Every year, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development puts on a startup competition for South Dakota residents. There are some good reasons to apply and participate in the competition, but there are limits on how beneficial it can be for your company.
Learn more about Giant Vision at http://www.southdakotagiantvision.com/
Here’s a rough script I used for the video if you would like to read instead of watch.
What is Giant Vision?
– It’s a startup competition for South Dakota Residents that have a new business idea or persons with a start-up business presence in South Dakota.
– It’s put on by the Governor’s Office of Economic development and has a variety of South Dakota companies that cover the costs through sponsorships of the event
– To participate in the competition, you need to write an extensive business plan outlining your idea. The deadline to apply is Feb 15 2019.
– The top 8 participants are then invited to pitch at an event in April during GOED’s state conference. The judges are venture capitalists and seasoned business leaders in the state and then the judges pick the winners
– The prizes start at $20,000, $10K for second, $5K for 3rd, $3K for 4th and $2K for 5th.
Should you enter Giant VIsion?
I think there are some good reasons to enter and some bad reasons to enter. A good reason to enter is because you think it would help you think through your business idea. If you’re forcing yourself to write out about all of the aspects of your business, that will give you a good chance to think through marketing, sales, hiring and product development. Second, it will give you a chance to pitch your business idea in a safe and friendly environment. You’re better of making your pitching mistakes to some friendly faces before trying to pitch to actual customers, so this would give you a chance to do it. Finally, a third reason to enter is because you think winning the competition would be good PR for your company and the prize money wouldn’t be bad either.
If you think entering the giant vision competition will get you customers, you will end up disappointed. The audience that pays attention to giant vision is largely the startup business community and economic development community. Unless those people are your customers, getting first place probably won’t do anything to get your customers.
Second, if you think entering the competition will be a way to validate your business idea, you will also end up disappointed. The unfortunate reality is that the panel of judges, as smart as they are, are not going to be able to determine if you have a feasible business idea in the hour or two that you end up getting judged during the event. I went back and looked at the 2008 and 2009 entrants into Giant Vision, as best as I can tell only 4 of the 10 of the five winners are still in business. Even of the 2018 winners last year, I believe one of the top five placers hasn’t yet launched their business and I think another 2 of the top 5 haven’t generated any meaningful revenue yet. So, if you happen to win giant vision, don’t take that as a sign that you are going to win.
So, three good reasons to do it, think through your idea, help you practice your pitch and it’s good PR. Just remember, entering the giant vision competition probably won’t give you customers and won’t validate or prove out your business idea. This is much more on the end of a school contents where you’re pitching a theoretical business idea than it is pitching a real business to actual customers. Feel free to enter it, just don’t let it become a major distraction and don’t think that it’s going to do something for you that it just can’t do.
Before I finish the video, I’ll tell you my experience with the giant vision competition in 2008. I had pitched my company, the same company I run today, and I didn’t even get past the first round of judging. Back then we went by the name American Consumer News, but it was still a company that wanted to create financial content on the internet. To be fair, I probably wouldn’t have voted for my own company back then. I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know how to pitch, I was a 22 year old kid with no business experience and no one in the state really know what an Internet-only business was back then. Not making it past the first round of screening though didn’t stop me. So, the company that didn’t even make it past the first round of screening made $6.1 million in revenue in 2018 and employs 6 people. If you apply, and don’t get in, don’t feel bad or take it as a sign that you aren’t onto something with your business.