Business plan competitions have popped up all over the United States and the World in an attempt to spur idea creation and innovation as well as give young entrepreneurs the chance to create business plans, get feedback and mentorship and to move their ideas forward. These competitions have been growing in popularity, prize money and entrants very quickly, even breaking into sector segments such as social entrepreneurship, technology, manufacturing, and bio-tech. At last count according to The Kaufman foundation there are more than 350 business plan competitions at Universities or colleges nationwide, with number growing every day.
Most of the top business plan competitions are sponsored by Universities, the top paying business plan competition in the U.S., The Rice University business plan competition has over 40 teams participating and 1.3 million dollars in prizes including 125,000 in seed capital, 80,000 dollars in services including a year of office space, and 20,000 in cash for first place. This competition is open to students from all Universities and brings the best competition to the floor creating an extremely competitive field. These competitions often bring investors, executives and experts in as judges, as well as, audience members many of whom are ready to invest in or mentor the next big idea.
The business plan competitions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are set up into segments with a 100,000 dollar prize for entrepreneurship, the competition consists of an elevator pitch, an executive summary and a business plan in the fields of: development, energy, life sciences, products and services and mobile and web/information technology. The 100,000 dollar prize going to the overall winner, while top scores in each segment get 25,000 dollars. There is also a clean energy prize which applies to energy related innovations that can lower costs and/or protect the environment. This competition is also split into categories: Energy efficiency and infrastructure, renewables, non-renewables, transportation and deployment. The overall first place team takes home 200,000 in cash while the top teams in each category take home between 25-40 thousand dollars.
What is available in Northern Nevada? Through the University of Nevada there are multiple options for students in business plan competitions.
- The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s cup offers students the chance to create a business plan and be judges by a group of experts with a chance to compete for 150,000 in prizes. (http://ncet.org/governors-cup/)
- Sontag Entrepreneurship competition offers students a chance to compete for a 50,000 first place prize. This competition was created through a donation from Alumnus Rick Sontag, brings teams together from all over the University to compete for one of the 5 finalist positions, each of these Teams receives a 1000 dollars working capital prize while second place and first place receive 5000 and 50000 dollars respectively. http://www.unr.edu/sontag
- University Of Nevada Reno Entrepreneur Club Annual Pack Pitch Competition offers young and upcoming entrepreneurs the chance to do a pitch based on an idea and not a business plan. The event is meant to spur idea creation and get students to bring forward their ideas without the daunting task of creating and presenting a business plan. The Competition is open to all students from any college in the University and has a 500 dollar first prize 250 dollar 2nd prize and 100 dollar 3rd prize. https://www.facebook.com/unreclub
- Project Vesto offers the community a chance to get involved in the business plan competition movement so often saved for students. Project Vesto asks entrepreneurs to create a lean model canvas and then pitch the idea to a panel of expert judges in 5 minutes. From the pitches the judges choose finalist who go on to an online vote to pick the winner who will receive a 100,000 dollar cash prize. http://ves.to/