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Former Business Plan Competition finalists tell how their experience helped lay groundwork for business success

Posted June 12, 2018

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group smiling for a photo
Barry McCleland (left) and Steve Alade (second from right) join Mayor Betsy Price, Economic Development Director Robert Sturns, Carolyn Phillips of Alchemey Pops and Hilary Lai of Benefit Acupuncture for a Facebook Live session promoting small businesses and entrepreneurship.

A few years ago, Steve Alade was standing in line waiting for food at Main Street Arts Festival. He quickly noticed how much business the vendor was doing, and started asking some questions. What began as a curiosity soon inspired him to start working weekends at local festivals and fairs, serving his Caribbean and Jamaican-inspired street food while figuring out a way to get his new passion off the ground.

One big element that helped turn his dream into a reality? The Fort Worth Business Plan Competition, which Alade entered in 2016 and placed second.

“The structure that [the Business Plan Competition] provided, in terms of being able to address the different scenarios posed in each section, was really important for me,” said Alade. “From the executive summary, to the operations, financial and marketing sections — being able to hone in and become more of an expert on those different scenarios really helps you know your business, and shows that you’ve addressed these challenges.”

Knowing his business has come in particularly handy for Alade, now that he’s developed his concession and catering company, Doc’s Street Grill, and is applying for a loan for his first brick-and-mortar location.

“Obviously when you’re thinking about starting a business, you want to think about places where your business can flourish,” Alade continued. “I know Fort Worth, I grew up in the area and I love the city’s growth. I know Fort Worth has the right infrastructure in place — it has land, it has good leadership and a friendly environment for businesses to use resources like the Business Plan Competition to be able to push things forward and grow.”

Last year’s Business Plan Competition winner, Barry McCleland, had been working on his startup for seven years before he entered with the goal of improving his business plan.

“I believe what we got from [the Business Plan Competition] was the mentorship from everybody — the lectures, the SCORE people and the [Business Assistance Center] — and that was just invaluable,” said McCleland. “It inspires you to look further into your marketing and financial strategies that you want to do in your business plan.”

McCleland also found himself inspired by his fellow candidates. His business, Myconi Technologies, created a high-tech monitoring device that measures the temperature of pharmaceutical products in the supply chain as they’re transported from place to place. But the Business Plan Competition exposed him to other entrepreneurs with businesses vastly different from his own, all of whom were driven to learn and succeed.

“From the acupuncturist, to the food markets, to the people creating executive cufflinks, you see so many different perspectives among the competitors. They’re all inspired to start their own business, and that’s what I admire about every one of them — there’s nothing more satisfying than having a business of your own.”

Watch Alade and McCleland tell their stories on YouTube.

About the Business Plan Competition

Entrepreneurs can apply online by midnight June 15 to be part of the 2018 Business Plan Competition. Participants will compete for more than $50,000 in cash and in-kind services, working with the Guinn Campus and its partners for five weeks of workshops, coaching and other training before the top three finalists pitch their business plans to judges in October.

Applicants must be a business with a DBA registered in Tarrant County, and must have an annual revenue of less than $500,000. Capital One Bank is the competition’s presenting sponsor.

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