A total of $68,000 in prizes — including $30,000 earmarked for the farm/food sector —is being offered for innovative business models and plans in the 2015 Windham Regional Business Planning Competition.
The competition is presented in collaboration by Strolling of the Heifers and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. It is largely funded through the Windham County Economic Development Fund, created through the settlement agreement between Vermont Yankee and the state of Vermont.
Additional competition funding came from the Windham Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation. Marlboro College Graduate School is providing partnership support.
Open to qualifying businesses throughout Windham County, the competition seeks to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, business formation and growth by helping business owners, prospective entrepreneurs and students develop viable business plans, gain public attention, and earn financial rewards.
Contestants will gain practical experience in formulating and testing their business model, and they will develop business plan presentations suitable for potential funders. In the process, contestants will have access to experienced volunteer coaches or 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.
Contestants will also receive detailed feedback from the judges, who are being selected from the regional business and educational communities.
In evolving formats, this competition has been held most years since 2006, originally as a single-division general business competition organized by BDCC. Over the years, it has awarded more than $300,000 in prizes, giving a boost to 86 different businesses as finalists earning prize funds. Most of them are still in business today and collectively they employ well over 200 people.
The competition features five categories:
- Farm/Food Division — Existing Businesses
- Farm/Food Division — Startup/New Business
- General Division — Existing Business
- General Division — Startup/New Busines
- Student Division (Farm/Food or General, Existing or New Business)
In each of the Farm/Food and General Business categories, there is a first prize of $10,000, a second prize of $3,000, and up to three runner-up awards of $1,000 each. In the Student Division, there is a first prize of $2,000, and up to four runner-up prizes of $500 each.
The competition opens for registrations on Friday, January 23. The registration period closes on March 3, when there will be an orientation workshop at Marlboro College Graduate Center.
Thereafter, in the contests first phase (March 3-April 23), participants will 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?
Judges will select five finalists in each category who will proceed to the second phase (April 30-June 17). Finalists will continue to work on their business model and alsot develop a more traditional business plan including operational and financial details. On June 24, they will make a live presentation of their plans, as well as their business models, to the judges. Awards will be presented on the afternoon of June 24 at the River Garden in Brattleboro.
To be eligible to compete, existing businesses must be physically located within Windham County, 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, within Windham County, and must be for-profit, not yet in business or in business for less than 6 months.
The student category is open to 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.
The farm/food division comprises 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 covered by the farm/food division.
Information, rules and registration can be found via www.windhambizplan2015.istart.org
. All submissions of competition materials will be via the iStart competition management platform. The competition is being coordinated by the Stroll's marketing director, Martin Langeveld. Prospective contestants who have questions may reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 802-380-0226