Specific assignments will vary according to where a given instructor sees the Archive fitting into their course aims. Regardless, any student using the Archive will be expected to bring critical analytic and research skills to bear upon the selected company.
Please read on for some suggestions about how to research the companies in the Archive.
Among the questions you may wish to address:
1. Was the proposed company actually incorporated, or did the venture never even get off the ground? A good way to check is to look for the website of the company either on the current web, in Google, or in the Way Back Machine (http://www.archive.org). If the website of the company existed for more than a very brief period, it should show up in the Internet Archive.
2. Assuming the company actually does or did exist, did it receive professional (i.e., non-friends and family) funding? Check this by looking into the details of the company website (i.e., the “about the company” section) or by searching Lexis-Nexis for mentions of the company. You can also look in the Venture One database of venture capital investments.
3. Finally, try to find out what happened to the company after the time of the business plan that you read. If the company still exists, you will want to read all you can about the company from its website and from secondary articles about the company. If you are really interested, you might then want to send email or call the corporate communications office to talk to someone there about what has happened to the company since it was founded.
4. If the company no longer exists, then you need to figure out why. Using the same sources that you have used above, figure out if the company went bankrupt or was acquired by a competitor (if so, when, and was it a result of entrepreneurial success or failure). Again, if you cannot find enough information from published sources, try to track down the original founders using Google or other personal search techniques. E-mail them and ask what happened to the company. It is likely that will they have additional insights into why the company failed or was acquired that are not available from published sources.
5. Once you’ve gathered all this information, write up your findings in a short paper. Pay special attention not just to what happened, but to how you learned about what happened. Help us learn the best techniques for studying these companies.
6. Please upload the paper to the Archive as a formal “contribution.” Click on “contribute” and you will be asked what kind of information you would like to submit. Your paper is a “file,” but you can also add details about “background information” or specific “events” that were important for understanding what happened to the company.