University of Queensland Business School’s Enterprize competition is a rare thing – a business plan competition that doesn’t ask winners to give up an equity stake in their new business in return for the cash.
Instead, the winning team retains full ownership and is free to spend all the money on whatever the business needs next. Some Enterprize winners have used the funds to hire a CEO to bring in the strategic and commercial skills that can drive the idea to the next level.
Mark Alexander, who won the competition in 2004, used the money to manufacture his BakBalls product – a self-treatment device for backpain sufferers – and start making sales.
More recently, CVSDude, a software-as-service company that had more than 43,000 customers around the world going into the competition, used the money to hire a CEO and establish a US base.
- Free business plan webinar – Tuesday 16 June 2009 4.00pm to 5.30pm
- Concept plans due – Friday 17 July 2009
- Finalists published on the web – Monday 10 August 2009
- Business plans due – Wednesday 16 September 2009
- Pitch to judges – week commencing
- Pitch Day – Friday 16 October 2009
So what do you need to enter the competition? If you have an outstanding business idea – and a clear idea of how and why it will make money – you are well on your way.
Just valuing the world market and saying ‘even if we only get a market share of 0.01% we’ll make a squillion’ isn’t enough though. The judges will want to see exactly how you plan to break into the market, how you’ll differentiate yourself from your competitors, and what you’ll do to ensure you can stay in business long enough to get any market share at all.
And while the contemporary business environment makes all sorts of innovative business models possible, you’ll need to be very clear on what you plan to do. The judges won’t be impressed by broad claims about ‘partnering’ and ‘establishing joint ventures’ without evidence that the team has the appropriate experience and skill sets.
So, when you’ve subjected your brilliant idea to the cold light of day and you still think it has potential – what you’ll need to do next is put together an eight-page concept plan and lodge it before Friday 17 July (see enterprize.uq.edu.au for details of what’s required).
Based on the concept plans, the judging panel will select up to eight finalists who will then be asked to submit a detailed business plan by Wednesday 16 September.
After pitching to the judges, the teams then prepare for the final challenge – presenting at the famous Pitch Day in Brisbane in October.
In front of an audience made up of venture capital and angel investors, you will need to inspire confidence in your idea and the strength of your team, show how and when the business will be profitable, and persuade the judges that your business deserves funding ahead of the other finalists.
What does it take to win Enterprize?
- An outstanding business idea
- A solid business model
- A detailed business plan
- A great pitch.
In a very real sense though, everyone’s a winner. Just getting serious enough about your idea to enter the competition can be the beginning of a great success story. And for those who make it through to the finals, a strong business plan will be worth its weight in gold when you talk to the bank or pitch to investors.
A great example is Soenke Weiss of Optii Solutions. After not winning in 2004, the team went on to successfully raise seed funding and today serves the software needs of the hotels industry with an impressive client list including Sheraton, Holiday Inn, and Mirvac as well as the famous Orient Express.
Don’t let this opportunity pass you by – enter Enterprize 2009