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Competition Process

Each team will create a  concept for a new business and submit a five-page explanation of the product or service, the target customers, the value proposition to those customers and a description of the potential market, including size. Semifinalists will be chosen from these submissions.

Semifinalists will then prepare a 15-minute presentation of their concept and present it to a distinguished panel of judges drawn from the entrepreneurial, business and investment communities. The teams that present the best business concepts will be awarded scholarships.


The competition is open exclusively to all University of St. Thomas undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows registered in the semester of the competition. All members of a team must be current students with a valid UST student ID. Teams typically consist of one-three members, but can have as many as four.

Student teams will choose one of three divisions to compete in for each submission:

  • Teams registering to compete in the undergraduate division must be comprised of all undergraduate students.
  • Graduate division teams must have at least one currently registered UST graduate student (master's or Ph.D. level), but may be comprised with both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • The social venture division is for business concepts that are structured to drive social change through a systemic, sustainable business model. It should seek both financial and social returns. This division includes undergraduate- and graduate-level teams competing against each other.

Submission Requirements

Provide a brief description of your business idea following the five questions outlined below. Your submission can be a maximum of five pages, double-spaced, 11 point type. The cover letter is not included in the submission page count.

  1. A concise description of the proposed business and why it is unique/compelling.
  2. Target Market – who is your customer? What customer problem will you solve? How does your customer solve that problem today? What other solutions will compete for that customer?
  3. Market Opportunity – a preliminary estimate of the size of the potential market (number of customers that can be reasonably addressed).
  4. Proposed Solution – what is your product or service? How will it solve the problem? How will your solution create exceptional value for the customer?
  5. Business Model – how will you generate revenues and profits?

See the judging criteria listed below on this page.

Submit Your Concept

Each member of your team must create a free account in the Fluid Review Web platform. From there you will submit the name of your concept. On the next page, fill out your Team ID form, adding your concept name, selecting your division, and adding your student information and that of any team members, if you have them. You will then submit your Team ID form, before starting Application Phase 2.

In Application Phase 2, you will need to enter Student ID numbers for each person on the team, certify the work is original, and upload your business concept. Once all three of those areas are complete, scroll down to "Submit Your Application."

Semifinalist Submissions & Presentations

Up to 16 teams will be selected as semifinalists in each division. These teams will be given additional instructions and mentorship to prepare for their presentations to judges.

The judges will select the top team from each group to move on to the final round in the afternoon. The winners will be selected from the four finalists in each division by a new panel of judges.

Alec Johnson, OCB Entrepreneurship professor, center, shakes hands with students at the Fowler Business Concept Challenge on November 15, 2013, at the auditorium in Schulze Hall on the Minneapolis campus. Student Dennis Gisch (Entrepreneurship) immediate left of Johnson, is also pictured.

Undergraduate and Graduate Division Judging Criteria

Preliminary submissions will be judged by a reviewer panel using the following criteria (equally weighted):

  • Originality (business idea is new, novel and unique)
  • Clear and compelling value proposition (legitimate, recognized need; appropriate solution)
  • Competitive advantage (creates more value for customer than alternative solutions)
  • Market opportunity (adequate market size; viable business model)
  • Feasibility (reasonable prospect of funding and successful implementation)
Social Venture Division Judging Criteria
  • Originality (social venture idea is new, novel and unique)
  • Clear and compelling value proposition (clear articulation of specific need the social product or service fulfills)
  • Compelling advantage (solution is superior to current offerings)
  • Social impact (size of population served; potential to impact significant number of people)
  • Feasibility (viable business model that does not continue to depend on donations)

Awards Ceremony

All participants and judges will be invited to the awards ceremony to be held immediately following the finals, at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship. The winners of each of the awards will be announced at that time.

See the Scholarship Awards »

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