APPLY TO THE PROVING GROUND
All submissions will be subject to the same criteria throughout each round. Teams may only enter in one category. Review the information on the Questions page for a complete listing of all competition guidelines.
Your ability to present a compelling concept, demonstrate a feasible plan of execution, and win over a panel of judges will determine whether you have what it takes to survive.
Teams can be from one person or up to four people. Good startup teams have a mix of talents and creating a strong team is critical. In the Avenir Discovery category, teams may include USC graduate students, undergraduate students, or alumni who have graduated in the last five years (since December 2013). In the Maxient Innovation category, all team members must be undergraduate students.
Once you have your team, it’s time to register on the YouNoodle platform. You will create a profile and submit all necessary documents through this platform.
Once you and your team have developed your concept, it is time to create your business plan, which must be submitted by March 1, 2019, at 11:00 p.m. The plan must contain an executive summary, no longer than two pages. The main body of the business plan can be no longer than 15 pages, with 1.5 line spacing and one inch margins. The plan may contain no more than five pages of supplemental information, e.g., financial statements, plus a cover page, which should include the name of the business. The plan should be in Microsoft Word.
As an applicant of The Proving Ground, you will have access to LivePlan, Palo Alto Software's award-winning business plan software, for a greatly reduced price. Click here to access LivePlan. If you do not wish to use LivePlan, there are numerous sources on the internet about writing a business plan. One you might find helpful can be found at the Small Business Administration website, https://www.sba.gov/writing-business-plan.
In addition, the Small Business Development Center, an organization whose mission is to advance South Carolina's economic development by helping entrepreneurs grow successful businesses, is available to all Proving Ground applicants for consultation and advice. With 17 offices in the state, the SBDC is within reach of everyone in South Carolina. To reach the Columbia office, dial (803) 777-5118. For contact information for other offices, go to the SBDC web site.
Once you have your business plan finished, it’s time to complete your application. Teams must submit their ventures through the YouNoodle platform by March 1, 2019, at 11:00 p.m., at 5:00 p.m.