Last summer I interviewed a group of TMMBA students that competed in the Business Plan Competition and won 2nd place for their concept, Xylemed. They had a lot to share about the experience and gave some great insights into the various competition stages. Here’s the video:
Now that the 2013 Business Plan Competition activities are getting under way, I went back to the interview transcripts and pulled out a few final thoughts and pieces of advice that they have for someone considering the competition.
Marc: It is going to be really tough if you don’t have something that either has traction or you can gain traction quickly. All of the teams that had some success either had a contract signed, product in development, or started a kick starter campaign and had some sort of traction. We heard from multiple people that it is almost less of a business plan competition than it is a business competition.
Jason: Use it as an opportunity to really push yourself. You probably go to work and do a few things that are very specific, whereas when you are trying to launch a company with only a few teammates, you really have to have a much broader perspective on things. You are going to learn a lot from just having to think through so many questions and in different ways than you have probably had to think before.
Also, if you are trying to identify an opportunity for the business plan competition, look at examples within your own company or try to find pain points within your own work or life. Those are probably the most relevant to you that you will be able to be passionate about and hopefully create a product or service that really resonates with a target audience.
Ben: If you really want to make it into the final four, you have to have a product which exists, which is in a way too bad, because it is less of a business plan competition and more of a startup competition. But I wouldn’t let that defer you from entering the competition if you have enough of an idea that you want to see get off the ground. The harsh reality is that you probably won’t make it into the finals, but you will get so much more out of the competition than you ever think you will entering it that it is still very much worth it.
Anoop: It does take a decent amount of time, adding that to the class workload. You really have to be willing to dedicate time to it, but it is definitely worthwhile and I think the benefits far outweigh the time you put into it.