Business Plan Contest

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"But when we won the MIT competition, I would send that in my intro letter." As a result, he landed a meeting with the search engine company Hot Bot.

That led to deals with AOL, and Microsoft and Lycos.

"Understand the mindset of the consumer, understand what it is they have to do." Then use those insights to develop an idea.

Behnke's team proposed a networking site that would connect parents looking for nannies with college students in their communities. "If we had focused on what they said, what they needed, and how we addressed that, it would have been more compelling." If you have the greatest product in the world but no customer, you don't have a business, he added.

Business-plan competitions have expanded into elevator pitch battles and industry-specific contests. When a UCLA team won the 2005 Rice University Business-Plan Competition, it received a $100,000 investment prize to launch the tech company Auditude.

But several venture capitalists at the competition were so impressed that they offered to invest

But several venture capitalists at the competition were so impressed that they offered to invest $1.1 million.

"Any existing company is going to be able to undercut you until they put you out of business." When setting a price point, coming in higher than existing products and services can actually be better, Holly says.

This shows that the business is offering something with more value.

Having been on both sides of a contest, she recommends getting in a customer-oriented mindset.

"It's not a solution looking for a problem," she says.

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But several venture capitalists at the competition were so impressed that they offered to invest $1.1 million."Any existing company is going to be able to undercut you until they put you out of business." When setting a price point, coming in higher than existing products and services can actually be better, Holly says.This shows that the business is offering something with more value.Having been on both sides of a contest, she recommends getting in a customer-oriented mindset."It's not a solution looking for a problem," she says.If the main selling point is a cheaper product, beware."That's not a competitive advantage, especially for someone coming into the market, unless you're ten times cheaper," Holly says.Investors are looking for teams with sustainable advantages, he says."Hopefully if they have a technology, they have a patent on the technology." Dig Deeper: The Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Use Your Resources to Plan Well Luke Behnke is a second year MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and one of the directors of the school's $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.Even if it seems like there isn't obvious competition, think about the alternatives to what your team is proposing.Recognize that, at the very least, those alternatives are competing for your customer's attention.

.1 million."Any existing company is going to be able to undercut you until they put you out of business." When setting a price point, coming in higher than existing products and services can actually be better, Holly says.This shows that the business is offering something with more value.Having been on both sides of a contest, she recommends getting in a customer-oriented mindset."It's not a solution looking for a problem," she says.If the main selling point is a cheaper product, beware."That's not a competitive advantage, especially for someone coming into the market, unless you're ten times cheaper," Holly says.Investors are looking for teams with sustainable advantages, he says."Hopefully if they have a technology, they have a patent on the technology." Dig Deeper: The Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Use Your Resources to Plan Well Luke Behnke is a second year MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and one of the directors of the school's 0K Entrepreneurship Competition.Even if it seems like there isn't obvious competition, think about the alternatives to what your team is proposing.Recognize that, at the very least, those alternatives are competing for your customer's attention.

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