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Many Business Plan Challenge plans have social entrepreneurial twist

Challenge chairI haven't been posting much this week because I have been immersed in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge judging process (along with, well, my regular day job!). I'm happy to report that innovation and competitive spirit are alive and well in South Florida! We received 240 plans in all three tracks in our 15th annual contest. 

I do not judge the plans at all -- we have experts for that -- but I have been involved in vetting the plans (not from South Florida? You're out! Been in business more than two years? Sorry) and assembling the judging panels. What we are seeing: a lot more social entrepreneurial plans this year, across all three tracks, particularly the high school track.

As always, we received a lot of creative product-oriented plans -- fashion, food, pet products, films, gadgets, apps. But this year, more of them were developed past a single-product focus. Also, we got a fair number of plans from veterans of industry that saw a better way to do things. That's the good news.

There are always challenges. The vast majority of our entries were solely focused on the product or service -- more like an ad or brochure rather than a business plan. It's understandable that you are very proud of your awesome product but there has to be a plan included on how you will make it a successful company. 

We'll be reporting the finalists on April 8 and winners will be announced May 6 in the Miami Herald. In between we will have a video contest, in which the top 6 give their elevator pitch. We'll let you be the judge on that! Stay tuned!