Take the B.E.T.A. Challenge
The spring semester means that Babson’s business competition, the B.E.T.A. Challenge, is just around the corner. We didn’t always have a business competition. Like many institutions, Babson had business plan competitions. In fact, we were the first academic institution to have a business plan competition for students. Here’s a little history:
The John H. Muller Jr. Business Plan Prize Competition awarded $5,000 to the Babson undergraduate individual or team that developed the best business plan for an entrepreneurial venture. The Muller Prize was established in 1997 through the generosity of former Babson President William F. Glavin and Mrs. Glavin. It honored the entrepreneurial accomplishments of John H. Muller Jr. P’79, H’96, founder and former chairman of General Housewares Corporation and chairman of the Babson College Board of Trustees from 1989 to 1997. The award originated in 1984, as the Philip Charm Prize, with a generous gift from Leslie Charm ’64 in honor of his father, Philip Charm.
Through the generosity of Donald J. Douglass P’87 and the Douglass Foundation, a business plan competition for MBA students was established in 1987. Donald Douglass sponsored similar awards at selected colleges and universities around the United States. The prizes were awarded to the graduate individual or team that submitted the most feasible business plan in any of the following areas: start-ups, acquisitions, company growth, real estate development, and entrepreneurship.
In 2012, the Blank Center reshaped the business plan competitions to the B.E.T.A. (Babson Entrepreneurial Thought and Action®) Challenge, recognizing major milestones Babson businesses have achieved by taking action. We introduced an alumni track in 2013 with the support of the Babson Alumni Association and the Babson Alumni and Friends Network. Winners of the graduate, undergraduate and alumni B.E.T.A. Challenge each win a grand prize of $20,000 in cash plus “services in kind” donations from corporate sponsors respectively. This year’s semifinals event will be Wednesday, April 8, followed by the finals on Thursday, April 16.
To help you prepare your B.E.T.A. Challenge application, here are the top ten commonly asked questions from past applicants:
Q: I am entering the B.E.T.A. Challenge. Who will I be competing with?
A: The B.E.T.A. Challenge has three tracks based on your program/graduation status: graduate, undergraduate and alumni. When you enter the B.E.T.A. Challenge, you will be competing with others in your track.
Q: I have a team of students and alumni for my venture. Which B.E.T.A. Challenge should I apply for?
A: If a team is comprised of both alumni and students, the status of the lead entrepreneur should determine which challenge the group can apply for.
Q: I have a team member who is not from Babson, Olin Engineering or Wellesley. Is that ok?
A: Yes. The lead entrepreneur of any group must be a current Babson student, Babson alumni, or an Olin/Wellesley venture that is in the John E. and Alice L. Butler Venture Accelerator.
Q: I am a student applicant. Who can I ask to be my faculty sponsor?
A: The responsibilities of a faculty sponsor are on the B.E.T.A. Challenge website. They are there to help you! Reach out to a professor who you may already know or who has experience in the industry. Make sure the faculty sponsor is aware of all the deadline dates.
Q: What needs to be included in the slide deck?
A: The eligibility and guidelines for B.E.T.A. Challenge are on our website. B.E.T.A. Challenge is an action-orientation competition: make sure to emphasize significant milestones and your future timeline. Samples are available at the Blank Center for viewing. Please contact the Blank Center for more information.
Q: Can we add videos to the slide deck?
A: Embedded videos are not encouraged for the slide deck, however if you have a video that is uploaded on a website, you may include a link.
Q: For the first submission, what do alumni evaluators look for? What criteria will I be judged on?
A: For the first round, applicants to B.E.T.A. Challenge will be judged on the deliverables (executive summary and slide deck. Specific requirements for these documents can be found on our website. Judges will look at these documents to ensure all requirements have been met. These documents must demonstrate what the venture is about, significant milestones/progress to date and capture that the venture is moving forward in a positive way. B.E.T.A. Challenge is focusing on ACTION.
Q: Do only the winners get a prize?
A: No. Winners of each B.E.T.A. Challenge (graduate, undergraduate and alumni) get $20,000 each, but $2,500 will be awarded to the two runner-up finalist ventures. Additionally there are “service in kind” donations from corporate sponsors.
Q: Who helps decide the winner?
A: For the first round, Babson alumni from around the world volunteer their time to review applications. From their feedback, selected Babson faculty members will review the results and narrow down the applicants to the top six semifinalists from each of the three competitions. During the semifinalist round (Venture Expo), Babson community members and a panel of judges will vote on they think should win B.E.T.A. Challenge. The top three from each of the three competitions are chosen as finalists. Finalists will present in front of panel of judges during the final round on April 16. The three winners of B.E.T.A. Challenge will be announced after the presentations.
Q: What should I do after I submit my application?
A: B.E.T.A. Challenge is focusing on ACTION, so continue to working on your venture! If you are selected as a semifinalist, the judges may look at the progress you made from time of submission through the Venture Expo (April 8).