Mindshaker will deliver two categories of products - textbooks and digital learning tools - and a knowledge sharing service via the company's web site. The site has the functionality to store student and professor information by a unique user id to facilitate order processing and targeted marketing while minimizing redundant data entry. Users will have the ability to shop online for a variety of innovative educational products from textbooks to multimedia products, as well as visit the chat rooms and post information on the site bulletin boards. Management has already begun obtaining booklists from the initial targeted universities and assembling a catalog of multimedia educational products including:
For students, Mindshaker will provide a central service where they can view syllabi for the classes they have selected, and determine the books and additional course materials required by their professors. The students can then order all of their required textbooks and supplemental learning materials on line. Simulation games and other digital materials purchased by the professor will be available for download by students using a password issued to the professor at the time of purchase.
For professors, Mindshaker consolidates a wide array of educational materials in one convenient spot where the materials can be reviewed and purchased with convenient billing to the universities. Mindshaker will also provide royalties to any professor who contributes a paper or game to be sold on the site. The ability to review syllabi of other professors in one convenient location and exchange professional information in subject specific chat rooms will facilitate networking with colleagues and the comparison of teaching methodologies, educational materials and research.
Key Product & Service Benefits
Mindshaker management believes that the textbook and educational products industry is particularly suited to online retailing for several reasons. An online seller has virtually unlimited online "shelf space" and can offer customers a vast selection through an efficient search and retrieval interface. In addition, by serving a much larger market than traditional "brick and mortar" bookstores, an online seller can capitalize on centralized distribution and operations and thus realize significant cost advantages. Furthermore, textbooks are a commodity item that can be selected and sampled effectively through online abstracts, excerpts, and reviews and have consistent high quality across retailers.
Real benefits for educators and students (and significant first mover advantages) are present in the value-added materials. Currently, other than conferences and professional meetings, there is no one place where educators can exchange basic course materials and techniques. The average educator is overwhelmed with hundreds of sources for books and other educational materials. Mindshaker will provide one convenient location to review materials and exchange ideas. The simulations, videos, games and other multimedia products can also be easily demonstrated through our web interface.
Mindshaker intends to use its technology to deliver outstanding service and to achieve the significant economies inherent in the online store model. Mindshaker's strategy is to build strong brand recognition, customer loyalty and supplier relationships, while utilizing an economic model that is superior to the capital and real estate intensive traditional college bookstore.
Mindshaker will begin its operations by focusing on 20 of the most prestigious graduate and professional schools - representing all areas of graduate study - in the country (see Exhibit 2 for target schools and enrollment levels). This initial market consists of 131,100 students and over 13,000 faculty. Mindshaker expects to expand its model to include 150 schools within five years. At that time, our market will consist of 651,100 students and over 65,000 faculty. Mindshaker will also continue to expand its product line to include the latest in innovative educational tools. As Mindshaker increases its product line and its market penetration in the graduate education sector, economies of scale and the company's online business model will help reduce operating costs and increase profit margins. Mindshaker also plans to maintain a comprehensive database of customer information and preferences in order to customize our services to each individual, decipher customer interest patterns, and cross sell related products to these customers.
Fortunately for Mindshaker, the "brick and mortar" status of college bookstores restricts product expansion without incurring significant capital expenditures. Additionally, the majority of existing college bookstores are either operated as non-profit entities, or they are owned by their own institutions and face significant capacity constraints. It is also relevant to note that the technical expertise that is required to understand the newest innovations in education is not typically available to these entities. It is critical to consider the online competitors in this industry. While management is unaware of another company that offers the same range of products and services to graduate students and educators as Mindshaker plans to offer, we anticipate that our online textbook competitors will begin to expand their services and market scope within the next year.
Mindshaker management is aware of significant marketing and infrastructure investments that have been made by VarsityBooks.com and Efollet.com in an effort to increase market penetration and build brand equity. These expenditures have been primarily focused on marketing and advertising efforts. Both companies have spent a great deal of money on television and radio advertising. Mindshaker does not feel that these are the best avenues to reach the target market. In addition, both of these companies are focusing expansion efforts on textbook sales to undergraduate students. Mindshaker will focus its efforts on providing "one stop shopping" for graduate students and educators. Management believes that the Mindshaker market will respond to more direct marketing and sales efforts such as direct mail, trade shows, and campus newspaper advertising, rather than mass market campaigns.
Mindshaker will compete with college and online bookstores not by attempting to comer their market, but rather by focusing on textbooks as well as on related educational materials and services that represent the trend in educational innovation. Mindshaker will provide a convenient and customized online graduate marketplace that offers traditional and innovative educational products and services.
|Table of Contents||Appendices|
1. Executive Summary|
2. Market Analysis
3. Company Description
4. Marketing & Sales
5. Products & Services
Board CV Summaries
|All information herein is confidential and belongs to Mindshaker|