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Business Plan Competition 2023

Business Plan Competition

  • Investment Round RSVP
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2023 VIBE Business Plan Comeptition

The VIBE's Business Plan Competition (BPC) is a great opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded college students to showcase their business plans to investors to promote new business creation in the South Sound.


1st place...$30,000* 2nd place.....$5,000 3rd place....$2,500 and more!

Trade show is open to the public Thursday, February 16, 2023 10:00 am - 3:00 pm William W. Philip Hall (WPH), University of Washington Tacoma Campus.

Final Round is open to the public. Top five teams advance to compete (Live Presentation) for $30,000 grand prize, Thursday, February 23, 2023, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm Milgard Hall (MLG), University of Washington Tacoma Campus.

Any questions regarding the events please contact Thomas Kuljam, [email protected] or call directly at 253-225-4413.

*$15,000 in cash + $15,000 in-kind services

Before You Submit Your Business Plan

Teams in the Business Plan Competition must comply with the following criteria to be eligible for the competition:

  • Teams entering the University of Washington Tacoma VIBE’s Business Plan Competition must have at least one full-time or part-time student on the team who is enrolled in a degree-seeking program at an accredited college or university in Washington state. If you graduated in Spring 2020 or later, you are considered a current student in the competition.
  • Teams are highly encouraged to have at least one Veteran or Active Duty member. This will allow teams to receive a bonus advantage.
  • The business plan must be developed during the student’s tenure at the university. Students working with outside entrepreneurs must create an original business plan.
  • All submissions to the Business Plan Competition must live up to the higher ideals of the University of Washington Tacoma. Your idea must be appropriate for a university-sponsored event. The VIBE reserves the right to disqualify any entry that in its judgment violates the letter or the spirit of the competition or exceeds the bounds of social convention.
  • All businesses must create economic opportunity within the South Sound community.
  • If the company is revenue positive, the company’s actual annual revenue cannot exceed $500,000. Please note this is different than the company’s projected revenue. This rule does not apply to projected revenue.
  • Eligible students can form a team with non-student business community members or alumni, but there are restrictions to this involvement (see below).
  • In the Trade Show round, no more than four team members, including both students and non-students, can present the new business concept to the judges. In the Final Round of the competition, only student team members will be allowed to make presentations to the judges.
  • Students must have at least a 51% ownership in the business or the potential for equity or employment.
  • Only student team members are eligible to earn prize money. No payments will be made to non-students.

Note: The Director of the VIBE and the Business Plan Advisory Board reserves the right to make the final determination of the eligibility of submitted business ventures.

The VIBE Business Plan Competition considers all submitted business plans as confidential and treats all team matters accordingly. However, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality for proprietary matters.

Therefore, we strongly encourage any team with concerns regarding intellectual property, copyright, or patent confidentiality to either contact their University’s intellectual property office (for University-developed discoveries) or competent legal counsel (for non-University related discoveries).

The University of Washington Tacoma, the Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship, the Milgard School of Business, and the organizers of the competition are not responsible for any proprietary information and/or intellectual property included in a submitted business plan.

Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials is the sole responsibility of the individual or team participating in the competition.

The Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship offers numerous ways to prepare for the competition.

Learn by example

Take a look at the 5-7 page executive summaries submitted in the previous years:

  • Aurora Plasmonics
  • FlashVolunteer
  • GSD Devices
  • Urban Harvest
  • Xylamed (PatientStream)

To view more business summaries contact Thomas Kuljam. In order to prepare your own executive summary, use this Submission Checklist , which includes the judging criteria judges will be using in the Screening Round to evaluate all entries.

Judging Criteria

The Screening Round takes place online and is the first major hurdle for students participating in the Business Plan Competition. Student teams submit their business plan executive summaries online. Over the course of a weekend, each business plan executive summary is read and scored by the judges who are encouraged to provide written feedback for students. After the Screening Round, an announcement of teams advancing to the Investment Round is sent via email. Please also review the submission checklist at the end of this document.


  • Does the summary adequately describe the idea — does the idea make sense?
  • Has the team adequately described the pain in the marketplace?
  • Do you believe the team has presented a feasible solution?
  • Is the summary well written and succinct?
  • Does the summary create excitement?

Bonus : Does the team discuss measurable efforts to minimize consumption, use, and byproduct waste, while bolstering profitability/cost containment?


  • Does this management team have the skills required to execute the plan?
  • Does this team have the experience to lead a new venture?


  • Have they adequately described the market and economic opportunity?
  • Have they clearly stated their value proposition? Is it a viable model?


  • Has the team completely analyzed its competitive space?
  • Does the summary clearly identify the company’s initial competitive advantage or differentiator?
  • Does the team have an adequate strategy for defending their market position?


  • Is it clear how the company will reach its initial customer?
  • Does the summary clearly identify a sales strategy?
  • Is the distribution plan clearly defined and reasonable?
  • Has the team made progress toward any milestones (licenses, patents, etc…)
  • Has the company signed customers and/or channel partners?
  • Has the company booked any revenue?
  • Are the financials consistent with the overall plan?
  • Are the assumptions realistic?
  • Are contingencies and exit strategies addressed?
  • Does the plan describe the funding/resources required to execute on the plan?

The Sweet 16 Trade Show, arguably the most exciting event of the competition, follows a trade show format in which teams set up intricate displays and interact with judges to pitch the team’s idea.

The judges, all prominent members of the local entrepreneurial community, are given one thousand “VIBE dollars” to invest in a portfolio of teams that they consider the “most viable” – that is, with the best chance for success in the real world.

At the end of the event, investment dollars are collected and tallied. The teams receiving the highest “funding” are announced at a reception immediately following and advance to the final round.

We ask the judges to invest their $1,000 “VIBE dollars” in a minimum of 5 companies (student teams) and a well-rounded portfolio of companies. We also tell them: when you’re deciding which teams to invest in, ask yourself:

  • Does this business seem well thought out?
  • Has the team demonstrated knowledge of the industry and potential customers?
  • Is there a real opportunity here?
  • Has the team answered your questions?

The Practice Pitch is a noncompetitive round in which no teams are eliminated. This round gives teams the opportunity to practice their presentations in front of a panel of coaches from the local entrepreneurial community.

This round is designed to provide teams with in-depth and constructive feedback that they can use to hone their business plans and pitches prior to the Final Round. Teams will be assigned a mentor for one-on-one coaching.

The Final round will have all remaining teams present throughout the day. The amount of time each team is allotted will be calculated determined by the amount of participants. The Judges will be different judges from the investment round and will select the advancing teams based on the following criteria:

  • The Team: What are the team dynamics? What is the quality of the team? Does the team demonstrate the ability to execute on its plan? (Student-driven teams are a plus.)
  • The Market: Does the company’s product or service address the target market’s needs? (Opportunity size is a plus, but not the primary concern)
  • Viability: Is the business model viable, well-articulated, and reasonable? (The team’s IP position should be clear.)
  • Presentation: Did the team make a quality presentation? What was the quality of the team’s materials and data? How was the team’s ability to answer tough questions?

After all presentations are finished, judges will discuss the merits of each of the teams and by process of consensus select the winning team and the runner up to be presented in the afternoon.

Checklist: 2023 Business Plan Competition checklist

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Economic impact of UW Business Plan Competition

Failure rates for start-ups are notoriously high, and college-aged entrepreneurs face even higher hurdles. At the University of Washington, we’ve been running our Business Plan Competition for 14 years. While 891 teams have participated, many never launched their companies or did not survive for long. However, 37 companies do still exist. How are they doing?

In May 2011, UW Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship conducted a survey of the BPC companies still in business, asking them to answer six questions about their growth since the event. 28 of 37 responded, including companies from as recent as the 2010 competition that are only a year old. We also asked each founder for an update of their company’s story.

Of the 28 companies that responded, there were 15 consumer product/retail, 5 technology, 4 life-science and 4 clean-tech companies. Survey Highlights of Economic Impact:

  • 640+ current employees (with 220 of those at an average salary greater than $75,000)
  • 12 companies raised more than $500,000 (over $60 million in venture capital raised)
  • $92.7 million estimated combined revenue for 2011
  • 3 companies made the Inc 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the US for 2010
  • 8 companies are boot-strapped by choice

Start-Up Founder Comments:

“We’re most excited to be living the start-up dream: building jobs, solving a pain point and taking our place in the local start-up ecosystem, all of which are crucial elements in building a thriving innovation environment and giving back to the community that helped us get our start.” “We intend to double the number of FTE in 2011 and employ approximately 20 people in well-paying life science research and business operations jobs by 2014. None of this would have been possible without the start we received from CIE and their network of advisors.” “We have gained a breadth of contacts that we would have been hard-pressed to meet had it not been for our experience in the Business Plan Competition. I cannot express my gratitude enough for all the support that we have received as former students.” “None of this [success] would have been possible without CIE and the UW Business Plan Competition. Because of the competition we were able to make a lot of our mistakes before they counted and could derail our business.” “If it weren’t for all we got from the Business Plan Competition, we would have never gotten off of the ground and I would probably be working for someone else’s start-up in Minneapolis or the Bay Area. Instead, I have people working for me here in Seattle.”

Learn more about some of the companies that have launched from the UW Business Plan Competition.


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