VIBE Business Plan Competition Returns
After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the VIBE Business Plan Competition is back, with a grand prize worth $30K.
The 2023 VIBE Business Plan Competition is back, bigger and better than ever before.
This year, the competition is sponsored by HomeStreet Bank, a west coast community bank offering consumer and commercial banking, mortgage lending and loans for residential construction, commercial real estate financing, and insurance products. The competition will offer a $30,000 Grand Prize comprised of $15,000 in cash and $15,000 in in-kind services from law, accounting and other professional services firms. Additional prizes include $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place.
The competition takes place across four stages. Stage one is the “Screening round,” and all plan submissions are due Feb. 3, 2023, to qualify.
Stage two is the “Sweet 16 Trade Show” on Feb. 16, using, as the name suggests, a trade-show format where teams set up displays and interact with judges to pitch their ideas.
Stage three is a “Practice Pitch” noncompetitive round in which no teams are eliminated. Teams have the opportunity to hone their presentations in front of a panel of coaches.
Stage four is the “Top Five Final Round” on Feb. 23, in which the teams advancing from the Sweet 16 round make their final presentations and judges will select the winning teams.
“A business plan competition is like a crucible,” said Thomas Kuljam, VIBE director. “Entrepreneurs go through a process of thinking critically about every aspect of their business idea, boiling down what they know about the value of the idea, their target market, their competitors, and their financial plan.”
The process of preparing an entry to the competition is itself a learning experience for students. “For a lot of potential small business owners,” said Kuljam, “the first roadblocks they encounter are things like fear of failure, or not knowing where to start.” Developing a business plan for the VIBE BPC can be a great way to overcome those early obstacles. “You end up learning a lot about yourself in an environment that is supportive and forgiving, even if it turns out you realize entrepreneurship is not right for you,” said Kuljam.
“We’re proud to sponsor a competition that is grounded in a mission to educate budding entrepreneurs on the practicality and importance of formulating a business plan,” said David Parr, Executive Vice President of Commercial Banking for HomeStreet Bank. “A good business plan guides business owners towards major milestones and is often necessary to obtain funding to help their company grow,” Parr added.
In addition to the cash prizes, the VIBE BPC will this year include a “people’s choice” award. “There are award-worthy aspects of many business ideas that are not always communicated directly in a business plan,” said Kuljam. “The vote of confidence from the audience can give a big boost to an entrepreneur, convincing them to keep pushing on their idea.”
The VIBE BPC is open to all college students in Washington, including those who graduated in the pandemic years 2020-2022. In keeping with VIBE’s service to the military community, teams that include a military veteran member will receive a bonus advantage.
VIBE, or the Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship, helps both military veterans and civilians with no military connections explore the world of business ownership. Founded in 2013 to tap the large military-affiliated community of the South Sound, VIBE encourages potential business owners to "think outside the box," and gives students a way to put their formal learning into practice.
For more information about VIBE and the Business Plan Competition, contact Thomas Kuljam, email@example.com or 253-225-4413.