Business plan first step to successful entrepreneurship
'The economy appears to be ripe for business startups.'
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Larry Davidson, co-chairman of the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, says that right now is a good time for startups because the unemployment rate is up and number of jobs available to well-qualified people seems to be down.
During his three years as co-chairman of the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, Larry Davidson of Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co. Ltd., in Providence, has watched the annual contest grow in size, popularity and prize money. In 2011, the competition attracted 103 applicants, nearly double the 2009 total, and awarded a record $250,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Business- plan donors and corporate partners have spoken about trying to make the competition the largest of its kind in the nation and a catalyst for growing the fledgling knowledge economy in Rhode Island.
Davidson speaks about the direction of the competition and its role nurturing the next generation of Rhode Island entrepreneurs.
PBN: The top cash prize this year is $40,000, down from $50,000 last year. Why is that and is there any concern it will mean less interest?
DAVIDSON: We have had a tremendous response from our partners, but it has been a tough year. Two years ago we said we wanted to get bigger and become more relevant with our prizes. We did that. Whether we would become one of the biggest in the country or not was more of a stretch goal put forth from some of our fundraising people. … They set a goal that was not entirely realistic. So we continue to have stretch goals and push to make it as large as we can.
PBN: Last year saw a record number of applicants. What are the expectations this year?
DAVIDSON: I am expecting we should have a similar kind of result. For a number of years the Business Plan Competition would get between 60 and 70 applications every year. Because of its heightened awareness, last year we had 104 applications. I would expect we would be somewhere near there, but you never know. It is a function of the Business Plan Competition and the general economy. The economy appears to me to be ripe for business startups.
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