Competitor Best Practices
Giant Vision provides competitors with an opportunity to gain experience in preparing a business plan, developing a compelling presentation, interacting with judges for valuable feedback, meeting potential investors, and the potential to win seed capital.
Advice on Writing Your Business Plan
We strongly suggest that your first step is to contact one of many business assistance organizations throughout South Dakota. The majority of past winners worked closely with one of these agencies on developing their business plan before submitting an application. Review the Business Assistance Directory for an office near you. These services are free of charge.
Links to guidelines on what to include and business plan samples are included on the Application/Requirements page. The following is general advice.
Do not be intimidated by writing 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 minimal 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 contain at the very basic financial data (revenue, profit, capital required) in a small table or a few sentences.
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 dependent 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. Keep in mind that 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.
The judges’ panel is made up of active, seasoned individuals with startup experience. Most have operated, invested in or sold businesses. The judges will evaluate your plan from the viewpoint of a potential investor, seeking to determine if it has the potential to be a profitable investment, in addition to being beneficial to the State of South Dakota.
IF YOU ARE SELECTED AS A QUALIFIER:
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. Videos have been used but the viewing screen should be sized to accommodate.
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 or during/after the awards ceremony, 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.
Each applicant that is selected as a qualifier will advance to the final day of competition where each will make a 15-minute presentation 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.
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 or during/after the awards ceremony, 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.
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.