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.
“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 doing lots of library research, drawing fancy graphs or crafting the perfect sales pitch to venture capitalists.”
Over the last few weeks, the Tulane Entrepreneurs’ Association has witnessed a buzzing community surrounding the competition.
Local fans in addition to business model experts such as Alex Osterwalder and Roy Daya have both reached out and provided advice to applicants. Osterwalder, who initially proposed the Business Model Canvas, said that prototyping and testing is all you need to do to succeed. Daya recommends estimating return on investment and cash flow for all parts of the business ecosystem. “Companies need customers but also distribution partners.”
Regional applications are due tomorrow, February 14th, by 11:59 PM. Students who make it past the first round have a shot at a total of $49,000.
TEA President Adrian Mendez believes the competition provides a deeper learning opportunity and a more guided process for those interested in launching and running a company. “Essentially what we’re doing is creating an evolution of what has been established at Tulane, allowing for students to quickly prototype and execute ideas instead of just participating in a one time pitch.”
“The competition has always been a flagship event that supports local–now regional– entrepreneurs and programs,” Mendez continued. “As the program grows, we hope to continue to motivate and inspire students to be on the forefront of entrepreneurial activity with the resources we provide.”
More information is available at tulane2014.istart.org.