RBS Business Plan Competition
March 01, 2019
The objective of the annual Business Plan Competition is to encourage student entrepreneurs and support the growth of jobs in New Jersey. In order to compete for the business competition prizes, there must be a serious intent to launch the proposed business. While the competition is open to current Rutgers University students, the leadership roles in the business venture must be filled by one of the three eligible categories: Rutgers Business School senior undergraduate students, current MBA students, recent graduates, and recent MBA alumni. For those current Rutgers University students who are not in one of the three eligible leadership categories, you can still compete in the competition. We can match you with a team of eligible members. Alternatively, if you are in one of the eligible leadership categories that would like to join the competition, we can match you with a team. Individuals or teams of up to five students/alumni can enter the competition.
Who is Eligible?
You can compete in the Rutgers Business School Business Plan Competition as an individual or as a member of a team. Teams can have up to five members. If you are competing as an individual, you must be in one of the three eligible categories:
- Current Rutgers Business School Senior
- Current Rutgers Business School MBA Student
- Recent Rutgers Business School MBA Alumnus and recent graduate (you must have graduated from the program in the last three years)
In order to compete, there must be a serious intent to launch the proposed business in the short-term.
Any current Rutgers University student not in the three eligible categories may participate as a member of a team, provided that at least one person from the eligible categories is in a leadership role with regard to the proposed business. If you are a current Rutgers University student who is not in one of the three eligible leadership categories, you can still compete in the competition. We will try to match you with a team of eligible members. Alternatively, if you are in one of the eligible leadership categories and would like to join the competition, we will try to match you with a competing team.
Business plans are judged by a group of professionals from various industries including venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The objective of the first round of judging will be to reduce the pool of contestants to a smaller group of "semi-finalists."
Judges will be asked to evaluate the plans based upon their likelihood of actually becoming the basis of a viable business; or, in the case of an entrepreneurial venture, the likelihood of making a meaningful contribution to the existing business. This consideration, in turn, will include such factors as:
- the clarity and potential of the market opportunity defined in the plan, and the strength of the team's argument that their product/service meets that need,
- the overall evaluation of potential reward to risk,
- the appropriateness of the strategy for exploiting the opportunity,
- the reasonableness of the plan for financing the business,
and the team's ability to actually implement the plan.
Note that while the Contest is referred to as a "business plan" contest, it is really about the commercial merit of the proposed new venture. The judges evaluate the plans not as documents per se, but as visions for a potential new venture and, as such, focus on the idea, its potential for economic success and the likelihood of achieving that success based upon the team's plan and experience.
Naturally, the more concrete the plan—all else being equal—the better. Thus, teams/individuals that have a proven technology, recruited partners, or even attracted "beta" customers will likely be seen to have raised their chances of success. On the other hand, where business plans reflect the work of individuals prior to the start of the Business Plan Contest (i.e., teaming up with scientists that have been working on the project for several years) then the judges will do their best to "level the playing field" by calibrating the degree of accomplishment to the additional time and resources expended.
Note that the Contest has a strong preference for operating, rather than "investing" businesses. That is, hedge funds, investment and private equity funds, are not recommended because it is almost impossible to judge the merit of the idea without a substantial track record.
Judges will make further distinctions based upon the potential of the business to create value. We especially seek a small scale, "boot-strapped venture," which might not require much capital, and thus, would typically be uninteresting to a traditional venture fund.