June 16, 2024

You still remember a few years back where you asked a few of your school mates to be part of a team to join a business plan competition organised by your university. It is so vivid in your mind about the dedication, persuasiveness and analytical skills that got your team to the finals with a lot of offers to take your business plan to initial public offering (IPO). You feel that your entire team has matured and become more focused in the quest for success.

Now you have decided that you do want to create a business-plan competition as a way of giving back to society. However, you start to realise that it requires a lot of planning, strategizing and focus because this business plan competition can also be the launch-pad of an unknown startup. This is the magic of being part of a business plan competition. You feel the immense feeling of a big achievement already.

Here are some tips that will help you along this path.

Your purpose:

Before you even start to create your own business plan competition, you have to be very clear about what separates yours and a host of other business plan competitions globally. How do you measure the success of your business plan competition?

The prize:

The prize need not be all in cash. It can also include free administrative support or even the matching to a venture capitalist.

Judging Criteria:

The judging criteria has to be clear and constructive to participants so that they know what to emphasise during their group presentations.


Start getting sponsors early. It is essential that you have a detailed meeting with potential sponsors and understand how your business plan competition can give their organisation more positive publicity and mileage.

Judging panel:

Ensure that you get a big pool of judges who are considered as subject experts and have no vested interest in any of the teams and are unbiased and fair in their judgement. Organise a meet-up where you can brief all judges about the judging criteria and how they must adhere to the agreement of non-disclosure and confidentiality.

The more experienced judges can be offered the opportunity to be judges for the finals and must have the ability to do Q&A and articulate about what made them offer certain points.


For a more hands-on group of professionals, you can offer them the opportunity to mentor the participating teams. This may give your judges the opportunity to continue to be part of the startup even after the end of the business plan competition.

Media Publicity:

Every startup participating in your competition desires to get as many people to know about their product or expertise. Thus you have to ensure that your business plan competition is accorded the most positive publicity as possible.

This is especially important for startups that may not have won the competition but are very eager to get more potential customers to learn and use their products or services.

Any form of publicity can be put to advantageous use.


Consider choosing a few finalists to be part of a book to recognise how they have gone beyond just being startups. This book may give them more credibility on a global platform.

You can also create a directory listing the product or services of all your participating teams and you may obtain a commission once there is a good match.