And for our next incredible startup …

Lora Kolodny is the journalist who does such a great job covering business plan competitions for NYTimes.com. This week on Twitter (@lorakolodny) she sent out this tweet: “I could NOT have a more inspiring beat. It’s either total fun, or saving-the-world stuff at these b-plan competitions.”

I feel the same way.

Last week I and another member of our team at Biz Plan Competitions attended the finals of the Rochester Regional Business Plan Competition. As you may know from my prior articles, I attended the classroom sessions required of all competitors, including the practice sessions. Even with that familiarity, we were both enthralled with the five finalist presentations. Watching each business plans unfold in the space of a few minutes, and then having ready responses for the judges’ questions, made us proud of our upstate New York community and hopeful for its future.

And yes, it was also exciting entertainment (though perhaps not as dramatic as Shark Tank). The small room was full, but mostly with people who were somehow associated with the competition. Where was everyone else? This was free. There should have been hundreds of business owners, professional service providers, community leaders, and students showing up to watch the presentations. (Bringing people out for the finals is certainly something Rochester will keep working on. Many other competitions around the country seem to be doing very well in this respect.)

Shame on us, we could not stick around for the awards luncheon afterwards. But we did attempt to handicap the entries, an incredibly difficult task. Of course, the judges were the ones to make that call, and they selected Tenrehte Technologies Inc. as the oh-so-worthy winner. This new company had just shipped its first order of small plug-in devices that will lead to big energy savings.

All the presenters did a great job and clearly progressed from the earlier practice session. They were generally much more fluent in their final presentations, and it was clear that they had thoughtfully whittled down their pitches to only the most important details that would leave a lasting impression with the judges. Everyone was well-rehearsed, and utilized the 12-minute window fully without having to rush at the end.

This was proof to me that the workshops provided for the contestants by High Tech Rochester fulfilled their objectives. The finalists clearly listened to the feedback and used their experience participating in the workshops to their advantage.

The workshops for this particular competition happened to be mandatory, but many other competitions are also holding classes or seminars prior to the actual contests that businesses might be quick to overlook, and many are even free! Even non-competing startups shouldn’t let these opportunities pass them by, as they can provide valuable and low cost access to many different business resources.

Photo credit: Ben Golub

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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.
View all posts by joeh → This entry was posted in Featured Posts, Spotlight - Competitions, Updates and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to And for our next incredible startup …

  1. Jim Senall says:

    Megan,

    Thanks for covering the Rochester event, and attending the workshops. Sorry you couldn’t stay for the lunch last Friday – that was pretty exciting too, with 250 attendees, a great keynote, and of course, the awarding of prizes. Hope to see you next year, and in the mean time, I will continue to read the blog to keep up with other cool stuff taking place elsewhere.

    - Jim

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