Thursday, April 24, 2008

Update! University of San Francisco International Business Plan Competition

I spent the day today at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco, serving as a coach to aspiring young entrepreneurs and companies in developing their "elevator pitch" and venture capital presentations during the University of San Francisco International Business Plan Competition.

Although the competition is a compilation of student-led groups that have been vetted at previous competitions, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

As one of the coaches, I worked with Judith McGarry of Keen Consulting and A.C. Ross of Indigo Partners (and a few other colleagues) to listen to five student group presentations and then provided advice on how to tighten things up. Judith consults with firms seeking venture funding, and clearly understands Silicon Valley and what it takes to get funding. Her breadth of knowledge in numerous industries is striking. A.C. is a Silicon Valley veteran with vast experience on the strategy consulting side of the equation.

We watched presentations about software for the nanotechnology industry, online men's shopping, product development for emerging economies, online media, and HDTV. After spending the day, my observation is that some people are just more prepared that others.

The creme always rises to the top. The most interesting and compelling of the day - the presentation that turned into an collaboration session - was Project Einstein out of MIT. Couple of guys that are launching a men's clothing online shopping site with a strong Web 2.0 flavor to it. I think they have a chance! The presenters, Bob Meese and Will O'Brien, were very well-prepared and have clearly thought through the concept realistically. Their concept hit home as I remembered my painstaking afternoon in Macy's a couple of weeks ago trying to find the right casual shirt and sportcoat for my Spring wardrobe... Nice job guys, and good luck!

To check out this company, and all of the others in the competition, the semi-final and finals are open to the public. Check out the schedule and stop by - worth the price of admission for sure!


1 comment:

A.C. Ross said...

Thanks for the mention, Scott. I spent the rest of the day judging both the teams' "trade show" exhibits and the elevator pitches that night, and was gratified to see that several of the teams we coached had taken our coaching to heart and improved (in my opinion) their pitches in a matter of hours. I went back on Saturday to see the full presentations to the boards of judges, and saw even more improvements.

Attending the business plan competition is one of the most fun things I do every year. It's both educational and energizing to see young (okay, I'm dating myself), passionate teams of entrepreneurs dedicating so much time and effort to their new businesses. Whether their businesses take off or not, the experience is invaluable. I love getting to play a part in it.