First Year MBA Experience: Preparing for the Business Plan Competition

By Jeremy Ferguson, MBA ’16 (Originally published on January 20, 2015)

Imagine this: standing in front of a full audience of your peers, faculty, and a panel of local business executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and venture capitalists delivering a comprehensive business plan for a new venture you just learned about 14 weeks before. If you matriculate into the BC MBA Program, that is the experience you will have!

As a first-year BC MBA student, I benefited from watching our teams of second-year students presenting their plans and seeing exactly what I have to look forward to next year. Just two days before the business plan presentations, each team had five minutes to deliver a pitch for their venture based on their required business plan write-ups. Each team’s write-up included a market/industry analysis, a financial/organizational structure, risk assessment, marketing strategy, and an explanation of the venture’s underlying technology or process. If their venture was selected to advance, they had 48 hours to finalize their comprehensive presentation to deliver to the panel of judges.

Needless to say, the presentations were a great learning experience. The products/services represented many different industries. To name a few: home improvement, women’s clothing, and smartphone apps. Each team brought their own uniqueness to the presentations and thus differentiated themselves from the other teams. One team demonstrated how their product could reduce the number of required tools as well as the frustration associated with home decorating. Another team used a skit to demonstrate how their new phone app could streamline the clothes shopping experience. My favorite was the team that wore their product and seamlessly integrated it into their transitions.

While watching the presentations, a few questions came to mind. Will I really be able to take everything I’ve learned in the program and apply the concepts to one product/service? What types of questions will the judges ask? Will my team be able to answer the questions to the extent that the judges want?

Also, I was astounded by how knowledgeable each team member was about their venture. However, I was more taken aback by each team’s question and answer (Q&A) session. For fifteen minutes, the judges may ask questions regarding any aspect of the business plan. Anything is fair game. Many of the questions asked were very specific to the product/service’s industry and how the new venture would perform in that industry. Others were finance questions that required the team to pull up detailed financial projections. I learned two lessons: one, try to brainstorm and anticipate questions to make sure your team is able to answer them. Two, while all members should be up-to-speed on each part, each member of the team should specialize in one aspect of the plan!

I’ve never considered myself the entrepreneurial type, but I am anxiously anticipating the Business Plan course. I think it will be a great way to see at both a high and detail-level how all aspects of a business must work together to achieve the desired target outcome. But first, I have to make it through the second semester!