MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION COUNT
The Giant Vision Business competition is an opportunity for you to win seed capital for your enterprise. Even more importantly, it is an opportunity for you to gain experience in preparing a business plan and making a compelling presentation.
You will be able to interact with judges who can give you useful comments and feedback on ways in which your plan or presentation can be improved.
The Giant Vision Competition may even be an opportunity for you to meet active potential investors.
The judges' panel is made up of active, seasoned, business people who have started businesses, run businesses, sold businesses and/or invested in businesses. The judges will evaluate your opportunity from the point of view of a potential investor and, as with any investment, they will seek to determine if it has the potential to be a profitable investment in addition to being beneficial to the State of South Dakota.
Other invitees who will see your display may also be actively engaged in business or in investing in businesses. Some may be potential investors in your opportunity. Some may not. But many will provide you with an opportunity to sharpen your plan and improve business potential.
Your display need not be elaborate but should clearly convey the nature of the opportunity and the market it addresses. An operating model, a demonstration or examples of the product are helpful.
YOUR BUSINESS PLAN
Do not be intimidated by having to write a business plan. But, make sure that what you write is clear and useful. The plan should address all of the major issues an investor needs to know about or will wonder about as he or she reads the plan. Detail on issues peripheral to the opportunity can be scant or omitted entirely.
We suggest that you begin by writing the executive summary. Limit it to less than two pages but make sure it clearly states what your intended product or service does, as well as the market addressed, the existing competition, the likely competition, and your probable advantages compared to competitors (patents, experience, speed of implementation, and know-how).
The summary and the plan should also address how you intend to scale up your business to address the available market and how profitable the business can be during and after scale up. The summary should itself contain the very basic financial data (revenue, profit, capital required) in a small table or a few sentences.
We have included a general outline of a complete business plan. After you have completed a draft of the executive summary, work on the most relevant items in the outline. For example, if your opportunity is largely dependant on distribution to consumers, concentrate on that part of the outline. If instead, your opportunity is a technical item to be sold to relatively few customers, concentrate on the manufacturing portion of the outline. The financial section of the plan need not be extensive but should include expected revenue, profit and, of course, the investment required. Don't forget to include notes on your key assumptions like selling price, cost of production, customer service costs and, if applicable, customer retention rates.
After you have worked on the most relevant parts of the outline, you will probably find that the executive summary should be revised. When you feel that both the summary and the plan answer the major questions about your opportunity, let someone else read it. If it is still satisfactory, it is probably ready for submission. Remember, a clear logical plan is far better than one that lacks clarity but is full of detail. Plans are evaluated by clarity of content and not by length.
All applications selected as qualifiers will make fifteen minute presentations to the panel of judges. Use no more than 10 minutes for the presentation and use the balance of the time for answering the judges' questions. Also, keep your answers short so that all judges can ask questions in the time available.
The most useful feedback that our judges can give you are comments on how to improve your business opportunity, improve the probability of getting financing, and improve your plan and presentation. To keep focus on improving opportunities for startups, the judges will not comment on why your plan was or was not chosen for an award.
You will have three possibilities for feedback from the judges.
- During Exhibit Review. Several judges will view your display prior to the presentations. They will listen to your brief description and ask questions. Before they leave your display, take the opportunity to ask them for comments on their view of the viability of your business proposition, how it can be improved, how your business plan can be improved and what are possible sources of financing. Do not assume that a judge will offer comments without being asked; judges have learned from experience that many entrepreneurs do not want to hear or accept adverse comments.
- At the Reception. All exhibitors are invited to the reception. This is a good time for you to discuss the issues. Again, keep in mind that you should initiate the conversation and please do not ask for or expect commentary on why specific winners were chosen or why you possibly were not chosen.
- After the Competition. Representatives of two regional business assistance centers will be present during the judges discussion of all those who exhibited. After the contest, you will receive a written summary of written feedback regarding your presentation.
We look forward to seeing you at the Giant Vision Competition. We hope you find the opportunity rewarding and instructive.