Business Plan Contest

Business Plan Contest-68
"In those cases, it's a much better opportunity for a new entrant to make some headway," he says.In 2006, when the online gaming was just taking off, Cassidy sold his online gaming startup Xfire to MTV Networks for 2 million. Mitchell says she's seen many students tempted to hold ideas close to the vest and ask everyone around them to sign non-disclosure agreements.Having been on both sides of a contest, she recommends getting in a customer-oriented mindset.

"In those cases, it's a much better opportunity for a new entrant to make some headway," he says.

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In 2000, Ask Jeeves bought Direct Hit for $532.5 million.

Today, Cassidy is director of product management at Google.

"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.

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 0K Entrepreneurship Competition.Even if it seems like there isn't obvious competition, think about the alternatives to what your team is proposing.Recognize that, at the very least, those alternatives are competing for your customer's attention.The Rice University competition is one of the largest in the world.Brad Burke is managing director for the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which organizes and hosts the competition.Dig Deeper: Understanding the Consumer of the Future Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Be an Expert on Your Product and its Market Holly has seen teams mistakenly choose the data they have instead of setting out to find the data they need. "If the entrepreneur is really doing it, not just presenting an idea but has put a lot of effort into making it happen already in real life and could use the funding to move their business forward, that carries a lot of weight with the judges," Behnke says. "Even if it's a prototype you mock up in your dorm room that's put together with tape and rubber bands," Mitchell says, "You're going to learn more by having something out there." One pet peeve that nearly every judge has is teams that present their idea and say that there is no competition in the space."That's always a red flag because investors will say either you're completely clueless or it means that there's no market," Holly says.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."I wish someone had really told me, 'Forget everything else and just make sure you get the most amazing people on the team,'" Cassidy says.He recommends looking for smart, hard workers who are team players.

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