STATEWIDE – The first-ever California statewide business plan competition has officially launched. The competition is encouraging California’s young people, between the ages of 14 and 27, to write a business plan and compete to win a combined cash prize of $15,000.

The competition has been branded as the “BEC Boost.” The BEC, an initiative of the Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) program through the California Community Colleges, is a network of community college professionals working in strategic partnerships with businesses, industry, and community organizations to identify and meet California’s economic development needs in the areas of business improvements and entrepreneurship training.

Mike Roessler, the statewide director of the BEC, decided to partner with Palo Alto Software, the world’s leader in business planning software, to launch this competition and help “boost” California’s economy. Roessler stated, “Statistics show that it is the entrepreneurs and small business owners who fuel our economy, so we wanted to start even further downstream by encouraging and mentoring our young people to gain the skills and knowledge to start their own business. This competition is designed for young people who really want to start their very own small business.”

The partnership with Palo Alto Software includes a hosted website for the competition,, where legal California residents can register for the business plan competition and gain access to LivePlan – Palo Alto Software’s online business planning and management software. Palo Alto Software will also facilitate the screening of the business plans, and the judging process. The judges for the competition include Tim Berry, founder and board chairmen of Palo Alto Software; Barbara Vohryzek, the Deputy Director for Small Business and the Small Business Advocate at the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development; R Paul Singh, the founder and CEO of, as well as an angel investor with The Indus Entrepreneurs; and Jeff Draa, a former board member of Tech Coast Angels, and regular judge for several venture pitch competitions in the U.S.

Through its Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP), the BEC endeavors to strengthen California by encouraging young people to engage in their own entrepreneurial enterprises. YEP brings business ownership concepts to young people ages 14 to 27 with the intention of replacing misconceptions of vocational education and blue-collar jobs with increased awareness of, and aspirations for, self-employment as a legitimate lifetime career path.

“Our Youth Entrepreneurship Program started out as a method to energize and motivate young people,” stated Roessler. “Now, our mission is more about having these young people actually start businesses and have businesses come out of the community college system – real, viable businesses that will make money, create jobs, and provide them with an entrepreneurial career path. And we have already had just under 200 young people register for the BEC Boost. It’s very promising considering the deadline isn’t until May 1.”

“We are excited to support the Business and Entrepreneurship Center program and the Youth Entrepreneurship Program,” says Palo Alto Software CEO, Sabrina Parsons. “Working with Mike Roessler and his programs in California is an exciting way to be involved in entrepreneurial education in California, and a great way to continue to support the American dream. Targeting young people, and infusing entrepreneurial skills in the classroom will result in smarter, more empowered students who can either start their own businesses, or join existing businesses with the knowledge-base of what it means to start, run and grow a business.”

The BEC Boost business plan competition has three categories for competitors: 14 to 17 years old, 18 to 27 years old, and all legal California residents 28 and older. Each group is eligible to win $5,000. For more information about the California BEC Boost competition, visit

Key dates associated with the BEC Boost:

Feburary 7, 4:30PM: Free webinar: “How to write a winning business plan” – targeting the 14 – 17 year old age track. Registration required.

May 1, 12PM: Contest Deadline
May 22, 10AM: Free webinar: “BEC Boost Winners Announced” – open to anyone. Registration required.

Track and generate buzz about the BEC Boost by following @BECProgram and @LivePlan