10 July 2011

Winning The University of Queensland (UQ) Business School’s Enterprize business plan competition a few years ago gave Queensland entrepreneur and UQ IT graduate Mark Bathie just the lift into the “cloud” he needed.

Again this year, seed capital of 100,000AUD is on offer for a smart start-up company.

But emerging entrepreneurs need to be quick: Enterprize entrants must lodge their concept business plans by July 22 to be in the running for this lucrative prize.

Mark Bathie’s win in 2007 saw him take his cloud-based computing services company from a small enterprise named CVSDude to the thick of the IT action in Silicon Valley in the US in 2009, changing its name to Codesion, and growing its customers to about 3400 (including Mattel and Greenpeace) in 90 countries, with some 70,000 active users.

Codesion’s success drew the attention of big names in the US, with Mark finally accepting last year a “seven figure” offer for his company from CollabNet, one of the world’s largest names in the software development tools industry.

The sale was completed in October.

“I had achieved what I wanted with Codesion, and I felt it was time to move on,” said Mark, 33, who is now living on the Gold Coast.

While the keen surfer has enjoyed a break from “working the crazy hours I’ve done for the last few years”, he’s not the type of person to “sit still” and is now working on another start-up idea.

He said winning Enterprize not only gave his business a critical cash injection, it gave him a greater understanding of business planning and valuable coaching on how to pitch to investors.

“It’s easy to get caught up with creating a product, but you also have to start thinking about the business questions: how big is the market, who are my competitors, what are my business goals, what do I want out of this personally? " he said,

"Putting it down on paper is important.

"Everybody should do it.

"The other thing I learnt is that investors needed to hear about the business from me. They want to hear the drive, the passion.

"They are interested in the person as much as the idea.”

Senior lecturer at the UQ Business School Dr Martie-Louise Verreynne said demonstrating personal passion was an area people commonly neglected when drawing up their business plans.

“What investors and venture capitalists look at is who is the team they are going to be working with, and what is the background of that team,” Dr Verreynne said.

“It’s about trusting who you’re going to be providing your money to.”

Another key to a successful business plan is flexibility, Dr Verreynne said.

“We view a business plan as a living document, one that should be adapted and adjusted as the business climate changes,” she said.

“The hallmark of a good plan is that it is not a static document.”

Now in its 11th year, Enterprize is Australia’s richest business competition, awarding million to promising start-ups in the past decade.

For more information, entry requirements, to view videos of past winners and finalists, and to enter Enterprize visit www.business.uq.edu.au/enterprize