The UW Business Plan Competition is the marquee event for the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington Michael G. Foster School of Business. In the past 18 years, the Business Plan Competition has:
- Awarded $1.2 million in prize money to 139 student companies
- Involved over 400 judges, mentors, sponsors, and supporters each year from the alumni and business community
- Promoted student ideas and new venture creation
- Provided an opportunity for business and science students to present new business plans to Seattle area venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and investors
|Business Plan Competition Event Schedule 2017|
|Thursday, January 19, 2017||Science & Technology Showcase (STS) sponsored by the Buerk Center and SEBA
Application to participate in the 2017 STS due Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.
|Dempsey Hall, Anthony’s Executive Forum (3rd floor) from 5–7 p.m.
Open to teams and judges only.
|Thursday, January 19, 2017||Networking Night/Team Formation (sponsored by the Buerk Center and SEBA)||Dempsey Hall, Anthony’s Executive Forum (following STS) from 7–8:30 p.m.
All students across campus are invited!
|Monday, March 13, 2017||BPC Registration Opens
Application process begins. Optional before March 27, but required by April 3.
|Start your application now for the 2017 BPC!|
|Monday, April 3||DEADLINE TO ENTER: Submit 5–7 pg Executive Summary
This is your official submission to the Business Plan Competition! See the judging criteria tab below and submission checklist.
|All Teams: Register and upload your Executive Summary online at the BPC competition website between March 27 and 11:59 pm on April 3.|
|April 6–9||SCREENING ROUND
Initial review and scoring of all submissions.
|Closed, Online Session—Judges Only|
|Monday, April 10||Announcement of 36 Teams Advancing to the Investment Round||Via email and on Facebook|
|Thursday, April 13||Investment Round Resource Night
Mandatory that at least one person from each team attend.
|6–7:30 p.m., Paccar Hall, room 294|
|April and May, exact dates TBD||OFFICE HOURS with Legal, Entrepreneur, and VC Advisers||Herbold Innovation Lab (DEM 211) Sign up in MentorConnect|
|Thursday, April 20||DEADLINE TO SUBMIT One-Page Executive Summary
ONE PAGE for the Investment Round judges submitted to the BPC website.
|Submit on competition website by 2:00 p.m.|
|Wednesday, April 26||INVESTMENT ROUND
Tradeshow-style event. Announcement of advancing teams at 6 p.m.
|HUB Ballroom 1–5 p.m.
Invitation-only event; not open to the public.
|Wednesday, May 17||COACHING ROUND
Noncompetitive, but mandatory round for the teams heading to the Sweet 16. Have your PowerPoints ready!
|Paccar Hall, various rooms 6–8:30 p.m.|
|Monday, May 22||DEADLINE to Submit Full Business Plan
Now it’s time for a full 12–15 page business plan!
|7 hard copies delivered or mailed to the Buerk Center Office; PDF uploaded to competition registration site by 9 a.m.|
|Thursday, May 25||SWEET 16 ROUND
Teams give their 15-minute presentations to a group of seven judges. Open to judges and presenting teams only.
|Anthony’s Executive Forum, Dempsey Hall, 3rd floor, 8–11:30 a.m.|
|Thursday, May 25||FINAL ROUND
Top teams give their presentations to seven entrepreneur judges. Open to the public.
|Anthony’s Executive Forum, Dempsey Hall, 3rd floor 1–4:30 p.m.|
|Thursday, May 25||DINNER and AWARDS CEREMONY
Invitation only for Investment Round teams and all judges, coaches, mentors, and sponsors. Celebrate the student entrepreneurs and the 20th anniversary of the BPC!
|MOHAI, South Lake Union, Seattle, 6–8:30 p.m.|
Teams in the Business Plan Competition must comply with the following criteria to be eligible for the competition.
- Teams entering the University of Washington’s Business Plan Competition must have at least one full-time or part-time student on the team who is enrolled in a degree seeking program at an accredited college or university in Washington state. If you graduated in Summer quarter 2016 or later, you are considered a current student in the competition.
- The business plan must be developed during the student’s tenure at the university. Students working with outside entrepreneurs must create an original business plan.
- All submissions to the Business Plan Competition must live up to the higher ideals of the University of Washington. Your idea must be appropriate for a university-sponsored event. The Buerk Center reserves the right to disqualify any entry that in its judgment violates the letter or the spirit of the competition or exceeds the bounds of social convention.
- If the company is revenue positive, the company’s actual annual revenue cannot exceed $500k. Please note this is different than the company’s projected revenue. This rule does not apply to projected revenue.
- Eligible students can form a team with non-student business community members or alumni, but there are restrictions to this involvement (see below).
- In the Investment Round, no more than four team members, including both students and non-students, can present the new business concept to the judges. In the Sweet Sixteen and Final Rounds of the competition, only student team members will be allowed to make presentations to the judges.
- Students must have an ownership stake in the business or the potential for equity or employment.
- Only student members of a team may use the MentorConnect and Office Hours resources. Non-student members may not reach out to mentors nor should they attend any Office Hours appointments, even if accompanied by a student. These resources are for students only.
- Only student team members are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to non-students.
Note: The Director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship reserves the right to make the final determination of the eligibility of submitted business ventures.
The UW Business Plan Competition considers all submitted business plans as confidential and treats all team matters accordingly. However, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality for proprietary matters.
Therefore, we strongly encourage any team with concerns regarding intellectual property, copyright, or patent confidentiality to either contact their University’s intellectual property office (for University-developed discoveries) or competent legal counsel (for non-University related discoveries). The University of Washington, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, the Foster School of Business, and the organizers of the competition are not responsible for any proprietary information and/or intellectual property included in a submitted business plan.
Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials is the sole responsibility of the individual or team participating in the competition.
The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship offers numerous ways to prepare for the competition.
Innovative? Have an idea? How do you find the right people to join your team? How do you find a team to join? The Buerk Center offers several ways throughout Autumn and Winter quarters to help you connect with like-minded students.
Check out the team formation events hosted by the Buerk Center. Pitch your idea, pitch your skills, meet students from disciplines across campus at these fun and casual meetup events.
Wednesday, Nov. 2, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, HUB 145
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, HUB 145
Thursday, Dec. 1, 5:30 – 7:00 pm, HUB 145
Final Team Formation Night!
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017
Dempsey Hall, Anthony’s Executive Forum
7:00 – 8:30 pm
This final meetup before the competitions really get going in conjunction with SEBA (Science & Engineering Business Association). The Buerk Center and SEBA host the Science & Technology Showcase poster competition, followed by the largest meetup of the season! Join us for food, beverages, conversation, and lots of interesting ideas!
Don’t have time to attend an event? The 2017 Team Formation website is launched! If you’re a student seeking members for your HIC, EIC, or BPC startup team, or an individual hoping to join a team, check out our Student Entrepreneurship Team Formation site. Create your profile and then check out the Showcase page to browse for a team to join or to find team members.
Offered during Winter Quarter, Resource Nights feature experts from the local entrepreneurial community teaching various aspects of writing and presenting a business plan. Resource Nights can be taken for credit (2). See the Resources Night: ENTRE 440/540 page for more information.
The Buerk Center’s start-up resources feature our favorite tips, blogs and resources for writing solid business plans, making a great pitch, securing funding, marketing, and more.
2017 Team Formation Website is launched! If you’re a student seeking members for your HIC, EIC, or BPC startup team, or an individual hoping to join a team, check out our Student Entrepreneurship Team Formation site. Create your profile and then check out the Showcase page to browse for a team to join or to find team members.
Learn by Example
Take a look at 5-7 page executives summaries submitted in previous years:
- Aurora Plasmonics
- GSD Devices
- Urban Harvest
- Xylamed (PatientStream)
To view more business summaries contact Amy Sallin. In order to prepare your own executive summary, use this Submission Checklist, which includes the judging criteria judges will be using in the Screening Round to evaluate all entries.
The UW Business Plan Competition is comprised of four competitive rounds (Screening Round, Investment Round, Sweet 16, and Final Round) and one non-competitive Coaching Round, designed to prepare teams for the Sweet 16 and Final Round.
The Screening Round takes place online, and is the first major hurdle for students participating in the Business Plan Competition. Student teams submit their business plan executive summaries online. Over the course of a weekend, each business plan executive summary is read and scored by eight to ten judges who are encouraged to provide written feedback for students. After the Screening Round, an announcement of teams advancing to the Investment Round is sent via email. Please also review the submission checklist.
NOTE: Scoring based on 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), with 3 being of the caliber to advance to the next round
Overall Impression of the Executive Summary
Does the summary adequately describe the idea — does the idea make sense?
Has the team adequately described the pain in the marketplace?
Do you believe the team has presented a feasible solution?
Is the summary well written and succinct?
Does the summary create excitement?
Bonus: Does the team discuss measurable efforts to minimize consumption, use, and byproduct waste, while bolstering profitability/cost containment?
Does this management team have the skills required to execute the plan?
Does this team have the experience to lead a new venture?
Have they adequately described the market and economic opportunity?
Have they clearly stated their value proposition? Is it a viable model?
Has the team completely analyzed its competitive space?
Does the summary clearly identify the company’s initial competitive advantage or differentiator?
Does the team have an adequate strategy for defending their market position?
Go to market strategy
Is it clear how the company will reach its initial customer?
Does the summary clearly identify a sales strategy?
Is the distribution plan clearly defined and reasonable?
Has the team made progress toward any milestones (licenses, patents, etc…)
Has the company signed customers and/or channel partners?
Has the company booked any revenue?
Are the financials consistent with the overall plan?
Are the assumptions realistic?
Are contingencies and exit strategies addressed?
Does the plan describe the funding/resources required to execute on the plan?
The Investment Round, arguably the most exciting event of the competition, follows a trades show format in which teams set up intricate displays and interact with judges to pitch the team’s idea. The judges, all prominent members of the local entrepreneurial community, are given one thousand “Buerk Center dollars” to invest in a portfolio of teams that they consider the “most viable” – that is, with the best chance for success in the real world. At the end of the event, investment dollars are collected and tallied. The sixteen teams receiving the highest “funding” are announced at a reception immediately following and advance to the next round, the Sweet Sixteen.
We ask the judges to invest their $1,000 “Buerk Center dollars” in a minimum of 5 companies (student teams) and a well-rounded portfolio of companies. We also tell them: when you’re deciding which teams to invest in, ask yourself:
- Does this business seem well thought out?
- Has the team demonstrated knowledge of the industry and potential customers?
- Is there a real opportunity here?
- Has the team answered your questions?
The Coaching Round is a noncompetitive round in which no teams are eliminated. This round gives teams the opportunity to practice their presentations in front of a panel of coaches from the local entrepreneurial community. This round is designed to provide teams with in-depth and constructive feedback that they can use to hone their business plans and pitches prior to the Sweet 16 and Final Rounds.
Sweet 16 Round and Final Round
After honing their presentations in the Coaching Round, each of the sixteen remaining teams is assigned to present to one of four panels of judges. Judges select the advancing teams based on the following criteria:
1. The Team: What are the team dynamics? What is the quality of the team? Does the team demonstrate the ability to execute on its plan? (Student-driven teams are a plus.)
2. The Market: Does the company’s product or service address the target market’s needs? (Opportunity size is a plus, but not the primary concern)
3. Viability: Is the business model viable, well-articulated, and reasonable? (The team’s IP position should be clear.)
4. Presentation: Did the team make a quality presentation? What was the quality of the team’s materials and data? How was the team’s ability to answer tough questions?
Each panel of judges will see four teams’ presentations. After all presentations are finished, judges will discuss the merits of each of their four teams and by process of consensus select one or two teams to go on to the Final Round in the afternoon.
The Final Round is open to viewing by all competition participants, faculty, students, and the public. Each team has 30 minutes to present to and answer questions from a panel of judges (these judges have not seen any teams’ presentations prior to the Final Round.) The judges reach their decisions about team ranking by consensus using the same criteria as the Sweet 16 judges.
Blue Box at IBM
Cambia Health Solutions
Fenwick & West
Karr Tuttle Campbell
Friends and Family
David Smukowski Family
Evolution Capital Advisors
Keeler Investments Group
Silicon Valley Bank
Friends of the BPC
Evergreen Venture Capital Association
$25,000 Grand Prize sponsored by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation
$10,000 Second Place Prize sponsored by Fran’s Chocolates
$7,500 Third Place Prize sponsored by Friends of the BPC
$5,000 Fourth Place Prize sponsored by Fenwick & West
Big Picture Prizes ($5,000)
The Big Picture and Best Idea prizes were created to reward student teams in the Business Plan Competition for their exceptional work in several distinct categories. The teams are selected by a special group of judges during the Investment Round, and the winners are announced at the dinner and awards ceremony in May. Please note that no team can take more than one Big Picture and/or Best Idea prize.
AARP Foundation > Aging in Place Prize
Targeted for teams that best address the challenges faced by low-income seniors: affordable age-in-place housing, affordable healthy food, increased income, and the impact of isolation on physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Winners of this prize will be considered by AARP for follow-on investment.
Xevo > Internet of Things (IoT) Prize
Recognizes a business venture that has incorporated new products or services that contribute to the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem—devices, vehicles, infrastructure and/or other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity—that enables these objects to collect and exchange data to create new consumer experiences.
Wells Fargo Foundation > Clean Tech Prize
Goes to a venture with products, services, or processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources, dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, and cut or eliminate emissions and wastes.
Best Idea Prizes for $2,500
REI > Best Retail Innovation Idea
Recognizes a venture that generates value through the delivery of goods and/or services, with an emphasis on customer service.
eBay > Best Marketplace Idea
Targeted for teams that creates a commerce or payments platform for communities of buyers, sellers or businesses.
Accenture > Best Consumer Product Idea
For a venture that offers a compelling new consumer product, focusing on a well-defined market.
Perkins Coie > Best Innovation/Technology Idea
Targeted for a venture that has a new application for a current technology, a disruptive technology, or an idea that represents a substantial improvement in a product or process.
Cambia Health Solutions > Best Health/Healthcare Idea
Recognizes a venture that offers new solutions or approaches to address health outcomes and/or improve the quality or efficiency of healthcare delivery.
DLA Piper > Best Idea with Global Reach
A venture that has aspirations for acquiring customers around the world.
Xinova > Best Idea for the Future
A venture that has a long time horizon, but is worth the wait.
Smukowski Family > Best Sustainable Advantage
A venture that offers new solutions or approaches to address health outcomes and/or improve the quality or efficiency of healthcare delivery.
Follow-on funding: Jones + Foster Accelerator
Up to $25,000 in follow-on funding is available to student-led start-ups coming out of the Business Plan Competition, the Health Innovation or Environmental Innovation Challenges, or entrepreneurship coursework.
In the Jones + Foster Accelerator, student teams transition to becoming early-stage start-ups. Teams admitted to the program will devote six months to completing a list of milestones with coaching from a committee of mentors. Learn more about the Jones + Foster Accelerator.
Sewing the Seeds of Change
Crowdfunding Scientific Discovery
So Fresh and So Green
Making Shabu “Chic”
Kien Ha, Shabu Chic
Thinking Inside the Box
Jacqueline Gjurgevich and Carrie Ferrence, Stockbox Grocers
Meet Your New Apartment: You’ll Love Her
Phillip Lee, Rentmatch.com
Wearable Video Camera Defy Economic Gravity
Marc Barros, Contour
Gravity at the Speed of Light
Dan Price, Gravity Payments
For Loyalty’s Sake: Follow the Smartphone
Val Trask, Punchkeeper
Creating a Company One T-Shirt at a Time
Jeff Becker, Kotis Design
2002, 2003 and 2004 competitor
Lacing Together the Business of NanoString
Kids with Hats Are on Track
Kohl Crecelius, Krochet Kids
Friends + Baseball Tickets = an Epic Idea
Scott Barrows and James Kimmel, Epic Seats
Making a Successful Korea Change
Darien Brown, Wander
Device Helps Drugs Jump the Blood-Brain Barrier
John Hoekman and Michael Hite
Yes. The Business Plan Competition is open to ALL students who are currently enrolled in a degree program in the state of Washington.
If I don’t find any team members that really seem like “the right fit” during the Networking Nights, is it OK to have a “team” of just one person?
It is OK to have just one person on a team. However, if you advance to the Investment Round, you’ll want to add a few people to your team to help you pitch to judges.
Can we submit a business plan into the competition for a business that is or may become a nonprofit / social business in the future?
The competition is open to all types of businesses. Every year there are nonprofit or social-venture businesses in the competition.
Is there a BPC archive that has a synopsis of the BPC plans submitted so far?
Yes, but you must come to the Buerk Center to look at it. Be sure to call or email the Buerk Center office to set-up a time.
Can a student submit plans for more than one team?
You are allowed to participate in the Business Plan Competition with more than one team. It can be a logistical challenge to do that at the Investment Round and Sweet 16, but it is possible.
Am I allowed to have a faculty member as a mentor for the BPC?
You can have a faculty member as a mentor. You can also use MentorConnect to find experts who can help you with your company.
I am part of a company looking to recruit students to assist in taking my idea through the Business Plan Competition. How should I go about doing this?
The BPC is a process and competition for student-driven companies, and we have a strict policy guiding outside companies recruiting students to join their team in order to compete:
- Students must have an ownership stake in the business or the potential for equity or employment.
- Only student team members are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to non-students.
Can I compete two years in a row?
Students are welcome and encouraged to participate as many times as they want–as long as they are a student (enrolled in a degree seeking program in Washington state) or have a student on their team.
Can I change the name of the business at some point during the competition?
You are allowed to change your company name during the competition. We recommend that you reference the name change in your documents (one-page executive summary or business plan).
Can I have more than four members on my team?
You can have as many people on your team as your like; there is no official limit. Most teams are three to five people, but you can do whatever makes the most sense for you. However, only four teammates can pitch at a time during the Investment Round. If you have more than four team members, you can tradeoff.
Is the list of judges for the Business Plan Competition available to the participants?
We don’t release our judge lists for any of the rounds.
Do judges or coaches usually sign NDAs (non-disclosure agreements)?
Judges and coaches do not sign NDAs. This is common practice in the entrepreneurial world, especially when you are pitching your idea to investors. You should figure out a way to talk about your business, but not give away the confidential information that could be patented, trademarked, or that is simply your secret sauce.
How many judges are there at each round of the competition?
This depends on the round. Here’s the approximate breakdown
closed session with 7 judges
7 judges and open to the public
Contact Amy Sallin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-685-9868.