Business Plan Contests Evolving | Entrepreneurship Education

My research and many of the schools, entrepreneurs, and issues covered on this blog have pointed to the evolution of entrepreneurship away from business planning. Schools such as Stanford, Babson, University of Maryland, and others have pushed well beyond that for years and now we see how business plan contests are giving way to action oriented contests. From Melissa Korn in the Wall Street Journal:

Less planning, more legwork. That’s the formula some business schools are using to overhaul the competitions they conduct each year to test their students’ mettle as entrepreneurs.

The contests, which have been an academic rite of passage for decades, typically involve teams of students submitting written business plans, then following up with a short presentation to a panel of judges. The winner might receive a cash prize of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars and even the chance to mingle with potential investors.

But most of the business plans emerging from these competitions never become full-fledged businesses. Critics say that’s because the competitions don’t encourage budding entrepreneurs, they just reward a well-written plan.

“You can write a beautiful 50-page business plan without ever talking to a potential customer,” says Janet Strimaitis, managing director of Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. So, the Wellesley, Mass., school is launching a new competition this spring that emphasizes action over ideas.

Among the requirements: teams must introduce their ideas with a PowerPoint presentation and show the concrete steps they have taken to develop their proposed business.

Those steps might include identifying a market opportunity or interviewing potential customers to demonstrate their proposal’s viability. At no point would competitors submit a written business plan.

At George Mason University we are moving towards action oriented entrepreneurship education steps through the StartUp Mason group. It is a peer to peer learning group comprised of entrepreneurs actively pursuing ventures. We use learning modules based on the work of Steve Blank, Eric Ries, Alexander Osterwalder, Guy Kawasaki and others to validate our ideas/hypothesis/business models. #leanstartup #bmgen

What is your university doing to move beyond Entrepreneurship Education 1.0 (business plans, guest speakers, etc.)?

via Legwork in Business-Plan Contests –


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