Requirements

ROUND 1: Includes 2 components, a required 2-page overview of your proposed new venture and an optional video pitch:

1. 2-page Executive Summary

  • Please submit a 2-page Executive Summary of your proposed new venture.  Save the document as a .PDF file (no other format will be accepted). Save the file as follows: Team Name_Round 1.pdf
  • We recommend that you address the following key points.  A simple paragraph addressing each point is perfectly fine – no need to go into great detail:
  1. COMPANY OVERVIEW: Provide a brief description of your venture.  Use very simple terms and avoid “jargon” – keep it simple and direct, simply describe your venture.
  2. PROBLEM/OPPORTUNITY:  This is the SINGLE most important aspect of your plan.  The PROBLEM is the source of the OPPORTUNITY.  Investors often call this the “market pain.”  What “pain” or PROBLEM does your idea solve?  What current UNMET NEED does your idea/venture address?  What is your unique opportunity?
  3. SOLUTION: Now that you have identified the OPPORTUNITY, tell us what your IDEA is.  Your idea is the proposed SOLUTION to the problem, and your challenge is to persuade us that (a) the problem exists, (b) you have a solution for it, (c) people will accept/buy your solution, and (d) you can successfully BUILD A VENTURE around that solution. If you have a “secret sauce” – technology, uniqueness behind your product or service, tell us.   Explain what’s different about YOUR solution from the others – assure us that YOUR venture is the answer.
  4. MARKETING/SALES:  Who are your CUSTOMERS – who will PAY for your product or service?  How will you reach them?  How large is your customer base?  HOW DO YOU KNOW?  Have you tested the market in any way, or done any research?  Have you talked to potential customers to validate the need this, and to get their response to the potential for your solution? The more you can demonstrate you actually KNOW about your intended customer or client, the more credibility you will have with the judges.
  5. COMPETITION:  Who are your top COMPETITORS and how will you beat them? Make it clear that you know your competitors, and make it clear why you are 10 times better than an entrenched incumbent. It’s rarely a simple matter of launching a business or providing a service:  what makes your venture DIFFERENT or BETTER than the rest?  If others have tried and failed, what makes you think you will succeed?
  6. Business/Operational Model:  How will you make money?  How will you grow? How will you find the money to start and run this venture? Where will money come from, how will revenues be generated, and how can the venture survive over time? 
  7. MANAGEMENT TEAM:  Who is on your TEAM and what EXPERIENCE do you/they have in this area? How is YOUR team uniquely qualified to identify and solve this unmet need and take the solution to market effectively at scale?  Why YOU and why NOW with this team?  If there are key skill gaps not yet on the team, what are they and what is your plan to fill those holes?  Convince us that YOUR TEAM is the team to do it. Assure us that this team was custom-made for this unique opportunity.  Bios for team members are great if possible.  Building a strong management team will be vital to the success of your venture!!!
  8. TRACTION/MILESTONES:  What have you done so far that proves the problem exists, to validate that you have the right solution for the problem, that you can sell it to customers profitably, and that the market is scalable? For example, technical achievements, milestones with customers and partners, etc.: we’ve done more in 6 weeks than our competitors have in 6 years and we’re not letting up.  If you haven’t gained any traction yet, no worries, it’s perfectly fine.  But if you have made progress, please bring us up to date.
  9. ND FORCE FOR GOOD/SOCIAL IMPACT:  As Father Sorin would ask, will you be a “force for good” in the world if the startup is successful?  How will the world be a better place because of your new business venture? What is your social, humanitarian and/or environmental impact? If successful, will your influence/impact be significant?
  10. CHALLENGES:  What do you anticipate being your most significant challenges and/or obstacles?  How will you address these challenges?

2. (OPTIONAL) Upload a simple 1-2 minute video Pitch:  this is optional, not required, but we encourage you to include the video and have fun with it, as this is a fun and easy way to capture the attention of the judges to communicate your vision!

  • CONTENT:  This is your opportunity to show the judges your best “elevator pitch.”
    1. Introduce yourself and describe the problem – share your IDEA.  Convince those watching that this is a clear and compelling problem.
    2. Clearly articulate your proposed business SOLUTION.  Convince those watching that you have a unique solution to the problem you’ve identified above.
    3. Convince viewers that this idea could attract INVESTORS and become a thriving, sustainable business.
    4. Convince us of the potential IMPACT you will make if your proposed venture addresses a social and/or environmental problem.
  • FORMAT:  This is a simple video that can be done using your phone or mobile device. No fancy gimmicks or props, no animation, no special effects are required:  simply convince the judges that this is a valid business solution, a business idea worthy of consideration.  Have fun with the video – don’t stress out!  Be spontaneous and relaxed, not scripted.
    1. Upload your video to YouTube and then copy and paste the link into the appropriate submission area in Reviewr.
    2. Videos should be 1-2 minutes in length, a maximum of 2 minutes. 

ROUND 2: 10-PAGE BUSINESS PLAN

The business plan required for round 2 is limited to 10 pages (doubled spaced) using standard margins and 11 or 12 point font.  Up to (but not exceeding) 5 pages of appendices may be attached, for a maximum of 16 pages.  The format below is intended to be used as a template to build the 10-page business plan.  Each of the following points should be addresses within the body of the plan; suggested limits are provided in parentheses (these are recommended/suggested limits, not absolutes).  The appendices will be used for supporting documentation.

In addition to the 10-paged plan, you will include a cover sheet including the team name and listing all of the team members, including degree information for current students and alumni affiliated with the University of Notre Dame (for those team members not affilated with ND, degree information is not necessary; this applies to ND alumni and students only). The cover sheet + 10-paged business plan + appendendices will be combined into ONE .pdf file to upload on Reviewr.

You will be evaluated based upon your ability to make a convincing case that yours is an idea with the potential to become a viable, profitable, sustainable venture. To do this, you should provide the following:

  • Clear confirmation that there are customers clamoring for your solution (i.e, DEMAND)
  • A well thought-out business model that will uniquely deliver value to customers
  • A reasonable path to financial viability
  • A team with the skills, experience and/or connections to make it happen

The following outline is recommended- it is very comprehensive, but this is to your benefit, to ensure that you are thorough in your analysis. This outline can serve as a valuable checklist as you prepare to launch. We've given this much thought and believe this is a comprehensive approach, so the evaluations completed by those reviwing your business plans will align very closely with this recommended outline.Please submit this as 1 file in Adobe Acrobat PDF (combine the cover page, business plan and appendices into one document and save it as a .pdf file).  No other format will be accepted.  The file should be named according to the following format: Team Name_Round2.pdf.

  • Executive Summary (½  page)
    • What is the product or service?
    • Who needs it and why?
    • Why YOU:  why is your venture the best positioned to succeed in this space?
    • Why NOW:  why is now the right time for your venture?
    • How will you generate a surplus to sustain the enterprise (cover expenses) and earn a return for your investors?
    • After a quick review of this section, raders should be 1) excited about the "big idea" behind your proposed business/service venture, 2) intrigued by your idea's potential and 3) believe your idea is timely.
  • Company Overview (½  page)
    • Core Expertise, Capabilities and Resources
      • What resources does your team possess that make it uniquely qualified to pursue this venture?
      • Patents & IP? Unique skills or training? Valuable relationships or network?
    • Company Leadership
      • Management Team
      • Advisory Board
    • How will your venture serve as a “force for good” in the world?
      • Is there a double- or triple-bottom line?
    • By now the reader should be reassured that your company is excited and understands the path to success
  • Initial Offering  (2 pages)
    • Value Proposition (value to be delivered, the reason someone would buy from you – instead of your competitors; why buy/use YOURS rather than your competitors’?)
      • Identify the primary pains and gains to be addressed
      • Clarify how your solution provides either pain relievers or gain creators
      • Discuss product market fit: confirm that the offering scratches an important itch
    • MVP Visualization
      • Visually present your offering with an emphasis on the user experience
    • Strategic Advantage
      • Define how the market currently meets the need you intend to serve.
      • Summarize the relevant competitors aiming to serve the need.
      • Explain the “white space” of unserved and emerging opportunity
    • Customer Validation Evidence
      • Provide evidence that the team “got out of the building” to explore market needs and preferences directly with the marketplace:  How many interviews were conducted? What was learned?  How did you pivot based on your findings?
  • Market Opportunity Analysis (2 pages)
    • Market Size & Growth Rate
      • What is the Total Available Market (TAM) and Served Available Market (SAM) for your value proposition and launch strategy?
      • What growth rates do you project, and more importantly, what are the underlying assumptions supporting these projections?
    • Market Segmentation
      • By what criteria will you segment the market?
      • What are the highest priority needs (pains & gains) for each segment?
      • For what reasons was the target/beachhead segment selected?
    • Competitive Positioning
      • Articulate the competitive positioning your venture intends to claim
      • Why do you have confidence that this space is not already over-crowded?
    • Barriers to Entry
      • What barriers exist?
      • How will you leverage these barriers to your advantage?
  • Business Model Rationale (2 pages) 
    • Customer Relationship-Building Strategies
      • What is the customer decision making process and which players are most important to gain a customer order?
      • What strategies will you use to GET/KEEP/GROW customers?
    • Channels & Channel Economics
      • Describe your planned distribution channel strategy.
      • How will the various distribution partners share in the value provided (i.e. what is the split of the ultimate customer revenue?)
    • Key Partners
      • What key partners are needed to enable launch?
      • What is in it for them? (Why will they not become competitors?)
      • Which partners are onboard and which are still to be confirmed?
    • Revenue Streams , Margins, & Cash Flows
      • What generates revenue for the venture & what is the revenue projection?
      • What is the cost structure?  (Direct & Indirect Costs)
        • Be sure to include all costs here, including the entrepreneur’s paycheck
      • What are the profits and cash flows?
  • Go-To-Market Strategy & Goals (2 pages)
    • Beachhead (the first market your business sells in)
      • What are the highest priority needs of this segment and how does your offering directly align with these needs?
      • What is the total size (value) of the beachhead segment?
      • Describe your beachhead sales and marketing strategy
    • Follow-On Markets & Offerings
      • The follow-on market is a market you will enter after gaining significant market share in your initial market (the beachhead), i.e., a new market you could easily enter, etc. – an adjacent or new market.
        • Based on successful results with the goals and objectives of the beach head phase, what adjacent opportunities exist for scaling the venture?
        • New segments?  New offerings into existing segments?
    • Key Milestones & Critical Success Factors
      • What are the objectives and goals for the beach head phase of the launch plan?
      • What are the critical accomplishments that must be achieved during the launch rollout and how (by what metrics) will success be measured?
    • Key Assumptions, Risk Factors & Contingency Plans
  • Feasibility - Metrics That Matter (1 page)
    • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): How much will it cost you to attain each customer? (This is the total sales and marketing expenditure divided by number of paying customers you acquire)
    • Funding requirements & planned sources
      • What are your anticipated starup expenses?
      • How much cash will you need to launch?
      • How much cash will you need to reach important milestones, e.g. prototype, beta test, regulatory approval, first ship-to customers, etc.?
    • Cash Burn Rate (the rate at which the company will use up its cash resources or capital before producing a positive cash flow, usually expressed as the amount of capital used per month).
  • Appendices (3 Year projections, 5 pages max)
    • P&L Pro Forma
    • Balance Sheet
    • Cash Flows & Cash Requirements

To learn more, the following resources may be very helpful as you follow this suggested outline:

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Disciplined Entrepreneurship by Bill Aulet

Value Proposition Design by Alex Osterwalder, et. al.