Business Plan Challenge

Here’s how to enter the Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition

Startup wizards and budding entrepreneurs, take note. It’s time for the new Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition, sponsored by Florida International University’s Eugenio Pino & Family Global Entrepreneurship Center.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur whose startup seeks that extra edge or a teen with a dream, this year’s competition is for you. But if you’re thinking it’s just like years past, you definitely need to read on.

Forget those old narrative business plans. This year, we’re asking for pitch decks only, with 12-20 slides for the FIU and Community tracks, and 8-15 slides for the Teen Track.

The FIU Track — for students, faculty and alumni of Florida International University — will remain the same as in years past. The one change: You’ll be submitting a pitch deck, not a narrative business plan.

The Teen Track is now the Teen Track to Benefit NFTE, the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Two finalists will come from its NFTE programs in public schools; two will come from its Innovate South Florida competition in private schools; and two more are wild-cards, open to anyone in our South Florida region in grades 9-12. (Full rules and details below.)

In the Community Track, we’re seeking fledgling businesses that already have a minimum viable product but are no more than three years old. This year’s prizes — exposure to top funders and expert mentors in specific fields — are geared to entrepreneurs with sharp ideas who want to move to the next level.

Panels of expert judges will select the best business plans in each track based on the quality of the idea, the submitted pitch deck and (for those who make the finals), a live pitch presentation.

The top two competitors in the FIU and student tracks will be the subject of a Business Monday cover story this spring, along with one winner in each of the five Community Track verticals. Winners will be honored at a community-wide event this spring.

TIPS (ALL TRACKS)

To enter, competitors must submit a pitch deck containing 12-20 slides (for Community and FIU tracks) and 8-15 slides (for the Teen Track.) The deck should explain the following:

What problem is business solving?

What is the solution?

Who is the customer?

What stage of development is it currently in?

Who are the members of your team and what expertise does each bring?

What, if any, technology is required?

How will the business make money? (i.e., define the business model and revenue streams)

What is your marketing plan? (Details are required; “social media” is not enough)

What are your costs and basic final projections? When do you project to break even?

(FOR COMMUNITY TRACK ONLY)

Current investment and revenues

Pitch-decks will be used to evaluate all plans. Those judged as finalists in each track will compete in a live pitch competition before a panel of judges.

GENERAL RULES (ALL TRACKS)

You must live in South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties). If you are entering an existing business, it must be based in South Florida. (See additional rules for FIU and student tracks under Specific Rules section.)

Think of your plan as a meaty executive summary, offering just the highlights of your business plan and presented in a pitch-deck format.

Entries must be for proposed for-profit businesses or firms in the startup phase. Sorry, no nonprofits.

If you entered the Business Plan Challenge in past years and were not one of the top three winners in the track, you may enter your plan again as long as you meet the other criteria.

Multiple entries from one person are allowed if they are different business ideas.

Entry deadline: Emailed by 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 11, 2019.

Please put the name of your venture or your name in the subject line and email it to:

challenge@MiamiHerald.com — Community Track

fiuchallenge@MiamiHerald.com — for FIU Track

Mhighschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com — for High School Track.

You should receive an automated response after sending. For questions or problems, email businesseditor@MiamiHerald.com.

TRACK-SPECIFIC RULES:

community track

Your entry must fit in one of the following five verticals:

  • Trade & logistics
  • Healthcare / bioscience
  • Travel / tourism / hospitality
  • Real estate
  • Financial technology (fintech)



If your business launched operations prior to Jan. 1, 2016, it is not eligible.

You must have a minimum viable product and demonstrate it upon request

An entry consists of a pitch-deck consisting of 12-20 slides that explains your product, your strategy for growth and promotion, and financials. (Please see tips above. )

You cannot enter both the community track and the FIU track with the same idea.

Finalists will invited to polish their pitches at a session with Melissa Krinzman of Krillion Ventures. Finalists will be required to present their pitch to the judges. Judges will consider the pitch in their final ranking. If a finalist is unable to attend the judging session, the next highest ranked plan will be deemed a finalist and be awarded the opportunity to complete in the pitch competition.

One business in each vertical will be declared the winner in that vertical. It will be profiled in the Miami Herald’s Business Monday Startup Pitch Competition issue this spring and will be honored at a community-wide event. In addition, each winner will receive a minimum of three one-hour mentoring sessions with the designated company it its specific vertical. Those mentorships will be delivered and managed by the mentoring companies as follows:

  • Trade and logistics; mentored 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

FIU Track:

You must be a student, faculty member or alumnus of FIU to enter. If a team is entering, at least one member of the team must be an FIU student, faculty member or alumnus. Please write “FIU Entry” at the top of your submission.

An entry consists of a pitch-deck of 12-20 slides that explains your product, your strategy for growth and promotion, and financials.

Your product can be a proposed business or one that is already in development or operation; it does NOT have to fall into one of the Community Track sectors. However, if your business launched operations prior to Jan. 1, 2016, it is not eligible.

You cannot enter both the community track and the FIU track with the same idea.

Finalists will be required to present their pitch to the judges. Judges will consider the pitch in their final ranking. If a finalist is unable to attend the judging session, the next highest-ranked plan will be deemed a finalist and be awarded the opportunity to complete in the pitch competition.

A winner and a runner-up will be profiled in the Miami Herald’s Business Monday Startup Pitch Competition issue this spring and will be honored at a community-wide event.

Teen Track to Benefit NFTE:

The competition is open to students in grades 9-12 in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties.

An entry consists of a pitch deck of 8-15 slides that explain your product or idea, strategy for promotion and growth, and at least a general idea of your financials. (Please see tips below.)

Please put “High School Entry” at the top.

This track is conducted in collaboration with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Two finalists will be chosen by NFTE from its public school program; two finalists will be chosen from the top finishers in Innovate South Florida, the Private School Business Plan Competition that benefits NFTE. Two finalists will be chosen by Miami Herald judges as “wild-card” entries and can come from any teen in grades 8-12 in the four specified counties.

Finalists will be required to present a 7-10 minute presentation to judges, who will consider the pitch in their final ranking. If a finalist is unable to attend the judging session, the next highest ranked plan will be deemed a finalist in each category and be awarded the opportunity to compete in the Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition finals.

A winner and a runner-up will be profiled in the Miami Herald’s Business Monday Startup Pitch Competition issue this spring and will be honored at a community-wide event.

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