The Business Plan Presentation (BPP) Event is one of the three major static events held in any Formula Student Competition. We know that the main objective of this event is to assess and evaluate a team’s ability to develop a comprehensive business model that demonstrates their prototype-a race car. The team needs to deliver this business model to the judges, treating them as potential investors in their business, and explain how will it be executed in a realistic world and how can it generate profit.
While the rules were left unchanged in the FS 2020 Rule Book, the FB 2021 Rule Book specified some major changes like the omission of Deep Dive Topic and Pitch Video, the introduction of a Pitch Deck, conducting the Preliminary Round via video conference and an increase in weightage of Finances in terms of points.
For ensuring the success of a BPP, an FS team must always keep these points in mind.
Getting to know how the competition works is the first significant step towards building up your plan for your model. The videos of many FSG BPP finals are available on the internet. We, as a team had sessions where we just watched all these videos to observe the top team’s presentations, their business models, their presentation sequences and of course, how they presented. It's not a bad idea to find some common aspects of these videos and to adopt them in your presentation. For example, we found out that most of the presentations had similar presentation sequences that gave them a good flow and were able to entertain the audience. PLANNING
Planning is everything in Formula Student. Putting in extra hours in towards this will go a long way in helping you by minute amounts during the competition. So once you know how the competition itself works, planning a tentative schedule is a must. This timetable must include everything from when your business model gets finalized to when your presenters are ready with their terminology. As usual, everything does get delayed according to the Rule of π but planning out a rigorous schedule like this does give you clarity when making decisions and puts pressure on your colleagues to complete things before the deadline.
THE BUSINESS MODEL
From our experience, we find that the team with a unique idea always wins the event. Even if a team with a slightly sub-par idea had the best presentation, on an average people will prefer the former. Hence, this is the crux of the event which determines your position in the finals. The business model will dictate everything in the presentation-finances, customer base, the product etc. Adequate time must be spent formulating a unique idea. A background check also must be conducted whether the idea was used by teams in the competition before or not. Once you’re confident about the basic idea, a chain of thoughts can follow on how to make the idea and it’s presentation better. Also, a good idea needn't necessarily come from the BPP group only. Try having multiple brainstorming sessions with the whole team to see if you can come up with a killer idea together.
Our main takeaway from the BPP FSG finals videos was that most teams used PowerPoint for their presentations. Having tried out Prezi and other presentation software, we decided that PowerPoint would be the easiest one for multiple people to work on. As the presentation sequence has already been adopted from these videos, people who would present on specific topics worked separately on their slides following a common template. For example, a person who would be presenting finances took care of his slides but made sure the transition from the previous slide to his was smooth and in compliance with all the other slides. This saved loads of time and made sure a person was confident in his area of presentation. In the presentation, ensure that you have slides with less usage of words and the visual elements are compatible with the background. Also, keep in mind that it must be well-organized, as presentations which have a random order of sub-topics and are unorganized turn out to become a liability for the team. Another important feedback we got from FSG was for the need of backup slides. These backup slides include customer data, market share, detailed expenditure and revenue reports, financial calculations, a detailed SWOT analysis etc. During the Q&A session, these slides would back up our assumptions and calculations, convincing the judges that we did something legit.
A business plan without a well-executed financial backing is surely going to take a toll on the score received.
The financials ideally must include the expenditure of the assumed company from the tiniest little expenses to the cost for setting up. Then comes the profit which the company has been receiving over the years and the projected profits, if any. The expenses must also include the salaries of all the staff and members who work in the company from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy. The numbers are equally important in order to understand the business' financials in a better way. Understanding the financial terms like Return on Investment, Risk Analysis, Exit strategies etc. will help you a lot in the Q&A session.
Ultimately, after all the planning and preparation, it all boils down to one last thing -practice. This is to ensure that the team members who are going to present the BPP can do it smoothly and without any hiccups. As per the latest change in the BPP rules of FB 2021, teams need to ensure that their members who are going to present it have enough online practice sessions, so that they have full mastery over the material and don't crack under pressure while presenting it to the judges on the actual day.
These are the points that we take care of while preparing for the BPP of any FS competition. We hope that you take note of these points while preparing for your BPP. If you feel we missed something do let us know in the comments.
P.S-For those who don't know what the Rule of π is:-
"If you think that it will take a week for you to build a desk, it will actually take you 3.14 weeks. And if the budget for the said desk is $100, you will be out of $314 before it's all over."
(excerpt from Racecar: Searching for the Limit in Formula SAE by Matt Brown)