Program Background and Details
To seek out, support, celebrate and promote Minnesota's newest and most innovative business ideas through an annual, statewide contest.
Contest Purpose / Brief Contest Description
The search for great ideas or the discovery of the next big thing is central to Entrepreneurism in America. The state of Minnesota has a rich history of entrepreneurial success going back to the inception and success of such companies as 3M, Best Buy, Medtronic, Carlson Companies and Cargill. The success of these companies and others like them is critical to job creation and the advent of new technologies that improve our quality of life and the strength of our economy.
The Minnesota Cup encourages and hopes to receive a wide range of business ideas. Past year's entries included products and services ranging from high tech to no tech, spanning a diverse range of industries from automotive, healthcare services, telecommunications, technology, leisure, outdoor recreation, energy conservation, education and many others.
The Minnesota Cup is looking for entrepreneurs, inventors, small business people - in short, those who's dreams include creating one of the next breakthrough business success stories in our state. All Minnesotans are encouraged to submit their breakthrough business ideas between March 25 and May 17, 2013. Top entrants will be asked to continue through two more contest rounds to help the contest judges determine five division winners (Energy & Clean Technology, High Tech, Life Science & Health IT, General, Student). The Social Entrepreneur division follows a slightly different timeline, although the initial entry period is the same. The winners of each division will then present their ideas to a prestigious panel of executives, investors and notable entrepreneurs who will choose this year's grand prize winner.
The winner of each division will receive $25,000 ($10,000 for the Student division winner and $20,000 for the winner of the Social Entrepreneur division) and various other benefits. The grand prize winner will receive the Minnesota Cup, presented by David and Carolyn Cleveland. The grand prize winner will also receive an additional $40,000 in seed capital and advice from the state's leaders in finance, accounting, legal and management support services. Students must be full-time and have less than five years of professional work experience. Entries for the Minnesota Cup competition may be submitted individually or as a group of up to four people.
The 2013 Minnesota Cup contest will culminate with an awards event on September 11th at the University of Minnesota.
Judging Criteria for Entrants
Entries will be judged on the following criteria:
- Business Concept/Idea: We are looking for business concepts with a clear and well-articulated value proposition. Judges will be looking to understand why the market needs this idea. Who is the target audience and how will the product/service standout in a competitive environment? Ideas can be for a product or service, an entirely new idea or the evolution of a previous idea. Ideas that show the greatest innovation will be viewed more favorably.
- Implementation: What is the entrant's strategy for turning the idea into a high-growth business? Judges will be evaluating ideas on their potential to generate revenue, profits and employment. Judges are looking for ideas that can generate a positive economic impact within two years.
- Quality of Presentation: As the contest progresses from round one to round two, more emphasis will be placed on an entrant's quality of presentation.
Three Rounds of Judging:
Round One: March 25 - May 17
Entrants will be asked to provide a high level summary of their idea or concept. Submissions should answer the following questions :
- Executive Summary. This is your elevator pitch. (100 Word Max)
- Description of Product/Service. We are looking for a description of the product/service, the problem or customer pain it solves, its competitive advantage and what is unique about the product/service. (400 Word Max)
- Market Size/Potential/Opportunity. We are looking for an estimate of the size of the market and its growth rate, the product/service's target customer, competitor analysis and the strategy to successfully compete. (400 Word Max)
- Sales & Marketing. We are looking for an explanation of the sales strategy, the channels that will be used to deliver the product/service, marketing tactics that will be used to create awareness and a discussion about how the product/service will be priced and positioned. (400 Word Max)
- Operating Plan. We are looking to learn more about how the product/service will be brought to market (design, manufacture/develop, distribute), the current stage of development and a discussion of the expertise/experience that the management team brings and any missing pieces. (400 Word Max)
- Financials. We are looking for any high level historical financials that are available, a minimum of five years of revenue and profit projections, assumptions supporting the projections and the amount of outside capital that will be required, when it will be needed and what it will be used for. (400 Word Max)
Round Two: June 10 - August 19
45+ entrants will participate in the second round. Entrants will be asked to develop a detailed proposal, which should include the following:
- A business proposal of less than 10 pages that provides a more detailed explanation of how the product/service can become a viable business. This should include detailed 5+ year financial projections and a discussion about key underlying assumptions. Semi-finalists will receive a guide that will help them assemble this document.
- An investor presentation of no more than 15 slides that summarizes the opportunity and why it will be a success.
Round Three: August 19 - August 27
Three finalists from each division will prepare for their live presentations to be given to their division review board. Finalists:
- Give an 8 minute oral presentation, which will be followed by a 12 minute Q&A session.
- Are encouraged to use presentation materials, such as posters, PowerPoint, handouts, prototypes and/or multimedia.
Final Round: September 11
The six division winners will be honored on September 11, 2013 at the highly promoted Minnesota Cup Final Awards Event presented by Maslon Edelman Borman and Brand, LLP at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center. Just prior to the event, the division winners will give their oral presentations (12 minute presentation plus 8 minutes of Q&A) and the grand prize winner will be announced live at the event.