The judges look for three main criteria in the completed submissions:
- The quality and thoroughness of the submission;
- The quality of the solution and evidence of customer validation; and
- The commercial viability of the new venture, reflected in the steps taken by the founders to implement the venture.
The following are the judging criteria for this year's Business Plan Competition:
- Presentation: Quality and thoroughness of the presentation and the business plan document.
- The Opportunity/Problem/Need: How well does the presentation explain the Problem or Opportunity being addressed? Does it explain why you decided to pursue this opportunity or solve this problem now?
- The Product/Service and Value Proposition: How well does the presentation explain the proposed business solution? How well does it explain the benefits/value that the proposed product/service provides to the customer, the specific problem it helps to solve?
- Market Size and Customer Profile: How well does the presentation describe the market size and expected growth? Does it clearly profile the most important customers?
- Competitive Advantage: What differentiates this business and its solution from that of its competitors? Does this business have a strategy to achieve competitive differentiation? Is there some kind of ‘underlying magic’ to the proposed solution?
- Business Model & Plan: What is the source of revenue for the business? If there are multiple revenue streams, how much would each revenue stream contribute? Does this business have the potential to develop into a viable enterprise? Does the company have a well-thought-out plan to grow revenues and reach breakeven?
- Go-to-Market Strategy: Does this business have a strategy to reach its customers? Who are its key partners? What tasks will they perform? Are the business development, sales, marketing, advertising, and distribution strategies explained?
- Current Status/Stage of the Venture: What has been accomplished so far? Do you have a prototype, proof of concept? How many potential customers have you interviewed? What did you learn from their feedback?
- The Team: Do the founders have the experience/skills/competency to start this business? Why are they the “right” team to start this business? Are the founders cognizant of management voids? Have they thought through how to fill the gaps in their team? Are they committed to build and expand the team and organization?
- Major Milestones for the next 3, 6, and 12 months: Have the key milestones been identified? Are they realistic? What are the resources required to meet those milestones?
- Startup Capital Requirement: Does the presentation clearly identify the total startup funding requirements for the next 12 months? Does it explain the main uses of the funds?
- Moving Forward: How would winning this Competition impact your plans in starting your business?
Additional information on a sample format can be found in the sample business plan format.
* Please note that the SVBPC judges will use a variety of criteria to evaluate the entries, including any criteria that the judges develop, or deem necessary, as a group, apart from the ones listed above.