Looking for investors? Fund your idea with a business plan competition!

8 min read
Khalida Kamaludin

It's not easy to start a business. You need more than just a great idea. There is also funding you need to consider and the right strategy in place before considering turning your vision into reality. A business plan competition is great for helping entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground because they provide valuable feedback from industry experts who can help make sure your business’ blueprint has all of its bases covered.

Editor’s note: Got questions about putting your idea online? Get instant answers on GoDaddy Asia Facebook Messenger now.

Benefits of entering a business plan competition

1. Find Funds

Joining a competition or startup program means you’ll get access to investors who are already looking to put their money into the next best thing.

You might be asking... 

“But what if I’m NOT the next best thing?”

Just entering one of these competitions can be the key to unlocking your next breakthrough in business, let alone winning one!

Whether you manage to obtain funding from the business plan competition or not, if you’re willing to seize every opportunity you get from all the exposure, feedback and networking, you’re still guaranteed to get something out of it. Trust!

2. Impress Potential Investors

Business plan contests or programs are usually packed with submissions, so it’s understandable why judges don't have the time to review every submission that comes their way.

This is why participation alone puts you at an advantage - it shows that even if you didn't win, the judges thought highly enough of your idea or proposal to be judged among other talented applicants.

If you're looking for investors, then participating in these programs can help you get your foot in the door.

3. Improve Your Business Model

Business plan competitions strategy

The experience of participating in a business plan competition challenges you to think critically about virtually every aspect of your company. And that's the point, after all - without being told exactly what we need to improve on (or how), it would be difficult for us as entrepreneurs and innovators to not only persevere, but also grow our businesses into sustainable success stories!

A major advantage is identifying bottlenecks in the business and addressing them ASAP, so they don't become debilitating issues down the line which can happen if those problems are left unattended or solved using amateur methods.

Related: Here’s your business plan checklist

4. Access Top Industry Mentors

Founders often have a hard time figuring out how to focus their efforts. They don't know the right questions to ask or what areas they should be working on. While you may recognize the need to raise funds, you may not know:

  • How much money you need
  • Which investors are actively writing checks for companies like yours
  • What deal terms you should be discussing with your investors

That’s where mentors come in.

Business plan competitions get mentors on board to help guide participants through getting their product to market. These mentors are often hand-selected for their experience in entrepreneurship, technology development or business strategy coaching.

Joining a competition or program is a great way to get feedback from experienced professionals in the industry, many of whom have led startup companies before. You get to understand and learn from not just their successes, but their mistakes too - an invaluable resource when you're just starting out!

5. Free Publicity

You don't need to have significant funds in order to get the exposure you deserve. Your idea may spark interest from business media outlets who will then provide free publicity opportunities for innovative ideas, and these can put you on a path towards meeting potential investors and collaborators.

Upcoming Fundraising Competitions & Programs

Whether you’re already in the deep end of entrepreneurship or whether you’ve just hatched your billion-dollar idea this morning in the shower, here is a list of business plan competitions and startup programs that will get you on the road to success.

Accelerating Asia

business plan competitions Accelerating Asia logo

Accelerating Asia is an early stage venture capital fund that invests up to US $250k into companies that join their accelerator program. They’ve funded 36 startups so far, with 35% of those being female co-founded.

The program is designed to equip founders with the skills needed to fast track growth and get them raising funds in 100 days. Joining also means you’ll get  exposed to their influential network of fellow founders, mentors and investors from all around the world.

You need to have an existing product and a sound business plan that points to profitability, although they do encourage you to apply even if you’re unsure. Never try, never know!

Eligibility: South East Asia & South Asia startups (including Singapore, Malaysia & Philippines)

Potential Funding: USD $250,000

Program Length: 100 days

Click here to apply. You can do this!


Business plan competitions A Scale logo

A-Scale is South East Asia’s first zero equity-based pre-investment program. That means you get to enter the market without giving any company equity upfront. Instead, A-Scale uses a milestone-based equity model where you gain access to funding only when milestones are achieved.

It’s a zero-risk option that allows you to scale with purpose, under powerful guidance of mentors and industry experts.

A-Scale also spans across different sectors: from medical-based businesses in HealthTech, to sustainable solutions under UrbanTech, and all the way to the entertainment world of gaming and digital media.

Eligibility: Startups based in Singapore in Health, Media & Urban technology

Potential Funding: US $1 million

Program Length: 3 months

Click here to apply. 

Related: Entrepreneurship and small business management

SOW Asia

Business plan competitions Sow Asia logo

SOW Asia is Hong Kong’s first accelerator program exclusively for social enterprises. They’re looking for companies that tackle social challenges like poverty, education and inclusivity through innovative technology.

The program connects you to professionals in the field who will help strengthen your business plan and refine your pitch so that their wide network of philanthropists and impact investors can’t wait to throw their money at you (all for the greater good of society, of course!).

Eligibility: Companies incorporated in Hong Kong, in operation for at least a year

Potential Funding: HK $500,000 - HK $2,000,000

Program Length: 5 months

Click here to apply. 


Business plan competitions Chinaccelerator

Chinaccelerator is the first business plan competition and accelerator program to launch in Asia, and is now reaching its 10-year anniversary.

Besides helping local Chinese companies expand globally, they help global internet startups penetrate the Chinese market too. Those who join the Chinaccelerator program will gain access to investment opportunities, mentorship as well as co-working spaces.

Consider this program if you’re looking to join a powerful global community in addition to getting funding. They have more than 300 mentors across China, SEA, Europe and the US and an alumni network of 680 companies worldwide. The program has also partnered up with over 50 corporate clients including Unilever, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and MeadJohnson. 

Eligibility: Companies looking to cross borders and go global

Potential Funding: US $150,000

Program Length: 6 months

Click here to apply.

There are plenty of other business plan contests and programs out there that we didn’t get to list here. If you’re looking for one in your own country, you can do a quick location search on Crunchbase.

If you’re looking for government funding instead, check out these latest initiatives in Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Find out for yourself

No matter how ambitious your idea may be, it will require more than a great vision and drive to realize that. Bringing a business to life will also require money and a solid strategy. Most importantly, you will need the right people that can help you get to where you need to be. 

Entering a business plan competition is a great way to hit a bunch of birds with just one stone - even if you don’t win the competition, you’ll gain every opportunity to succeed through exposure, feedback, validation and networking.

You can't win if you don't play, so why not give it a shot? You may never know what the outcome might be until you start trying.

After all, one of the best ways to learn about entrepreneurship is by diving right into it.

If you are looking to put together a business plan, we have a business plan checklist you can refer to. Need more help? Here's a quick start guide to writing a business plan for the first time.