Monday, March 28, 2011

Minnesota Cup—a Great Program for Entrepreneurs—Opens for Applications





For those of you aspiring entrepreneurs, now is the time to consider showcasing your innovative ideas or businesses to key players in Minnesota’s entrepreneurial community. Why, you may ask? It’s because the Minnesota Cup competition for 2011 has just opened for entries.


The Minnesota Cup, the state’s premier business plan competition, seeks to identify and assist the next great Minnesota businesses in each of six different divisions: High Tech, Biosciences, Clean Technology and Renewable Energy, Social Entrepreneurship, General, and Student. To enter, all you need to do is complete the short entry form found on the Minnesota Cup website at http://www.minnesotacup.org/. Applications are being accepted through May 20, 2011. Even after you have submitted an entry, you can continue to update your application through the end of the application period.


A panel of judges reviews the online entries, selecting 8-10 semi-finalists from each division to continue to the final round. The semi-finalists submit a complete business plan, which will be the basis for determining the three finalists in each division. The finalists will each get the opportunity to make a presentation to a panel of expert judges, who will then select the final winner from each division.


Winners of each division will receive prize money—$25,000 for all divisions other than Student ($10,000) and Social Entrepreneurship ($20,000)—in addition to free professional services from certain sponsors. The competition also affords aspiring businesses a great opportunity to refine their business strategies and formulate (or polish) their business plans. If the experience of our entrepreneurial clients is any indication, the opportunity to gain access to key contacts in Minnesota’s entrepreneurial community—including successful entrepreneurs, executives, investors, and professional advisors—is at least as valuable as the prize money. As one indication of the value of the Minnesota Cup experience, the 2009 and 2010 finalists have already secured more than $30 million in funding.


This will be Gray Plant Mooty’s fourth year as a proud sponsor of the Minnesota Cup, and many semi-finalists (including two of the past four overall winners) have been clients of the firm. We think it’s a great opportunity for start-up businesses to gain access to capital and other resources that will help them to grow and succeed.

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