Tulane business plan contest makes changes

The Tulane Entrepreneurs Association has redesigned the format for its annual college business plan contest.

After hosting competitions for 14 years, instead of rewarding theoretical plans, ventures must show they’ve worked with potential customers to vet their services, adapted to those needs and shown the ability to quickly change course if the market disproves their assumptions.

“In this contest, sleek presentations are not going to cut it,” said Ralph Maurer, executive director of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business. “Participants won’t be rewarded for overly ambitious sales projections, drawing fancy graphs or crafting the perfect pitch to venture capitalists.”

The new Tulane Business Model Competition offers a $25,000 grand prize and a $10,000 award to the runner-up.

The contest is open to any team led by at least two or more students enrolled in a college or university.

To enter, teams must submit a video presentation — normally a voice-annotated slide deck no longer than 10 minutes — online by Feb 14. More details on submission criteria are available at: http://tulane2014.istart.org/ .

“Entering the first round of the competition doesn’t require a significant time investment, and it’s a worthwhile exercise for anyone working on a startup,” Maurer said.

TEA will select eight semi-finalists who will win $1,000 each and get to pitch, receive mentoring and network with a variety of lean startup experts on March 25 in New Orleans. Three finalists will present their business models at Tulane University on April 11.