Thursday, August 9, 2012

Carl Schramm

Carl Schramm is a PhD economist and past President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (2012).

He points out characteristics of an entrepreneur:

    “They are an outsider, they ask the hard questions, and press leaders on the “why” around status quo.
    They think in terms of disruption, and are often thought to be disruptive by the change-averse.
    They see things differently, considering untraditional forces that others didn’t see.
    They are often competent in a completely different field than the field they are working in.
    They are very widely read, and know lots of facts and information that makes thinking richer.
    They have worked in multiple places in the world.
    They have worked in a startup.
    They have worked in a job they didn’t like.
They have worked in multiple industries”.

After researching a lot of leading business experts I liked how Carl Schramm thought about business plans and the entrepreneur. I find a lot of these characteristics to be true to others and myself who run their own business. In regards to the actual business plan Carl is a little far from what we learn in school. He does not think you should stick to your business plan. He believes business plans go out of date quickly. This is something I have struggled with in my past business classes. I always was told to give exacts in regard to the financial forecasting. I felt I could never give actuals appropriately as there are so many variables that business plans often seem redundant. I do think they are needed and are a good basis on organizing ideas and putting them into motion, but if you live by your business plan you may not only hurt your business but your ego. All things never go as planned especially in show business.

Carl Schramm, Straight Talk on Business (2012) retrieved 8/5/12 from

provided by Beth Wheatley

Andrea Cockerton & Angelo Meneguzzi

Andrea Cockerton
Andrea Cockerton is an independent pitch expert and advisor in United Kingdom. She has worked with over 350 entrepreneurs during her career in the business world. Her expertise revolves around “venture funding and business critical ideas.” As Andrea’s career expanded throughout the years, she has been able to hold entrepreneurial workshops, network events for businesses in the U.K. and has also helped large companies develop key talks in order to successfully impact the business world, (, 2011). Andrea has been part of the Microsoft team as well, (, 2011). Her experience and skills have also led her to be an MIT Enterprise Forum board member. Even though her career has helped hundreds of businesses, Andrea also co-founded a successful business herself in 2009 called Brick Handbag.

During an interview in 2008, Andrea Cockerton shared key information for a successful business plan. In her interview, Andrea mentions that it is important to ask for money from investors and bankers before there is no cash left. Andrea states, “Going to investors at too late a stage is a risky strategy. Better is to look at the long-term objectives and aspirations of the business and plan the fundraising sensibly into this long-term strategy,” (, 2008)She also focuses on the idea that there are three (3) essential components that a person must have in their business plan pitch. According to the interview, Andrea states, “that you are (1) targeting a growing market with a need for your product or service, (2) that the team is talented and able to execute the business plan, and (3) that your product, service or idea is groundbreaking,” (, 2008). These are key ideas that will help strengthen the pitch for financial backing. When investors review any business plan, they look for the reasons as to why this business needs to be established and what will make this business flourish amongst competitors. These are important factors to keep in mind during the business planning.

Angelo Meneguzzi

            Angelo Meneguzzi is a business professional with over a decade of experience in the business world. His ventures have allowed him to work alongside several start-ups in the technological world. In his most recent years, he has worked in “public relations, product development, and sales experience,” (, 2011). Mr. Meneguzzi has been able to find and take part of business opportunities that have resulted in millions of dollars of revenue, which have allowed the “global brand awareness and sales,” increase for StreamLogic (, 2011). He has been able to work with Disney, Upside Magazine, and ABC News amongst others, (, 2010).
            Mr. Menequzzi has developed several business plans while giving consulting advice to other businesses. Sometimes, new business owners question why it might be important to have a business plan made. Angelo states, “benefits include: a heads-up to changes in the environments, better forecasting, opportunities to analyze situations before they become problematic,” (, 2011). This also is similar to what Andrea Cockerton was stating. In addition to this, Angelo states, “Cash can make up for the other two to some extent, but not forever. Whereas the steps are to create an idea, craft a plan, continue the research, edit the plan, secure investment, and execute the plan,” (, 2011). Both consultants and business developers have the same concept in mind when discussing the importance of a team that knows their market. He states, “…there has to be a great team that understands their big/growing market and can execute the solidly crafted plan which at its core is simply a great investment,” (, 2011).

Keeping in mind that business plans are not as simple as it may seem, they will nonetheless keep the vision clear for both yourself and the investors you are approaching!


Great research provided by Aaron Mendez

Chuck Blakeman

Chuck Blakeman, a serial entrepreneur and business success mentor, has somewhat of an uncommon viewpoint about business plans. Basically, it is his belief that a new company does not need a business plan to get started. Blakeman feels that preparing a business plan wastes time that could be spent actually doing the business. A business plan helps an entrepreneur plan for the future. But the flaw with that is the future cannot be foretold. Since the future is unknown, Blakeman says, “Implement now, perfect as you go” (Blakeman, 2011).
Blakeman, C. (2012). How: the worst, most asked planning question. Retrieved from

Courtesy of Loreal Hartwell

Indie FIlm Business Side - Kevin Gieger

Artist and producer Kevin Geiger, who is known for his work on Reign of Fire, Species, and Chicken Little to name a few of his collaborations has become an instructor on the methodology on the business end of feature film. Geiger mentions that organization is extremely important in the development of your company. He mentions how a production company may serve as the whole entity or umbrella company that may be producing the film itself under its own company, usually a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC).
This structure allows you to plan your business plan and ready it for a pitch to investors. If you can’t summarize your business model in ten slides, you don’t know what the hell you are doing.” Also, he mentions the need to do research for a feature film in comparing at least five other similar films. Perhaps his greatest point is the need to do the research for your business plan and pitch. Despite his personal injections of his political points of view his videos do explain his business plan concept for feature film quite well.

Provided by  Ryan Cimino

Though Kevin Geiger has not had any active IMDB credits since his debut as a producer in 2009 with “Roads To Home”, Kevin has had a very active career throughout his years in the business. From his work as a computer animator for Species in 1995 to his work as a digital artist on Reign of Fire in 2002, Kevin has had a fruitful work career that has led him to being a CG supervisor for Walt Disney. As an article at states, since leaving Disney several years ago, he co-founded a small independent animation production company called Magic Dumpling (Twitch 2009).
While researching Kevin Geiger and his thoughts on business plans, I came across Entertainment XChange, a site that has Geiger’s four part video lecture on indie film business plans that is embedded on their website. Having watched through the lecture, I was able to understand what it was Geiger was trying to teach his audience and that it is extremely important to have a unified creative plan and business plan when pitching to potential investors (Geiger 2008). Geiger also went on to add that “you need to proceed according to your development activity plan, you don’t want to deviate from that so once you have a plan, execute the plan” (Geiger 2008).
Provided by Robert Jutchenko

Steve Blank and Carlos Slim Business Models

Steve Blank is a New Yorker, founder of E.phipany and professor at Berkley University. In his article titled “No one wins in Business Plan Competitions” he talks about the importance of moving from business plans to business models. 
Blank is certainly in disagreement with schools that encourage business plans competition which, to his perspective, only “makes the school appear relevant to their constituencies; students, donors, faculty, VC’s”. Instead he proposes the implementation of business models. This new theory is focused on staying true to the customer rather than the market. It is an on-going and ever-changing evaluation of the company performance rather than an original plan that may or may not work.
The business model proposal is based on 5 steps:
  • What did you initially think your initial business model was? (Initial business model hypotheses)
  • What did you build/do? (Built first product, talked to users, etc.)
  • What did you learn outside the building? (Parts of our feature set/business model were wrong)
  • Then what did you do? (iterated product, changed business model, etc.)
  • Repeat steps 1-4

Finally I decided to take advice from one the richest man in the world. Carlos Slim has built a 35 billion dollar value for his companies. This magnate built most of his assets through Telmex, the biggest telecommunications and cell phone companies in Mexico.
Regardless of his image, usually a strict and money driven person, he has given excellent pointers to entrepreneurs like us. In an interview with the New Yorker  Slim talks about his business perspectives but an article written by Tiffani Jones Brand for Second & Park puts things into a much concise way:
  • Create a simple organizational structure with minimal hierarchies; provide personal development and in-house training for executives.
  • Don’t be a big fish in a small pond. Don’t invest in non-productive assets.
  • Clear objectives and the right tools will lead you through all challenges.
  • Reinvest profits in the company. Money that leaves the company evaporates.
  • True corporate creativity can be helpful to both business and society.
  • Firm and patient optimism always yields rewards.
  • Know how to work hard, and use the right tools.
  • Leave with nothing. We can only do things while we are alive. Businessmen are creators of the wealth that they temporarily manage.
Provide by Jorge Calvo, August 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Steven Gedeon

In searching for an expert on the value of a business plan, I discovered Dr. Steven Gedeon. According to page1¶ in 2009 Dr. Steven Gedeon was the 1st place prize winner of the 3E Learning Award for his workshop Investment Negotiation.

Dr. Steven Gedeon is a bonafide expert on business plans writer and reviewer.
Page 1¶1 Steven A. Gedeon, PhD (MIT), MBA, is a professor in Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the Ted Rogers School of Management.

He has founded or led over a dozen private, public, venture capital and non-profit organizations; published over 100 articles, reports and patents; and delivered over 40 public speaking engagements and on-line videos on personal leadership, motivation, entrepreneurship and teaching.

What is the business? and whom am I selling to? are a few of the critical components to a business plan. What is the price point for the product and services the company offers and who are the competitors and how the business that is being planned is different from the competitors? All of these issues are importance to know ahead of time to measure effectiveness and to prevent a business from failing and making avoidable mistakes.

The most important component is the executive summary and what are the qualification of the management team, the overall business idea and the financials.
The key element to a successful business plan is does it have creditability and is their a guide to action.

Every plan should have a plan to action based on the audience that you are targeting. 

Courtesy of Arthur Richardson

Film Folks

Film Folks

Kevin Geiger is known for films such as, 'Reign of Fire', 'Species', 'Chicken Little', and 'Henry's Garden'. With his major focus being in digital arts, Kevin has also offered great details on having an indie film business plan. Kevin says, "Most indie filmmakers have a strong creative pitch, but not a strong business pitch when going to investors, and if those aren't linked, you've got a problem." According to Kevin, a few key factors investors are looking for an a business plan include:
  • How are the investors going to make their money back?
  • Prepare a cash flow projection
  • Create a business plan presentation for investors
  • Select development and advisory teams.
Check out his great informational videos below!
The next industry expert is Kathleen Kennedy, by far one of the most successful film producers of all time. She's produced films like 'Jurassic Park', 'ET', 'Adventures of Tin Tin' and many more. Kathleen attended San Diego State University and later worked as a camera operator, video editor, and floor director. Kathleen started as a production assistant in working with Steven Spielberg and worked her way up to becoming the second most successful film producers in the world. Kathleen Kennedy is now the co-chair person for Lucasfilm. ( Deadline, 2012)
Kathleen Kennedy says she became lucky after taking a job as a production assistant for Steven Spielberg's '1941' and later became a producer. Kathleen mentions how she looks for someone who is talented, nice, balanced, with various interests in the film industry when hiring new people. She also mentioned that for great advice you have to have a lot of tenacity, work hard, and strong values to make it in the film industry. (HollywoodTV, 2007)  Kathleen gives excellent advice in the video below for ways to make it in Hollywood.

Courtesy of Lindsay Pressley

Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus is the Founder of Grameen Bank. Years ago when I was looking for successful banks Grameen topped the list. Yunus was a traditional economist in Bangladesh who while training young students got the spark for a greater idea. The third of fourteen children, he grew up in Bengal with a passion for education. He believed this would prevent him from a life of poverty that suffocates that part of the world. He came running back to his roots with a plan of micro financing. He became a man of resource and refreshment in sustaining small business owners. Formed in 1983, Grameen Bank has one of the greatest success rates in loan repayment in the world. There are now close to 20,00 staff members, and branches around the globe. Yunus is inspiring because he has an intense but simple methodology. He selects businesses and individuals that have a passion, and a drive, and only need the money. He loans to people who can lead a village, a community into enterprising focus. He has defined microcredit, and made a solid branding from the beginning. He did not create a company steeped in preventing poverty and then shy away from substance once it worked. He has maintained a working system that keeps spreading. He has since resigned as Managing Director of the bank, yet he is still the beacon of hope in those communities that think of their next meal every day. He reminds the western world what the marketplace can really look like. Defining success for people who never dreamed of it, and holding onto integrity for people who may have forgotten. 

Courtesy of Elizabeth Moody

Steve Blank and Carl Schramm

Steve Blank, hailing from New York City, moved from being an entrepreneur to teaching entrepreneurship to both undergraduate and graduate students at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University, Columbia University and the Joint Berkeley/Columbia Executive MBA program. After 21 years in 8 high technology companies, he retired in 1999. Steve Blank co-founded his last company, E.piphany, in his living room in 1996. His other startups include two semiconductor companies, Zilog and MIPS Computers, a workstation company Convergent Technologies, a consulting stint for a graphics hardware/software spinout Pixar, a supercomputer firm, Ardent, a computer peripheral supplier, SuperMac, a military intelligence systems supplier, ESL and a video game company, Rocket Science Games. [cited from:]
In 2009, he was awarded the Stanford University Undergraduate Teaching Award in the department of Management Science and Engineering. The same year, the San Jose Mercury News listed him as one of the 10 Influencers in Silicon Valley. In 2010, he was awarded the Earl F. Cheit Outstanding Teaching Award at U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business. In 2012 the Harvard Business Review listed him as one of the “Masters of Innovation.” [cited from:]
Steve's view on "the business plan" is quite interesting. In his blog post "No One Wins In Business Plan Competitions" he touches on the controversial subject, stating that A business plan is the execution document that large companies write when planning product-line extensions where customer, market and product features are known. The plan describes the execution strategy for addressing these “knowns.” A startup is not executing a series of knowns. Steve Blank does admit that business plans are still quite useful. According to Steve, "The writing exercise forces you to think through all parts of your business. Putting together the financial model forces you to think about how to build a profitable business."
Carl Schramm, a PhD economist and past President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is in great demand, sits on boards and manages his personal angel investments. He shared interesting views on entrepreneurship and the business plan. He points out characteristics of an entrepreneur:
  • They are an outsider, they ask the hard questions, and press leaders on the “why” around status quo.
  • They think in terms of disruption, and are often thought to be disruptive by the change-averse.
  • They see things differently, considering untraditional forces that others didn’t see.
  • They are often competent in a completely different field than the field they are working in.
  • They are very widely read, and know lots of facts and information that makes thinking richer.
  • They have worked in multiple places in the world.
  • They have worked in a startup.
  • They have worked in a job they didn’t like.
  • They have worked in multiple industries.
In his view toward the business plan, he feels that it rarely makes sense to write a business plan, nor does it make any real sense to manage from it. Carl’s point is it is never the case that the formal path mapped out in a business plan is the real path that a business takes to success. As soon as the plan is done, it is out of date. So, why write business plans at all? Stick to the minimal – what is the product, who’s going to buy it, why need it, and how you are going to build and deliver it based on what you know. It only needs to be one page.
Instead of spending time writing a business plan, get on with making the business. Carl shared that in all the investments in start-ups he’s made, he has not read a single business plan. For Carl, to invest in a new business, his measure is the person, not the business plan.
courtesy of Jackie Lynch