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2015 Windham Regional Business Planning Competition

This competition is over, but here are the details:

Click here for the list of winners and descriptions of their business.

Here are the competition details

$68,000 in prizes available!

This competition, open to qualifying businesses throughout Windham County Vermont, seeks to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and business formation and growth by helping business owners and prospective entrepreneurs develop viable business plans, gain public attention, and earn financial rewards.

The Competition is presented in collaboration by Strolling of the Heifers and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, with partnership support from the Marlboro College Graduate School. It is funded through grants from the Windham County Economic Development Program, the Windham Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation.

Contestants will gain practical experience in formulating and testing their business model, and they will develop business plan presentation suitable for potential funders. In the process, contestants will have access to experienced coaches/mentors. Clients of the Vermont Small Business Development Cente(VtSBDC) or Southeast Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) may receive additional coaching from those organizations in preparing their final business plan and presentations.

A total of up to $68,000 in prizes will be given out across five business categories, including a student division.

To enter, click the “Register Now” button below. IMPORTANT: SIGNING UP IS A TWO-STEP PROCESS! BE SURE TO COMPLETE BOTH STEPS.

  1. CREATE YOUR ISTART ACCOUNT
  2. RETURN TO THE iSTART COMPETITION PAGE AND CLICK THE ORANGE BUTTON AT TOP LEFT, WHICH WILL SAY “Submit a new Business/Concept” WHEN YOU ARE LOGGED IN WITH YOUR NEW ISTART ACCOUNT, and answer the competition-specific questions there.
View Past Winners iStart info page Contestant Resources

What contestants will be doing:

Registration: Contestants should begin by registering, by March 3 at 4 p.m. Registration is at our online competition management platform, iStart, and all competition submittals will be via iStart.

Orientation workshop: Tuesday, March 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Attendance at this workshop is required for all contestants. This will be held at Marlboro College Graduate Center (28 Vernon Street/Route 142, downtown Brattleboro — just south of “malfunction junction,” past the museum).

After the workshop, there are two phases to the competition:

  • Phase I, Business Model (March 3-April 23) — Contestants develop, analyze and describe their business model; that is, a description of how their business will create value, through exploration and testing of answers to questions such as: what is the product, who will buy it, why will they buy it, who is the competition, how will the product be produced and distributed, and importantly, how will the business earn a profit?
  • Phase II, Business Plan Presentation (April 30-June 17) — In this phase, finalists selected on the basis of their Business Model submissions will develop a more traditional business plan including operational and financial details, and they will make a live presentation of this plan, as well as the business model, to the judges.

2015 Competition Categories

The 2015 Competition features three divisions, two of which have subcategories, with the following eligibility requirements:

  • Farm/Food Division:
    • Farm/Food Existing Businesses category
    • Farm/Food Startup/New Business category
  • General Business Division:
    • General Existing Business category
    • General Startup/New Businesses category
  • Student Division

Eligibility:

  • Existing businesses: must be physically located within Windham County, be in operation for 6 months or longer, and must be for-profit. Also, they should have gross revenue not exceeding $750,000 per year, OR have been in business less than 5 years, OR have 5 or fewer employees (full time equivalents).
  • New businesses: must be physically located, within Windham County, in business less than 6 months, and must be for-profit.
  • Student businesses: must be developed by students at the senior level (12th grade) of high school, undergraduate college level, or graduate school, who are actively enrolled full-time at Windham County institutions OR who are Windham County residents actively enrolled full-time at schools or colleges elsewhere.
  • Farm/Food 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.
  • General Business contestants: can be in any business sector not defined under Farm/Food above. Note: Farm/Food sector contestants may not compete in the General Business division.

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

 

Timeline for Contestants:

  • Now through March 3: Prospective contestants should register using the online form at iStartour competition management system.
  • Tuesday, March 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.: Orientation Workshop, required for all contestants. This will be held at Marlboro College Graduate Center (28 Vernon Street (Route 142), Brattleboro — just south of “malfunction junction,” past the museum).
  • Tuesday, March 31: Deadline for contestants to submit draft Business Model descriptions, on which they will receive feedback from volunteer business mentors. This submission is strongly encouraged but not mandatory.
  • Thursday, April 23, 4 p.m.: Business Model is due. Judges will review the these submissions, offer comments on them, and select up to five finalists per category from them.
  • Monday, April 30 : Finalists are announced and notified.
  • Wednesday, June 17, 4 p.m.: Final business plans are due. These will consist of narratives addressing various aspects of the plan, along with financial projections.
  • Wednesday, June 24, 9 a.m.-noon: Finalist presentations, and judging at the Marlboro College Graduate Center. 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. Judges will provide verbal and written feedback on all plans submitted.
  • Wednesday, June 24, 2 p.m.: Awards will be announced at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden, headquarters of Strolling of the Heifers (157 Main Street, Brattleboro).

Prizes

Since 2006, this evolving competition has awarded more than $300,000 in prizes to 86 businesses. Most of them are still in business today and collectively they employ well over 200 people

This year there are four $10,000 prizes. Every finalist who successfully completes and presents a business plan will receive, at minimum, a runner-up prize. Here’s the complete prize lineup:

IN EACH OF THE TWO DIVISION (FARM/FOOD AND GENERAL BUSINESS):

Prizes in the Startup/New Business Category

  • First Prize: $10,000
  • Second Prize: $3,000
  • Runners up: three awards of $1,000 each

Prizes in the Existing Business category:

  • First Prize: $10,000
  • Second Prize: $3,000
  • Runners up: three awards of $1,000 each

IN THE STUDENT CATEGORY:

  • First Prize: $2,000
  • Runners up: four awards of $500 each
[NOTE: THE STUDENT CATEGORY WAS CANCELED DUE TO INSUFFICIENT PARTICIPATION.]

Official Contest Rules

1. Registration: All contestants must register using the online form available via this page, and must attend in person the orientation session to be held Tuesday, March 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Marlboro College Graduate Center.

2. Submittals: All contest materials must be submitted online through the competition’s iStart competition platform.

3. Phase I: The Business Model description (due by Thursday, April 23 at 4 p.m.) in which contestants will respond submit written answers to a set of questions that will be provided.

4. Phase II: The Business Plan (due by Wednesday, June 17 at 4 p.m.) must include all of the elements listed in the Business Plan outline to be provided. The Business Plans 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.

5. Submission details: The Phase II plan, 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 that may be created in five years.

6. Geographic eligibility: All competing businesses in the General and Farm/Food Divisions must be physically located within Windham County, or be startup proposals by Windham County residents, and must and be for-profit enterprises.

7. One entry per contestant: Contestants may submit only one business plan and must select a single category for their submission.

8. Division eligibility: Farm/Food 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. All other Businesses will be considered General Business Division contestants. Businesses that qualify for the Farm/Food Division may not enter the General Business Division.

9. Existing vs. New: Existing businesses: must be physically located within Windham County, be in operation for 6 months or longer, and must be for-profit. Also, they should have gross revenue not exceeding $750,000 per year, OR have been in business less than 5 years, OR have 5 or fewer employees (full time equivalents). New businesses: must be physically located within Windham County,, in business less than 6 months, and must be for-profit.

10. Student Eligibility: Entrants in the Student Category must be students at the senior level (12th grade) of high school, undergraduate college level, or graduate school, who are actively enrolled full-time at Windham County institutions OR who are Windham County residents actively enrolled full-time at schools or colleges elsewhere. Student businesses may be existing or startup, farm/food or general in nature.

11. Category assignments: Final decisions about category assignment are the responsibility of the Competition Coordinator, Martin Langeveld (Strolling of the Heifers Marketing Director).

12. Final presentations will take place on Wednesday, June 24, in Brattleboro, starting at 9 a.m.; order will be assigned by lot. Each contestant will be allowed 12 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for questions from the judges. 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.

13. Every effort will be made to be fair in all judgments. The decisions of the judges are final in both Phase I and Phase II.

14. No exceptions will be made to the announced schedule. It is the responsibility of the entrant to understand and adhere to the rules.


More Details

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.

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.

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

Martin Langeveld, Marketing Director
Strolling of the Heifers
martin@strollingoftheheifers.com | 802-380-0226
 
Register Now 

Presented with partnership from:

MarlboroGrad