Best Practices

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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.

Your Audience

The judges’ panel is made up of active, seasoned individuals with startup experience.  Some have operated, invested in or sold businesses, are involved with assisting students or represent education.  The judges will evaluate your plan from the viewpoint of an investor, seeking to determine if the idea has the potential to be a profitable investment, in addition to being beneficial to the State of South Dakota.

Others who may visit your booth will not have the same background but all will provide you with an opportunity to sharpen your plan and improve business potential.

Your Booth

Your display should not be elaborate but should clearly convey the nature of the opportunity and the market it addresses.  It is strongly suggested that students use poster presentations.  A demonstration or examples of the product may be used but are not necessary.

Your Business Plan

Links to guidelines on what to include and business plan samples are included on the OVERVIEW 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 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.

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.

Your Presentation

Each applicant that is selected as a finalist 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.

Feedback

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.

Representatives of two regional business assistance centers will be present during the judges’ discussion to record comments pertaining to each company. Within two weeks after the contest, you will receive a summary of written feedback.

December 2021
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State of South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development
South Dakota EPSCoR
Citigroup, Inc.