Open to any startup team or company having one or more members with a Dartmouth affiliation (student, alumnus, faculty, researcher, staff). Teams or companies must not have signed a financing term sheet (in order to exclude teams with significant resources already secured).
First place wins $50,000.
How to submit:
All finalist business plans (1 per DEN chapter, 2 selected via a preliminary competition to be held at Dartmouth) must be submitted by a local DEN organization to the DEN by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or ‘hard copy’ to the office (203A Tuck Hall, Tuck Drive Hanover, NH 03755) on or before 5:00 pm Friday, April 24th 2009.
Contestants outside Hanover may contact DEN organizations around the country and seek to enter the contest as a designated entrant from that city (see http://www.den.dartmouth.edu/about/DENandtheCity.htm for more information about the DEN city groups).
Teams looking to compete in the Hanover preliminary event in order to try and get to the final need to get their entries into email@example.com by April 17th. The contest will recognize one entrant per city, as designated to DEN by the local organization.
Each business may have at most one plan submitted to the competition though any channel. Individual team members may be members of more than one team.
Strong team – founders or other team members who can operate a quickly growing business successfully. Experienced entrepreneurs, early stage sales and marketing executives and engineers on the existing team are all a plus. A well thought out plan that specifies the team members required to grow the business to scale and exit along with a realistic strategy to recruit those team members is also a plus. Members of the board of directors or advisors or scientific advisors that can be shown contribute to the growth of the business are also a plus.
Big, growing market – a realistic addressable market for the startup’s product or service that is large and growing gives a startup venture a better chance to succeed than a small, stagnant market does. Being able to define the realistic addressable market for the company’s product or service well is a plus. Being very knowledgeable about the competitors in the target market is a plus.
Solid product or service – a product that is built and has paying customers is the gold standard for a solid product or service. A product in beta testing is next best, a product in alpha next, then a product in development, lastly a concept or idea. An innovative or breakthrough product is a plus.
Sustainable business model – a business model that will allow the startup company to efficiently scale to a size that makes it attractive to acquirers or positions it for an IPO. A business model that will allow the company to exploit a sustainable competitive advantage is a plus. Defensible IP is a plus.
Realistic deal – the “deal” refers to the amount of financing that the startup proposes to raise and the terms on which the company proposes to raise it. The deal is realistic if the amount of capital that the team proposes to raise will: 1. allow the team to build enough value and achieve enough milestones such that the next round of financing will be an up round, 2. be based on a pre-money valuation (the amount the company is worth before financing) that is acceptable to investors. Note that the amount of financing that the company chooses to raise might be zero, but that the judges will still be asked to evaluate whether that amount of financing will allow the startup to meet the goals outlined in 1. above