There’s never a bad time to start on the path to entrepreneurship. It’s something the Finker-Frenkel Foundation understands very well—discovering opportunities is a big part of why Lazar Finker and Raissa Frenkel found a home in the United States. In our communities in Jacksonville and Florida at large, the Foundation has sought to, among many other pursuits, encourage education and business.
The desire to improve education has led to the Foundation’s gift to the University of Miami Business School. Our donations created the Business Plan Competition Endowed fund as well as sponsoring the creation of a new promenade for the campus.
Eugene Frenkel, a 2012 graduate of the University, stated that “[t]he entrepreneurial spirit is extremely important, and we want to foster those values and create that environment for the students at the U.” He fondly looks back at the faculty of the University that pushed him and many other students to succeed.
The Foundation’s fund has financed the school’s annual business plan competition, which encourages entrepreneurial plans across a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Students may submit their plans as individuals or teams, illustrating the value provided by their business, its market space, and logistical plans. Judges consist of entrepreneurs, investors, and financial professionals with a good knowledge of the venture capital sphere.
After the first written proposals are judged, the strongest teams advance to the semifinals, which consists of an oral presentation detailing their plans. Contestants are evaluated based on both the viability of their business model and their professionalism when presenting. The judges pick winners based primarily on how likely they would be to invest in the given venture.
Prizes consist of funds for contestants to start their ventures—in the case of past winner Therion PC, the winnings enabled them to build a website to promote their products and diversify their offerings. Another past winner, Kelly Pierce, stated that “[w]inning the Business Plan Competition opened doors I’ve been leaning on [ever since].”
The competition encourages entrants to consider every aspect of their business and to treat it as an actual venture capital pitch. Contestants should be prepared to not only present the value of their business but to answer potentially difficult questions about the amount of financing that they need and challenges associated with their business models. In fact, viability is worth 50% of the score for the competition.
We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation eagerly anticipate this year’s entries and look forward to many more years of supporting this competition.
Visit the Business Plan Competition website for more details. Entries close on March 19.