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Reflection Paper

Reflection Paper
Reflection Paper EL 9405 - New Venture Creation Prof. Simon Parker Arun Shiam Kumar Rajamohan ID:

EL 9405 - New Venture Creation

Prof. Simon Parker

Arun Shiam Kumar Rajamohan

ID: 250499035

There is no doubt that the innovation challenge has been one of my best experiences at Ivey. The

project helped me realize a wide variety of problems around business creation. The experience

not only did help me understand several important issues that entrepreneurs need to be aware of,

but also did open doors to numerous quite a few potential business ideas. The following paper is

a compilation of my learning over the course of this exercise.

Gold Mine: I have realized that entrepreneurship is the way of life. If a learning team of 6

members can come up with one hundred business ideas in less than a couple of hours, I don’t

find any reason not to capitalize on the golden opportunities around us. The innovation challenge

unearthed several potential areas where one could easily make some serious money even within a

short span of 2 weeks. I am more than certain that at some point of my life, I would venture a

business on my own.

Contributing to the Society: Our team contributed 10% of the profits to Ivey-MOVember

prostate cancer fund, despite being a for-profit venture. In my opinion, this represents the way

entrepreneurs should operate. The social responsibility of business is not just to generate profits,

but also to add value to the societies in which they operate. There is a big need in the social

sector, especially in the developing countries and 3 rd world countries. Entrepreneurs have the

right skill sets and best potential to alleviate the problems from the society and make world a

Heaven to live in.

Need: The basis for any business venture is identifying a problem or need in the society and

attempting to solve them. Wright brothers originally realized the need for flying machines and

eventually ended up inventing air-planes. Our learning team for the innovation challenge

identified the opportunity in the gambling segment and ended up creating the Ivey 50-50 draw.

In my opinion, this is the single most important step of any business creation. Identifying a

business need and a social need should be the first step of identifying any business and the

entrepreneur must innovate his business in such a way that both the ends meet.

Idea: One of the most important learning to me is that there is never a shortage of ideas. It is all

about executing them. The idea must not only attempt at solving the identified problem, but also

try and enforce innovation to achieve the best possible solution to address the issue. Apple’s i-

phone is the best example that I could think off. Pranav Mistry’s 6 th generation technology 1 ideas

is another thing, in my opinion, that has utilized in innovation at its best.

Creating and Capturing Value: Entrepreneurs must not aim at making money, but they must

focus on making a meaning. They should aspire to not only creating a value but also to capture

the best of it. Several cases that we discussed in the course explicated the importance of

capturing value. The biggest challenge, with respect to our team’s innovation challenge concept

was to capture the value at its initial stages. People hesitated to buy 50-50 until they were

confident that there was a possibility for them to win a fair prize. We, as a team decided to use

the MOvember prostate cancer fund contribution as a selling element to attract people owing to

the fact that part of their contribution goes to a social cause. This helped us capture the value. In

the real world, I would expect entrepreneurs, at least at the initial stages, to suffer to capturing

the values. In my opinion, they must focus on selling to the consumers, how their product will

create value to them. The entrepreneurs might even end up not capturing value for a fair bit of

time, but on the long run, they will be successful.

1 http://www.ted.com/speakers/pranav_mistry.html

Business Model, Assumptions and risks: A well written business model is business venture

half done. While it is extremely difficult to exactly define how the business should work,

entrepreneurs need to focus on at least brainstorming, analyzing and strategizing as many aspects

as possible. In our innovation challenge project, we failed to address the market segmentation.

We originally believed that all the MBA students would buy our product (an opportunity to win

the 50-50 draw); however, we ended up finding that relationships were extremely important for

selling. While we could easily sell tickets to our class mates whom we know, we struggled to

keep up with the other cohorts. Ideally, we must have brainstormed our sales strategy while

defining our business model. This also leads to the learning that entrepreneurs must clearly state

their

assumptions

assumptions.

while

creating

the

business

model,

and

address

the

risks

of

failing

Do the numbers: Entrepreneurs need to know how much value their business would create.

While our team could not do a market research in the limited time available, we realized the

importance of entrepreneurs to conduct a thorough market research before they begin executing

the business plan. Essentially, this is a sort of disaster check before entrepreneurs actually get the

business going. In the event of numbers not being favorable, the entrepreneur must be flexible to

go back to his business plan and try to modify his strategy, may be even as complex as thrashing

his original idea and coming up with a new one.

Planning, Execution and Recycling: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While the

entrepreneur is supposed to plan as comprehensively as possible, he is also expected to have

sufficient flexibility in his long-term and short-term action plan. Entrepreneurs need to be

passionate about his/her ideas. Having said that, it is also important for entrepreneurs to be

flexible; may be even as worse as shutting down the business. Execution is tough and it’s likely

that

the

entrepreneur

hits

multiple

road

blocks.

The

plan

must

be

flexible

enough

to

accommodate such challenges or at least the entrepreneur must be aware of such challenges.

Entrepreneurs must have the ability to learn as they go forward and recycle their strategies.

Team work: Team work is an integral part of any activity that an entrepreneur engages in. An

ideal team will have diversity, embrace openness and honest discussions, empower its members

to participate in an unbiased fashion. The entrepreneur must create an environment where

individuals do not hesitate to voice their opinions.

Leadership: Entrepreneurs should not just be leaders, but also be cultivators of leaders. I believe

that leadership is the ability to break down complex problems into actionable fragments,

accurately defining and entrusting responsibilities to subordinates. Delegating responsibilities is

important because it not only instigates involvement amongst the players, but also encourages

individual leadership capabilities. I view this as the success of the group in the long run.

Business Expansion: Entrepreneurs face tough challenges when their business grows. They

must be aware of the variety of the expansion options available and understand the fact that

investors are looking for serious returns from the business. While not giving up too much equity,

entrepreneurs need to be open enough to find the best possible investment strategy for the

business. In order to best sell the company to investors, entrepreneurs need to look from the

investor’s perspective, particularly with respect to return (sustainability, risk, control, sales,

flexibility, and timing). Entrepreneurs must also to know their unique selling propositions and

their exit strategy, in order to best maximize on the expansion situation.

Strengths and Weaknesses: A successful entrepreneur’s strength is that he will know all his

weaknesses. However, his weakness could be that he does not know all his strengths. We know

that entrepreneurs cannot afford to just focus on a particular discipline and that they need to be

jack of all trades. In addition to building on the strengths, entrepreneurs need to aim to improving

their weak areas. In my case, I have personally discovered that I have to improve my sales

abilities. Having come from a non-North American background, I struggled to make my sales

pitch to my Canadian counterparts. But I improved thereafter, watching and understanding how

my team mates performed their sales. This shows the importance of entrepreneurs to understand

the cultural aspects of his team mates and customers, as well. I personally plan to spend

considerable time improving my sales abilities and my acquaintance with the North American

culture.

Relationships and Networking: Having completed the innovation challenge, I have come to

realize the importance of relationships and networking more strongly than ever. Even to make a

simple sales pitch, we realized that relationships do matter. Entrepreneurs need to know where

best they have to invest their valuable time and effective relationships start with selective

networking. They must try and cultivate long-term relationships, particularly in businesses where

repeat customers are common.

In a nutshell, the innovation challenge in addition to strengthening certain principles that I have

had about running businesses, also explicated several important issues and challenges which I

would never have thought of. I hope to run social enterprises as business ventures in future and I

understand that this exercise had its significant contribution.