Due to some technical difficulties with my pocket PC over the weekend, I was unable to post about the rest of the Rice Business Plan Competition. So here are the entries I would have posted over the weekend.
Saturday Afternoon Update
Well the finals have begun and we have 7, that’s right count em…7 plans to listen to between 12 noon and 4 PM today. I know at the end I will be worn out and I know the students will be as well.
The order of presentations this afternoon will be:
Feed Resource Recovery Babson College
ImagineOptix UNC Chapel Hill
NANOTaxi Texas at Austin
Precision Surveying BYU
ResuRx Johns Hopkins
The Shell Auditorium was packed with judges and those students and advisors who were not in the finals. We were treated to an array of very, very good presentations. As people come in and out the AV setups were a bit distracting but everyone showed great poise and adapted quickly as they went forward.
My initial observations as the day went out are:
All of the finalists were very, very good. We have come a long way from our first RBPC seven years ago. Several judges were with me during that first event and we commented how much better the plans, companies and students are today!
Many of the presentations lacked discussions around two key themes:
"What’s your secret sauce?" Or why you as I like to say………Sometimes it just wasn’t clear.
"What’s your offer for the financial assistance." Recognizing that everything is negotiable, the judges didn’t get much insight into pre-money valuation feedback, deal make up etc. Of course as judges we can do that, but the students didn’t comment on that much.
One final note, and this is a very important feedback item to this year’s teams and future teams. When you come to the Rice Business Plan Competition and your idea involves bio-life science, medical devices, or science in general, you better know your facts cold and present them as open and appropriately as possible. Through out the weekend and again on Saturday, I saw teams that tried to "duck" the science area, and some of the judges nailed you for incorrect, or better incomplete statements about your idea, the state of it, etc.
You might talk your way around an academic presentation, but these are real world VCs, scientists, etc. You won’t BS your way around them.
I must say if I was a young person today with a great idea in the bio-life science area, I would want to get the feedback that our judging panel can provide. What a great place to give feedback to our future leaders.
Tonight is the dinner. Stay Tuned.