Where Do I Begin?
The Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest is a support organization operating year round to assist entrepreneurs in starting, developing or accelerating high-growth businesses. We do this through training, coaching and mentoring. GLEQ participants are eligible to compete in one of four business planning paths.:
Competitors have the chance to possibly win seed capital, to receive valuable services (e.g., legal, accounting, consulting), gain media exposure and to explore other opportunities that can help one launch or grow a business.
As you select the category you will compete in, keep in mind a few things:
The New Business Idea category is typically for those ventures in a very early phase, which may or may not have been officially formed and are likely pre-revenue. The awards for New Business Idea are smaller cash prizes to the founders.
The Emerging Company and SmartZone Award categories, and all the industry-specific awards, are for ventures that are incorporated and the awards are unsecured microloans to the business entity and follow Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund guidelines.
The Vision to Action Challenge category is an excellent path for those entrepreneurs looking to gain clarity on Vision and develop Action plans that will assist in gaining traction, build practices for more stable growth and build partnerships. Recognition awardees receive media coverage and one-on-one assistance from experts.
The Pure Michigan Entrepreneurship Challenge category provides a process and support for individuals looking to solve social problems using entrepreneurial principles. The awards are cash prizes to be directly applied to further validate the needs and solutions developed.
New Business Idea
GLEQ's New Business Idea path is targeted at entrepreneurs with little or no business start-up experience. This path - offered twice a year - provides basic business plan training and education, as well as networking opportunities with potential team members, coaches, angel investors, government resources and others. You may enter the competition in this category as many times as you like, until you win and are elevated to the Emerging Company category.
Eligible participants will submit a 5-page executive summary that captures their innovation, relevant experience and market opportunity. Coaches will assist with the development of the executive summary and judges will provide feedback.
GLEQ’s Emerging company path is for entrepreneurs with some business or start-up experience. The path has two distinct rounds. In the fall, team submits a five page executive summary and in the spring, complete a full 12 page business plan. You can compete in either cycle at any time and can enter as many times as you like until you win and are no longer eligible to compete.
Eligible participants will submit a 5 page executive summary in the fall that captures their innovation, relevant experience and market opportunity. Coaches will assist with the development of the executive summary and judges will provide feedback.
In the spring cycle, eligible participants will develop a 12 page business plan that reflects a viable business model, management team and innovative product or service. Coaches will assist with the development of the business plan and judges will provide feedback. The entrepreneurs submitting the top 6 business plans will have a chance to present their business pitch to a panel of judges in the final round of the completion.
SmartZone Award Competition
The SmartZone Award is for those entrepreneurial ventures that have high growth potential, are IP centric and have not received previous funding from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. Ventures must have less than $1 million in annual revenues (excluding grant income) and less than $1 million in equity or convertible debt from third parties. Additionally, ventures must be pre-revenue or have generated revenue for less than five years.
The SmartZone Award is available in the spring competition only. Participants are supported during the competition by GLEQ Coaches and a representative from their local SmartZone. Submissions are judged using the guidelines used for the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and the award is a convertible debt investment..
There are three deliverables for this category, including a complete business plan (up to 30 pages), financial statements and projections, and a letter of support from a Michigan SmartZone.
Vision to Action Challenge
The Vision to Action Challenge path is targeted at entrepreneurs in a wide range of situations and stages, entrepreneurs with little or no business start-up experience to those breaking into second stage success. This path - offered twice a year - provides a structure for clearly articulating a vision, determining key strategic business challenges, testing assumptions and examining results. In the Vision to Action Challenge, participants learn about and select one of two tools to use in their development process: the Business Model Canvas - Steve Blank (BMC) or the Vision/Traction Organizer -Gino Wickman (VTO).
Eligible participants submit a BMC or VTO that captures their vision along with a three-minute video identifying and describing their strategic challenges, assumptions, projects to test assumptions and results. A Coach assists each entrepreneur in the design of their unique process. Educational sessions for each critical step are presented multiple times and judges provide feedback.
Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge
The Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge is for individuals and teams seeking to solve a difficult social problem through a sustainable business model. Participants can submit plans for a new idea or emerging venture centered on sustainable social change in a wide range of areas including but not limited to urban revitalization, environment, health, and education. In its first cycle, participants will be eligible to compete for a share of $50,000 in cash prizes.
Participants can enter the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge as a New Idea or Emerging Venture. Eligible participants for the 'New Idea' category will submit a 5 page executive summary (see GLEQ New Business Idea category requirements) and participants in the 'Emerging Venture' category will submit a 12 page business plan (see GLEQ Emerging Company category requirements). In addition, all Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge participants will be asked to submit a max one page Concept Summary defining the social problem being addressed and the business model's benefit to the community.
Coaches will assist with the development of the submission materials and judges will provide feedback. Visit http://michigancorps.org/TheChallenge for more information.