This post has gone through a couple iterations before being posted. It started out as a rant, moved to a rant disguised as constructive criticism, now it’s settled down to something a little more readable. I’m still going to say it how it is, but the earlier versions were 80% incoherent rambling, 20% content. Hopefully this is a bit more legible.
First, a little background. My startup, GooseChase, was recently selected for the first ever Spin Master Innovation Fund. Along with 7 other companies, we were selected to receive what was touted as “the financing, mentoring and support to transform our bright, big business idea into a big business”. On the surface it looks solid – $50,000 financing, mentoring and a weekend workshop to get you going. But I have to say, the process for this specific fund, and I assume most of CYBF’s programs, is an absolute mess. Based on my experience, I honestly can’t encourage anyone else to apply to a CYBF program in good conscience.
The first strike
It all started with the application process. Anyone that knows me knows I absolutely hate business plans. I think they are an utter waste of time and aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. The act of planning is critical, but writing out a 20+ page business plan is nonsense. That’s why I, and many other entrepreneurs, use Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas. It’s short, but you get everything down that you need to without wasting your time. Admittedly, for non-software based businesses that require full-out production facilities, outsourced manufacturing, etc., you might need something a bit bigger. But maybe another page or two, not 30+ pages. With that in mind, imagine my thoughts when I found out the business plan instructions were 13 pages long. Yes, that’s right. The INSTRUCTIONS. It was so long it needed a full-out table of contents. Pages upon pages were dedicated to explaining the exact structure you needed to follow.