Judge the Business Plan Competition!
Thank you for your interest in volunteering as a Judge at the Spring 2021 Project ECHO High School Entrepreneurs’ Business Plan Competition. This event is currently being reimagined, so please check back in the Fall of 2020 to see how you can volunteer with us.
Overview of the Competition:
This event is the culmination of a year-long program in business and entrepreneurship offered by Project ECHO. It’s anticipated that about 200 teens will compete this year. On behalf of the Project ECHO Board of Directors, we are sad to see that several hundred of our teens and teams have dropped out of this year’s competition due to personal circumstances caused by the pandemic. We wish everyone well and hope to seem them back next year!
The Project ECHO High School Entrepreneurs’ Business Plan Competition simulates the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from investors. Judges are currently needed to evaluate both the written business plans, along with serving as presentation judges. Both scores are valued at 50% of each team’s final score, with the highest scoring teams winning the competition, and taking home start-up funds!
On the application below, you can sign up to simply read and evaluate written business plans, or you can volunteer as a presentation judge. Presentation judges will be required to read and evaluate three business plans in advance of the competition from teams they will be evaluating on competition day!
Evaluate Written Business Plans: Judges will receive a minimum of three business plans to read and evaluate. Judges will be taught how to consider the evaluation rubric, evaluation techniques, in addition to learning how to commit scores to ECHO’s competition platform.
Presentation Judges will participate on panels that will evaluate about 7-10 presentations. Presentation judges will read and score at least three plans from teams whose pitches they’ll also evaluate. In this role, volunteers will act as venture capital investors deciding on which business they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the oral and visual presentation are the criteria that determine each judge’s decision. The winning teams are decided based on where the judges would most likely invest their money.
What to Expect: Depending on whether you’ll be reading and scoring plans, or watching presentations, or both, you’ll first participate in a short introduction to Project ECHO and a judge’s training session.
As a non-profit organization, ECHO raises funds to help offset the cost of its program and events and the coronavirus has truly impacted ECHO’s programming. During the registration process, consider super-sizing your support of Project ECHO and become a VIP judge with a small donation. In return you’ll receive a few extra perks, to include:
1) Preferred selection of the competition category you’d like to evaluate
2) Half page ad/ or business card published in the event program
3) Extended personal bio or add a company bio in the event program
4) VIP judges, only, will receive ECHO’s hallmark judges travel mug (oh ya!) – in the mail, of course!
Donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.
Please note that submission of an application does not guarantee placement as a judge.
About Project ECHO
Project ECHO (Entrepreneurial Concepts Hand On), is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization that was founded in 1996 with a mission to empower high school students with entrepreneurial and leadership skills so that they can thrive in college, their careers and in their community as change-makers. Through a full curriculum in entrepreneurship, teens receive an excellent foundation for the types of creative and innovative skills they will need to succeed in future careers, giving a head start to those who plan to go to college and more importantly to those who plan to enroll in vocational programs or start their own businesses. ECHO teens learn to be creative problem solvers and gain the ability to assess and initiate solutions, providing a future workforce ready and willing to tackle problems. Through its exclusive programs, teens develop their self-confidence while developing new skills not traditionally learned in a classroom, such as ideation, the ability to keep going in the face of hardship and the social skills needed to build great teams. This is in addition to learning about core business areas, such as finance, sales, marketing, management and accounting, along with broader ranging skills, such as adaptability and effective communication.
Every year, almost 100% of teens who participate in ECHO report that this experience was their most memorable and relevant in preparing for college and/or career. These teens reported that ECHO has helped them identify specific college majors and/or career or self-employment options.
This year, ECHO had more than 600 teens enrolled in its program, but the coronavirus has impacted school districts, schools, classrooms and additional programs which has resulted in many teams dropping out of the competition. As a non-profit organization, Project ECHO raises 100% of its annual operating budget every year with the mission of keeping teens engaged in high school and helping them identify future college and career paths.