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Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

MIT BAP – Lessons learnt

Here are the key take away’s from about three months of interaction with the MIT BAP Team

  1. Omit needless words.
  2. From the presentation as well as your script.
  3. Laser sharp focus is preferred over diversification. Do one thing exceedingly well.
  4. Even if you are doing 50 things (not a good thing) in total, simplify your story to the one thing your audience needs to take away with it.
  5. A business plan doesn’t need to be a 200 page document. You can do a fairly decent job in 20 pages or less. Our core document did it in 16.
  6. There is grace in simplicity.
  7. Tell a story. Our real story was our customers and our team. Everything else was filler.
  8. If the audience bought the customer’s pain they were hooked.
  9. When it comes to market sizing, the best approach is to build it from the ground up. Take the market or niche you understand best, do a good and defensible job on documenting its size and then let the audience make the connection. We estimated the market size using Pakistan (84 million US$ – life time value) with a GDP base of 150 billion US. Then scaled it for the region.
  10. Credibility comes from doing things and people paying you good money to do these things. If you have done that, document, present and make the most out of this fact.
  11. Credibility also comes from commitment and track record. Don’t short sell it.
  12. Demonstrate that you understand the business problem and the required business solution. Not the underlying technology.
  13. You need to communicate why customers buy your product and how you sell it. And if you are already selling what is it that you need to do to sell more.
  14. When it comes to teams, show what they do, not what they have done.
  15. The only competitive advantage you need is the threat of new entrants. Show how you will or you can restrict that.
  16. Take as many pictures of every single event that has marked or meant something to you as an owner and incorporate that in your pitch. A pitch with a human face is a moving thing.
  17. Show, do not tell.
  18. Do not denigrate your competition. Give them respect by demonstrating their strengths and your weaknesses.
  19. The journey is the reward.
  20. Live your pitch. (Notice it is not practice, it is live). Live it while driving, while sleeping, while waiting, while eating and while chatting. Use every spare moment in any space, anywhere.
  21. You are not alone, ask for help. Appreciate it when it is given.
  22. In the end, you don’t need the money. If the plan makes sense to the investor, it will make sense to you too. And if you have lived it, you will figure out how and where to get the cash.
  23. Listen to all advisors, but only do what you are comfortable doing yourself.
  24. Repeat the question, if possible reframe it.
  25. Answer the judge’s question.

And finally

  1. There will never be a greater prize then Ken Morse coming up to us and saying, “We have high hopes for your company and your team” and introducing the six of us as “His star students in Pakistan”