Choosing your track in this year's start up competition

Hello Alabama Entrepreneurs!

We are excited that the next round of the Alabama Launchpad Startup competition is open! Deadline to apply is September 14th, so you have time… but with $200,000 on the line, I’d also suggest you get moving.

Every Friday, we will be posting what we hope are helpful tips that you can use to hone your idea or business. Ideally this will help you not only put forth a better application for Launchpad but also launch a better business!

To start, one of the important upgrades we have made this round is to separate the competition into two tracks. We will be reviewing concept stage ideas separately from seed stage businesses. Each will have different expectations and different prizes. That’s why it’s really important to define your track carefully.

But what defines a “Concept” stage business from a “Seed” stage business? A lot really… but relevant to the competition, we’ll highlight 3 main points:

Defining your company stage is fluid. While some things in business are black and white (e.g., revenue, hiring an employee, raising funding), defining your stage is not. We recognize that it’s a fluid process. That’s why in this competition we have left it up to you, the applicant, to select your track. That said, we do offer guidance.

A “Concept” stage company is generally very early in the process of developing a business. These “companies” in fact are often not even set up as companies! When an entrepreneur is at the concept stage, they are still in the process of customer discovery and validation and generally are pre-revenue or are generating little revenue. To that, we would also expect a concept-stage business to have had very little capital investment (e.g., less than $250K) and what capital they have raised would largely be raised from friends and family.

A “Seed” stage company, on the other hand, is moving into creating clear customers. Typically, these businesses (and they are formed businesses) are going from an ad-hoc sales process with one customer to scaling a sales process to build more customers. These companies are formed, have existing teams and products, and be approaching commercialization of their offering. We would expect seed-stage businesses to have revenue (unless they are in an industry where that isn’t reasonable such as biotech). But if they have raised capital, they are still on the smaller side (e.g., less than $2M raised).

Hope this helps. Happy to engage in further discussion around this. Good luck!