I’ve posted previously about entering a business plan competition sponsored by the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship. Today was the big day. We presented our plan along with the other finalists to a group of three venture capitalist judges and the community. Our competition was fierce. We were the very last group to present. We had drawn presentation order last week at an informational meeting. Some people love to give presentations; I am not one of them. The other presentations were uniformly excellent. As I was watching them I had two major feelings. First that it was really an honor to be part of this group. Second, I just felt panicked. How could we possibly compete against these amazing business plans?
The presentations were followed by lunch and speeches from Business school leaders and community members. Our Mayor, John Hickenlooper, who was one of the founders of the Bard Center, gave the keynote address. I’ve heard him speak on several other occasions and he is invariably entertaining and educational. He spoke today about his experience as a young entrepreneur trying to start the Wynkoop Brewery. The awards ceremony proceeded in reverse order. Fourth through sixth place were not differentiated and each of those teams won $1000 in cash plus tens of thousands of dollars in in-kind gifts from the plan sponsors (VCs, lawyers, marketing, etc.). We were not in this first group. Third place ($2,500) was announced. This was a great plan to turn sewer waste in an emission free process into electricity and hydrogen fuel. Second place was announced. That was us. My partner was a bit disappointed but I cannot complained. We were the only biotechnology company in the top 6 plans so we won the second place prize ($5,000) plus the biotech prize ($5,000). Not bad for a days work (well weeks or months if you count the preparation time but…).
The first prize ($10,000) went to the only non-profit business plan (additional non-profit prize of $1,000) in the group. She, Tiffany Espinosa, did a fabulous job with her presentation. It sounds like a great opportunity. She is trying to build a combination country club/community center for seniors in good health who live independently to provide services, meals, clinics, educational seminars, shopping, transportation, etc. Given the growth of this segment of the population there is a huge need for this type of service. The Venture Capitalist Judges spent time during the question and answer period trying to convince her to make this a for profit venture.
All in all it was great experience. It was a great way to distill information I am learning in my MBA program into practice. Fun stuff.
Update: Here’s an article from the Denver Business Journal on the competition.