BrandU (or ‘the Company’) will offer premium personal branding and content
creation services catered towards student needs and budgets. It will be the organization’s
mission to assist students to accomplish their job search, graduate school, or scholarship
goals by creating a reliable, accessible network of talented student writers (see Exhibit 1).
This will allow the Company to bridge the gap between students and the high-quality
content they require to achieve their career and educational aspirations.
The organization will provide two primary services: job search materials and
admissions essay review. The former will include the creation and development of critical
job search tools such as the résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and online portfolio. The
admissions essays stream will target students seeking to apply to professional school
directly after their undergraduate degrees, and will provide proofreading, analysis, and
development of existing content.
BrandU will target high-achieving, ambitious undergraduate students at Western
University (Western) during its first year of operations. Subsequently, the venture will
leverage its minimal start-up costs and simple structure to expand to numerous campuses
in Ontario, establishing itself as the go-to personal branding network for Canadian post-
Further, BrandU will not only provide essential services, but will also give talented
student writers the opportunity to gain practical work experience by contributing their skills
to their communities.
Goals and Objectives:
Within the first year of operations, BrandU’s primary goals will be to maintain positive
cash flow in order to remain capable of mitigating unforeseen obstacles while also breaking-
even on all fixed and variable costs.
These goals will be accomplished primarily through the training and mentoring of a
team of five part-time writers, all of whom BrandU hopes to retain throughout the fiscal year.
This will allow the Company to accomplish its goal of serving 270 clients within the first year
To support this objective, BrandU will aim to develop a significant social media
presence by establishing a Facebook page and acquiring 1000 likes 1
and 500 Twitter
. This goal will be attainable when considering that Western retains nearly 40,000
and student-run organizations such as the Pre-Business Students’ Network (PBSN)
have gained over 1,300 fans3 within two years.
During the third year of operations, BrandU’s primary objective will be to expand to
the University of Toronto (U of T) due to the institution’s demographic similarities to
Western. This central location in a large city will also facilitate expansion to additional
Toronto-based universities and colleges, establishing BrandU as a sustainable long-term
The organization’s foremost goal is to provide exceptional, high-quality content
created by a network of skilled student writers. In doing so, BrandU will assist students
seeking career or educational advancement to discover, communicate, and leverage their
1 Demonstrates support for the page, all users who ‘like’ or ‘follow’ a certain page or company will receive
updates on the content that the page shares.
2 Source: https://www.facebook.com/WesternUniversity
3 Source: https://www.facebook.com/pbsnuwo
brands. This will be done by establishing a flexible work environment, increasing BrandU’s
credibility, and developing the Company’s brand.
As BrandU will consist of student writers and a student sole proprietor, operating in a
manner that provides the flexibility to succeed academically while completing business
responsibilities is paramount.
The success of this venture is highly dependent on the writers’ capabilities. Thus,
another objective is to create a comprehensive training and certification program that will
increase the organization’s credibility.
Finally, BrandU intends to become the premier organization for students seeking
personal branding and content development services. As such, it is critical that the
organization develops and communicates a compelling brand and reputation of its own
through maintaining an online presence and on-campus visibility.
BrandU’s market research approach focused on survey distribution to assess
demand within Western’s campus. The survey was distributed at the University Community
Centre (UCC), Ivey Business School, student residences, and various libraries across
campus. This approach permitted the collection of comprehensive results that identified the
characteristics of the organization’s target market.
To begin, the survey (see Exhibit 2) asked diagnostic questions to assess
respondents’ attitudes towards their résumés. It was assumed that the vast majority of
students would possess this job search tool and so it could be used to determine their
attitudes towards their career-related content. These questions confirmed that
approximately 40% (see Exhibit 3) of respondents disagreed or were unsure that their
résumé accurately reflected their abilities and the value they could provide to an
organization. In addition, 66.6% were not confident that their résumé would get them an
interview with their target organization. These results indicate that the majority of students
do not feel that their current résumé will assist them in achieving their career goals, thus
evidencing the need for BrandU’s personal branding services. As content quality was a
common concern among respondents, it will be paramount that the Company’s marketing
initiatives reflect BrandU’s ability to increase clients’ confidence in their job search materials
by assisting them to communicate their brands compellingly.
An obstacle that the organization will face will be the stigma surrounding employing
trained student writers. As such, questions five and six were intended to assess
respondents’ attitudes towards paying for services from students. Results demonstrated
that 57.5% of respondents would pay to have their job search content overhauled by a
professional writer, whereas 34.1% would hire a trained student; however, the majority of
respondents did not switch to being completely unwilling to pay for student writers, as
evidenced by the neutral section rising from 23% for professionals to 35% for students. This
evidences the need to establish an intensive training program for writers in order to promote
BrandU’s credibility as a premiere personal branding service It will also be paramount to
establish a quality assurance method wherein the Owner and Certified Professional
Resume Writer (CPRW)4
will be extensively involved in ensuring that BrandU consistently
produces high-quality content.
The market research team primarily targeted first year students to ensure that there
was interest for personal branding services among Western’s youngest demographic. This
was because it was assumed that the Company’s client base during the first fiscal year will
likely consist mostly of first and second year students as a result of third to fifth year
4The CPRW designation is the industry’s leading certification for strategic resume writers, awarded by the
Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches: http://www.parw.com
students being unwilling to consider BrandU as a credible alternative to their own
capabilities. Despite this, results exhibited consistent demand for BrandU’s services across
all age groups, indicating high potential for a sustainable venture.
To determine appropriate pricing for the Company’s services, questions six through
nine assessed the amount that the market would be willing to pay for BrandU’s services. To
encourage informed responses, the industry average prices for the various services
mentioned were incorporated in footnotes. Responses for the offerings varied significantly
between $0-$199, indicating the need for an assortment of packages that fit a number of
different budgetary restrictions.
Question ten assessed the demand for a variety of services that BrandU could offer
with the goal of determining which offerings would be most valuable to the student market. It
was discovered that only 4.2% of respondents would not want to receive any of BrandU’s
services, indicating a strikingly positive attitude towards the Company’s offerings. Though
high demand was exhibited for both ‘editing’ and ‘overhauling’ categories, editing options
were selected by an average of 12% more respondents. This indicates that BrandU should
offer both editing and content creation services to maximize revenue.
An unanticipated result was the high demand for revisions on admissions essays,
with 48% of respondents indicating that they would be interested in receiving this service.
This supports the notion of offering two service streams: admissions essays and job search
Finally, it was assessed that demand did not vary based on faculty, indicating that
BrandU should engage in campus-wide advertisements as opposed to focusing on specific
Canada’s youth are facing an increasingly competitive job market. Statistics Canada
reported that “In 2012, the unemployment rate of youths aged 15 to 24 was 14.3%,
compared with a rate of 6.0% for workers aged 25 to 54…” 5
indicating that youth are
decidedly disadvantaged in the job search. This is coupled with Ontarian youth in particular
facing unemployment rates that fluctuate between 16-17.1%6, a trend that has been rising
consistently since 2006 and that surpasses the average Canadian youth unemployment
rate of 13.5-14.5%6. Furthermore, youth in the London community experience
unemployment rates of upwards of 20%6
, a figure that exceeds unemployment in large city
centres such as Toronto. As a result, 28.1%5
of unemployed youth have never worked.
BrandU’s ability to provide premium personal branding services will address this growing
concern by assisting our target market to become more attractive to employers at top tier
Job search trends indicate that organizations increasingly use social media networks
for recruitment, with 93%7
having used LinkedIn to recruit in 2012. In contrast to this, 46%
of students have never used LinkedIn, and of those who have, the majority said that it was
not a priority in their job search strategy8
. This indicates the need for campus-wide
education on the importance of contemporary job search techniques, which can be
incorporated into BrandU’s marketing strategy to drive awareness and thus demand. This
trend also implies that the organization should offer LinkedIn and social media related
5 Bernard, André, Unemployment Dynamics Among Canada’s Youth, Statistics Canada 2013
6 Geobey, Sean, The Young and the Jobless: Youth Employment in Ontario, Canadian Centre for Policy
7 Social Recruiting Survey Results, Jobvite, 2013
8 The Student Employment Study, Millenial Branding and AfterCollege, 2013
In the increasingly fast-paced recruiting environment, recruiters spend 6.25 seconds9
or less examining a resume. This indicates the need for BrandU to incorporate design and
into the Company’s job search services in order to capture recruiters’
In addition, recruiters who participated in a study executed by TheLadders gave
professionally re-written resumes a 60% higher score9
than amateur resumes, emphasizing
the importance of professional résumé writing services and BrandU’s potential as a
personal branding service catered towards students.
Direct Competitive Analysis
BrandU faces direct competition from two primary organizations whose virtual
operations will impact the Company’s market share. As yet, there are no known businesses
that solely target students with a similar service as BrandU offers; however, both Resume
Target and Resume Centre offer packages catered towards student and entry-level clients.
Resume Target’s primary competitive advantage is its search engine optimized
website, an asset that ensures that it is one of the first businesses to show up in a search
for résumé writing services. The organization offers numerous different packages that
include the creation of materials including the résumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.
Resume Target has created packages for clients ranging from zero years of work
experience to C-level executives. As a result, there is little specific focus on student needs
or budgets. This is evidenced by the basic offering’s price of $2008
, an investment that 0%
of BrandU’s survey respondents would be willing to make. Resume Target also offers a
9 Adams, Susan, What Your Resume is Up Against, Forbes Magazine 2012
7 Incorporating important keywords for targeted roles to demonstrate fit with organizations and prevent
being screened out by computerized tracking systems Source: Diana YK Chan
8 Source: http://www.resumetarget.ca/student-entry-level-resume-writing
100% satisfaction guarantee and 90-day interview guarantee. This implies that BrandU
should consider advertising a similar promise in order to mitigate consumer doubt about
purchasing the Company’s services.
Resume Centre is an online service with hundreds of writers that allows clients to
customize the services they receive instead of investing in a pre-made package. Resume
Centre notably fosters no connection between writer and client in the form of a consultation
or telephone call. This renders the service impersonal andbudget-conscious students may
not feel comfortable sending their job search content to be re-done by a writer who would
not consider their personality or skills while writing. This implies that BrandU should attempt
to combat the impersonal nature of virtual businesses by implementing a mandatory initial
consultation and fostering relationships between writers and clients.
Both Resume Centre and Resume Target are at significant disadvantages with the
student market as a result of their minimal social media presences. Despite both being
multi-national businesses, their respsective Facebook pages have less than 500910
The student market is highly interconnected through social media, indicating that it would be
in BrandU’s interest to gain market share by leveraging these online platforms.
Indirect Competitive Analysis
Two competitors may impact BrandU’s market share indirectly: on-campus career
services and free career advice blogs.
On-campus career services offered through Western provide free advice on career
and job-search related topics. In addition to there being no financial risk to visiting career
services, the location is highly accessible for students. Though they only offer resume and
9 Source: https://www.facebook.com/ResumeTarget
10 Source: http://www.resumecentre.ca
cover letter feedback as opposed to direct editing, the credibility that they possess as a
result of their direct affiliation with Western could impinge upon BrandU’s market share. This
indicates the need to establish a quality assurance system and training program to develop
Career advice blogs are additional free alternatives to purchasing BrandU’s services.
As a result of the highly accessible nature of the blogs, a segment of the Company’s target
market could prefer to rely on them as opposed to investing in BrandU’s offer ings. Advice
blogs may be considered by some as credible sources; thus, it may be prudent for the
Company to create a blog on its website that contains career-related articles that
communicate the importance of BrandU’s services (see Exhibit 4). It could also be important
to gather testimonials and include before-and-after resume examples (see Exhibits 5 and 6)
on the website in order to pique clients’ interest.
BrandU seeks to build an accomplished network of talented student writers. The
Company’s employees will be called Brand Strategists, colloquially referred to as
‘Storytellers’. The term Storyteller conveys the Company’s brand by communicating
accessibility and creativity while adhering to BrandU’s overarching mission: to assist clients
to discover, develop, and communicate their personal brands or ‘stories’.
The ideal team of Storytellers will be third or fourth year undergraduate students
from various faculties. Storytellers will possess extremely strong writing abilities combined
with compelling interpersonal skills.
The Selection Process
During its first year of operations, the Company’s Storytellers will be the ideation
team. In March of the first fiscal year, BrandU will begin recruiting new Storytellers for the
following year by engaging its social media following and advertising through student
groups at Western. This will address both Storyteller graduation and projected growths in
BrandU does not anticipate experiencing difficulties attracting applicants to become
Storytellers as the position will yield numerous benefits. In addition to gaining practical work
experience in a consulting and business writing role, all Storytellers will receive the training
they need to identify and develop their personal brands to excel in their job searches. They
will also benefit from working on flexible schedules (see Operations) that they have
significant influence over.
To create a strong team, each applicant’s writing aptitude will be assessed through a
comprehensive review of their résumé, cover letter, and a 300-word writing sample that will
be a description of their personal brands. Storytellers who are deemed to be in possession
of the necessary core competencies will be selected for an interview. This interview will
assess their interpersonal skills, professionalism, and maturity.
To establish credibility, all Storytellers will undergo a 20-hour intensive training
program to ensure standardized competency and promote community building. To facilitate
BrandU’s development into a student-friendly, cohesive enterprise (see Exhibit 7), it will be
crucial that strong relationships between Storytellers develop throughout training. Thus, the
training program will feature community-building and skill development components in an
optimal manner (see Exhibit 8). BrandU will refine Storytellers’ existing competencies,
disseminate key success factors for effective client service during consultations (see Exhibit
9), and assist them to create their own personal brands. Storytellers will be paid $100 each
for their time.
To maintain BrandU’s company culture though Storytellers work independently, the
Company will schedule one mandatory social each month. These socials will provide the
CEO with the opportunity to review successes, identify areas for improvement, and
encourage team bonding. This will promote employee retention by cultivating relationships
Due to the need for personal branding amongst youth established in the
environmental analysis, it became apparent that university students, those most extensively
impacted by job search issues, would be a viable market to target. This, in combination with
survey results that exhibited consistent demand for numerous personal branding services
across Western’s campus, indicates a need for BrandU’s offerings. Lastly, when
considering the Company’s direct competitors, it was determined that students were an
under-targeted market in the career industry. Thus, BrandU will target undergraduate
students at Western University. As a result, the Company’s market will be constantly
refreshed by incoming students and so will enjoy extensive growth opportunities.
As students, the Company’s clients will consider three factors when determining
whether or not to invest in BrandU’s services: the assurance that they are receiving
significant returns on their investments, the Company’s credibility, and convenience. This
market will have budgetary restrictions; thus, it is paramount that BrandU maximizes its
value offering so that clients are able to justify the purchase of a package. In addition to this,
students will be more likely to purchase a service that has been recommended to them by
their friends or that has high visibility on campus. Lastly, as a result of their academics and
other commitments, students will also value convenience, indicating the need for online
As a student-run start-up, BrandU will possess limited initial funding. To combat this,
the Company will leverage the skills of its employees (see Exhibit 7).
The Owner possesses extensive experience overhauling and optimizing job search
materials for professionals with junior to C-level experience. She has worked with
executives in industries ranging from healthcare to consumer packaged goods, having
notably assisted business strategy, accounting, organizational development, finance, sales,
and Sig Sigma Black Belt11
certified professionals. The Owner is a CPRW, and was trained
by Diana YK Chan, former Google Recruiter and current Career Coach. Chan will serve as
BrandU’s Venture Advisor, and has provided her extensive expertise as an entrepreneur in
the career industry to assist the Company to identify opportunities and make informed
decisions, a relationship that will continue into the foreseeable future.
11 Second-highest caliber certification in Six Sigma program; Black Belt’s use extensive statistical analysis
to identify opportunities to improve business performance. Source: http://www.globalknowledge.ca
BrandU’s combined Storyteller and Marketing Director will contribute her expertise
optimizing social media campaigns to drive the success of the Company’s promotional
campaigns. This employee has executed nationwide marketing strategies and is skilled at
building brand awareness.
Furthermore, the Company’s Storyteller and Graphic Designer will apply his talents
to creating BrandU’s website (see Exhibit 8) and compelling advertisements.
To maximize revenue, it has been determined that BrandU will offer numerous job
search and admissions essay packages to cater to the budgetary restrictions and needs of
multiple facets of the target market.
Job Search Packages
Survey results indicated that an average of 12% of respondents would prefer to have
their content edited as opposed to overhauled. This could be a result of students not
understanding what high-quality, marketable content looks like. To spearhead a greater
appreciation of this, the Company will offer a less expensive proofreading service, during
which the Owner will edit clients’ content and identify areas for improvement while
educating customers on the difficulty of securing work experience as a student without
marketable content. Those who purchase this service will be offered a 20% discount on
their choice of a more expensive package (see Exhibit 9).
The components of the job search packages were determined based on the demand
measured by the survey. The majority of respondents indicated that they would be
interested in résumé and cover letter overhauling in comparison to other services, indicating
that all of BrandU’s packages should include these offerings.
In order to achieve BrandU’s goal of becoming a credible service that creates high
quality, marketable content, all packages will include a 100% satisfaction guarantee that
involves unlimited revisions. As a result of this guarantee, clients will not be permitted to
receive refunds. This will also combat the hesitation the target market may feel towards
investing in the Company’s services.
Following the resume and cover letter in respondent interest were the personal
website and LinkedIn profile, which were selected at a rate of 38% and 32-36%
respectively. This equal split in demand led BrandU to consider an average client’s needs,
concluding that a LinkedIn profile would be a prudent investment to complement a resume
and cover letter. Thus, the LinkedIn profile and pre-made outreach and thank-you letters
were added to the Advanced package. This, in combination with bonus free updates 12
justify investment in BrandU’s services.
The Premium package will contain all aspects of the Advanced package as well as
an online professional portfolio and a mock interview session. A professional website
hosted by WordPress was considered to be an exceptional addition to the package to
encourage sales. The 1-hour mock interview session will involve clients meeting with the
CEO to practice their interview skills, focusing on how to structure an interview answer so
that they can convey their personal brand. Clients will be provided with video recordings of
their sessions so that they are able to better understand their strengths and weaknesses.
This was incorporated at the recommendation of Diana YK Chan, who has stated that mock
interviews are one of her most in-demand and useful services for young professionals.
12 When a client gains experience and wishes to change their job search materials to reflect that
Survey results revealed high demand for revisions to admissions and scholarship
essays. Thus, it was determined that BrandU will offer admissions essay packages. This will
be in line with the Company’s mission because it remains important that students showcase
impressive personal brands in this content in order to differentiate themselves from other
To capitalize on demand, BrandU will offer two packages: Proofreading, and
Analysis (see Exhibit 10). The Proofreading service will involve a basic sentence structure
and grammar check and will not necessitate a consultation. For clients who would prefer a
more in-depth review of their content, the Analysis package will include a thorough
examination of the structure of the essay(s), how to maximize the impact of the client’s
message, and a critique on the relevance of the content.
These essays would be submitted as part of an application, implying that the content
must be the original work of the student. This renders a complete ‘overhaul’ of an essay
unethical. To uphold BrandU’s integrity, this stream of services will be a more collaborative
effort between Storyteller and client (see Operations). In place of the ‘Results’ segment of
the 30-45 minute initial consultation, the Storyteller will go through the client’s essays with
them, ask questions, clarify details, and identify weaknesses. This will allow the Storyteller
to effectively refine existing content
To build BrandU’s credibility,, the Company will also offer additional services that
can be provided with or without the purchase of a package. These products include video
resumes, Prezi and Slideshare resumes 14
, and personal websites. These offerings will
13 Source: Diana YK Chan, former Recruitment Managerfor Executive MBA admissions at Ivey Business School
14 Visual, online platforms that allows users to create and design interactive resumes
communicate BrandU’s credibility by evidencing its ability to remain informed about
contemporary job search trends.
BrandU considered three factors when determining appropriate pricing: survey
results, an examination of the Company’s direct competitors, and the consideration that
Storytellers will be performing specialized tasks and must be compensated fairly.
Survey results indicated that students would be willing to pay a wide range of prices
for BrandU’s services. Notably, a negligible amount of the surveyed population would be
willing to pay the prices of packages offered by BrandU’s direct competitor, ResumeTarget.
On the other hand, Resume Centre’s prices appear to fall within the student budget, though
this company does not offer as wide a variety of services as ResumeTarget. As noted by
the price perception map in Exhibit 11, BrandU would benefit from occupying a space in
between ResumeTarget and ResumeCentre, wherein a wide variety of services are offered
for a price that is not so low that it negatively impacts perceived quality of service.
. It was determined that BrandU’s services will be priced between $29.99-$159.99
for job search packages and $29.99-129.99 for admissions essay packages (see Exhibit
12). This will allow the Company to appeal to its market while compensating its Storytellers
and encouraging employee retention.
The Company’s competitors operate online and are thus convenient and accessible.
To compete effectively and cater to clients’ busy schedules, BrandU’s operations will
feature a high degree of online service (see Operations). The Company seeks to
differentiate itself from its competitors’ impersonal services by building relationships
between Storytellers and clients; thus, it will be integral that they meet face-to-face, either
over online tools such as Skype and Google Hangout15
or in-person. Since both Storytellers
and clients will be students at Western or an affiliated college, it will be encouraged that
consultations occur at an on-campus location. Furthermore, if possible, clients’ initial
consultations with the Owner will be done in-person.
Promotion and Brand Awareness
BrandU will differentiate itself from competitors by leveraging the extensive,
interconnected student network that its target market participates in while executing on-
campus initiatives to increase visibility.
The Company’s direct competitors have minimal social media presences. Since the
vast majority of BrandU’s target market will be connected to social media platforms, it will be
paramount that a significant portion of BrandU’s marketing occurs online. The Company will
run paid Facebook advertising campaigns to reach its target demographic (see Exhibit 14).
BrandU will invest in per-click advertisements as opposed to per-impression because one of
the Company’s primary objectives will be to increase its page’s Facebook likes to 1000
during the first year of operations.
BrandU will also invest in four sources of on-campus advertisement: one coupon in
, one full day of booth placement in the University Community Centre
(UCC) in each of September and January, poster placement in high-traffic areas including
the UCC and the Social Science Centre (SSC), and the distribution of flyers containing
BrandU’s value offering.
15 Enables group video calls.
16 Agenda distributed to 17,000 Western students annually. Source: Ian Greaves, Manager – Advertising
Marketing Office, University Students’ Council.
Core and Non-Core Process Outcomes
The client profile assisted BrandU to determine that the core process outcomes for
the Company’s operations will be a combination of price, quality, and service, as these
factors will have significant impacts on sales.
Quality and service are interrelated factors that the operational process must foster.
To establish credibility, BrandU must create high-quality material; to encourage this, the
operational process will take into account the amount of time it takes to develop exceptional
job search materials, and will necessarily have to sacrifice time-savings in order to achieve
quality. This also applies to client service in that it will be paramount that the Company
invests the time necessary to build relationships with clients in order to promote brand
The student market will also be price sensitive, indicating that the Company’s
operations must find a strategic balance between providing exceptional service while
minimizing the cost of the Storytellers’ labour hours.
A non-core operational factor is the speed at which the packages will be completed.
BrandU’s direct competitors specialize in producing content within a very short turnaround
time, resulting in an impersonal process that leaves limited time to build brand loyalty.
BrandU’s packages will be investments for students and so it will be likely that clients will
value quality over speed, indicating that BrandU must focus its operations on catering each
package to the individual client’s needs as opposed to offering fast turnaround times.
Operational Process - Packages
In accordance with the core and non-core operational outcomes, BrandU has
established a unique process that will optimize business activity (see Exhibit 13 and 14).
To foster a relationship between BrandU and its clients that will aid in client
retention, each client will meet directly with the Owner prior to purchasing a package. At this
time, the Owner will review the client’s existing job search or admissions materials and
provide recommendations for package purchase. By centering the sale of the packages on
the Owner, BrandU will communicate its brand effectively while encouraging the Storytellers
to rely on the Company to facilitate sales, thus minimizing the risk of employees deciding to
leave BrandU and begin their own independent enterprises. These meetings will also
facilitate quality assurance because the Owner will have full knowledge of the clients’
expectations and will be able to monitor Storytellers’ progress.
When a client purchases a package, the CEO will connect the client with an
available Storyteller. The Storyteller will then contact the client directly and set up a time to
meet either in person or over video call.
The Storyteller will then begin work on the client’s package. The estimated duration
of work was concluded on based on the Owner’s experience creating job search content for
professionals (see Exhibit 13).
The Storyteller will forward version one of the completed content to the Owner for a
brief review to ensure quality. Upon receiving the Owner’s confirmation, the Storyteller will
send the completed content to the client and apply any revisions that the client requests.
When the clients’ final, written approval of the content has been received, the
Storyteller will be sent a commission of 43% of the sale price through PayPal. This was
determined as sufficient compensation as a result of the numerous benefits that the
Storyteller will receive in addition to it will provide Storytellers with between $12.50-13.80
per hour of their time depending on the package purchased.
Furthermore, the Owner will be paid a salary of $145 per week to compensate her
for her time.
The Owner’s experience optimizing job search content has led her to conclude that
each Storyteller has a maximum capacity of three clients per week in addition to their
academic obligations. It has been determined that each package can be completed within
2-5.5 hours (see Exhibit 15), and that the turnaround time for each package will range
between 2-5 days. Since the Company will be heavily influenced by seasonality (see Exhibit
16 and 17), this turnaround time will allow for flexibility while assisting to manage clients’
expectations during high demand periods such as January and February.
Though the first two fiscal years will be focused on perfecting operations within
Western, the Company intends to expand to U of T in year three. The U of T branch will
mirror the parent company’s organizational structure in years one and two, with the
exception of the Branch Manager reporting directly to the Owner at Western (see Exhibit
15). The operational process will remain the same and will not involve the Owner . The
parent branch will be responsible for training Branch Managers and supervising the
selection and instruction of new Storytellers. In this manner, the Company’s brand will stay
consistent across campuses. Package structure and pricing will also remain constant as all
clients will purchase BrandU’s services through one, centralized website.
BrandU’s business model makes it able to rely on limited initial investments and cash
infusions (see Exhibit 18 for full financial statements). As a result of the Company’s virtual
business model, only two assets – a printer for business use and a promotional banner –
need to be acquired. An initial equity infusion of $7000 by the Owner and $3000 by the
Marketing Director for Common Stock will be directed towards fixed costs that include
marketing initiatives, employee training, and the Owner’s salary.
The Company’s equity infusion will assist BrandU to achieve its objective of
maintaining consistently positive cash flow. In the event that marketing initiatives fail to
promote the sales anticipated or Storytellers end their employment contracts unexpectedly,
BrandU will remain solvent enough to mitigate the financial impact of changing
To project sales assumptions in the first fiscal year as accurately as possible, data
regarding the student population of each faculty at Western was considered. Western’s
2012-2013 undergraduate enrolment total was 22,070 17
. Though survey results
demonstrated fairly consistent demand across faculties, only the faculties of Social Science,
Ivey Business School (Ivey), Medicine, Science, Social Science, and Engineering were
considered in order to produce conservative estimates. It was discovered that 14,82723
students were potentially within BrandU’s target market. The Company then noted that 34%
of respondents stated that they would pay for their content to be overhauled by a student
writer. To remain conservative, this number was decreased to 30%, leaving 5041 students
within the target market. Lastly, BrandU considered that it will lose a segment of this
population depending on multiple factors. It was concluded that a conservative population to
target would be approximately 6% of the 5041 potentially interested students, leaving 300
clients. This number was further reduced to 270 when considering that it will take a period
of adjustment before operational efficiency will be achieved.
17 Source: ‘Five Year Enrolment Comparison’, Western University, 2013.
Subsequently, the Company concluded using survey results that 60% of clients would
purchase job search packages, 25% admissions essay reviews, and 15% the proofreading
package. Though 47% of survey respondents indicated interest in admissions or
scholarship essay revisions, it was assumed that BrandU would need to establish credibility
before more advanced students would rely on the organization to assist with these services.
It was also assumed that a significant percentage of sales would be from the job search
content proofreading offering until BrandU establishes the reputation necessary to warrant
investment in more expensive packages. This prediction decreases to 10% in years two
and three in order to account for the increase in credibility that BrandU will aim to achieve.
These numbers result in a break-even net income projection in the first fiscal year, thus
indicating that BrandU’s goal of not relying on external sources of cash is achievable. The
cash margin of safety of 1.3%, though low, is not particularly daunting as a result of the
minimal investment required to begin operations. Year two profits of $258118
would result in
a 1219.3% return on investment with a cash margin of safety of 18%, indicating that
BrandU’s business model facilitates extensive returns by allowing minimal investments in
During the third fiscal year, BrandU will expand to U of T and has altered sales
projections accordingly. In addition to a 10% growth of sales at the parent branch, it is
estimated that the new branch will attain 270 clients This was concluded upon as a result of
U of T’s large undergraduate population of 38,154 students and location in a city centre that
is highly impacted by youth unemployment. This boost in sales volume will result in an
additional $7538 in profit, with the cash margin of safety rising to 26.7% despite the
additional investment in fixed costs including training and salaries. This indicates that the
expansion will be a safe undertaking. To demonstrate the value of expanding across
18 Assuming sales increase of 20% and employment of three additional Storytellers
campuses, year four was projected assuming no growth at the Western branch and a 10%
expansion at the U of T branch. This will yield a net income of $15,232, which will provide
funding in excess of the amount needed to expand to an additional university.
Thus, as a result of minimal initial investments and a $10,000 cash infusion, it is predicted
that BrandU will consistently break-even while maintaining positive cash flow and ideal
margins of safety. This indicates that the Company is a financially feasible venture that will
be sustainable in the long-term.
In mid-July, 2014, BrandU will implement its website using WordPress. The
Company will also take advantage of WordPress’ free SEO plugin19
to keyword all online
content. Subsequently, BrandU will begin to establish its online presence by creating a
Facebook page and Twitter account. To attain an initial fan-base, Storytellers will be
encouraged to reach out to their networks on Twitter and Facebook. To increase follower
engagement, BrandU will use HootSuite to coordinate daily posts to Facebook and Twitter.
The Company will also publish weekly, original career and job-search related articles on its
blog while linking them to Facebook to direct social media users to BrandU’s website.
BrandU will dedicate its first social media campaign towards increasing awareness
of personal branding and job search techniques among the student population. In this
manner, the Company will promote the target market to consider BrandU’s services as a
viable means to accelerate their next job search. These advertisements will be posted to the
Company’s Facebook page and will include a link in the description to a blog post that
would expand on the topics, thus driving traffic to the website. The Company will also begin
investing in paid Facebook advertising to maximize reach.
19 Source: https://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/
During the final week of August, the Owner will host the five Storytellers at her home
to complete a 5-day, intensive training program. In September, BrandU will begin increasing
visibility on campus by distributing flyers and hanging posters in high traffic areas,
particularly at the Company’s booth in the UCC, a space that BrandU retains for one full day
during this month. All promotions will direct potential clients to the Facebook page and
website, where they will encounter BrandU’s second promotional campaign, which will grant
a free Advanced package to a Facebook user who has both liked BrandU’s page and
shared the contest advertisement to their Facebook profiles. This package be completed by
the Owner at no cost to the Company.
Following the month of January - considered to be the organization’s peak period -
the Owner will assess BrandU’s financial performance to determine opportunities for
improvement. If it is determined that sale volume is unacceptably low, the Owner will initiate
the contingency plan.
If BrandU does not meet a sales target of 150 clients by January 15th
, the Company
will initiate its contingency plan. This will involve partnering with Diana YK Chan and
executing a 3-month long promotional opportunity in which clients who purchase an
Advanced or Premium job search package can have their content reviewed by Chan, whose
clients have gone on top tier companies including Boston Consulting Group, Google,
Deloitte, TD Bank, Nielsen, and more. Having spoken to multiple audiences of over 300
attendees at Western, Chan possesses high credibility on campus and her participation will
assist to drive sales. In return, Chan will receive a 20% cut of the packages she would be
involved in reviewing. She will also benefit from continued access to BrandU’s email list and
social media following. The terms of the partnership have been negotiated and agreed