Gotta Business Plan?

I got an email over the weekend letting me know that applications for the 2008 EnterPrize Business Plan Competition are being accepted. Here's the gist of the message:

EnterPrize is Pittsburgh’s premier business plan competition for technology startups. This year, we [the Pittsburgh Technology Council] will host eight workshops and three networking events, beginning February 20 with a workshop, “Developing the Idea” taught by Chris Allison. Through three phases of competition more than $80,000 will be awarded. Participants will get plenty of feedback through a coach and comments on their plans from judges and will have many, many networking opportunities to meet potential funders, advisers and peers.

The goal of the competition is to help stimulate economic growth in southwestern Pennsylvania and support local technology entrepreneurs.

Here is the link to all of the relevant information about the competition, including a contact for questions: http://www.pghtech.org/Events/enterprize.asp

EnterPrize is divided into two categories – new business and existing business. What defines a “new business?”

· The team has an idea for an innovative product or service with which they intend to start a company.
· The company does not exist.
· The company is nothing more than an idea.
· They have no employees (founders are acceptable).
· No money has been raised.
· The company is not incorporated. (NOTE: If it is incorporated, its only purpose was to create a shell – the company is not conducting any business).
· The company has not experienced Substantial Business Activity:
o Payment of wages or salaries
o Receipt of research grants, development contracts or other sources of revenue
o Receipt of equity or debt financing from outside the Founder’s immediate family
* Founder’s activities, such as research, prototype development, establishing beta sites (other than for paying customers), licensing necessary technologies, will not be considered Substantial Business Activities.

Definition of an Existing Business Category:

· The company is less than three (3) years old.
· The company has less than twenty (20) employees.
· The company has less than $1 million in annual sales.
· The company has raised less than $500,000 in capital since its inception.
· The company is experiencing Substantial Business Activity:
o Payment of wages or salaries
o Receipt of research grants, development contracts or other sources of revenue
o Receipt of equity or debt financing from outside the Founder’s immediate family
* Founder’s activities, such as research, prototype development, establishing beta sites (other than for paying customers), licensing necessary technologies, will not be considered Substantial Business Activities.

Some of PTC members who have participated in EnterPrize over the years include: Vivisimo, Plextronics, Agentase, ALung Technologies, LogicLibrary, RemComm, Staffing Direct Business Solutions. Many of these companies are very active in the Council … speakers at events, Tech 50 finalists, etc.

Comments

2 Responses to "Gotta Business Plan?"

Anonymous said... 2/12/2008 1:38 PM

As a former enterprize participant, my opinion is that they're way off base with what they are looking for and who they award money too. The year I participated, I saw them dole out small checks (< $3000?) to biotech companies and R&D companies that would need millions to develop a product.

Meanwhile there were other business plans (mine included) that were mainly web-based that $3000 could have almost completely bootstrapped. Why not spend some money where it could actually make a difference?

As a side note, one of the winners that year was literally a better mousetrap!!!

Anonymous said... 2/13/2008 1:55 PM

In response to the first post: Business plan competitions, particularly tech-based versions, tend to award grandiose projects with a reasonable chance of working. The competition affords visibility to the entrepreneurs that can lead to real investment. A business that requires $3K to fully fund is not the best candidate. A local bank, friends and family, or even cutting back on a few lattes would be more than sufficient.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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