Benefits of Business Plan Competitions | 28 Carrots

Business pitch competitions can be a lucrative source of funding, but the cash prize isn’t the only advantage. Even if you don’t walk away with the top award to jumpstart your business, you won’t leave empty handed.

Pitch contests offer numerous benefits and opportunities for everyone who presents. From the additional exposure and attention to pitch practice and public speaking experience, you – and your business idea – will grow.

Why You Should Enter a Business Plan Contest

Emily Levy, last year’s 28 Carrots’ InnovateHER winner for Massachusetts, took some time to share with us her own experiences as a contestant.

Levy did not nab the top national prize, but she has enjoyed a year of accomplishments. She is CEO and co-founder of Mighty Well, a successful company that designs stylish accessories to conceal medical devices, such as PICC lines. She recently won $250K in another competition, the Babson Breakaway Challenge.

Levy knows exactly how to prepare for a pitch contest, and why the experience is so worthwhile.

  • Validation: Levy says that competitions can help you build confidence in your business idea: “We were seniors in college when we participated in InnovateHER, and it was really nice to be validated externally outside of our network. Just to hear people say, ‘Hey, you’re onto something’ was a big deal.”
  • Networking: Participating in these contests exposes you to other entrepreneurs and investors, and new ways of thinking. “The contest took place across the country, so I met winners from other states.”
  • Exposure: Pitch contestants shine a spotlight on you and your idea. You’ll enjoy free publicity and maybe even media coverage with an audience of influential business experts and investors. “I would recommend that you engage in events like this at any stage of your entrepreneurial career, because even if you don’t win, you still get your name out there. My motto is, why not apply?”

How to Prepare for a Business Pitch Contest

Levy describes pitch contests as a performance. If you are not comfortable with public speaking, she recommends you practice, practice, practice. “You need to make sure you are looking at the judges, pausing at the right times,” she explains.

Levy practiced in front of fellow students and asked for their feedback. She also enjoyed support before and at the event from her partner Maria del Mar Gomez, also a market research analyst at Mighty Well.

Learn from Levy’s top 3 tips for creating your presentation and getting it right.

  • Simplify: “If a sixth-grade boy cannot understand your presentation, then chances are the audience is not going to understand. Use very simple terms that everyone will know.”
  • Be smooth: “Make sure you are not reading off slides and that you have a stage presence.”
  • Use visuals: “Don’t include too many words on your slides. Design it to be mostly pictures that you talk through.”

Apply for the May 4 InnovateHER Pitch Contest

There’s still time. If you have a business idea that empowers women and families and fills a need in the marketplace, submit your business plan today! There is no cost to apply. Membership in 28 Carrots is encouraged, however, optional for contestants.

Hurry! The deadline to apply is April 28. Learn more about InnovateHER 2017.