Statistics from Wells Fargo & Company found that people use an average of $10,000 to cover startup costs for a new business. Although it’s still common for people to take the route of acquiring loans from the bank, there are other options to pursue and one particularly enticing solution comes by way of business plan competitions. Keep reading to learn what they are and how they might help you achieve your entrepreneurial aspirations.
Business Plan Competitions: A Short Time to Make a Splash
Business plan competitions give participants a short amount of time to highlight the strengths of particular plans and encourage investors to take a bite. Television shows like “Shark Tank” have moved some business plan competitions to the mainstream and shown how people can successfully pitch a business to interested parties and receive substantial payoffs. Although many prizes related to a business plan competition are related to cash, some also involve mentorship from industry professionals. No matter what’s at stake, it’s crucial to take such competitions seriously. Even hopefuls who don’t eventually win can potentially benefit from a huge amount of exposure. Below, you’ll find some details about a few competitions that might spark your inspiration.
The MIT Launch Competition
The MIT Launch Competition is hosted annually and is different from some similar contests, because it does not require participants to have a business plan in order to enter. Instead, participants work together in teams to formulate a business plan during crunch time. Success in this challenging feat brings cash prizes totaling $100,000, and the contest is comprised of a single competition with three distinctive parts. Competitors have the choice to enter all of them or just one, and grand prize recipients gain $10,000.
In the past, one winner was an organization called The Beth Project: Benevolent Technologies for Health, which specializes in flexible prosthetic limb sockets that can be shaped to comfortably match an amputee’s limb remnants. Since the sockets can be mass-produced at relatively low costs, the goal is to make medical devices more accessible to low income populations.
SOUP: Micro-grants for Creative Types
In Charlottesville Virginia, a recently formed type of business competition called SOUP offers participants the chance to excel in a laid-back setting where the public has a direct hand in funding the winners. A $10 entry fee buys a light dinner of soup (hence the name), dessert, bread and salad. More importantly though, the cost purchases one vote that goes towards a show of support for the competing businesses, all of which are somehow tied to the arts community in the surrounding area of Virginia. The total amount of money that goes to the winning business depends on how many people attend each event, but the website mentions that the amounts usually span between $500 and $1,000. The winners of the first SOUP grant were the Charlottesville Area Textile Cooperative, a group that wants to educate local residents about textiles and related skills.
The LivePlan $10,000 Boost
Open to aspiring entrepreneurs around the United States, The LivePlan $10,000 Boost requires competitors to draft and share business plans using LivePlan’s specialized software, and winners are announced via a live webinar. Last year’s winner was a company called Maternova, which aims to give healthcare professionals who work with pregnant women and newborns on a regular basis access to a global marketplace that provides medical interventions for lifesaving strategies.
Although these are just a few examples of business plan competitions, they’re well worth a look because they provide a viable alternative for motivated individuals and groups who need funding and aren’t afraid to look for unusual sources.
Author Jena Daniels writes for business blogs. Interested in starting a new business? You may want to look into an mba such as the on offered at Pepperdine University.