The Competition is about assessing the commercial merit and potential viability of each proposed new venture. The judges will evaluate its potential for economic success and the likelihood of achieving that success based upon the team's plan, experience, and the validation of key assumptions and a clear and convincing presentation of the following:
- Product/Service (what it is; why distinctive)
- Team (bread/depth of skills; ability to execute)
- Opportunity (market size/need, ability to penetrate, strong value proposition & business model)
- Context (favorable regulatory/tax/political and industry context; competitive landscape/advantage)
- Risk/Reward (ways to manage upside/downside; favorable ratio)
- Structured Experimentation (market validation of value proposition/growth hypothesis)
- Financial (realistic assumptions underlying income statement, balance sheet, cash flow)
- Execution (defined milestones, ability to source financing)
Naturally, the more concrete the plan-all else being equal-the better. Thus, teams that have a proven technology, recruited partners, or even attracted "beta" customers may raise their chances of success. On the other hand, strong early stage ideas that have yet to be launched but have been thought through and tested will be well received and considered based on their potential and the team's ability to execute. The learning experience and process of defining a strong idea and business model, testing one's assumptions, and making a compelling pitch about the viability of a new venture will be invaluable for everyone, no matter what the outcome.
Note that the Competition has a strong preference for operating, rather than "investing" businesses. such as hedge funds, investment and private equity funds, where it is almost impossible to judge the merit of the idea without a substantial track record.
Judges will make distinctions based upon the potential of the business to create value, although they will be explicitly instructed not to use the typically very high venture capitalist's hurdle for the absolute scale of the business. We wish to preserve the opportunity for a small scale, "boot-strapped venture," which might not require much capital, and thus, would typically be uninteresting to a traditional venture fund.