What the Judges Look For

The overarching judging criterion for the University of Miami Business Plan Competition is to select the plans in which the judges are most likely to invest their own funds. Note that this criterion applies equally to high potential ventures, small business ventures, and nonprofit ventures. High potential ventures are more risky, so should provide the possibility of higher returns. Nonprofits should be able to demonstrate that their organizations are not only worthy causes, but are also well thought out and well managed enough that the judges would be comfortable supporting them. It is assumed that the judges are open to any kind of early stage investment. In all cases, the quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation will influence the judges' decisions.

The vast majority of the judges are successful entrepreneurs. Several others are private equity or financial professionals. Although they may not have in depth experience in a given plan's industry or market, they are extremely well qualified to judge the potential of an early stage venture. Their rankings will be guided by the scorecard (sample shown below), but should be consistent with the approach that would be used by an early stage investor.

Teams are expected to state how much financing they are looking for, but are not required to reveal the exact desired terms of the deal (i.e., their proposed company valuation and percentage of company being offered to investors). Some investors prefer to have this information upfront, and some investors feel that it is not important until later. We recommend that teams be prepared to address questions about their terms, but it is up to the team to decide how to address these questions.

Confidentiality and Scoring

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