Business success after losing a start-up competition

You think you lost? Think again. 

Imagine working your behind off during a start-up or business ideas competition. Long hours, little sleep, dazzling to-do lists, tons of brutally honest feedback and at times that fuzzy feeling of being somewhat overwhelmed.

That’s what joining a competition like ClimateLaunchpad can be like, especially with the intense Boot Camps and rigorous training we offer. For months your eye is never off the ball. But of course, it’s all worth it. Because you are devoted to your idea and your goal is crystal clear: you’re gonna take home that global award and the prize money that comes along with it (which you’ll use to build your business).

But then you don’t win… You gave it your all, but had a bad day at the Finals. Or some other team was able to convince the jury just a bit better. When that happens, you’re bound to feel deflated for a while and perhaps uninspired to keep working at your idea.

If that’s the case for you right now, this article is for you.

Win or lose, the most valuable lessons are in playing the game
Giants like Amazon, Google and Ebay? They never won a business plan contest. Akamai Technologies (a big tech success back in the day)? They lost at a MIT competition. Granted, these examples are dotcoms and not in the green business. They still show that winning competitions is not the only road to success.

And there’s our very own example of 2015 participant Gold&Green Foods. They were not able to make it to our Grand Final, but in 2017 they are in the top-3 of alumni with most revenue.

All this is not to say that winning does you no good. It will definitely give your business a boost and some nice PR. But win or lose, the most valuable lessons you’ll learn come from playing the game, overcoming setbacks and following through.

Get back at it
Okay, so you didn’t win ClimateLaunchpad or some other competition. Now what? Well, you pick yourself up and get back at it. Put those learnt lessons into practice. Get out here and find your customer. We said it before: finding a paying customer is a much bigger prize than winning.

Some pointers
Here’s a few things you can do to keep moving forward:

  • Check out Climate-KIC Accelerator. This 18-month programme helps you grow your cleantech idea into a great business.
  • Stay involved with your peers. During a competition you meet so many new people, all working within your field. Network, help each other out, partner up.
  • Take a long hard look at the feedback you received from the jury and from trainers or peers. Use it.

As long as you believe in your idea, you owe it to yourself to make it work. It’s as simple as that.

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