A guide to winning the Seedcorn competition – Part 1

In a series of blog posts I’m going to share what Cauwill put into the Seedcorn Business Plan.  I (there is no I in team!!) didn’t write the business plan alone nor have I  put this guide together without a great deal of help from Ian. As ever Ian – a big thanks goes your way.

Don’t worry about cutting and pasting from the blog – with the last blog of the guide (Thursday)  I’ll be attaching a complete word document version of the guide with extra comments from InterTradeIreland. Feel free to ask & post questions – I’ll be happy to respond to them.

At a later stage I’m going to do the same for the regional and final presentations for fortunate companies that make past the business plan evaluation section of the competition. Let’s hope it’s you!

DISCLAIMER TIME: There is no guarantee that if you follow the guide exactly that you will win the competition.. quite the contrary this business plan worked for us because it is OUR business plan. Your company business will be different to ours so your business plan will be different also. Things we left out, you may need to include. With that, we wish the best of luck.

So let’s look at Part 1 of the guide which will cover: Overview Document length and style, Cover Page, Executive Summary and  Sections1 – 3.

English and style of our business plan

  • Formal English
  • Font size 11 (Calibri/Myriad Pro)
  • Numbered Section Headings
  • Short snappy sections – no long & fluffy paragraphs!

Total Document =

1 Cover page + 25 page BizPlan + 4 pages Schedules / appendices

Cover page had:

Company Name, Date and Seedcorn Category.

Executive Summary (3 pages)

Really important section and you should do this LAST as it’s the best of the document.

  • The Problem
  • The Solution (add a picture if it helps describing the solution)
  • Business Model
  • The Opportunity
  • Achievements to Date
    • If you have paying customers make sure you state it (helped us stand out)
  • Management
  • Forecast Sales and Profit
  • Funding Required
  • The Exit
    • Investors want to see how they are going to get their moneyx10 back

1         Business Overview

1.1       About the Company

Who you are, What you do in. Who you sell to.  All in less than 300 words.

The most important things to talk about here is the “Value-add” – what have you got that others will see the value of and will therefore pay for. Do you save them money or provide a way for them to make more money – that’s all its really about. Need to capture the reader imagination here – if they “get it” and believe you at this point then everything else will confirm it for them – if you lose the reader on the value-add –then you’ve lost them totally!

1.2       What the product is

  • Features
  • USP
  • Benefits (to your customer)

2         Market Opportunity

2.1       Who needs the product?

Identify the sector who needs the product. Cleary Identify why they need it.

2.2       How many of them are there?


2.3       Other Markets

Maybe your product is applicable to other markets but you are focusing on one/two at the moment.  If so identify them here.

2.4       Key purchasing criteria

Why would customers buy your product. Hint you are going to:

  • Save them money
  • Save them time
  • Make them money (by selling it, getting more customer etc.)
  • all of the above

2.5       External Factors influencing market demand

Eh – downturn!

2.6       Specific market/demand opportunities

You should show very specific and independently delivered facts that the market is looking for your product.  “According to Market research conducted by PhoCusWright.. PWC etc.)

3         Industry & Competition

What makes you confident that you are in the right industry? What has happened to strengthen your belief that the industry is growing.

What is happening within the markets/sectors that convinces you the business has potential to grow?

3.1       Competition | Direct

List direct competition here – find out as much as you can about them. Market share, funding, backing , strength, weaknesses etc.

ps. You have competition. If you don’t there probably isn’t a market for your product.

3.2       Competition | In Direct

Same here but not as much detail as direct.

3.3       Competitive Advantage

Why is your product better than the direct competition.

Section 4 in tomorrows Post…


Sharing my experience on startup, sport, linux, mobile phones, movies and some other random stuff.

2 thoughts on “A guide to winning the Seedcorn competition – Part 1

  1. Hi Ronan,

    I just now came across your blog and as I am entering the Seedcorn this year I was delighted to see your advice on the business plan. Can you let me know where Section 4 is? All/any information is most welcome.

    Many thanks,


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