February 21, 2015

Business Plan Bootcamp: Focus, share, test, learn

 

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Focus on customer experience first. Share your idea widely to gain valuable feedback. Start building your network and never stop learning.

A panel of serial entrepreneurs and investors — most were both — shared that advice and more with 325 attendees at the Miami Herald’s Business Plan Bootcamp Wednesday night at Miami Dade College. The bootcamp was held in conjunction with the

2015 Business Plan Challenge, the Miami Herald’s annual entrepreneurship contest that is open for entries until March 16.

Panelists included Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Krillion Ventures; Steven McKean, serial tech entrepreneur and startup advisor; Benoit Wirz, director of venture investments for the Knight Foundation; Leandro Finol, executive director of Miami Dade College’s Idea Center; and Adam Smith, partner at Medina Capital.

What do they look for when they are reviewing business plans?

"What’s the problem you are trying to solve but also how do you know it is a real problem, what’s the evidence?" Wirz said. "What is it about you, specifically the team, that makes me believe you can solve that problem? As a general rule, the more competitive the space, the more important it is you have a very specific background that gives you an unfair advantage."

Wirz also looks for a plan for how customers find out about your product. "If you have some secret hook, an advantage you can leverage, that’s great," Wirz said. Be sure to show evidence of product-market fit, added McKean.

Krinzman and McKean, veteran Business Plan Challenge judges, also advised paying attention to the storytelling. Said Krinzman: "You have to remember that there is a person reading the plan, and we need to be interested. ... Work hard on your first paragraph and define the problem you are solving: why should we care, why should we keep reading, and do we understand what you are talking about. Share at least your first couple of paragraphs with someone who doesn’t know your business and see if they understand it."

Include financials in your plan, but be realistic and include assumptions. A photo or rendering is good to include, particularly if you are a product company. In live pitches, product demos are effective, Smith said. If you get to the finalist stage of the Challenge, you will be presenting your elevator pitch on video.

Advice on starting a business came pouring out. "If you are small and don’t have a lot of capital, go after a small but growing market and think about world domination later," Finol sad. In selecting your idea, follow your passion and do it because you love it, he said. "Branding is important but focus on user experience first," Finol added. Focus on the why — why should customers tell others to use your products. The branding will evolve."

Wirz said in most cases entrepreneurs shouldn’t be so secretive: "Tell everyone about your idea, and get feedback. The more feedback the stronger your idea will become and the more ready you are to build your business."

If you are a first-time entrepreneur, you can establish some credibility through social proof, said Krinzman. One way to do this: Create a board of advisors of people who believe in you and have credibility in your category or can add value.

When capital raising, do your homework and target investors in your industry or sector, Smith said. It sounds obvious, but the investors said the great majority of emails they receive are not fits. If you do get in the door, "don’t be defensive, you are going to be challenged, and you can’t have all the answers so don’t worry about that," said Smith. "Be engaging and conversational and you will get through it."

Get introduced the right way. Get active on LinkedIn and build your networks, McKean said. It’s a relationships game.

The good news on that front: Thanks to the Knight Foundation and others, South Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has evolved. "It’s an ecosystem that is very open and if you are part of it, opportunities will come to you as well. More doors will open," Finol said.

A not to be missed event, particularly if you are in tech, is the eMerge Americas conference coming up in May. A sampling of other resources mentioned by the panelists (get on their mailing lists): Refresh Miami (refreshmiami.com), the largest meetup group for early stage entrepreneurs; The LAB Miami (thelabmiami.com), a co-working space in Wynwood with many events; and AGP (AGPMiami.com), an active angel network. For companies much further along, there’s Endeavor Miami (endeavormiami.org) providing mentorship and support. Take advantage of local resources and follow the Starting Gate blog (on MiamiHerald.com/business).

Some recommendations on other blogs, books and websites from the panel: The Hard Thing about Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz, Brad Feld’s books on capital raising, blogs by well-known investors such as Fred Wilson (http://avc.com/) and Mark Suster (http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/); and Eric Reis’ The Lean Startup, particularty if you are a tech company. Pitchenvy.com is an enviable collection of investor decks, and there’s "How to get an investor to say yes," by Adeo Ressi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tzef-oKee0).

"Over the winter break I went through "How to Start a Startup" by YCombinator’s Sam Altman (http://startupclass.samaltman.com/). It is free and it is unbelievable," said Finol.

Listen to podcasts. Smith suggests Jason Calacanis’ "This Week in Startups" podcast (http://thisweekinstartups.com), which includes a new series for his Launch incubator with great speakers. Another is "Startup," a series by Gimletmedia (http://gimletmedia.com/show/startup/)

At eMerge Americas last year, Manny Medina interviewed Pitbull; an amazing and enlightening interview worth watching, the panelists said (watch it here).

Just getting started? Finol said the Idea Center, theideacenter.co, offers a workshop on design thinking every month that will help you create, refine, validate and test innovative ideas. After the Bootcamp, he suggested  this template  may also help -- start with the pains and gains sections.

"Find mentors who have been there before to help get you there faster," McKean said. "Your ability to grow a company will be dependent on of how fast you are able to learn. The fastest learning will come from who you surround yourself with."

 

 

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Panelists were Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Krillion Ventures; Steven McKean, serial tech entrepreneur and startup advisor; Benoit Wirz, director of venture investments for the Knight Foundation; Leandro Finol, executive director of Miami Dade College’s Idea Center; and Adam Smith, partner at Medina Capital.

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Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and find rules, tips, a Q&A and other resources for the Business Plan Challenge at MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Posted Feb. 21, 2015

February 11, 2015

Business Plan Bootcamp speakers announced; sign up today

Real advice, no fluff: That’s what experts at the upcoming Miami Herald Business Plan Bootcamp promise to deliver.

Krinzman__2__3_1_SJ1TVKKK_L54772747The free event on Feb. 18, held during the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge entry season, will help entrepreneurs getting started in their businesses as well as those who are further along. “Whether you’re applying to the Business Plan Challenge, raising investment capital or thinking about raising capital, the Bootcamp is not to be missed,” says Melissa Krinzman, who will lead a panel discussion with advice on what elements make a winning short business plan, as well as do’s and don’ts when pitching investors.

Krinzman, who has been a judge for the Business Plan Challenge for 10 years, is co-founder and managing partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million venture capital fund that invests in emerging technology companies at the seed and venture stages. She is also the founder of Venture Architects, a business planning firm that positions early and growth-stage companies for success in the capital-raising process. Since 1998, Venture Architects has worked with more than 900 companies that have raised more than $1 billion in investment capital.

Leandro Finol

Her panel of experts will include:

Leandro Finol, a serial entrepreneur, investor and professor. His first business in the United States was DIREC4U, a company that was formed with very little capital, grew to $76 million in revenue in six years and was sold in 2007. He has recently joined MiamiDadeCollege as the executive director of the IdeaCenter, where he will work to bring innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship to the institution and community. Finol will also be a judge in the Business Plan Challenge High School Track.

  Steven McKean
Steven A. McKean, who specializes in starting and scaling technology companies. Most recently, he was CEO of Acceller, a company he founded and grew to 300 employees before merging with Bridgevine in 2014; he is vice chairman of the combined company. He also co-founded Animusoft and advises early stage companies in team-building, culture, financing and marketing. McKean is a veteran Business Plan Challenge judge in the Community Track.


Adam SmithAdam T. Smith, a partner at Medina Capital. Smith has more than 17 years of experience as a legal executive with expertise in managing global legal affairs, corporate securities, technology contracting and mergers and acquisitions. He is responsible for sourcing potential investment opportunities and providing Medina Capital’s portfolio companies with strategic advice with business development, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, intellectual property protection, contracting and all legal issues.

 *BenWirz Benoit Wirz, director of venture investments at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Wirz manages the Knight Enterprise Fund, a venture fund investing in early stage startups that improve access to quality, useful information. He also helps advise the nonprofits in Knight’s portfolio around issues of sustainability and growth. Prior to Knight, he was a partner with US Global, where he invested in and developed energy, manufacturing and technology companies.

The bootcamp will be 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 18 (check in at 6:15) in the ChapmanConferenceCenter at MiamiDadeCollege’s downtown Miami Wolfson campus (300 NE 2nd Ave., Building 3, Room 3210). The program will start promptly. There is free parking in the MDC lot at 500 NE 2nd Ave. (entrances are on NE 5th and 6th Streets).

There is no cost but space is limited so registration and required. Register here: http://hrld.us/bootcamp. If you have a question, please email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com and put bootcamp in the subject line.

Be sure to come with your questions: There will be plenty of time for Q&A.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg on Twitter.

HOW TO ENTER THE CHALLENGE

You have five weeks left to enter the 17th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, our annual contest to showcase South Florida’s entrepreneurial might.

If you have a business idea or your startup is under 2 years old, submit your entry in the form of a three-page business plan. There are three ways to win: a community track for all South Floridians, an FIU Track for students and alumni of that university and a High School Track.

See the contest rules and tips for preparing your entry, find judges’ bios, questions and answers and more information on MiamiHerald.com/challenge. Deadline: March 16. Good luck!

January 26, 2015

2015 Business Plan Challenge opens for entries: The lowdown

 

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South Florida entrepreneurs, this is your time to shine!

Today we are launching our 17th Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, our annual celebration of South Florida innovation in one of the most entrepreneurial regions in the nation. If you have a business idea or an operating startup that is less than two years old, you can enter.

Sponsored by the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center at Florida International University, our contest welcomes business plan entries from any industry. There are three tracks — a Community Track, open to all South Floridians; an FIU Track, open to students and alumni of that university; and a High School Track, co-sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Don't let the name of the contest scare you: We don’t want long, laboriously detailed business plans. That’s because today's investors in very early-stage companies want to see a succinct presentation of your concept and how you plan to turn it into a success. So do we.

Your entry may be up to three pages, and you may attach one additional page for a photo, chart or diagram if you wish. Think of it as a meaty executive summary. Experts in all aspects of entrepreneurship — serial entrepreneurs, executives, investors, advisors and academics (see their bios here on MiamiHerald.com/challenge) — will judge your short plan.

Judges will be looking at your product or service's value to the customer, the market opportunity, business model, management team and your marketing and financial strategies. Define the problem your business or business idea is solving, clearly explain your solution, and provide tangible details as to why— and how — you can make it a success. See the contest rules on MiamiHerald.com/challenge here.

Your entry is due by 11:59 p.m. March 16. Entries should be sent to challenge@MiamiHerald.com, fiuchallenge@MiamiHerald.com or highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com.

Need help? On Feb. 18, we’ll host a free Business Plan Bootcamp, where Challenge judges Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Krillion Ventures, and Steven McKean, serial entrepreneur in the tech space, Adam Smith of Medina Capital and other entrepreneurial experts will shed light on what should be in your business plan and share tips on pitching to investors. Register through this link: http://hrld.us/bootcamp.

And think of MiamiHerald.com/challenge as your base throughout this contest, as we'll be bringing you advice and answering your questions. You can email your questions to ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com (please put challenge in the subject line). Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

The top six finalists in the Community and FIU Tracks will present their 90-second elevator pitches for our popular weeklong video contest in early April on MiamiHerald.com. We will also unveil semifinalists and finalists to keep the suspense building.

On April 27, in a special section of Business Monday, we will annouce and profile the winners — the judge's top three selections in each track plus the People’s Pick winners. DonorCommunity, PassTheNotes, AdMobilize, DeliverLean, WedWu, JustAskBoo and Baby Abuelita are just a few of the past winners in recent years — so this year’s winners will be in good company. What do winners win? Valuable exposure in the Miami Herald (we cover our winners’ progress for years to come), connections and mentorship.

Today we are looking back on the entrepreneurial journeys of our 2014 winners. Funding was a challenge for all, and many spent much of the year developing (or redeveloping) their platforms. Throughout the entry period, we’ll also look back on a few winners from the past 16 years.

You have seven weeks. May the best plans win. Go!

Related

Meet the Judges

Free Business Plan Bootcamp set for Feb. 18

2014 Community Track winners have listened, improved, expanded

2014 FIU Track winners reached out to broader markets, refined their technology

2014 high school winners made a game of learning language skills

Posted Jan. 26, 2014

January 24, 2015

Sign up now for Miami Herald Business Plan Bootcamp Feb. 18

OK, I am usually posting other people's entrepreneurship-related events on this blog but here is one of mine. Hope you can make it! 

Want expert advice on crafting a short business plan and pitching your company to investors? Mark your calendars and sign up for our free Miami Herald Business Plan Bootcamp.

Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Krillion Ventures, which invests in early-stage tech-enabled companies, will moderate a panel of investors and entrepreneurial experts. Confirmed speakers include serial entrepreneur Steven McKean, who is the former CEO of Acceller, Adam  Smith, a partner in Medina Capital, a private-equity fund for growth-stage companies, Benoit Wirz, director of venture investments for the Knight Foundation, where he manages the Knight Enterprise Fund, and Leandro Finol, entrepreneur, investor and director of Miami Dade College’s new Idea Center.

 

This bootcamp is ideal for people planning to enter the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge (deadline March 16; more details on Miamiherald.com/challenge) as well as for other startup entrepreneurs and those planning to start businesses.

There will be plenty of time for Q&A with the audience so bring your questions.

The bootcamp will be Wednesday, Feb. 18, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Miami Dade College’s Chapman Conference Center on the Wolfson Campus. There's no charge for the event but space is limited, and registration is required. Sign up for the Business Plan Bootcamp at http://hrld.us/bootcamp.

Questions? email ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com and put bootcamp in the subject line.

 

January 15, 2015

AGP to launch angel investor education series in Coral Gables

The angel network Accelerated Growth Partners (AGP), Greenberg Traurig, Knight Foundation and the Kellogg School of Management are teaming up to offer a series of angel investor education workshops.

Agp_logo_rgb_blancoThe Knight-supported AGP relaunched last summer and has been meeting regularly and inviting selected startups to present at their meetings. Under a new managing director, Nico Berardi, the group has grown in a few short months to 57 members and another 30 or so prospects. Some members have already invested in South Florida startups.

But along with presenting investors with many opportunities to invest in local startups, a key mission of AGP is investor education. It wants to grow the angel investor community in South Florida, and is one of a number of efforts underway in South Florida.

BERARDI PhotoAGP's new Angel Education Series will consist of six workshops aimed at training the Miami investment community in the intricacies of angel investing. "The curricula is very specific to educating investors in making angel investments," said Berardi (pictured at left). These workshops will cover a range of topics such as Valuations, Portfolio Strategy, Post-investment Relationship, Legalities of Angel Investing and Picking Winners.

“The premise behind the Series is that while Miami startups are booming, the investment community today doesn't have enough tools to invest in early-stage tech ventures,” added Berardi. “With an all-star team of sponsors and speakers, we're attracting potential investors to come out and learn how to include angel investments as a part of their broader portfolio.”

The inaugural workshop on Jan. 28, 'An Overview', will be taught by the Angel Research Institute and take place at the Kellogg School of Management in Coral Gables.

 The Series will:

• Teach early stage investing principles providing basic tools and resources.

• Provide a clear picture of the intricacies of South Florida i.e. opportunities and constraints

• Showcase local investment platforms, current angel investors and key members of the entrepreneurial local ecosystem.

The sessions are free for SEC-accredited investors. Registration is required, space is very limited and accredited investors will get preference.

For more information and to register for the  first session: https://agpeducation.eventbrite.com

Posted Jan. 15, 2015; Photo of Nico Berardi by Catarina Ayubi

 

January 06, 2015

Business plan competition season opens -- are you ready?

It's Business Plan Contest season. Here are a few on the horizon. The first one, the Idea Center Startup Challenge, is open to Miami Dade College students (all 165,000 of you!) but the other two are open community-wide.

1. The Idea Center Startup Challenge -- January 6 through January 30, 2015

Are you an MDC student with a great idea for a new business or product? Ready to go from idea to reality? Entering the Startup Challenge is easy! All you need to start is a 60-second video pitching your idea. Open to Miami Dade College students of all disciplines and at all campuses. Win $5,000 as seed money toward your venture.

For more information and to enter, please visit: theideacenter.co/startup

2. FAU Business Plan Competition -- first deadline for entry is Feb. 15, 2015

All students, faculty and members of the community may be eligible to participate in this annual competition. Teams participating  can network with venture capital principals, early stage angel investors, successful entrepreneurs and  business leaders who will serve as competition judges. There is a substantial prize pool too.

For more information: http://business.fau.edu/centers/adams-center/business-plan-competition/index.aspx#.VKvzea10wuQ

3. Coming soon: 17th Annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge -- opens Jan. 26, 2015; submission deadline is March 16

Take the Challenge, even if you are entering another competition as well Your short business plan could wow our judges. There will be a community track open to all, an FIU track open to students and alumni and a track open to grades 8-12. Full info will be available Jan. 26 and thereafter on MiamiHerald.com/challenge. (Questions? I will be coordinating this again so you can always email me at ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Posted  Jan. 6, 2015

November 06, 2014

Pitch your way to an eMerge Americas summit pass

Are you ready to jump into the FIU Pino Center Shark Tank?  On Friday, Nov. 21, at FIU Downtown on Brickell from 10:00am to 3:00pm, the Pino Center is offering an opportunity for attendees to deliver a 5-minute pitch on their business, to be followed directly by 5 minutes of Q & A from the judging panel. They will receive feedback and be coached on how to improve their pitches by a team of experts.

The prize for the winning pitch: A summit ticket to the upcoming eMerge Americas.

The Shark Tank will be an educational opportunity for all, regardless of whether you are in the audience or on the main stage. Registration fee: $40 per person

Attention 2014 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge participants: For you, the event is free of charge. If you didn't win this year, you can enter again and this is a great way to prepare for the 2015 Challenge. Challenge participants: please email me for the promotional code at ndahlberg@miamiherald.com. There are also discounts for FIU students and alumni; call the Pino Center for more information on those. 
 
 
Posted Nov. 6, 2014

September 16, 2014

Youth entrepreneurs, have we got a contest for you

Update: The deadline for this contest has been extended to Oct. 13.

Are you a creative student entrepreneur between the ages of 10 and 22? I know there are a lot of you out there -- I have seen your entires in the Business Plan Challenge!  Here’s another chance to compete for fun, prizes and most important, mentorship. 

The BizNovator Challenge is an inaugural local contest put on by the Casimiro Global Foundation, whose mission is to empower youth to become entrepreneurs, social innovators and leaders who create change in their communities and around the world. The foundation also puts on BizNovator Camps during the summer and mentors and supports micro-entrepreneurs locally and around the world. This contest is  open to youth and young adults in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. “The foundation is challenging South Florida youth to use their passion for entrepreneurship, innovation, social responsibility and technology to address issues in our community,” said Juan Casimiro, who heads the foundation.

For this challenge, a contestant can submit a business plan (there is a template provided) to solve a problem in any number of areas – poverty, health, education, energy conservation, etc. There will be a semifinalist round and ultimatley a winner selected from each category: Elementary school, middle school, high school, college and community. Winners will receive cash prizes, mentoring, scholarships to the BizNovator Camps, subscriptions to GetAbstract and more for their project.

Here are the details:

The deadline for entering is Sept. 23.

All the entry information is here: http://www.casimiroglobalfoundation.org/images/stories/BIZ-PLAN-COMP-CHALLENGE-IX.pdf

This is a link to the SemiFinals event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/biznovator-challenge-semi-finals-pitches-tickets-12899884903

More info on Facebook Link BizNovator Challenge: https://www.facebook.com/biznovatorchallenge

On Sept 25 at FIU will be a semifinalists round in which up to 12 finalists will present their ideas. The winners in each category will be honored on October 23.

Good luck! And I hope to also see you all competing in the 2015 Business Plan Challenge too!

Posted Sept. 16, 2014

May 20, 2014

Business Plan Challenge announces winners

We are pleased to introduce you to the winners of the 16th Annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The winners’ circle contains concepts in healthcare, fashion, athletics and tech. One theme running through many of the plans: community connection. To rise to the top, winners had to make a strong case for how they planned to execute their business plan.

This year, among 196 entries received in our three tracks of the Challenge, there were food products, spaces for artists and makers to gather, restaurants, green products, sports-related ideas, social entrepreneurial ventures and plenty of apps. The three-page business plans in our Challenge, sponsored by Florida International University’s Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center, were judged by experts from our community — successful entrepreneurs, investors, executives and academics (see bios on MiamiHerald.com/challenge) — as well as by the public via our popular People’s Pick video competition.

"Since I began judging the Business Plan Challenge seven years ago, the quality of the submissions has greatly increased,” said judge Melissa Krinzman of Venture Architects, who led the Business Plan Bootcamp the last few “It's been quite exciting to see better business summaries as well as businesses that have a greater chance of achieving their goals."

Munchkin Fun, a community site to help parents choose, book and pay for kids’ classes, won the Community Track and also was named the Challenge Champion, based on judges’ scores and People’s Pick voting.

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See story about Munchkin Fun here.

 

Fashion-tech company Fitting Room Social — an online shopping platform solving the question “will it fit me?” — came in second and AthleticSelect, linking future athletes with private coaches, was third. The Community Track attracted more than 100 entries.

On the FIU Track, XDG Technologies, a medical product to relieve polydactyly, the condition of extra fingers or toes, and remove skin tags, was the winning plan.

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 See Story about XDG here.

Coming in second was Summer Camp Live, a platform that provides a virtual summer camp booking service, and Groove Caddy, with a new way to clean golf clubs, was third.

For the first time in the FIU Track, the judging included a live pitch session for the six finalists, which helped determine the final winners. Each team received up to 10 minutes to present their companies, and the sessions also included five minutes of Q&A time and feedback.

Over on the High School Track — which is co-sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship — the winner was Word Avenger, by Miami Edison Senior High students. Word Avenger is an app that makes vocabulary building into a game. “This mobile app will be popular with teens who dread SAT prep classes. It teaches through a medium that is familiar and comfortable to the age group," said Mercedes San Miguel, a CPA and judge, noting the creativity of all the winning plans.

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 See story about Word Avenger here. 

MoodPoint, an app to help track mood swings and combat depression, and Chinese Picture Dictionary, an app for learning the Chinese language, both by Ransom Everglades students, took second and third place.

In the People’s Pick, which attracted 11,302 votes, it was neck-and-neck but the fashion-tech companies prevailed. Fitting Room Social edged out Munchkin Fun on the final day of voting, and Kloset Karma, a marketplace for trading clothes that uses points as currency, emerged the winner in a tough race with Groove Caddy and Moonlighter, a co-working/maker space specializing in 3-D printing and design.

Although the contest was based on votes cast — and getting out the vote in social media is a key component — the two winners also drew the most video views in their respective tracks. Overall, Fitting Room Social drew the most views, 1,904, and Snapscore also on the Community Track was a close number two with 1,878 views at the close of voting.

Some of today’s winners and finalists are first timers and others are serial entrepreneurs with decades of industry experience. But all are in the early stages of their businesses — we’ll be watching how they do!

Read about all the winners here.

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See Fitting Room Social's story here.  

 


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See Summer Camp Live's story here.

 

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See MoodPoint's story here.

 

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See AthleticSelect's story here.

 

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See Groove Caddy's story here.

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See Chinese Picture Dictionary's story here.

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 Read Kloset Karma's story here.

May 08, 2014

FAU Business Plan Competition winners annnounced

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FAU photo

Florida Atlantic University’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship and the College of Business, along with the Research Park at FAU, today announced the winners of its 2014 FAU Business Plan Competition that culminated April 11. According to its press release today, more than 250 registered teams comprised of FAU students, members of the business community, alumni, and the Greater Boca Raton’s Young Entrepreneurship Academy students, competed for a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes.

Sixteen teams advanced to the final round of events. Teams submitted their plans in one of two categories: the Entrepreneur Track, which was designated for alumni and members of the business community-at-large; or the FAU Student Track, which was open only to current FAU students. The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) Investor Panel featured students in seventh through 12thgrades, who developed legitimate businesses and pitched to investors for seed funding. 

The YEA! Investor Panel scholarship winner was Matthew Pohl, a junior at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, for his enterprise, Bitquity, a mass micro-equity bitcoin mining farm.  As winner of the YEA! Investor Panel, Pohl advances to the regional Saunders Scholars Bright Ideas College Scholarship Competition to be hosted at FAU on Friday, May 16.  The winner of the regional round will advance to the national competition for the opportunity to win a $30,000 scholarship.

The FAU Student Track winner, receiving $17,000 in cash and $19,190 in prizes, was FAU student Jan Bednar for his company BedaBox.  Originally from the Czech Republic, Bednar provides a solution for international shoppers who wish to purchase online from companies in the United States.  BedaBox uses a sophisticated software application to help people overseas purchase via any form of currency.  In addition, BedaBox customers can manage their shipping via an easy to use dashboard.

The Entrepreneur Track winners of the competition, receiving $17,000 in cash and $17,790 in prizes, were Tim Clark and Bill Cummings for their company, Modulux Lighting, a company that turns light into money by leveraging patent pending technology to provide more light with less energy.  Modulux Lighting has engineered and commercialized LiteBlox, a portfolio of LED lighting fixtures positioned to service the lucrative commercial LED market.  Both Clark and Cummings are graduates of the FAU Adams Center for Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneur Boot Camp certificate course.

There were 2nd and 3rd place awards as well. Read about all the winners and more about the competition here: www.business.fau.edu/bpc.

Posted May 8, 2014