There is a month left to get your entry in for the GeoVation Awards Programme and win up to £10,000 to help get your venture started so now would be a good time to kick things off. Before I get into some tips on completing the Venture Plan let’s cover some basics.
Have you created a Venture on the Challenge web site? That’s a Venture not just an idea, you can copy and paste some of the content from your idea but you might want to add a bit more detail. Now you can start to build a team around your venture, it isn’t essential but teams tend to have more energy and also can sustain each other when things are not going quite to plan. You may have a colleague or friend that can contribute to your venture or you could browse through the people who have joined GeoVation and invite them to join you (or you could mail me or one of the GeoVation Champions at email@example.com and we will try to assist you).
To submit an application for a GeoVation Award you will need to write a short Venture Plan and you can submit 2 additional files which could be a presentation, a mock up, some graphics, screenshots or you could choose to link to your application or a proof of concept that is already on the web somewhere. The additional files are your opportunity to be creative while the venture plan needs to be more structured.
The Venture plan is like a really lightweight business plan. If you are experienced at writing business plans you probably don’t need to read much further but please do check the Judging Criteria to see what the judges will be looking for and read through the Guidance Notes to make sure that you have covered the key topics.
If you haven’t written a business plan before don’t panic it is mainly common sense and the judges are not expecting a book from you just a few pages. Before you start to write anything spend some time working through your venture with your team (or if you are submitting a Venture on your own it is well worth talking it through with a friend) testing your ideas and looking for the flaws, dependencies and previously unidentified opportunities. Some people find a mind mapping tool like www.mindmeister.com to be helpful for brainstorming ideas.
The Guidance Notes give you the section headings that we are looking for and some indications of the type of information needed. You don’t need to cover each point explicitly but remember that you are trying to “sell” your idea to the judges to get to the final stage. Here are a few tips:
- Summary – this is the most important bit, you need to grab the judges attention and interest. Leave this section to the very end, write your Venture Plan and then pause for a day before you write the Summary.
- You need to clearly explain what problem your Venture will solve or what need it meets and why your approach is unique. Do spend some time researching possible competition or alternative solutions but don’t be discouraged if you find something similar, just be clear about why your venture is better/different.
- Seed funds back individuals and their ideas, so you will need to convince the judges that you and your team have the energy and determination to make your venture succeed.
- Financial summary – the judges want to know how much money you need, what you will be spending it on, whether and when you anticipate any revenue and most importantly how long you can keep your venture running without any further funds. You must clearly identify the amount of the award that will pay for your personal time and at what daily rate.
- Be realistic! If you can achieve a small amount with a small amount of funding then you will be able to convince other investors/funders to support you to get to the next stage.
It may sound obvious but do take care over spelling, grammar and presentation of your Venture Plan, the underlying message of a poorly presented document to the judges is that you don’t really care that much about the impression that you make.
Now you have completed your Venture Plan you can spend some time on any additional files you wish to submit but don’t spend too long on this as the judges will be primarily focussing on your business plan at this stage. You can also use links within your Venture plan to take the judges to your site or any graphics but don’t use too many as clicking on links tends to disrupt the fluency of your plan. If you are successful and get to the finals you will have an opportunity to introduce something more visual to the judges.
Once everything is ready the Venture Leader can click on the Awards Programme Submission tab in the top right hand corner of your Venture page and follow the instructions to submit your venture. We have even made a screencast to guide you through the process.You need to submit your venture by 11.59am an 4th January 2010 but I wouldn’t leave it until the very last minute – just in case. Don’t forget to fill in the last bit
As Ian Holt shows in this short video it really is childs’ play to submit an application.
The judges are aiming to review all of the Venture Plans and notify the shortlisted applicants by 12th January 2010. Remember to set aside the 26th January 2010 to attend the GeoVation Awards finals at the Royal Geographic Society in London. Any venture that has been shortlisted and cannot attend the finals will not be eligible for an award, which would be a shame after the effort to submit, wouldn’t it?
If you need any help or advice don’t hesitate to ask one of the GeoVation Champions by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org