Tech vendor sponsors e-commerce business plan contest

ATG to award US$60k in prize money

If you have a big e-commerce idea, you could win US$50,000 (AU$56,997) to get it off the ground.

E-commerce company Art Technology Group is sponsoring a contest to find the best e-commerce business plan. The total prize money is US$60,000 -- US$50,000 for the first prize and US$10,000 for the runner-up.

The e-Commerce Ingenuity Business Plan Competition is open to individuals or teams of e-commerce entrepreneurs, as well as professionals from seed or early-stage companies with less than US$100,000 in annual revenue or money raised to date, according to ATG. E-commerce must be the centerpiece of the business plan, ATG said.

ATG said the contest is an opportunity for people to turn their innovative business ideas and concepts into reality.

"There are so many interesting [e-commerce] ideas cropping up that we wanted to bring them into the limelight, so we announced this contest," said Cliff Conneighton, ATG's senior vice president of marketing. "What's in it for us? We're going to learn a lot about what's out there, what's possible, what people are thinking. And we're encouraging contestants to come forward with new technologies or new business ideas, new business models, new online retailing ideas."

Examples of business plans could include new technologies to attract and retain customers, new approaches to the e-commerce experience, and new tools to deliver e-commerce experiences to new industries, according to the statement.

Although not the focus of the contest, ATG hopes that the competition will generate ideas in which ATG, as well as venture capitalist firms, might want to invest, Conneighton said.

The business plan entries will be judged on inventiveness and creativity, how likely the businesses are to get off the ground and how viable they will be long term. All entries must be received by 5 p.m. January 30.

The winner will be chosen by a panel of software and technology experts, industry leaders and business executives, including Gene Alvarez of Gartner; Mark Hall of Computerworld; Dave Power of Fidelity Ventures; Drew Reynolds of ATG; and Austin Westerling of Charles River Ventures. The public will vote on the runner-up on ATG's blog, e-Commerce Insights. Conneighton said ATG will post the business plans of the three finalists on the company's blog, and the individual or team with the highest number of votes that isn't the winner will be awarded the second-place prize money.

The three finalists, to be announced in March, will present their full business plans to the judges and deliver their summary presentations to an audience of e-commerce leaders, Web merchants, analysts, investors and ATG partners. The presentations will take place at ATG's annual user conference, ATG Insight Live 2008, which will be held in Boston April 27-30. The winners will be announced and the prizes awarded during the conference.

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