If you are just an idea -- and have no personal financial capacity to launch the business, prototyping, alpha, proof-of-concept or anything you are in an extraordinarily challenging position.
What do you do?
Step one: Re-asses whether you really don't have any direct or indirect resources to develop any type of proof of concept. It will make the world of difference if you can.
Step two: Develop the executive summary (2-4 pages) of a business plan -- supported by a "white paper on the technical solution" the white paper should address the value to the customer and how it is done technically. The executive summary of the business plan should emphasize a staged approach where an true angle will cover their risk by puting money in benchmarked against specific deliverables which validate the technology behind the whitepaper, and then the assumptions about market demand.
There are lots of resources to help you do that executive summary and white paper. Your local SCORE chapter, the local business school, or even the government-supported Start-up America Partnership might provide you connections with the direct resources you need. (Of course this board will be a good source to specific questions as well)
In specific answer to your five specific questions:
My product is quite technical. I feel
when I dumb it down, it becomes
indistinguishable from other products
on the market, when in fact it is
quite unique. How technical should it
be, and how can I separate my product
as revolutionary without going into
A supporting technical whitepaper that explains it in technical terms and can be used as a support addendum will address this issue. For the prospective investor you will need to be able to explain it in one sentence. As the inventor you will feel like this is bastardizing your idea. It is. Get over it. One way people do this is to anchor the new against something know -- like "It is Groupon meets Dairy Queen delivered like Red Box"
Lack of competition. . . . .
Should I still mention them as
competition, or just ignore them?
Every product has competition. Period. Stop thinking about it from the perspective of the product-- and think about it from the perspective of the customer. How does the customer address the need your problem addresses now.
People are very reluctant to invest in product/services that address unknown or not-felt needs. You may know why you are going to "kick-their-tail" and differentiate yourself from them-- but include the closest competitors you can think of no matter what. It proves market opportunity.
The person pitching the first car had no "product competitors" -- but their competitors were all the people selling other modes of transportation -- like horses. The B2B sales person that was first pitching a computer based spreadsheet could say they had no competitors -- except that people were meeting their accounting needs somehow -- with green ledger paper. If people are not trying to meet the need your product solves -- when then you will need to have significant support for the idea that they will want to.
Financial projections..... Should I just keep numbers
I would propose you are not ready for company financials. When you are further along you will have more. A prospective investor will simply need the size of the market to gauge a relative business opportunity. And then a phased use of funds -- maybe 2 or three phases out that show the costs associated with getting to a place where true market viability and value can be assessed.
How many references? .....just enough
to sell my point or as many as
Provide the best possible three you can in your executive summary, and start to build a "book" of the references so that you can pull them out and cite them.
Finally, I don't have a set
company structure proposed .... or is
it still better to leave it open?
The only "there-there" at the moment is an idea -- leave it open and when someone is willing to invest in the idea/you then you can put together the right company structure.