announcement @ http://www.bing.com/community/Site_Blogs/b/search/archive/2012/07/12/bing-seeks-to-drive-innovation-with-bing-fund.aspx

Quick glimpse of MS Office 2013

Following are some of the snapshots of MS Office 2012 Word.

1. On the Right Hand Top corner, click on the account image

2. The Sign in to office dialog pops up.image

3. Log into Windows Live for SkyDrive access.image

4. I like the Open options in the new MS Word. We can now save the document to the cloud and carry it anywhere. See the places options in the following figure.image

5. You can add additional places as shown in the following figure.image

6. Another feature I like is Save As. You can now save the document to the cloud and retrieve the same document from the cloud for editing.image

7. We can now add Images and Videos from Flickr and YouTube by adding the service as shown in the following figure.

image

8. Following are some of the startup screens that come up for the first time you open MS Word.image

image

 

image

 

image

image

My Account settings:image

image

Last but not the least, I like the Share options in the new MS Word. I was looking for some of these options in Word for a long time.

image

Opportunity Analysis Project

Business Model Canvas

s you go about developing your startup idea by testing the assumptions and hypotheses in each aspect of the business model (value proposition, key partners, revenue model, etc.) you should keep it up to date. If you find from the feedback that you get that you need to change or pivot one aspect of the business model, you should make that change on the business model canvas so that it stays up to date.

While a few entrepreneurs stumble across exactly the right idea and way to bring it to the market right away, most wind up having to iterate and change their strategy a lot early on. The business model canvas is the way for you to keep track of these changes and to organize your thoughts and the feedback from others. It’s best if you do not change your idea entirely since that throws away the value in the experiments and learning you’ve already done. However, you are also permitted to change the idea entirely if you feel you must.

All members of a group can edit the business canvas model. We keep your ten latest revisions, and you can revert back to any of them whenever you want. The team leader can “lock” an model meaning that none of the members can no longer edit it.
Here is a reminder on the description of business canvas model.

Testing Value Proposition

Your first task in opportunity analysis project is to test your hypothesis about your value proposition. You should begin by

  • Testing your “value proposition” with potential customers by talking with them face to face, the more face to face interviews with users/customers the better.
    The people with a “technical” background on the team should focus on setting up and running these meetings.
  • Estimating the market size in dollars (or your local currency).
  • Potentially doing a survey to gain more information about your target customers.

You should enter the results of your research in the system which will appear on the team page. You should also write about your meetings, ideas, and other activities on a regular basis.

You can submit as many reports as you want for each task. All members of a group can edit the team submission, we keep your ten latest revisions, and you can revert back to any of them whenever you want. The team leader can “lock” a report meaning that none of the members can no longer edit it. Note that the team leader can unlock a report whenever they would like to.

Visit the venture-lab on May 7th when tools for reporting, blogging and keeping your business canvas model are going to be deployed.

Final Report for OAP

By the end of the OAP deadline, we would like to see a complete team page with the name of the team, a short description plus a few (at least one) reports corresponding to your surveys and experiments for testing your value proposition.

You should also write up one page report on your startup idea, focusing on what you have done to test whether this is a viable opportunity for a business. We want a summary of how many face to face interviews you did with customers and what you learned from the customer feedback. Do customers have the problem that you think they do? If so, how are they currently solving it and how much do they pay for that solution? Are they interested in your solution? Are they willing to pay you for it? Is there a different problem that they are much more interested in having you solve for them? Let us know if you are still pursuing the same idea or if you are changing to a new idea based on customer feedback.

In addition to the report, we encourage you to also submit either a link to your video presentation on YouTube (tagged with “Venture Lab 2012”) or a link to your presentation on Slideshare.

For the youtube video, imagine you are giving a short presentation on what you did for OAP project for the class. Start with a brief description of your idea. Explain what you learned from customers and whether you modified the idea as a result of this feedback. Finally, whether you think this opportunity is worth pursuing for the OEP.

Takeaways and Lessons from OAP

The Opportunity Assessment Project (OAP) is meant to serve several purposes but the primary one is to force the startup teams that you’ve formed to go through a process of brainstorming an entrepreneurial opportunity and then determining whether it is worth pursuing as a startup. Many of you appear to have actually found something that you want to continue building a business around, which is very exciting!

If you decide that it is not worth pursuing this particular idea, then the OAP project should have helped to shed light on which aspects of the idea should be change or what other big problems your potential customers have that they would like you to solve. This should have led you to some potential avenues for a more promising startup.

  1. Approach potential customers and users face to face and ask them open-ended questions.

    If you try to only survey customers (and do not talk to them face to face) then you gain significantly less insight into what their problems are and how they think about your potential product or service. Too often the students I ask to do surveys just end up with what I call “glory metrics” where they ask not very insightful questions and get not very insightful answers. They get to claim that 90% of the people they surveyed want their product, but how much do they really learn? I still asked you all to do a survey because it is important to determine whether it is only the few people that you spoke with face to face that have this problem or whether there are a broader set of people who also have this problem and really badly want it solved.

    If you talk to potential customers but ask them closed-ended questions or quickly narrow them down on your particular product idea, then you get much less useful feedback.

  2. After you’ve spoken with potential customers face to face, you want to incorporate what you learned and check whether there is a broader set of people who seem to have this problem and want your solution.

    Here is where the guidance depends on your specific industry and product. If it’s very cheap, easy and fast to build and distribute a basic version of your product/service then this is the best way to get real world feedback from a broader set of potential users.

    However, in some cases (biotech, medical devices, physical products), it often requires a sizable investment. Here you may decide to gather more information via a survey before proceeding with building a prototype.

  3. Entrepreneurs never have sufficient information.

    Andrew Chen has an interesting post on the difference between being data-informed and data-driven.

    • In interviews people will sometimes be lead to certain answers or tell you what they think you want to hear.
    • A survey is imperfect because the sample size is going to be limited and potentially biased and people will act different than they respond.
    • Launching a beta version or building a prototype of the product gets you a little closer to real user behavior and response. However your beta version will be just that . . . beta and customer feedback will be diverse on what it needs exactly.
    • Yet, sitting and brainstorming or theorizing or trying to dream up a vision doesn’t get you very far either.

    This is the challenge of entrepreneurship. You have to act on extremely limited information. Yet, the best entrepreneurs will think through how closely they can get an approximation for the real user response at the cheapest cost to the firm in time and money.

  4. It’s very hard to calculate market size, especially for a new market. It’s also very important to have an understanding of whether you’re going after a potential 5M dollars market or a potential 5B dollars market.

    Yet, many people think that they’ve created a brand new market when in fact they are in an existing or growth stage market.

  5. When you get out and talk with potential customers, you’re going to get feedback that what you had in mind initially isn’t quite the right thing to pursue.

    Part of the art of entrepreneurship is then knowing what to change. Whether to change part of the business model, go after a different, bigger problem that the customers have, or stick with it and alter the target customer.

Getting Started With Windows 8 Release Preview & Development Using Visual Studio 2012

I upgraded my machine from Windows 8 Developer preview to Release preview and here is my experience.

Downloaded the Windows 8 Release Preview from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview.

(You can find ISO files at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/iso.)

Once you downloaded the file, run it and windows 8 installation will kick in. The setup installed Windows 8 release preview preview on top of Windows 8 developer preview and I ended up having two OS on my system. During startup, I now have two OS to choose from, which is not what I wanted. So I used the Reset feature in Windows 8 and it cleaned all the drives and removed all the old Operating systems. I now have just one Windows 8 release preview on my machine. I really loved the Reset feature in Windows 8.

photo

Fig 1: Screenshot of Upgrade agent

photo

Fig 2: Personalize option during Windows 8 installation

Once I had the Windows 8 Release Preview installed and working, downloaded the VS 2012 to start development using the new OS. This will install the VS 2012 along with the Blend for Visual Studio.

Download the Visual Studio 2012 RC:

http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/11/en-us/downloads#professional

Once you install VS 2012 RC, get a  developer license for Windows 8 by opening the visual studio. The following figure shows the developer license dialog.

developer license

Next, downloaded the tools & sdk needed for the development.

Download the Tools & SDK:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516

Hands-on-labs, presentations, samples and resources from the Windows 8 camps at  Windows 8 Camp in a box.

 

Following are some of the useful links to get started with the Windows 8 development.

Technology Entrepreneurship – Stanford University

Technology Entrepreneurship,

Charles Eesley , Assistant Professor, Stanford University

Introduction : http://e145.stanford.edu/session1

Stanford University offered a free online classes for interested people around the globe. I was fortunate to take this course and participate in the entrepreneurship project and thought to share my learning’s.

Well, this course introduces the fundamentals of technology entrepreneurship, pioneered in Silicon Valley and now spreading across the world. You will learn the process technology entrepreneurs use to start companies. It involves taking a technology idea and finding a high-potential commercial opportunity, gathering resources such as talent and capital, figuring out how to sell and market the idea, and managing rapid growth.

By the conclusion of the course, it is our hope that you understand how to:

  1. Articulate a process for taking a technology idea and finding a high-potential commercial opportunity (high performing students will be able to discuss the pros and cons of alternative theoretical models).
  2. Create and verify a plan for gathering resources such as talent and capital.
  3. Create and verify a business model for how to sell and market an entrepreneurial idea.
  4. Generalize this process to an entrepreneurial mindset of turning problems into opportunities that can be used in larger companies and other settings.

Who is this Course For?

This course is designed for all backgrounds and majors, including science, engineering, and humanities students who seek to understand what the entrepreneurial mindset and its key processes are about. Topics introduced in this course are relevant for future founders of enterprises, as well as the future employees of a independent or corporate startup.


How Do We Teach this Course?

Through lectures and projects that cover high-growth ventures in information technology, electronics, life sciences, green technology and other industries, this course provides the student with the tools necessary to successfully identify a true business opportunity and to start, grow and maintain a technology enterprise. We will cover material organized in four modules:

  1. The Entrepreneurial Perspective
  2. Opportunity Recognition and Evaluation
  3. Assembling Resources and Managing Growth
  4. Entrepreneurship and You

How Will You Learn?

Entrepreneurship is both an individual and team activity. Therefore this course incorporates both individual and group efforts. Students form project teams early in the quarter and meet regularly to prepare for class discussion. We encourage students to build groups with people from a diversity of majors and from the U.S. and abroad.

Each team will be required to complete written case analyses throughout the quarter. Teams are also required to complete two papers and class presentations regarding an “Opportunity Analysis Plan” as well as an “Opportunity Execution Plan.” In addition, students complete a “Personal Business Plan” using methods learned in the course.

Group discussion is encouraged in preparing for both the team and individual assignments. Note that learning to successfully manage group dynamics, including conflicts and roles, is a key educational component of the course.

More about the course at http://www.eesley.blogspot.com/p/class-description.html

Startup Team: Instructions

Please read these instructions very carefully. In this stage, you will form teams for the main class (startup) project. Note that the composition of your team is one of the most important factors in its success.

  1. Watch the video on team composition on Professor Eesley’s Blog. You can also read Chapter 12 in Technology Ventures for more information.
  2. From the startup teams menu click on the button next to team designation: here you will specify whether you wish to participate in the project, and whether or not you are already in a complete team. If you do not have a team, or your team is open to having new members you will be able to search other members’ profiles and contact them.
  3. Edit your profile: make sure that you give enough information about yourself, about your ideal team, and the project you wish to work on. By sharing more information, you will increase the likelihood of finding good teammates.
  4. Search: you will be able to search on other member’s profile using their Country, career aspiration, industry sector, hours, and keywords (including name and personal statement). You can take a look at their profiles and send them a request to explore the possibility of becoming teammates. Note that you can only send a request to a person once! Your request will include a link to your profile and your email address. You can also include a message with more information about yourself. You can contact at most 50 people to form a team.
  5. Follow up, get to know, and possibly meet your teammates: adding someone as a teammate is far more consequential than friending them on facebook or adding them as a contact on Linkedin. You will be working with your teammate on a project that you may be (or become passionate) about. It is very important that you become familiar with your teammate and you get the sense that you will enjoy working with them. Talk to them over the phone, hangout on G+, meet (in a public place, use your judgment)! Do not restrict yourself to the search feature. Participate in meet ups or organize one!
  6. Form a team, and choose a team leader: your team leader will be like the CEO of the company: he or she will be responsible for adding members, dividing the responsibilities, and entering the reports. You can only designate one team leader. The team leader enters the name of the team, and the names of other team members. Our system will send the team members an invitation and they can join the team by accepting it.

    We are looking forward to working with the strong teams you will be forming and to your projects!

The Venture-lab team