Business Plan Competition Results

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.

7 comments on “Business Plan Competition Results
  1. LMG says:

    WooHoo! 2nd place is great. But really, I want to know what you decided to wear!!!
    Congratulations, and what are you going to use the money for? Are you going through with the proposed venture or was it for fun?

  2. Cathy says:

    Thanks LMG
    The company is a real one started by my friend & partner for the competition. I’m a very minor shareholder in the company & on their scientific advisory board. So yes the goal is to take the company forward. Business Plans are pretty much obsolete the day they are written but it does help with the planning process. So to sum up, the proposed venture is real and will hopefully go forward. The competition was primarily for fun & to get feedback on our plan (invaluable!)
    My share of the prize money should just about cover the rest of my MBA tuition. Got to love state schools.
    And most importantly, I went with a black with dark grey pin pant stripe suit with a cream color tank shell underneath. If they post some pictures I’ll put a link up.

  3. Jen says:

    Yahoo! That’s really great for you guys! And you even ended up with almost as much money as first place. How nice that it’ll cover your tuition too!
    From over here in “I know nothing about business”land, I’m really impressed that you’re doing something like this. Even getting an MBA is just completely beyond my scope, let alone starting a biotech company. Very cool.

  4. Shawna says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! That’s great!!! What a fabulous way to cut your teeth on a business plan! Enjoy a toast (wine or protein shake – whatever suits your fancy) for a wonderful job, that’s Well Done!!!! 🙂

  5. Cathy says:

    Thanks Jen & Shawna!
    Jen until I started business school in January 2004 I had no clue about business either. I’m a life long academic & really just wanted to challenge my brain with new ways of thinking & doing things. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
    Shawna, I considered wine. Oh how I enjoy a good glass of red…but decided to splurge on a fresh crusty roll with real butter. I really don’t crave much these days. My body seems to like the premium fuel it’s been getting these past 10 months and balks at nutrient poor (but tasty) indulgences.

  6. Irene says:

    Congratulations! Now that this competition is behind you, are you and your business partner planning other competitions or ventures? This is huge! Again, congratulations!!!

  7. Cathy says:

    Thanks Irene,
    The plan now is to try to implement the plan & take the company forward. It’s time to raise some capital.