What goes into your Preliminary Business Plan Proposal? What you should know before submitting your entry.

Eligibility and General Info

  • Students can participate individually or as a member of a team (three to five members). Cross-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.
  • A team or individual can submit only one proposal. An individual cannot be a member of more than one team.
  • Your strategic business plan must be developed during the student’s time at the university.
  • Participants, whether teams or individuals, can have advisers and coaches. These advisers can be faculty members, business executives, entrepreneurs or family members. This is not a requirement. However, it is the students who must present their business plan and participate in the competition.
  • Only students are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to non-students.

Preliminary Proposal

The Idea and Team

  1. The name and nature of the proposed venture?
  2. General Description: What problem are you solving? What is your business solution? Describe how your venture makes money and how it will assure long-term sustainability.
  3. Value Proposition: What are your company’s key, differentiated value propositions (e.g., lowest cost, highest reliability, best performance, etc.)? What is your idea’s competitive advantage versus the competition?
  4. Structure: What is the legal structure of your organization? Do you have the team members that you need to start and grow?


  1. Product/Service: What is your product/service offering?
  2. Function and Benefit: How does your product/service work? Define and quantify key benefits (e.g., cost, performance, technical, etc.) for customers.
  3. Development Stage: Where is the product/service in its evolution (e.g., idea/conception, proof of concept, fully tested prototype, etc.)?

Competitive Position

  1. Competitors: Who is your competition?
  2. Edge over Competition: What makes you better than other companies currently in the market?
  3. Sustainability: Is this competitive position sustainable?
  4. Intellectual Property Protection: How will you protect your proprietary information?


  1. Target Market: What markets and market segments are you targeting? How big are these markets and how can you sustainably capture them?
  2. Barriers to Entry: What are the key market barriers and how will they lend to your success?


  1. Customers: Who are the specific customers that you are pursuing or will pursue?
  2. Discovery: What kind of customer discovery have you conducted, or will you conduct to find out about people who want what you are offering?

Funding & Cost

  1. What are the potential sources of funding to launch the project?
  2. What is the expected cost of launching this project?

Social Responsibility

  1. Briefly explain your commitment to social responsibility.

This proposal is no longer taking submissions.

Lori Cary
Director for Student Success
Phone Number
Hagedorn Hall of Enterprise 202A
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