Last week I had the opportunity to be judge at the finals of the International Business Model Competition at Microsoft in Seattle, WA. 40 university teams from around the world, competing to demonstrate the best Business Model Validation process. This is an annual competition organized for the past four years by Brigham Young University and a lot of partners.
This year, more than 5,000 teams, with students from Asia, Europe, Africa,North America, South America participated in the event. The best 40 teams attended to the global finals and won over $150,000 USD in prizes.
As a foreign Mexican Entrepreneurship teacher, these are my thoughts:
1. The Business Model Canvas is a powerful tool if the team understand how to use it, the validation process, and the lean startup concepts work that way as well. Otherwise, it can be a fake source of information for a new business.
2. At the end you still need an awesome product. Yes, the validation process is important for customer discovery, but once you are there, you need to be capable to consolidate learning and build a great product. I see a lot of “almost perfect” business model validation process with poor ideas or products.
3. Just a few mentors understand the business model canvas. If i could guess, only 4 out of 10 mentors who have an opinion about de business model validation process understand the whole picture. The rest understand just the canvas, the validation process, customer development process, or lean startup methodology.
4. The International Business Model Competition is perfect for students with very early stage startups. They win confidence and learn about the startup global ecosystem.
5. More universities should be involved. There are a lot of universities teaching business model canvas like a basic tool at entrepreneurship courses. This competition is a great opportunity to design better BM validation process with their students.
Congrats to Hewa, the team of Tec de Monterrey, 4th place at the competition.