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.
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.
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.
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.