New Business Venture Competition Overview

Northern Michigan University students, and high school students, irrespective of their major, are invited to participate in the New Business Venture Competition. Students working individually, or in teams of up to five, can submit a plan to start a new business and compete for prizes. 

2017 Competition Winner Keefer EdwardsNorthern Michigan University students must be enrolled at the University during the 2020 Fall and 2021 Winter semester.

This Competition is designed to encourage entrepreneurial activism among students by recognizing and rewarding those who present detailed plans on designing and creating new business enterprises, drawing on their own ideas and inventions or those of others.The Competition provides a forum for these students to present their new venture plans to investors, receive meaningful feedback, have the opportunity to start a new business, and apply classroom learning to real world projects. The business plans must propose ventures that will be financially profitable, create new jobs, and be lawful.

Individuals and teams proposing new ventures can have advisors and coaches, who may be faculty members, business executives, or entrepreneurs.  While this is encouraged, it is not required.  However, it is the students who must present their own original ideas and participate in the various activities connected with the Competition.

Key Features

The competition has two parts.

Part A – By 5:00 PM on Friday, October 30, 2020, individual students or student teams must submit an electronic “Intent to Compete” form, including a Business Proposal, for their new venture idea.  These submissions are screened by a faculty/staff committee, and the chosen finalists continue on to the second part of the Competition.  The decision will be made known by Friday, November 13, 2020.

Part B – The authors of the successful submissions start work on creating a detailed Business Plan, as per guidelines. A small stipend is available to each team or individual (as appropriate) to defray costs of developing the plan. The electronic business plan, maximum of 20 pages of text and additional maximum 10 pages of appendices is due by 5:00 PM on Friday, March 26, 2021 and must be submitted to

On Thursday, April 8, 2021 students will present their business plans through participation in the following. They are:


Activity 1 – Trade Fair & Presentation to Judges

Students can develop prototypes of their products and present them at a “trade fair” with supporting informational materials and guides. If it is a service, they can develop informational materials. Judges will then be invited to visit each of the trade fair displays. This will allow each contestant to do a one-on-one presentation to each of the judges, using their trade fair display as a prop. 

The Big Pitch

Activity 2 – "The Big Pitch"

Each team or individual contestant will make a 5-minute presentation to the judges, using props or electronic media as necessary. The judges will then have 5 minutes to pose questions to the contestants.

After the competition, the winners of the New Business Venture Competition will be announced.


Levels of cash prizes and/or consultation package awards are given to finalists of the business plan competition based on the judges evaluation of their business plan (viability and presentation).

Cash prize for first place winner in the best trade fair presentation.

Cash prize for first place winner in the five-minute pitch presentation.

The New Business Venture Competition is being generously supported in part through an endowment created by Mr. Ervin Kranberg '71 BS, and by Ray Johnson of Innovate Marquette SmartZone and Rick Holmes of Every Market Media '07 BS.  Business consultation awards are provided by 906 Technologies, Inc.; Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Seavoy & Larsen, PC; Tailored CPAs, and Prophet, CPA; and QuickTrophy.


The deadlines for the 2019-2020 New Venture Business Competition are as follows:

Friday, October 30, 2020 Submission of Intent to Compete Form and Business Proposal.
Friday, November 13, 2020 Individuals/Teams are informed who has been chosen as finalists. Finalists continue on to Part Two of the Competition.
Friday, March 26, 2021 Completed written business plans due at

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Competition Day


JudgesPanel of judges

A panel of judges will evaluate and select the winners of the New Venture Business Competition on a date TBD.  These judges are drawn from the business world.  The decisions of the judges are final.     


For more information about the New Business Venture Competition, contact the College of Business, Northern Michigan University, at (906) 227-2947 or by email at

Office of the Dean
College of Business
Northern Michigan University
304 Cohodas Hall
1401 Presque Isle Avenue
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 227-2605 fax