FUND-MY-BUSINESS-PLAN (FMBP) Business Plan Competition
FMBP Business Plan competition is an entrepreneurship development tool that the organization uses to attract motivated candidates who want to become entrepreneurs, capitalists, and business owners. It is a mean of achieving Poverty Solutions, Inc. mission of facilitating accelerated capital formation at the very ground level of the main-street American communities.
FMBP is sponsored by Poverty Solutions, Inc. (P-Solutions), a 501(c)3 California community-based nonprofit organization in conjunction with American Community Capital, LP. and Los Angeles Community Capital. Los Angeles Community Capital (LACC) is a community development corporation whose mission is to build healthy communities where low-income people live and work. LACC accomplishes this mission by investing in projects that provide affordable housing, good jobs, and new opportunities in low-income communities, connecting these neighborhoods to the mainstream economy. LACC believes that low-income communities are entitled to the same expertise and expectations of excellence available to their wealthier neighbors. Los Angeles Community Capital works to connect underserved communities with mainstream sources of capital. LACC endeavors to stand at the intersection of downtown expertise and community values, working with organizations and individuals from all perspectives to reduce silos and create wealth, opportunities and lasting change. Poverty Solutions, Inc. utilizes contracts with the federal, states, and municipal governments, and partnerships with private institutions to provide financial, educational, and consulting services. In addition, Poverty Solutions has been certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with primary goals of helping (1) low-income families become self-sufficient; and (2) new entrepreneurs and small business owner succeed. The purpose of the business plan competition is to harvest and capitalize fundable and viable business ideas across the United States of America.
FMBP annual competition provides a forum for the economic development community to collaborate, develop and test business visions and plans. FMBP offers mentorship, team building, financial training, financing and networking for aspiring entrepreneurs.
P-Solutions & LACC are organizing “Fund-My-Business-Plan” (FMBP) competition will start on September 1, 2015 and conclude on March 31, 2016. Aspiring entrepreneurs are invited to compete for the top thirteen prizes and an opportunity to be one of the fifty top finalists who will get their business idea funded through equity investments and loans from P-Solutions. Winners would receive entrepreneurship grants and loan capital as follows:
- Top three winners will receive $50,000 in grants; and
- The following 50 will receive Grants, Loan Capitals, Equity Investments & Technical Assistance ranging between $2,000 and $25,000 each.
The Business Plan is an essential step for the potential entrepreneur to help turn an idea for a product or service into a profitable business venture. Whether you are starting a business or wish to expand your present business, an effective business plan will be your “road map” to success. A well-organized business plan will work out the details of your business on paper first, before you invest time and money into your venture. It is a “must” if you plan to obtain a business loan. There are no hard and fast rules in formatting your business plan. However, it should be written by the owner of the business with outside assistance as necessary. A business plan written by an outside consultant is someone else’s business plan. The length and content often vary depending on such factors as the company’s maturity, the nature and complexity of the business and the market is serves.
An effective business plan serves at least four useful purposes:
- It helps entrepreneurs focus their ideas
- It creates a track for management to follow in the early stages of the business
- It creates benchmarks against which the entrepreneur and management can measure progress
- It provides a vehicle for attracting capital to help finance the business
- All entrants must submit an Executive Summary utilizing the recommended format in the preliminary round. The executive summaries will be judged according to the judging criteria and all participants will receive feedback on their scores in each category along with the average scores of all other participants (for comparison purposes).
- The executive summaries that made it through the first round will proceed to the second round. Second-round-finalists will be required to submit a full business plan. It is recommended, but not required, that the Business Plan Template provided by FMBP be used to create the Business Plan.
- Business plans will be judged according to the judging criteria and all participants will receive feedback on their scores in each category along with the average scores of all participants in each category.
- All business plans deemed by the judges to be viable will proceed to the final round. Finalists will be required to present a 90-second video to a closed session of judges.
- The judges will include investors, bankers, business professors, community representatives, and other distinguished members of the business community.
- The entrants will retain all rights to the plan regarding its use at all times prior to and following the Competition.
- Due to the nature of the Competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions.
- The decisions of the judges are final and no correspondence will be entertained.
- Prequalification to Participate:
Prospective participants are required to: (1) submit a one paragraph summary of their business idea on FMBP Facebook page, (2) post a (2 minutes) short-video on why they need the fund on FMBP Facebook page, (3) have 250 of their friends to like their business idea on FMBP Facebook page, and (4) have the same 250 of their friends to like FMBP Facebook page. Once a prospective participant has achieved the goal of obtaining 250 likes for both their business idea and FMBP Facebook page, FMBP staff would notify the candidate of his or her qualification to register participate in FMBP Business Plan competition.
Voting Period: The “Voting Period” begins on September 1, 2015 at 12:00:01 a.m. ET and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. ET on December 31, 2015. Participants must have 250 or more likes on Facebook of their 1 page summary of their business idea.
Voting Deadline: This Period ends at December 31, 2015.
Selection: All participants with 250 or more likes will be eligible to register.
Facebook users (“Voters”) may vote for business ideas at FMBP Facebook Page. Eligible Voters may vote only once for one participant. To vote for a participant, visit FMBP Facebook Page and log-in to an active Facebook account. After logging in, Voters will be able to vote.
Participant may tell their friends and neighbors about FMBP and direct them to FMBP Facebook Page to vote for participant’s business idea. Participants are encouraged to share information they believes relevant through links to the participant’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages or accounts. Please note that the Panel (as defined below) may review these sites. Participants are responsible for complying with all applicable terms of each third-party platform, and all applicable laws, in connection with sharing information about its business.
Competitors may not entice others to vote by offering any type of consideration, gift, award, bribe or inducement, including merchandise, cash, online currency, discounts, lottery, vote trading or anything deemed to have value in exchange for votes, including donations to charity; non-compliance may result in Removal from FMBP (as defined below). Soliciting others for votes or sending spam related to voting is not within the spirit of FMBP and may be subject to Removal from FMBP (defined below) if it is determined that they have participated in any such activities. Notwithstanding anything in these Program Rules, participants may purchase print or similar advertisements simply stating that it is participating in FMBP and encouraging Facebook users to vote.
The count of eligible votes by FMBP shall be deemed final. FMBP reserves the right to eliminate or disregard any or all votes otherwise not in accordance with FMBP Rules or any instructions on FMBP Facebook Page, including any voting instructions.
- Registration to Participate:
All qualified prospective participants must pay a registration fee of $95 non-refundable fee before being admitted into the competition. Payment of the registration fee signifies a demonstration of commitment to start and finish the Business Plan competition including doing all the required tasks, updates and correspondence promptly.
All participants must be officially registered in the competition. Registration takes about 5 minutes by phone or (computer) internet.
It is recommended that participants use their LinkedIN, Google+, or Facebook account to speed up the process. After logging in the first time, participants will be asked a few questions about yourself, starting with general questions like your name, etc., and then more specific questions about your class, major, and skills & experience.
Eligibility: To be eligible a person must:
- Be 18 years or older;
- Live and be present within the fifty (50) United States;
- have a valid SSN, U.S. employer identification number or taxpayer identification number; and
- produce a government issued identification upon request.
A potential participant will not be eligible if in LACC’s sole and absolute discretion including, among other things, the participants:
- are, or have been, convicted or under any investigation for fraud, misconduct (financial or otherwise) or other criminal activity;
- promote or suggest, directly or indirectly, the illegal use of firearms/weapons, money remittance, check cashing services, illegal gambling, use or sale of any illegal drugs (state or federal), prostitution or pornography, violence, or the underage use of alcohol or tobacco products;
- suggest or encourage, directly or indirectly, the taking up of arms against any person, government or entity or otherwise challenge or seek to overthrow any government;
- disparage or denigrate (in writing or otherwise) any race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, political orientation, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, marital status, veteran status or mental or physical disability or condition or otherwise discriminates (in an exclusionary way) against any of those groups based solely on being classified as fitting into those groups;
- disparage, denigrate, threaten (in writing or otherwise), or act by means of adversarial or confrontational tactics to impact a product, service, person, industry, or organization including, but not limited to, LACC or any Program participant;
- conduct him/herself, in an unsportsmanlike or inappropriate manner, including without limitation any attempt, directly or indirectly, to entice Voters to vote by offering any type of consideration, gift, award, or inducement, including merchandise, cash, online currency, discounts, lottery, vote trading or anything deemed to have value in exchange for votes, including donations to charity;
- use, promote or post Prohibited Content (see below) on FMBP Facebook Page or anywhere else; or
- violate these Program Rules.
Conditions of Entry
- Entries must be a new business idea and represent the original work of the entrant(s);
- Any business in any industry is eligible to enter. The potential economic impact of the business will be an important factor in determining the winner so a business based on a single location or single deal may be at a disadvantage to a business with more growth potential.
- Participants that have already secured funding from any source including other competitions must disclose the amounts and sources at the time of entry, or as soon as they become aware of any funding commitment during the duration of the Competition.
- The business may license technology from another company for manufacturing and/or distribution purposes. Revenue streams from the business should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
- The plan may not contain fabricated information about (but not limited to) the following: backgrounds, experience and educational level of members of the management team stage of product development, product performance claims, or market survey results.
- The Pre-Competition Preparation:
After all has submitted their first draft, LACC staff would review the plans make comments and suggest corrections by participants to move forward.
- Polish up your public directory profile. Once registered, you can take your time spiffing up your public profile that will be published in the competition directory. Log in using Facebook, username/password you used to register. (Note: this is very important; if you choose another method then you may end up with two accounts and lots of confusion later on.) Then you can change your picture, craft your skills & experience entry, and even add social links to your profile listing. (Instructions for each of these things are given in the FAQs.)
- Ask lots of questions. There is a lot of material here on the website, which can make things confusing sometimes, especially in the beginning. So speak up when that happens! Your questions will help us make it better for you and everyone who comes after you. If you don’t know who to ask, use our page to email your question, and we’ll get it to the right person.
- Do your homework: know the rules, check important dates and deadlines, consider the market and competition, etc.
- Some questions you must answer: In the meantime, you might want to spend a little time sanity-checking your ideas:
- Does success depend on some sort of technical innovation? If so, can you get to market in time to exploit your advantage? Can you sell the idea to someone else instead?
- Are there already competitors for your new business? If so, how successful are they? Can you expect to do as well?
- Will your idea require a lot of up front time and money to implement or can you build gradually from a minimal viable product? …
Often these kinds of questions are pretty easy to answer with only a modest amount of research. By coming up with the business ideas and then subjecting them to the most basic sanity checking before you commit to developing them, you will save yourself a lot of time, money, and effort. It will also allow you to consider more ideas. After all, it’s extremely rare for the first idea to be the big one that makes a business, so expect to generate lots of ideas before finding a truly successful one. To get a feel for what kinds of questions to ask and what it takes to win, peruse some finished business plans. What if you don’t have a great idea or the time to develop one? Then work with somebody who does! Or maybe just attend the events to learn what it takes to start a business. You do not have to win a prize to be a winner. You just have to accomplish what you set out to do.
- The Competition:
After all prospective participants are enrolled into the competition, LACC would email to each participant a template and questionnaire to use to develop their business ideas into a standard business plan.
After all has submitted their first draft, LACC staff would review the plans make comments and suggest corrections by participants to move forward.
Participants are required to use the comments and suggestions to complete the final draft of their business plan which would be submitted back to LACC within two weeks of their receipt by participants.
Each participant must respond to all six (6) required essay questions below, in 250 words or less for each question, which will be used to determine whether the participant may be awarded a Grant. The participant may include any information he/she deems relevant. The participant’s responses may not contain Prohibited Content (see below).
Here are the essay questions the participant must answer:
- Your Idea’s elevator pitch?
- Tell us about your business idea. What inspired your business idea? How will your business idea become successful? What makes it unique?
- How is your business idea connected with your community?
- What would a $50,000 grant mean to participant and how will participant utilize the funds to ensure successful implementation and long-term growth and stability?
- What challenges can you identify for your business idea, and how do you plan to overcome them?
- Describe the talent and skill you need to succeed, and how they will contribute to a successfully implementing business.
LACC is not responsible for, nor is it required to count, in its sole and absolute discretion, late, lost, misdirected, unlawful or illicit votes, votes cast for a participant later determined to be ineligible, votes cast in violation of FMBP Rules, votes achieved through automated means by using more than one Facebook account, using another person’s Facebook account and name, or votes that are achieved through other fraudulent means, unsportsmanlike conduct or in a manner otherwise inconsistent with these Program Rules.
LACC is not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, stolen, delayed, misdirected, undelivered or garbled applications, votes, or email; or for lost, interrupted or unavailable network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), website, or other connections, availability or accessibility or miscommunications or failed computer, satellite, telephone or cable transmissions, lines, or technical failure or jumbled, scrambled, delayed, or misdirected transmissions or computer or device hardware or software malfunctions, failures or difficulties, or other errors or difficulties of any kind whether human, mechanical, electronic, computer, network, typographical, printing or otherwise relating to or in connection with FMBP, including, without limitation, errors or difficulties which may occur in connection with the administration of FMBP, the processing of applications, the announcement of the Grant Recipients, or in any Program-related materials. Nor is LACC responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by site users, tampering, hacking, or by any equipment or programming associated with or utilized in FMBP. LACC is not responsible for injury or damage to participants’ or to any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating in this Program or downloading materials from or use of FMBP Facebook Page. Persons who tamper with or abuse any aspect of FMBP Facebook Page or who are in violation of these Program Rules, as solely determined by LACC, will be disqualified and subject to Removal from FMBP as appropriate and all associated Votes and/or Applications will be void. Should any portion of FMBP be, in LACC’s sole opinion, compromised by virus, worms, bugs, non-authorized human intervention or other causes which, in the sole opinion of LACC, corrupt or impair the administration, security, fairness or proper play, or submission of Applications, LACC reserves the right at its sole discretion to terminate FMBP and, if terminated, select the potential Grant Recipient from all eligible, non-suspect entries received prior to action taken.
- The Awards:
Payment of Federal, State and Local taxes and fees due, if any, are the sole responsibility of the Grant Recipient. LACC will issue a 1099-MISC tax form to Grant Recipient.
After the final drafts of the business plans are received by LACC, the competition committee would then evaluate the plans on their merits and established criteria and determine which plans made the top tier, the second tier, and the third tier respectively
Winners would receive entrepreneurship grants and loan capital as follows:
- Top three winners will receive $50,000 in grants; and
- The following 50 will receive Grants, Loan Capitals, Equity Investments & Technical Assistance ranging between $2,000 and $25,000 each.
Winners shall be announced by March 28, 2016.
By accepting a Grant, each Grant Recipient will be required to affirm that, among other things, it shall use the Grant in support of the business plan described in the Application, that it shall at all times comply with FMBP Rules, and shall not, in any event, use the Grant for any purpose inconsistent with such Grant Recipient’s Application or these Program Rules. Upon awarding of the Grant, LACC will issue a check to the Grant Recipient.
- Solid business & management plan (20%);
- Well thought-out and feasible growth plan (20%);
- Likelihood to succeed within a two-year time frame (20%);
- Positive impact on local/relevant community (e.g. job creation, meeting an unfulfilled need, etc.) and demonstrated local support (20%); and
- Energy, enthusiasm, creativity and passion for your business (20%).
- Grant Recipients:
A list of Grant Recipients will be posted on FMBP Facebook Page in September 1, 2015.
Limitation Of Liability
LACC, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to suspend, cancel or modify FMBP without notice or liability if the integrity of FMBP is compromised in any manner as determined by LACC, or if FMBP is not capable of being conducted as intended by LACC. LACC assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage to You, Your computer or to any other person’s computer relating to, or resulting from, entering, accessing or downloading any information or software in connection with this Program or otherwise participating in FMBP. Neither LACC nor any of its representatives or agents are responsible for technical, hardware, software or telephone malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, problems with the platform on which FMBP application runs, or failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the Entrepreneurs, Voters, or other users of FMBP Facebook Page, for printing or typographical errors in any Program-related materials, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this Program, or by any human or other errors that may occur in connection with FMBP.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL LACC BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOST PROFITS, LOST OPPORTUNITY OR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES IN CONNECTION WITH FMBP, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER LACC HAS BEEN APPRISED OF THE LIKELIHOOD OF SUCH DAMAGES OCCURRING AND REGARDLESS OF THE FORM OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, WARRANTY, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY, OR OTHERWISE.
Release And Indemnity
Release: You release LACC, and its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, officers, directors, agents, employees, service providers, representatives and all others associated with the development and execution of FMBP, from any and all liability with respect to, or in any way arising from, FMBP, including, but not limited to, any suspension, modification or cancellation of FMBP, Content received or posted, and/or acceptance or use of the Grant, including liability for personal injury, death, damages or loss.
Indemnity: By participating in FMBP, You agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless LACC, and each of its agents, service providers and their respective parents, and its and their subsidiaries, affiliates, successors, licensees, and assigns, and each of their directors, officers, agents, equity holders and employees, from and against any and all claims, losses, costs, damages, liabilities and costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs) which arise out of your participation in FMBP or any breach of FMBP Rules.
Governing Law And Disputes
Except where prohibited, You agree that all issues and questions concerning these Program Rules and FMBP shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules.
You and LACC each waive all rights to trial in any action or proceeding instituted in connection with FMBP (including any activity related thereto). Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to FMBP shall be settled by binding arbitration in accordance with the commercial arbitration rules of the American Arbitration Association. Any such controversy or claim shall be arbitrated on an individual basis, and shall not be consolidated in any arbitration with any claim or controversy of any other party.
If the content contains any material or elements that are not owned by the participant, and/or which are the subject to the rights of third parties, then the participant is responsible for obtaining, prior to submitting the content, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the use and exhibition of the content, including, without limitation, name, and likeness permissions from any person who appears in or is identifiable in the content and any person who is shown in any video or photographs. LACC reserves the right to request proof of these permissions in a form acceptable to LACC at any time. By submitting Content, the participant represents and warrants that any person appearing or who is identifiable in the Content consents to the Content and the use of the Content as described in these Program Rules. LACC is not responsible for any loss, theft, or damage of any kind to any content submitted to LACC.
Removal From FMBP
If a participant is deemed to be ineligible for any reason, it is grounds for Removal from FMBP without notice. “Removal from FMBP” means removing all information about the participant from FMBP Facebook Page, voiding any Votes cast for the Entrepreneur and removing the participant from consideration for a Grant. Additionally, LACC reserves the right to eliminate a Voter’s involvement and all Votes cast through FMBP if LACC, in its sole discretion, determines the Voter is not abiding by these FMBP Rules or is otherwise acting in an unsportsmanlike or inappropriate manner. LACC retains the right at its sole discretion to determine eligibility and reserves the right to disqualify any participant for any reason. All decisions by LACC are final, binding and conclusive.
Nature Of Relationship
Nothing in these FMBP Rules or any other agreement with You shall be deemed to create an employment or agency relationship with LACC. You agree that You shall not look to LACC for any compensation or other benefits, except as specifically set forth in FMBP Rules. You acknowledge and agree that the relationship between You and LACC and any of its designees is not a confidential, fiduciary, or other special relationship, and that Your decision to provide Content to LACC for the purposes of this Program does not place LACC in a position that is any different from the position held by members of the general public with regard to elements of Your Content.
Agreement To Be Contacted About Future Events
YOU AGREE THAT LACC MAY CONTACT YOU AT THE EMAIL ADDRESSES YOU PROVIDE REGARDING FMBP AND FUTURE ENTREPRENEURSHIP EVENTS.
- Follow-up, win or not
Network Like Nothing Else is Important
As you engage in these events, and interact with individuals who can potentially help you, concentrate on making a professional impression in order to cement these contacts as members of your expanding network. Be proactive, introducing yourself to individuals and to groups, when given the opportunity. In addition to face-to-face interaction, pay close attention to e-mail and other written communication that so often makes up the majority of our professional contact these days. Sometimes a simple follow-up email to a new acquaintance can make all the difference!
Lastly, record the connections that you make by collecting business cards and adding profiles to your contacts list. Also, whenever possible, seek to make a connection through invites to join your network on LinkedIn. There is a very good chance that these individuals will become a valuable part of your professional connections for years to come.
Utilization of experts:
Another valuable step in every entrepreneurial endeavor is to reach out to sources of expertise in order to collect specialized information that will help you shape and ultimately market your product or service effectively. Different than ongoing relationships of mentors, experts have knowledge that you want to capture and leverage through single interactions.
Besides the potential impact on the quality of your business plan itself, citing the work of experts can also lend legitimacy to your claims that would be hard to get any other way. It show potential investors that the business venture they are being invited to invest in has been built on the solid analytical foundation.
Sources of expertise take two broad forms:
- first-hand interaction with professionals in the field, and
- research, largely conducted online and through the library
When interacting directly with an expert in the field, respect the individual’s time; you might not get a second chance. Be prepared to laser focus on the issues you want to work on. Listen closely, while documenting your conversation, in order to effectively explore and integrate the advice given. Remember, these are people who have expertise that you don’t have, so leverage any and all time you can get from them.
Be Your Best:
It is recommended that you take an iterative and incremental approach to developing your plan.
Iterate to continually improve what you’ve got. The most important thing to do in this competition is to simply start. All ideas are very rough in the beginning. You will have the opportunity to continuously craft and re-craft the plan as you move along, as you learn more about yourself, your team, your idea, and how all the pieces are going to fit together.
Build up your winning business plan effort in small increments. Add new dimensions and explore new approaches as opportunities present themselves throughout the process. Don’t be afraid to fail early (and often!) with your experiments. The road to entrepreneurial success is never a straight line. Facebook did not start out as Facebook! You will more than likely need to make a couple of adaptive shifts before you come up with the winning plan.
- Rules & Policies
The FMBP competition is a fairly complex enterprise, with plenty of interconnections between competitors, mentors, organizers, and judges. This section of the Competitors Guide describes the rules under which we will operate the competition. It is the first place to look if you have a question about how things are supposed to work.
The judges of FMBP Competition are venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and lawyers who deal with confidential material on a regular basis. There will be no confidentiality obligation by any recipient of your summary for information which: (a) is publicly available prior to the time of its disclosure to the Competition or becomes publicly available thereafter through no wrongful act of the recipient, or (b) was known to the recipient prior to the date of disclosure or becomes known to the recipient thereafter from a third party having an apparent bona fide right to disclose the information, or (c) is disclosed by recipient in accordance with your approval, or (d) is disclosed by you or any member of your team without restriction on further disclosure, or (e) is independently developed by a recipient; or (f) the recipient is obligated to disclose to comply with applicable laws or regulations, or with a court or administrative order.
Before submitting your executive summary, FMBP competition urges you to confirm with appropriate legal counsel that any intellectual property described in your summary is protected; (i.e., by appropriate intellectual property filings, notices, patent, copyright, etc.) by the owning institution and/or individuals. FMBP also recommend that you determine in advance whether your summary describes a technology, invention, copyrightable work or other intellectual property owned by someone else. If you are not sure about the legal status of your own or third party intellectual property or any other aspect of your plan, The FMBP urges you to seek independent legal counsel.
If a participant uses copyrighted materials and/or images from a third-party in their submissions or presentations, they must obtain permission and authorization in advance from the owners to use this material, and identify the source of the material in their presentation or submission.
- Judging Criteria
The competition is intended to reflect and simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs seeking funding. Judges will consider market opportunity, distinctive core competence, management capability, financial understanding, risk analysis, and investment potential. A scorecard will be used to judge all submitted business plans. The scorecard is consistent with what most venture capital or early stage/angel investors need to understand to make a determination to invest on a particular venture. The scorecard tool has three functions: scoring preliminary round, a tie breaker in the final round, and used to provide feedback to the participants in the judge feedback session. The scorecard has a total of 35 possible points. Each business plan is read by multiple judges, 35 points is multiplied by the number of judges assigned to determine total possible points. The top scoring participants advance to the final round. Please keep in mind 5 points from each judge are automatically deducted for typographical errors, the impact is significant on final score averages. Do not submit with typographical errors.
The judges consider specific criteria when evaluating concept papers and business plans, however ultimately, winning plans usually are those in which the judges would most likely invest their own money. This decision is influenced heavily by several factors. Judges for the Business Plan Competition will score your Business Concept based on:
- The research and analysis evident from the concept description.
- The quality of your team’s analysis of the strategic elements of your business concept.
- The effectiveness of the participant’s communication of the business opportunity.
- The extent to which your business opportunity, as presented, is both attractive and realistic.
- Size and growth rate of the market addressed
- Likelihood that the team can create a sustainable competitive advantage
- Simplicity of the business model described
- Believability of the business plan
To promote a diversity of ideas and opportunities, the competition is split into two tracks, each with a different focus:
- Venture Track: New businesses with a commercial focus
- Social Track: New organizations with a social focus and mission
The prize money for both tracks is same, with each track having its own merits and criteria for selecting the winner. There is no competition between the tracks. Further, no participant is permitted to participate in multiple tracks.
The venture track looks for ideas that are innovative and can be converted into a viable business venture. Criteria for the venture track include:
- Innovation: Does the idea comprise a creative solution to a real problem? If the venture is based on a new technology, will the venture retain a sustainable competitive advantage?
- Viability: Can the proposed business by launched and implemented successfully? Is the proposed business financially viable? Is this demonstrated in the business plan?
- Organization: How well structured is the plan? Does it provide a thorough description of the proposed business? Have all contingencies been considered?
- Presentation: How convincing is the plan?
The social track seeks plans for organizations whose mission statements focus on societal needs and problems not addressed by conventional market mechanisms. These mission statements are implemented through products and services that have a transformative social impact.
- Innovation: Does the plan attempt to bring about social change in a unique and novel manner?
- Sustainability: These organizations can be for profit or not for profit. In either case, are there identified resources to ensure long term viability? Such resources might include: revenues, fees for service, or renewable, sustaining grants. The latter can come from the public or private sector.
- Social impact: Are results quantifiable? Does the plan utilize modern social measurement tools like SROI?
- Scope and scalability: Can your idea be extended in terms of geographic coverage and/or broader product of service offerings?
- Presentation: How convincing is the plan? Effective presentation skills?
This track is not appropriate for those whose social initiatives are of secondary importance to profit making activities. Examples of such secondary initiatives might include: employees doing volunteer community work, charitable donations, or the use of environmentally friendly materials or alternative energy sources.
A panel of judges from American Community Capital, Poverty Solutions, Los Angeles Community Capital and Los Angeles venture communities, including experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, professors, legal professionals, and business managers read the entries. The judges are professionals who come from various business backgrounds and they include experienced investors (angels, venture capitalists, investment bankers), experienced entrepreneurs and senior business people and service professionals who interact with early stage companies like intellectual property attorneys and early stage accounting and consulting firms. Each judge is an expert in the process of starting a business.
- Business Plan Template
To promote a diversity of ideas and opportunities, the competition is split into two tracks, each with a different While there are many different ways to structure a business plan, the following outline covers the essential content and organization. Each numbered section includes a list of questions to consider. At a minimum your plan should include each numbered section and Appendix A. However, depending upon the situation, some questions may not be relevant at all, while others are absolutely critical. The art is being able to tell the difference. For that we suggest consulting with a mentor.
- Executive Summary (one page; including a quick overview of vision and mission as suggested below) identifying the problem, the size of the accessible market, evidence customers will buy your product, differentiation versus competition, the type of business and industry, financial highlights, the amount of funding, IP status, an overview of management team. Briefly state the funding needs and timelines/milestones. (2 Page Max)
- What is the big problem and why are customers willing to pay for solutions?
- How does this venture plan on solving the customer problem or need?
- Why this venture is uniquely positioned to do this?
- Why is this an exciting growth opportunity?
- Who is the participant, and what key partnerships are in place?
- Vision Statement
A vision statement is an informed and forward-looking statement of what the company hopes to become and defines the long-term destiny of the firm. It is a statement of insight, intention, ambition, and purpose. It reflects the novelty of the solution and the entrepreneur’s commitment
- Opportunity and Market Analysis: Define the company culture and a detailed description of the product(s)/service(s) offered.
- What is the problem or need being solved by the venture?
- Who is the customer or customer segment(s)?
- How large is the potential market, and how much is it growing?
- What factors affect the buying behavior of the customers in this market?
- What products/services are in demand in the market?
- Describing the business model/how you are making money?
- Target market and market potential?
- How is the success of the company determined?
- Is there a growth potential, what is it?
- Industry and Business Environment
- Industry & Competitive Market Analysis list and describe in detail the industry analysis, research the market, driving forces within market, what is the opportunity in the market, the company’s role, explain regulatory issues.
- Who are your main/potential competitors? What does the competition do? What is the basis of competition (price, quality etc.)?
- How are you differentiated from them? What is unique about your product/service?
- How easy is it to enter the industry?
- What strategies can be used to mitigate competitive threats?
- The Solution and Concept
- What is the product or service?
- Describe a “day-in-the life” of the customer before and after adoption of the solution.
- What is the value proposition to a customer, and why is it compelling for the customer?
- Which customers have validated the product and are willing to pay for it?
- What is unique and defendable about the business?
- What is the appropriate price point? How attractive are the financial margins?
- Marketing, Promotion, and Sales
- What are the marketing plan and sales strategy, barriers to entry, and how the product or service is differentiated? Go to market strategy.
- What are the most appropriate marketing mediums to reach the customer segment(s) and promote the product/service?
- Customer value proposition by focus market segment?
- Who is the customer decision maker with purchasing power, and who influences that person to buy?
- What is the most appropriate type of sales channel for the product (e.g. direct vs. indirect sales)?
- What are the sales targets (forecast three years).
- Product Development and Operations
- What is the current state of the development of the product(s)?
- Describe the production process, manufacturing plans, strategic partnerships, if any, and an estimation of capital expenditures requirement for three years
- What resources will be required to finish and ship the product? Be specific about what types of resources will be required (e.g. engineering, tools, suppliers, materials, partners, and customer involvement).
- What are the planned development timelines and key milestones targeted?
- What are the key risks that will be mitigated at each milestone?
- Do any patents, trade secrets, or other defendable advantages exist?
- Are there any regulatory hurdles that must be cleared?
- List real estate and equipment needs. Define the cost to produce product/service. Describe distribution channel. List any and all difficulties to market and plans to overcome these obstacles. If applicable, steps to commercialization.
- Team and Organization
- Summarize the founder his/her professional history and the business philosophy.
- List the organizational structure.
- Is there an Advisory Board? Who is on the Advisory Board? List strategic alliances and why they are significant.
- Do you have a team in place?
- Describe the passions and skills of the team and why the team is committed to opportunity?
- What key hires must be made to fill out the team: Are there positions not filled? If so, what are they, and what are the plans to support these roles?
- How many employees will be required over the first three years?
- Does the company have advisors or board members that strengthen its story?
- What are the key product development risks?
- What is being done to mitigate product execution risks?
- Describe any personnel and financial risks. How will those be mitigated?
- Financial Plan and Investment Offering
- What is the required funding to meet the market and product milestone goals? What amount is being asked for? What funds must be raised and how will you do it?
- Capital Needs/Use of Funds a complete breakdown of funding needs or requirements to commercialization, include use of funds and assumptions
- When is the venture forecasted to be cash-flow positive?
- What is the growth opportunity of the business if successful?
- What are the forecasted profit margins?
- What are the key financial assumptions?
Appendix A: Pro Forma Financial Plan
- Three-year cash-flow statement and income statement (monthly and quarterly for first year and yearly thereafter).
- Financial assumptions made in the construction of financial estimates (e.g., customer penetration rates, pricing, and working capital assumptions).
- What are the largest costs of the business (e.g., engineering development, regulatory trials, manufacturing, and marketing)?
- How will product and sales costs change as volume grows?
- Has customer support and maintenance been factored in?
Appendix B: Other Supplemental Materials
- Provide any other materials you would like to include in your plan (resumes of people in your team, potential advertisements, charts, graphs, etc.)
- Product Sketch or Mock-Up
- Citations: Cite multiple sources of information (footnote or endnotes linked to the text). All claims should and could have multiple sources. Please use an accepted style guide (Chicago Manual of Style, APA, and MLA) for all footnotes or endnotes. Link the Arabic numeral in the text to the footnote or endnote.
- FMBP Competition Liability Information
You agree that you will not use the name of Fund-My-Business-Plan “FMBP,” or any variation, adaptation, or abbreviation thereof, or of any of its directors, officers, faculty, students, employees, or agents, or any trademark owned by FMBP in any advertising or publicity without the written permission of Los Angeles Community Capital (LACC).
FMBP MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND CONCERNING THE FMBP COMPETITION EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. IN NO EVENT SHALL LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY CAPITAL, ITS TRUSTEES, DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, STUDENTS, THE FMBP COMPETITION JUDGES AND MENTORS, AND AFFILIATES BE LIABLE FOR ANY ADVICE, INFORMATION OR DECISIONS MADE FOR OR ON BEHALF OF THE FMBP COMPETITION OR FOR INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING ECONOMIC DAMAGES OR INJURY TO PROPERTY AND LOST PROFITS, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER FMBP SHALL BE ADVISED, SHALL HAVE OTHER REASON TO KNOW OR IN FACT SHALL KNOW OF THE POSSIBILITY OF THE FOREGOING.
- General Information
- Types of Ventures: Ideally, the competition is for new, independent ventures in the formation, seed, start-up or early growth stages. Ventures MUST be seeking outside equity capital.
- Generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spin-outs from existing corporations.
Outside Funding: All ventures must be seeking outside equity capital, typically early stage venture investment or early stage angel investment. Except in the case of participants entering the Social Ventures Track, all ventures must be “for profit” entities.
- Participation as a team: Participating as a team is allowed. It is anticipated that the presenting team-leader should own 50% of the equity that is allocated to the management team, and 20% overall equity. (One objective of this rule is to exclude ventures formed and managed by a group who have given little or no equity to presenting individual for writing their business plan.) Recognizing that the equity structure of these new ventures may not yet be established, the 50% ownership rule may be waived in this situation. This waiver will be examined on a case-by case basis.
- Required Forms: Each participant will be required to submit two forms once the participant advances to the final round: an individual form W-9 and an independent contractor form. If the venture has been incorporated the EIN may be used, see FMPB staff for more details.
- Winning Payout: The participants’ winnings will be paid to the participants listed on the Contest registration form or to the venture (preferred payout to business entity).
- Announcement: If a participant is selected as one of FMBP winner, the participant agrees that FMBP may publicize the name, likeness, and the description of work participants completed to win the Contest. Apart from the prizes associated with being selected as a winner, FMBP shall not be obligated to compensate participants in any way for such publicity.
- Hold Harmless: Each entrant shall indemnify, defend, and hold FMBP competition (and its directors, officers, employees and agents) harmless from any third party claims arising from or related to that entrant’s participation in the Contest, including but not limited to claims relating to intellectual property infringement. In no event shall FMBP (or its directors, officers, employees or agents) be liable to an entrant for acts or omissions arising out of or related to the Contest or that entrant’s participation in the Contest.
- Odds of Winning: Depend on the number and quality of entries received. All taxes, including income taxes, are the sole responsibility of winners. No prize substitution is permitted. Winner(s) may be required to verify their entry.
- Notification: The winning entries will be announced at the Awards Ceremony following final round evaluation. Following the announcement, individual winners will be notified by e-mail. Winners have 30 days from notification to claim the prize. The prize may be claimed by return e-mail. Unclaimed prizes will not be awarded.
- Confidentiality: All sessions of final round competition, including but not limited to short-video and business plan summary, may be open to the public at large. Sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through the media or various other media channels such as the internet. Due to the nature of the competition any and all information divulged in public sessions should be considered information that could enter the public realm. Entrants should NOT assume any right of confidentiality divulged or presented in these open sessions. FMBP and its administrators will NOT ask judges, sponsoring organizations, administrators, faculty or staff, or members of the audience of the Contest to agree to or sign non disclosure statements for any participant.
Do NOT include trade secrets or confidential information in your team business plan submissions, oral presentations, or question/answer sessions. Even if the business plan is marked as confidential or proprietary, there will be NO confidentiality obligation or protection by any recipient of participant submissions.
- Intellectual Property: Los Angeles Community Capital urges each participant to confirm with appropriate advisors or legal counsel that any intellectual property described in your submission is protected (i.e., by appropriate intellectual property filings, notices, (e.g., patent, copyright, etc.) by the owning institution and/or individual). It is each participant’s responsibility to ensure that its submissions do not violate the intellectual property rights of any third party.
Business Plan Writing Tips:
Writing a business plan is a “journey” of continuous learning the document will evolve as new information is realized. A business plan should answer the following questions:
- Who are you and why are you in business?
- Who are the people running your business and what experience do you/they have?
- Who are your advisors and who is (will be) on your board?
- What is the opportunity and what are you selling?
- What is the situation in the world and how big is the market?
- How is your business structured and how will you make money?
- Who else is doing the same thing and how do you compare?
- Who are your most important customers and how will you reach and inspire them to buy from you?
- Do you have any strategic partners who will help?
- Where are you today, and what have you accomplished so far?
- How much money do you need and what will you do with it?
- What is the deal for investors and how much money will they make?
- When & how will investors or lenders make their money back?
- There is no guarantee, expressed or implied, that any participant will receive an award. Should no entries into the Competition meet the entry criteria, should no entry have a reasonable chance for success and should the judges determine no winner exists for the Competition, no award will be made.
- By participating in the Competition, entrants agree that neither FMBP, nor members of the judging panel, sponsors nor their designated organizations, assume any liability whatsoever for any disclosures of business plan information which may be made (whether inadvertently or otherwise) by any judge, reviewer, staff member, audience member or other individual connected with, participating in, viewing, hearing, or receiving information from the Competition.
- Each finalist must sign an affidavit of eligibility and publicity/liability release.
- Poverty Solutions, Inc. reserves the right to change these Official Rules at any time, in its sole discretion, and to suspend or cancel the Competition or any entrant’s participation in the Competition should unauthorized human intervention or other causes beyond the organization’s control, affect the administration, security, or proper conduct of the Competition. No responsibility is assumed and entrants waive all claims for lost, late or misdirected entries, or for any problems of technical malfunction.
- Entrants who violate these Official Rules, tamper with the operation of the Contest or engage in any conduct that is detrimental or unfair to the Competition, or any other entrant (in each case as determined in FMBP’s sole discretion) are subject to disqualification from the Competition. FMBP reserves the right to disqualify any entrant at any state of the Competition.
- By entering, participants, without limitation, release and hold harmless Poverty Solutions, Inc., Los Angeles Community Capital, and American Community Capital, LP., the Organizers, the Sponsors, and the Donors from any and all liability for any injuries, loss, or damage of any kind in connection with the Competition.
- By entering this Competition, participants agree to waive any right to claim ambiguity or error in these Official Rules or in the Competition itself.
Why are we running a business plan competition?
Many community leaders across America have called for programs to boost small business incubation and entrepreneurship in the United States of America to re-start America’s most reliable engine of job-creation and economic development once again. This competition is committed to identifying and growing the best idea for a new business in the United States of America.
What is the purpose of the Business Plan Competition?
The purpose of the Business Plan Competition is to encourage prospective entrepreneurs to develop a viable business concept, to evaluate its appropriateness and potential success in the market, and to identify critical issues to resolve when evaluating the feasibility of the business concept. The Competition is designed to invite participation by a large number of youths and unemployed from across the United States, including those who are not currently in an entrepreneurship training program. No prior business plan writing experience is required.
Who is behind the competition?
The competition is being run by the Entrepreneurship arm of Poverty Solutions, Inc. in conjunction with the Los Angeles Community Capital, a non-profit Venture Capital and Private Equity Firm, and American Community Capital, LP. a local private equity fund. Poverty Solutions has been certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with primary goals of helping (1) low-income families become self-sufficient; and (2) new entrepreneurs and small business owner succeed.
Who are our sponsors?
Los Angeles Community Capital, a non-profit Venture Capital and Private Equity Firm and American Community Capital, LP., a local private equity fund are the two main sponsors of FMBP. The Poverty Solutions is delighted to recognize ongoing and new sponsors.
Where will the competition take place?
Judging will take place at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 610, Los Angeles, CA 90010 or in other in Los Angeles area at a location to be determined. The winner of the competition will be announced at a gala cocktail reception on March 31, 2016.
When will the competition take place?
Executive Summaries are accepted from 9/1/2015 through 1/31/16. The finalists will submit their plan to the judges from 2/1/2016 through on March 1, 2016. Visit our Deadlines page for more details.
Am I eligible to enter?
Any person currently living in the United States over the age of 18 is eligible to enter. Visit our Rules & Eligibility page for more details.
Why do you have an entry fee?
An entry fee is collected to ensure that only those committed to starting a business within 6 months from the grant award date will enter the competition. Net entry fees will be added to the grant/loan pool.
What can I win?
- Top three winners will receive $50,000 each in grants;
- The following 50 will receive Grants, Loan Capitals, Equity Investments & Technical Assistance ranging between $2,000 and $25,000 each; and
- The prize package could change, improve or be updated as new sponsors are added.
What are the benefits for competitors?
Participants receive valuable lessons learned through the competition’s workshops, interactions, interdisciplinary effort of writing the business summary, and opportunity to be matched and to networking with successful investors and professionals who serve the new business market. Winners also receive cash awards in forms of grants, loans, equity investments, and non-cash awards in form of Technical Assistance to help launch their business plans. The finalists will have the opportunity to meet and network with over 375 venture capital principals, early stage investors, and successful entrepreneurs who will serve as judges for the competition.
How can I protect the confidentiality of intellectual property?
We are committed to preserving the confidentiality of every submission. Our judges are professional investors and business service providers who will treat the information contained in every business plan according to the highest professional standards of privacy. However, due to the nature of the competition, we do not require NDAs of our judges in the competition. Additionally, the Elevator Pitch round and Final Awards submissions are public events and may be recorded.
What type of assistance is available for contestants?
Fund-my-business-plan workshops are designed to help you prepare for the competition and provide you guidance in developing a business.
Who are the judges and what are their backgrounds?
Judges include investors, experienced entrepreneurs, industry executives and experienced managers from the Los Angeles and Southern California.
How are the participants determined for the Semifinals?
After receiving all applications, the top business plans are selected for the Semifinals. Each plan selected for the Semifinals is evaluated and rated according to the judges’ criteria outlined on FMBP outlines.
- Useful Links
Below is a list of possible links to assist.