Wake Forest University’s New Venture Plan Competition

    Wake Forest University’s New Venture Plan Competition is unique among business plan competitions because it allows potential business owners to submit ideas from all five of the university’s major disciplines: Arts and Performing Arts (art, dance, music, theatre); Humanities (history, languages, literature, philosophy, religion); Social Sciences; Natural Sciences; Web-based; and other commercial ventures. This allows students from all over the campus to participate in the program and use knowledge they have gained in all of their classes, while most business plan competitions are limited to only business school students.

    Also unique is Wake Forest’s broad definition of “new venture” – it does not require that students work on a for-profit business venture. In the New Venture Plan Competition, any sort of plan is eligible, including non-profit and other social programs. In fact, the guidelines given to potential candidates explain that the judges favor plans that have significant social value and create that value on a broad scale rather than narrowly.

    The expanded scope of the competition reflects the university’s push to involve students from all disciplines in entrepreneurship, which includes freshman seminars and a web site that connects students with possible mentors.

    Business plans to not have to be “in the works” before the competition. Applicants may simply be at the “idea” stage. The competition helps flesh out those ideas through the application process. This process asks competitors to identify the need in the community for their business, describe the value they’ll create, discuss the markets in which they’ll operate, talk about exactly what and how their business will do, estimate the economics of their company, and predict critical issues that could negatively impact the new venture.

    The competition awards what its organizers call a “modest seed grant” to a superior entrant in each of the five categories mentioned above. This is not a fixed prize, but is based on need in developing the plan and starting the business. Prizes do not exceed $1,000.

    The New Venture Plan Competition is held during the fall of each school year and is only open to students and faculty at Wake Forest University.