IEEE members already running their own company or planning to start one can get business planning and investment advice from seasoned professionals thanks to TechMatch, a free online service recently launched by IEEE-USA.
The service first provides an automated two-part assessment of the business—offering, for example, approaches to establishing a target market, the kind of investors to seek, and whether to seek a financial, product design, or equity partner. Then, a committee of IEEE-USA volunteers who are experienced entrepreneurs steps in to analyze the assessment and provide feedback.
IEEE-USA partnered with an online investment assessment company, Business Catapult, to create TechMatch.
Users of the service begin by responding to two sets of survey questions. An initial benchmark survey analyzes the business concept and strategy. Included are such questions as “How unique is your business?” “When did you consistently start generating a profit?” “How much do you anticipate you will need to invest?” and “What is your experience with customers?” Answers are automatically compared to those of successful businesses already reviewed by Business Catapult.
Next comes an investment survey, which has such questions as the investment’s purpose, the amount of money being sought, the stage of company development, and the company’s projected value. The site scores the investment plan from 1 to 100 and provides suggestions for improvement.
With the automated assessment of the business plan in hand, the entrepreneur next submits the plan for review to the IEEE volunteers. The committee suggests how to improve the business strategy, which can then be modified and returned to the committee for a second look. At the end of the process, which can take up to a month, IEEE-USA TechMatch forwards the final plan with recommendations for moving forward.
The process is free. But for a fee, the investment plan can be shown to actual would-be investors who are also subscribers to Business Catapult services. But for this, the businessperson must buy an Entrepreneur’s Subscription on the Business Catapult homepage for US $50 a month.