Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge draws record number of entries

A record 248 entries flowed into the 17th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge by the deadline on Monday, making it the biggest year yet for business plan entries.

If you entered the Challenge and did not get a confirmation email from Nancy Dahlberg or have a question about whether your entry was received, please email her at and put Challenge in the memo line.

Education was a big trend in the contest this year, with ideas for apps, services, classes, books, videos and more. Food and fashion continued to draw a lot of interest, as did technology and plans with a social mission. This year there were also ideas and young businesses tied to South Florida’s biggest industries – real estate, construction and tourism – and this year drew more healthcare-related ideas than years past. The contest attracted entrepreneurs of all ages, including a number of people from the corporate world ready to make the jump into entrepreneurship for the first time.

Next the plans go to the Business Plan Challenge judges, who are serial entrepreneurs, investors, executives, advisors or professors in the field of entrepreneurship. The semifinalists in each of the three tracks – Community, FIU and High School – will likely be announced in Business Monday March 30. After that, finalists will be announced and a People’s Pick video contest launched on In that contest, finalists will present their elevator pitches and readers and views will determine the winners.

The judges’ winners in all three tracks, including an overall Challenge Champion, and the People’s Pick winners will be announced and profiled in a special section of Business Monday on April 27. The Business Plan Challenge is sponsored by Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center.

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