Selection criteria for new venture The ideal characteristics of a new business are: • Low start-up costs and

other barriers to entry. Scalable i.e. future growth not limited by geographical and time constraints. “Market disrupter” as defined below.

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These programs excel at training managers in general business theory and exposing them to world renowned professors, but students often find large chunks of the course not relevant to their particular circumstances. Moreover, the cost of these programs limits companies to sending only a handful of employees to them. Is it possible to provide ‘cheaper, simpler or more convenient’ education/training? The main cost drivers of traditional business education include: • Production of course material Staff costs, especially student marking Infrastructure, premises and equipment

The disruptive technologies model The disruptive technologies model contrasts the pace of a product progress with customers' ability to use that progress. According to this model, there are two types of performance trajectories in every market. One trajectory, depicted by the shaded area, shows how much improvement in a product or service customers actually use over time. The other trajectory, shown by the solid lines, depicts the improvement that suppliers in the industry create as they introduce new products.

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Each of these items can be made significantly cheaper and simpler whilst still providing services which are “good enough” to compete in the lower tiers of the market. Towards a new business model Under the proposed model content will not be prepared specifically for the program, instead existing, best selling business books will be sent to members on a monthly basis. This will reduce annual course content costs to around $100 per student whilst providing world class material. Having read the course material, students are required to complete an assignment which is then ‘peer reviewed’ by other students. As well as the important learning advantages of this approach, all marking and assessment costs are eliminated.

Almost always, this second trajectory-the pace of innovation-outstrips the ability of customers in a given tier of the market to absorb it. This creates the potential for new companies to enter the lower tiers of the market with "disruptive technologies"-cheaper, simpler, more convenient products or services. Almost always, the leading companies are so absorbed with upmarket innovations addressed to their most sophisticated and profitable customers that they miss the disruptive innovations. Which industries are currently over served? One interesting example is the $129.6 billion business education and training industry. In the past, the primary source of business education was an expensive two years MBA program, often costing upwards of $220,000, including opportunity costs. More recently, business schools have started offering part-time, but still expensive, Executive MBA programs.

Finally, as the entire process is internet based no premises and infrastructure costs are incurred. Stock can initially be drop-shipped by Amazon reducing the need for up-front inventory costs. Next steps A draft timeline is provided below. Detail online at 15 Apr 21 Apr 2 May 18 May 8 Jun 13 July 3 Aug 31 Aug Draft home site set-up Website operational Study-centre site operational Alpha test - Download only - no cart Beta test - Group of 20 Audits and reviews Soft launch Full launch

A holding page has been registered


11,000 business books are published each year. The published ideas that go out in those books influence how people go to work every day. Despite this there is no forum to discuss these ideas outside of expensive formal education system

Learning from Praxis Language, based in Shanghai, offers free lessons in Mandarin Chinese ( or Spanish ( as podcasts. While the podcasts are free, transcripts, exercises and other services typically cost $9 to $30 a month. For $200 a month, members can receive daily tutoring from professional, native-speaking teachers by way of Skype, the Internet-based telephone service. Mr. Carroll says ChinesePod has more than 270,000 visitors a month, several thousand of them paying about $240 a year for a combination of premium services. Most of the paying customers live in the United States. From Stephen Laster - Harvard CIO I’m excited about the evolution of virtual communities and the technologies that support them. We’ve moved from the idea of a community as a discussion board to a suite of synchronous and asynchronous technologies woven together that gives you social presence and allows you to find trusted people and content. At HBS, we’re trying to figure out how to bring together a Skype, a LinkedIn, some SharePoint sites, and get really good at integrating incomplete solutions in order to arrive at a very powerful notion of community

Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail look like a rounding error

— Cisco CEO John Chambers’s prediction at Comdex 1999

Learning from Since launching in 1999, has become the world's largest provider of business book summaries and has built up a base of more than four million customers including Microsoft, UBS, DaimlerChrysler, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, Boeing, and many more. The company has sold several million licenses with more than 90% of subscribers opting for the Gold subscription costing US$299/year. US spending on employee learning and development ASTD estimates that U.S. organizations spent $129.60 billion on employee learning and development in 2006. This amount reflects direct learning expenditures such as the learning function’s staff salaries, administrative learning costs, and non-salary delivery costs. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. total ($79.85 billion) was spent on the internal learning function, such as staff salaries and internal development costs. The remainder ($49.75 billion) was allocated to external services such as workshops, vendors and external events. The average direct expenditure per employee in the consolidated sample of organizations rose to $1,040 per employee in 2006, an increase of 1.76 percent from 2004.

Amazon acquires Audible for $300 million announced Thursday that it has acquired audiobook company Audible. The deal comes with a price tag of about $300 million in cash and short-term investments, and it is expected to be completed by the second quarter of this year. Audible, which was founded in 1997 and operates services in the United States and United Kingdom, as well as operations in Germany and France, sells more than 80,000 audio versions of books, newspapers, and magazines, as well as television and radio content. “ offers the best customer experience, the widest content selection, and the broadest device compatibility in the industry,” Steve Kessel, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide digital media, said in a statement from the two companies. “Working together, we can introduce more innovations and bring this format to an even wider audience.” Amazon’s interest in the digital-content market has become more and more evident in recent months, with the November release of its Kindle e-book reader, which can play audiobooks. Last year, Amazon also launched Amazon MP3, a music store that competes directly with Apple’s iTunes. permalink Global statistics One in five MBA students in the UK is studying with the OU, the university teaches a third of all part-time undergraduate students in the UK and, to date, more than 50,000 employers have sponsored staff to enrole on its courses. More than 250,000 students interact with the OU online from the comfort of their own homes The China Central Radio and TV University, for example, has had five million graduates over the past 20 years and four million students are enrolled at present. This compares with the OU’s enrolment of 250,000 and the New Delhi-based Indira Gandhi National Open University’s enrolment of 1.5 million.

Readers looking for instant information can find it in the digital domain, but readers seeking substance and depth will still find it in print editions

Can an online degree cut the mustard? - Times Online At any one time almost 25,000 British and foreign students are studying for an MBA by distance learning with UK institutions. Edinburgh Business School, one of the world’s biggest, has 7,000 students and the degree is taught in English, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic or Chinese to students from 150 countries. The Open University has 6,500 students, Henley Management College 5,000 and Manchester Business School Worldwide 2,500. The remainder are studying with various business schools such as Warwick and Leicester. It is big business. But is it worth it from the student’s point? Is an MBA, or any other kind of masters degree, obtained by distance learning as valuable as one obtained by full or part-time, face to face instruction? Do potential employers regard such degrees as having equal merit? Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which represents 600 big UK employers, is slightly equivocal. “My sense is that some employers do have their own rankings for institutions and, therefore, may have a similar view on different modes of learning. But I do not think this is widespread. A sensible employer would probably want to judge applicants on what they can bring to the business, irrespective of the way they gained their masters.

From Seth Godin - Is it worth it? What if I told you about an industry which: * Indebts most of its customers, sometimes for twenty or more years a person * Not only consumes most of four years of its customer’s time, but impacts its prospects for years before even interacting with them * Enjoys extremely strong brand preferences between competitors and has virtually no successful generic substitutes * Dramatically alters relations within a family, often for generations * Doesn’t do it on purpose …and …according to most of the studies I’ve seen, there’s very little or no difference in the efficacy of one competitor vs. another. Of course, I’m talking about undergraduate colleges in the US. The most competitive colleges are as competitive as ever—in most cases, more so. Many admit only one in ten students. According to two senior officials at Swarthmore, the differences among the ‘good enough’ applicants is basically zero. Rather than putting tens of thousands of kids through insane anxiety, they wonder, why not just put all the ‘good enough’ students in a pool and pick the winners randomly? Here’s the amazing part: According to The Chosen, an exhaustive study of college admissions, there’s no measurable difference between the outcomes of education with the most exclusive schools and the next few tiers. Graduates don’t end up happier. They don’t end up with better paying jobs. They don’t end up richer or even healthier. The whole thing is a sham (which costs a quarter of a million dollars a person at the top end). There’s no question that a Harvard degree helps (or is even required) in a few fields. There’s also no doubt that spending four years at Yale is a mind-changing experience. The question isn’t, “are they wonderful?” The question is, “Is it worth it?” It’s almost as if every single high school student and her parents insisted on having a $200,000 stereo because it was better than the $1,000 stereo. Sure, it might be a bit better, but is it better enough? Boomer parents have bought in to the marketing hype at a level rarely seen in any other form of marketing. They push school districts, teachers and their kids to perform pointless tasks at extreme levels just to be admitted to the ‘right’ school, even though there’s hardly evidence that the right school does anything but boost their egos. Schools respond by spending a fortune on facilities that will increase their rankings in various faux polls, even though there’s no evidence at all that a better gym or a bigger library matters one bit to an undergraduate’s long-term success in life. If it weren’t so expensive (in terms of time and money) it would make a marvelous marketing case study. Add in the tears and wasted anxiety and it’s really a shame. Very few people are pointing out that the emperor is barely clothed, and those that do (like me, I guess) get yelled at. I’m not criticizing a college education per se. No, it’s clear that that’s a smart investment. I’m talking about the incremental cost (and anxiety) separating consumers of the ‘top’ 500 schools from students of the ‘top’ 50. It appears to be pure storytelling, a story that so appeals to the worldview of baby boomers with teens that they are absolutely unable to resist the story, despite the facts. High school students are thrust into a Dip, in some cases the biggest one of their lives. The Dip extracts significant costs along the way, and then ends with a giant spin of the roulette wheel. I wonder if we’re marketing ourselves to a dead end. I guess I’d do two things. First, I’d figure out how to teach parents to understand what really matters and what doesn’t about time spent in high school and the choice of a college. Second, I’d push for every selective college to share one application and do a draft similar to the one they do for medical residencies. Every applicant ranks the schools they’d like to attend, in order. Every school considers all the applications, grabs the students they’d love to have in priority order, puts the rest into the “good enough” pile and lets a computer sort em all out as pareto optimally as possible. At least kids will go into their twenties correctly blaming a computer instead of mistakenly blaming themselves.

Online-only business foundation degree to launch The University of Essex and education and training provider Kaplan are this summer to launch a business studies foundation degree which is completed entirely online. The course is aimed at students who, because of domestic or work commitments, are unable to study for a foundation degree in the more traditional way by attending lectures on a campus. Students enrolled on the course will study over the internet and be connected to staff via live audio links or an online messageboard, which can also be accessed by other students on the course. Every student will have his or her own personal academic advisor and tutor available by email outside normal hours. The course, which is taught in modules, starts in July. Unlike traditional foundation degrees, it will run for 52 weeks of the year with an option of start dates. Because the course is modular it offers flexible learning, so students can step in and out of the course as their commitments change. Around 100 students are expected to enrol in the first year, but it is anticipated that the number could reach 2,000 within three years. Although University of Essex partner colleges already run foundation degrees in business and management, this will be the university’s first online course. This means it can reach a national student audience, a spokeswoman explained. Other foundation degrees offered in partnership with Kaplan are also planned for the future. The university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Ivor Crewe, said: “The online foundation degrees that we shall be offering are a major step forward in making excellent university courses available to those who have the ability and ambition but for reasons of work and family cannot attend university in the conventional way.” The chief executive officer for Kaplan, William Macpherson, said the course was an “innovative way” to widen participation and would help raise the skill levels of the UK workforce in line with government targets. Although the idea of an online foundation degree is a new concept in the UK, the method of learning is wellestablished in the United States, where, in 2003, online degree courses accounted for 7% of all higher education learning. This is just the beginning of social networking “The current issue of BOSS magazine has an article titled “MyWorkSpace” (unfortunately not available online), with an intro: “They’re the new places to see and be seen, and the hottest social networking sites are also places to forge business”. Ross Dawson, chairman of the research group Future Exploration Network, says social networks are becoming an important vehicle for engaging with employees and customers. “If appropriately harnessed and designed, they can be extraordinarily valuable tools, both within organisations and for engagement externally,” he says. “Facebook has become as much a professional networking tool as it has a personal networking tool.” .

There are 1.3 billion people online today and, according to Morgan Stanley, less than 15% have been to a social network

Reuters, for example, has released its own social networking platform for financial professionals, while software companies such as IBM and BEA have developed their own social media software so that these same tools can be used internally by enterprises.

“We’ve reach the point where professionals will find it harder if they are not on these networks,” Dawson says. “These are where people are spending time, and it is an easy place to reach out and build relationships. If we think five to 10 years fowrard we can’t say what it is going to be like, but we do know that social networking tools will be central to our professional lives.” The rest of the article covers an array of interesting work-related social networking initiatives, including Stan Relihan’s Australian LinkedIn users’ group, recuitment firm Morgan & Banks ‘ LinkMe, Prime Digital Works’, Loop Mobile’s MOKO, 3eep, and others. As picked up by Social Media in Australia, I think the last sentence of the quote is the central one. It is clear that social networking is here to stay as a work tool. We are still early on that journey, with LinkedIn currently providing only part of the potential value of a professional networking tool, Facebook blurring between personal and work networks, and a relatively small number of specialist professional networks gaining traction so far. However professional social networking has arrived. Now we can explore the potential, and the reality of how professional social networks evolve and are used to create value.” — Ross Dawson Graduate Management Admissions Council statistics Demand for admission to U.S. graduate business schools has risen, and the growing number of applicants is entering what some say is the most competitive pool in recent years. The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) reported Aug. 15 that applications to business schools are being buoyed by a confident outlook on the economy and increasing demand from employers for management degrees. In turn, schools are choosing from a pool of applicants who are equally or better qualified academically than last year’s class. The majority of the group’s member schools are in the U.S. Admissions officers have had a strong group of applicants to choose from this year. Nearly three in five fulltime master’s and MBA programs reported that their applicants are of better quality than those seen last year, according to the GMAC survey. A survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council of 252 business schools worldwide has found that almost two thirds of full-time business education programmes have received more applications this year than they did last. — The Financial Times - August 17 2007