The Business Plan Contest was first held in 2005 as a 3-month long competition in business plan writing open to undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Zagreb.
- Organiser: eSTUDENT - student association at the University of Zagreb
- Organisation members: students of the Faculty of Economics and Business
- Project background: annual contest in business plan writing open to all students of the University of Zagreb since 2005
- Contest participants in 2009/10: 70 student teams from various faculties of the University of Zagreb
- Teach business plan development to students of various educational backgrounds
- Encourage innovative business thinking and foster teamwork and an entrepreneurial spirit
- Provide networking opportunities to young professionals at the beginning of their careers
- Introduce students to their potential employers and assist students in starting their own businesses
The Business Plan Contest, organised by eSTUDENT (student association of the Faculty of Economics and Business), was first held in 2005 as a 3-month long competition in business plan writing open to undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Zagreb. Since then, the contest has significantly grown by including major university, governmental and private sector stakeholders and, consequently, it provided noteworthy opportunities for student business plans implementation.
The first stage of the competition focuses on educating the participants in business plan development. Through a series of workshops, renowned university professors and entrepreneurs share their know-how on business development, equipping students for independent work on their own projects.
In the second stage, student teams create and submit their business plans to a panel of business experts from public and private sector. Besides generous financial rewards, the finalist projects benefit from a public presentation, which is often a pathway to their future successful implementation.
In the past two years, the Business Plan Contest has expanded its reach by including the Student Business Incubator, a newly founded entrepreneurial centre of the Faculty of Economics and Business as a partner in the implementation of the competition. The Student Business Incubator provides support to professionals at the beginning of their careers in terms of logistical support, professional counselling and networking opportunities. In the long run, the Business Plan Contest and the Student Business Incubator aim to introduce business plan writing courses to the curricula of Croatian business schools.
Assisted by the Incubator, one of the 2010 competition finalists managed to put his business plan into practice. Josip Caran’s winning Dream Carpet allowed him to set up his own company with ambitious plans for future production and export. Potential buyers may be attracted by the possibility of designing their own carpet or the unique features of Josip’s product, which allow it to be machine washed. The young inventor and entrepreneur not only ensured financial means for his business, but also registered his trademark. Finally the company boasts social sensitivity: they plan on making charitable donations of their product to local day-care centres (kindergartens).
The concept of the competition, the students’ active engagement and creativity, and the continuous support from their home Faculty seem a winning combination for the success of the contest participants. Clearly, the Contest has long outgrown its immediate goal of developing students’ professional skills and is making big steps not only in easing the realisation of students’ first professional endeavours, but also in furthering business education in Croatia by developing new teaching methods to adjust it to the needs of the labour market.