· Competition was launched in October 2013
· 7 schools in Berlin and Brandenburg participated
· 70 students were involved, some working individually, others in groups
· 4 workshops were held in schools by business advisers, focusing on topics requested by students and their teachers
· In May, 30+ entries were received
· Of these, 9 business plans were shortlisted; 6 written in English, 3 written in German
· Over two days, finalists gave their presentations to juries comprising AGBC members and other business experts
2. Awards Ceremony
All finalists are worthy of mention. Before going on to the prize winners and in no particular order, we wish to commend the following business ideas:
Design for All – Justin Chan (BBIS)
Many new graduates in fashion school find it difficult to start their own brand. Chain clothing companies such as H&M, Zara, Uniqlo or C&A who own large stores all around the world can start a business with this opportunity.
This business is mainly targeted to that level in the society who ought to seek for highly qualitative products. Quality and individuality is the main point that makes this product line stands out. The process would involve:
1. Holding design competitions in different continents
2. Having 50 new graduates from fashion school all around the world
3. Picking 20 out of those 50 students as the winners
3. Picking around 20-30 flagship stores around the world that has extra space
4. The 20 winners of the competition getting to design their own collection with the help of the company
5. Designers designing their own collection without interference from the company
6. Designers building their own sections in the stores into styles that they want
The jury was impressed with the concept and they really liked the idea of finding a channel for new talent coming on to the market through an annual competition. They were really interested in having Justin come back with a more detailed business plan that focuses on the implementation and the financial sustainability of his business.
PugMe – Christopher Vogelsang (Gymnasium Tiergarten)
This is a business idea being developed by Christopher who has in the past entered the competition and is currently operating three outlets for his cake on a stick enterprise. Massage on wheels is his idea for the next venture and the jury spent a considerable amount of time evaluating the different areas of application, location not to mention health and safety legislation during what turned out to be a particularly lively presentation and question & answer session.
I am Cricket – Asim Mughal (ISVA)
This is a shop located in Berlin, which provides good quality cricket equipment in Berlin and throughout the whole of Germany. It also provides online shopping as most people order online nowadays.
Asim decided to start this business because first of all, cricket is his hobby and cricket is his passion. He started playing cricket at the age of 3 and is still playing today. He discovered that there is no other shop in Berlin so there is no direct competition and in the end the jury advised him that by focusing the business online, it would have real potential in the international as well as the national market.
TechnoSnack – Wind/Berbig/Barceviciute (BBIS)
Three students got together to plan a start up techno radio station, which would offer techno music streaming for free to online listeners. To ensure clients being able to listen to the product and to keep the brand competitive, steady streaming is required. This means that no breaks (where nothing is sent) occur. Music streaming is the main service and growth driver.
Apart from that, services like house parties or birthday events would be organised. The service includes waiting staff (waiters and waitresses), perhaps catering company, DJs and optionally special guests.
Technosnack impressed with their enthusiasm for the music and with their command of local market knowledge – even if their projected profit margin in excess of 300% of turnover in the first year of operation gave jury members something of a headache.
4th Prize: Tierarztpraxis Dr. Grasse – Annika Grasse (Gymnasium Villa Elisabeth)
Future veterinary surgeon Dr Grasse impressed the jury with her market analysis and in depth knowledge of that particular business sector. As the only veterinary surgery within a 30km radius to cater for both large and small animals it offered well conceived ideas for building on the success of an existing practice by extending the service offering, for example with new and complementary therapies as well as a pet boarding service. The financial analysis was very detailed and covered all aspects of the business. A new or innovative concept per se it was not and it also required a number of years before Ms Grasse would be in a position to implement her plan but nevertheless the plan had all the hallmarks of a business ready to go to market and to grow and thrive well into the future.
For these reasons, the jury decided to award Tierarztpraxis Dr Grasse 4th prize (€100).
3rd Prize: MissMatch – Tobias Schwarz (BBIS)
With this app, MissMatch steps forward to solve a perennial problem – what on earth will I put on today, I haven’t got a thing to wear! The product offered would be a smartphone application that lets users digitalize the contents of their closets.
Furthermore, the application would feature a social function via Instagram and by using hash tags for the posted outfits the users could easily search for new pieces of clothing or inspiring outfits. This would give bloggers, stylists, fashion labels and models and opportunity to professionally post outfits in a way that users can work with a new piece of clothing and combine new items with personal ones within the application. The application would also feature a shop that allocates the best prices and conditions from different websites for the customers.
Additionally, the application could recommend pieces of clothing based on hash tags searched by the customer and the outfits look at. The idea has considerable potential and the jury discussed with the founder of MissMatch possible cooperation partners and other ancillary users of the data that would be generated by the app.
For the combination of a business idea that solves a genuine problem, for an innovative approach and for a well-developed business concept, the jury awarded MissMatch third prize (€200).
2nd Prize: FitnUS – Dave van Velzen (BBIS)
The business is a social network for people who are interested in fitness. Its website helps members to be more motivated or efficient in fitness by connecting the customers to personal/professional trainers to train up to their full potential.
Online Fitness platforms have been around for a while however, what makes FitnUS so unique is that the option of having a personal trainer and doing a live online training with him over webcam exists. Certainly in Europe, this is unknown until now.
People who are busy and can’t find the time to travel to the gym, change, wait for machines to be available but would have 45 minutes time to do some personal training at home now can do so and enjoy the same benefits they would have at a gym. Also those people who feel more comfortable working out at home but still want to be guided by a professional trainer now can!
FitnUS was a worthy finalist – the presentation impressed with its promotional video, which helped the jury visualise how the service would operate in practice. The plan itself is a genuine working document and has real potential – the judges wished Dave van Velzen every success for the future; they were confident that this is an idea that, in their words, has leg, achieving 2nd prize (€350).
1. MUG's Choice – Bucholz & Riehl (Gymnasium Villa Elisabeth)
It has to be said that at the start of the competition, the jury had not envisaged the first prize for the best business plan to go to an established business model. Coffee shops are not a new idea. However, as we were informed, even august figures like Albert Einstein talked about an empty stomach being a poor advisor…
The students had done their homework and then some! For a semi-captive audience comprising university students, who have to pass Mug’s Choice to get to the lecture theatre, they propose to combine the best of what a bakery and a café have to offer.
Products suitable for allergy sufferers as well as organic produce are complemented by an app and the business idea includes monthly special offers likely to appeal to its core market.
From identifying a clear gap in their local market to delivering a polished all round concept for what has genuine potential to become a thriving business in the future, not to mention an excellent presentation, the jury was unanimous in its decision to award first prize for the best business plan to Mug’s Choice (€600).
Last but not least…
Kenneth Maciver Innovation Award
INSTASCAN – Leon Steffen (ISVA)
The choice for the new prize for the most innovative idea came down to two candidates.
On the one hand, FitnUS with its vision of everyone interested in fitness being able to have access to a personal trainer regardless of where they are, offers a new idea – at least on this side of the Atlantic – and what is more an idea with great appeal as well as potential that could be brought to market relatively quickly.
On the other hand, we were presented with Instascan’s vision:
Instascan is not an idea that is ready to go to market – barriers to entry include change resistance on part of manufacturers and retailers as well as changing the way people are used to shopping. The plan itself requires more in-depth analysis.
However, in the end, the jury’s decision was based on one of these two concepts having the potential to be a paradigm changer through what they termed ‘disruptive technology’. In the same way that bar codes revolutionized today’s shopping experience, Instascan could be the next revolution waiting to happen. For that reason, the new Kenneth Maciver Award for Innovation went to Instascan (€500).
This concludes our awards for the best business plans in 2014. However, all students who submitted entries will receive a certificate of participation for their records and these will be sent to schools in due course.
Our thanks go to all who contributed to this year’s successful competition – students, teachers, business mentors and the AGBC-Berlin.
American German Business Club Berlin e.V.