This Is What All Business Plan Competitions Should Do

Earlier this week, I participated in the press conference that announced the new competition I had first discussed in this post.  Ivy Tech Northeast, together with the Innovation Center as a collaborator, announced Launch: New Venture Competition.

As I mentioned before, this is NOT your father’s business plan competition.  It is really not a business plan competition at all – it is a new venture competition, and it is enfused with a good dose of reality – in two ways.

First, all of the Ivy Tech student participants will have thought through a business plan by the time they start this competition.  In this competition, they will work in groups on weekly hands-on exercises designed to help them take their ventures to the next level.

Second, each week the weakest group will have to vote one of its members “off of the island”, reality TV style.  The top three winners left standing will compete for up to $50K full seed funding for their venture.

Why is this style better than the traditional business plan competition?

  • Instead of basing the competition on one plan submission and maybe one pitch, this competition features multiple pitches with coaching.  This emulates the real world iterative that happens as a startup explores its business model, and for students, this means they learn a lot more.
  • Instead of providing a token award, the winning venture receives enough seed investment to establish their business.  Most competitions award token amounts that really don’t provide the winning venture a way to move to the next milestone or to sustainability.
  • Every student entrepreneur completes all of the exercises (when you are voted off of the island, you really just go to another group and keep on with the exercises).  From a student entrepreneur’s perspective, everyone receives lots of hands on learning and coaching feedback.
  • The learning all takes place in a real setting.  No case studies – the exercises all address real startup ventures.  Everyone gets their hands dirty.

Go to the Ivy Tech website above and follow the competition as it unfolds.  You’ll even be able to vote for the venture you like best each week to help keep them safe from being voted off.  Entrepreneur bios hit the site on March 15.