Judging Criteria and Evaluation Process
General Evaluation Criteria:
The competition is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges function as early stage venture capital investors deciding on which business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the size of the market, the competitive differentiation, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions. Ultimately, the winning team should be the team in which the judges would most likely invest their money.
Most of the judges of the RBPC come from the investment community and are involved in making early-stage investment decisions on an ongoing basis. Their ranking of the top teams is guided by the scorecard (described below), but should be consistent with the approach that would be used by an early-stage venture capital or angel investor.
We recognize that consistent with real life investment situations, early-stage companies can be in very different stages of development. To compensate for this, we would expect that an investor would require the higher investment returns for a very early stage company than for a later stage company which has less risk (i.e., the greater the risk or the longer the time to a liquidity event, the higher the required return). We assume, in general, that these rules would apply for the judges at the RBPC.
Teams are not required to reveal the exact desired terms of the deal (i.e., their proposed company valuation and percentage of company being offered to investors). However, some investors prefer to have this information upfront, (while some investors feel that it is not as important until later). We recommend that teams be prepared to address questions about their terms, but it is up to the team to decide how they want to answer these questions.
Unlike many venture capital funds, judges in this competition should not restrict themselves to investing in only certain types of new business ventures (such as biotechnology or information technology). Judges in this competition should assume that they would be open to investing in any type of new business venture, assuming that other criteria such as those mentioned above, are met.
There are three main rounds of competition: the First Round on Friday, the Semi-Final and Challenge Rounds on Saturday morning, and the Final Round on Saturday afternoon. All teams must be in Houston from April 16-18 to present their plan to the judges.
In the First Round on Friday, teams will be “clustered” by industry segment to the extent possible, and judges will be divided based on their area of experience. Possible groupings may include: 1) life science/biotechnology, 2) energy/clean technology, 3) information technology, 4) other technology and other plans
During the competition, judges are asked to evaluate each team individually and should not discuss their evaluation with other judges until all judges’ evaluation forms have been submitted.
• Scoring – Criteria
The winners of the competition will be determined by the judges’ ranking of the teams. This ranking will be based on the judges’ willingness to invest in the company as noted above. The ranking will be completed by the judges at the end of each day’s competition. Judges will rank the teams from 1 (most likely to invest) to 6 (least likely to invest).
To assist the judges in this decision process and to provide additional feedback to the teams, the judges will fill out 2 scorecards for each team. The 2 scorecards will cover:
Part I Written Business Plan
Part II Verbal Presentation & Business/Investment Viability
The individual scorecards are designed to provide guidance for judges in evaluating the individual components of each team in order to develop their overall rankings. Scorecards are also designed to provide feedback to the competitors, and will be given to competitors at the end of each day.
• Written Business Plan Evaluation
Judges review the written business plans of each of the six teams in their flight and complete Part I of the RBPC Scorecard online for each plan in advance of the competition. Part I is designed to help assess the written business plan, focusing on key elements and the effectiveness of the summary financial data. The scores provided to the teams are for feedback purposes only, and will not be used to determine advancement or winners. Judges will evaluate the written business plan in advance of the competition and completed Part I of the scorecard online. The feedback will be provided to the teams prior to the competition.
Scoring – Process
In the First Round, teams in the competition will be divided into seven flights. The flights will consist of six teams, “clustered” by industry sector, to the extent possible. Judges will be assigned to flights based on their background and areas of expertise. Each judge will assess the written business plans, oral presentations, and business viability of the six teams in their flight in the First Round of competition.
Please note: Judges should fill out the feedback forms for each round. The feedback forms will not be used in the calculation of the winning teams. The winning teams will be determined by the judges’ rankings. These feedback forms will be provided to the teams to help them improve their business plan presentation.
The first and second place teams from each of the seven flights, plus the top-scoring third place team overall will advance to the Semi-Final Round. The teams who finish third through sixth place in their flights will advance to the Challenge Round on Saturday morning. The first and second place winners of the Semi-Final Round will advance to the Final Round (six teams total). Announcement of the Semi-finalists and Challenge Round participants will be made on Friday, April 17, after the Keynote Address, around 5:30 pm.
• Scoring – First and Semi-final Rounds – Oral Presentations
Each judge will listen to and evaluate the oral presentations of the six teams in their flight on Friday, April 17. Judges will use Part II of the RBPC Scorecard as a guide to determine their rankings:
Scorecard - Part II (also called “Feedback Form”) assesses the oral presentation & viability of the venture
The quantitative assessment provided by the Scorecards is only meant to serve as a guide to the judges for ranking the teams in the First Round. The rankings will determine the overall winners based on where judges would invest their money.
The winning team from each of the seven flights will be determined by the judges ranking of the teams within each flight. This ranking will be determined Friday afternoon after all of the teams have presented to the judges. The judges will rank the teams within their flight from 1 (most likely to invest) to 6 (least likely to invest).
The teams who placed third through sixth in each of their flights in the First Round on Friday will advance to the Challenge Round on Saturday morning, April 18.
The winners of the Semi-Final Round will be chosen in the same manner as in the First Round. Judges will rank teams from 1 (most likely to invest) to 6 (least likely to invest). In total six teams will advance to the Final Round.
• Scoring – Challenge Round: Saturday morning, April 18:
Teams which do not advance to the Semi-final Round will advance to the Challenge Round. A total of 27 teams will compete in the Challenge Round, divided into 7 flights of 4 teams each (one flight will have only 3 teams). All teams in the Challenge Round will win cash prizes.
The Challenge Rounds are formatted differently than the Semi-Final Rounds and will provide competitors with a third type of presentation experience. Each will have a total of 25 minutes for presentation and Q&A. However, there will be no specified time limits on the presentations or Q&A. Judges are encouraged to ask questions throughout the presentation.
The winning team in each flight of the Challenge round will be determined solely by the judges’ ranking of the teams. This ranking will be determined after all four teams have presented to the judges. The judges will rank the four teams in the Challenge Round from 1 (most likely to invest) to 4 (least likely to invest).
Teams will win cash prize money ranging from $1,000 (first place) to $500 (fourth place) depending on how well they perform in the Challenge Round.
• Scoring – Final Round: Saturday afternoon, April 18:
The winning teams in the final round will also be determined solely by the judges’ ranking of the teams. This ranking will be determined Saturday afternoon after all of the teams have presented to the judges. The judges will rank the six teams in the finals from 1 (most likely to invest) to 6 (least likely to invest).
The rankings from each of the judges will be aggregated and the teams with the lowest total scores will be the winners. As in the previous rounds, in the case of a tie, the team with the most number of first place scores will be declared the winner.
» Feedback Form Part I
» Feedback Part II
» Judges Ranking Sheet