A new idea to tweet home about

We’re always on the lookout for innovation in the world of business plan competitions, and we’ve been intrigued by many of the new ideas among competition organizers. One that has definitely piqued our interest is the new TwitPitch prize to be awarded at the upcoming Rice University Business Plan Competition.

Each finalist in the Rice BPC will be invited to submit a “tweet” to a special Twitter account prior to the start of the competition that describes their business in such a way as to interest an investor. Like every tweet, the message must limited to 140 characters.

The TwitPitch winner receives a cash prize of $1,400, with second place worth $140 and third place $14. The contest is sponsored and judged by PopLabs, a tremendously successful search engine marketing agency based in Houston that caters primarily to small and mid-size companies. When we spoke with PopLabs founder Gene McCubbin, however, he was quick to reject credit for the idea, saying that the Rice BPC host, the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and its managing director Brad Burke, were the ones to develop it.

TwitPitch seems to play perfectly at a time when social media has taken on monumental importance for businesses both new and established. We recall viewing a tweet from venture capitalist Jeff Bussgang (@bussgang) earlier this month asking “Anyone fundraise off a single tweet?” (We replied, tongue-in-cheek, “Mom/Dad pls send money,” but no one seemed to appreciate the joke.)

For business plan competitions, TwitPitch is a logical extension. “After all,” McCubbins told us, “we’ve seen elevator pitch contests become commonplace in these competitions. We’re just replacing the elevator with Twitter.”

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Joe Hurley is a CPA, author of "The Best Way to Save for College - A Complete Guide to 529 Plans", founder of Savingforcollege.com, and co-founder of Bizplancompetitions.com. He has also recently started making maple syrup.
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