The Utah Entrepreneur Challenge is a competition created by students for students as an opportunity to turn their business dreams into reality and gain valuable experience in the process. Since its inception in 1999 at the University of Utah, the UEC has become one of the most lucrative collegiate-level business plan competitions in the United States, offering a grand prize of $40,000 and secondary prizes totaling $100,000 in cash and in-kind services.
The UEC is held every spring on the U of U campus, and unlike some university business plan competitions which are only open to students from one school, the UEC is open to any college/university student in Utah enrolled in a minimum of 9 credit hours throughout the duration of the competition (student standing will be verified by the UEC).
To be eligible to compete, each team must:
- Be directed and organized by a student attending at least 9 credit hours at any university in the state of Utah.
- Have less than $100,000 in cumulative revenue prior to July of the preceding competition year (if the team’s company already exists).
- Not have already received any type of angel or venture capital funding.
Although there are no restrictions on any team members other than the leader, it is recommended that teams have diversity of disciplines such as technology, marketing, accounting, finance, etc.
The competition is comprised of 3 rounds: Executive Summary, Business Plan, and Final Presentation.
In Round 1, teams prepare and submit their executive summaries for review. These should be no longer 7 pages total with a 12-point font size and one-inch margins. A cover page must be included containing the company name, primary contact, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address. Judges will select 25-30 of the best from the pool of contestants to proceed to Round 2. Additional contestants may be selected at the judges’ discretion.
In Round 2, teams expound on the details of their executive summary by creating and submitting their business plan. Included should be growth projections and market research, as well as an assessment of goals, strategies, and prospective markets/investors. Teams must submit 12 copies of their business plans. These should be no longer than 30 pages total. The best 10 Round-2 competitors will be chosen as finalists for Round 3.
In Round 3, teams take their plans on-stage to make their case before the panel of judges. A strict 10-minute time limit will be observed with penalties for non-compliance. The information presented need not be in any particular order. Teams are responsible for providing any equipment necessary for their presentation.
The top team walks away with $40,000. Second and third-place winners take home $5,000 and seven other finalists each receive $1,000. Restrictions apply to the use of these funds, as they are to be used for seed capital and must be used for qualified business operating purposes. In-kind services will also be awarded such as, legal, consulting, accounting, space, and computer resources.
The judging panel is comprised of 12 members from various business fields such as: legal, accounting, venture capital, etc. The panel’s decisions are final and not subject to appeal. All judges and directors with access to competitors’ business plans are held to a confidentiality agreement which includes a six-month no compete clause.
The UEC offers mentors to help teams refine and polish their submissions and presentations. The competition’s website also offers important resources and guidance for contestants. To take part in the next Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, go to http://www.business.utah.edu/uec/uec.php for more information today!