ASSIGNMENT 4: INTERNET/WEB
Summary due 11/16/99,
at the beginning of class.
Complete plan due
12/07/99, at the beginning of class. details
This assignment involves your
planning a new Internet/Web-based business. This is a team assignment,
and (like your Excel assignment) should be done in teams of 3 to 5 members.
There is no extra credit for smaller teams, so round up all the resources
Structure your plan within
the following framework:
A 100-200 word executive summary,
providing an overview of your business. Give this section 'punch'
-- this summary should motivate the reader to keep reading.
A brief description of the product
or service you wish to sell, and which of the 'slots' of Internet companies
you would fit into (if any). Some useful resources are at the Industry
Standard Metrics pages.
Your targeted customer base
(who are the people you wish to sell to, how many are there, is the number
growing). There are a bunch of survey summaries about these things
all over the Web. Again, check out the Industry
Standard Metrics pages.
Your business model, and your
sustainable competitive advantage. In other words, what's your model
of doing business, what set of factors will lead to your success under
this model, what makes you better at what you're planning to do than potential
entrants like Yahoo or Microsoft , and how will you sustain this advantage?
Who are your competitors? How
are you different from them? If you aren't the first mover in your space,
you need to have a compelling story for why you are different.
For  and , think about what is unique about your product/service
(i.e., why would these customers from  want to buy from you, or use
your service; is your product/service different, do you offer more convenient
access, some kind of innovative content or a new mechanism, are your prices
lower, and if so, can you sustain this over time).
How will you generate revenues
and profits? Possible strategies include:
What is your entry strategy:
why will people
start using your service/buying from you? Possible
Charging for your service eventually.
Remember, you don't have to charge consumers; you could be charging businesses,
whose consumers you provide a service to, for free.
Margins on the products you
Advertising revenue (not very
popular these days)
..other creative ideas welcome..
What is your planned commerce
infrastructure? Address these three points, if applicable:
You are entirely new and different
(this is a difficult reason to back up)
You complement, or add value
to, an existing popular web business
You will ally with a leading
web business, or a portal (would they be willing?)
You launch for free or by 'paying'
people to visit you, attract customers (how?), and then contemplate a transition
towards making money.
When formulating the idea
and the plan, keep these points in mind:
Delivery of product
Payment and settlement
A frequently used site for Internet
business planners is Garage.com.
It's got links to a wealth of good resources. Another good online resource
Express Business Plan Workshop. Note that the type of plan
they describe is much more comprehensive than the one you have to submit.
However, its a good site to visit, to get a sense of what a business plan
is, and to add to you business education in general. If you're really
into Internet startups, a classic (though dated) book that is 'required
reading' is High
Tech Start Up, by John Nesheim.
Leverage the fact that the business
Web-based. In other words, if you plan to sell a physical
product/set of products, it/they must be suited for Web sales, and must
have a growing market. If you plan to be a Web-based intermediary, it should
be an advantage for you to be on the Web, not a liability.
Before you decide on a business
idea, do extensive research on whether there are existing companies
in the same business. The WWW is an ideal resource for this kind
of research. Other good resources include The
Industry Standard, Red
Herring, and Business
Lots of the 'big ideas' are
already taken -- it's the niche businesses that are largely successful
these days. Think about our class discussions on intermediaries,
and try and find a small 'slice' of the e-commerce value chain that hasn't
been occupied as yet. Not that there isn't space for more huge successes,
but it's getting harder every day, and its wise to aim for a place where
there isn't any competition/incumbent.
The following can strengthen
your plan -- they are not required, however:
A good financial model, projecting
revenues, expenses and capital requirements, with reasonable assumptions.
Typically, a venture capitalist does not worry so much about the exactness
of these projections, but more about how large you could become, were your
assumptions to pan out.
Some good original market research.
Students have done short surveys (of other students), interviews, and so
A good viral marketing idea
to launch your business.
A technology plan, or a prototype.
The latter takes a great deal of time, and requires a lot of investment
into technology learning, so think carefully about attempting this, and
don't do so unless you really are interested in your idea. Sometimes,
however, a storyboard (i.e., a simple Powerpoint. HTML or hand-drawn mock-up
of your customer experience) is a good place to start; it is truly useful
if you are considering transforming this assignment into reality.
As an added incentive, any exceptional plans will be passed on to some
real venture capitalists I know, if you want them to be.
November 16th, 1999:
A 100-200 word summary describing your plan. We'll give you feedback
on it by November 23rd. You're free to alter direction after that, but
its a good idea to spend lots of time on the 'idea generation' aspect of
the assignment before you submit this part.
December 7th, 1999: A
1000 to 2000 word document detailing your plan (including the executive
summary). The first page should be a title page, with your business'
proposed name, and your team members' names. The second page should be
blank, for our comments. The third page should have the executive summary.
The fourth page onward should have the rest of the plan: organize it by
the seven points (2 through 8) above. Each of the seven points need
not be of equal length (you choose which aspect you want to detail).
If you choose to add any of the plan 'strengtheners' (financial model,
market research,...), attach them as appendices. Try not to exceed the
word limit -- if you do, we will hold your plan to a much higher standard
while grading it. Ideally, submit a printed Word document (or use
any other word processor of your choice). If your plan is handwritten,
make it neat and legible.