Â Â Â Â The Opportunity for Indiana Business Plan Competition is one of three business plan competitions hosted by Purdue University. The university’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship has hosted the competition since the year 2004. The competition is funded by the Lilly Endowment and was designed to foster the growth of companies in Indiana, thus giving the university’s graduates great places to begin their careers.
Â Â Â Â As implied by the title of the competition, only residents of the state of Indiana are eligible to compete. Teams may also enter Purdue’s two other business plan competitions (the Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition and the Life Sciences Business Plan Competition), assuming they meet the requirements of those contests. Not-for-profit ventures are also eligible to try out for the Opportunity for Indiana competition.
Â Â Â Â There are three separate regional competitions: Purdue Research Park West Lafayette, Purdue University North Central and Purdue University, and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Each of these regions has its own prize money of $50,000 for winners ($25,000 for first place, $15,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place). The three competitions take place during the fall and winter of every year. The contest also gives potential business owners a chance to network with professional contacts in the area and to gauge the effectiveness of their plan against other competitors.
Â Â Â Â In each of the three regional contests, potential candidates enter the competition through the Internet, then attend workshops to refine the design for their business plan. After this learning period, all competitors submit executive summaries to the contest organizers, who then choose 15 semifinalists. The semifinalists give the judges a full-blown business plan of no more than 15 pages, from which five finalists are selected.
Â Â Â Â On the contest day for each of the regional competitions, the finalists travel to the assigned venue for judging. They give a presentation before the judges, who base their final decision on both the written and the verbal professionalism of the entrants.
Â Â Â Â The judges include professionals who can evaluate the business and technical aspects of any potential venture. They are tasked to act as real investors would, determining winners based on which team has most convincingly persuaded them to invest actual money.