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Competition Process

Each team will create a concept for a new business or social venture and submit a five-page explanation of the product or service by October 22. Submission requirements differ by track (please see details below). Semifinalists will be chosen from these submissions.

Semifinalists will prepare a 10-minute presentation of their concept and present it on November 16 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 St. Thomas student ID. Teams typically consist of one to three members.

Concept requirements:

  • Submissions should be new business concepts. If a business concept has previously won or placed in a previous Fowler competition, it is disqualified from the competition.
  • Students may submit as many business concepts as they would like, but students are limited to only one concept to compete in the semifinal and final competition on November 16.

Submission Requirements

Provide a brief description of your business concept following the questions outlined below. Your submission can be a maximum of five pages, double-spaced, 11-point type.

Business Concept Track:

  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. Proposed Solution – what is your product or service? How will it solve the problem? How will your solution create exceptional value for the customer? How is it different from and superior to other solutions in the market? 
  4. Market Opportunity – a preliminary estimate of the size of the potential market (number of customers that can be reasonably addressed).
  5. What is your business model? – How will you deliver this solution to your customer affordably and effectively, and how will the venture make money (revenue model)?
  6. Why Should Someone Invest in Your Venture? Explain why you will be successful.

Social Venture Track:

  1. What is your social impact focus area? – What is the social problem you want to help solve (e.g. reduce food insecurity in the Twin Cities; reduce chemical run-off into the Mississippi; reduce the opportunity gap in low-income schools, etc.)?
  2. What is your proposed solution? – What product or service will you offer to address the problem? How will your solution help alleviate the problem?
  3. Whom will you serve? –
    • Who is impacted by the problem? How do they experience the problem today? How do they try to solve it today? How will they be impacted by your solution?
    • Are there other “customers” or stakeholders you must serve in order to deliver or fund your solution or impact? (for instance, Love Your Melon sells hats to consumers in order to raise money to donate hats and funds for children experiencing cancer and to the nonprofits that serve them). Who are these customers? Why will they want your offering?
  4. What is your compelling advantage? - How is your solution different from and superior to other solutions in the market? How does your solution create exceptional value for all it serves?
  5. What is your business model? – How will you deliver this solution to your customer affordably and effectively, and how will the venture make money (revenue model)? How is your revenue model connected to your goal to deliver social impact? 
  6. What is the potential social impact? - How many people can you impact/ or the number of customers you can reasonably address? How will you measure the success of your venture? What measures or metrics will you use (eg. number of clients fed; decrease in chemical run-off, etc.)

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 track, 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."


Schedule of Events & Deadlines

S’Mores & Information 
Fowler Business Concept Challenge Information Session 
September 18, 4 – 6:30 p.m. 
John P. Monahan Plaza outside of the Anderson Student Center

Submission Deadline
October 22, 11:59 p.m.
Submit initial business concepts here.

Semifinalists announced
October 29, 5 p.m.

Final judging & announcement of winners
November 16, 1-5 p.m.

Semifinalist Submissions & Presentations

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

The judges will select the top teams from each track 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.

Submission Workshops

Submission Workshops
Drop-in working sessions with guidance provided by entrepreneurship faculty.
September 24, 4 - 5 p.m. (Social)
September 26, 11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Business)
October 2, 5:15 - 6:45 p.m. (Business)
October 4, 11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Social)
October 4, 4:30 - 6 p.m. (for graduate students) - held in SCH 444, Minneapolis Campus

Fowler Frenzie
October 18, 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.
During the Frenzie, entrepreneurship faculty and mentors will be on hand to provide help for students looking to improve their concepts before the submission deadline of October 22.

Workshops held at Anderson Student Center create[space], ASC 115, unless otherwise noted.

1:1 Help Sessions

1:1 Help Sessions are twenty-minute meetings per individual or team with entrepreneurship faculty. Register for your 1:1 appointment here.

1:1 Help Sessions held at Anderson Student Center create[space], ASC 115.

Drop-In Office Hours

Cultural entrepreneur expert, Lucas Spivey is hosting drop-in office hours for any student or team seeking mentorship on their Fowler concept submission. Teams submitting social venture concepts are especially encouraged to seek mentorship from Lucas.

October 10, 2 – 3 p.m.

October 11, 10 – 11:30 a.m. and 1 – 3 p.m.

October 19, 10 a.m. – noon and 1:30 – 4 p.m.

October 22, Noon – 3 p.m. and 6 – 8 p.m.

Drop-in-office hours held at the Innovation Space in the Facilities Design Center, located next to the Anderson Parking Facility.

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.

Preliminary submissions will be judged by a reviewer panel using the following criteria (equally weighted):
Business Concept Track Judging Criteria
  • 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 revenue model)
  • Feasibility (reasonable prospect of funding and successful implementation)
  • Well-researched (demonstrates clear understanding of customer/customer need, market, competitive set, solution requirements)
Social Venture Track Judging Criteria
  • Originality (social venture concept is new, novel and unique)
  • Clear articulation of specific social/environmental impact and revenue model
  • Compelling advantage (solution is superior to current offerings)
  • Social impact (size of environmental impact, size of population served; potential to impact significant number of people, size of reduction of risk/loss)
  • Feasibility/Sustainability (viable business/revenue model that does not continue to depend on donations)
  • Well-researched (demonstrates clear understanding of the social/environmental problem, customer/environmental need, market, competitive offerings, solution requirements)

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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