Are you up for the Challenge?
Emerging South Florida entrepreneurs, show us what you’ve got!
Today we launch our 19th Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, our annual celebration of South Florida innovation in one of the most entrepreneurial regions in the nation. If you have a business idea or an operating startup under 2 years old, you can enter.
Sponsored by the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center at Florida International University, our contest welcomes business plan entries from any industry. There are three tracks: a Community Track, open to all South Floridians; an FIU Track, open to FIU students and alumni; and a High School Track, co-sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
Don’t let the name of the contest scare you: We don’t want long, laboriously detailed business plans. Today’s investors in early-stage companies want to see a succinct presentation of your concept and how you plan to turn it into a success. So do we. Your entry may be up to three pages, and you may attach one additional page for a photo, chart or diagram if you wish. Think of it as a meaty executive summary. Experts in all aspects of entrepreneurship — serial entrepreneurs, executives, investors, advisers and academics — will judge your short plan. (See bios on MiamiHerald.com/challenge here.)
Judges will be looking at your product or service’s value to the customer, the market opportunity, business model, management team and your marketing and financial strategies. Define the problem your business or business idea is solving, tell us your solution and if you have tested it in the marketplace, and provide tangible details as to why — and how — you can make it a success. Some advice we often hear from our judges: “Think bigger.” See the contest rules on MiamiHerald.com/challenge here.
The deadline for entering: 11:59 p.m. March 20.
Send entries to challenge@MiamiHerald.com, fiuchallenge@MiamiHerald.com or highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com.
Need help? On Feb. 28, we’ll host a free Business Plan Bootcamp, where veteran Challenge judge Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Krillion Ventures, and Raul Moas, managing director of the AGP Miami angel network, will answer questions and lead a discussion about what should be in your business plan and how to pitch to investors. We’ll also hear from a panel of past winners — you don’t want to miss this event. Register here: businessplanbootcamp.bpt.me.
Network with us at 6:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at our Meet the Business Plan Challenge event at Venture Cafe Miami, 1951 NW Seventh Ave. Enjoy networking time and other entrepreneurship events before and afterward. More information here: http://venturecafemiami.org/calendar-2
And think of MiamiHerald.com/challenge as your base throughout this contest, as we’ll be bringing you advice and answering your questions. You can email your questions to ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com (please put Challenge in the subject line). Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.
The top six finalists in the Community and FIU Tracks will present 90-second elevator pitches for our popular weeklong video contest in late April on MiamiHerald.com. We’ll also unveil semifinalists and finalists to sustain the suspense. See last year’s videos here.
On May 8, in a special section of Business Monday, we will announce and profile the winners — the judge’s top three selections in each track plus the People’s Pick winners. DonorCommunity, PassTheNotes, Munchkin Fun, AdMobilize, DeliverLean, Juana La Iguana, Raw Shorts, The HighBoy and Stow Simple are just a few of the past winners in recent years.
Winners will get valuable exposure in the Miami Herald (we profile the winners and cover their progress for years to come), mentorship, education and connections. All finalists will receive a free pass to the eMerge Americas conference June 12-13, and our top three winners in each track and People’s Pick winners will be honored at a Miami Herald luncheon in June. The top winner from Miami-Dade will be fast-tracked into the finals of the American Entrepreneurship Award, competing for a share of $125,000 in prizes and support. We will be rolling out more in-kind prizes in the weeks to come. Stay tuned to MiamiHerald.com/challenge.
Today we look at back on the entrepreneurial journeys of our 202016 winners in the Community, FIU and High School Tracks. Some of our startup winners have raised funds and are rolling along with sales; others are ramping up to launch. Throughout the entry period, we’ll also look back at a few winners from the past 19 years.
May the best plans win. Good luck!