A business plan is a comprehensive description of a new business. It is a helpful practice for considering all aspects of the business realistically and in detail. In many cases, the most important quality of a business plan is to identify the weaknesses of the idea, which helps the entrepreneur confirm whether it is an idea worth committing to or not.
Investors look at the business plan to understand how the team is going to take their idea from opportunity to action.
Business plans can vary in terms of industry and startup stage.
Overall, there is no generic perfect business plan. Focus and priority are dependant on the idea and target industry. Once you launch your business, you will revise and adapt your business plan, but that is all part of the process.
Below are some basic standard guidelines for formatting your pages
- A4 page (210 x 297 mm)
- Right/left margin: 2.5cm
- Top/bottom margin: 2.0cm
- Line spacing 1.5
- Recommended typefaces: Times New Roman, Helvetica, or Courier in font size 12; Arial 11 point, or similar.
The pitch is a concise introduction of your product or idea. It is the way an entrepreneur sells an idea and the value of it in a meaningful and authentic way to a customer, investor, potential employee, etc. The pitch is often referred to as the ‘elevator pitch’, where the name reflects the fact that you should be able to deliver the pitch in the time it takes the elevator to go from the lobby to the top floor (where the investor works).
The best pitch is often delivered without slides, but if you absolutely must use slides, check out the tips in this SlideShare.
Pitches may be either formal or informal, and might be delivered by different methods, from a PowerPoint presentation to a casual, impromptu conversation.
Most important is to know what message you want to convey, and the audience to whom you will present this information. Use these two pieces of information to build a pitch that convinces your audience to say, “tell me more!”
The best pitches are free of fluffy description and buzzwords, and instead clearly outline the problem and how you are going to solve it.
To create a pitch, clearly state what the key problem is, how to the product or service solves it and why the product or service is better than it’s potential competitors.
A good example of short pitch could be the following: “My idea is for a new building material that uses recycled content to create an acoustic ceiling tile. In order to meet carbon emission standards, builders need new, low-emitting materials for both new buildings and those that are being refurbished or remodeled. This new product will help building contractors increase their use of utilize recycled materials in any building, while delivering an attractive, sound-absorbing ceiling tile that has no harmful emissions. The market for this product is through existing building distribution channels and is cost competitive with existing ceiling products. It is made from recycled materials, has a long life, and is fully recyclable. There are no companies currently manufacturing this type of material in Europe.”
A patent gives the owner the sole right to commercialize the patented invention. Generally, it is only a small part of your invention that can be patented. The right is enforced by a prohibition that means the owner of the patent can prevent others from exploiting the invention commercially.
The basic requirements are:
- Novelty (Nyhed) – The invention must not be known publicly at the time you file for the patent. This means that you must not publish articles or discuss in public forums the specific part of the product being patented. There is no problem talking about the rest of the product.
- Inventive step (Opfindelseshøjde) – The invention must not be obvious for a professional in the particular field, but has to constitute something remarkably different.
- Ability to be used industrially (Industriel anvendelighed)
Patents are generally valid for 20 years starting from the date of filing. In most countries patent applications are published 18 months after the date of filing. During the first year after the date of filing one can file updated applications regarding the same invention (prioritetsansøgning). Already from the time of filing the application, it constitutes a great value, as it can serve as a basis for licensing deals, for example.
If you require assistance with your patent we recommend ⊕ Awapatent or you can view the most recent patents granted from the universities at ⊕ Patentbørs.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or figurative elements, that identifies and distinguishes the goods or services of one company from those of another. A trademark is typically denoted with a ” ™ ” symbol next to the logo or brand name. Organizations ranging from SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) to huge multinationals use trademark registration systems to protect their brands.
If you need trademark protection, you have the choice of registering with national, regional, or international trademark offices. These trademark registration systems all provide legal protection for your trademark, which is limited to the territories in which they operate. An organization that needs to do business in only one or two countries may choose to obtain protection by applying separately to the appropriate official trademark offices. Within Europe, wider geographical coverage (27 EU member states) is also available with a single application at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market of the European Union (OHIM).
Remember, all members of the jury, advisers, and Venture Cup staff have signed a ⊕ Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). For trademark assistance we recommend ⊕ Awapatent or you can check if your trademark is available ⊕ here.
Confidentiality aside, we warmly encourage our participants to talk about their ideas and projects and share as much as they are comfortable with. Why? Most entrepreneurs agree that talking to others about your idea and getting feedback is the best way to actually make it happen. Don’t believe us? Read this ⊕ blog post by ⊕ Chris Dixon, Founder of Hunch, Founder Collective, and an early investor in Skype and Foursquare.
If you are serious about starting your own business, talk to Venture Cup! During more than 16 years, we have helped more than 200 companies start up. We provide ⊕ two annual competitions to encourage startups by providing access to valuable network contacts, professional feedback, and cash prizes to get going. Between our competitions, we also arrange peer networking events, investor meetings, Alumni Club events with guest speakers, and pitch training. 2015 was the first year for Venture Cup to host University Startup World Cup with participants from more than 24 countries worldwide.
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Choosing the right structure for your company is a key element as you begin. We have written a ⊕ detailed guide (in Danish) (PDF) to help you decide what kind of company to establish. Please note that this is only meant as a guideline and not a legal document in any way.
When you have set up, you probably need resources like a website, email hosting, and some invoicing software. The excellent blog The Startup Foundry has written an ⊕ overview of cheap (or free) and reliable resources for the bootstrapped startup.
We also work closely together with other organizations like ⊕ CSE Lab, ⊕ Connect Denmark, ⊕ Startup Bootcamp, and ⊕ Stardust to help you beyond Venture Cup.