New Business Competition Rules


Please read the Overview first.  This will allow an understanding of how the Competition is organized and how to participate in it.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

  • The Competition is open to all postsecondary students at Northern Michigan University, and high school students, irrespective of their major or program of study, who are enrolled in the 2019-2020 full academic year. Note:  Prior NMU New Business Venture Competition award winners are not eligible to enter the same business plan or a spin-off of that plan.  Also, the proposed business must be wholly owned by eligible students during the duration of the competition.
  • Students can participate as individuals or as part of a team (up to five members).  Cross-disciplinary teams are encouraged.
  • Contestants, whether individuals or teams, can have advisors and coaches who can be faculty members, business executives, and even entrepreneurs.  While this is encouraged, it is not required.  However, it is students who must present their original work and participate in the trade fair presentation, in the elevator pitch competition, and in the business plan presentation.
  • An individual or team can submit only one entry.  An individual cannot be a member of more than one team.

How to Participate?

  • Individual or team contestants must submit an electronic “Intent to Compete Form”, including a Business Proposal.  These are due by 5:00 PM on Friday, October 30, 2020.
  • Contestants agree to the following stipulations:
    - their proposal represents the original work of the student(s)
    - they will abide by all the guidelines and rules of the competition
    - they are responsible for all copyright, trademark and patent issues
    - should their proposal be accepted for Part Two of the competition, they will
      participate in all the activities associated with the competition      

Nature of the Proposed Ventures

  • The competition is for new, independent ventures in the seed and start-up stages (businesses should not be in operation for more than 24 months as of Friday, October 30, 2020.)  Proposals for buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area and spin-offs from existing corporations are excluded.
  • Proposals to license technologies from universities or research labs are encouraged assuming they have not been commercialized previously.
  • Proposed ventures must be projected to be financially profitable, be lawful and create jobs.
  • Contestants must acknowledge that their proposed businesses are original and that the business plan is their own work.

Business Proposal

A Business Proposal is usually developed prior to creating a Business Plan.  This proposal is the first step in determining the viability of a business concept and is the precursor to all the work involved in developing a complete business plan.  It is a brief document that describes the proposed business and contains enough information to enable stakeholders to make an initial evaluation about the viability and attractiveness of the proposed business. A well-written Business Proposal is usually a combination of business analysis and a marketing pitch.

For the New Business Venture Competition, a Business Proposal for the proposed business venture must accompany the completed Intent to Compete form and is due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 30, 2020.

Please follow these rules for preparing the Business Proposal –

  • The summary must not exceed 1,000 words.
  • The summary must provide the following information:
    - Tentative name of the proposed business
    - Nature of the business (e.g., retailing, manufacturing, e-commerce,
      entertainment, etc.)
    - Description of the product or service that the proposed venture will make or
    - The need for the product or service, including availability of substitute products
      (Why will customers buy this product or service?)
    - Identification of the potential target market
    - Marketing strategy (How will the company reach its target market and how does
      it have a competitive advantage?)
    - Existing or potential competitors
    - Supply, distribution, and production strategies
    - Organization and Personnel (Who are the individuals who will initially manage the
      enterprise and handle key functions?)
    - Background, experience, and skills of the contestant(s) in relation to the
      proposed business
  • The Three Year Timeline must not exceed 500 words.

Remember this is a competition. Your Business Proposal needs to differentiate your business from other competitors.  The clarity and descriptiveness of your proposal will make a difference and enhance your chances of becoming a finalist.  In the business world you would need to do the same thing to inspire stakeholders to support your new venture.

The following statement must be included at the end of the Business Proposal:

The contestant(s) acknowledge that the ideas and concepts of this proposed business, as presented in this Business Proposal, are the original work of the contestants. All contestants agree to comply with the rules and guidelines of the New Business Venture Competition.  Contestants are responsible for all copyright, trademark, and patent issues. If this submission is selected as a finalist in the Competition, the contestant(s) commit to developing and submitting a full-fledged written Business Plan to by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021, and to participating in all the activities before a panel of judges on Thursday, April 8, 2021

Feedback on Submissions

All contestants will be notified by November 13, 2020, as to whether or not their proposal has been selected as a finalist for the Competition.

To return to the overview, click here.