StartUP! Business Plan Competition

Would you like to earn a grant of $10,000 in funding for your business? Of course you would! In this competition, you will attend classes and then submit a business plan to be judged by a panel of judges in order to win money for your business.

Startup businesses compete in one of three tracks: community, innovation, or food-based. That means that there are three grants of $10,000 each available to winning, Queens-based startups!

Steps to Compete

In order to compete, you need to complete the following steps:

  1. Read and abide by all rules. They can be found below
  2. Sign up for our mailing list here.
  3. Attend an orientation session listed below (optional)
  4. Attend one of each of the four required classes listed below. Please note that each class is offered four times, but each instance of the same class is the same. If you are unable to make a required class, you can view them online for a $25 convenience fee here.
  5. Submit a business plan before March 1st, 2018 here.

Class Schedule

The following class is optional, but recommended. It cannot be used to replace one of the other four required classes.

Legal Considerations For Start-Up Businesses

All classes are held at:

Flushing Library IRC (41-17 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355)

If you are unable to make a required class, you can view them online for a $25 convenience fee here.

Teacher Bios

Dean Blackman: All About Business Planning and Research, Business Operation and Management

From 2005 to 2017, Dean worked for The Church Pension Fund in New York City, where he was a member of the Private Equity Team, which did Venture Capital investments.  He founded and managed his own company DWB Ventures, where he invested in technology ventures. Dean built an entrepreneurial practice in money management at Morgan Stanley and Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo) for small business owners.  He has an MBA in Finance and Investments from the Yale School of Management.  He graduated from Columbia University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and spent a decade as a software engineer and consultant, where he worked for a diverse group of companies included a “mom and pop” and startups.

Seth BornsteinCreative Sales and Marketing

Seth Bornstein is the Executive Director of the QEDC and is responsible for the direction and development of the entire organization. With the staff and the board he endeavors to create programs that will help further the mission of the QEDC. He works closely with government, community and business leaders to design and implement economic development initiatives that will best serve the community.

As the Executive Director Seth is responsible to shaping the marketing program for the organization. The QEDC has many different programs including business services, the Entrepreneur  Space Incubator and the MiQ Pop UP store.  Outreach and marketing are essential in order to inform the community of these programs.  He works with staff and consultants on the QEDC’s branding, advertising and social networking programs.  He teaches the monthly ‘New Ideas to New Ventures’ class and writes the popular monthly ‘Letter from the Director’ eblast.

Seth has been with the QEDC for the better part of 38 years and is a self proclaimed expert on all things Queens.

Bill Singh: Developing Financial Statements

Mr. Bill Singh serves as a Director of Financial Planning & Analysis for Genting Americas – a Malaysia based gaming/lodging/leisure multinational company – and oversees the budgeting, planning and analysis and reporting functions. Prior to this, Mr. Singh spent five years in a similar role in northern Nevada for one of the largest gaming/lodging resorts in the area. Mr. Singh holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from University of Nevada and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder.

Due Date

Plans are due at 11:59 pm on March 1st, 2018.


You submit your business plan here. Please keep in mind you need to fill out a full application and this make take some time. There will be absolutely no exceptions made for late business plans for any reason whatsoever. We recommend applying before the deadline so that you have ample time, especially if you have any questions. Please also note that QEDC offices close at 5:00 PM; if you have any issues after that time no one will be able to help you.

Rules and Regulations

Program Vision and Goal

The StartUp Competition is intended to help and startup phase businesses to grow in a way that will create jobs, strengthen and diversify neighborhoods in the borough of Queens.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Contestants must be startups defined as having made less than $75,000 a year in the last three years.
  • Individual Contestant or team leaders of group applicants must be Queens residents and all applicants must be 18 years of age or older.  Residency must be proved by a New York State driver’s license or New York City ID Card that includes your address (if you do not have either, please allow enough time to get one before March 1st). This must be uploaded with your business plan.
  • The business must be Queens-based. It can be either physically active in Queens or a virtual market that’s serving clients all around the world with no limitation on location as long as the business is registered in Queens. Businesses do not need to be registered at the time of entry, however once businesses are selected to receive funding, the business must register in Queens with the New York State – Division of Corporations.
  • Competition entrants may enter only once, either as an individual or as part of a team. The team must appoint one individual as the team leader. By registering on YouNoodle and joining the “Queens StartUP! 12th Annual Business Plan Competition,” individuals accept that they understand the stated rules for all of the team members.
  • Home-based businesses are eligible to apply.
  • Real Estate businesses (due to their size, nature of business, and capital requirements) along with franchises, affiliate marketing, multi-level marketing, and not-for-profit businesses are NOT eligible to participate in this competition.
  • Businesses set up to receive or needing venture capital funding or have start-up costs over $300,000 are not eligible to participate.

Award Categories

All entrants must designate one track for their business within the following defined categories for a chance to win $10,000:

  1.      Innovative Business Award – A business creating something new, something better, serving an underserved or new market, creation of a new delivery system or distribution channel, has increased integration, or provides a resolution to a problem.
  2.     Food-based Business Award – A business with its main activity being the creation and/or sale of a food product as a wholesaler, manufacturer, or retail business.
  3.      Community-based Business Award – A business located or mainly active in a Queens neighborhood and delivers a need or responds to a demand of the community. The need or demand being met must create a positive social or environmental impact.

Entry Process

  • Participants must attend one of each of the four types of training classes we offer for the StartUP (see the calendar for specific classes). We recommend that all entrants take our class “Legal Considerations for Start-Up Businesses,” but this is not required. With prior approval, teams are allowed to split up who attends individual classes, provided one of each is attended. Information sessions are not mandatory
  • Participants are advised to attend an information session at the Queens Library but this is not required. This session will cover the competition requirements and will review the process that will be used to judge the business plans and disburse awards. Participants can enroll in the competition from September 1st,  2017 until the February 28th, 2018 as long as they abide by all of the other competition rules.
  • All business plans, IDs, and any additional documentation must be submitted online via our YouNoodle platform by 11:59 PM on March 1st, 2018. Click on this link to sign-up:
  • When you upload your business plan, you will be required to include a provisional plan for how you will spend the $10,000 prize. This should only be a projection. While this will be seen and taken into account by the judges, if you win the competition, you will not be held to this. While we not need a great deal of detail at this point, please make sure that the numbers add up to $10,000.
  • Plans will be judged in two rounds. First online, with the top scoring plans going to a final presentation which will take place in late April. The panel of judges does not include any QEDC employees or board and QEDC has no influence in the judging process.

Judging Criteria

  • Product/Service – clearly defined business problem and your solution, fulfills a customer need, has resonance and desirability, and changes or significantly improves an existing process.
  • Markets & Competition – clearly identified customer, size of customer base, business model, differentiation, in-depth competitive analysis. And scalability in both geography and solution.
  • Team – relative domain & industry experience, business track record, education, etc.
  • Distribution – clearly defined vision and objectives, roadmap for implementation, feasibility of implementation, and perceived strategic advantage.
  • The Need and Impact of Award Funding – what effect the award funding will have, and how it will be used. You need to provide a narrative assessing your business will grow.
  • Social Impact Assessment (if applicable) – define the venture’s social value proposition, identify measurable social impact indicators that will strongly correlate with the desired social outcomes, and explain the social value in monetary terms.


  • Working models or prototypes will not be accepted but can be presented to the judges in the presentation round.
  • The business plan will not be returned after the competition has ended.
  • Any funds used throughout the competition or prior to the competition ending will not be reimbursed. Any money won cannot be used for reimbursement of previous business expenses incurred before March 1st, 2018.


  • How many people can enter in one group?

We accept up to five individuals. Everyone involved in the proposed business described in the plan must register via YouNoodle as a team leader or team member and upload their State ID or Driver’s License. The business team leader needs to be a Queens resident and part of the co-founders/management team of the company.


  • Are the training classes mandatory?

Yes.  All eligible applicants and/or the primary and/or secondary team    member will be required to attend all four business workshops held from October 2017 until the end of January 2018 in-person or via recorded online trainings.  All in-person training sessions are free, however recorded online trainings cost $25 per training for participants (please note this is a convenience fee).


  • What stage does my business needs to be?

We welcome applicants from startup phase businesses who have made less than $75,000 a year in the last three years.  If your business has an existing Employer Identification Number (EIN) issued by the IRS and/or structured itself previously as a Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Corporation, or Limited Liability Company, you will have to provide proof that your business is a start-up, specifically revenue has been less than $75,000 a year in the last three years. Businesses that are not currently paying taxes, are not tax-compliant or not operating with appropriate licenses and permits will forfeit their prize funding if selected as winners.


  • Do I have to include all sections in the formatting requirements?

Yes. Incomplete business plans will be disqualified immediately.


  • What is the required format?

Business plans must be at most 20 pages with 12 PT Times New Roman Font. Additional formatting requirements are below.

  • Are there any requirements for the winners to use the award fund?

The funds must be used within one year from the date of the award being announced and can only be used for only the intended business purpose described in the business plan and nothing else. Please note that these awards are taxable and the Queens Economic Development Corporation and each winner must complete an IRS W-9 form before a check can be issued. All winners must include a written description on how the funds will be used, sign a release form, and agree to be surveyed for up to five years on the status of their business.

  • Are business plans confidential?

Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) recognizes that entrants may be concerned about the confidentiality of their business plans. Business plans will not be copied for any purpose other than the competition and internal use by QEDC’s Business Services Department. Entrants are also permitted to exclude any information they regard as confidential (please note, however, that if by excluding information you make your plan more difficult to understand it may be judged poorly). The short description of your business idea will be considered a “public summary” of your plan and may be used in public documentation related to the competition. While all responsible measures will be taken to ensure the protection of intellectual property and preserve the confidentiality of each submission, Queens Economic Development Corporation cannot take further responsibility to protect the intellectual property or other rights of each contestant. Protection of such rights is ultimately the responsibility of each applicant.


The Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) holds the right to disqualify any individual or team entrants as we deem appropriate. All conflicts of interest, questions, or unknowns should be disclosed as soon as possible to QEDC staff in order to avoid disqualification. Any information withheld from QEDC staff that is susceptible to being disqualified will result in automatic expulsion of the competition. All final decisions will made at the discretion of the executive director.

Required Formatting and Sections

Formatting Requirements

  • The business plan length, excluding financial statements, should not exceed 20 pages. All pages should be numbered. Page number count starts with the Executive Summary.
  • Font should be Times New Roman, at 12 Pt. font size, 1 – 1 1/2 spaced, with 1 inch margins all around.

Required Sections

You must submit a complete business plan with the following sections:

  • A title/cover page with the names of partners, team leaders, and their contact information.
  • Table of Contents
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Industry Analysis
  • Target Market
  • Competition
  • Competitive and Strategic Position
  • Sales and Marketing Plan
  • Operations Plan
  • Management Team
  • Grow/Exit Strategy
  • Financial Statements (see below for what this includes)
  • Appendix (optional; 5 pages maximum)

In addition, when submitting your application, there will be a question on what you plan on using the $10,000 for. While the judges will see this and take this into consideration, you will not be held to this plan if you win, at which point we ask you provide us with more formal plans. Please note that, at the time of submission, you do not need to provide us with a great deal of detail, although the numbers must add up to $10,000. For example, you could say that you will spend $2,000 on marketing, $1,000 on business formation, $5,000 on product, and $3,000 on a website. If you wish to provide more detail you may, but it is not required.

Please make sure you haven’t missed anything!

If any of the aforementioned sections are missing, the plan will be deemed unacceptable and not be reviewed.

Required Financials

  • Balance Sheet – Yearly (Years 1,2 & 3)
  • Income Statement – Monthly (Year 1), Quarterly (Years 2-3)
  • Statement of Cash Flows – Monthly (Year 1), Quarterly (Years 2-3)
  • Break-Even Analysis
  • Financial Assumptions
  • Proposed Sources & Use of Funds

Tools and Templates

Online Classes

You can view classes here. Online classes can be used to replace other classes, however, bear in mind that each online class comes with a $25 convenience fee.

Judging Process

The first round of judging takes place online. Judges review your business plan and then give comments and a numerical score. The three contestants in each category with the highest score will go on to the second round of judging, which is in person through presentations. Finalists are announced in either late March or early April.

The second round, in-person judging, will take place on a Friday in late April and may be open to the public. Finalists will each be given 30 minute slots. In this time, they may spend 5 minutes for setup, 11 minutes to present, and then 7 minutes to answer judges’ questions. Presentations must be on PowerPoint, and details on equipment available will be given to finalists.

The panel of in-person judges will include people from a variety of backgrounds, such as bankers, entrepreneurs, former winners, and non-profit workers. The panel does not include any QEDC employees or board; QEDC has no influence on the judging process. For purposes of anonymity, QEDC will under no circumstances give out the judges’ names or contact information. Contestants are not allowed to contact judges.  Judges are allowed to ask questions about any aspect of the business.

Judging will take place according to the following schedule (subject to change):

10:00 to 11:30     Community

12:00 to 1:30       Food

2:15 to 3:45          Innovation

If you are a finalist, you will be given a specific slot according to your category. Please note that if you miss or are late to your presentation we will attempt to make time for you to present later in the day, however, if we are unable to do so you will be disqualified without being able to present. Disqualification decisions are solely the purview of QEDC and there will be absolutely no exceptions or special considerations made for any reason whatsoever.

Winner Announcement

Winners are announced at special event in the spring.
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