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Many recent economic analyses show that the digital revolution and global competition have speeded up technological progress and appreciably reduced the lifecycle of numerous products and technologies. In the world's leading economies, the close links between creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation are evident.
A substantial part of the changes in the recent economic growth of these economies has been the result of the direct contribution of new businesses created by entrepreneurs.
It is becoming more widespread the conviction that entrepreneurs play a crucial role as agents of social and economic change, identifying and making the most of the existing opportunities in the market, opening up or creating new markets and capitalizing on these opportunities through the construction of a new business that generates employment. So, by finding new ways of doing things, they stimulate changes that improve the efficiency or productivity of an economy.
The study of the education basis of successful new entrepreneurs shows a wise combination between the general mastery of business skills and the specific knowledge of those aspects that favor the feasibility of their business ideas. Certainly, in our societies, the level of technological complexity is growing and new advances increasingly call for a broader knowledge base and training. It is essential, therefore, that the university system is able to respond to this challenge by developing well-designed educational programmes for entrepreneurs.
Where does the strategic role of universities lie? There is a broad political consensus that training in entrepreneurial skills has to improve the quality and quantity of university-based entrepreneurs in order to improve the basic knowledge and abilities needed to start up a new business and make it viable.
Entrepreneurship education encourages the growth of new businesses, exploiting the creative potential and depth of knowledge within higher education sector. De Faoite et al. (2003) found that entrepreneurship education contributes for (i) the integration of a variety of business subjects, (ii) the promotion of improved decision-making skills and (iii) the increase in technology transfer between education establishments and the market place creating improved synergy and added value between both entities and the potential to add value to other non-business and technical programmes.
Brown (2002) sees entrepreneurship education as a mean to teach students the skills to build a business and, in a large sense, to take responsibility and initiative in their lives.
Boyce (2003) suggests that colleges and universities should be viewed as having the qualities of loosely coupled systems with diffused decision making. For these institutions it is imperative that an established infrastructure will support the ongoing process of knowledge creation, delivery and management at all levels of the organization. Entrepreneurship education can empower youths and improve the economy of the nation. Universities need to assume this challenge of curricula entrepreneurship education in a more aggressive way.
Considering key trends that are occurring in educational environments, such as diversification of students and faculty, changes in technology, and globalization, Kezar (2005) suggests that higher education institutions (HEI) must mine organizational learning concepts and theories. Freed (2001) notes that in the learning organization, people look for new and better ways of doing things, and they work together to make process improvements that benefit institutional stakeholders. According to Kezar (2005) this concept integrates an experiential component supported by knowledge acquired in a traditional classroom setting. This format is believed to best meet the needs of the students, as well as other key stakeholders within this community (Piccoli et al., 2000).
1.1 - Literature review
Academics have long examined that entrepreneurial activity tends to vary across regions and these differences in opportunities can explain why some regions have higher start-up rates than others (Audretsch and Fritsch, 2002). The first possibility is that the success of entrepreneurship courses depends on the regional context. Research on knowledge spillovers has found that such spillovers are localized (Glaeser et al., 1992). This involves that regional disparity in knowledge stocks and research and development (R&D) investment matter as regions with higher knowledge and more R&D activity provide more knowledge spillovers and thus more entrepreneurial opportunities than others. Human capital density measures the share of highly-qualified individuals in the regional labour force.
In this research, literature review will cover some existing literature on factors affecting electronic learning system. Some variables in the research were selected from previous studies and some others interviews with some experts in the field of E- learning in agricultural sector.
E-learning in Iran
In the last decade, experts have founded an e-learning center in the IT engineering at College coach. The government plans to provide higher education centers throughout the country, especially in remote areas, and e-learning is a plausible method for providing the instruction.
In these challenging and rapidly changing times, organizations are becoming more convinced that the only lasting differentiator and source of competitive advantage is their human capital. Executives increasingly realize that the fate of their companies rests on their employee's ability to absorb information rapidly and learn the skills necessary to adapt to a constantly changing environment. This has led to a rush in finding and adopting a new way of delivering training knows as "online learning or "E-learning". Electronic learning refers to communication and learning activities through computers and networks.
Many organization, Institutes, universities, schools and corporations are investing substantial amounts of time and money in developing online alternatives to traditional types of education and training systems. E- Learning in agriculture related fields is still in the early phases of adaption. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in Iran like many other organizations and educational centers has considered the necessity of e-learning in agricultural extension network for training extension.
Every year extension agents are trained in different on-the-job training courses regularly. Holding such training courses in training centers requires considerable time and money, because extension agents from different offices should leave the office for training centers. With providing online training one can save time and money and train a bigger group simultaneously. Therefore e-learning as a modern approach in training can be used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of training in extension services.
MoF usually uses the traditional face-to-face methods to train extension agents , but this methods often fails for several reasons including 1- the number of extension agents is considerably high(6536 persons). 2- The extension agents are scattered throughout the country (in 1213 extension center in 32 provinces). 3- This method of traditional learning is very costly, difficult to manage and implement. It seems that e-learning would be an appropriate solution for solving this problem.
On the other hand, according to (karmaker and Wahid, 2009) developing and expanding e-learning brings many opportunities for organizations including:
saving time, money and effort
addressing training needs from remote areas
providing self-learning opportunities
having a positive impact on the learning process
Providing a mechanism for collaborative learning.
With regard to population growth during 1979-1989 and that wave reaching to the first decade of 21st century, lack of progress in agricultural economy, immethodical expansion of agricultural higher education excessive number of students graduates, government policies to downsize its structure, inability of Agricultural, in self-employment sector.
Entrepreneurial education can play a significant role in changing views of students towards self-employment and through education on necessary skills to manage a business has prepared them for self-employment labor market.
The role of higher education as a major driver of economic development is well established, and this role will increase as further changes in technology, globalization, and demographics impact of the Iran. To remain competitive in light of these changes, regions will need to improve productivity and adopt an innovative spirit. Higher education has the capacity, knowledge, and research necessary to help achieve these goals.
Oversupply of graduate manpower in IT sector, unemployment growth in their community, lack of response or positive feedbacks to the efforts made in recent decade to find a solution for unemployment problem of graduates on one side and on the other hand the necessity to move to competitive a based on market caused to pay more and more attention to entrepreneurship as a fundamental issue. Proposing new ideas based on the role of entrepreneurship in increasing job opportunities, competitiveness, and improvement in manpower productivity, technology development, wealth generating and social welfare level and also existence of strong relation between entrepreneurial development and economic growth of the countries have all resulted in a serious consideration of entrepreneurship in new economic theories and have been regarded as a provocative engine in economical social growth and development of countries.
1.3. College of Description
College Coach, Inc. will be formed as a variety of young people and adults with different cultural, social and educational backgrounds, in the first quarter of 2007. Headquarters in Tehran - Iran area. Our vision is to become about creating and help to start building confidence executive program (Bachelor /Master).
The Entrepreneurship Education formed decision stakeholder partnerships have mobilized more than startup budget of capital of $ 4 million that about $1 million for capable of raising borrowed from the local bank (Melli Bank of Iran) in resources support and made an impact with teachers and students in Iran. This approach has proven successful and has demonstrated that it is through collaboration that we can achieve and scale the development and delivery of effective education programmes.
1.4. Target Market
The primary target market for this product is the approximately 6 million students of Iran from high school graduated, who are engaged in the process of planning for university at any given time to list the highly customized services available to colleges/universities. And second, Education will be the instrument for providing better opportunities to get job or change work and students for applied - scientific education in agriculture in Iran.
Table 1: Target and sample population
Total number of extension experts
2. Business Model
2.1. Core competence Strategy
Core competence is a managerial concept used to analyze and develops key elements of business strategy. Educational characteristics which might be considered to delineate core competence, an economic approach are adopted. The educational perspective suggests accreditation as the core competence of Universities. The economic approach suggests that the market trend toward lifetime learning might best be met by institutions developing a core competence in relationship marketing. Develop and maintain a unique product (student) that takes a comprehensive, integrated approach to education research and planning to allow as many students as possible to make educated decision about their higher education options.
2.2. Diversity and differentiation
The concepts of diversity and differentiation have been widely discussed in the higher education literature. Clark's argument regarding Diversity and differentiation is based on his conviction that the growing complexity of bodies of knowledge brings along an ever-increasing fragmentation within and among higher education organizations.
According to Clark, the increasing complexity of higher education systems (and of the functions this system must fulfill) is an outcome of three related forces: the increasing variety of the student population, the growth of the labour market for academic graduates and the emergence and growth of new disciplines. The effects are ongoing differentiation processes and increasing levels of diversity. Emphasizing that differentiation often is in the interest of groups and individuals (Clark, 1983, p. 221)
3. Operating System
Academia is a unique industry in that is not truly a service. However, although operating philosophies differ between non-profit and profit academic organizations, the operating system used by academic institutions is well established and successful.
3.1. Strategic Priorities
Cost, delivery, flexibility and quality have been identifies as key operational priorities.
Quality: College is servicing a niche segment and is uniquely positioned to develop a premium brand. And justifiably, demand a premium price for it service. The company's value proposition leverages its full-time and part time faculty, independent study model, and advanced technological resources and student involvement in the design of their curriculum delivery.
Delivery. Students will have 24/7 access to course materials and resources, and develop individual learning plans with their instructors to assure their preferred learning style is engaged.
Flexibility. Students will essentially have five weeks worth of assignments distributed over a six-week period. This flex-module is especially designed for entrepreneurship personalities who have a strong locus of control.
Technology. The technological infrastructure for College Coach will build upon a platform provided and supported by a leading e-learning software company. Students will receive:
24/7 access to several dozen multi-media presentations
Links to discussion boards
Access to a comprehensive library and e- books
Access to virtual commons, where special interest and study groups will meet
3.2. Operational Plan
College Coach will develop internal admissions and lead management processes. Additionally, academic record management software will be utilized to track student development and maintain academic transcripts. To assure security and mitigate risk, records will be backed-up daily and a copy will be stored off-site in a data warehouse. General administrative functions, such as payroll, will be outsourced. However, the college will develop relationships with following professional service providers:
Financial Management - College Coach management has begun negotiations with several private student loan companies to provide student financial aid processing and billing services. Leveraging the core competencies of an industry leader in this field will result in customer confidence and decreased risk (Lincoln, 2001).
Full access to online databases and inter library loan programs
Onetime fee: $500
Annual Fee: $660
Accreditation- College Coach will seek accreditation through the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). DETC was established in 1926 and is recognized by the US Department of Education and the council for higher education accreditation. Members may participate in providence student aid, and Bill funding programs.
College Coach will need the following non-financial resources to be successful:
Human Capital, Technical design, Technical development, Graphic Development, Advertising, sales, administrative of staff.
Facilities and Equipments
College Coach needs to 400 Chisholm Place, Suite 105, Plano, TX 75075 and Estimated Cost: $ 1,483.13/mo, 1.5mbps Internet access, 6 local phone lines w/up to 1,500 long distance minutes per month, 1.5mbps Internet access. College needs to hardware and software equipment and Classes.
4. Marketing plan
College Coach is especially well positioned for long-term viability, scalability, and profitability as it possess two of the key components researchers have identified as antecedents of organizational success: entrepreneurial orientation and market orientation. Keys to being market oriented are: maintaining a keen awareness of the firm's environment, understanding and anticipating needs of your prospects and customers, and developing innovative services that generate a first mover advantage.
4.1. Environment Forces
The following SWOT and PEST analyses provide overview of the internal and external environment:
Strengths. Management team, low faculty student, ratio, Innovative business , model and flexibility.
Weaknesses. Self- financed, non-accredited, limited financial and human resources, heavily retain on outsourcing.
Opportunity. For-profit segment in growth phase, healthy profit-margins and niche positioning.
Threats. Established competitors, low barrier to entry, substitute products and potential rivals.
A PEST analysis identifies political, societal and technological factors within the external environment which may positively or negatively, affect the company's future.
Political = Changes low government educational, Educational tax credits and accreditation standards.
Economic = Recession, recovery, globalization and industry consolidation.
Societal= population changing In Iran, demographics, computer literacy and acceptance of online education.
Technological = Increased broadband access, mobile technology, proliferations, enhanced wireless productivity
4.2. General Marketing Strategy
1- Build general brand awareness through sponsorships, etc
2- Drive purchase decision at college-related events
Offer district-wide and school-wide licenses at a discount, with schools to promote to students
initial Target Markets
4.3. Pricing Strategy
4.3.1. Pricing to individuals
First month free with sign-up; cancelable at any time.
$7.99 per month thereafter for all basic services
$4.99 per month for additional students living in same household
4.3.2. Pricing to schools/school districts
Schools and school districts will be offered licenses for a given number of individual accounts according to the following discount schedule:
Number of Accounts
Annual Fee $
4.3. Sales and Distribution Strategy
In keeping with two-pronged overall strategy, sales will comprise a two-pronged approach
Direct sales force working with school, school districts, and other organizations promoting college attendance (3,000,000 high school graduates per year).
Sales to individual students will be on-line through our website.
Distribution will be entirely internet-based
4.5. Advertising and Promotion
Outsource initial organic search engine optimization techniques for our site, as well as ongoing monitoring and maintenance.
Establish a budget for pay-per-click advertising using keyword optimization techniques. The budget will increase over time as resulting site visits and sales conversions warrant.
Establish a small budget for local sponsorships and advertising to reach students and parents in our initial target market.
Obtain selected student names and addresses from high school/school district (public info) for limited direct mail campaign, with results closely monitored
Establish and promote college scholarships to promote brand awareness and support college attendance.
Establish and promote program that allows schools to identify a limited number of students for a free subscription to the site, based on academic and economic situation.
4.6. Overall Marketing Budget
The overall marketing budget is summarized in the table below.
National Marketing-Web Based
Company web-site, Facebook and My Space accounts
Included in Section 5
Search Engine Optimization (outsourced)
$120 first 2 months followed by $ 60 per month thereafter
Pay Per Click Advertising (Google Adwords, etc.)
$100 per month for first year, increasing to $150 per month thereafter
National Marketing-Counselor Targeted
Booth at national school counselor conventions, memberships, advertising, etc.
$500 per year
National-Public Relations Based
$500 per year
Free subscriptions for economically disadvantaged
No cost; just forgone revenue
Local Promotion and Advertising
Sponsorships and advertising
$500 per year
Marketing Collateral (print, promotional items)
$10,00 per year
5. Design and Development Plan
College Coach is currently in the concept stage. This university will be constructed using the Waterfall approach in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
Within the project cost and staffing life cycle, CollegeCoach will use the following project phases and phase activities:
5.1. Initiating the Project
The first phase of the development project is the initiation phase.
Confirmation of project fit with Organization Strategic Plan
Develop project Statement of Work/Contract
Document Project Assumptions
Document Major Deliverables
Establish Project Boundaries
Develop Project Acceptance Criteria
Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement
Develop Project Budget Estimate
5.2. Planning the Project
Once the project initiation is complete the planning phase will begin. Developing a Project Scope Management Plan
Detailing out the Project Scope Statement
Developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
Confirmation of Cost Estimates and Budgeting
Developing a Staffing Management Plan
Developing a Change Control Plan
Developing a quality management plan
Developing a communication plan
Define Team Roles and Responsibilities
Define Team Reporting Structure
5.3. Executing the Project
Once the project planning is complete the execution phase will begin.
Acquisition of project team members
Selecting vendors to support development process
Executing the project plan
Performing Quality Assurance
Monitoring and Controlling the Project
Throughout the project the monitoring and controlling activities will take place.
Project Performance reporting to project stakeholders
Team Performance reporting to project stakeholders
Continuous Project Scope Verification
Management of Team and Stakeholders expectations
Closing the Project
Once the project execution phase is complete the project closing phase will begin.
1. Project Close
a. Administrative closing procedures
b. Contract closure procedures
c. Lessons Learned
2. Contract Closure
a. Resolution of any open items
b. Procurement audits
c. Closed contracts
5.6. Value Proposition
â€¢Product value - high quality solution with the features that students, parents, and counselors need to collaborate together.
â€¢ Price value - price that provides access to the resources that our customers need in the most cost effective manner possible to reach the largest amount of consumers.
â€¢ Access value - our solution is available 24x7 and is available
â€¢ Service value - because of our proprietary software the customer is part of an iterative process that is constantly refining itself as more information is added.
â€¢ Experience value - the experience with our solution and methodology conveys the importance of the decision and provides an environment where questions are encouraged and fosters a sense of trust between student, parent, and counselor.
6. The Market
6.1. Target Customer
Primary target customer for our product is an Iran high school students that desires to engage in research and is planning to take the next step on to higher education. These students are typically a middle class male or female, 15 - 18 years of age, who attends Colleges/universities.
6.2. Market Size
Eventually three approaches were identified to approximate the market size for our type of business, based on the use of two proxies (the private counselor market and the market for high school test preparation for college or university) and demographic information obtained through the Iran Department of Education as well as our own survey. The resultant estimate is $0.5-1.0 M.
6.3. Sales Projections and Estimated Market Share
Based on the detailed marketing plan presented in Section 4, and the assumptions detailed below, sales projections for three years were estimated as shown in Appendix E and summarized below.
Sales Projections ($Million) Year 1*
Year 1 Year 2
Avg. No. Individual Students
Avg. No. Schools/School Districts
6.4. Assumptions used to derive sales projections:
Launch site just before beginning of school year, to capitalize on natural cycle of interest in college planning.
3000 subscribers first month (less than 5% of actual Jan. 2007 keyword searches for "college application", "college admission", "college search" and "college guide")
5% growth in subscription month over month from August through March; 0.5% April through July
Average monthly retention rate of 85% from August through March
30% retention rate in April, as seniors finalize college plans and no longer need our services
Average revenues per usage of premium content: $20
Average usage rate of premium content: 5%
The overall development timeline will be 8 months. The following is a breakdown for the timeline by project phase.
Projected Salaries Budget
Software Application Architect - $100,000
Web Software Developer - $85,000
Graphic Design Specialist - $60,000
Graphic Design Specialist - $45,000
Database Administrator - $90,000
Counselor - Higher Education - $60,000
Total: $510,000/ year in salaries
8. Management and Organizational Structure
8.1. Company Managers
Chief Executive Officer -
Chief Financial Officer/Controller -
Executive VP of Operations -
VP of Technology -
VP of Sales and Marketing -
8.2. Advisory Board Members
The advisory board for College Coach will be made up of five members. Two of the seats on the advisory board will be occupied by company management team members, one seat will be occupied by a representative from the Venture Capital firm, one seat will be occupied by a representative from the education community, and the final seat will be occupied by a relevant industry professional that have specific knowledge deemed beneficial to university.
8.3. Key Consultants/Advisors
â€¢ College Coach will engage the law offices
â€¢ College Coach will engage Web solution
â€¢ Knowledge Partners
9. Timeline of Events and Milestones
College Coach will strive to meet the milestones by following the basic timeline below. The timeline for College Coach is developed with major and interim milestones. Establishing milestones will allow for accurate assessment of progress to be done on a regular basis at any phase of the timeline. The timeline developed maps to the above mentioned project cost and staffing lifecycle.
9.1. Abbreviated Timeline of Events: (This should be in Gantt chart form)
Phase I: Business Formation - 112 days beginning 8/21/2007 and ending 1/29/2008.
Phase II: Business Funding - 152 days beginning 11/20/2007 and ending 3/17/2008
Phase III: Product Design/Development - 186 days beginning 11/20/2007 and ending 8/11/2008
9.2. Short Term Goals
Establish corporate entity
Seek initial seed funding for Planning phase and 2nd round funding for Execution phase
Hire key personnel
Develop promotional advertising campaign
Begin conversations and demos with local school districts
Identify relevant, cost effective sponsorship opportunitie
9.3. Long Term Goals
Revenue of $417,000 per month = $5,000,000 per year
Position self as premier solution for higher education research and planning
Sign long-term contracts with school districts nationwide
Seek the endorsement from local, state, and national governments and non-profit organizations
Establish a non-profit foundation and contribute a portion of revenues for college scholarships for underprivileged students
Position the company for a strategic acquisition within 5 years.
10.1. Startup Budget
First year Budget
Salaries including payroll taxes for non-owner employees (software architect, web designer, counselor)
Repairs & maintenance
Accounting and legal
Internet & Telephone
Performa Financial Statements
Performa Financial Statements, along with the revenue estimate calculations can be found in Appendix E. A summary is provided below:
Break-Even Analyzing and operating
Breakeven analysis called cost-volume-profit analysis is an important analytical used to study relations among costs, revenues, and profit. Both graphic and algebraic methods are used.
What is it?
A break even analysis examines the relationship between the costs and revenue in your business. The break-even "point" of a business is the level of total revenue which is equivalent to its total costs.
Why is it so important to know breakeven point?
For a developing business, the break-even point is the point at which the business starts paying for itself, and becomes self-sustaining. Therefore from a business planning perspective, when looking into the future, a business must have sufficient cash reserves to stay afloat until the break even revenue point is exceeded.
"Total Costs" - at a point in time
Business expenses can be categorized as fixed, variable or semi-variable. Therefore the calculation of "Total Costs" in a business will not be precise, because expenses will vary and even change their nature according to a range of influences on the business' activity level - influences such as seasonal demand factors, and a variety of real-world factors which fluctuate over time.
Because a break even calculation is an arithmetic calculation taken at a single point in time, caution should be exercised in relying too heavily on a single calculation when taking big decisions.
Nevertheless, despite the limitations, a break even calculation or graph is an essential inclusion in any business plan, because it, together with the cash flow forecast gives the reader a prediction of how soon a business venture will become self-funding, and of course by implication, how much money it will require to get to there.
The Margin of Safety
An established business (whether new or long-standing) which has successfully traded beyond its breakeven point, will be interested in its "margin of safety", that is to say, how much total revenue could fall before the business starts making a loss, i.e. expenditures are greater than revenue. A business with a large margin of safety is clearly in a much stronger position.
It is obvious that communities are trying to limit traditional training delivery methods and using e-learning instead. Extension agents play a crucial role in agricultural extension; therefore to accomplish this role in the best manner there is a need of applying new and effective methods to train extension experts in this field.
But e-learning in Iran's agricultural extension in still in the early phases of adoption. It is
Clear that there are many factors that can delay or increase the development of e-learning in agricultural extension. For access to this goal, finding factors influencing the development of electronic learning in agricultural extension is necessary. This research, found some of factors including: psychological, organizational, cultural, technical, financial and managerial. According the results, extension agents should change their preconception and make positive attitude to e- learning and its effectiveness in learning and training process.