Putting a startup idea on paper

Nov 04 2014

Our idea has gone past an idea, and it’s terrifying. In the past months, we’ve changed our prototype again and again. And now, this week, it seems that we have a prototype that is, well, pretty dang good.

We’ve talked to Steve May, who teaches business ethics at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. We also talked to a compliance officer at Coke. They both agreed we had a strong idea, and started to give us logistical advice.

So now we’ve gone from, “Is this a good idea?” to “How do we actually do this?” Turns out that coordinating project managers to create interactive compliance programs across the world won’t be easy, or cheap. Coke’s compliance officer pointed out that creating distinct compliance training programs for the 207 countries in which they operate is just not feasible.

He suggested we focus on mid-size companies operating in fewer countries. Or hire project managers in countries that are high-risk and unfamiliar to companies expanding their businesses.

So, we went to the white board. We laid out our company structure, from CEO to research assistants. We tried to figure out who to outsource and who to keep in headquarters. Then we started looking at what countries we would hire project managers in, thinking about how popular the countries were for international business and corruption indexes. Finally, we narrowed down our pricing model.

We have three pricing tiers for our interactive compliance-training programs, “classic,” which is only customized by country or region, “plus,” customized by country and industry, and “premiere,” customized by country and individual company.

When it’s down on paper, it all seems pretty crazy. It’s a real company, with sales people and real demand and lawyers on retainer.

But after countless days of frustration and switching and talking to compliance officers, I’m pretty excited that we have a product people want, and can make a real difference in global corruption. Scary can be good.

Previously:

How can we move forward while waiting on IRB approval?

First pitch: The IRB application

Tackling global corruption: We have a value proposition

How might we address global corruption?

When you hit a wall, narrow down

The answer almost always lies with the customer

If you don’t think you have anyone to talk to, look harder


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