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2015 Windham Regional Business Planning Competition

SORRY, THE DEADLINE TO ENTER THIS COMPETITION HAS PASSED! 

About the Competition:

This competition, open to qualifying businesses throughout Windham County, Vermont, seeks to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, business formation and growth by helping business owners, prospective entrepreneurs and students develop viable business plans, gain public attention, and earn financial rewards.

The Competition is presented in collaboration by Strolling of the Heifers and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, with partnership support from the Marlboro College Graduate School. It is funded through grants from the Windham County Economic Development Program, the Windham Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation

Contestants will gain practical experience in formulating and testing their business model, and they will develop business plan presentations suitable for potential funders. In the process, contestants will have access to experienced coaches/mentors. Clients of the Vermont Small Business Development Cente(VtSBDC) or Southeast Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) may receive additional coaching from those organizations in preparing their final business plan and presentations.

In evolving formats, this competition has been held most years since 2006. It has awarded more than $300,000 in prizes, giving a boost to 86 different businesses. Most of them are still in business today and collectively they employ well over 200 people. View a list of past winners.

 

What contestants will be doing: 

Registration: Contestants should begin by registering here on iStart, by March 3 at 4 p.m. 

Orientation workshop: Tuesday, March 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Attendance at this workshop is required for all contestants. This will be held at Marlboro College Graduate Center (28 Vernon Street/Route 142, downtown Brattleboro — just south of “malfunction junction,” past the museum). 

After the workshop, there are two phases to the competition:

  • Phase I, Business Model (March 3-April 23) — Contestants develop, analyze and describe their business model; that is, a description of how their business will create value, through exploration and testing of answers to questions such as: what is the product, who will buy it, why will they buy it, who is the competition, how will the product be produced and distributed, and importantly, how will the business earn a profit? 
  • Phase II, Business Plan Presentation (April 30-June 17) — In this phase, finalists selected on the basis of their Business Model submissions will develop a more traditional business plan including operational and financial details, and they will make a live presentation of this plan, as well as the business model, to the judges. 

 

Categories/Tracks:

The 2015 Competition features five categories:

  • Farm/Food Division — Existing Businesses
  • Farm/Food Division — Startup/New Business 
  • General Division — Existing Business 
  • General Division — Startup/New Busines
  • Student Division (Farm/Food or General, Existing or New Business)

 

Eligibility:

  • Existing businesses: must be physically located within Windham County, be in operation for 6 months or longer, and must be for-profit. Also, they should have gross revenue not exceeding $750,000 per year, OR have been in business less than 5 years, OR have 5 or fewer employees (full time equivalents).
  • New businesses: must be physically located, within Windham County, and must be for-profit, not yet in business or in business for less than 6 months.
  • Student businesses: must be developed by students at the senior level (12th grade) of high school, undergraduate college level, or graduate school, who are actively enrolled full-time at Windham County institutions OR who are Windham County residents actively enrolled full-time at schools or colleges elsewhere.
  • Farm/Food contestants must be: individuals and businesses engaged in food production, processing, distribution, packaging, restaurants, or retailing. Also eligible are those in the agriculture enterprises of wood products, equine-related businesses, and fiber production.
  • General Business contestants: can be in any business sector not defined under Farm/Food above. Note: Farm/Food sector contestants may not compete in the General Business division.

 

Prizes

A total of $68,000 in prizes will be awarded as follows: 

In each of the four Farm/Food and General Business categories:

  • First Prize: $10,000 )
  • Second Prize: $3,000
  • Runners up: three awards of $1,000 each

In the Student category:

  • First Prize: $2,000
  • Runners up: four awards of $500 each

 

Timeline for Contestants:

  • January 24 through March 3: Prospective contestants should register here on iStart. (Click the "Register" link, top right corner of this page and follow the instructions. If you already have an iStart profile, click the "Log in" link and use your e-mail address and password.)
  • Tuesday, March 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.: Orientation Workshop, required for all contestants. This will be held at Marlboro College Graduate Center (28 Vernon Street/Route 142, downtown Brattleboro — just south of “malfunction junction,” past the museum).
  • Tuesday, March 31, 4 p.m.: Deadline for contestants to submit draft Business Model descriptions, on which they will receive feedback from volunteer business mentors. This submission is strongly encouraged but not mandatory.
  • Thursday, April 23, 4 p.m.: The final Business Model is due. Judges will review the these submissions, offer comments on them, and select up to five finalists per category from them.
  • Monday, April 30: Finalists are announced and notified.
  • Wednesday, June 17, 4 p.m.: Final business plans are due. These will consist of narratives addressing various aspects of the plan, along with financial projections.
  • Wednesday, June 24, 9 a.m.-noon: Finalist presentations, and judging at the Marlboro College Graduate Center. Finalists must be available for the full day. They will make a brief presentation before the judges, followed by a question session with the judges. Judges will provide verbal and written feedback on all plans submitted.
  • Wednesday, June 24, 2 p.m.: Awards will be announced at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden, headquarters of Strolling of the Heifers (157 Main Street, Brattleboro).

 

Rules

The official contest rules may be found on the Strolling of the Heifers website competition page.

 

To get started:

New to iStart? Please click the "Register" link in the top right corner of this page and follow the instructions. 

If you have already registered or have an iStart profile, please click the "Log In" link in the top right hand corner of this page and use your e-mail address and password.

IMPORTANT: SIGNING UP IS A TWO-STEP PROCESS! BE SURE TO COMPLETE BOTH STEPS.

  1. CREATE YOUR ISTART ACCOUNT
  2. RETURN TO THE COMPETITION PAGE AND CLICK THE ORANGE BUTTON AT TOP LEFT, WHICH WILL SAY "Submit a new Business/Concept" WHEN YOU ARE LOGGED IN WITH YOUR NEW ISTART ACCOUNT, AND ANSWER THE COMPETITION-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS THERE.

 

Questions?

Contact the competition coordinator: Martin Langeveldmartin@strollingoftheheifers.com — 802-380-0226

 

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