Second place again!
This time the runners-up garland came in the MBS business planning competition where the team were pipped to the post once more on a split judges decision
So I miss out again. But am I as gutted as when I narrowly missed out on VCIC or McKinsey? I would answer no. We were beaten to the punch by a great idea and there’s no shame in that.This year is the first time that Manchester Business School has run a qualifying competition for the European Business Plan of the Year contest. The school competition attempts to replicate the format of the final itself (held this year in Athens) but you are trained for six weeks in the run up to give you the tools to evaluate business ideas and write a compelling business plan. There are numerous talks from both entrepreneurs – who give you the view from the coal face – and venture capitalists – who tell you what they look for in an investment. There are also numerous sessions where you can develop your business ideas and run them by the experts for their opinion.
Finals day consists of a brief private pitch to a couple of judges (they have your business plan upfront) plus a grueling Q&A on your model and your experience. Four teams are then selected for the final session in the afternoon. You then have two hours to make the suggested changes to the model before presenting it to the full panel of judges and the entire MBA cohort.
The entire day is a panoply of varied and fascinating business ideas, from the downright outrageous to the homespun. In the mix were board game cafes, small cars for little rich kids, travel agencies for the disabled, fish farms and web apps galore.
Our entry was essentially a concierge service for international students. My view on why we didn’t win was that, whilst the plan was extremely solid, realistic and addressed a real need, it didn’t have the wow factor and huge growth potential of the eventual victors. Whilst I don’t want to give away any secrets – the winning team will have to compete on behalf of the school in Athens now – the winning idea did involve financial services to a sector currently under-served and, should it come off, would carry a huge financial upside.
So, what to make of the fact that I’ve been close but had no cigar on so many occasions in my MBA journey? Do I take encouragement from the fact that I have been a consistently high performer or is it a sign that I’m the perennial “first loser”; a choker who falters when in sight of the big prize? For my own sanity and ego I have to persuade myself that it’s the former.