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You could win $10,000 to build your company

The St. Thomas Business Plan Competition is open to all St. Thomas students with plans for a new company or with a business that’s been incorporated less than 12 months.

Have you participated in the Fowler Business Concept Challenge, the Lemonade Stand or any other business competition? This is the logical next step to get your plans on paper, move your business forward and get paid in the process.

There are two divisions of competition – university and high school – with a top prize in each of $10,000 cash. Additional prizes are awarded to teams that advance to the finals division. 

Eligibility

University Division

The competition is open to all currently enrolled University of St. Thomas undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows registered in the semester of the competition. All members of a team must be current students with a valid St. Thomas student ID.

High School Division

Students from high schools located in Minnesota are invited to submit plans to the high school division of the competition. Eligible students must be enrolled in high school in the semester of the competition and are required to have an advisor for their team. 

Teams (in either division) typically consist of one to three members.

Competition Process

Round 1

Email schulzeschool@ stthomas.edu to indicate your interest in the competition and receive access to a LivePlan account, a software that can help build your business plan.

Deadline: Submit full business plans via our FluidReview site, by midnight, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Finalists will be announced on Monday, February 10. All teams, regardless of outcome, will be given feedback on their business plans.

Round 2

The top teams from each division will revise their business plan given the feedback from round 1, and prepare a professional pitch for the finals. Final presentations are on Friday, February 21, in Schulze Hall Auditorium on the Minneapolis Campus

Concept Requirements

Submissions should be new business plans. If a business plan has won a previous St. Thomas Business Plan Competition, it is disqualified from the competition.

Students may submit as many business concepts as they would like, but students are limited to only one concept to compete in the final competition on February 15.

Applicant Resources

Don’t have experience creating a business plan? No problem. The Schulze School of Entrepreneurship will supply all entrants with a free LivePlan account, a user-friendly, business plan creation website. We're also partnering with the Small Business Development Center to provide mentoring for your plan. Email smallbusiness@stthomas.edu to arrange a meeting to go over your plan.

Attend a 1:1 help session

1:1 help sessions are thirty-minute meetings per individual or team with mentors from the Small Business Development Center to help you prepare your business plan. Register for your 1:1 appointment here.

1:1 help sessions held at the Anderson Student Center, ASC 237.

Evaluation Of Initial Submissions

  • The Opportunity – How well is it identified? How significant of an opportunity is it? What are the forces creating the opportunity?
  • The Business Concept and Product(s) – What’s the core concept for the business? What is your value proposition? What does your product/service mix look like?
  • The Market – Define your market. How large is it and what is its potential? Who is your target audience? Who are the purchasing decision makers and what are their processes?
  • Economics of the Business – What are your margins? What is your break even point? What does your cost structure look like? How will you make your money?
  • Marketing – What does pricing look like? How will you promote your product/service? How will you sell your product/service? How will goods be distributed Do you have a customer service plan in place?
  • Operations – What are your staffing requirements? How will the product/service be produced, delivered and supported? What do your logistics and inventory look like?
  • Non-financial Resource Requirements – What type of facility do you need? Where will you be located? What sort of employees are needed? Etc.
  • Management Team – Who are the players and what are their roles? How much experience/credibility do they bring? What does compensation look like? Who are your key advisors and do you have a board of directors?
  • Venture Financing – How much money is needed and from where? How will financiers receive their return and at what rate?
  • Financials – your cash flow statement, income statement and balance sheet.

  • Pragmatism/realism
  • Completeness/comprehensiveness
  • Internal consistency
  • Writing style
  • Professionalism of the document

In addition to the content and written document mechanics scores, judges are asked to score your business plan based on their likelihood of investing, where 100 is an outstanding plan in which a judge would absolutely want to invest.


Evaluation Of Oral Presentations

  • Is there a real opportunity? What are the forces creating the opportunity? Did they prove a market need?
  • Is there an interesting business concept? Is it an innovative idea that could be implemented?
  • Is there a clearly defined market? How large is it and what is its potential? Who is your target audience? Who are the purchasing decision makers and what are their processes?
  • Do operations make sense? What are the staffing requirements? How will the product/service be produced, delivered and supported? What do logistics and inventory look like?
  • Do they know how to make a sale? How good is the marketing, advertising, branding, promotion, selling and distribution?
  • Is it clear how money will be made? What are the margins? What are the revenue drivers? What is the cost structure?
  • Are the financial statements believable? Does the projected cash flow, income statement and balance sheet seem realistic?
  • Do they know how much money they really need to start? How much money is needed and from where? How will they get it? How will financiers receive their return and at what rate?

  • Ability to capture audience attention
  • PowerPoint or other audiovisuals
  • Mastery of facts and material related to venture
  • Professionalism of the presentation
  • Handling of questions

Judges will additionally score the plan on a scale of 1-100, where 100 is an outstanding plan in which a judge would absolutely want to invest. This score is separate from the scores above and is an overall assessment.