Business Plan Contest

If the main selling point is a cheaper product, beware."That's not a competitive advantage, especially for someone coming into the market, unless you're ten times cheaper," Holly says."I wish someone had really told me, 'Forget everything else and just make sure you get the most amazing people on the team,'" Cassidy says.

"Any existing company is going to be able to undercut you until they put you out of business." When setting a price point, coming in higher than existing products and services can actually be better, Holly says.

This shows that the business is offering something with more value.

The Rice University competition is one of the largest in the world.

Brad Burke is managing director for the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, which organizes and hosts the competition.

In 2000, Ask Jeeves bought Direct Hit for $532.5 million.

Today, Cassidy is director of product management at Google.

"Also, I really encourage people to pick businesses where you can do a lot with a very small team," he adds. "There are some cases where that might be necessary with very technological plays, but the reality is, particularly if you're in school, you're surrounded by people who want to help," she says.

Talk to enough people and they know it's your idea.

"Find some way to have a stressful situation where you can see how your teammates are going to react." Those who can rebound easily make ideal teammates—and future colleagues.

Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Look for Turmoil Cassidy suggests looking for a business opportunity in an area where there's some sort of turmoil, confusion, or rapid growth.


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