Favorites ()
Terrence Murphy Hall at sunset.

Sponsored by the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship

St. Thomas Business Plan Competition

You could win $10,000 to build your company

The St. Thomas Business Plan Competition is open to all St. Thomas students and recent alumni (graduated within the last 5 years) 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, 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 – undergraduate and graduate/recent alumni – with a top prize in each of $10,000 cash. Additional prizes totaling $8,000 more are awarded to teams that advance to the finals division.

Social Ventures can also compete for an additional award and an automatic bid to the 2024 Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge in San Diego, CA!

If your business is a social venture, you can compete for an additional $6,000 cash award and an opportunity to compete for up to $25,000 in seed funding at the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge (FGSIC). After submitting to the Business Plan Competition, social ventures will also submit an additional 3-5 page problem and solution summary. Social ventures will compete in the morning, before the afternoon Business Plan Competition Finals, and the top two social ventures will receive automatic bids to head to San Diego in May and compete in the FGSIC. Being in the social venture finals DOES NOT preclude you from also competing in the Business Plan Finals in the afternoon.

Social Ventures must engage with one or more of the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Participants can address any social or environmental problem as long as it is aligned with at least one of the SDGs.

Any current student of St. Thomas can compete in the FGSIC individually or as part of a team (with a maximum of five members per team). Alumni are welcome to compete. If an alumni team advances to the June Global Finals, at least one team member must be a current St. Thomas student at the time of participation. The rest of the team may belong to the same institution, another participating university, another non-participating institute, or not be a student at all.

To submit for the FGSIC Award, you must complete a 3-5 page summary in addition to your Business Plan submission. Read about the FGSIC requirements here.


Undergraduate Division

The competition is open to all currently enrolled University of St. Thomas undergraduate students registered in the semester of the competition with a valid St. Thomas student ID.

Graduate and Recent Alumni Division

The competition is open to currently enrolled graduate students and post-doctoral fellows registered in the semester of the competition with a valid St. Thomas student ID. Recent alumni, students who have graduated within the past five academic years, are also eligible to compete in this division.

In Either Division

  • Submissions must be for a new company or for a business that's been incorporated less than 12 months and cannot have won a previous St. Thomas Business Plan Competition.
  • The business should not have received more than $200,000 in equity-related capital (such as seed capital or institutional funding) or generated more than $100,000 in gross revenue prior to the current academic year. Revenue generated during a test-marketing project may be excluded from this provision.
  • Teams typically consist of one to four members.
  • Each team must designate one student or alumni member as the team leader and point-of-contact for the competition.
  • Teams may include non-student or non-alumni members, however, these individuals cannot make up the majority of the team, cannot take part in pitch presentations or win prize money.
  • In the case of submissions from an existing organization, at least one student or alumni team member must be a C-level officer or a director of the organization (e.g., Executive Director, CEO, COO, etc.) or the majority owner of the business.


All sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations, video and slide deck submissions and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these sessions may be shared with interested people, through media that may include radio, television, printed materials and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that could possibly enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged, or presented in these sessions. Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant. By participating in the competition, entrants agree that no member of the Business Plan Competition team — The University of St. Thomas, members of the judging panel, sponsors and their designate organizations — will assume any liability whatsoever for any disclosures of business plan information that may be made (whether inadvertently or otherwise) by any judge, reviewer, staff member, audience member or other individual connected with, participating in, viewing, hearing, or receiving information from the competition.

Complete you submission on the Reviewr Portal!

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.

Submit full business plans via our Reviewer site, by 11:59 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 8, 2024. Finalists will be announced on Tuesday, February 20. All teams, regardless of outcome, will be given feedback on their business plans.

Submit Here!

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 in person on the Minneapolis Campus on Friday, March 1.

2024 Finalist Competition and Award Ceremony

Friday, March 1, 2024

Special Award: Fowler Global Social Innovation Finals: 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Business Plan Competition Final Round and Awards: 11:45 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.

Schulze Hall

Meet the 2023 Finalists

Concept Requirements

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

Teams can enter more than one business plan into the competition, but only one submission can advance to the finals.

FGSIC Requirements Here

Business Plan Requirements Here

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. Email schulzeschool@stthomas.edu to request access.

If you have a social venture and are wanting some assistance in thinking through your concept and putting together your business plan, contact our new Social Entrepreneur in Residence Kelli Nelson kcnelson@stthomas.edu.

Info Sessions and 1:1 Mentoring Opportunities

1:1 mentoring sessions are thirty-minute meetings per individual or team with mentors to help you prepare your business plan.

Schedule General Business Mentor Sessions Here

Schedule Social Venture-Specific Mentor Sessions:

  • With Kelsey Joson Here
  • With Kelli Nelson Here

Missed the Info Session? Watch the recording here.

Learn more about the Business Plan Competition and the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge requirements and resources. There will be an opportunity for Q&A with a former competitor and a reviewer/judge of the competition.

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 – How will you make your money? What are your sources of revenue? What are your most significant costs?
  • 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?
  • Operations – How will the product/service be produced, delivered and supported? What are the key activities that will need to be carried out to deliver your product and operate successfully? What are the key resources (physical/human/intellectual capital) that will be needed?
  • 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 – Projected income statements and KPIs

  • 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?
  • 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? Have they made realistic assumptions they can justify?
  • 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?

  • 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.