After hosting one of the region’s premiere college business plan competitions for 14 years, the Tulane Entrepreneurs Association (TEA) has completely redesigned the contest to better reward the practical aspects of what make startups successful – the ability to rapidly adapt to customers’ needs.
Tulane is now taking after the International Business Model Competition, a contest that wants ventures to prove customer validation and adapt to the process of creating a business model. Instead of intensive library research, student entrepreneurs will get out in the field and prove their assumptions.
The new Tulane Business Model Competition offers a $25,000 grand prize and a $10,000 award for runner-up. Students throughout the Southeast region are encouraged to apply.
“In this contest, sleek presentations are not going to cut it,” said Ralph Maurer, executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business. “Participants won’t be rewarded for overly ambitious sales projections, drawing fancy graphs or crafting the perfect pitch to venture capitalists.”
Instead the contest rewards teams for breaking down their idea into a key business model hypotheses; testing their assumptions with customers; applying Customer Development / Lean Startup principles to make sure they nail the solution; and learning to pivot until they have a customer-validated business model.
“Entering the first round of the competition doesn’t require a significant time investment, and it’s a worthwhile exercise for anyone working on a startup,” Maurer said. “By going through the process, it will help businesses to think through their issues.”
TEA will select eight semi-finalists who will win $1,000 each and get to pitch, receive mentoring and network with a variety of lean startup experts on Tuesday, March 25, in New Orleans. The final phase of the competition will take place on April 11th, 2014 where the three finalists will present their business models.