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3 Tips for Nailing Startup Competitions

College Treps

Editor's Note: College Treps is a weekly column that puts the spotlight on college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs, as they tackle the tough task of starting up and going to school. Follow their daily struggles and this column on Twitter with the hashtag #CollegeTreps.

Startups are like newborn babies. Once you give birth to an idea, you see the bright future ahead. But as the allure of success fades, you soon realize your baby can’t grow without the proper resources, funding and support.

This is where startup competitions come into action. For many of us young ‘treps, entering these events can seem daunting and intimidating. You might not know where to start, wonder if you can get by without it, question whether you can afford the time needed to spend on it, or fear that someone may steal your idea.

Related: 500 Startups Opens Up New Manhattan Co-Working Space. Should You Join?

In my opinion, if you can think of just one solid reason why you should enter a startup competition, you should go for it with all you’ve got. I recently applied to my first one in Massachusetts called the MassChallenge and here are my top tips:

1. Have no fear. We all know aside from hard work and ingenuity, there is a bit of lucky right-time-right-place in the mix when it comes to real success. If you are in a place with your company where entering a startup competition makes sense, then do it. You never know, your product might be exactly what they were looking for or in a category that is a hot topic in the entrepreneurship world.

2. Assemble a board of advisors. To help you with all the paperwork and forms, executive summaries and company bios you will need a good strong board of advisors. Depending on where you are at with your startup, this could be a paid employee or it could a family friend who started his own company and is willing to help. It is vital to have at least two people to confide in and help you every step of the way.

Related: 5 Tips for Harnessing the Power of On-Campus Events

3. Remember, it’s not about the money. When you enter your first startup competition you need to tell yourself that it’s not all about financial gain. Most competitions offer a vast supply of resources and opportunities to network with higher up business professionals. The amount you can learn from others about how they got started and what they think about your company can be crucial to the growth of your brand. If nothing else, remember that as an entrepreneur you need to constantly be talking to people, asking questions, getting opinions and operating on platforms that support these values. A startup competition is a great way to get your feet wet and get the exposure that could make your company a great success.

Have you applied for a startup competition? What are your tips? Share them here in the comments section.

**Apply Now** Are you an enthusiastic college- or graduate-student entrepreneur, eager to share your on-campus experiences? Apply to be a YoungEntrepreneur.com College Treps columnist.

Nina Foroutan is currently pursuing her MBA at Babson College focusing on entrepreneurship, while building her Youthful Chef brand, an innovative health food company that will be served at Babson dining halls in Fall 2012. For her undergraduate education she attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated with a dual degree in journalism and international studies. She has worked as the assignment desk editor for the evening news programs and WHDH Channel 7 in Boston and WCVB Channel 5 News in Needham, Mass. Follow her on Twitter.
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