This prestigious Silicon Valley business plan competition started in 2003. In 2010, as we write this article, entrepreneur teams are competing for $25,000 in total prize money, coaching from more than 40 Silicon Valley industry leaders, and the chance to turn their business plans into actual businesses.
Some examples of business ideas featured in the University of San Francisco International Business Plan Competition include better breast cancer screening, curing carpel tunnel, and using recycled products to make tools for African farmers.
The competition in this business plan contest is fierce. In the current competition for best business plan, 21 student teams from across the globe are competing for top honors.
"USF's International Business Plan Competition provides competing teams with what is needed most: face time with the key decision makers in the industry--venture capitalists, angel investors, and professional entrepreneurs," said Mike Duffy, dean of the USF School of Business and Professional Studies. "This real world approach in judging allows teams the opportunity to receive coaching, advice, and mentorship from successful industry leaders, and truly prepares them for the next level of entrepreneurial excellence."
The 2010 competition features graduate student teams from top entrepreneurial programs around the world including University of Washington, UC Berkeley, Rice University, University of Illinois – Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Georgetown, University of San Francisco, University of Louisville, Purdue, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, University of New Brunswick, San Diego State University, University of Michigan, and the Indian Institute of Technology – Chennai, India.
Business plan competitions are an excellent way for a startup venture to jumpstart their momentum. The prestige of having won a business plan contest often opens many doors for the entrepreneurs who win. The prize money provides a small amount of seed capital, as well.
Even those who don't take the top prize benefit from the process, because they must fine-tune their business plan, elevator pitch and VC presentation skills. The event also allows new entrepreneurs to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs from around the world, creating connections that will be useful in the future.
For the 2010 contest, USF business plan competition judges include representatives from SRI, DeNovo Ventures, Bay City Capital, Red Planet Capital, WirelessWERX, Crescendo Ventures, Point Cypress Ventures, TCG Advisors, Seven Hills Partners, Onset Ventures, Wavepoint Ventures, and many others.