Jagadeesh G, correspondent
There is a good deal of Indian entrepreneurs in the Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest every year, but this is just a fanciful fact; more significant is the rise of new entrepreneurs in India. In almost every start-up business in the last decade, the rising star is not from one of the established business houses but from an upstart: everything starts as an idea. Many of us often think we may have the next best thing, but we don’t pursue it. For those people who take it to the next level, concepts are developed, prototypes are designed, and what once started as an idea turns into reality.
Business plans form an powerful tool in the hands of these innovative thinkers and their popularity has grown in leaps and bounds among B-schools all over the country. These competitions have become the flagship event at B-fests which have been conceptualized to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth. The attractiveness for the same comes from huge prize monies being offered for the winners and extended to corporate funding for revolutionary ideas. Needless to say, it offers opportunities like no other to its participants.
What is a Business Plan?
A business plan is a written summary where you frame your idea, the business you plan to set up using your idea, and the future you expect to create with that business. A well-made business plan is realistic, but also conveys the energy and optimism you feel about your business’s future. It is an opportunity to convince the world that your idea is worth the time, energy and money it will take to make it a reality.
The idea of a business plan competition first started in the 1980’s as an initiative by some MBA students from Texas and has gained increasing popularity. Such events happen yearly and rejoice a great affluence of contestants, which highly increases their competitiveness.
You will probably wonder what exactly these competitions consist of and where their popularity comes from. This can explained from the following perspectives:
Although the organizers and sponsors are usually B-schools, there are several business organizations that host business plan competitions.
Business plan competitions are student entrepreneur events. The contests are organized either for graduate or undergraduate students and it does not necessarily have to be only for MBA students. The contestants may be student scientists, engineers, MDs or other specialists who strive to create a viable business plan and hope to enter such competitions.
The popularity of such contests also reaches some other layers: business plan competitions are also organized with the purpose of giving people the possibility of starting a business. Business plan competitions usually happen as intercollegiate events, but this contest formula has also been taken over by companies who want to facilitate the founding of new businesses.
Why would I want to participate?
Besides the cash prizes, that, although quite important, will rarely suffice for financing the foundation of a company, there is the advantage of learning from this experience – this will enrich students’ knowledge to a greater degree than the mere theoretical aspects they learn from lectures.
How Do I benefit?
Initially started as a valuable opportunity for those students with bright business ideas to express them within contest conditions, the business plan competitions have become a resource for some investors.
You would say that choosing from purely theoretical plans would be highly improbable for a venture investor. Yet, that’s how many successful firms came into being.
However, having good results in an important competition does not necessarily imply launching a company successfully. There is the risk that some investors consider your plan an academic exercise before really studying it and thus the percentage of trust is substantially reduced.
Opportunity at your doorstep!
The recently concluded Genesis – 2011, organized by C-TIDES, the entrepreneurship cell of IIT Madras, was an event for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their Innovative Socio-Business Projects at IIT Madras. With a total prize money of Rs 4 lakh (Rs 400,000) and a potential seed funding from angel investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who will be judging the commercial feasibility of projects, it was an event that was widely participated in by young budding entrepreneurs.
As the ads go, “an idea can change your lives” – this is the opportunity knocking on the doors for those budding out-of-the box thinkers, for it is the B-Plan season. Top B-schools and top-notch business houses are conducting a wide range of B-Plan competitions all across the country. After Avalon Finding Sun-Tzu challenge, Cognizant Boardroom – smart business plan contest, Empresario – NITIE B-Plan contest are few of the upcoming B-Plan contests in Sep-Oct. Eureka, the international business plan competition organised by the entrepreneurship cell of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, has launched the social leg of the event this year. With a prize money of INR 2.4 million, it comes with the tagline of Asia’s Largest Business Plan Competition. The competition is open to all and sees participants from different strata like working professionals from various companies, B-schools, Technological Institutes, IITs, NITs and even Medical & Law schools.
A Word from Participants
A number of institute teams have been very successful in B-Plan competitions in recent times. Two years ago, a team consisting of Kaushik Anand, Midhun Salim and others participated and won competitions like the GE-Edison Challenge and the New York Next Idea Challenge.
About a month ago, a team consisting of Vishruth Srinath, Lohit Vankina, Vinay Sridhar, Anant Jain and Arun Chandran won Genesis 2011, the first institute team to do so since the competition’s inception. Three of the five members of the team are in the Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship Minor course, offered by DoMS, a choice they attribute their success to. Making a business plan is a process that requires a month of effort, and a Minor stream designed to enable students with the skills to create a realistic one is extremely beneficial for such competitions.
Being an institute that lays claim to some of the largest, and most successful entrepreneurial ventures in the country, this is but a small step into the journey of entrepreneurship.
It’s time to put your thinking hats on and let the idea change your lives, forever.