I've been interested in entrepreneurship for a while now, and in fact my PhD minor is entrepreneurship, which allows me to take a bunch of classes over on the business side of campus. Between that and a variety of extra-curricular activities I've been heavily involved with entrepreneurship-type stuff for a while now, and energy entrepreneurship in particular for about a year. I've heard about every possible business plan known to man, and if you think that you, too, have the next big energy idea - let me help you out. Simply select your choices from the below, and it's a guaranteed winner:
I am going to provide a ____________
A) Software as a Service (SaaS)
B) iPhone app
C) integrated platform
that is ____________
B) in the cleantech space
because it involves ____________.
C) energy efficiency
D) utilizing an alternative fuel
E) All of the above
My product includes features that are ____________
D) in the cloud (triple points!)
E) provided by analytics
F) cell phone activated
H) All of the above (why not, right?)
and my technology will be ready in ____________
A) 5 years
B) 10 years
C) It hasn't actually been demonstrated yet, but if it DOES work, it will be awesome
D) Engineers say it won't work, but I believe I have the core strengths to tackle these technological challenges
if I can get ____________.
A) 20 million dollars from VCs
B) a guaranteed loan from the feds (just like Solyndra!)
C) hired employees, to, you know, build the thing
The company is named ____________
D) Any other random combination of Web 2.0-sounding letters with a bubbly logo
and my team consists of ____________.
A) two MBAs and a sales guy
B) one MBA, one EE, and an "experienced entrepreneur" (his last attempt failed)
C) three MBAs (we'll just hire the tech talent we need)
We are planning to implement the product first in ____________,
C) the developing world. All of it. Isn't it the same everywhere?
D) the military
but I have not yet thought about ____________.
A) who will fix this if it breaks
B) how to actually make money from this idea
C) the fact that someone else already tried this six years ago
I have confidence that we can face these issues and challenges as they come because don't worry, we have on our advisory board ____________
B) The world's most famous VC
C) Hot entrepreneur star of the moment
and in fact, look at us, we've already got ____________.
A) a website and a Twitter feed with followers
B) an awesome sixty second elevator pitch
C) a prize-winning business plan
D) connections because we attended SXSW and totally hung out with famous people at the afterparty
E) interested customers (they said they'd take it if we gave it to them for free)
F) admission into an accelerator program
G) generated buzz created by networking and facilitating connections between people with mutually overlapping interests and core competencies and leveraging the synergies and oh I can't stand writing more of this...
You think I'm kidding, but oh sir, I am not. You think this is cynical (well, maybe a little)(maybe a lot), but I have personally seen each of the above options set out in a business plan or presentation with an entirely straight face. Please, energy innovators, do yourself a favor and find an engineer (even better if they have no interest in entrepreneurship and no business training) to vet your technology and give you a straight answer before you embarrass yourself. Or, you know, don't - because if you think about it a minute - these kinds of ideas are getting millions from VCs, and did you know you don't have to give that money back if you go under?
There are good ideas out there, let's make them easier to find amongst the noise!