The Piercer

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The Piercer

Colleen Sharen and Nicole Nolan wrote this case solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.

Ivey Management Services prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmittal without its written permission. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights organization. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Ivey Management Services, c/o Richard Ivey School of Business, The University o f Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7; phone (519) 661-3208; fax (519) 661-3882; e-mail Copyright © 2008, Ivey Management Services

Version: (A) 2008-08-22

“Don’t forget, your business idea pitch is due in two weeks,” said Professor Sharen at the end of class. Jessica Pierce turned to look at her project team mate, Ashley Mound. Jessica and Ashley were fourth-year management and organizational studies students at Brescia University College, taking an introduction to entrepreneurship course.

Ashley and Jessica had developed an idea for the assignment: a personal safety alarm that both shrieked and flashed lights when the person carrying it set off the alarm function. Given the concern that many people had over personal safety, it seemed like a great business idea. In order to present their idea, they needed to show that there was a market for this product and that they had a way to sell it to consumers. The problem was that they did not really know how or where to start to get the information that they needed. They had a lot of work to do to be ready to present their project in the next two weeks.


The business pitch assignment was challenging. Sharen had asked students to develop an interesting business idea and present it to a panel of potential investors. These investors included a successful serial entrepreneur, a business consultant who practised in the area of small- and medium-size enterprises, an owner of a marketing and advertising services business and a business professor. The students were asked to present an innovative idea, show why it would be successful in the market place, demonstrate potential markets, show the business model and sell themselves to the investors as entrepreneurs.

The investors were instructed to view their investments as seed money to enable the students to further develop business plans and prototypes of their ideas. The students weren’t required to complete a financial analysis for this assignment.

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The investors were asked to assess project ideas on the basis of the feasibility of the idea and whether they believed that the entrepreneurs would be able to deliver. They could consider the appeal of the idea itself, the logistics and operations required to run the business, the effectiveness of the business plan, the longterm viability of the business or the size of the market. The assignment would be graded 50 per cent based on how much money the teams received from the investors and 50 per cent on the quality of their presentation by the professor. THE IDEA

The Piercer was a small device that hung on a chain worn around the neck. When activated, The Piercer emitted a piercing sound that traveled for approximately 500 meters, as well as a bright flashing light. To deactivate The Piercer, the wearer had to push two buttons simultaneously. This was to prevent an attacker from being able to deactivate the device.

The piercing noise and the bright flashing light were designed to scare away attackers and attract those who might assist the person being attacked. In the situation of imminent attack, a person would...
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