Wednesday, May 07, 2008

2008 Big Business Idea Competition Launched

Entries to the TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition, the largest technology-focused business plan competition in the Gulf region, opened at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) yesterday at a press conference led by Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General KOM and Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing. Backed by Ernst & Young, Knowledge Horizon, Infocomm, Ericsson, NCR (pictured left), Intilaaqah, Sanad and OER this is the third year that the competition has been held and according to Mulkie Al Hashmi, KOM Marketing Officer: “We’re looking forward to receiving a record number of entries this year.”

“We’ll be organizing a series of workshops for those interested in entering the competition. These will be delivered by our supporters and will cover themes like writing a business plan; the importance of ICT to start-ups; small business finance; developing a business idea; and presentation skills.

The competition offers two prizes of RO5,000 each to the winning and runner up business plan. The competition’s winner and runner up are also given 12 months rent free office accommodation in The Knowledge Mine business incubator program based at KOM.

“The Infocomm team is delighted to be part of the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition, any initiative that promotes entrepreneurship in the sultanate must be welcomed. Past entries have come in from teams, new companies, students and entrepreneurs dotted around the country. I know the KOM management are very happy with the quality of business plans that have been submitted and the winners from previous years are already taking advantage of the incubator facilities at KOM. It’s a great initiative,” commented Karim Rahemtulla, MD, Infocomm.

The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition is not just about the competition itself. Former entrants have used the event as a launch pad to raise investment for their ventures, and the competition’s finalists, particularly, benefit from the high-profile media exposure they receive at the annual Gala Dinner, which provides them with instant access to an audience of influential business personalities seeking new investment opportunities.

One company that has benefited in this way is Qumreiyat who is developing a dynamic tourism portal. Qumreyat’s Zawan Al Sabti was one of three responsible for presenting the prize-winning pitch at the 2006 final, she says: “The competition provided our start-up with a great opportunity. We were able to present our initial ideas on business strategy and receive valuable feedback from experienced professionals on how best to take the company forward. Since presenting at the 2006 final the team has gone from strength to strength.”

Majid Al Yaqoobi of Real Reflection, an e-survey company, and runners up at last year’s event agrees that the competition provides an invaluable opportunity for young Omani entrepreneurs. “Real Reflection has attracted a significant amount of interest since we took up residency in TKM. The competition provided the focus we needed to refine our business plan and strategy. The document we produced to enter the competition was a valuable starting point on which to build the broader plan for the company’s launch. Our appearance at last year’s final clearly raised our profile to a national level, something we couldn’t have achieved on our own.”

Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General and organiser of the TKM - Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition added: “The quality of entries is high and our experienced judges are not easily impressed, so getting to the final is a significant achievement, and one which is recognised by potential investors.”

The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition has been helping to raise the profile of start-up and spin-out organisations since its inception in 2006 by providing valuable exposure for growing businesses and access to a wide range of resources, advice and guidance through its workshop programme and networking activities. The competition is free of charge and open to all Omani nationals. The competition’s closing date is 7 July and application forms can be downloaded from

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