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TCV Insights

Successful Grant and Business Plan Writing - Do's and Don'ts

Updated: Jun 27

By Rob Meissner, TCV Growth Partner.

With the success rate for winning a SBIR grant somewhere around 15% and success at getting seed stage funding as low or lower - what do you need to know in order to beat the competition? TCV partners have won more than 70% of their SBIR grant and seed stage funding applications. Here are some hints from our experts.

DoEmphasize Market Opportunity. It’s all about where your company fits into the marketplace and what value your planned product or service brings to the market. Be sure to discuss real world interactions that support the thesis for your product (customer discovery). But….

Don’t emphasize your technology. Reviewers care most about how your company will succeed. Yes your tech enables a product or service to provide VALUE, but please don’t get too into the weeds on tech. You will lose their interest and then it’s all downhill….

DoEmphasize the value proposition your technology enables. Reviewers want to understand why anybody (but you) can get excited enough about your product or service to buy it. Explain why your technology is a game changer that provides a clearly superior benefit that customers will care about. But…

Don’t emphasize your technology – all too often grant and business plan writers write about technology details and forget to simply tell why their mousetrap is better – talk about product features compared to competition! Not technology features that enable the product features. Don’t put readers to sleep discussing technology.

DoEmphasize a path to Commercialization. Reviewers want to know if you have thought out how the technology will be converted to a product, what steps will be required, how long it will take for each step, how much it will cost and where you think you will get the money. And…

Yes - Discuss tech, but do so in the context of commercialization - how you will adopt your technology to what you learn in the marketplace, and what further development your technology will need.

DoDiscuss your business model, how it enable the company to operate successfully. Is it direct sales to consumers? Will you sell via Value Added Resellers? What kinds of margins do you expect? But…

Do NOT talk about technology in your business model discussion.

Dohighlight how your management team brings specific expertise to assure success of the company but….

Don’t emphasize technical expertise of your team. It’s all about execution of a business plan and who on your team will tackle vital aspects of execution. If you don’t have relevant experts to fill out roles, be sure to identify what persons you will need and how you will find them. Or contact TCV partners, we can help!

Do you get the picture? All too often scientist and engineers who try to write a successful SBIR or other funding applications get way too into the weeds about their much loved technology and forget the essential elements that make for a great application.

Need help? Contact Rob@TCV-Growth.Partners


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