Gonzaga University Business Plan Competition

    Gonzaga University’s Business Plan Competition is hosted by the school’s Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program in cooperation with Eastern Washington University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Activities and Whitworth College’s School of Global Commerce and Management. The competition claims to be the largest in the inland Northwest and provides more than $42,000 in prize money.

    In addition to the three institutions of higher learning that participate, there are three different categories for competition. First is the Student-Generated division – all members of the team must be enrolled students and their business must be based on an original student idea. First place in this competition is sponsored by Itron Corporation and the winner takes home $10,000. Second place receives $5,000, and third gets $2,500.

    Second is the Community-Based division – for teams who work with community-based entrepreneurs on for-profit venture ideas originated by the entrepreneur.  The entrepreneur’s venture must be at the startup stage, less than two years old as a legal entity.  At least one person on the team must be an enrolled student.  The first-place prize is $7,500, second gets $3,500, and $1,500 for third place.

    Both of these categories are judged on the following criteria: local presence, sustainable competitive advantage, superior management team, understanding of the environment, large accessible market, good business model, fundability, internal key value drivers, technology/innovation, quality of the operating and financial plans, quality of business plan, presentability, and exit strategy.

    The final competition division is the Social Enterprise Plan – for teams who work with local non-profits or create their own non-profit organization. The sponsor of the first prize in this category ($7,500) is Avista Corporation. The second place is awarded $3,500, and $1,500 gets third place.

    Winners in this category are based on the following criteria: local presence, social return on investment, feasibility of the business model, integration of social and financial missions, management team, understanding of the environment, scalability, fundability, quality of the operating and financial plans, quality of business plan, and presentablility.

    For competitors in all categories, the process is the same. There are workshops during the fall semester and teams must officially enter the competition through an online form by February. Business plans are due at the beginning of April and Finalists are announced about a week later. Later in the month, finalists have a presentation before the judges and at the end of April the winners are announced.