How to Put a Startup Idea on Paper

    by Abby Reimer
    November 14, 2014
    Reese News Lab students vote on ideas for media products to pursue.

    Our idea has gone past an idea, and it’s terrifying. In the past months, we’ve changed our prototype again and again. And now, this week, it seems that we have a prototype that is, well, pretty dang good.reese

    We’ve talked to Steve May, who teaches business ethics at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. We also talked to a compliance officer at Coke. They both agreed we had a strong idea, and started to give us logistical advice.

    "Now we’ve gone from, 'Is this a good idea?' to 'How do we actually do this?'"

    So now we’ve gone from, “Is this a good idea?” to “How do we actually do this?” Turns out that coordinating project managers to create interactive compliance programs across the world won’t be easy, or cheap. Coke’s compliance officer pointed out that creating distinct compliance training programs for the 207 countries in which they operate is just not feasible.


    He suggested we focus on mid-size companies operating in fewer countries. Or hire project managers in countries that are high-risk and unfamiliar to companies expanding their businesses.

    heading to the white board

    So, we went to the white board. We laid out our company structure, from CEO to research assistants. We tried to figure out who to outsource and who to keep in headquarters. Then we started looking at what countries we would hire project managers in, thinking about how popular the countries were for international business and corruption indexes. Finally, we narrowed down our pricing model.

    We have three pricing tiers for our interactive compliance-training programs, “classic,” which is only customized by country or region, “plus,” customized by country and industry, and “premiere,” customized by country and individual company.


    When it’s down on paper, it all seems pretty crazy. It’s a real company, with sales people and real demand and lawyers on retainer.

    But after countless days of frustration and switching and talking to compliance officers, I’m pretty excited that we have a product people want, and can make a real difference in global corruption. Scary can be good.

    also on Reese News Lab

    How can we move forward while waiting on IRB approval?

    First pitch: The IRB application

    Tackling global corruption: We have a value proposition

    How might we address global corruption?

    When you hit a wall, narrow down

    The answer almost always lies with the customer

    If you don’t think you have anyone to talk to, look harder

    Abby Reimer is a junior reporting major and business minor at UNC-Chapel Hill. She loves interactive storytelling, investigative reporting and well-designed chairs. She is the editor of Carolina Eats, a multimedia food publication. It is her first year at Reese News Lab. Check out her work on abbycarolina.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter at @reim_master. 

    This story originally appeared on Reese News Lab.

    reese2Reese News Lab is an experimental news and research project based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The lab was established in 2010 with a gift from the estate of journalism school alum Reese Felts. The Lab develops and tests new ideas for the media industry in the form of a “pre-startup.” Teams of students research ideas for media products by answering three questions: Can it be done? Does anyone actually need this? Could it sustain itself financially? To answer these questions, students create prototypes, interview and survey potential customers, and develop business strategies for their products. Students document their recommendations on whether they believe a product will work and then present their ideas to the public.

    Tagged: prototypes reese news lab startups unc

    Comments are closed.

  • Who We Are

    MediaShift is the premier destination for insight and analysis at the intersection of media and technology. The MediaShift network includes MediaShift, EducationShift, MetricShift and Idea Lab, as well as workshops and weekend hackathons, email newsletters, a weekly podcast and a series of DigitalEd online trainings.

    About MediaShift »
    Contact us »
    Sponsor MediaShift »
    MediaShift Newsletters »

    Follow us on Social Media