Biz plan contest gives top startups jump-start

By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer

If you ask Parker Wells, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition played a major role in the success of his startup, Overhead.fm of Providence. Without it, he said his company would have had difficulty paying licensing fees and developing an app crucial to his business. More

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Biz plan contest gives top startups jump-start

PBN PHOTO/NATALJA KENT
SIREN CALLING: Siren Marine President Dan Harper, center, shows off watercraft-monitoring technology, with Director of Marketing Michael Moran, left, and Vice President John McGarr.

By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 10/22/12

(Corrected, Oct. 22, 9 a.m.)

If you ask Parker Wells, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition played a major role in the success of his startup, Overhead.fm of Providence. Without it, he said his company would have had difficulty paying licensing fees and developing an app crucial to his business.

In fact, all three winners of last year’s competition – one for each division – speak highly of the contest and say they are doing well since winning their respective divisions.

This year’s competition kicked off Oct. 17. Final applications are due April 1, 2013.

Overhead.fm, winners of last year’s student division, was co-founded by Wells and Stephen Hebson, who a year ago were seniors at Brown University. Wells credits the contest for honing his skills in the fields of finance, marketing and an overall education on business skills.

“RIBPC helped our startup tremendously. … It was the first time [Hebson] and I were forced to create a formal business plan,” Wells said. “This meant laying out our early economic projections and forming our story into a succinct message that was immediately understandable. Before the competition we had an idea and a very early form of our product, but we didn’t know how to tell people about it and how to get people to truly understand the opportunity we were hitting.

“The multiple speech process [presentations] was really helpful before even getting to winning,” he continued. “Winning the competition was really what got the ball rolling for us. We knew that we could focus on Overhead.fm full time after college and no longer needed to worry about taking other jobs,” he said.

“This allowed us to pay for early music-licensing fees, a bunch of early business expenses and allowed us to get a lot further in our product design before looking for outside investment,” Wells said.

With the experience under their belt, Overhead.fm found themselves with the credentials to be accepted into an exclusive business accelerator, making connections with most of the players in Internet music and in-store music.

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