Business Plan Challenge

Enter our startup competition. Your plan could get reviewed by SoftBank’s Marcelo Claure

Miami’s startup scene has evolved, and it’s time for the Miami Herald’s signature startup competition to do the same. So here we go: The annual program known for two decades as the Business Plan Challenge is now the Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition!

When we launched the Challenge all those years ago, just about 4 percent of the world population used the internet. Today, that figure is over 55 percent — and more than 84 percent in the U.S. alone, says Internet World Statistics.

You get the drift.

So what’s new in our competition? For teens and those associated with Florida International University, we’ve got a few tweaks. (More on that later.)

In the Community Track, entries will now be accepted only in five business verticals. (You’ll find them below.) And while we still believe in dreams, entrants must now have a minimum viable product. (They still have to be based in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe counties and the business must be fewer than three years old. All must be for-profit businesses.) They will now enter a pitch-deck rather than a narrative business plan. And if they make the finals, they’ll need to make a live pitch before a panel of sector judges comprised of top industry executives.

At the conclusion, we’ll have five community winners. What they’ll get are benefits money can’t buy: Unprecedented exposure to investors and experts in their respective sectors, plus mentorships from executives in top local companies. Winners in the four relevant verticals (trade and logistics, travel and tourism and real estate) will also receive visibility at The Lab Miami Ventures summits for their respective vertical.

The finalists in each vertical will receive access to a pitch coaching session from Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Krillion Ventures, one of South Florida’s most active venture capital firms. The goal: to help hone pitching skills for the Competition and for future VC pitches.

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This year’s judges include some of the region’s brightest business stars: Marcelo Claure, founder of Brightstar and now operations chief for SoftBank’s multibillion-dollar technology portfolio; Bob Diener, co founder of and; Dr. Norma Kenyon, chief innovation officer at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine; Jason Liberty, Chief Financial Officer for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; the Related Companies’ condo division president, Carlos Rosso; Frost Museum of Science CEO Frank Steslow; Ryder System Vice President Bob Brunn; Jay Parker of Douglas Elliman and Wells Fargo regional president Jorge Villacampa.

And the verticals are......

Trade and logistics, with mentorship by Ryder Systems Inc.

Tourism, travel and hospitality; mentored by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Real estate; mentored by Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Healthcare and bioscience; mentored by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Financial technology; mentored by Wells Fargo

As always, winners will be profiled in the Miami Herald’s Business Monday and honored at a community-wide event.

Don’t miss the deadline for submissions: March 11, 2019, at 11:59 p.m.

As for the FIU track, it is still dedicated to students, alumni, faculty and staff of Florida International University, our signature sponsor. In the High School track for grades 9-12, we’ll be partnering with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Both accept business ideas (entrants don’t have to have a product yet). Both are open to anyone living in Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

Once again, the Challenge is presented by Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneur Center. Ryder System is sponsoring the Trade and Logistics vertical. This year, we’re also partnering with the Knight Foundation, Lab Miami Ventures, Startupbootcamp Scale Digital Health and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Even if you’re not hatching a business plan, you can join in the celebration. In the coming weeks, we’ll be telling the stories of winners from years past. In May, we’ll also be hosting a community-wide lunch celebrating past winners and the ones we will be announcing with help from our sponsors at FIU and the Knight Foundation. Keep an eye on this space to hear more about a special speaker.

Meanwhile, read more about the new Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition: Rules and tips; this year’s judges.