40 Days Left to Apply for “World’s Largest Business Plan Competition”

43north

43North‘s executive director Andrew Pulkrabek is heading back to the Toronto area today to espouse the virtues of his firm’s $5 million business plan competition. The application period closes in 40 days.

43North, the Buffalo-based entity created to administer the challenge, is coming to Toronto and Hamilton on Tuesday to present information about the competition, including its application process. They’ll head to speaking engagements at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), MaRS, Bitmaker Labs and Innovation Factory.

The competition has already garnered thousands of applications from across 66 countries since launching on February 5, including over 125 Canadian participants. 43North is calling its contest the largest business plan competition of its kind. A top cash prize of $1 million, along with six $500,000 prizes and four $250,000 prizes will be handed out. Winners will also receive free incubator space for a year in Buffalo, and guidance from mentors related to their field.

On Tuesday, Pulkrabek will share his expertise on early-stage investing and how Canadian entrepreneurs can participate in the competition.

The deadline for applying is May 31. After that, the semi-finalists selected will present their plans via webinar from September 15-20. The finalists chosen will present their plans during a weeklong series of events in Buffalo from October 27-30.

There will be 11 winners who will win either $1 million, $500,000 or $250,000. Each of the 11 winners must agree to provide 43North with 5 percent non-dilutive equity in their company. Still, I’d say it’s a good deal if a startup wins the $1 million, meaning their company would be valued at $20,000,000. Even for the winners of $250,000, giving up five percent equity assumes the company is valued at $5,000,000.

As well, winners will have to relocate to Buffalo, NY. Particularly for Canadian entrepreneurs in the Waterloo-Toronto corridor, this may not be seen as an optimal move. Even for Canadian startups trying to access the New York City market, it’s still a six-hour drive from the Big Apple. 

43North is part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, which is driving new economic opportunities throughout Buffalo and Western New York. The competition operates through the support of New York Power Authority and Launch NY.