The response has to be between 200-250 words including 2-3 references. Here is the discussion post:
Many entrepreneurs believe that the team that comprises their startup is the most important thing about their entire business plan (Kawasaki, 2014). Experienced entrepreneur and technology evangelist Kawasaki (2014) poses that many entrepreneurs mistakenly manifest this notion as wasting time during the pitches of their business plans. He explains that when this mistake occurs, the presenters are not focusing enough on the product, or service, which should be the main focus of the pitch (Kawasaki, 2014). The great technology companies of today did not start with world-class teams, so new startups should not waste the time of potential investors and partners by trying to prove their “crappy team” is world-class (Kawasaki, 2014). Kawasaki (2014) gives an analogy in his lecture about how airplanes take off and how pitches should and should not take off; a good pitch blasts off with an emphasis on the stellar product or service.
In Igor Grinkin’s pitch of his company Tagmap to venture capitalist Tim Draper, Grinkin spends about fifteen seconds talking about his team (Dice News, 2014). He introduces himself as the co-founder with a technical background from Google, his old study buddy Nikolay Grishkun who is the other co-founder with a business background, and the other presenter Don Campbell who is the business and marketing advisor (Dice News, 2014). While this introduction of the team is brief and avoids the mistake cited by Kawasaki (2014), I think it is almost too simplistic and underwhelming. I think Grinkin could have spent just a tiny bit more time emphasizing his experience at Google and what projects he has worked on to build credibility going into Tagmap’s pitch (Dice News, 2014).
There is an important distinction between the way the team is presented in the pitch of a business plan and the formal, written business plan. In a pitch, as discussed above, the pressure is on to convey the product or service (and the team behind it) as impressively as possible in a short amount of time. On the other hand, the written business plan has more flexibility to be what the writer wants it to be, partly because the reader has the freedom of time to absorb what they choose.
The management team section of a written business plan should prove why the management members are qualified to execute the model (Growthink, 2008). The key team members should be introduced with biographies that describe specific successes in their past positions and highlight educational backgrounds (Growthink, 2008). Along with management members, the advisory board should have biographies in the team section (Growthink, 2008). These biographies are different than resumes which may be included in an appendix of the plan at the writer’s discretion (Growthink, 2008). If there are any gaps in the management team, the team section should clearly define the roles and characteristics of future hires that will fill the gaps (Growthink, 2008). In addition to proving that the management team is qualified, a great team section should demonstrate that the startup is fully equipped with the necessary talent to succeed (Growthink, 2008).
Following the advice offered by Growthink’s (2008) video lesson will yield a more authoritative business plan that will impress possible investors, partners, and even customers. A highly credible and distinguished team articulated through the team section of the business plan might be really important, but it cannot be a substitute for the product or service itself. Even though Kawasaki (2014) was lecturing on the presentation/pitch of the business plan, I trust his advice about the product needing to take precedence over the team, no matter the format that the plan is being delivered through.
Dice News. (2014, February 19). Watch and learn from this startup’s pitch to VC Tim Draper [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18H5FBoGL3o
Growthink. (2008, April 14). Writing the management team section of your business plan [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rsnwp1SWOA
Kawasaki, G. [Berkeley Haas]. (2014, October 3). The top 10 mistakes of entrepreneurs with Guy Kawasaki [Video]. YouTube.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe5c9KK3ZIs
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