The judging criteria in the preliminary round will first check for a complete application and essential plan requirements listed under “Acceptable Business Plans”. The judging in the preliminary and final rounds will be done based on the following elements:
Preparedness for execution – Does the plan and the presentation demonstrate that the entrepreneurs have acquired knowledge about the right path to growth for this venture? Has the team found a plausible path to growth? Could a seasoned entrepreneurial manager pick up this plan and begin to execute it with minimal changes?
Market value – Innovativeness of the offering in the market, uniqueness of the offering in the market, size of market. Or in other words, does the offering of the new business venture respond to demand? Is the offering sufficiently differentiated from alternatives? How large is the potential market?
Sustainability of the business – Is the business is positioned to overcome key risks to survival and growth? Does the plan adequately cover financial risks? Can the business fend off competitors?
Impact – Social or economic return to Alaska. This can include return to investors, creation of new jobs, contribution to Alaska’s economic base or improved lifestyles.
In summary, the competition prefers plans for new business ventures that demonstrate the potential to exploit significant market problems, and plans in which assumptions and claims are self-evident or validated by research or testing.
The proposed businesses do not have to solve big market problems, nor prove every element in their plan. However, the competition will weight plans according to the size of the problem prospectively solved by the business and the plausibility of the presented path to success.
Another way to express the judging criteria is that the proposed businesses are “invest-able.” Submitted business plans do not have to need outside investment, but plans will be judged by whether the proposed business would be attractive to investors.
A business plan competition is usually a pitch to investors for support, because most new business ventures do require investment. Business plans are typically developed to define the value and return an investor could expect from investing in the business. If a new business venture does require investment, which is likely, the part of the plan that specifies the investment needed and the return that the business will generate for investors should be carefully considered and should be supported by the plan.