Business Plan Contest

Business Plan Contest-27
Having been on both sides of a contest, she recommends getting in a customer-oriented mindset."It's not a solution looking for a problem," she says.In 2000, Ask Jeeves bought Direct Hit for 2.5 million.

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"Also, I really encourage people to pick businesses where you can do a lot with a very small team," he adds. "There are some cases where that might be necessary with very technological plays, but the reality is, particularly if you're in school, you're surrounded by people who want to help," she says.

Talk to enough people and they know it's your idea.

Investors are looking for teams with sustainable advantages, he says.

"Hopefully if they have a technology, they have a patent on the technology." Dig Deeper: The Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Use Your Resources to Plan Well Luke Behnke is a second year MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and one of the directors of the school's $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.

"Understand the mindset of the consumer, understand what it is they have to do." Then use those insights to develop an idea.

Behnke's team proposed a networking site that would connect parents looking for nannies with college students in their communities. "If we had focused on what they said, what they needed, and how we addressed that, it would have been more compelling." If you have the greatest product in the world but no customer, you don't have a business, he added.

Business-plan competitions have expanded into elevator pitch battles and industry-specific contests. When a UCLA team won the 2005 Rice University Business-Plan Competition, it received a 0,000 investment prize to launch the tech company Auditude.

But several venture capitalists at the competition were so impressed that they offered to invest

Behnke's team proposed a networking site that would connect parents looking for nannies with college students in their communities. "If we had focused on what they said, what they needed, and how we addressed that, it would have been more compelling." If you have the greatest product in the world but no customer, you don't have a business, he added.

Business-plan competitions have expanded into elevator pitch battles and industry-specific contests. When a UCLA team won the 2005 Rice University Business-Plan Competition, it received a $100,000 investment prize to launch the tech company Auditude.

But several venture capitalists at the competition were so impressed that they offered to invest $1.1 million.

If the main selling point is a cheaper product, beware.

"That's not a competitive advantage, especially for someone coming into the market, unless you're ten times cheaper," Holly says.

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Behnke's team proposed a networking site that would connect parents looking for nannies with college students in their communities. "If we had focused on what they said, what they needed, and how we addressed that, it would have been more compelling." If you have the greatest product in the world but no customer, you don't have a business, he added.Business-plan competitions have expanded into elevator pitch battles and industry-specific contests. When a UCLA team won the 2005 Rice University Business-Plan Competition, it received a $100,000 investment prize to launch the tech company Auditude.But several venture capitalists at the competition were so impressed that they offered to invest $1.1 million.If the main selling point is a cheaper product, beware."That's not a competitive advantage, especially for someone coming into the market, unless you're ten times cheaper," Holly says."Find some way to have a stressful situation where you can see how your teammates are going to react." Those who can rebound easily make ideal teammates—and future colleagues.Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Look for Turmoil Cassidy suggests looking for a business opportunity in an area where there's some sort of turmoil, confusion, or rapid growth."But when we won the MIT competition, I would send that in my intro letter." As a result, he landed a meeting with the search engine company Hot Bot.That led to deals with AOL, and Microsoft and Lycos.If your team is creating a product for the airline industry, try to get executives from United and Boeing on the board, he added.Those trusted advisors could easily become customers, or investors. Teams are naturally going to be missing a key person—a marketer, an engineer. However, the team does need to tell the judges something like, "As soon as we get funding, we'll be looking for a chief technology officer." Cassidy says that once, when the judges asked his team questions they couldn't answer, the team took advantage of a break to find out. "We ran in at the end of the day and said, ‘Here's a typed up list of answers to the questions you asked us three hours ago.' They were just blown away." Dig Deeper: How Business-Plan Competitions Reward Innovation Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Focus on the Customer One of Mike Cassidy's teammates for the MIT prize in 1991 was Krisztina "Z" Holly, who has since become vice provost for innovation at USC and executive director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation.

.1 million.

If the main selling point is a cheaper product, beware.

"That's not a competitive advantage, especially for someone coming into the market, unless you're ten times cheaper," Holly says.

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