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North American MBAs Set To Fight For $5M In Start-Up Funding Competition

The largest business plan competition in the United States has just been launched. MBAs from leading schools in North America are set to compete for a slice of $5 million in cash funding.

Entrepreneurial MBAs at North American business schools will be pleased to hear that the largest business plan competition in the States has been launched – featuring $5 million in cash prizes.

Students and alumni with start-up ideas will compete to claim the top prize of $1 million in cash, as well as six $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes.

Winners also receive free incubator space for a year, guidance from mentors related to their field and access to other exciting incentive programs, like Start-Up NY – an initiative that allows businesses to operate tax-free for 10 years in certain zones.

The competition, 43North, is part of a new initiative to stimulate growth in the New York area and is backed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. MBAs from anywhere in the world are welcome to apply, although logistically it will be easier for US schools – particularly those on the East Coast – as 43North will take place in Buffalo, Western New York.

Start-up plans for any industry are welcome – excluding retail and hospitality. For MBAs hoping to launch in the US, 43North could be the perfect kick-starter; winners must also agree to operate their business in Buffalo for a minimum of one year.

MBAs are increasingly turning to entrepreneurship instead of traditional MBA jobs, although the consulting and services industries remain the most popular.

43North is designed to systematically generate new business ventures in Western New York, while providing mentoring and other aid for aspiring entrepreneurs; supporting early-stage firm growth; and attracting additional venture funding.

The State’s Governor has pledged a total of $1 billion in funding to ignite economic growth in the region.

“[We will] attract promising start-up ventures and innovators from around the world to Western New York,” Governor Cuomo said.

“We are calling entrepreneurs to pitch their business plan to us, and in response, we will provide mentoring and other services to help turn their idea into what can potentially be a real business.”

Top MBA ranking schools on the East Coast, such as the Tuck School of Business and the Fuqua School of Business, are already trying to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. Many schools have incubators or entrepreneurship centres for MBAs who want to launch start-ups.  

At Tuck, MBAs have access to an Entrepreneurship Initiative. Program manager Joaquin Villarreal told BusinessBecause that more than half of the 2012 cohort took up entrepreneurship. “We also have a summer incubator and a year-long incubator for second-years, for students who are serious about launching companies,” he said.

The 43North competition will be broken down into three rounds. Round one is already underway and ends on May 31 and applications from prospective businesses will be accepted via the competition’s website, 43North.org.

Round 2 (September 15 – September 20) will see the semi-finalists present further detail on their start-up plan, along with a 10-minute online presentation to 43North’s judging panel, followed by 10 minutes of questions.

Round 3 (October 27 – October 31), the final stage of the competition, is for finalist teams to pitch their business in person to a panel of judges in Buffalo, similar to Round 2.

Howard Zemsky, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair, said it will attract talent and start-ups to the region. “43North will attract entrepreneurial champions who have the ability to invigorate the existing business community and attract future startups to the Western New York region,” he said.

43North Executive Director Andrew Pulkrabek said it will help the region's entrepreneurial economy "for years to come".

Satish K. Tripathi, President of the University at Buffalo, said the competition presents an opportunity for the best start-up minds to be part of "the renaissance". 

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