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Business English Activities – Venture Capitalists

While on my way to a business English skills class I suddenely realised that the materials I had were shoddy (see the next post). They consisted of a couple of photocopied sheets of very dry business skills tips and exercises. Realising that the class would move at a snail’s pace and be thoroughly boring, I whipped out my notepad and threw together this little Business English speaking activity. I recommend you include it in your Business english lesson plan.

I rather enjoyed pretending to be a Silicon Valley CEO

Time Travelling Venture Capitalists

The teacher takes on the role of CEO of a venture capital firm.
The students are divided into teams who work for the firm.
Their job is to assess the investment potential of the different companies who approach the firm for venture capital money.
This is the Time Travel part. You all have to imagine (No, I hadn’t been smoking anything) that this was six or seven years ago before the firms you’re going to discuss became big.
You give them the names of some well known companies who were started with Venture capitalist money. For example – Facebook, Starbucks, Youtube (there’s hundreds of potential companies).
The teams then have to discuss and write a report on the company based on the following criteria…

Name
Product: What they do in a nutshell
Key selling point
Revenue model: How are they going to make money?
Projected Growth
Competitors
Weaknesses
Final recomendation: Invest yes or no?

After they’ve been discussing this in their teams and writing notes, they then have to give a brief presentation on the company, during which you ask them all sorts of tricky questions – as if you were the CEO trying to discover more.

Remember, you have to imagine what it must have been like before these companies were well known. For example, when a student described facebook as a “big database of people who you can contact” I said “what..like a telephone book?” and thus forced him to refine and articulate his answer better. Part of the fun is realising the dificulty these companies must have had pitching their idea in a world where, for example, there was no social networking sites.

As Business English activities go, it was a hit I must admit.

Time Travelling Venture Capitalists… maybe I was smoking something after all.

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