From Bar Room Napkin to Boardroom Table With Bennett Marks at CSUF Startup Incubator

Bennett Marks at CSUF Startup Incubator

What does it take to launch a business?

At the CSUF Startup Incubator we certainly have some thoughts on that. But we just had to hear from Bennett Marks, one of the mentors in the CSUF Entrepreneurship program, who was gracious enough to come into the CSUF Startup Incubator office in Irvine to give a seminar on his startup launch process.

Bennett, who is the Managing Director of BDS Global Capital, has been working with startups for quite a while now and helps them get to launch. Among many other topics, in this talk, Bennett stressed the importance of data. For example, when doing market research, Bennett focuses on the following:

  • GDP
  • Top three players in your industry
  • Conservative estimate of how much of the market you can acquire
BDS Global Capital Managing Partner Bennett Marks (right) discussing startups with an attendee at Bennett's talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator
BDS Global Capital Managing Partner Bennett Marks (right) discussing startups with an attendee at Bennett’s talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator

GDP is a broad indicator but it’s still very important as a starting point. Too many startups do a poor job at forecasting, if they do it at all, and even many of the ones who do a decent job fail to take into macroeconomic considerations like GDP. From GDP you can drill down to figure out what your specific market is but, still, you should have an eye on the general economic health of your market.

Your competition is important for some very obvious reasons. It’s always important to know your customers; what they are selling, how they are doing that, what they have in store for the future, who is on their team, etc. Knowing your competitors is a great way to understand where they think the market is at any given moment and, if you’re good at this, where they think the market is going.

How much of the market you can realistically go after, your actionable market, is important to figure out. Many entrepreneurs will throw out 1% as a projection, as in: We will acquire 1% of the market in X number of years. That is a lazy way of doing things and whether you are pitching investors or trying to bring on a key partner who is sophisticated they will probably want to laugh you out of the building. Instead, as you are suppose to know who your competitors are you should also know who you are and what you are capable of. Knowing your business and what you are realistically capable of provides for much more realistic projections.

Bennett went on to discuss many other facets of launching a business, of which I definitely want to highlight one last thing. During the talk, Bennett had a positive interaction with one of the attendees about how that attendee could determine what the value of what he is producing is. Watch:

I had to add this last one, it’s about capital acquisition – in other words, what is good money and what is bad money. If you’re even remotely considering raising money this is worth a watch or two.

CSUF Startup Incubator

Entrepreneurs who are accepted into the CSUF Startup Incubator work with our entrepreneurial experts over a six month intensive launch period that includes: access to office space, quarterly investor pitches our entrepreneurs can participate in, free events, a dedicated one-on-one coaching relationship with one of our more than 700 startup experts, and so much more! If you are ready to learn the right way to go from concept to launch, please go to this page or contact a CSUF Startup Incubator representative at csufentrepreneurship@fullerton.edu.

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