Friday, March 16, 2012

Taking on the New Venture Challenge

Hi everyone,

Happy Friday! Here at Booth we have just completed Finals week (woohoo!) and are getting ready to head off on our Spring Break vacation destinations all over the world. It’s almost a shame to be leaving the 70+ degree and gorgeously sunny days we’ve been having in Chicago over the last week!

In addition to a new blog entry today, we’d are very excited to bring you another Day in the Life - a continuing video series through which Booth's students share with you what the Booth experience is really like. Today, we join Albert for a day as he starts his day with a healthy breakfast, goes to meetings and class at Harper Center, then Kuma's Corner (great burger place) for dinner before finishing the night with a model (an excel model). Check it out here and let us know what you think!

In today’s blog, we check back in with our aspiring entrepreneur, Dana, as she gets ready for Booth’s New Venture Challenge that will take place this spring!



Although the spring quarter hasn't even started, I know it will be one of the most exciting and busy of my time at Booth. Why? I will be participating in the New Venture Challenge (NVC), one of the country's best-known MBA business creation competitions. NVC is hosted by the Polsky Center and previous winners have included high-profile start-ups such as Bump and GrubHub. This year has been one for the records: the Polsky Center received 119 applications, 52 of which are advancing to Round 2. Although the final round of the competition is not until May, my team has plenty to do and thankfully, the Polsky Center has incredible resources and contacts for us as we work on our business plan. I will be working on Omakase, an online platform that will bring "underground" dining and supper clubs to a broader base of eager diners.

Both Professor Rudnick and Professor Kaplan teach a course, Special Topics in Entrepreneurship: Developing a Business Plan, for those of us who have progressed to Round 2 of NVC. The course not only allows teams to dedicate additional time to business plans, but allows us to practice our presentation skills and receive feedback from our professors and judges. The lecture portions of the course cover legal issues, sales and marketing, and how to develop a financial plan. My team will be one of the first to present; the Monday we get back from spring break, Team Omakase will deliver our first 15 minute pitch and business overview. In addition to the time spent in class, teams also have appointments scheduled with entrepreneurship professors for additional guidance and leads. Although each member of Team Omakase has an extensive network, I am both very impressed by and gracious for the network that Professor Rudnick has provided us, generating further leads in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

After our final business plans are due in late April, the last few weeks in May leading up to the finals are dedicated to our second presentations. Based on the quality of the presentations and the final business plans, a handful of teams are then selected to present in the finals, where the top teams (as determined by a panel of judges) will win cash prizes.

Personally, I feel as though I have a tremendous deal to learn from the NVC process. I have never had to pitch to investors and have never been part of a team to develop a business plan. Although I have sold tangible goods in the past, it is so much different to sell target consumers on an idea and service in its infancy. And no matter how much sales experience I've had, it's always difficult to hear "no" from a potential client or customer. As an entrepreneur, I believe that selling skills are critical to have and I know that by participating in NVC, I can improve a great deal.

The NVC process has already taught me a great deal about some of the nuances in building a business and the decisions that are required. What are the implications for incorporating as an LLC or C-corp? How much equity is appropriate for each team member to have? How do we go about finding a lawyer who has sufficient experience with start-ups? These may seem like relatively mundane details, but the NVC process thus far has taught me not to overlook these important steps.

If you'd like to see how NVC unfolds over the next few weeks, you can follow the Polsky Center (@polskycenter) on Twitter and search for the official #ChicagoNVC hashtag.

No comments:

Post a Comment