for Start-Ups and Early Stage Ventures 

We assist our clients to progress strategic, market, technology, product development and other projects to accelerate the venture development process. We provide solutions, advice and activities to facilitate the successful conception, development, growth and funding of new enterprises, with particular emphasis on managing the critical issues at each stage of a business’s growth. Our involvement may occur at the time a new concept or idea is conceived, or at any challenging point along the development time line.

Summarised below are the services we offer to founders who are considering a start-up venture and those who are already on their way to turning their ideas and intellectual property into high growth businesses:

 Venture Opportunity Screening

  • Business Opportunity Evaluation and Validation,
  • Strategy & Business Model Analysis.

 Establishing Ventures

  • Strategy Development,
  • Building Founding Teams,
  • Procurement of Technology and Product Development Partners,
  • Share Holders Agreements,
  • Building Advisory Teams,
  • Dynamic Equity Splits.

De-Risking the Business Opportunity

  • Strategy Optimisation & Planning,
  • Competitive Analysis,
  • Market Research,
  • Environmental & Futures Scanning,
  • Financial & Cash Flow Modelling.

 Creating Value

  • Mapping and Analysing Value Networks for Insights.
  • Value Proposition Development,
  • Business Model Design & Innovation,
  • Business Diversification.

 Capital & Grant Raising

  • Capital & Grant Readiness,
  • R&D Tax Incentive Claim Preparation, 
  • Grant Searching and Application Preparation,
  • Investor Search & Introductions,
  • Pitch Design and Practice.

 Developing Technology & Products

  • Technology Road Mapping and Project Management of Prototype Development,
  • Strategic, Technology and Research Partnering.

 Achieving Sales & Executing

  • Lead Customer Strategy,
  • Competition & Accelerator Entry Strategy & Applications,
  • Go-to-Market Strategy and Planning,
  • Business Planning.

Following contains descriptions of our approach and services in these areas: 

Evaluating and Validating Business Opportunities – To establish if success is likely

How do we know if a new technology, business concept or innovation project will translate effectively to a sustainable high growth business opportunity?  An objective assessment is important to minimise the risks involved in any attempt to commercialise it.  Some technology and business concepts will remain just that, but some, when combined with appropriate customer value, resources, partnerships and entrepreneurial skills, can become a serious commercial reality.  We help idea owners avoid the pitfalls of investing time and money in the wrong projects and maximising the potential from putting effort into the right ones. We take business owners through the important process of determining if their idea or business concept really does make sound business sense and if so what the size of the opportunity is. In particular quantifying the market size and estimating the realistically accessible market share are necessary before the potential revenue performance of a business can be projected. This along with other key assessments provides the validation and confidence needed to pursue a project. With this evaluation completed start-up founders are better equipped to make appropriate decisions for the future of their business and they will be able to present a stronger case to their executive colleagues, partners, customers and investors. This process should then continue in an iterative manner as new information is learned until an optimal and sustainable business model is arrived at.

Environmental and Futures Scanning – To anticipate potential future opportunities and risks

For start-ups, particularly those not yet making revenues, the strength of the business opportunity is directly related to the degree to which there is an apparent match between assumptions around market demand and aspects such as barriers to entry, competitive reactions and shifts in the landscape. Political, technology and social trends are never static and the more information a business can obtain about the likely changes that will occur over time the more likely they will be able to develop a viable business opportunity and business model. This includes the amount of time the ‘opportunity window’ will stay open for. We help start-up founders understand where their idea or project sits within the context of global change. Going through this process invariably also highlights emerging big problems that society faces, which may represent further business opportunities. We assist entrepreneurs to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the context of their business and their particular commercialisation project.

Researching the Markets – To understand the potential for sales and market share

How well do you know your customer and the markets they sit within? Are you confident you know what’s over the horizon, how customer needs are changing and what alternatives are available to them? Have you looked at the trends and identified the opportunities? There is nothing that beats comprehensive market research to inform almost all aspects of your business thinking – strategy, customer segment focus, value propositions, business model design, design of products and services etc. We are experienced in identifying the right questions and then researching the markets for the answers that will give the confidence in the direction and decisions you will take.  We design and carry out market research projects that lead to a more in depth understanding of customer characteristics and behaviours and the value of the market being addressed.

Mapping & Analysing Value Networks – To understand value transfer and identify new revenue streams

A value network is a business perspective that describes social and technical resources representing value flows within and between businesses. The nodes in a value network represent the individual businesses. The nodes are connected by interactions that represent tangible and intangible deliverables of value. The various value flows benefit the entire group. A value network allows its participants to buy and sell products as well as share information. Supply chains are subsets of value networks.

Analysing the value network helps to identify business model options and indicates where the intended new business and its products and services creates or induces value to other network participants. It also helps to identify which ones may represent valuable partners or channels through whom the products could be promoted. Actual and potential indirect flows of value often go unnoticed. This can represent an opportunity to derive either new income streams or at least recognition of the fact that it creates or induces the value concerned, which can be used as part of brand strengthening and business development efforts. Along with current information on market trends and opportunities an understanding of the business’s value network helps set the context within which the business opportunity can be assessed. We map value networks and analyse them using our visualisation tool, which allows our clients to identify new opportunities for value creation. 

Developing Competitive Value Propositions – To ensure sales are achievable through natural demand

A complete understanding of the customer is required before a product or solution can be designed to fill their needs. To do this it is necessary to understand the world they live in and the problems they face. The ’customer’ actually consists of a combination of the end user, purchaser, influencer and partner. They may be the same person, but are more likely not. The end user will have different priorities in terms of what problems they want solved than the others so it is important to be able to create a suite of compelling value propositions that address the needs of all players involved in the business achieving a successful sale. This will involve not only identifying what features and benefits are important for the product, but buying cycles, product life cycle aspects, seasonal effects, social and cultural aspects and the like. The needs of the purchaser will determine whether you will be able to sell products individually, in packages, for a once off transaction price or via service contracts or leases etc. Customer’s needs are also never static so it is important to understand what future value propositions must be built into the offering and when they should be ‘switched on’ in the market. We help clients to really get into the shoes of the customer and not get too far ahead with the technology/product development before an accurate picture of the relevant value propositions has been created.    

Developing a Master Strategy – To ensure collective clarity on direction and purpose

A strategy is a solution to move from where the business is now to where it wants to be. It’s about using foresight to determine the right direction. Strategy is the ‘Why and the Where’ of the business. Good strategy is predicated on good strategic thinking and strategic thinking requires a mindset quite different to operational thinking. The changing attributes of the customer, market, industry and the environment must be well understood before products or services can be appropriately positioned within them.  Good strategy should raise the probability that the business will get to where it wants to be successfully. A Strategy does not specifically say how you will achieve success, but it should include broad measures by which progress can be monitored and recognised.  Strategy is the result of choices the leadership team makes, on ‘where to play’ and ‘how to win’, to maximize long-term value. ‘Where to play’ specifies the target market in terms of the customers and their needs. ‘How to win’ spells out the value proposition(s) that distinguish the business in the eyes of its target customers, along with the capabilities that will give it an essential advantage in delivering that value. We work with founders to develop their strategic thinking skills so they can develop a potent strategic focus. Through this they define clearly where they want to take the business and what its true reason for being is. We help them to develop an overall ‘Master’ strategy.

Strategic Planning – To ensure execution on the strategy can be directed and measured

A plan is about how the business will move to its intended position. Planning is about using the resources you have and the actions you will take to achieve the decisions made in your master strategy. Planning is the ‘How’ around executing on the strategy. Once a master strategy has been put in place it is important to document how it will be executed. Strategy is not hard to do, but implementation can be challenging. Strategic planning is time based and sets priorities, focuses energy and resources, strengthens operations, ensures that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals and objectives, establishes agreement around intended outcomes/results, identifies a way of measuring progress and when reviewed assesses and adjusts the business’s direction in response to a changing environment. A strategic plan is a document used to communicate with the organisation its goals, the actions needed to achieve those goals and all of the other critical elements developed during the planning exercise. Once strategic direction is determined the business model can be defined, goals and objectives can be set and the business planning and execution processes can be detailed. We help businesses create effective strategic plans.

Business Model Design – To create maximum value and an optimal method for making money

The business model identifies how a business creates, delivers and extracts value. The business model responds to the parameters set within business strategy. Determining the combination of capabilities and IP, market segments, customers, value propositions, proposed offerings, relationships, and the value chain to deliver the offerings and creating a sustainable way to get paid are essential in creating the ingredients of the business model. Business value can usually be derived via a number of alternative business models. The key to maximising value is to assess the alternative models against each other and then optimise.  The business model underpins the business planning process and creates a deeper understanding of plans with collaborators, partners and suppliers. It provides a clear picture of a well-planned business to investors or internal stakeholders and can be represented on one page.

Our business model design service provides a package of workshops, advice and mentoring that gives the recipient the skills and knowledge to find new ways to increase revenue, profitability and sustainability. Our approach can be used to: evaluate and develop innovation strategy and planning, identify under-utilised innovation capability, identify and access new market segments, better define customer needs, assess commercialisation opportunities, create new revenues from existing capability, create more valuable relationships with collaborators, partners and suppliers, provide a clear picture of the business to collaborators and stakeholders, develop business cases for new products and optimise the value of new business concepts.

Competitive Analysis and Strategy – To establish a market niche and anticipate competitor reaction

A competitive analysis is a critical part of the marketing strategy. With this evaluation a business can establish to what extent its products or services are differentiated from those of its competitors. It will highlight what attributes should be amplified in order to attract the target market. It will evaluate competitors by placing them in strategic groups according to how directly they compete for a share of the customer's dollar. Positioning products in the market in relation to those of competitors will help to explain to customers the advantages yours has. The analysis will answer questions such as: who they are, what products or services they sell, what is their market share, what are their strategies, how they market their products, what are their strengths and weaknesses, what potential threats they pose and, what potential opportunities they make available for you. For each competitor or strategic group comparisons can be made around profitability, growth pattern, marketing objectives and assumptions, current and past strategies, organisational and cost structure, strengths and weaknesses, and sales turnover. A good competitive analysis will also give insights as to what efforts will need to be put in over time to ensure products remain differentiated from the competition.

Lead Customer Strategy, Acquisition and Customer Trials – To get early sales & customer feedback

For two reasons it is important to establish early relationships with at least a small group of real customers who represent the target market for the new offering(s) being created. Some lead customers may be willing to co-fund the development of your product in return for first rights to trial and purchase it. Other customers may be willing to purchase a ‘not quite ready’ version of the product that may have a few bugs in it or may not contain the full set of features intended in return for feedback on its performance and the right to an upgrade when the full market ready version is complete. Either way the earlier you can get a customer’s feedback on how well your product suits their needs the better. A physical prototype is not always necessary to start this process. It is important to develop a strategy that defines the attributes (and possibly identifies the exact preferred business) of the ideal lead customer to identify some prospects and then to invite them to get involved in your project. This may include crowd sourcing of purchase commitments from early adopter customers. We help start-ups define a lead customer acquisition strategy and plan and to design trials that ensure the required feedback data is obtained and properly analysed for integration with the next design iteration.     

Founding Team Building – To establish a team with drive and the right makeup of skills to execute   

Everyone has ideas. It’s the skills, courage, passion and tenacity of the team that turn ideas into businesses. The project team includes the leader and others with complementary skills. This is the group who will build the new line of business. Its goal is to take the original idea and search for a repeatable and scalable business model, first by finding product/market fit, then by testing all the parts of the business model. When assembling a team the need for skills should override the availability of who’s around at the time and who you know. Key attributes of an entrepreneurial team are passion, determination, resilience, tenacity, agility and curiosity. It helps if the team has had a history of working together, but what is essential is mutual respect. And what is critical is trust. You need to be able to trust your team to perform, to do what they say they will, and to have your back. We help build effective founding teams.

Advisory Team Building – To increase profile and access to connections, skills and knowledge

The best start-ups use advisory boards with subject matter experts to fill gaps of knowledge. Advisory board members are not directors: They do not serve a governance function or represent shareholders or other stakeholders. They simply provide advice. The advisory board is a sounding board. At its best it can provide expertise, guidance and business-development insight. In all cases, the advisory board provides a group of experts who can discuss opportunities, challenges and next steps. We help develop effective advisory boards by ensuring the purpose is clear, encouraging recruitment of a manageable number of members that will challenge team thinking and who have strong relevant networks.

Shareholder Agreements – To provide flexibility for future scenarios and minimise the potential for team disharmony

In partnership with our legal associates we assist founders to develop an appropriately written shareholders agreement. An effective shareholders agreement allows all shareholders to have a say in important decisions without unduly interfering with the ability of the management team to run and grow the business. It provides flexibility and agreement around processes for significant scenarios that concern the interests of shareholders, such as capital raisings and founder and investor exits.    

Dynamic Equity Split Management – To provide equitable arrangements for sweat equity entitlements

Few things cause more rifts in start-up teams than equity splits. The vast majority of equity splits are fixed: set amounts of equity are issued to founders during the early days of a start-up forcing them to renegotiate when things inevitably change. Dynamic equity splitting provides the founding equity holders a mechanism for allocating equity holdings to themselves and others helping to grow a start-up where a full market level salary cannot be provided. ‘Sweat equity’ can be a useful way of obtaining human resources where funding has not yet been brought into the business at a level where full market salaries can be paid. It is the precursor to an employee shareholding scheme, but has advantages over them for the first few years of a business. Dynamic equity splitting caters for the fluid nature of early stage teams more effectively and can be a method of ‘financing’ the business on a non-cash basis. Dynamic equity splitting simply calculates entitlements to sweat equity parcels on an ongoing basis and then formalises them through redistribution of share ownership at appropriate stages as value in the business grows. We design dynamic equity share split calculators and advise founders on how to use them as an effective tool to fund the business.              

Exit Strategies – To anticipate the end game options and be guided by them

The founders’ expectations and aspirations for their venture should be examined at the very start of the business creation process. Importantly they should be aligned, but the way in which the business develops a strategy and delivers value will be better informed if the founders ‘start with the end in mind’. It is of course not always possible to foresee what exit scenarios may eventuate, but some decisions around the desired exit strategy options should be taken as soon as sufficient information has been gathered. If the founders foresee a sale within the near term future the business needs to be focused on the likely needs of the purchaser(s) be they financial or strategic acquirers. The decision making will also be influenced by the likely needs for the business to raise capital prior to its target exit event. The business may be shaped differently again if the founders intend to remain part of it for the longer term.   

In the case of a financial venture, the business itself must create the business model to exploit the growth opportunity. A financial business must enable the buyer to exploit its revenue growth potential. Strategic value however is created through intellectual property expertise which creates a sustainable competitive advantage in the hands of the buyer. It is the strategic buyer who exploits the growth potential. Founders should develop the business with a focus on the manner in which the either they or a future buyer will extract value from it. We help founders understand how value is created, how buyers perceive risk and how they will exploit potential once it is in their hands. 

Financial Modelling and Cash Flow Mapping – To establish financial viability and estimate cash flow and capital/financing requirements

The modelling of a new commercialisation project’s prospective financial performance is essential to the understanding of the merits of various possible business models or start-up concepts. With a comprehensive predictive financial model each business model can be compared and a decision on which one to pursue is made much easier.

We create interactive predictive financial models for commercialisation projects. They allow changes to input variables for different sales and cost scenarios and provide predictions of profit and loss, cash flow, net worth and break even status. This gives the information you need to make the right decisions for the project and the business. It also complements the business plan and any business case for raising capital.

Business Planning – To document priorities, timelines, actions and resources required for successful execution, for management, lenders, investors and partners

The business plan takes the vision, strategy and the business model and sets the parameters for operation of the business over time, usually at least three years. Developing a strong business plan is useful for communicating the direction to the management team and to facilitate measurement of its performance. It identifies the required core competencies, resources, capital, logistics and supply chain arrangements required for success.  Importantly, this must also be translated into a time based implementation plan tailored to the nature and quantities of resources available.

Although the growth phases of a business usually represent the period of fastest increase in value they also hugely challenging.  Change can happen so quickly and roles of the team can change so significantly that it can be easy to lose focus and make errors of judgment.  If growth driven change is not planned effectively uncontrolled or inappropriate growth may result. This can ultimately damage the sustainability of business performance. A growth, succession or exit plan that anticipates and minimises the risks associated with changing requirements as the business moves from one stage of growth to the next helps to minimise risk.

Partnering for Strategic and Technology Collaborations – To access channels and capability through establishing the right relationships

All early stage innovative and high growth business projects rely heavily on networks to gain access to markets, lead clients, resources, profile, capability, investment and knowledge.  We help clients establish valuable relationships and benefit from extensive and valuable networks. We establish strategic commercial or influencing partnerships within their value network. For innovative technology and high value add product businesses we use our strong networks in the research sector to gain access to capability that may be used for research and technology development projects . Once we have established the capability requirements with the business we conduct a search to identify potential providers and then assist with decision making on who to work with. We help negotiate the collaborative arrangements for establishment of the project. We can also assist clients with project management of the R&D projects themselves. 

Technology Road Mapping and Project Management for Prototype/Product Development – To understand the technology options and create prototype and market ready products, economically and quickly

A technology roadmap is a plan that evaluates and matches competing technology solutions to the particular functionality needs of a product. It also provides a mechanism to help forecast technology developments and a framework to help plan and coordinate. Products are becoming more complicated and customised; time to market expectations are shrinking and product life is often shortening. The main benefit is that it provides information to help make better technology investment decisions. It does this by identifying technology gaps that must be filled to meet product performance targets and ways to leverage R&D investments through coordinating research activities.

Research and development activities are high value and important activities for any innovative business. R&D project management is a specialist activity that minimises the risks and maximises the potential outcomes of the research or development project.  Particularly for organisations that have not previously conducted R&D or worked with partner organisations such as Universities or industrial design and technology design services it important to have the right skills to ensure the project is a success, at the best possible price. Activities such as finding the right research or development partner, negotiating the functional requirements and scope of the project, contractual arrangements, particularly around intellectual property ownership and exploitation rights are important to get right. As a project manager of R&D and prototyping projects we ensure that clients negotiate an optimal relationship with provider(s) and that the project time lines, budget and other risks are well managed.

Go-to-Market Strategy and Planning – To ensure an effective product launch

We help businesses effectively translate their intellectual property assets and know how into high value market demand driven solutions and get them to market. We work with clients to successfully launch new products that have moved through the early proof of concept and early market validation stages, but have not yet been sold into their intended wider market(s). We can also assist to realign existing capabilities and offerings into more highly productive, high value market opportunities with the least risk and fastest payback.

An effective marketing and promotion strategy is important to set things up well for the sales team to do their job. This will include the establishment of measures that can be uses to determine success following its implementation. With a well-designed marketing and promotion strategy and plan in place the business will become more focused on converting new market opportunities and maximising sales from current markets. The Go-to-Market Plan sets appropriate sales targets, uses appropriate customer engagement and sales methodologies and provides the ability to measure progress against key performance indicators. The plan will also identify how costs in time and money for each element of the plan are to be identified and budgeted for.

Capital and Finance Readiness – To maximise the chances of achieving investment, grant funding or loans

Once the business model, financial projections, valuation and business plan have been developed they can be used to support the capital raising effort. Preparing a business case for investment or finance can be challenging. Often you only get one shot at a pitch and the right strategy and appropriate preparation is key. It is important to develop the most compelling case you can. By assisting our clients to prepare their business, develop the plan and create the right pitch we ensure a higher potential for successfully acquiring the grants, finance or equity capital they seek. We make sure strategies and documentation are appropriately targeted to the audience in question and are presented in the most compelling and effective format.

R&D Tax Incentive, Grant Searching and Grant Applications – To access non-dilutive funding

The R&D Tax Incentive scheme provides an opportunity for profitable businesses to receive an additional tax break specifically for their eligible R&D expenditure and for loss making or pre-revenue businesses to receive a cash rebate equivalent to 45% of their eligible R&D expenditure. With our accounting partners we help businesses to establish eligibility and prepare themselves to apply for participation in the scheme and to manage the claim process for them. We also provide advice regarding their potential eligibility for other government grants and help prepare such applications for them.

Funding Search & Introductions – To find the right investors

We have connections to many sources of equity funding whether they be funding organisations such as accelerators, angel investment groups, venture capital providers or sole high network individuals. For clients who are seeking capital and are investment ready we work with them to outline the possibilities available to them, develop an appropriate investment strategy and make introductions. This may also include strategies for crowd sourced pledge funding. A key element of every investment seeking strategy is to know what type of investor(s) is most relevant and valuable to the business and to design the pitch to address their investment needs.    

Competition and Accelerator Entry – To get the right exposure and acceleration by applying for the right competitions and business accelerator programs

These days there are many competitions and business accelerators (and even TV shows) that offer cash prizes and equity investments to a small number of the applicants. Aside from the prize money or investment, advice, connections and exposure are all benefits of being involved, many of which are available irrespective of whether you actually win or are accepted. There are many on offer and it can be quite a task to decide whether to take part and if so in which one. We can assist entrepreneurs to evaluate whether entry to competitions or accelerators is the right choice strategically and then which ones are the appropriate ones to go for. Once a strategy has been decided we can assist with application writing and preparation and practice of the pitch.  

Pitch Design and Practice – To create the best possible impression and to get to ‘yes’

Preparing a business case for competitions, grant funding, investment or bank finance can be challenging. Often you only get one shot at it. It is therefore important to develop the most compelling case you can. By assisting our clients to prepare their business, develop the plan and create the right pitch we ensure a higher potential for successfully acquiring the grant funding, finance or equity capital they seek. We also provide advice on how to design the pitch. We can work with you to prepare presentations to support the pitch. We make sure pitches, applications and proposal submissions are appropriately targeted to the audience and are presented in the most compelling and effective format.