Plan-as-you-go and Venture Contests

Very interesting point from David Miller in Campus Entrepreneurship relating venture contests to my plan-as-you-go business planning:

It also makes one wonder a bit about the value of business plan competitions which demand static plans created for judges rather than a living, evolving tools of entrepreneurship that is the plan as you go business plan?

I think David’s right. The question should be asked. So I think that in venture or business plan contests, as in the real world, every plan ought to include its review schedule with times and dates and participants of future meetings spelled out, along with the sensitive metrics to watch, guidelines for metrics performance, and key assumptions that should be reviewed. OK, in most cases it’s hypothetical, but so what? Even hypothetical can be done right. Every plan should plan on planning process.

I’m biased on this point because although I do want to change the way people think about the plan-as-you-go plan, I also really like venture contests. I’ve been a judge of several (this year I’ll be doing Rice, University of Oregon, University of Texas (Moot Corp), and Notre Dame). I believe most of them, certainly these four included, have a pretty good format for evaluating new ventures. That’s a combination of summaries and business plans and elevator speeches and presentations and on-the-spot questions and answers. 

Also, most judges in these contests give implicit extra credit to the venture that is already started and has a track record. And, even more so, if the founders talk about how their plan has adapted itself to changing conditions and new assumptions.