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"Any existing company is going to be able to undercut you until they put you out of business." When setting a price point, coming in higher than existing products and services can actually be better, Holly says.
"Also, I really encourage people to pick businesses where you can do a lot with a very small team," he adds. "There are some cases where that might be necessary with very technological plays, but the reality is, particularly if you're in school, you're surrounded by people who want to help," she says.
Talk to enough people and they know it's your idea.
"In those cases, it's a much better opportunity for a new entrant to make some headway," he says.
In 2006, when the online gaming was just taking off, Cassidy sold his online gaming startup Xfire to MTV Networks for $102 million. Mitchell says she's seen many students tempted to hold ideas close to the vest and ask everyone around them to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Last year he was on a team that didn't get selected as a finalist, a stage where competitors get one-on-one support.
"I wish I would have done more in advance to get to that point," he says.Investors are looking for teams with sustainable advantages, he says."Hopefully if they have a technology, they have a patent on the technology." Dig Deeper: The Best Industries for Starting a Business Right Now Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Use Your Resources to Plan Well Luke Behnke is a second year MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and one of the directors of the school's 0K Entrepreneurship Competition."Understand the mindset of the consumer, understand what it is they have to do." Then use those insights to develop an idea.Behnke's team proposed a networking site that would connect parents looking for nannies with college students in their communities. "If we had focused on what they said, what they needed, and how we addressed that, it would have been more compelling." If you have the greatest product in the world but no customer, you don't have a business, he added."But when we won the MIT competition, I would send that in my intro letter." As a result, he landed a meeting with the search engine company Hot Bot.That led to deals with AOL, and Microsoft and Lycos.For serial entrepreneur Mike Cassidy, MIT's Entrepreneurship Competition wasn't just a contest. In 1998, one of the two years he won the competition, he won with a plan to provide Web portals with smarter search engine technology called Direct Hit Technologies."In the beginning, I was trying to get these other search engines to work with me and nobody would return my calls," he says."Find some way to have a stressful situation where you can see how your teammates are going to react." Those who can rebound easily make ideal teammates—and future colleagues.Winning a Business-Plan Competition: Look for Turmoil Cassidy suggests looking for a business opportunity in an area where there's some sort of turmoil, confusion, or rapid growth.