The Fall 2017 class of the Central Pennsylvania Ben Franklin Techcelerator program finished recently and Sugey did very well. While we did not finish 1st in the final voting of judges, we developed an amazing business plan with excellent customer research and feedback, and are ready for our next phase of business.
With a bit of time for reflection, we at Sugey would like to give a quick review of the program.
The classes were based on the Udacity startup course, and the accompanying materials The Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf, as well as Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. Each week we has a presentation based on a particular topic from the Udacity course.
Each of the weekly presenters usually had an hour, or a little over. There was plenty of time for questions and feedback at the Ben Franklin group sessions.
Once a week, we each had a one-on-one to present pitches and discuss the past week’s work, or to get various other feedback.
At the end of the course, we presented to a panel of three independent judges our pitches and they decided one winner.
It was quite a bit of readings and if you did the weekly projects properly, fairly intense. This was no cakewalk, as you got out of it what you put in.
For instance, one week’s topic was product pricing. While some would simply talk about their product pricing or built a basic SaaS pricing tier, we put together a full mockup with three separate milestone based pricing steps and calculated all our costs to produce such a price per unit. This included categories such as marketing, product assembly, rent, insurance, product failure rates and warranties, and more. We knew exact percentages and more of what out product costs per unit truly were. While this led to a long process, we felt justified later running our other calculations, including investor asks.
The presentations were excellent for the most part. The only thing is that you wished you had more personal time to meet with them.
One on ones were where the bulk of the work unfolded. We can’t speak for others, but we felt the best use of the time was to be prepared to present and ask for complete and honest feedback. There was simply not enough time for anything else and to grow a business. While often painful, the key weaknesses of the business plan revealed themselves, and honest feedback was given. It was a win-win.
The final pitches were fairly difficult on such short notice while trying to complete the other parts of the course and run the business. It was helpful we think to the winner to have recently completed another incubator which gave their presentation a stronger polish than the two weeks we and most others had to prepare, which is why we would recommend people taking the course to prepare from the beginning for the eventual pitch.
While we didn’t win a part of the $10,000 prize, we came away from the incubator with a much stronger idea of our business and where it needs to go next. Ross Gibson, Dick Heddleson, and Steve Fafel put together a great series of trainings, and we are thankful for the opportunity. Sugey expects to reach its next milestones here by the beginning of Q1 2018, and look forward to the next steps. We highly recommend the Ben Franklin Partners programs to any early stage businesses looking to find out if their business is going to work, and how to go about building it.