University of Texas (UT) at Austin Moot Corp Competition

Originating from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, comes the Moot Corp Competition, considered by many to be the “Superbowl” of business competitions. Claiming to be the first of its kind, or “mother of all business plan competitions”, Moot Corp is as prestigious as it is challenging. Since its inception in the early 1980s, Moot Corp has evolved from a small competition comprised only of UT Austin teams, to a nationwide and even global event attracting top-shelf student start-up companies from around the US and the world.

At Moot Corp each May, teams from around the world gather to present their most polished pitch to a panel of highly experienced investors. Spit polish your best shoes and dry-clean your best suit because this is not a competition of paper pie charts and stapled-together handouts, but one of professionally bound packages and dazzling on-screen presentations. To even reach the final rounds, competitors face intense scrutiny from industry professionals.

The stipulations of competition at Moot Corp are so many they cannot be all enumerated in this brief description. If interested, it is recommended that potential participants visit http://www.mootcorp.org/ for a more comprehensive listing.

As a competition for graduate students, Moot Corp seeks to “to stimulate and nourish the Entrepreneurial Spirit in MBAs and other graduate students around the world”. The competition also seeks “to encourage entrepreneurially oriented graduate students to develop and grow new ventures based either on their own ideas and technologies or those developed by others, including faculty members at their respective colleges and universities.”

As such, this competition requires that students must (1) have played a major role in conceiving the venture, (2) have key management roles in the venture, and (3) own significant equity in the venture. A minimum of one graduate student must be a member of the venture’s management team. In addition, the business plan must be presented only by students. The business plan must be prepared under faculty supervision and must represent the work of the original team members. It is assumed that plans presented be created as part of graduate students’ MBA coursework under the auspices of their respective university’s staff.

Plan submission requirements are also specific. Each plan must be professionally bound and is limited to 20 pages (excluding appendices which should bring the total page count to no more than 30). Three-ring binders are not acceptable. Although judges, audiences, etc. are not required to submit to non-disclosure agreements, authors of each business plan retain express rights thereto. Financial data should include a cash flow statement, income statement, and balance sheet. An explanation of the offering to investors indicating how much money is required, how it will be used, and the proposed structure of the deal, i.e., stock, debentures, etc. should also be included Additional submission requirements and judgment criteria can be obtained at http://www.mootcorp.org/rules.asp#Submission.

Each team is given a strictly enforced 15-minute time period to make their pitch, followed by a 20-minute Q&A session. All team members must play an active role in the presentation and may view other teams’ presentations once theirs has concluded. LCD projectors and screens are provided, but each team must supply its own laptop computer for the presentation.

Global first-place winners take home $25,000 in cash and various valuable services provided by UT Austin, including but not limited to discounted legal and accounting services as well as consulting services from McCombs School of Business entrepreneurship faculty worth $25,000. First runners-up and other finalists receive $5,000 and $3,000 respectively. Other awards and certificates are given to other outstanding achievers in various categories.

Recent winners of the Texas competition include Phurnace Software (2006, funded by Lone Star Ventures), Bigfoot Networks (2005, funded by Venio Capital Partners), and uShip (2004, funded by Benchmark Capital).

For more information about the Moot Corp Competition at the McCombs School of Business (UT Austin) please contact Ann Whitt at 512-232-6597 or visit http://www.mootcorp.org/.