Moot Corp Lesson: Even the Best Plans Change

My favorite moment in a arecent business plan contest: The entrepreneurs put up a projected income slide. One of the judges commented that what was on the slide was different from what he saw in the business plan. The entrepreneur immediately answered “no, of course not, that was an earlier iteration.”

Moot CorpThis was during the finals of the University of Texas’ Moot Corp business plan competition last Saturday. I judged the first round Friday, watched the finals Saturday, and ended up in awe at the level of competence and competition.

That favorite moment wasn’t part of the flawless finals session of the winner. It was in the finals, though, as a Carnegie Mellon team presented a technology to monitor glucose levels using contact lenses. What I liked about that quick answer was the underlying assumption that plans change. New information matters. There was no reason to keep the numbers from last week after new information this week suggested they should change.

If the projections today don’t match those from two weeks ago, no apology is necessary.

The winner, BiologicsMD, also won the Rice University competition a few weeks ago. If you get a chance to see the video of their performance, both with their pitch and their business and their answers to judges’ question, take it. That’s the best I’ve ever seen. The company, one of two finalists from the University of Arkansas, has developed a new medicine to treat osteoporosis. It included a PhD researcher, an MD researcher, and two business executives. The panel of judges, three of the four of them with backgrounds related to medical technology and FDA approval and such, asked an amazing array of detailed industry-specific questions. And they were presented with an even more amazing array of straight-on answers. That was as good as it gets.

I’ve noted this trend in previous posts here, and it happened again at Moot Corp: more companies with more viable plans, relatively fewer Web applications and software companies, and more companies out to change the world with medical solutions, medical technology, clean energy, and so on. The four finalists this year included, besides the treatment for osteoporosis and the glucose level monitor, a team intending to cut costs of solar panel manufacturing, and a team with a new way to inject medicines.

Other interesting notes: the semi-finals round of 10 teams included teams from five different nations; the University of Arkansas had two teams among the four finalists; and the Moot Corp, the first and best known of all of these MBA-level business plan competitions, is going to change its name to Venture Labs Investment Competition next year. Too bad: I like the name it’s carried since 1984. But that’s just me. And, on the other hand, plans change.

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