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New Business Concepts Pitch Guidelines | Social Ventures Pitch Guidelines | Ten Questions That You Should Try To Answer  

New Business Concepts Pitch Guidelines

New Business Concepts will be evaluated on the following judging criteria.  

  • How well was the concept explained?
  • How reasonable, sustainable, and scalable is the new concept?
  • Is there a genuine need for the product or service?
  • How well was the target market defined?
  • What is the size and growth of the market?
  • What is the consumers' willingness to pay for the product/service?
  • Is the description clear?
  • Is the product feasible?
  • How easily it can be duplicated?
  • Is there a presence of potential substitutes for the product?
  • Have the current and potential competitors, competitive response, and analysis of strengths and weaknesses been adequately defined?
  • How realistically defined is the marketing plan?
  • Does the plan adequately address price, product, place, and promotion?
  • Are resources sufficiently allocated for marketing?
  • What is the likelihood of securing resources required for production?
  • Is there an ability to operate competitively and grow?
  • Does the team exhibit the experience and skills required for operation?
  • What is the depth and breadth of the team's capabilities?
  • Does the team demonstrate the ability to grow with the organization and attract new talent?
  • How compelling is the business model?
  • Have the resources required for the venture been addressed?
  • Has the team clearly and adequately presented a breakeven analysis?
  • How reasonable are the financial projections?
  • Are there prospects for long-term profitability?
  • Did the entrepreneurial team explain funding?
  • Were offerings to investors and anticipated returns clearly explained?
  • Did the team calculate a realistic valuation?
  • How feasible is the exit strategy?
  • Did the presenter(s) engage the audience and hold their attention?
  • Did the presenter(s) appear to speak with confidence authority?
  • Were visual aids (i.e. PowerPoint® slides) clear and valuable?
  • Was the pitch exciting and compelling?
  • How efficiently did the team allot their time?

Social Venture Pitch Guidelines

Social Ventures will be evaluated on the following judging criteria.  

  • Does the proposed venture address a significant and critical social problem?
  • Does the proposed venture adequately describe the problem it hopes to address and have defined parameters within which it plans to operate?
  • Does the entrepreneurial team possess the skills and experience required to translate the plan into action?
  • Can they demonstrated the passion, commitment, and perseverance required to overcome inevitable obstacles?
  • Is the team comprised of individuals committed to ethical standards?
  • Does the proposal approach the social problem in an innovative, exciting, and dynamic way?
  • Does the initiative aspire towards clear, realistic and achievable goals, while thinking big?
  • Can it be implemented effectively?
  • Are there clear and coherent schedules, milestones, objectives, and financial plans?
  • Has adequate attention been given to the way in which the product or service is to be produced and/or delivered?
  • Do they have, or can likely secure, the resources required for production?
  • Will they be able to operate competitively and grow?
  • Does the proposed venture include adequate strategies for fundraising and income generation?
  • Does it consider the different dimensions of financial and social sustainability in a conscientious manner?
  • How will the implementation of this social venture benefit the community and the multiple stakeholders involved?
  • Is there the potential for significant social impact and engagement of the broader community?

* While there is some debate regarding the precise definition of a social venture, and what exactly differentiates it from a traditional for profit business, the Selection Committee and Judging Panel will use the following criteria:

  • PRIMARY MISSION - is the organization's primary purpose to serve its owners (New Business Concept) or society (Social Venture)
  • PRIMARY MEASURE OF SUCCESS - does the organization measure its success primarily by profitability (New Business Concept) or positive social change (Social Venture)

Ten Questions That You Should Try To Answer

Whether pitching a New Business Concept or a Social Venture, try to address the following ten big questions as completely as possible. Remember, you should not simply talk about a general idea (those are "a dime a dozen"), rather, try to present a concise concept with a clear economic model, convincing everyone that you can actually make it happen.

  • 1. What's the PROBLEM?
  • 2. What's your SOLUTION?
  • 3. How large is the MARKET?
  • 4. Who is the COMPETITION?
  • 5. What makes you so SPECIAL?
  • 6. What's your ECONOMIC MODEL?
  • 7. How exactly will you achieve SALES?
  • 8. Have you assembled a qualified TEAM?
  • 9. How will you secure required RESOURCES?
  • 10. What are you proposing for an INVESTMENT?

Suggested reading: The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki (Penguin 2004), especially Chapter 3, "The Art of Pitching"

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judging criteria for business plan competition

Judging Criteria and Business Plan Requirements - New York StartUP! 2023 Business Plan Competition

Image NY StartUp 2023 Business Plan Competition Site

The 13th Annual New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition is closed.  Check back in the fall of 2023 for details about the 2024 competition.

Round 1 - technical review.

In this round, your plan is reviewed and scored for format rather than content. 

The following business plan template is adapted from Rhonda Abrams,   Successful Business Plan   and should be used as the format for your Business Plan:

One-page Overview (Word)

One-page Overview (PDF)

Business Plan Template (PDF)

Business Plan Template (Word)

  • Your Business Plan, including the financials, must be uploaded as ONE (1) file in PDF format
  • It should be no longer than 20 (one-sided) pages, excluding financial statements, the cover page, and the table of contents
  • Use Arial font no less than 10pt with 1-inch margins

Your Business Plan must contain the following:

  • A one-page overview to accompany the business plan in the required format
  • A cover page with the name of the applicant, street address, telephone number, and email address of the individual entrant(s) and team leader
  • Team entries must include the names of all team members, and the street address, telephone number, and email address of one designated entrant
  • A Table of Contents
  • One-page Executive Summary
  • Page Numbers throughout the business plan
  • Elements of a Business Plan template provided on this website
  • Financial Projections should include a 3-year summary balance sheet, an income statement, and statements of cash flow. Additionally, the statements should include monthly income statements for years 1 and 2 and a quarterly income statement for year 3. The financials should also include a description of sources & uses of funds, break-even analysis and notes to financials inclusive of financial assumptions

Please note:

  • Points will be deducted from your score if your plan exceeds 20 pages  
  • NYPL will not reimburse entrants for any expenses related to the compilation or assembly of your Business Plan
  • Working models or prototypes will not be accepted
  • The Business Plans will be destroyed shortly after the competition has ended

Round 2 - Judges Review

The judges will evaluate each Business Plan based on the following:

1)  Content of the plan, including the thoroughness and quality of the analysis

2)  Effective use and impact of the prize money

3)  Effective use of business information and research

4)  Clear communication

5)  The probability of a successful launch

6)  Community Impact and job creation potential

7)  Quality and effectiveness of the final presentation (in the event the applicant becomes a finalist and is invited to present)

The Business Center will publicize the names and associations of all judges who participate in the New York StartUP! 2023 Business Plan Competition. Judges will be asked to remove themselves from judging a plan if they have a conflict of interest, such as a pre-existing family or business relationship with an entrant.

Round 3 - Finalist Presentations

In August finalists will be notified and required to present their plans to the panel of judges and respond to their questions. The exact date, time, and location of these meetings will be provided to the finalists

Review Process

  • In addition to completing the online orientation, entrants are required to have at least one consultation with a business librarian, meet at least once with a business advisor and attend the FOUR (4) virtual training workshops. Failure to do so will result in disqualification of your application
  • May 31, 2023 - Business Plans must be uploaded to the  competition site no  later than 11:59 PM  
  • June - Round 1 - Technical Review
  • July - Round 2 - Judges Review The panel of judges will review submitted business plans.
  • August - Finalists will be notified and required to present their plans to the panel of judges and respond to their questions. The exact date, time, and location of these meetings will be provided to the finalists
  • September  - Winners will be announced at the StartUp! Awards Ceremony

Funding provided by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

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Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship

Judging Criteria

The judges look for three main criteria in the completed submissions:.

  • The quality and thoroughness of the submission;
  • The quality of the solution and evidence of customer validation; and
  • The commercial viability of the new venture, reflected in the steps taken by the founders to implement the venture.

The following are the judging criteria for this year's Business Plan Competition:

  • Presentation : Quality and thoroughness of the presentation and the business plan document.
  • The Opportunity/Problem/Need : How well does the presentation explain the Problem or Opportunity being addressed? Does it explain why you decided to pursue this opportunity or solve this problem now?
  • The Product/Service and Value Proposition : How well does the presentation explain the proposed business solution? How well does it explain the benefits/value that the proposed product/service provides to the customer, the specific problem it helps to solve?
  • Market Size and Customer Profile : How well does the presentation describe the market size and expected growth? Does it clearly profile the most important customers?
  • Competitive Advantage : What differentiates this business and its solution from that of its competitors? Does this business have a strategy to achieve competitive differentiation? Is there some kind of ‘underlying magic’ to the proposed solution?
  • Business Model & Plan : What is the source of revenue for the business? If there are multiple revenue streams, how much would each revenue stream contribute? Does this business have the potential to develop into a viable enterprise? Does the company have a well-thought-out plan to grow revenues and reach breakeven?
  • Go-to-Market Strategy : Does this business have a strategy to reach its customers? Who are its key partners? What tasks will they perform? Are the business development, sales, marketing, advertising, and distribution strategies explained?
  • Current Status/Stage of the Venture : What has been accomplished so far? Do you have a prototype, proof of concept? How many potential customers have you interviewed? What did you learn from their feedback?
  • The Team : Do the founders have the experience/skills/competency to start this business? Why are they the “right” team to start this business? Are the founders cognizant of management voids? Have they thought through how to fill the gaps in their team? Are they committed to build and expand the team and organization?
  • Major Milestones for the next 3, 6, and 12 months : Have the key milestones been identified? Are they realistic? What are the resources required to meet those milestones?
  • Startup Capital Requirement : Does the presentation clearly identify the total startup funding requirements for the next 12 months? Does it explain the main uses of the funds?
  • Moving Forward : How would winning this Competition impact your plans in starting your business? 

Additional information on a sample format can be found in the sample business plan format.

* Please note that the SVBPC judges will use a variety of criteria to evaluate the entries, including any criteria that the judges develop, or deem necessary, as a group, apart from the ones listed above.

  • Resources for Students
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  • Business Plan Competition

Business Plan Competition Judging

How the business plan competition is judged, screening round.

  • Overall impression of the executive summary
  • Management team
  • Market opportunity
  • Competitive strategy
  • Go to Market strategy

Final Round

Who are the judges.

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  • Success Stories

Judging Criteria

General Judging Criteria Overview

The competition is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges function as early stage venture capital investors deciding on which business venture they would most likely fund. The value created by the new product or service, attractiveness of the market opportunity, the competitive advantage of the proposed venture, the operational and technology viability, the capability of the management team, and the capital requirements and financial forecast, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions. Ultimately, the winning team should be the team in which the judges would most likely invest their money.

The competition judges are JHU Alumni, entrepreneurs, and experienced professionals, some of which come from the investment community and are involved in making early-stage investment decisions on an ongoing basis. Their ranking of the top teams is guided by the scorecard (described below), but should be consistent with the approach that would be used by an early-stage venture capital or angel investor.

We recognize that consistent with real life investment situations, early-stage companies can be in very different stages of development. To compensate for this, we would expect that an investor would require the higher investment returns for a very early stage company than for a later stage company which has less risk (i.e., the greater the risk or the longer the time to a liquidity event, the higher the required return). We assume, in general, that these rules would apply for the judges at the JHU Business Plan Competition.

No formal valuation or deal structure is required for any round of the competition. However, some investors prefer to have this information upfront. We recommend that teams be prepared to address questions about their terms, but it is at the discretion of the team regarding how they wish to answer those questions.

During the competition, judges are asked to evaluate each team individually. At the conclusion of the Final Presentation Round in each category the judges will have the opportunity to collaborate and determine the winners in their respective categories. Feedback and scoring information from previous rounds will be provided to the judges for reference purposes during the final presentation round.

Business Concept and Strategy Round Judging Criteria

The judges will use the following evaluation criteria when reviewing the Business Concept and Strategy Round:

Was a clear explanation of the business idea and value proposition provided?

Was justification of market potential included?

Was the proposition to investors clearly presented?

Does the information provided entice the audience to want to know more about the business ?

Short Business Plan Round and Written Business Plan Round Judging Criteria The judges use the following evaluation criteria when reviewing the Executive Summaries and Written Business Plans in the Podium online platform:

Value Created by the New Product or Service

What is the new and unique value of product/service?

Is there a clear customer need satisfied?

Is the background explained?

How important is this product/service to customers and other stakeholders?

Is there a prototype or working description of the product/service?

Attractiveness of the Market Opportunity

How large is the market and how fast is it growing?

Can you be a "significant player" in this market?

What long-run profitability do you expect to see in this market?

Is there a clear market entry strategy?

Can the product/service be successfully monetized?

Is the business model both realistic and viable over the intermediate term (e.g. five to ten years)?

Is the product/service scalable?

Competitive Advantage of the Proposed Venture

What is the positioning of the product/service in relation to competitors (both direct and indirect)?

Is the product/service favorably positioned in the distribution channel?

Can this product/service be a leader in its market?

Are barriers to entry identified?

How long will it take you to get to market?

Operational and Technological Viability

How will the product or service be produced and delivered to customers?

What are the distribution channels?

Is any intellectual property essential to success?

How will rights to the intellectual property be secured?

Are there regulatory hurdles?

How long will it take to develop the property?

Are key milestones identified?

Capability of Management Team

What roles will the current team play?

How will gaps in the management team be filled?

Have the team members identified key risks and how will they be mitigated?

Capital Requirements and Financial Forecast

What type and amount of capital investment is required?

Is the investment required all at once or can it be staged?

Are summary financials provided that include 5 year forecast, revenue, major expenditures and net income?

NOTE: No exit strategy is required for the Executive Summary Round of the competition. For the Written Business Plan Round, exit strategies should be included in the plan. No formal valuation or deal structure is required for either round of the competition.

Final Presentation Round Judging Criteria

During the final presentation round, each team gives a refined seven minute Power Point presentation followed by eight minutes of questions from the judges. The judges score the teams in the following categories:

Value created by the new product/services .

Attractiveness of the market opportunity .

Competitive advantage of the proposed venture.

Operational and technology viability.

Capability of the management team.

Capital requirements and financial forecast.

Exit strategy.

Strength of the oratory and Power Point presentation.

The judges will deliberate at the conclusion of the Final Presentation Round. They may reference the previous round scoring and feedback details prior to determining the winning teams.


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