The Capstone Business Plan Competition at Syracuse University

    The Capstone Business Plan Competition is held every fall and winter semester in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. The competition is actually a capstone class, whose purpose is to encourage students to apply in a real-world situation all of the information that they have acquired over the last four years of academic experience. This includes finance, accounting, strategy, production management, and organizational behavior. All graduating seniors are required to take the class.

    Professor Michael Morris, Witting Chair in Entrepreneurship in the department described the approach by saying, “Our program’s philosophy isn’t so much teaching someone to be an entrepreneur as it is helping people capitalize on their innate entrepreneurial potential. We give them a large number of tools and conceptual approaches to enhance their likelihood of success.”

    Class members are divided into teams of no more than 5 members to create business plans for a viable, sustainable, and truly innovative new venture. At the end of the semester, business plans are presented to a panel of judges that include entrepreneurs, investors, faculty, and others from the entrepreneurship community.

    The competition takes place in two rounds over two days, and there are typically between 30 and 45 teams competing each semester. On the first day, all teams present their business concepts and plans to the judges, who evaluate their plans based on the business concept, and its viability as a sustainable and ‘grow-able’ business. About five teams are selected to compete in the finals, held the next day using a similar format.

    Cash prizes ranging from $100 to $500 are awarded to the top three teams. In addition, two of the top teams are selected to represent the university at national undergraduate business plan competitions, generally at the University of Nebraska competition. The Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises covers all costs of sending the teams to these competitions.