From left to right: Alaaddin Stumm, Divya Ramachandran, Joey De Leon. Their team’s poster-board explains the details of their business idea: SJSU SmartPark, a parking solution for overcrowded garages.
Step 1: Concept Design and Validation
Begin putting your ideas down on paper (observe environmental trends, identify personal problems you could solve, etc.) and familiarize yourself with SVIC judging criteria. Be sure to define your target market and the benefits of your product/ service for users in your target market. Think about what problem you propose to solve to add value to your end users, and how your product/ service is different from competitors.
Once you have some confidence that your idea is ‘new’, reach out to your target market to find out if people desire your product/ service, are willing to pay for it. Visit the IDEA Lab (Student Union East) if you need assistance to validate your idea. Club members provide many useful tips and valuable initial end-user feedback. Our judges are seasoned entrepreneurs and industry professionals. They can easily detect claims such as “the product/ service is the only one of its kind on the market” when a quick Google search reveals multiple hits.
Step 2: YouNoodle Registration
Once the submission window is open and you are ready to enter your innovation into SVIC, follow instructions to complete the participant and registration forms in YouNoodle. Only FULLY COMPLETED entries will be considered.
Evaluation Process: The SVIC team reviews all entries. Those scoring 3 out of 5 or higher (see judging criteria) advance to the online judging round. Online judges are comprised of seasoned entrepreneurs, industry professionals and faculty members who are randomly assigned entries to evaluate. The top 50 entries from the online judging round advance to the SVIC Finalist Showcase to compete in person. Online judging results will be emailed to all participants, typically in mid-November.
TIP: Didn’t advance to the SVIC Finalist Showcase? Keep innovating and developing your business idea. There are many on-campus (e.g Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition in the spring) and external-SJSU competitions for you to consider. You may also enter SVIC again next year with the same, or fresh new idea. Bottom line: your journey doesn’t end here.
Workshops are offered before the SVIC Finalist Showcase to help students prepare for the big day and make a great impression on judges. Workshop topics may include ideation, pitching techniques, and poster board design. Workshop details will be posted on our website and social media channels. If you cannot attend all workshops, visit the IDEA Lab (Student Union East) to speak with an SVIC team member during office hours. Our team will help you.
Ideation: An Ideation Workshop was held in the Idea Lab (Student Union) at SJSU on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. Please contact the IDEAS Lab for upcoming workshops. Dave Hadden, seasoned entrepreneur, Long standing SVCE mentor, and SVIC judge helped participants brainstorm innovative business ideas and take initial steps to validate their feasibility. SJSU students and faculty attended the event that was very positively received.
Poster Board Design
All finalists are required to present a visually attractive poster board to judges on the day of the competition. Posters must clearly explain:
- Value and benefits of the product/ service
- Target market, and evidence of whether users in the target market desire the product/ service/ are willing to pay for it
- How the product/ service is different from competition
- Resources (skills/ time/ money) needed to convert the product/ service idea into a viable business
Poster Board Template: Download the poster board template (PDF) and use it only as a guide or starting point rather than a template to exactly copy. Visit any office supply or art store to purchase a free-standing poster board (max. dimensions: 36 x 48 inches) such as the two-fold Hunt ExecutivePro Display Board shown here:
Make the posters easy for the judges to read. The title, subtitles, body text, and graphics must be LARGE enough for audiences to read from 3 feet away. Keep in mind that 72 point font is only one inch tall. Poster titles visible from a slight distance are often 144 point or greater.
Enhance Poster Board Display: Judges appreciate seeing a prototype of your innovation as it is often hard to visualize the product or service simply based on a verbal description. Consider enhancing your poster board display with one of the following:
- Model or prototype of the product
- Design drawings or professional looking sketches
- Computer display, animation, or short video clip
- Live product demonstration
- Any visual aid that will help judges understand the value and utility of the product, process, or service.
In addition to presenting a poster board, all finalists are expected to deliver a
brief 90 second elevator pitch succinctly communicating the value of their product/ idea to the judges.
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Tim McLaughlin (SVIC Leadership Council sponsor) listens to a pitch from team LightStop.
SVIC Finalist Showcase
Student Union Ballroom doors will open for participant student teams at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 3, 2019. All students must proceed to the registration desk to sign up before 11:00 a.m. to sign in and have sufficient time to setup and prepare before judges arrive. Power strips will be available under each table for students augmenting their poster displays with electronically driven visual aids.
Dress Code: Participants are expected to dress in business casual attire. No sneakers or jeans, please.
TIP: Participants interested in networking or job opportunities should consider bringing business cards and hardcopies of a well-written one-page resume laser printed on nice paper. Visit the Career Center to polish your resume or brush up on your interviewing skills.
Office Hours and Workshops: Students are encouraged to visit the IDEA Lab in the Student Union to speak with an SVIC team member during office hours. Seeking help during office hours and attending recommended workshops will help finalists prepare for the SVIC Finalist Showcase. Ask for Jasmine in the IDEAS Lab between 1:00 and 2:00 pm on Monday and Wednesday, or Sahib between 11:00 am and 12:00 noon every Friday, Fall 2019.
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Intellectual Property Protection: Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website to learn the best method of protecting your intellectual property. The website offers a wealth of educational resources for entrepreneurs and independent inventors. You may also schedule a twenty minute 1-on-1 in-person meeting with a USPTO patent prosecution specialist to discuss the patent process or seek answers to your questions. Visit the USPTO website to learn more about the services it offers. Avoid exhibiting content at the SVIC Finalist Showcase that will compromise your right to use or pursue the idea in the future.
Patentable or Copyright Technology, Process, or Software: Avoid revealing too much about your technology or process such that it becomes considered public domain. Do NOT include drawings, diagrams, or descriptions that show the unique nature or inner workings of your product or process. For instance, share product benefits, but safeguard the methods or mechanics behind delivering the benefits. If you have software, DO NOT exhibit any code.
Special Names or Symbols: Use the “™” symbol to indicate your intention to use any special product names or symbols as a brand. Eventually, you must register the brand with the appropriate jurisdictions: states or the federal government, depending on whether you will be doing business across state lines.
Trade Secrets: Be discreet about any trade secrets used to design your business idea and create differentiation. Avoid revealing information in your submission or exhibit that can be copied by competitors and cost you your competitive edge. Review the University's intellectual property policy and check with the SJSU Office of Graduate Studies and Research to determine whether SJSU has an ownership interest in your innovation. The university has the expertise and experience to assist you in assessing commercialization and intellectual property protection.