Evaluation & Process
The overarching judging criterion for the UM Business Plan Competition (BPC) is to select the plans in which the judges are most likely to invest their own funds. Note that this criterion applies equally to high potential ventures, small business ventures, and nonprofit ventures. High potential ventures are more risky, so should provide the possibility of higher returns. Nonprofits should be able to demonstrate that their organizations are not only worthy causes, but are also well thought out and well managed enough that the judges would be comfortable supporting them. It is assumed that the judges are open to any kind of early stage investment. In all cases, the quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation will influence the judges' decisions.
The vast majority of the judges are successful entrepreneurs. Several others are private equity or financial professionals. Although they may not have in depth experience in a given plan's industry or market, they are extremely well qualified to judge the potential of an early stage venture. Their rankings will be guided by the scorecard (sample shown below), but should be consistent with the approach that would be used by an early stage investor.
Teams are expected to state how much financing they are looking for, but are not required to reveal the exact desired terms of the deal (i.e., their proposed company valuation and percentage of company being offered to investors). Some investors prefer to have this information upfront, and some investors feel that it is not important until later. We recommend that teams be prepared to address questions about their terms, but it is up to the team to decide how to address these questions.
The final rounds of the competition will be held on March 29 - 30, 2017, with specific presentation appointments to be provided to each participant. All teams must be available to present their plan to the judges at the times to be indicated on the detailed schedule.
The only individuals who will have access to your written business plans are entrepreneurship program staff, your mentor, and the judges who are assigned to read your plan. These judges are largely entrepreneurs, investors, and financial professionals who regularly deal with confidential information in the course of their work. We have asked them to treat your work product with the same care and respect for confidentiality. We also ask them to remove themselves from judging your plan if they do have a real conflict of interest.
Note that a short description of your idea that you included with your concept paper may be used in public documentation relating to the BPC.
Each year, as oral presentations approach, some students become concerned about potential issues of confidentiality. Remember that the judges are largely entrepreneurs, investors, and financial professionals who deal with confidential information in the normal course of their work, and you may expect them to behave professionally. You should feel free to exclude any information you regard as truly proprietary, but keep in mind that this may have a negative impact on your performance in the competition. Also keep in mind that your general venture idea is NOT proprietary, and in the vast majority of cases revealing it will have no impact on your competitive position. No judge, mentor, or UM faculty/staff should ever be asked to sign any sort of nondisclosure agreement, and your presentations may be open to the public.
Scoring – Criteria
The winners of the competition will be determined by the judges' rankings of the teams. As noted above, this ranking will be based on the judges' willingness to invest in the venture. The ranking will be completed by the judges at the end of each day's competition. Judges will rank the teams from first (team most likely to receive funding) to last (team least likely to receive funding).
To assist the judges in this decision process and to provide additional feedback to the teams, the judges will fill-out 3 scorecards for each team in the Final Round. The 3 following scorecards will be equally weighed:
Part I Written Business Plan
Part II Verbal Presentation
Part III Business Viability
The individual scorecards are designed to provide guidance for judges in evaluating the individual components of each team. Scorecards are also designed to provide feedback to the competitors, and will be given to competitors along with verbal feedback from the judges at the end of the final round.
Scoring – Process
Teams will be given an appointed time to present their concept on their given day as per their assigned track. Each track will have a different set of judges. Each judge will assess the written business plans, oral presentations, and business viability of the teams in their track in the semifinal round of competition.
The winner from each track will be announced at the Awards Presentation on March 30, 2017.
Scoring - Written Business Plan Evaluation
The final written business plans are due by February 28, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. for evaluation. Judges will review the written business plans of each of the teams in their track and complete Part I of the scorecard for each plan. Part I is designed to help assess the written business plan, focusing on key elements and the effectiveness of the summary financial data.
Scoring - Final Oral Presentations
- Part II assesses the poise and professionalism of the presentation
- Part III evaluates the perceived viability of the venture
Each judge will listen to and evaluate the oral presentations of the teams in their track on their appointed day. Judges will use Parts II & III of the scorecard to determine their rankings:
The winning team from each of the tracks will be determined by the total scores for Parts 1 - 3 from each judge of the teams within each track. This ranking will be determined Thursday afternoon after all of the teams have presented to the judges. In the unlikely event that there should be a tie after the initial tabulation of rankings, the team with the highest viability scores will be declared the winner.
Scoring - Final Round
The winning teams in the final round will be determined solely by the judges' ranking of the teams. This ranking will be determined after all of the teams have presented to the judges. The judges will rank the teams in the finals from highest to lowest.