Free business plan competition

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The grand prize: a trip to San Francisco to pitch investors. The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine-tune their business plans and elevator pitches to receive funding and maximize the commercialization of their products.

Budding entrepreneurs approach the department weekly for assistance in writing business plans and the steps involved in starting a business. In VanDen Heuvel and his business partner entered the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Contest but didn't make the shortlist of potential winners.

The contest does not require the submission of a full business plan, but the submission should provide all necessary information.

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Hone Your Performance Also key to success: practicing your pitch before an impartial audience of savvy entrepreneurs relatives don't count. Based on that feedback, they conducted surveys of local telecommuters on their workplace needs and compiled similar data from their chamber of commerce and area networking groups.

Here are eight of the best competitions to consider entering. This not only winnows the competition; it gets you in front of judges who know the community or industry you're hoping to take by storm. In July the Birmingham, Ala. Students from 14 colleges and universities in the area compete in the collegiate division, while early-stage entrepreneurs are eligible to compete in a separate division.

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Accelerators: The real value of accelerators lies in educational and networking opportunities.

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Business plan competition