The Opportunity Funding Corporation Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition

    The Opportunity Funding Corporation Venture Challenge is sponsored every year by Minority Entrepreneurship Education, Inc. The competition has existed since 2001 and its mission is to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to develop a comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum that would be particularly relevant in preparing young African-American men and women to become entrepreneurs.

    The Venture Challenge has two aspects – the local competition at each individual college, followed by the national competition held yearly in Atlanta. The internal contest is supervised by a faculty advisor at each university and determines which team will go on to the main competition. The local contest is run during the fall and winter of every year, starting in September and concluding in February.

    The contest is open only to current students at their respective universities, and these students must be the principal players in the company. Unlike most business plan competitions, the Opportunity Funding Corporation Venture Challenge requires a specific number of team members: a minimum of four students and a maximum of five, with at least one student in an MBA or graduate business program. Faculty advisors are also required.

    Firms must be seeking venture capital, and the competitor’s handbook suggests asking for at least $500,000 in initial costs. The potential businesses must be in the start-up or seed phase – no existing businesses are allowed to participate in the contest.

    Business plans submitted for the competition must be fewer than 25 pages. These are judged on three different sets of criteria: key elements of the business plan (worth 40% of the total), the poise and professionalism of the written plan (20%), and the perceived viability of the venture (40%).

    The final competition in Atlanta takes place during April. Minority Entrepreneurship Education pays a majority of travel expenses to the conference for invited teams, including airfare and hotel costs, as well as meals for the three days of the competition. On the second day of the competition, teams are given 15 minutes to present their business plan to the judges. This is followed by 20 minutes of question-and-answer from the expert judges. Two teams from each of the tracks are selected to represent their school in the finals on Saturday. The finalists give their presentations again in front of the public and all teams are given feedback from judges.

    On Saturday night, there is an awards banquet at which the winners are revealed. The first place team takes home $10,000; second, $5,000; third, $3,000; fourth, $2,000; and two consolation winners each get a $1,000 prize.