The Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition at Purdue University

    The Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition at Purdue University is named after an alumnus who has started more than 50 companies since the 1930s. The competition was started in 1987, which the university claims makes it the third-oldest in the country. The Morgan competition predates by 15 years the school’s Center for Entrepreneurship that also bears his name and is one of three competitions hosted by Purdue’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

    Teams who want to enter the competition have to choose one of two divisions, based on the makeup of their group. Teams participating in the Gold division may include graduate students and faculty members; this division includes a total payout of $47,500 for all winners (with $30,000 for first place). The Black division is only open to teams comprised completely of underclass Purdue students, so the competition might be less difficult, but the prizes are much smaller – $27,500 total, $15,000 for first place.

    Teams start preparing for the competition during the fall semester at Purdue. They are given the chance to participate in several workshops that give valuable experience for start-ups. These workshops fall under the broad categories of business plans, financial information and funding, legal considerations, marketing, accounting and patentability.

    Potential companies must enter the competition online by the middle of September and submit an executive summary of their business plan by the middle of November. Judges announce semi-finalists at the beginning of December and require full business plans in January. The final competition between ten teams takes place in February. Each team has half an hour for making a presentation to the judges. After all the teams present their plans, the judges confer among themselves for 45 minutes while the teams mingle at a reception. Then the awards are presented in a half-hour ceremony, following which all of the finalist teams get their own feedback session with the judges.