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$10,000 Business Plan Competition open for 2021


The fifth annual Augustana College Business Plan Competition invites teams or individual students to present their ideas to a panel of business professionals.

The competition is funded by the Augustana Creative Enterprise Fund, which has been supported by a donor. All current students may submit written business plans, and the best five plans will be invited to compete. 

The first-place award is $4,500; second place $3,000, third place $1,500; and $500 each to the remaining two teams.

Written business plan submissions are due to Dr. David Thornblad via email by noon March 8. Teams will be informed if they are invited to the competition by April 2.

Teams then will have two weeks to update their plans and submit them to Dr. Thornblad by midnight April 18. These written plans then will be sent to the final panel of judges to review before competition.

The final competition consists of presentations to judges, and will take place from noon-4:30 p.m. May 1 on campus. The judges are CEOs, bankers, investors, entrepreneurs and consultants, as well as other professionals. No Augustana faculty or staff members serve on the panel.

The panel will make its decisions based on the merit of the idea, the research the team has done on the idea's feasibility, and the team’s persuasiveness. 

Frequently asked questions

Q: How will the competition operate?

A: Presentations will take place in a conference room on campus. Each team will have 10 minutes to present their  idea to the judges. This will be followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. A PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation is recommended to highlight and explain major parts of the business plan.

Presentations may be videotaped and or photographed for media, publicity, and teaching purposes. Teams should expect these videotapes and photographs to be shared on social media, websites, and other locations to promote the college and the event.

Important note: Students who submit a business plan to the competition must be available to present sometime between noon and 3 p.m. on May 1, and attend the awards ceremony afterward. The competition should be completed by 4:30 p.m. The top three teams will be asked to have their pictures taken with the judges after the awards ceremony.

Q: What does a business plan look like?

A: Business plans identify a problem that people or businesses have, and propose a solution in the form of a product or service. Business plans tend to have in-depth research about the problem, how it affects people/businesses as well as the industry. It is important to do research to show there is a legitimate problem that people/businesses will pay for a business’s product or services to solve.

Business plans also have financial estimates, generally for the next three to five years, of costs to start and manage the business, as well revenue projections. These estimates need to be researched in order to provide a convincing argument to how a business will be profitable.

There are many free sources to get templates for business plans and a guide  through the process. Competition organizes recommend using the business plan template from SCORE.

The business plan needs to include the names and ID #s of all people on the team on the front page. Please submit the written business plan as PDF.  Excel files of the plan's financials (not Google Sheets) also may be submitted.

Q: I am not a business administration student, can I compete?

A: Yes! If you have a business idea, you are encouraged to submit a written business plan. However, you may want to consider partnering with business students to help develop your plan.

Q: Can people outside of the college be on a team that includes Augustana students?

A: Only Augustana College students enrolled in the spring semester can present to the panel. Only current Augustana students will be awarded money if they do well in the competition.

Q: Am I required to use the award money to start my business?

A: No, you may use it as you wish. Award money will be split evenly among team members unless there is a written agreement signed by all team members requesting a different split.

Q: Are there any other stipulations?

A: Yes. If you win a monetary award, you will be expected to sign a document stating that you understand the following:

1. My financial aid package will be updated to include the competition award, which will be considered a resource when calculating eligibility for loans and federal work-study. The competition award may result in adjustments to loans and/or federal work-study. Contact the Office of Financial Aid if you have questions.

2. Competition award money will be credited to my student account and will first be applied to any outstanding debts that I owe Augustana College.

3. Any award may have tax implications, because this money will be considered taxable income. You will be paid through Student Accounts. However, if you have a legally established business, the full amount of the award money can be given to your business pursuant to filling out a W-9 and/or other appropriate forms.

Before you sign the document, you should note the following:

1. You have the right not to sign this document. If you do not sign, you forfeit any monetary award. However, you retain the right to state that you competed in the competition and your team won an award in your resume or other documents.

2. You have the right not to sign this document immediately. You have until the end of the work day immediately after graduation of this academic year to meet with financial aid to discuss how this award will influence your future aid package. If this agreement is not signed and returned to the business office before the end of the work day after graduation, you will forfeit any monetary award.

Q: How and when will I be paid?

A: You will be paid through Augustana’s payroll office; income taxes will be deducted from your award money (see previous question). 

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