I had an excellent Friday and Saturday last week at the Rice University 2008 Business Plan Competition, a reminder for me that some scientists and some ideas make great new businesses. I have to say that because I so often state that the idea is an overvalued component of a new business (compared to the implementation), and that wasn’t the case with some of these. More on that some other time.
As part of that competition, in a judges’ meeting before it started, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship managing director Brad Burke shared the following list of questions to ask about a new venture:
- Is there a real need? What problem is being solved?
- Is the market big? Will customers pay for this?
- Is there sustainable, significant differentiation?
- Is there IP (patents)? Exclusive license?
- Are members of the team committed to launch this business?
- Strong management team? Are gaps understood?
- Are the timelines, milestones, capital needs and financials realistic? Is there an exit in five to seven years?
The context Friday morning was judges looking at business plans, but I asked Burke for permission to share this because it’s a good list for anybody to use.
And while I seem to be on the theme of business plan competitions–I posted about one here Friday; there are a lot of them in April, and I’ll be judging at the University of Oregon this week and the University of Texas at the end of the month. I posted about the Forbes $100,000 business plan contest for existing companies over at Business in General. Forbes is accepting applications now through the end of May.