*** Hot or Not? was provided to me free-of-charge by the author through a Goodreads, First Reads Giveaway. ***
Sean Wise's book "Hot or Not?" is best described as a tool for entrepreneurs to assess the potential of their business idea and to provide concrete recommendations for improving their business idea to make it attractive to potential investors. The author, Sean Wise draws on his many years of experience as Professor of Entrepreneurship & Strategy at the Ryerson Entrepreneurship Institute, as Director of Ernst & Young's Venture Capital Advisory Group, as a venture capitalist for a New York-based private equity firm, and as the Industry Advisory for Canada's Dragons' Den in compiling a great resource for those wondering whether their business has merit.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, some things are very, very well done.
This book is comprehensive in that it really does seem to cover everything an entrepreneur should consider when moving an idea forward into reality. The information is presented in a logical, easy-to-follow format that I can really appreciate. Each section covers the same points when considering each individual element: What is it? Examples. Why it matters? How to score a particular element? Raising the score (when possible)? It reads like a cookbook and I really liked that about this book.
The book makes great use of examples and walks the reader through a detailed case study. For those without a business background, key text is bolded and defined and there is a glossary of terms in the back of the book. It is very user-friendly.
Now the problems I had with the book:
First, I received an e-book version which was not formatted correctly making the text quite disjointed and difficult to follow. Ok, I understand that it's an advanced, non-proofed copy so while I was frustrated, it doesn't really affect how I feel about the content.
As I read through the book, I often felt like it was a big plug for the Dragon's Den. It just kept getting mentioned over and over and over. Also, I found it interesting that Kevin O'Leary provided a forward to the book, was frequently used in the examples, and was even included in the index! Interestingly, only Jim Treliving and Kevin O'Leary from the Dragon's Den were mentioned (and indexed) in the book (not the other dragons). Hmmmm....
For those who are not familiar with Kevin O'Leary, he is a bit of a controversial individual in Canada - - even being compared to Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada; both having the ability to not only offend others with their inappropriate comments, but to seemingly fail to understand why their comments are offensive in the first place.
So, when you use a controversial figure to write the Foreward in your book, that's simply a risk you take. Some people will be put off right away.
Finally, I think the biggest issue I had was that I feel that this book is written for people who have BIG IDEAS and who are seeking investors for their business. This was made evident by the examples that were cited over and over and over, e.g., Facebook, Amazon, Wikipedia. These types of ideas are such a small percentage of successful businesses. Who seems left out is the small business owner who may simply want to do something small, and begin a business doing something they ENJOY. In short, the "human factor" is largely left out. Further, for less lofty business ideas, not all the elements are necessarily relevant. For examples, you don't necessarily need a Board of Directors or a CFO to run a successful business.
I've seen the Dragon's Den and I think this book would be relevant for people who think along the same lines as the people who pitch their ideas on the show: that is, people who have a simple idea and are largely motivated by making money. From where I sit and in the wake of the Occupy Movement, that's not me.