Supporting Startups at the Capital Region Business Plan Competition

April 12th brought me the opportunity to represent WorkSmart as a judge for the Capital Region Business Plan Competition Semi-Finals at University at Albany. The event brought together some collegiate entrepreneurs, business mentors from across the region, and the event’s sponsors from Innovate 518, the Capital Region’s Hot Spot, and the UAlbany Innovation Center.

We evaluated companies in six prize categories including Agtech & Food, Energy & Environment, Military & First Responder, MedTech & Wellbeing, Technology & Entertainment, and Consumer Products & Services. Some teams were in the research and development stage while others were testing their proof of concept, and several were ready to launch.  

Having recently become the owner of a business I know first-hand the discipline, dedication and research required to formulate and pitch a business plan. Let’s face it, pitching is important. An opportunity to have interactions with potential customers, investors and strategic partners can ride on a sound pitch. Business plan competitions force you to condense the million things you could say about your product or service into a well-rehearsed few sentences that resonate with your audience and inspire them to take the next step, whether it be a follow-up phone call or an investment. 

At stake for these talented students were prestige, pride and prize money, and that brought a buzz to the air. Each team had just ten minutes to make their case and allow Q&A time for the judges. The teams I had the privilege of judging were well prepared and clearly articulated their business plans including the returns on investment, and growth strategies. The students were impressive, and the best ones had the foresight to build out their management teams with accomplished professionals, who were undoubtedly great sources of support for the students. Judges with various areas of expertise empowered students with sound feedback.

Congratulations to the winner, EmpowerU Virtual Reality. They are using virtual reality to efficiently deliver realistic training programs requiring the use or evaluation of complex human motor functions. Exciting stuff!

Do you have a business idea or concept you would like feedback on? Do you need help constructing a business plan? Are you preparing a business pitch? WorkSmart can connect you with resources and opportunities to help you find success. Connect with us today: