There are lots of different ways people fund their startups–bootstrapping, loans, investors, crowdfunding, incubators and more. But in recent years, a growing number of entrepreneurs have found success funding their startups through any number of Business Plan Competitions that are held each year. While the funding levels obtained through a Business Plan Competition are low–usually no more than $100,000–they have the advantage of generally coming with expert advice and technical assistance. Funding your startup through a Business Plan Competition is not going to be right for every entrepreneur, but it’s an option well worth investigating, particularly if you are a university student, as many of the competitions are offered through universities. Here are some Business Plan Competitions that are currently open right now (as of February 12, 2014):
- Tufts Social & Classic New Ventures Competition: The Tufts University Entrepreneurial Leadership Program is pleased to announce the 10th anniversary of the Tufts $100k Social and Classic New Ventures Competition (formerly called the Tufts $100k Business Plan Competition) to be hosted on April 8th, 2014. Last year’s event was a great success, and we anticipate this year will be equally successful in supporting the launch of innovative new ventures through both the Social Ventures and Classic Ventures Tracks.A university-wide event, the competition draws entries from alumni, faculty, undergraduate and graduate applicants from multiple schools including Arts & Sciences, Engineering, Fletcher and Sackler. Prizes total over $100,000 in cash and in-kind services. The Competition is an exciting, challenging, and rewarding experience for competitors, mentors, supporters and observers. We look forward to including you in the robust entrepreneurial ecosystem at Tufts University. This competition is only open to recent or current Tufts University students. Click here for more information about this Business Plan Competition.
- New York Young Entrepreneur Challenge: This is a business pitch competition to win up to $10,000 in start-up funding, mentorship and additional support essential for starting a business.Online entries are judged by a panel esteemed entrepreneurs. Top scoring applicants will then be invited to present a live business pitch to a panel, after which one prizewinner is identified in each of the two competition tracks, Student and Entrepreneur. The 2014 live pitch challenge will be hosted at the Sprint Executive Business Office in New York City on May 14th. Winners are named immediately following the NY YEC live pitch competition at a reception for finalists, families and sponsors. This Business Plan Competition is open to entrepreneurs aged 17-22 who either live in New York or are enrolled as an undergraduate student at an accredited New York college or university will be eligible to compete. Click HERE for more information.
- International Business Model Competition: The International Business Model Competition represents a radical departure from the past and the crest of a new paradigm in entrepreneurship. The IBMC is not a business plan competition. Participants won’t be rewarded for doing research, creating fancy graphs, writing an archaic business plan, or crafting the perfect VC investor pitch. Instead the IBMC rewards students for: 1. breaking down their idea into the key business model assumptions; 2. getting outside the building and testing their assumptions with customers; 3. applying Customer Development / Lean Startup principles to make sure they nail the pain and solution; and 4. learning to pivot (change) until they have arrived at a customer-validated business model.The IBMC is sponsored by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at Brigham Young University and is co-hosted by Harvard and Stanford. The total cash prize is $100,000. Click here for more information about this startup funding opportunity.
- Global Student Business Plan Competition: This is a global intercollegiate business plan competition for undergraduate students from all over the globe. The cash prize is $10,000 and the competition is open to undergraduate students currently enrolled in a College or University anywhere in the globe. The team composition is 2-4 students. Click HERE for more information.
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