The Innovation Showcase was only one facet of the competition. “It has been quite a process for these companies,” says Ivo Austin, Business Development Manager at the North Bay iHub and Competition Administrator, “we set out to provide them an education and the resources to develop a plan that will enable them to make the most of the exposure they are getting from being finalists in the competition.”
In this, the second year of the competition, 33 teams applied to the competition. All eligible teams began the process with a 7 hour workshop provided by the 10X Group, a consulting firm founded by Paul Bozzo that specializes in business planning. 15 teams submitted draft plans in early April.
“Self-reflection is at the core of business planning. The high rate of attrition is based on participants themselves realizing that perhaps their concept was not as good as they thought, or that they may not presently be ready to undertake the very challenging task of thoroughly conceptualizing and evaluating a new, scalable business. Most of those who drop out have learned something important, and many of them will be back with their next idea,” says Austin.
Upon submitting a draft, participants had the opportunity to get feedback and make improvements based on one-on-one mentoring from members of the North Bay iHub’s Mentor Advisory Board. A final version was then submitted to be critiqued and scored by judges. The top four teams were then invited to the Innovation Showcase, where an audience vote chose NonProfitEasy as the winner for the best business plan presentation.
“The quality of the finalists speaks for itself – all four of these teams have legitimate potential to make their plans a success,” says Michael Newell, Executive Director of the iHub, “this competition is highly effective at promoting entrepreneurship. Leveraging our iHub partnerships will allow us to continue to expand the program and add even more opportunities for entrepreneurs to learn and practice business planning methods.”
The four 2012 finalists are:
NonProfitEasy (http://www.nonprofiteasy.com): This company has identified a need among small to medium non-profits to have a single, easy to use application capable of managing all stakeholder relationships. The company’s product is a powerful web-based management tool that is already in use by over 40 clients, with plans to significantly increase market penetration nationwide in the near term.
Purevin (http://www.purevin.com): Purevin, by combining extensive experience and contacts in the wine distribution field with patent pending delivery technology, aims to finally break down the barriers to widespread adoption of wine on tap. Tremendous cost savings will accrue to the benefit of by-the-glass retailers by eliminating the need for packaging and distribution in bottles.
Shoestring (http://www.bluebirdinteractive.net): The goal of Shoestring is to democratize the web by significantly reducing development costs. Small businesses and nonprofits will have unprecedented access to cost-effective custom websites as a result of Shoestring’s suite of tools created to streamline the process of development and design of web pages.
Sonoma Hot Cones (http://www.sonomahotcones.com):
About the North Bay iHub
The North Bay iHub is the regional organization appointed by the Governor’s Office to promote collaboration and coordinate programs in the areas of innovation, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. It is a non-profit organization with a mission of creating high value jobs in the North Bay. More information can be found at http://northbayihub.org.