Startup Vandal Rules and Guidelines
The Startup Vandal Business Plan Competition is open to U of I students from any discipline. There is no limit to team size and teams may have an outside team member, but all team members should be present and participate at competition events. Multi-disciplinary, cross-pollinated teams are encouraged and in recent years almost all of our winners have been diverse teams.
We accept new ventures, products, innovative projects, and non-profit ideas and will consider existing business ideas as long as the proposal results in significant expansion or innovation and minimal existing revenue and investment. The objective of the business tracks is to promote marketable business and social enterprise ideas that have the potential to attract funding, launch, and prosper. Each student on the team should be involved from concept and development of the business plan and ideally take an active ownership role in the startup.
All plans, pitches, and presentations must be accurate and represent the venture in an honest manner. Misrepresentation will result in disqualification.
Mentors can be a valuable resource for startups and teams are encouraged to seek faculty, business, and technical mentors. Teams should also consider the writing center for editing and format assistance and have the plan proofread by several business and non-business sources.
Each business plan will be judged by a group of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and business professionals. A judging rubric may be found on this site; however, ultimate ranking and awards are solely up to the discretion of the judging panel. While the competition preference is for teams to use cash awards to facilitate the launch of the venture, these are at the winners’ discretion. Unless the team specifies otherwise in advance, all prize money will be distributed equally among team members.
It is expected that all business plans are original and have not been previously awarded or recognized at the Idaho Pitch in previous years. Exceptions to these and any rules are at the discretion of the director.
Teams requiring non-disclosure agreements should not participate in the Startup Vandal Business Plan Competition. All sessions of the competition are open to the public and may be broadcast to interested persons through various media and any data or information discussed or divulged throughout the competition should be considered information that will enter the public domain.
To compete, teams will be asked to submit a one-page summary and a 90 second video that pitches their business idea over email following registration. Teams that do not meet a minimum threshold of preparedness, professionalism, and viability in the summary and video round will not move forward to the final Business Plan Competition.
Business Plans should be submitted as a single, printable PDF file. Plans are limited to 4-7 pages including a one-page executive summary (but not including a cover page and single table of contents page). The written plan may include up to 6 additional pages of appendices.
Page format is 1.5 line spacing with 1 inch margins all around and 12 point font. This line spacing and font requirement applies to the textual content of the document and not to titles and descriptions accompanying pictures, graphs, tables or worksheets. All pages must be numbered excluding the cover page. The cover page must include the venture name, team members, and logo if available.
Financial data should be summarized and highlighted in the written plan with supporting details and spreadsheet information in the Appendix. Startup costs, how it will be used, along with Proforma income and cash flow statements are appropriate.
Each team should have a professional pitch deck consisting of a powerpoint or other presentation media, and models, prototypes, signage and displays are encouraged. Pitch Deck presentations are limited to 7 minutes and will be followed by 7 minutes of Q&A by the investor judging panel. The public is welcome to view presentations and teams may attend other presentations after they have completed their own presentation. Though teams can choose their presenting person or persons, each student member should be present at the competition and be prepared to support their business plan.
The Idaho Pitch and Startup Vandal simulate the process of entrepreneurship. Teams should approach the competitions as any new venture team would approach the marketplace. Your goal is to solicit feedback from experienced entrepreneurs and investors and to gain seed capital for your ideas. The judges will evaluate your pitch and plans as they would any business opportunity and then decide on the ventures they would most likely fund. Build your plan, practice your pitch, develop a great pitch deck, and then put it all on the line at the Idaho Pitch!
Factors that influence the judges may include:
- Clarity, completeness, and persuasiveness of the written business plan and oral presentation.
- The usefulness and quality of the business plan concept and model (e.g., product, technology, service).
- The market potential of the proposed venture (does demand of concept exist).
- Traction and milestones expressed in the business plan.
- The capacity and strength of the management team (experience and expertise).
- The quality of the team members’ responses to questions from the judges.
The decisions of the judges are final and all prize amounts awarded are at the discretion of the panel.
Spring 2020 Schedule
Idaho Pitch and Vandal Startup Competition
The Spring 2020 competition has been cancelled due to COVID-19 closures. Fall 2020 dates coming soon.
- Business idea or concept
- Target market
- Competitive advantages
- Financial summary
- Funding requirements: what do you need?
- Company description and business model
- Value proposition-financial
- Value proposition—social or environmental
- Current Status
- Current or committed funding and all funding sources
- Why is this such a great idea?
- Describe and define the problem
- Competitive Analysis (analysis of the current competition and assessment of why the problem is not being solved by competitors)
- Identification of the Customer(s)
- Industry analysis and forecast (Comparative Analysis, find a company in a similar space or with similar market; and compare their growth rated, etc. to your model)
- Market size, analysis and forecast
- Founders and key management
- Industry experience; Educational backgrounds
- Board of advisors (critical to the assessment of the overall viability; can develop the team's experience if needed)
- Optional: Board of directors (3 required by law, usually not until first round of institutional funding is in place)
Outline overall financial model and funding analysis. Explain how you will use the funding to support/start this business venture and sustain it beyond the initial funding.