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

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 14, 2014

DeliverLean expands with new 30,000-square-foot kitchen in Oakland Park

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Olga Kuzenkov, co-founder, and Scott Harris, president and CEO of DeliverLean, a South Florida meal delivery service, show off the company's new kitchen space in Oakland Park. The 30,000 square foot commercial kitchen will fulfill the need for expansions allowing for more deliveries, new jobs and promoting healthier lifestyles in South Florida. WALTER MICHOT/MIAMI HERALD

By Chabeli Herrera

DeliverLean, one of South Florida’s most successful food delivery businesses, celebrated the opening of its Oakland Park facility Wednesday afternoon with a five-course meal presented by the chefs who have fed stars from Beyonce to Barack Obama.

Executive Chefs Andrew Whiteman and James Donato rushed around the counter at the test kitchen, faces at eye-level with the plates, meticulously preparing the meals that are also delivered in plastic containers and thermally insulated cooler bags to doorsteps from Jupiter to Kendall. About 30 invited guests feasted and toured the 30,000-square-foot facility, at 4351 NE 12th Terrace, which now house’s the company’s office, commercial kitchen, combination ovens and separate dehydration rooms.

The brainchild of mortgage industry executive, Scott Harris, DeliverLean opened in September 2011 as a convenient and healthy alternative for people looking to balance their diet. The meals are prepared fresh daily and delivered to customers between 3 and 6 a.m., just in time for breakfast.

“All you have to do is wake up and eat healthy,” said Chief Marketing Officer Candy Tree.

The  latest expansion, at a cost of $250,000, is intended to increase deliveries to a total of 5,000 customers from the current 1,500. With more space and improved productivity, Harris said, he expects to  extend the company’s deliveries north to Tampa.

Since 2012, DeliverLean has gone from earning $2.9 million in revenue to an expected $10 million by the end of 2014. More than 130 employees work the kitchens and the 20 delivery cars that line the parking lot of the new office. In 2013, the company won the People’s Pick award in the annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The company's success caused it to quickly outgrow its 8,000 square-foot Boca Raton facility, which was struggling to satisfy an influx of customers catching the health craze wave.

“It was coming like a tornado,” Tree said.

The new facility gives the company a more central position for delivery expansion.

Since 2011, the company has grown to include organic juices, low-calorie desserts and shelf-stable snacks. Harris said  the company expects to open a juice bar selling  its juice brand, On Juice, in Aventura Mall in the next 6 weeks. The team plans to expand to New York by the end of 2014 and Los Angeles by 2016. Also in the plans: a kids’ line to be delivered to schools and a line for diabetics.

The growth will help him broaden the reach of his ongoing goal: to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle and discourage fast-food as a convenient but hazardous option.

“We didn’t want to be a weight-loss or diet company,” Harris said. “We find that vanity is a by-product but it’s really about being healthy.”

Meals are priced at $7.95 and customers can mix and match dietary plans, choosing from five meal plan options.

Each DeliverLean package includes a breakdown of calories, protein and carbohydrates.

At the event, working parents Jessica and Donovan Campbell were ready to sign up for the plan. Their 10-month son, Kingston, wobbled between tables munching on kale chips.

Wedding and event planner Jessica Campbell likes the convience she will get from DeliverLean. “A company like this could not only give me time back but prepare dishes that I’m not familiar with,” she said.

For WSVN-7 sportscaster Donovan Campbell who often works irregular hours, convenience is also key.

“You just never know when your next assignment is going to be and you never know when your next meal is going to be,” he said. “It’s good to have these meals already prepared and you just grab the bag and go.

“At $8 or less a meal, you can’t beat that.”

 

May 04, 2014

Business Plan Challenge announces finalists; Vote today in People's Pick

Today we unveil the top six finishers in all three tracks of the 16th Annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, and you get to vote for your favorite plans in the Community and FIU Tracks. The People’s Pick competition, now in its eighth year as part of the Challenge, is open for voting.

With just a couple of days’ notice, the contenders presented their elevator pitches under the hot lights of the Miami Herald and FIU studios earlier this month.

To vote for your favorite contestants, here’s what to do:

Click on the “vote” button on MiamiHerald.com/Challenge (top left) to bring up the voting page or click here. View any of the short videos of the finalists’ elevator pitches. The six selections in the FIU Track follow the Community Track.

Then scroll down to the bottom of the page to cast your ballot, voting for one video in each track. You may vote once per day.

Lastly, get out the vote! Give your favorite entrepreneurial team more support by asking your social networks to vote. In previous contests, we've had votes from all over the world. Follow along on Twitter with #mhchallenge.

Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. May 11. The teams with the most votes in each track will be awarded the People’s Pick and honored in the May 19 Business Monday section along with the judges’ selections. Go here to vote.

Today, we are also naming the finalists in the High School Track. The 2014 finalists in all three tracks are:

COMMUNITY TRACK

AthleticSelect, by Travis Smith and Eric Dooling, connects aspiring athletes and their parents with experienced private coaches in their area and offers tools to help coaches market and monetize their business.

Feel Good’s, by Steve Capellini and Patricia Woodson, provides the spa experience in a novel manner and unique environment, focusing on community involvement and technological integration.

Fitting Room Social, by Brad Liff, is more than a consumer fashion app, it’s a full-service e-commerce platform designed to help women answer the question, “Will this fit me?”

Miami Exchange, by Catherine Penrod and Audrey Nelligan, is a contact center business for small businesses, with a keen focus on healthcare service providers.

Munchkin Fun, by Valerie Schimel, Molly Blanco and Aleesa Adams, functions like a Ticketmaster for kids’ classes and camps, giving parents a single place to find and book children’s programs.

Snapscore, by Ryan Del Rosal, Newt Porter and Taylor Auerbach, measures individuals’ qualifications and provides meaningful insights to accelerate their careers. Similar to a credit score, Snapscore is a baseline of their current professional merit.

FIU TRACK

Groove Caddy, by Jose Espin, Carlos Martell and Mike Lowell, introduces a product that revolutionizes the way people clean their golf clubs, particularly in the grooves.

Kloset Karma, by Paula Celestino and Christopher Rivera, is a fashion exchange marketplace mobile app that allows users to affordably update wardrobes by finding new or almost-new clothing within their communities and to pay using a controlled point currency system.

Moonlighter, by Daisy Nodal and Tom Pupo, is a tech cafe and lounge that allows local designers, entrepreneurs and the public to co-create, prototype and retail new products.

Recall Safe, by Steven Rojas Tallon, is focused on alerting consumers directly of recalls and safety warnings, seeking to change the entire process and help avoid preventable injuries or deaths.

Summer Camp Live, by Vicky di Colloredo-Mels, Carlo di Colloredo-Mels, Felipe Ospina and Juan Pablo Villegas, is a new way for summer camp owners to promote their services and to cost effectively communicate with camp seekers worldwide.

XDG Technologies, by Carlos Hondal and Dr. Juan Roig, has developed a proprietary hand-held medical device for the treatment of a genetic medical condition called polydactyly (extra fingers or toes) and the removal of skin tags.

HIGH SCHOOL TRACK

Amplify, by Adam Chiavacci, Daniel Stein and Jack Davis of Ransom Everglades, would link up to six phones together so the host smartphone playing music can utilize all the other phones’ speakers as though it were its own.

Chinese Picture Dictionary, by Dante Bolzan, Adam Moreno-Mendelson and Ethan Arteaga of Ransom Everglades, is an app called Xue Wen, the Chinese word for knowledge, that provides a Chinese/Chinese-English dictionary with photo recognition software.

FoodNection, by Gavin Sitkoff-Vuong and Sabrina Ibarra of Ransom Everglades, will connect chefs, restaurants and passionate foodies through a Web platform and app.

Maestro Rhythm, by Annabel Chyung of Ransom Everglades, is a game app that will help both beginner and advanced musicians triumph over their frustrations with rhythm.

MoodPoint, by Catherine Lindsay of Ransom Everglades, is an iPhone app that detects and offers basic relief for all forms of mental illness, including depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety.

Word Avenger, by Gerlannda Asse, Evanson Telisme, Franceline Pierre-Louis and Frantz Senat of Miami Edison, is a fun mobile app game created to help improve vocabulary and word knowledge.

 

April 05, 2014

Last day to enter the Business Plan Challenge

Will you be the next winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge? Entries are due Saturday night.

So put those final touches on your short business plan. Don’t forget to include highlights of all the business plan basics such as concept, target market, team, business model, growth, marketing and financial strategies. Tell us what differentiates your product or service from the competition, why it’s needed in the marketplace and why you are the one to execute the plan. If you entered before and didn’t win, you can update your plan and try again.

Your plan will be judged by a panel of angel and venture capital investors, serial entreprenreurs and senior executives, and the top six finalists in the Community and FIU tracks will also participate in our online popular contest. The top three winners in each track and the People’s Picks will be profiled in a special section of Business Monday.

Ready to take the Challenge? Here are the basics:

Who can enter: Entrepreneurs with businesses less than 2 years old or with business ideas. There is a Community Track, FIU Track and High School Track.

What to enter: Up to a three-page business plan (one additional page for charts or photos is allowed).

Entry deadline: 11:59 p.m. April 5

Email entries to: Challenge@MiamiHerald.com, FIUchallenge@MiamiHerald.com or highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com. You should get a confirmation your entry was received. If you do not, email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com.

Contest rules, judges’ bios, other info: MiamiHerald.com/challenge

Questions: ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

 

April 02, 2014

Question of the day: Why enter the Business Plan Challenge? Hear it from a winner

With the deadline approaching -- 11:59 p.m. April 5 -- I have been fielding a lot of questions about the 16th Annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge. This morning's question: Why should I enter if there no cash prize?

I wrote a column about this, which you can read here. And I will give you two additional reasons: If you already have done a business plan, pitch deck or executive summary for investors, for another contest or perhaps as your own roadmap,  it is super easy to repackage and submit it to the Challenge, which will be seen by our judges, and perhaps be a winner in your hometown media. No. 2. If you haven't done this yet for your business or business idea, don't you need to get moving? The Challenge process will get you started, and we have had plenty of winners with first-time plans.

In short, being a finalist or winner will give you exposure and validation you are on to something.

But perhaps you should hear it from one of last year's big winners. While Pia is talking mostly about the FIU Track of the contest, open to students and alumni of that university, there are also tracks for the Community -- open to all -- and there is a High School Track for grades 8-12. Find the rules on MiamiHerald.com/challenge and email your entries (maximum of 3 pages plus one additional page for a chart or photos if needed) by end of day Saturday to challenge@miamiherald.com (for the community track); fiuchallenge@miamiherald.com or highschoolchallenge@miamiherald.com. Good luck!

 

March 27, 2014

Entering the Challenge? Sign up for free 'Perfect Your Pitch' webinar

Entering the Business Plan Challenge? As you are preparing your entry for the April 5 deadlline, here's help.  

WeiszFIU’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, our sponsor, and Ricardo Weisz, who has judged the FIU Track for several years, are generously offering a free webinar for Business Plan Challenge participants Tuesday. The webinar is open to participants in all three tracks, and it will also include tips on pitching to invesors, such as the do's and don't of a successful pitch and learning how to engage your audience with a captivating presentation and gather the skills to convey your message to investors.

The “Perfect Your Pitch for the Challenge” webinar will take place on Tuesday, April 1, from 11 a.m. to noon online.

RSVP for the free webinar here: https://crm.orionondemand.com/crm/forms/I7S70md7878Ex6700kKII.

And here is the lowdown on the Business Plan Challenge:

What to enter: Three-page business plan (one additional supplemental page for a chart, photo or graphic is allowed).

Who can enter: Entrepreneurs with businesses less than 2 years old or with business ideas. There is a Community Track, FIU Track and High School Track.

Deadline: April 5.

Email entries to: Challenge@MiamiHerald.com, FIUchallenge@MiamiHerald.com, highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com (you will get an automatic response. If you don’t, email ndahberg@miamiherald.com).

Contest rules, judges’ bios, other information: MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Questions: Email Business Plan Challenge Challenge Coordinator Nancy Dahlberg at ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com.

Posted 3/27/2014

 

March 23, 2014

Raw Shorts offers new view on video market

Businesses recognize the power of video but don’t have the time, resources or know-how to produce it. Raw Shorts helps businesses overcome this challenge with an easy-to-use template-driven cloud-based video builder.

Portrait_AntonioIn the past year, the company, run by Antonio Otalvaro, has successfully launched a working prototype for a complex platform with very few resources, opened access to the platform through an open beta and obtained validation from the paying businesses community that the solution the company helps address one of their biggest marketing challenges.

Otalvaro was the Challenge Champion in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in 2011 for a company called Raw Apps, which was developing and selling interactive live wallpapers skinned in branded content and gamified apps for smartphones. The team worked on that concept and enjoyed early success, but in 2012 Otalvaro decided on a very different course.

“With Raw Apps we were early entrants in the Android space and enjoyed a lot of success as a result of our timing. The Raw Apps model is still a great model but at the time it required a considerable amount of resources to execute properly since a major component was consumer facing. We were able to prove the model as first movers but to maintain a position of leadership and build a viable business we needed an influx of cash to fill our conversion funnel. Not having those resources meant facing a window of opportunity that was quickly closing,” Otalvaro said.

While running Raw Apps, another opportunity presented itself. Otalvaro started meeting a new wave of entrepreneurs launching “start-apps” who were in need of digital marketing services to bring awareness to their products. “A lot of companies contacted us to learn more about who produced our videos and that’s when I realized that I could provide a solution to the growing number of small and medium-sized businesses who were now believers in video as a competitive advantage.”

The many consultations Otavaro had with prospective clients and really getting to understand their needs and challenges — a process the Lean Start Up movement calls “customer development” — helped persuade him to change course. At the same time, the popularity of video was exploding.

Key to the Raw Shorts model is the template approach, so that the company could meet the rising demand for videos. And the lean team of three set to work on developing the platform.

Now, Raw Shorts is set to issue its first commercial product within the next three months and is in talks with several channel partners about integrating its platform into their existing online communities.

Otalvaro was a member of the first accelerator class at Venture Hive, and he encourages other tech entrepreneurs to apply for the 2015 class.

“Within a span of one short year we went from zero lines of code to a commercial MVP [minimum viable product] with over 3,000 businesses from all over the world benefitting from the use of our platform for their video needs,” Otalvaro said. “In addition to providing the financial resources we needed for a successful product launch, the mentorship I received through Venture Hive has helped me refine my model and go-to-market strategy and we’re now positioned for growth.”

 

March 21, 2014

Business Plan Bootcamp: Advice on the pitch, the plan, the journey

ChairiscroppedKeep it simple. Tell a story. Make every word count. A strong management team is important, and so is a realistic financial picture.

Those are some of the makings of a good short business plan. With the Business Plan Challenge deadline coming up April 5, five Challenge judges shared their no-nonsense advice, answered questions about business plans and what investors like to see and even heard a few pitches at the Miami Herald’s two-hour Business Plan Bootcamp attended by more than 250 people last week at Miami Dade College.

Let’s get right to it. What do these experts — who look at hundreds of business plans and investor pitch decks a year — want to see in a short plan?

Tomas_Mike_003“If I read the first three sentences and I don’t understand what it means, thanks, but no thanks. You have to make a point of ensuring that it is easy to understand and that we get it,” said Mike Tomas, CEO of Bioheart and an investor. “No. 2, I will look at management. I love to invest in overqualified entrepreneurs. No. 3, financials; 90 percent of all the business plans have fractured financials. If it doesn’t make sense to you and your friends, it probably won’t make sense to an investor.”

IMG_0071_edit_bw“Put yourself in the investor’s shoes and make it easy for us. Use simple words for what you do, use action verbs. What problem are you solving? Are you solving a real problem for real people that will make real money? And how are you going to make money? Who are your customers and how will you attract them? Why are you the one to lead this business?” added Melissa Krinzman, managing director of Venture Architects and co-founder of a new early-stage venture fund, Krillion Ventures.

STRANDBERG (1)OK, sounds like a lot to pack into a three-page plan, the length of the Business Plan Challenge submission. Tip from Rob Strandberg, who heads the Enterprise Development Corp.: Think about how you put together a PowerPoint presentation with bullet points. “Make your points short and important.”

[Tip: In the Business Plan Challenge, entrants can have one additional page for a graphic or photo, a good place to put that financial chart.]

The panelists also talked about the power of the pitch, and shared war stories about entrepreneurs who froze up when they got in front of investors. Memorize, rehearse, always have it at the ready.

John Hall HeadshotJohn Hall, who heads the new community program called Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at Miami Dade College, recommends rehearsing three different pitches: 30 seconds, three minutes and five minutes. “In a 30-second pitch, you can really talk about only three things, so be efficient, compelling and effective.”

Record yourself on your iPhone over and over again, rehearse with your mentor, become so familiar with it no one can interrupt you, the panelists said. Make sure you always include an ask, such as: Can I send you my executive summary and a demo of my product?

“And a good entrepreneur is ready for all the obvious tough questions. You might /not/ want to raise all those issues in the pitch, but have the answers at the ready,” Strandberg said.

Where can an early-stage entrepreneur go for capital in South Florida? Think outside the box, the panelists recommended. Sometimes your first customers or experts in your industry can be your first investors. Seeing industry experts seeding your business will help with follow-on investors.


Richard Gins 4x6 b&wAnother avenue is Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which can not only bring you needed funding but customers and credibility, said Richard Ginsburg, co-founder of G3 Capital Partners. “Every day you are seeing product and service companies validated by $30 and $40 investments,” he said. But he cautioned to make sure your company is ready; the majority of campaigns don’t pick up traction.

The panelists recommended reading trade journals in your industry, the blogs of top investors such as Fred Wilson and Brad Feld, and books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horwitz. Top accelerators and business schools often post helpful explainer videos and how-to information. If you have a food-product business, see the movie Nothing But Cakes, Tomas said.

Some final tips:

<bullet>Show your passion. While this may seem hard on paper, it can come through.

<bullet>Please don’t say you have no competition. Find out who your competitors are and learn from their mistakes. Include in your plan a competitive grid or at least a small section about your competition and your differentiator.

<bullet>Tell us how you plan to market your product or service. And if you can, offer some hard evidence that it will sell. This could be a commitment from some target customers. If you have tested your idea with potential customers, include that too.

If you are putting together a business plan for the first time — as about half of the Bootcamp audience was — know that those 30- and 40-page business plans of the past are really not in vogue. These days, early-stage investors are most likely looking for an executive summary, investor deck and a strong set of financials.

Plus, the business plan acts as a road map for you to plot your strategy. So if you are entering the Business Plan Challenge, the three-page plan we ask for will be quite relevant and useful in your business.

“Quite frankly, this exercise you are going through for the Business Plan Challenge is really important because it is helping you hone your pitch,” Krinzman said.

Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg 

Business Plan Challenge Basics

What to enter: Three-page business plan.

Who can enter: Entrepreneurs with businesses less than 2 years old or with business ideas. There is a Community Track, FIU Track and High School Track.

Entry deadline: April 5.

Email entries to: Challenge@MiamiHerald.com, FIUchallenge@MiamiHerald.com, highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com.

Contest rules, judges’ bios, other info: MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Questions: Email Business Plan Challenge Challenge Coordinator Nancy Dahlberg at ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com.

 

March 20, 2014

Business Plan Challenge follow-up: Teen's business takes off in a flash

JasenDelgadoThe company Jasen Delgado started as a young teen has blossomed into a nearly full-time photography business for him in college.

Delgado, who taught himself photography at 13, was a winner in the Business Plan Challenge High School Track as a sophomore at John A. Ferguson High School in 2010 for his growing business that focused on exotic cars.

His concept was that a Lamborghini owner would cherish a portrait of his car, and that luxury automobile sellers would buy custom portraits of their offerings for sales materials. Delgado was right, and he soon got into photographing yachts and private planes, too.

By age 15, Delgado already had a roster of paying clients, and he learned how to structure and expand his business as part of the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship program at Ferguson. NFTE helps young people like Delgado create their own jobs and not become a statistic: In a recent Brooking study, Miami ranked 89th out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas for its low teen employment.

Today you can Google “event photographer in Miami” and JasenDelgado.com comes up high on the first page. Delgado has shot events for Billboard, BET Networks, Jim Beam, Wella Hair (owned by P&G), Southern Wine and Spirits, University of Phoenix, Tanduray Rum, The Glenlivet and many more. Last month he photographed celebrity chefs in action at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival for a client in California.

“My business model has always been to provide clients with awesome pictures … Nowadays I do everything including studio product photography for audio electronic companies, models for the look books of fashion designers, events, weddings and of course car photography,” said Delgado, who says his original car clients joke his name is Jasen “Never Available” Delgado.

Now a sophomore at Florida International University, Delgado wants to major in digital media, which includes communications, production and business instruction, and he admits running a nearly full-time business while a full-time student is challenging. Continuing and growing his photo business is definitely in the plans after he graduates, he says. Delgado and his business will be featured in NFTE’s Shark Incubator expo at eMerge Americas Techweek in May.

Delgado has never lost his interest in exotic automobiles, however. He has photographed about 15 of the luxury cars on Hertzdreamcars.com.

Always learning, he has also expanded into car cinematography, producing creative short films for the wheel company K3 Projekt Wheels showing how custom wheels complete the package.

“All of us at NFTE are beyond proud of Jasen, and he has become our go-to photographer for NFTE events,” said Alice Horn, executive director of NFTE South Florida. “Jasen and his business will also be featured in NFTE’s Shark Incubator expo at eMerge Americas Techweek May 5 and 6 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.”

Host's note: We follow our Business Plan Challenge winners and finalists for years to come. Watch Business Monday for more updates on past winners. Students in grades 8-12 are invited to enter the Business Plan Challenge High School Track; the deadline is April 5. More info: MiamiHerald.com/challenge

BUSINESS PLAN CHALLENGE SURVIVAL GUIDE

What to enter: Three-page business plan

Who can enter: Entrepreneurs with businesses less than 2 years old or with business ideas. There is a Community Track, FIU Track and High School Track.

Entry deadline: April 5

Email entries to: Challenge@MiamiHerald.com, FIUchallenge@MiamiHerald.com, highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com

Contest rules, judges’ bios, other info: MiamiHerald.com/challenge

Find out more: E-mail Business Plan Challenge Challenge Coordinator Nancy Dahlberg at ndahlberg@miamiherald.com.