2018 Rice University Business Plan Competition | Requirements & Judging Criteria
Rice University has launched the 2018 Business Plan Competition designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to pitch their startups to investors, receive mentoring, network with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, enhance their startup strategy, and learn what it takes to launch a successful startup.
Application Deadline: 5:00 pm CST, Friday, 9th February, 2018
- Accepted teams will have until 5:00 PM CDT Monday, March 12, 2018 to submit a 10-page (maximum) Business Plan and Media materials
- Accepted teams have the option (but are not required) to make revisions to their business plan and submit a new version by 5:00 PM CDT Saturday, March 31, 2018
Eligible Countries: All
To Be Taken At (Country): Houston, Texas
About the Award: The Rice Business Plan Competition is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. It is hosted and organized by the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, Rice University’s internationally-recognized initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship. This is the 18th year for the competition. In that time, it has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in prize money in 2001, to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1 million in cash and prizes.
Sectors: business plans and companies should fall into one of four categories, or sectors:
- Life Science – includes (but not limited to) Medical Devices, Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Health IT, Biotechnology
- Energy/Clean Technology – includes (but not limited to) Sustainability, Water, Battery Technologies, Control Systems, Smart Metering, PV Technology, Natural Gas, Transportation/Mobility, Oil & Gas Technologies, Algae, Fuel Cells, Hybrid Vehicles
- Information Technology – Includes (but is not limited to): Mobile Apps, Software, Digital Media, Consumer Web, Bto-B Applications, Enterprise Software, SAAS, Internet, Web, Virtual Reality, Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Drones, Hardware, Robotics, Unmanned Vehicles
- Other Innovations – Includes (but is not limited to): Advanced Materials, Nanotechnology, Composites
Teams must choose one sector/category for their companies. Teams may chose a second sector/category, though a second sector/category is optional and not required. Please choose sectors/categories that best align with your company’s product, technology, system or mission.
Eligibility: Teams must meet all the following eligibility requirements in order to be selected to compete:
- Student Enrollment: The competition is for degree-seeking students currently enrolled on a full- or part-time basis (i.e., in the academic year from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018). This includes students who graduated, or will graduate any time after July 1, 2017. (For example, December 2017 graduates are eligible to compete). Students who graduated before July 1, 2017 are not eligible to participate. Adjustments may be made for teams from non-U.S. universities that have a different academic calendar; please contact the RBPC director if you are from a non-U.S. school and feel this applies to you.
- Outside Funding Limitations: All ventures must be seeking outside equity capital, typically early-stage venture capital investment or early-stage angel investment. All ventures must be “for profit” entities. This is an early-stage pitch competition, therefore, startups that have raised more than $250,000 in equity capital from sources other than the students or their friends or families prior to July 1, 2017 are not eligible to compete. Startup teams may have raised ANY level of equity funding AFTER July 1, 2017. Equity funding awarded as part of an accelerator/incubator program does count toward funding limits.
- The following do not count toward funding limit: Research and other grants; competition winnings; traditional loans; and any friends and family funding.
- Revenue Limitations: Ventures with more than $100,000 in revenues in prior academic years (before July 1, 2017), are
- Prior Activity: Both student and other team members may have worked on an idea or new technology in previous academic years, or in the case of the student team members, even prior to entering graduate school, provided that their venture’s revenues and equity capital raised does not exceed the above limits.
- Team Composition: This is a competition primarily for graduate-level students. All graduate students, not just MBA candidates, are eligible to participate in the competition. This includes, but is not limited to, PhD candidates, MBA students, MD candidates, JD candidates, and other Masters candidates. Competing team members may be from different disciplines and/or different universities. However, undergraduates are allowed to compete fully, as long as at least one member of the presenting team at the RBPC is a currently-enrolled graduate student and a member of the venture’s startup management team, and part of the team that presents in the competition (competing team). In other words, a team of two students could be comprised of one undergraduate student and one graduate student. Alternatively, a team of five students could be comprised of four undergraduates and one graduate student.
- Minimum Team Size: The presenting team that competes at Rice University must include at least two current students and not exceed five current students. In other words, at least two members from each startup team must travel to Rice to compete, and both of these two members must be current students. The purpose of this rule is to encourage startups to enlist at least two founders in order to increase the potential for a successful startup.
- Maximum Team Size: Teams may bring up to five startup team members who participate in the presentations on Friday and Saturday. In other words, at least two and no more than five startup team members may participate in the verbal presentations on Friday and Saturday. Others involved in the venture (non-students, faculty advisors or mentors) are welcome to travel to Rice with the competing student team, but are prohibited from participating in the presentations or Q&A sessions. More than five students can travel to Rice with the team, but only five students can serve as presenters. In fact, we encourage the team to bring a faculty, staff or other advisor with them to the RBPC, and we will invite them to attend our special lunch with the Dean of the Rice business school on Friday afternoon.
- Team Presentation: at least two student members of the startup should participate in every round of presenting the startup’s investment pitch (i.e., the startup business plan presentation) on Friday and Saturday, April 6-7. Of the team members presenting, at least two of them must verbally present in the rounds they are involved in. To “verbally Present” means give/speak at least 20-30% of the presentation. The intention is that at least two team members share speaking responsibilities in the presentation section. The Q&A does not count toward the presentation time. The team may divide speaking time in their presentation however they choose, but a minimum of two members must speak at some point in the main presentation.
- The exception is the Elevator Pitch Competition on Thursday, April 5, where only one member of the team will be able to give the 60-second presentation.
- Student Involvement: The competition is for student-created and student-managed ventures, including new ventures launched by licensing university technology. Students participating in the competition (i.e. members of the founding team) are expected to:
- be a driving force behind the new venture,
- have played a primary role in developing the business strategy
- have key management roles in the startup venture, and
- own significant equity in the startup venture.
- Faculty Involvement: Each team MUST have the endorsement of a faculty or staff advisor at their school and must provide contact information for their faculty advisor, regardless of whether or not the advisor will travel with the team to Rice University. All faculty advisors will be asked to confirm the eligibility of the team.
- Nature of Ventures: The competition is for new, independent ventures in the seed, start-up, or early growth stages. Generally excluded are the following: buy-outs of existing businesses, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spinouts from existing corporations. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged.
- Prior Activity: Technologies may be presented in the RBPC only once. Competing team members may participate in the RBPC more than once if entering with a new venture/new technology.
- Attendance: To be considered for any award, all competing (presenting) team members must arrive at Rice on Thursday, April 5, 2018 by 12:00 PM (Noon) CDT and be present on campus on Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 6:30 PM CDT for the Elevator Pitch Competition; on Friday, April 6, 2018 at 8:30 AM CDT for the First Round; and on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM CDT for the Semi-Final or Challenge Round. Teams may not add or substitute presenting members during the competition. Teams must attend the Awards Banquet on Saturday night to receive their awards. Teams should plan their return travel no earlier than Sunday morning.
- Required Forms: Each team will be required to provide appropriate documentation to receive award payments which include W-9 and/or EIN forms for US teams, and W-8 BEN forms for International teams No prizes can be awarded without the required forms submitted.
Value of Award:
- Rice University will provide an intense, immersive experience over the course three days for student startup founders to pitch to investors, receive multiple rounds of feedback and advance their startup.
- There will be over $1 million in prizes, and all 42 teams who compete at Rice University in Houston are guaranteed to win cash prizes. The minimum cash prize is $500 and the grand prize winner receives a $300,000 investment (typically in the form of a convertible debt note, without geographic restrictions.)
Duration of Program: April 5-7, 2018
How to Apply: Submit your application online at www.rbpc.rice.edu
member of your team, the designated team leader, should complete the
simple online application. The application consists of contact
information and eligibility requirements, a 2-5 page Executive Summary,
and an optional 1-2 minute
Video Elevator Pitch.
- There is no cost to apply or to compete. Multiple student startup teams from the same school, institution or university center may apply to compete. There is no limit on the number of applications per school. The startup teams competing at Rice must include at least two degree-seeking students, including at least one graduate level student. (See details in Eligibility Requirements section.)
- Once an application is submitted, no changes can be made.
- We hope to offer all teams all teams that complete an application will receive a free 6-month subscription to Live Plan by Palo Alto Software. Instructions about your subscription will be provided after the application deadline.
- Teams invited to compete in the Rice Business Plan Competition will be notified by email on or before Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Award Providers: Rice University