My favorite moment in a recent business plan contest: The entrepreneurs put up a projected income slide. One of the judges commented that what was on the slide was different from what he saw in the business plan. The entrepreneur immediately answered “no, of course not, that was an earlier iteration.”
That favorite moment wasn’t part of the flawless finals session of the winner. It was in the finals, though, as a Carnegie Mellon team presented a technology to monitor glucose levels using contact lenses. What I liked about that quick answer was the underlying assumption that plans change. New information matters. There was no reason to keep the numbers from last week after new information this week suggested they should change.
If the projections today don’t match those from two weeks ago, no apology is necessary. Business plans change.
The winner, BiologicsMD, won both of the two most prestigious business plan competitions that year. The company, from the University of Arkansas, has developed a new medicine to treat osteoporosis. the team included a PhD researcher, an MD researcher, and two business executives. The panel of judges, three of the four of them with backgrounds related to medical technology and FDA approval and such, asked an amazing array of detailed industry-specific questions. And they were presented with an even more amazing array of straight-on answers. That was as good as it gets.
I’ve noted this trend in previous posts here, business plan competitions have steadily more companies with more viable plans, relatively fewer Web applications and software companies, and more companies out to change the world with medical solutions, medical technology, clean energy, and so on.
Business plans aren’t a use-once-and-throw-away thing any more. They are a process of plan, run, review, and revise.