Wharton Africa Business Plan Competition

I always believe a great business plan is indispensable to a successful corporation. I have tried a lot of methods to learn more about how to write a winning business plan. But this is not a simple task. You have to write something to ask some strangers, venture capitalists, to invest big money in your company, and most importantly, you may not have a chance to meet and convince those investors if they think your executive summary is not good enough. Thus the business plan is very significant for the success of funding.


I found that the resources that related to business plan writing on the internet were not sufficient for serious entrepreneurs. Most of them are just some simple guides and forms to let you fill in the blank. After my research, I found a book called “Business Plans That Win $$: Lessons from the MIT Enterprise Forum” written by Stanley Rich, Enterprise Forum cofounder, and David Gumpert, Inc. magazine editor. Suffice to say; if you are not only want to raise funds but also want to run a better company, you definitely have to read it. Although the book doesn’t cover any business plan samples inside, you will still able to get all the insight for a winning business plan after finishing this book. The book contains many real examples from entrepreneurs seeking investment funds in the MIT Enterprise Forum, a national clinic for providing assistance to emerging growth companies. The authors show the readers what those companies did wrong and what they should have done. The best of this book is that all of them are real examples. That means you will make those same mistakes in the future. You never want to make those mistakes in front of the venture capitalists, right?

Winning the 3rd place at Wharton

After I finish the book, I really want to do something to test my ability because I have really learned so much from this book. I tried to find many business plan competitions in some famous universities, but most of them required their own students’ participation (I haven’t transferred to UCLA yet at that time). Finally, I found the Wharton Africa Business Plan Competition on the web site of U Penn. It is open to public around the world. It is not the biggest competition at Wharton but I am really interested in this opportunity.

In this competition, I have to think about a new business which has to focus on the African market, a pretty new market in today’s economy. It is quite difficult for me in the beginning as I know nothing about Africa and its business environment. I have to do a lot of research so as to familiar with the whole situation.

I have gone through two rounds of competition before reaching the Final. In the first round, the panelists, including real venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, will judge by the executive summary alone. They won’t even look at the other sections of your business plan. After I entered the second round, my team had to submit the full business plan to compete for the Top 3 finalists. Fortunately, my team has won the 3rd place in this competition. I also had a chance to do the final presentation in front of the panelists in Wharton Business School. I could never forget this experience. Actually, I didn’t do my best during the final. I will talk more about this experience, the mistakes I made and business plan writing in the future.

Share this story