Business Plan Competition

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2019 Business Plan Competition

The 2019 VIBE Business Plan Competition has concluded, congratulations to the winner - Ashley Steingard of Aristo Wrap.
Great job to our first runner-up, Vishaal Diwan and team for HandiMaps. Great work, to our second runner-up, Chris Porter and his team for Pop Over.
Thank you to all who participated and we look forward to seeing you next year!
For an event summary, John Burkhardt of UWT has written a terrific article about the 2019 BPC. You can also view the record of the event on our media page or directly with this link.


The VIBE's Business Plan Competition (BPC) is a great opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded students and veterans to showcase their business plans to investors. The competition promotes new business creation in the South Sound. This is not just for business students! Students from all majors are welcome to participate. See the flyer here.


The 2019 VIBE Business Plan Competition is made possible through cooperation with our partners at:


2019 BPC Schedule

Date Event Location Time Notes
January 21 Executive Summary Submission Open N/A N/A Online submission system created.
April 22 Executive Summary Submission Close N/A Deadline will be at midnight. Online submission system will close.
April 25 Team Formation Night TBD TBD Notes forthcoming, pending times.
May 16 Trade Show Event Rain Incubator, 2304 Jefferson Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM aka Investment Round. Street parking available
May 22 Final Round Rain Incubator, 2304 Jefferson Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM Top 5 teams will compete for the prize money. Street parking available


Before you submit your Business Plan:

Business Plan Competition Rules

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

The rules are being slightly revised for the 2019 BPC, some conditions below may not apply.

  1. 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 Summer quarter 2018 or later, you are considered a current student in the competition.
  2. Teams entering the University of Washington Tacoma VIBE’s Business Plan Competition is highly encouraged to have at least one Veteran or Active Duty member. This will allow teams to receive a bonus advantage.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. All businesses must create economic opportunity within the South Sound community.
  6. If the company is revenue positive, the company’s actual annual revenue cannot exceed $500K. Please note this is different than the company’s projected revenue. This rule does not apply to projected revenue.
  7. Eligible students can form a team with non-student business community members or alumni, but there are restrictions to this involvement (see below).
  8. In the Investment 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 Rounds of the competition, only student team members will be allowed to make presentations to the judges.
  9. Students must have at least a 51% ownership in the business or the potential for equity or employment.
  10. 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.

Business Plan Competition Preparation

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

Networking Thursdays (aka Doughnut Thursdays)

Innovative? Have an idea? How do you find the right people to join your team or how do you find a team to join? The VIBE offers several ways to help you connect with like-minded students.

Learn by example

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

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.

Brown Bag Series (Business Resource)

Offered every Wednesday 12:30 - 1:30 at the VIBE. It features experts from the local entrepreneurial community teaching various aspects of business creation, implementation, and maintenance.

Check out our YouTube Channel! We have videos of speakers of some of our Brown Bag Series from Winter '18.

Judging Criteria (See criteria for each round in tabs below)

The VIBE Business Plan Competition is comprised of three competitive rounds (Screening Round, Investment Round, and Final Round) and one non-competitive Coaching Round, designed to prepare teams for the Final Round.

Screening Round

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. RSVP for the Screening Round


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?

Investment Round

The Investment Round, 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?
You can now RSVP for the Investment Round. We will need to know the number of guests you will be bringing. Hope to see you there!

Practice Pitch

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.

Final Round

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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)
  3. Viability: Is the business model viable, well-articulated, and reasonable? (The team’s IP position should be clear.)
  4. 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.

To RSVP for the Final Round, please visit the page to RSVP for the Final Round.


To RSVP for the Investment Round or Final Round, please visit the appropriate page: