Riceby Kelby Price

The annual Cardinal Challenge business plan competition was last Saturday, hosted by the University of Louisville College of Business.

Twelve MBA teams from around the country gathered in Louisville to compete for more than $100,000 in cash and services, plus an automatic bid to compete in the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition at the University of Texas in Austin.

A long list of local sponsors supports the Cardinal Challenge, including a number who offer a Launch in Louisville package of prizes for a winning team that sets up shop in Louisville.

How it works
Each team has submitted a written business plan beforehand, and these have been reviewed by the preliminary-round track judges. On Saturday the competition format consisted of 15 minute presentations from each team, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A from a panel of judges. Teams compete initially in one of four tracks, against two other teams.

The winner from each track advances to the finals, where they go through the process a second time in front of a different, and tougher panel of judges. In the hour or two between the first and second rounds, the finalists are furiously tweaking their presentations, filling in gaps, researching supporting data and incorporating feedback they’ve received from the first-round track judges.

The teams that didn’t make it to the finals still have a chance for glory at the Fast Pitch competition, where they make their case to yet another set of judges in just 60 seconds, with no slides or props. It’s tougher than you’d think to get your point across without stumbling, not forget to make any key points, and still finish before Suzanne Bergmeister, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at UofL demands, “OK, STOP!”.

After every team has made their best shot and the judges have conferred, the winners are announced at the Awards Reception on Saturday night, complete with giant cardboard checks!

At Open Coffee on Monday we’ll get a recap of the Cardinal Challenge from multiple perspectives. We’ll have:

You can learn more about the teams that competed in the Cardinal Challenge, the judges, the prizes, and the competition itself here [pdf].

Take a look at the Sponsors section as well – these are the established, local businesses that are willing to contribute time and money to help build the Louisville startup community. Join us on Monday at iHub, bring your questions or share your experience at the Cardinal Challenge or at other business plan competitions.

The details:

Open Coffee Louisville
8AM Monday
iHub, 204 S. Floyd Street, Louisville, KY 40202
Free parking: in the Nucleus lot between Preston & Floyd.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OpenCoffeeLou
Twitter: @startupLou

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