Competition Guidelines

Competition Guidelines

The Business Plan Competition (BPC) has the following set of rules to ensure compliance with the mission of the competition. If questions arise, the organizing committee will discuss with the participants and make a final ruling.

Composition of the Student Team

The BPC is a competition for full time undergraduate students of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. To compete in the BPC, students may form teams of up to five undergraduates. The following clarifying restrictions apply:

  • Prior BPC Activity: Student teams who have competed and finished in the top three in a previous year’s competition at UTK may not compete with the same plan in a subsequent year’s competition.
  • Online Courses: Students who have enrolled in online courses may count only those online hours that relate directly to fulfilling graduation requirements for their degree.
  • Other UTK Campuses: The BCP is restricted to full-time undergraduate students attending the UTK or UT Institute of Agriculture campuses.

Ownership of the Venture

If the venture is actually underway, student teams submitting a plan must have played a significant role and hold a significant stake in the creation of the venture and hold a significant stake in the venture. To avoid ventures formed and managed by non-students who have given token equity to students for writing their business plan, submissions should conform to the following criteria:

  • Venture Creation: The UT student team must have played a major role in creating the venture. Someone other than the student team may own the idea for the plan, but the business plan must be the original work of the submitting UT student team or individual.
  • Management Role: The student team must hold key management roles in the venture. In general, a member of the student team should be CEO, COO, or President of the venture, or members of the student team should occupy 50% or more of the management positions that report directly to the CEO, COO, or President.
  • Equity Ownership: The student team must own significant equity in the venture. In general, the student team should have an equity position of 50% or more of the total equity allocated to the management team and key advisors and 20% or more of the total equity of the venture.


Judging of entries will be performed by a panel of independent judges. Judges may be successful entrepreneurs or executives, venture capitalists, angel investors, or professional service providers working with the entrepreneurial venture community. Any entry is subject to minimum criteria in terms of market potential, viability, and other factors, as determined by the judging panel’s experience. If no entries meet the minimum criteria, prizes might not be awarded. Throughout any and all phases of the Business Plan Competition, all decisions of the judges are final.  Click here to see the judging criteria for each of the rounds.

Nature and Status of the Venture

The competition is for new, independent ventures in concept, seed, start-up, or early growth stage. The following restrictions apply:

  • Booked Revenues: Existing companies that have booked revenue prior to January 2012 are not eligible to enter.
  • Professional Investment: Any existing company or idea that has received angel or venture capital financing prior to the competition is ineligible for this competition. Funding from personal sources including “family and friends” is allowed for competition applicants.
  • Venture Type Exclusions: The following ventures are generally excluded from the competition: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spin-outs from existing corporations.