Screening Round The Screening Round takes place online, and is the first major hurdle for students participating in the Business Plan Competition. Student teams submit their business plan executive summaries online.
SIGN UP On both sides of the pond, we have seen business plan competitions for social ventures send contestants out to sea without a compass. Social business plan competitions typically honor the first trend while overlooking the second.
There is an opportunity to rethink these contests and use them to help students identify a range of ways to create social value, beyond just starting a business. Most importantly, these contests need to foster genuine understanding of problems before asking students to design solutions.
Many university social business plan competitions invite students to address a specific, pressing concern, typically in a short period, and almost always out of context.
They typically require that entrants work toward a business model solution without requiring or rewarding a thorough understanding of the problem, including the landscape of current and past attempts at solutions.
What are the results? Innovation is rewarded, even if neither contestants nor judges know what solutions have already been tried. Competition winners often feel validated even if their ideas are weakly developed or repeat the mistakes many others have already made.
Winners are rewarded for their business plans—which tend to lock them into flawed solutions and lead to confirmation bias—rather than for thoroughly understanding a problem and receiving incentives for being flexible in seeking paths to solve it.
Students who enter these contests often think they have produced grand solutions for social problems, leaving humbler, less entrepreneurial—but still quite socially minded—students without any funding and with few learning opportunities to find their own paths to impact.
We have both seen these mistakes play out. At the Center for Social Impact at the University of Michigan, we once asked students to look into improving the skills and professional outlook of young, low-income inner-city adults. One thing we got right was to create a tie-in between our competition and the actual activities of a well-run nonprofit.
The competition was two weeks long, and the nonprofit was out of state. On many campuses, students are asked to form plans for new start-ups that address issues of noble concern about health, education, human rights—you name it.
They are asked to address problems in faraway places, or involving communities with whom they have no familiarity. We believe there is another way.
Competitions can produce positive outcomes in different ways, and organizers should take the opportunity to carefully consider their goals in designing them. This approach would help students acknowledge a range of possible interventions beyond starting a social business, such as expanding impact through government adoption or franchising a current solution.
Opening up these contests so that contestants can consider extending or replicating an existing solution to a complex problem would invite students to step into a range of roles, not just the idealized start-up founder or heropreneur.
For a fewer number of students, competitions may be a step toward actually launching a venture. But even so, they must have a deep contextual understanding of the problem they want to solve before they are on solid footing to launch.
Hence, contests that incentivize and reward an understanding of a problem will benefit all stakeholders, including both job seekers and future social venture founders. Both of our institutions are shifting programs away from traditionally run competitions. We believe that our role is first to provide students with opportunities to understand social problems and deeply engage with them, and help them identify a variety of ways that they might add value.
If they then decide that the problem requires a new venture to fill a gap in the landscape of current solutions, our next opportunity is to connect them to the tools and resources they need to test out their ideas. To create this shift in approach, the Skoll Centre launched a competition called The Global Challengebased on the Impact Gaps Canvaswhich rewards students for understanding a problem.Find Funding Search external databases and internal funding opportunities.
Research Offices. Vice Provost and Dean of Research; Business Affairs; Earth Sciences Research Administration. One of the seven schools at Stanford University, Stanford GSB is one of the top business schools in the world.
The school's mission is to create ideas that deepen and advance our understanding of management and with those ideas to develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world.
Stanford GSB is a private, accredited institution with four flagship programs — MBA. The theme of this year's competition was "Creating Jobs for a Green Economy." As the winners, PolyChroma received $10, in cash and services, the opportunity to pitch U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a personal meeting with leading cleantech venture capital firms.
Medbery capitalized on both: She won $25, in from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education Business Plan Competition, and nabbed two of the contest's judges as close. Stanford University (officially Leland Stanford Junior University, colloquially "the Farm") is a private research university in Stanford, California.
Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world's top universities. Stanford University (officially Leland Stanford Junior University, Education and Business.
Stanford's undergraduate program is one of the top three most selective in the United States by acceptance rate. it was installed in and designed by Aristides Demetrios after a national competition as a memorial for two brothers in the class.