Students are permitted and encouraged to use all available resources in developing their written business plans and oral presentations. Such resources include, but are not limited to, those listed in the "Resources" section of this website.
The competition is open to individuals or teams of up to four people. At least 50% of the members of each team must be either GW alumni, currently-enrolled GW students (academic year 2013-14), or GW faculty (academic year 2013-14). At least one member of the team must be a currently-enrolled GW student. Only one entry may be submitted per team.
Since the competition is designed for new businesses, the business must not be more than two years old (as of Jan. 21, 2014), must have gross sales of less than $200,000 (for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013), and may not have won any cash in a previous GW Business Plan Competition. New businesses that have not yet been formed are most welcome to apply.
Teams winning one of the “Final Four” prizes may also win one or more special prizes listed below. To compete for any of the special prizes below, (1) the business plan must meet the special criteria described, and (2) the tickbox corresponding to the special prize must be checked when submitting the business plan.
GWupstart Social Entrepreneurship Prize Track: To qualify for either of the GWupstart prizes, the business plan must propose a social entrepreneurship venture as follows:
Best Non-Profit Social Venture: To be considered for this prize, the plan must be for a non-profit venture that, at its core, aims for financial sustainability rather than profitability. The non-profit may have an income-generating revenue stream as part of its model.
Best For-Profit Social Venture: To be considered for this prize, the plan must be for a for-profit social venture that values the social or environmental bottom line equally with the financial, profit-driven bottom line. Benefit corporations and B-Corps fall under this category.
Best Undergraduate: To qualify for the Best Undergraduate Prize, at least 50% of the members of the team must be currently-enrolled undergraduate GW students.
Older-Adult Focused Innovation category: To qualify for the AARP Foundation Prize, the business plan must address, with respect to low-income (those earning less than $46,000 per household) seniors (50+), one or more of the following needs: (1) the need for healthier food at more affordable prices, (2) the need for a home that better allows the occupant to affordably age-in-place, (3) the need for increased income, (4) the need to reduce the negative impact of isolation on physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Best Sustainable Technology: To qualify for the Best Sustainable Technology Prize, the plan must propose a new technology business which falls in one or more of the following sustainable categories: (1) Energy Efficiency, (2) Clean Energy Generation, (3) Green Building, (4) Energy Monitoring, Transmission and Storage, (5) Biofuels, (6) Stormwater Retention; Freshwater Conservation; Water, Soil, Air Purification, (7) Recycling and Waste Management, (8) Sustainable Transportation, (9) Sustainable Materials and Chemicals, (10) Promotion of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems and foster connections and awareness of sustainability by members of society.
Audience Choice Award: Every team is eligible. There is no tickbox for this award on the application. This award is given to the team whose oral presentation receives the largest number of unique votes (one vote per twitter handle) via online Twitter voting. Further information about this award and the rules governing voting are communicated the day of the finals.
The competition will be conducted in three rounds as follows:
1. Submit Online Entry and Executive Summary
Final due date: 11:59 pm on Jan. 21, 2014
This online application can be found in the "Sign In & Compete" section of this website.
You must submit your entry by 11:59 pm on Jan. 21, 2014.
The application requires that you attach an Executive Summary of your business plan. This summary may not exceed two pages single-spaced and must use the Arial 12 font with one-inch margins. MS Word format is required. Note: Unlike the 2nd round Executive Summary (described below), this Executive Summary is not required to include a Mission Statement.
Participants whose Applications and Executive Summaries of their Business Plans have been accepted will be listed in the "Recent Winners" section of this website no later than Feb. 3, 2014. All decisions by the panel of judges are final.
See the "Resources" section of this website for information regarding workshops such as "How to Write an Executive Summary."
2. Written Business Plan
Final due date: 11:59 pm on March 3, 2014
This second or semi-final round of the competition is open only to those teams who are listed in the "Recent Winners" section of this website, having advanced to the Written Business Plan phase.
Written business plans may not exceed 15 pages single-spaced plus up to 5 pages of appendices. The cover page and table of contents page (since they are not numbered) do not count toward the 15-page limit. Plans must use the Arial 12 font with one-inch margins; however, charts and footnotes may use the Arial 10 font. Word .doc or .docx format is required. The document name must be the same as the name of the business (businessname.doc or businessname.docx). Submissions that do not comply with these specifications will be rejected.
Written business plans must be submitted via the "Sign In & Compete" section of this website and are only accepted from those teams that qualify. No plan may be submitted later than 11:59 pm on Monday, March 3, 2014.
Each business plan must include the following sections:
- Executive Summary (including Mission Statement)
- Industry and Company Overview - Products & Services
- Competitor Analysis & Business Strategy
- Marketing Plan
- Operations Plan
- Management Team & Company Structure
- Financial Projections (including, at a minimum: capital required, 3 years of cash flow and income statement forecasts)
Participants who have submitted Written Business Plans that have been selected to advance to round 3 will be listed in the "Recent Winners" section of this website no later than 9:00 am on March 18, 2014. All decisions by the panel of judges are final.
See the "Resources" section of this website for information regarding workshops such as “Writing a Successful Business Plan.”
3. Oral Business Plan Presentation
Finals begin at 10:00 am on Apr. 11, 2014
This third and final round of the competition is open only to those teams and individuals who are listed in the "Recent Winners" section of this website, having advanced to the final round.
The time limit for oral presentations is 15 minutes. Oral presentations may be accompanied by PowerPoint slides (no other slide technology will be allowed in order to ensure compatibility with available projection resources). Warnings will be given at three minutes remaining (green), at two minutes remaining (yellow), and at one minute remaining (red). Judges will have approximately 5 minutes for questions and answers.
All team members must participate significantly in their team’s oral presentation, while non-team members may not participate. However, individuals' presentation times need not be equal. In the event of extraordinary circumstances, a team may request permission for a team member to present from a remote location by video.
Following the finalist presentations on April 11, the winners of each of the special prizes and the ranking of the top four teams will be announced and large checks will be presented (see Prizes). All decisions by the panel of judges are final. A celebratory reception, to which all finalist teams are invited, will follow the announcement.
Prize money will be paid to the winning companies upon presentation of appropriate documentation regarding their companies. The winners of cash prizes of $5,000 or more are required to provide follow-up information to GWU about their company and their use of the prize money.
See the "Resources" section of this website for information regarding workshops such as "Delivering a Compelling Presentation."
Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Guidelines
- The authors of the business plan will retain all rights to the plan regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition except as stated below. Due to the nature of the competition, GWU will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant.
- As all oral presentations and question/answer sessions are open to the public at large, these public sessions may be photographed, videoed, and/or broadcast to interested persons through media which may include radio, television and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely 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.