The judging was tougher than I thought. In the first round, we have four businesses to look at. Three were food related while the other was a service. Each of the plans used a pretty good template that looked better than most things I see at SCORE. It was informational, had the right numbers and did a good job of laying out the plan.
Food businesses are hard for a high school student to start and run. If it is a cafe or restaurant, the time that needs to be devoted is huge. You really can’t do that part time. Other food businesses like catering are a little easier but not still have the biggest issue which is the health and safety aspect. All of he judges picked up on that.
After the first round, five entrepreneurs competed in the semi-finals. Out of those five, three were selected to move on to the finals. It’s amazing how well these young entrepreneurs do on their plans and pitches. I can only image how nervous they must be getting in front of all those people. The styles and approach were all different.
One had a power point that had different colors for every page. It got distracting after a while and some pages you just could not read. Another one had a slick pitch that read well but some of the marketing numbers were unclear. All had passion for their businesses and it showed. I wish we could use the NFTE method at SCORE. These guys really have a well defined template that at least puts the right data in the right place. I think it needs some work since its like 20 slides in 8 minutes, which is way too many slides for that kind of pitch.
It was really a great event. The three winners were hard to pick. All five semi-finalist had great plans. It really came down to the barriers each on had and how they will deal with them. It can be difficult on the health and safety side since San Francisco has plenty of laws to get in the way. Rent is also a big problem since the fixed costs dictate long retail store hours, which cuts in on time for school work.
Adult entrepreneurs can learn a lot from these kids. They spent a lot of time polishing their plans. Each one had the courage to answer tough questions about how they were going to deal with specific business issues. All of them will one day be successful. It’s just a matter of time and dedication.