Writing a winning
What are we looking for and
what you will be judged against?
2) Customer Need
3) Market Size
5) Sources of Sustainable Competitive
Key guiding questions
1) Before starting your business plan
you need to answer two key questions
• What is the pain your customer is
• What is the solution, and why is this
better than any other solutions in the
What your business plan should
1) Brief business description
3) What is the issue / pain point that your
product / solution will address
4) What is the size of the market opportunity
5) Product / Technology Overview
6) What is the value proposition
7) Business model / financial model
8) Competitive landscape
9) Risk factors to execution
Brief business description
1) One paragraph, no more that articulately conveys the
2) Starts with a one sentence tag line – grab reader’s
3) Think of this as an ‘elevator pitch’ where if you only
had one minute to capture the interest of a Venture
Capitalist, what would you say?
4) Venture Capitalists are interested in big problems,
and bold and innovative solutions
5) If you cannot distill the core of the business down to
one paragraph, go back to the drawing boards. The
simpler the message, the quicker you will draw in the
1) The most important asset that a company has is its
team, not its technology, or its business model
2) Key question to frame this section. Why is this
team the best team to capture the business
3) Demonstrate that the members of the team have
either relevant industry experience or core
competencies that will facilitate their effort
4) Be succinct, and keep it tight. VCs are interested
in work experience and educational background
Problem you intend on solving
1) This is your time to utilize the
brainstorming that you and your team
conducted before writing this business
plan. Just as in the executive summary, the
key here is to be succinct and clear
2) What is the pain in the market?
• Is it an inefficiency?
• Is it a need?
3) What exactly is the solution. Why this, right
• Why has no one else come up with this solution
yet? Has technology only recently made this
1) Key question - who is going to be the customer for your
product and how much will they spend?
2) Big ideas have big markets. Think back to the initial exercise
and the question of pain. Think now ‘how much does this pain
3) How much does the customer currently spend on solutions
that you will replace
4) How much are customers willing to spend on a product like
• Depending on the amount of pain, there is a degree of cost
associated with that pain. Your product should be less expensive
than that pain, and should represent the obvious choice for the
customer to make if the solution is provided to him or her
5) Build the model from the bottom. Who will buy this, how
much will they spend, and how much revenue does that mean
6) Then think of it top down to cross-check. What portion of
the market do you have to capture to get to this revenue
Product / technology overview
1) Make this simple and do not assume that the reader
necessarily is an expert in your domain
2) Focus on the question – why is this technology or its
application unique? What are its main benefits?
3) Just as in the business summary, be succinct. Diagrams are
helpful as are pictures / descriptions if necessary to show us
what you do
4) Demonstrate that the technology is scalable, and how you
intend on building or improving this to address the market
you are going after
5) Is the technology patent protected? What other applications
could the technology potentially be used for. Show the VC
that this is even bigger than what you are initially addressing
1) What is the value proposition of this
product / technology
2) How does the customer perceive
‘value’ in their purchase of the
product (why will they buy it)
Business model / Financial
1) How do you make money from this opportunity?
2) How will you reach your customers?
• Advertising? Direct sales? Channels? Partners?
3) Focus on how it is sustainable, if it is proven in
other industries or areas, and why the team you
have in place is the best to execute on it
4) What are your revenues, gross margin, EBITDA,
EBT, and Net Income for the next five years
• Be sure this foots to the market opportunity. It is unlikely
that you will capture an entire market – be reasonable
about your solution
1) Who are your competitors?
• Your competitors are anyone who is
addressing the same pain point as you
2) Why are you better than them?
• Technology? Team? Customers?
3) How are you the dominant player?
1) What are the biggest risks to your
• Market risks?
• Financial risks?
• Competitive risks?
• Business model risks?
• Execution risks?
1) This is a guideline, not an outline
• Be sure that your business plan includes all of these
aspects, but make sure it is laid out a manner appropriate
to your business
2) As you write the plan, try to write it in a language
that anyone could understand / value. You want
this business and the opportunity to be obvious to
anyone who reads the plan
3) Ask questions. Reach out to peers, professors,
CEOs, and entrepreneurs for advice
4) This is not something you write overnight. Do not
underestimate the challenge of writing an effective