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2013 Vermont Farm/Food Business Plan Competition

Strolling of the Heifers and Vermont Technical College team up to present the 2013 Vermont Farm/Food Business Plan Competition with multiple prizes totaling $60,000.


About the Competition

The application deadline has now passed. For information about the competition, please contact the coordinator: Steve Paddock, Director, Vermont Tech Enterprise Center, Business Incubator, Randolph Center, VT, SPaddock@vtc.vsc.edu, 802 728-9101.

The orientation workshop video is now available for viewing.

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VTC logo

This competition, open to farms, food producers and forestry businesses throughout Vermont, seeks to encourage business formation and growth throughout Vermont by helping business owners and prospective entrepreneurs develop viable business plans, gain public attention, and earn financial rewards.

Contestants will gain practical experience in analyzing their business, their markets and their ideas as part of developing business plans. In the process, all finalists will have access to free assistance from the Vermont Small Business Development Centers or Southeast Vermont Community Action in preparing their final business plan and presentations.

Watch WCAX-TV segment on the competition.

View Past Winners  Competition sponsorship


2013 Competition Categories:

The 2013 Competition features three categories, all open to qualifying businesses throughout Vermont:

  • Existing businesses — those who have operated for 6 months or more and have revenue up to $500,000
  • New businesses — those in the early concept stage or in operation for less than 6 months, with minimal revenue
  • Student category — for students enrolled at any Vermont college-level institution

Up to five finalists will be selected in the New and Existing categories, and four finalists in the Student category. All finalists who complete the application process will receive a share of the prize money, which will be awarded as follows:

Prizes

Prizes in the New Business category:

  • First Prize: $10,000
  • Second Prize: $8,000
  • Third Prize: $5,000
  • Runners up: two awards of $1,500 each

Prizes in the Existing Business category:

  • First Prize: $10,000
  • Second Prize: $8,000
  • Third Prize: $5,000
  • Runners up: two awards of $1,500 each

In the Student category:

  • First Prize: $4,000
  • Second Prize: $2,000
  • Runners up: two awards of $1,000 each

Eligibility:

  • Existing businesses: must be physically located within Vermont, be in operation for 6 months or longer, must be for-profit and have revenue not exceeding $500,000 per year.
  • New businesses: must be physically located, or planning to locate, within Vermont, and must be for-profit.
  • Student businesses: must be developed by students enrolled at a college-level institution located within Vermont
  • All contestants must be: individuals and businesses engaged in food production, processing, distribution, packaging, restaurants, or retailing. Also eligible are those in the agriculture enterprises of wood products, equine-related businesses, and fiber production. Non-producers, such as restaurants, processors, distributors, or retailers, must make a strong case that Vermont-sourced ingredients are a substantial and featured element of their business model..

Timeline for Contestants:

  • Now through Feb. 5: Prospective contestants should register using the online form available on this page.
  • Tuesday, February 5, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Business Prospectus Workshop, required for all contestants. This will be offered as an interactive video presentation simultaneously at the videoconferencing facilities of Vermont Interactive Technologies located in Bennington, Brattleboro, Johnson, Lyndonville, Middlebury, Newport, Randolph Center, Rutland, Springfield, St. Albans, White River Junction, Williston, and Montpelier. Click here for specific location information.
  • March 8, 4 p.m.: Business Prospectus is due. This is a 3-page first-round submission, consisting of a two-page business description and a one-page financial overview. Judges will review the prospectus submission and select finalists from them.
  • March 20: Finalists are announced and notified
  • May 22, 4 p.m.: Final business plans are due. These will consist of longer narratives addressing various aspects of the plan, along with more detailed financials.
  • June 5: Finalist presentations, judging and awards ceremony take place at the Marlboro College Graduate Center, Brattleboro Vermont. Finalists must be available for the full day. They will make a brief presentation before the judges, followed by a question session with the judges. The winners for all categories will be announced at the awards ceremony later in the day.

Eligibility Standards

Complete eligibility standards

  • The 2013 Vermont Food and Farm Business Plan Competition is open to individuals and businesses engaged in food production, processing, distribution, packaging, restaurants, or retailing. Also eligible are those in the agriculture enterprises of wood products, equine-related businesses, and fiber production. Non-producers, such as restaurants, processors, distributors, or retailers, must make a strong case that Vermont-sourced ingredients are a substantial and featured element of their business model.
  • An existing or new business must be physically located within Vermont.
  • Entrants in the Student Category must either reside Vermont or be enrolled in and attending a school within Vermont.
  • A Plan may be submitted for the Existing Business category that has been in business for more than six months of revenue generation. Gross annual revenue must not exceed $500,000.
  • Plans for New Businesses may be submitted for business ideas or very early stage enterprises of six months or less with minimal revenue.
  • Preference will be given to those plans that propose the creation of new jobs.
  • An existing business or new business must be a for-profit organization with gross revenue at $500,000 or below.
  • Close examination will be given to the management team and/or owner’s strength, experience, and time together.
  • Close examination will be given to the previous business experience of the applicant.

Official Contest Rules

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  1. All contestants must register using the online form available on this page, and must attend in person or via video link the orientation session to be held Feb. 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. (Location information)
  2. The contest Application (due by 4 p.m. March 8, 2013) is limited to four pages total, in response to the questions on the application form.
  3. Submissions, both preliminary and final, must include the name of the company, owners and ownership structure, principal office or place of business, and estimated number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs created in five years.
  4. The existing or new business must be physically located within Vermont, and be for-profit enterprises.
  5. Contestants may submit only one business plan and must select a single category for their submission.
  6. Entrants in the Student Category must be a Vermont resident or be enrolled at and attending a school in Vermont.
  7. Contestants may select which category in which they wish to compete. The three categories are New Business, Existing Business, and Student. One category only per contestant. There will be up to five finalists in each category. Final decisions about category assignment are the responsibility of the Competition Administrator. The guidelines to assign entries to each category include:
    • Existing Businesses — entities that have been in business for more than six months with revenue.
    • New Business — business ideas or very early stage enterprises of six months or less and minimal revenue.
    • Student – participants who are registered at an educational institution within the contest area.
    • All contestants must be: individuals and businesses engaged in food production, processing, distribution, packaging, restaurants, or retailing. Also eligible are those in the agriculture enterprises of wood products, equine-related businesses, and fiber production. Non-producers, such as restaurants, processors, distributors, or retailers, must make a strong case that Vermont-sourced ingredients are a substantial and featured element of their business model.
  8. Final business plans (due by 4 p.m. May 22, 2013) may take whatever form the contestant chooses but must address all relevant business issues: market, product, pricing, competition, distribution, ownership, and management. The Business Plan must include financial projections for three years of cash flow, sources and uses of capital infusions, and a balance sheet representing anticipated values at the beginning and the end of a three year period.  We encourage competitors to use a plan format that would be suitable as part of a financing request.  Abbreviated or “one-page” style plans will generally not meet the judges’ expectations for this competition.
  9. Final presentations will take place on June 5, 2013, in Brattleboro, starting at 9 a.m.; order will be assigned by lot.
  10. Each contestant will be allowed 12 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for questions from the judges.
  11. Contestants may use PowerPoint or other displays, but all supporting electronic material must be brought on portable media to be run on provided PC’s running MS Office.
  12. Every effort will be made to be fair in all judgments.
  13. Initial application submissions will be reviewed and finalists selected by a panel of judges.
  14. Final Business plan submissions and presentations will be reviewed and judged by category.
  15. The judges’ decisions are final.  Every effort will be made to be fair in all judgments.
  16. No exceptions will be made to the announced schedule. It is the responsibility of the entrant to understand and adhere to the rules.
  17. The contest administrator will be Steve Paddock, VTEC director. His decision will be final on all rules interpretations or requests for exceptions.

More Details

All contestants must be engaged in some aspect of farming, forestry, food processing, food distribution, food packaging or food retailing (including restaurants).

Finalists in the 2012 competitions organized by Strolling of the Heifers and Vermont Technical College are not eligible to compete in 2013, but may return to the competition in future years. Contestants in 2012 who were not selected as finalists are invited to apply, as are all 2011 contestants.

Since the intent of the competition is to help create and retain jobs, foster economic growth, and improve the quality of life in Vermont, contest entries will be reviewed and judged based on such criteria as likelihood of success and job creation (direct or indirect). For instance, will the proposed business or expansion create new jobs opportunities, or positively affect other businesses such as suppliers or distributors, or make an ancillary impact such as drawing tourists to the area?

Note: Recognizing that some entrepreneurs wish to keep their plans confidential, the competition is run privately, with materials kept secure and confidential; judging sessions are not open to the public, and only the business names of finalists and winners will be disclosed.

Immediately after the awards presentation, finalists in both divisions and categories will have an opportunity to network with investors, entrepreneurs, bankers, educators, and others attending the Strolling of the Heifers Slow Living Summit.

Click here for Feb. 5 workshop location information.

Support the competition: We invite individuals, businesses and foundations to help us continue the the Vermont Farm/Food Business Plan Competition by providing major support. Please read the case for supporting the competition.

If you have any questions, please contact the contest coordinator:

Steve Paddock, Director, Vermont Tech Enterprise Center, Business Incubator, Randolph Center, VT
SPaddock@vtc.vsc.edu,  802 728-9101.