Judging Criteria

  1. All judges will receive and review all information submitted in connection with each application to the Competition.
  2. The judges will rely on the following criteria in judging the Competition:
    • The commercial potential of the business, with high-potential, growth oriented businesses likely to be viewed more favorably.
    • The innovative nature and technical feasibility of the idea.
    • The likelihood that the business described in the plan can achieve a sustainable, competitive advantage.
    • The credibility of the individuals behind the proposal.
  3. All plans, regardless of track, will be treated the same way and judging criteria will be applied equally to all plans.
  4. The judges may re-assign an applicant to a different track if they feel that best serves the goals of the Competition.
  5. The judges may disqualify any application they believe violates the letter or spirit of the Competition guidelines.
  6. The judges will not sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in connection with performing their duties for the Competition. It is the applicants’ responsibility to protect their intellectual property. See Protection of Intellectual Property section on our resources page.
  7. Conflict of Interest Policy: Judges agree not to initiate a professional relationship with individuals who have an active application before the Competition. Judges will recuse themselves from discussion about and voting on an applicant to the Competition if the judge has an existing personal or business relationship with the applicant. An application is considered active until the judges have made a decision about it or until it has been withdrawn by the applicant.
  8. The decision of the judges is final, including interpretation of the rules.

Learn about previous Rhode Island Business Competition winners.

What Judges Look For In a Business Plan

What Judges Look for in a Business Plan

All good business plans convey a sound business idea. The actual written plan can do a lot to help you secure financing, because, when well done, it demonstrates that you have considered the relevant key variables that are important to the success of the idea.

Judges in the Rhode Island Business Competition will be looking for the following:

Viability Is the opportunity reasonable and supported by a sound execution strategy?
Realism Have the assumptions behind the plan been tested in the
market to determine the need for the solution being proposed? Does the
plan allow for contingencies?
Competitiveness Have you identified competitors and enumerated your
competitive advantages? Can the business successfully resist competitive
Maturity Do the plan authors understand the nature of the
business they are proposing, and are their assumptions, projections, and
solutions realistic?
Experience Does the applicant have a management team, or can it
assemble one, that has the breadth and depth of experience required to
make the plan a success?
Dedication How has the team evidenced the tenacity required to launch and grow a business?

In addition to the above, attention to the following nuts and bolts will help:

Writing style Write for the educated, intelligent layman and avoid jargon. Include a glossary, if needed, for easy reference.
Graphics Graphics should help tell a story. Use them where they make sense.
Edit and re-edit Before submitting your plan, run it by people who will
give you an honest assessment — about your idea and how it is presented.
Typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors should be avoided at all

Read more on preparing your written plan.

Judging Schedule

To participate in the Rhode Island Business Competition, applicants must complete and submit an online application by 5 p.m. Eastern time on March 29, 2021.

After reviewing the applications, the judges will select semi-finalists and invite them to submit complete business plans by 12 noon on April 13, 2021.

Semi-finalists will be invited to make a 5-minute presentation to the judges on April 20, 2021.

Finalists will be selected from semi-finalists and invited to a 25-minute meeting with the judges on April 27, 2021.

See recommended guidelines for formatting business plans.

2020 Judges

Kim Anderson

Kim Anderson

Socially Responsible Entrepreneur; Impact Investor; Owner, Plant City

Kim Anderson has been a successful retailer and business leader for more than 30 years, starting in the management and buying departments of Jordan Marsh and Macy’s. She is former owner of the home store Teapots & Tassels, Co., where she was awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1991 by SBA and “Citizen of the Year Award” in 2005 for her Hurricane Katrina relief efforts by Chamber of Commerce. In 2010 she co-founded, with her 15-year-old daughter, Ava Anderson Non Toxic, the safest full line of personal care and home cleaning products, sold via direct sales. With the support of 20,000 independent sales representatives, the business educated millions of American families about the dangers of harmful chemicals in conventional products for humans and the environment. In 6 years it reached a $60M run rate, was honored by Inc. Magazine, Fortune and Entrepreneur, and was acquired in August 2016. Kim is a board member of Social Enterprise Greenhouse.

Margaret D. Farrell

Margaret D. Farrell

Partner, Hinckley Allen

Peggy Farrell focuses her practice in the area of corporate and securities law with extensive experience in organization, acquisitions, sales, mergers,recapitalizations and other reorganizations of both publicly and privately-held corporations, partnerships and limited liabilities companies, and in personal and business tax planning. She has extensive experience in handling equity and debt securities offerings, both fully registered public offerings and exempt private placements and venture capital financings, ongoing SEC regulatory compliance and reporting, and investment company, investment adviser and broker-dealer registration and regulation. Peggy has in-depth knowledge of financial institution regulation and has experience in computer and other high technology law,
including software licensing and copyright and trademark protection.

Katharine Flynn

Katharine Flynn

Executive Director, University of Rhode Island Business Engagement Center

Katharine was named to lead the URI Business Engagement Center in 2013 while continuing to serve as executive director of corporate and foundation relations for the University of Rhode Island. She also spends part of her time working for the Governor of Rhode Island's Executive Office of Commerce. Before joining URI in 2012, she was director of business development for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation for eight years. Katharine has extensive experience evaluating and coaching emerging businesses and has been actively involved with the RI Business Plan Competition for nearly 10 years. She earned a bachelor's degree in mathematical economics from Brown University.

Carol Malysz

Carol Malysz
Executive Director, RI Bio

As executive director of RI Bio (formerly known as MedMates), Carol’s mission is to grow the life sciences economy in Rhode Island and southeastern New England by forging strong relationships with life sciences companies, entrepreneurs, sources of capital, academic and medical centers, hospitals, and government organizations. Carol has more than 25 years of economic development, entrepreneurship, management, and marketing experience, providing executive coaching, leadership and talent development, and workplace analytics consulting for startups. She has an MBA in entrepreneurship from Babson College and is a graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership.

Anthony Mangiarelli

Anthony Mangiarelli
Partner, KLR

With more than 15 years of public accounting experience, Anthony has worked with clients in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, professional services, distribution, and employee benefit plans and chair’s KLR’s Emerging and Start Up Business Services Group. Named to the Providence Business News 2011 class of “Forty under 40,” he frequently speaks at business forums across southern New England, Anthony is a member of Betaspring and the Cambridge Innovation Center, and serves on the United Way of Rhode Island Finance Committee and as an advisory board member of Community College of Rhode Island. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and a Master of Science in Taxation degree, both from Bryant University.

Aidan Petrie

Aidan Petrie
Founding Partner, NEMIC

Aidan is a founding Partner of NEMIC (New England Medical Innovation Center) and a Fellow of the Provost at RISD, focused on intersections between user centered design and healthcare. He is a member of Cherrystone Angels and a mentor and adviser to multiple startups. Aidan's passion for innovation and design has helped bring hundreds of products to market that range from simple drug compliance aids to wearable therapeutics, home monitoring products and complex surgical systems. His training in industrial design gives him a focus and deep knowledge of ‘Human centered design’ and design thinking as essential components of the innovation process..

Jennifer Rousseau

Jennifer Rousseau
Director of Strategic Planning for New Ventures, Altus Dental

Jennifer is the Director of Strategic Planning for New Ventures at Altus Dental and manages the corporate venture initiatives for the company and its sister companies through their fund, Altus Ventures. In addition to her role with Altus, she is responsible for strategic planning for Chewsi, the free dental app that helps patients realize significant savings from a participating dentist. She analyzes emerging industry trends and recommends expansion opportunities, partnerships, and business process improvement.

Thorne Sparkman

Thorne Sparkman
Managing Director, Slater Technology Fund

Thorne joined Slater in 2000, where he now is responsible for investments in software, new media, and energy-related technologies. He began his career at Time Warner in 1993, where he led the book group’s early efforts in online publishing and commerce on CompuServe and the web and, in 1995, co-founded EScribe Corporation, an online publisher that developed communities for upscale, outdoor enthusiasts. He also was co-founder and CEO of Incubator, Inc., an angel-funded, Internet business incubator in Berkeley, California.

Jeffrey Wilhelm

Jeffrey Wilhelm

Chief Technology Officer, Envision Technology Advisors, LLC

Jeff has been working in business and technology consulting for nearly 20 years. He has consulted nationally for clients of all sizes and across many verticals, including data analytics, healthcare, financial services, high-tech, and consumer goods. He sits on the board of local startup Datarista, mentors with Year Up, serves in local government, was a Leadership Rhode Island graduate (Iota II), and has an MIS degree from URI.