Calling All Business Plan Competitions

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New website unveils largest directory of U.S. business-plan competitions

For the first time, a comprehensive and searchable online directory of business-plan competitions is being made available to the public for free. The directory can be accessed at http://www.bizplancompetitions.com.

The goal of the new site is to display the details of every business-plan competition in the United States and Canada that awards significant cash and in-kind prizes to its winners based on the decision of independent judges. A competition held outside the U.S. is also eligible provided it accepts U.S. entrants.

Included are campus-based competitions, social-entrepreneurship contests, and competitions organized by local and regional economic development groups.

According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, in the United States alone, more than 50 universities conduct business-plan competitions annually, awarding a total of $10 million in prizes and in-kind services. Even richer competitions are held outside the academic setting: Michigan's recently-announced contest called Accelerate Michigan, for example, is offering $1 million in prize money, with $500,000 in cash to the winner.

"We're excited to be able to offer this resource to the entrepreneur community," says Co-founder Joe Hurley, who previously created and ran the well-known college-savings website Savingforcollege.com. "We list business-plan competitions, we blog about them, we tweet them, and we promote them as a great way to assist budding entrepreneurs."

Bizplancompetitions.com also solicits sponsors interested in offering additional prizes through an innovative online prize platform. A company that makes products or provides services for the small-business market can offer a cash or in-kind award to any or all of the competitions listed on the site. The winners of those competitions become eligible to collect the additional prizes.

"It's a win-win," says Hurley. "Competitors can earn valuable extra prizes, and sponsors can easily spread their sponsorship goodwill around to multiple competitions."  Event organizers also stand to gain from from the additional prize pool and promotion, which can increase interest in their competitions.

Bizplancompetitions.com receives its revenue from the fees charged to "Premium-level" sponsors who benefit from premium site placements, exclusivity, and research and marketing services. "Standard-level" sponsors pay no fees.

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Megan Hurley

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