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Business English Lessons

Chasing A Dream
A Warmer

You will work with other students in a small group. You are
investors. You have $500,000 to invest in one of these start
up companies.

 Two friends from Chicago want to start “the new


Facebook”. “We’re going to be bigger than Facebook in
two years, but we need investment as soon as
possible.”

 A work-from-home mother in London wants to start a


business making cuddly toys that look like her own cats.
“Kuddly Kats will be very successful, but I don’t have the
money I need.”

 Ben Heighway has invented a small DVD


player that hangs off the back of an airplane seat. “I need
half a million dollars to start production and sales. This thing
will be huge!”

 A teacher from New York has used voice-recognition software to build an


application that transcribes a teacher’s words onto a screen at the front
of a class. The whole lesson can then be printed off and given to
students at the end of a class. “This will change education forever. All I
need is the initial capital.”

Which one sounds most promising to you?


Why do the others not convince you?
Which company has the most
potential for a successful future?

B Vocabulary

Look at these words associated with new companies and investment. Choose
the correct word to complete the spaces below.

seed capital appraisal startup first round


joint venture break-even venture capitalist

1. The first year after launch was difficult, but after we got to the
______________ point, things got easier.

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B Vocabulary

2. A local ______________ was intrigued by the idea and gave $4 million


as initial ______________.
3. The ______________ of the company concluded that its idea was poor
and the investors pulled out.
4. The ______________ was a great success, with the two companies
complementing each other perfectly.
5. John went to work for a ______________ in California. The company did
well and he was promoted within six months.
6. Kenyon Industries began well and were looking for $5 million in the
______________ of investment.

C Reading

Read the story of one of the startups mentioned in the first


part of the lesson – Ben Heighway and his DVD idea.

As you read the article, make a list of all the difficulties he


faced as he began his company.

Sit Back And Enjoy The Movie


By Carol Walsh

I remember exactly where I was when I plane’s screen tips back and can often be
first watched both Titanic and Avatar - hard to see clearly.”
36,000 feet above the ground. Watching in-
flight movies is one of the things that Ben had a struggle to convince venture
makes flying a pleasure, not a pain, for me. capitalists to give seed capital to Seat
But I need to have one of those little Screenz though. “They were initially
personal DVD players in the back of the worried that airlines would ban our players
seat. If it’s on a big screen anything up to from flights. That was the big issue when
twenty yards away, I will lie back and try to they did an appraisal of our company.
sleep. If like most of us, you travel coach Eventually, we got a guarantee from some
class, it’s a real lottery whether you’ll get of the big airlines that they would allow the
those cute little DVD screens or not. DVD players on board and that made things
easier.”
Ben Heighway shares my passion for high
altitude movies, so founded Seat Screenz in The biggest boost was when a joint venture
2009. I’ll let Ben explain what Seat Screenz was suggested between Ben’s company and
is all about. “I was tired of getting on another that made the voice sensors. “That
planes and seeing the TV screen was saved us money and also added to the
shared with fifty other passengers. I functionality of our DVD player. Now, when
wanted one of those neat back-of-the-seat the captain makes an announcement, the
TVs every time.” The result is a small movie will pause. It’s pretty hi-tech!”
seven-inch DVD player that you hang off
the seat in front of you. A further setback was finding a location for
the screens to be made cheaply enough. An
“Our DVD players are better than even Irish company offered cut-price production
those the airlines sometimes offer. Some of in return for 10% of the company. Ben was
our customers will use our player even happy to make the deal. The screens are
when their seat has a mini-screen! If the now in full production and Ben’s company
passenger in front reclines his or her seat, has just been given $4 million in first round
our screen hangs vertically anyway. The investment. The sky is the limit!

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D Reading Comprehension

Read the “Sit Back And Enjoy The Movie” article again and then do the exercise
below. Choose the correct answer for each question.

1. What does the author not like about flying?


a) The in-flight entertainment.
b) The TV screens are sometimes too far away.
c) She’s usually seen the movies before.
d) She finds it hard to sleep on planes.

2. What inspired Ben to start his Seat Screenz company?


a) He is a movie lover.
b) People watching movies on planes make too much noise.
c) The small screen in the back of the seat is not always available.
d) He feels less tired when watching his screen.

3. How does he think the Seat Screenz DVD player is better than the
airlines’ screens?
a) They are cheaper.
b) They can sometimes be easier to see.
c) The choice of movies is better.
d) The volume is louder and movies are therefore easier to understand.

4. Why were investors concerned about the viability of Ben’s idea?


a) The appraisal of Seat Screenz was not complete.
b) The airlines couldn’t promise to allow the DVD player on board.
c) The airlines had the power to prevent passengers from using Ben’s
screens.
d) The screens were too large to fit onto most airlines’ seats.

5. What further problem did Seat Screenz face in their early days?
a) The voice sensors were not working very well.
b) The screens were quite expensive to manufacture.
c) The company had to move to Ireland.
d) They lost 10% of the company to a rival company.

E Game

Your teacher will divide the class into two groups, Investors and
Entrepreneurs. You will act out a short version of the TV series
Shark Tank where people with new business ideas try to convince
investors to invest in their startups.

Each group will be given a card by your teacher. Read the instructions
carefully.

You have ten minutes to prepare.

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Teacher Notes
Reading, vocabulary of investment and
Target Language:
new startup companies
Duration: 70 minutes

1 Structure and Timing (all times approximate)

A. Warmer (15 minutes)


B. Vocabulary (10 minutes)
C. Reading (10 minutes)
D. Reading Comprehension (10 minutes)
E. Game (25 minutes)

Total: 70 minutes.

2 Procedure

A. Warmer

This opening warmer will get students thinking about the idea of investment and new
business ideas, the theme of today’s lesson. One of these brief outlines is covered in
more depth in the reading later, Ben Heighway’s DVD player idea. Perhaps you could
concentrate a little more on this particular idea, seeing what students’ reactions to it
are before reading a lot more information about it later.

If you want, you can discuss each of these ideas with the whole class, perhaps noting
on the board any strengths and weaknesses with each idea. Do this with at least one
of the ideas, so that students can get an idea of how they should evaluate each idea
in pairs or groups.

B. Vocabulary

This exercise covers some of the vocabulary the students will encounter in the
following reading passage.

Answer Key

1. The first year after launch was difficult, but after we got to the
break-even point, things got easier.
2. A local venture capitalist was intrigued by the idea and gave $4
million as initial seed capital.
3. The appraisal of the company concluded that its idea was poor and
the investors pulled out.
4. The joint venture was a great success, with the two companies
complementing each other perfectly.
5. John went to work for a startup in California. The company did well
and he was promoted within six months.
6. Kenyon Industries began well and were looking for $5 million in the
first round of investment.

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C. Reading

The reading is presented in the form of a newspaper article, with direct quotes from
Ben Heighway himself about his company, Seat Screenz, and their DVD player
product.

Most of the vocabulary presented in section B of the lesson appears in the second half
of the article where Ben is talking about the early days of his Seat Screenz company.
After students have read the article one through on their own, bring students’
attention back to the general gist questions that appear before the article.

D. Reading Comprehension

This is a multiple choice exercise and, as expected at this level, some of the questions
are challenging. Ask students to do this exercise in pairs and make sure, when
correcting the exercise afterwards, that students are able to justify not only the
correct answers but also to say why the alternative answers are not correct.

Answer Key

1. B
2. C
3. B
4. C
5. B

E. Game

The TV show Dragon’s Den started out in Japan and has been broadcast in many
countries around the world. It’s called Shark Tank in the US. In the show, people with
ideas for new startup businesses attempt to convince investors to give them money.

In this final part of the lesson, you will choose 3-5 strong students to play the roles of
investors. The rest of the class, you can divide into groups of entrepreneurs, with 2-4
students representing each “company”.

The first thing the entrepreneurs must do is think of an idea. It can be anything – a
gadget, a new type of shop, a service. If you are worried about your students being
able to come up with something, you can prepare a shortlist beforehand and give
each group of entrepreneurs one of these.

The cards printed after the Teacher Notes should be used to guide both groups in their
preparation, which should last no longer than about 6-8 minutes.

Each company then briefly presents their idea (2-3 minutes) and the investors can
spend another few minutes asking questions. After all entrepreneurs have presented
their case, the investors can deliberate and decide which was the most worthy case
for investment.

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Cards For TV Show Role Play

The Investors

You don’t want to invest your money in a bad idea. You


need to be as sure as possible the idea is workable.
1. What is the potential market for this idea?
2. Are there technical problems to overcome?
3. Is it expensive to develop? Can costs be cut?
4. Will the idea be profitable? How much will they
charge for the item/service?

What other things need to be considered for this


investment possibility?

The Entrepreneurs

Without investment, your great idea will stay as just an


idea – you need money to turn it into production, jobs
and a real company.
1. Why is your idea/product so good? Will it be
popular and, importantly, profitable?
2. Is it difficult/expensive to manufacture?
3. Does it have long term potential? If it’s such a
great idea, why hasn’t someone else thought of it?

How else will you convince the investors you’re


your idea above all others is worth investing in?

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