If you’re thinking about entering your startup company in TEC Edmonton’s 2015 TEC VenturePrize Business Plan Competition, read on.

Chris LaBoissiere and Don Riep had barely started what is now one of Edmonton’s most successful IT companies, testing and training expert Yardstick Software.

But in 2006, then known as Leading Edge Technologies, Yardstick was one year old. Its three employees (including the two co-founders) worked around the clock just to keep the wolf from the door.

VenturePrize, LaBoissiere says, was pivotal to Yardstick’s post VenturePrize success.

“We only found out and entered the competition 12 days before the deadline for submitting a business plan,”s says LaBoissiere. “Being forced to write that business plan changed our lives.

“The three of us – it was only us back then – stayed up to midnight every night before the deadline. We were forced to wrestle with all those questions you need to answer if your company is going to be successful. Without that deadline we’d have been too busy just keeping the company alive. You don’t think about markets or business models.

Once the Yardstick business plan was submitted, along came another unexpected benefit from the business contest. “We received forthright, blunt criticisms and assessments from mentors, juries and our peers. It was really good stuff. If you can’t accept scrutiny, don’t start a business.”

Third unexpected benefit: LaBoissiere and Riep’s eyes were opened to the power of networking. “All the finalists were of a high calibre. We had a great time with each other. Today we are still friends. Some are employees. Others have given us opportunities to invest in their businesses. Together, we realized what it would take to make our companies successful.”

Winning – which Yardstick did in 2006 – was almost secondary. Almost. Being a VenturePrize winner gave the company the “stamp of validity,” says Chris. “We gained credibility and exposure. Winning the prize opened a lot of doors.” The healthy prize, in both cash and services, didn’t hurt!

At the 2015 TEC VenturePrize launch last week, TEC CEO Chris Lumb was proud to back LaBoissiere and Reap’s words with impressive statistics.

An informal survey of the 33 winners before VenturePrize 2014 was held showed only three had ceased doing business.

Collectively, $60 million in investment capital had been raised. Annual revenues ranged from $1 million to $12 million a year, and the companies were employing from 10 to 35 knowledge-based employees.

To learn more about entering the VenturePrize Competition , with its Fast Growth, TELUS IT, and post-secondary student streams, plus its entire educational component, please visit www.ventureprize.com.

The entrance fee, including all educational components, mentoring and events is $500.

The deadline for entering a business plan is midnight, Feb. 24, however the educational component starts as of Jan. 22.

For particular questions please do not hesitate to call or e-mail TEC VenturePrize manager Kendel Ferrier at 780 492 8857, kendel.ferrier@tecedmonton.com

Thursday lunchtime seminar series led by TEC Edmonton CEO Chris Lumb and TEC Edmonton’s team of Executives-In-Residence from Jan. 22 to Feb. 26, are included in competition entry fee. Those wishing to attend the lunchtime seminar series may do so for a fee of $100.

Topics include:

Why Do You Need a Business Plan? Jan 23
Your Product – Industry & Market Analysis / Opportunities & Risk / Operational 5 Year Plan. Jan. 29
What Entrepreneurs Need to Know on the Legal Front, Feb. 5
Your Financial Statements and the Management Team Responsible, Feb. 12
Protecting Your Technology, Feb. 19
Selling Your Plan, Feb. 26

Entrants to the TEC VenturePrize Competition are also welcome to attend, at no extra charge, TEC Edmonton’s two-day Business Basics for Innovators (BBFI) workshop series.