Do you need a BIG push towards realizing that elusive goal of business ownership? If so, the 2013 New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition offers you the option for multiple wins: a piece of the more than $30,000 "pie" of cash prizes, technical training, one-on-one business advisory, and participation in a vibrant small business network. But, hurry! There is just a week left to meet the first requirement -- attending an orientation.
With the generous sponsorship of the Citi Foundation, the New York Public Library's Business Library, SIBL, hosts StartUP! for residents of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island who want to open a business in one of those boroughs. The Citi Foundation also funds similar contests for aspiring entrepreneurs in Brooklyn and Queens, too.
Entrants must develop a for-profit venture that has not yet earned revenue. Requirements are spelled out at the official StartUP! website which also provides detailed information about the technical training workshops and the mentors from business advisory partners along with a business plan template adapted from Rhonda Abrams' book The Successful Business Plan; Secrets and Strategies, If this wealth of resources fails to wow you, check out the short videos of past winners which are almost guaranteed to lure you at one of the two remaining orientations on Wednesday December 12 and Saturday December 14 in mid-town Manhattan at 34th and Madison.
StartUP! offers 5 cash prizes from $15,000 to $1500. The contest's tag line, though, is that every entrant who submits a business plan at the end of six months is a winner. How so?
First, let's note that a completed business plan is an entree to many free services for metro-area small business owners. Take the financing experts at the city's Business Solutions Centers who work only with clients who have developed a workable business plan. Many other funders from commercial banks and micro-lenders to angel investors also look for that b-plan. Second, the teams of judges review and comment on all completed plans so StartUP! offers a great source of expert feedback on your proposed venture. The judges' panel includes bankers, attorneys, investors, successful entrepreneurs, and, business support agencies at the city, state and federal level so this input represents a healthy diversity of perspectives.
Another bonus is that SIBL regularly alerts StartUP! entrants to training, networking events, incentive programs, and expos. Registration fees are sometimes waived for StartUP! participants as at the upcoming International Business Opportunities Conference run by the New York Enterprise Report, whose publisher, Rob Levin, is a StartUP! judge.
The StartUP! competition provides visibility for participants, too. A winner from the first (2010) StartUP!, Shagun Malhotra, went on to enter the competitive Startup Chile program, served as a StartUP! judge, keynoted at the 2012 Awards ceremony, and addressed sister entrepreneurs from 20 emerging markets at the Women and Entrepreneurshhip symposium that the U. S. State Department held at SIBL this summer. She convinced StartUP! winner, Jenny Chu, and finalist Amy Stevens, to compete -- successfully, of course -- for Startup Chile,too. A bit closer to home, StartUP's 2011 first place winner, Denise Adusei, was featured last spring along with Sharktank's Barbara Corcoran at a Business Success Forum hosted by Harlem Radio at the Harlem Library.
It's not just the winners whom StartUP! helps to launch. Precious Williams, a 2012 StartUP finalist won the People's Choice eound with her 3-minute pitch at the 46th Workshop in Business Opportunities Gala which garnered her a bit of media attention. A month later, Williams' startup, Curvy Girlz, which specializes in plus size lingerie, has just been named the winner of WIBO's 2012 Executive Summary and Pitch Competition.
Trust me, there are no losers in the New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition. Take your first step by taking in the two remaining orientations on December 12 and December 15.