Competition Overview

The New Business Venture Competition is designed to encourage entrepreneurial activism among students by recognizing and rewarding those who present detailed plans on designing and creating new business enterprises, drawing on their own ideas and inventions or those of others. The Competition provides a forum for these students to:

  • Present their new venture plans to investors
  • Receive meaningful feedback
  • Have the opportunity to start a new business
  • Apply classroom learning to real world projects

The business plans must propose ventures that will be financially profitable, create new jobs, and be lawful.

Northern Michigan University students, and high school students, irrespective of their major, are invited to participate. NMU students must be enrolled at the University during the 2020 Fall and 2021 Winter semester. Students working individually, or in teams of up to five, can submit a plan to start a new business and compete for prizes. 


Parts of the Competition

  • Part 1 - Call for Entries: Individual students or student teams must submit an electronic “Intent to Compete” form, including a Business Proposal, for their new venture idea.  These submissions are screened by a faculty/staff committee, and the chosen finalists continue on to the second part of the Competition.
  • Part 2 - The Finals: The authors of the successful submissions create a detailed business plan, submit it approximately two weeks prior to the competition day, and then compete in front of a panel of judges for cash prizes.

Competition Prizes

Levels of cash prizes and/or consultation package awards are given to finalists of the business plan competition based on the judges evaluation of their business plan (viability and presentation).

  • Cash prize for first place winner in the best trade fair presentation.
  • Cash prize for first place winner in the five-minute pitch presentation.

The New Business Venture Competition is being generously supported in part through an endowment created by Mr. Ervin Kranberg '71 BS, and by Ray Johnson of Innovate Marquette SmartZone and Rick Holmes of Every Market Media '07 BS.  Business consultation awards are provided by 906 Technologies, Inc.; Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Seavoy & Larsen, PC; Tailored CPAs, and Prophet, CPA; and QuickTrophy.

Competition Dates & Deadlines

 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Submission of Intent to Compete Form and Business Proposal


Friday, November 13, 2020

Individuals/Teams are informed who have been chosen as finalists and will continue to compete.


Friday, March 26, 2020

Completed written business plans due at bizdean@nmu.edu


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Competition Day

Competition Day | Thursday, April 8, 2021

2:15-3:00 Trade fair display set-up (finalists and assistants only)
3:00-5:15 Rehearsal (finalists and judges only)
5:45-6:30 Reception 
6:30-8:00

"The Big Pitch" Pitch presentations to the judges
Winners Announced

Additional Information:

  • Refreshments will be available throughout the day for participants
  • All contestants must be present
  • The trade fair, reception and "Big Pitch" are open to the community

Competitor Resources

In the sections below, students can find detailed information pertaining to all facets of the New Business Venture Competition. If you still have questions after reviewing this information, please contact NMU's College of Business at (906) 227-2947 or bizdean@nmu.edu.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

  • The Competition is open to all post-secondary students at Northern Michigan University, and high school students, irrespective of their major or program of study, who are enrolled in the 2019-2020 full academic year. Note:  Prior NMU New Business Venture Competition award winners are not eligible to enter the same business plan or a spin-off of that plan.  Also, the proposed business must be wholly owned by eligible students during the duration of the competition.
  • Students can participate as individuals or as part of a team (up to five members).  Cross-disciplinary teams are encouraged.
  • Contestants, whether individuals or teams, can have advisors and coaches who can be faculty members, business executives, and even entrepreneurs.  While this is encouraged, it is not required.  However, it is students who must present their original work and participate in the trade fair presentation, in the elevator pitch competition, and in the business plan presentation.
  • An individual or team can submit only one entry.  An individual cannot be a member of more than one team.

How to Participate?

  • Individual or team contestants must submit an electronic “Intent to Compete Form”, including a Business Proposal.  These are due by 5:00 PM on Friday, October 30, 2020.
  • Contestants agree to the following stipulations:
    - their proposal represents the original work of the student(s)
    - they will abide by all the guidelines and rules of the competition
    - they are responsible for all copyright, trademark and patent issues
    - should their proposal be accepted for Part Two of the competition, they will
      participate in all the activities associated with the competition      

Nature of the Proposed Ventures

  • The competition is for new, independent ventures in the seed and start-up stages (businesses should not be in operation for more than 24 months as of Friday, October 30, 2020.)  Proposals for buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area and spin-offs from existing corporations are excluded.
  • Proposals to license technologies from universities or research labs are encouraged assuming they have not been commercialized previously.
  • Proposed ventures must be projected to be financially profitable, be lawful and create jobs.
  • Contestants must acknowledge that their proposed businesses are original and that the business plan is their own work.

Business Proposal

A Business Proposal is usually developed prior to creating a Business Plan.  This proposal is the first step in determining the viability of a business concept and is the precursor to all the work involved in developing a complete business plan.  It is a brief document that describes the proposed business and contains enough information to enable stakeholders to make an initial evaluation about the viability and attractiveness of the proposed business. A well-written Business Proposal is usually a combination of business analysis and a marketing pitch.

For the New Business Venture Competition, a Business Proposal for the proposed business venture must accompany the completed Intent to Compete form and is due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 30, 2020.

Please follow these rules for preparing the Business Proposal –

  • The summary must not exceed 1,000 words.
  • The summary must provide the following information:
    - Tentative name of the proposed business
    - Nature of the business (e.g., retailing, manufacturing, e-commerce,
      entertainment, etc.)
    - Description of the product or service that the proposed venture will make or
      provide
    - The need for the product or service, including availability of substitute products
      (Why will customers buy this product or service?)
    - Identification of the potential target market
    - Marketing strategy (How will the company reach its target market and how does
      it have a competitive advantage?)
    - Existing or potential competitors
    - Supply, distribution, and production strategies
    - Organization and Personnel (Who are the individuals who will initially manage the
      enterprise and handle key functions?)
    - Background, experience, and skills of the contestant(s) in relation to the
      proposed business
  • The Three Year Timeline must not exceed 500 words.

Remember this is a competition. Your Business Proposal needs to differentiate your business from other competitors.  The clarity and descriptiveness of your proposal will make a difference and enhance your chances of becoming a finalist.  In the business world you would need to do the same thing to inspire stakeholders to support your new venture.

The following statement must be included at the end of the Business Proposal:

The contestant(s) acknowledge that the ideas and concepts of this proposed business, as presented in this Business Proposal, are the original work of the contestants. All contestants agree to comply with the rules and guidelines of the New Business Venture Competition.  Contestants are responsible for all copyright, trademark, and patent issues. If this submission is selected as a finalist in the Competition, the contestant(s) commit to developing and submitting a full-fledged written Business Plan to bizdean@nmu.edu by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021, and to participating in all the activities before a panel of judges on Thursday, April 8, 2021


Feedback on Submissions

All contestants will be notified by November 13, 2020, as to whether or not their proposal has been selected as a finalist for the Competition.

Business Plan Overview

  • Contestants whose submissions have been selected as finalists for the Competition must submit an electronic written Business Plan for the proposed venture by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021 to bizdean@nmu.edu.
  • The Business Plan expands and elaborates on what was presented in the Business Proposal.
  • A small stipend is available to the individual or team to defray costs of preparing the Business Plan. See Expense Policy for more details.

Guidelines for Writing the Business Plan

  • Plans must be in writing and is limited to 20 pages of text (typed double-spaced, 12 point font, 1” margins on all sides, and paginated) and a maximum of 10 pages for appendices.
  • The Business Plan must include the following:
    • Executive Summary: provides a concise and compelling overview of the proposed business.
    • Industry Analysis: provides an overview of the industry in which the business will operate. The analysis should illustrate knowledge of trends within the industry and explains how the business will take advantage of projected trends.  It will also focus on the target market (the proposed customer base) and provide information on number of potential customers, with information including, but not limited to, income and spending habits. Industry analysis will also identify potential competitors, explaining the differentiating factors that give the proposed business a sustainable competitive advantage and how the business will compete in the market.
    • Marketing Plan: describes the strategies that will be used to reach the target market about the venture’s products and services and details sales and promotion tactics.
    • Operations: describes how the venture will be managed and how the goods/services will be produced.  It also discusses how the business will grow and how it will cope with the demands of expansion.  The technologies needed for running the proposed business should be identified and a plan presented for acquiring the necessary equipment. Operations also provide details on the ownership and management structure.
    • Financial Plan: provides a multi-year financial outlook based upon assumptions made throughout the Business Plan and includes pro forma financial documents including startup costs, cash flow, balance sheet, operating costs, and a breakeven analysis.
    • Submitted plans are not limited to including only the items described above, and there is no required order for discussing these items. For additional information see the Business Proposal guidelines.
  • Contestants can consult any sources they deem appropriate, including the following websites on how to prepare a business plan:
  • The written Business Plan must be submitted electronically at bizdean@nmu.edu
  • Contestants are encouraged to consult with and utilize coaches, such as faculty members, business persons, entrepreneurs, friends, parents or other mentors.

What Happens After Business Plans Are Submitted

  • Written Business Plans are forwarded to a panel of judges for review prior to competition day.  These judges are drawn from the business community.
  • Competition day will be Thursday, April 8, 2021

Individuals and teams proposing new ventures can have advisors and coaches, who may be faculty members, business executives, or entrepreneurs.  While this is encouraged, it is not required.  However, it is the students who must present their own original ideas and participate in the various activities connected with the Competition.

  • Each team or individual contestant whose proposal has been selected as a finalist for the competition will be reimbursed for up to $200 to defray expenses incurred in the course of preparing the Business Plan.
  • All expenses must be incurred by the date of the final competition, April 8, 2021.
  • Approved expenses include the following: developing prototypes or models, informational brochures, phone calls, software tools to build a Web site, travel required for research, and legal and accounting services.  Meals, hotel stays, entertainment, computer hardware or electronic items for team members are not eligible for reimbursement.
  • A single request for reimbursement for each team can be made and a check will be issued to the team leader.  Requests for reimbursement must be made to the College of Business within one week of the completion of the competition and must be accompanied by receipts and an itemization of expenses.  In some cases, the College of Business may pay for some of the expenses to save students from incurring out-of-pocket expenses.  These payments will be applied towards the $200 allotted to each team or individual contestant.  Requests for the College paying for expenses must be made in writing.
  • Submit reimbursement requests and supporting documentation to Office of the Dean, College of Business, 304 Cohodas Hall, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI 49855.
  • Each individual and team contestant will be provided with a six-foot table in the Founders Room to display prototypes, artifacts and information materials and flyers relating to the product/service the contestants are proposing in their new ventures.
  • Members of the team or the individual (in case of individual contestant) must be present at their designated tables to describe their displays and answer questions.  All contestants should be versed in the venture to be able to explain it succinctly.
  • The Trade Fair is a public event.
  • Individual tables will be judged for a prize for the Best Trade Fair display.  Thus, the products or services should be presented in a professional, attractive and informative way.
  • During the trade fair, each team will make an oral presentation of their Business Plan to the competition judges.  The presentation will occur at the trade fair booth of the contestant. Note that the judges will already have a copy of the written Business Plan.
  • All contestants must be present at the presentation.
  • A maximum of 10 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes to answer questions from the judges will be available to each team or individual contestant.
  • The presentations are open to all, including other competitors, students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus.
  • There are three prizes – first, second, and third.  The prizes are awarded considering both the written and oral components of the Business Plan.
  • One member of each team, and in the case of an individual contestant that individual, will make a presentation to the panel of judges and to an audience in the Northern Center Ballroom I.  The 5-Minute Pitch Presentation should begin with a short (around one minute) video introduction. The order of the presentations will be selected randomly.
  • The pitch is an oral presentation made without interruption for five minutes and will be followed by five minutes of questions from the judges.
  • The pitch, while demonstrating communication skills, describes the business proposal succinctly and persuasively so that the judges, if they were actual venture capitalists, would be eager to fund it.
  • There is a prize for the best Five-Minute Pitch Presentation.
  • The judges will have 5 minutes to pose questions to the contestants.

After the competition, the winners of the New Business Venture Competition will be announced.

Competition Judges

A panel of judges will evaluate and select the winners of the New Venture Business Competition on a date TBD. These judges are drawn from the business world. The decisions of the judges are final.     


Criteria for Judging

The Trade Fair presentation will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • The professionalism of the presentation and the contestants present
  • The creativity and the information value of the materials
  • The extent to which the materials convey what the product or service is
  • Information provided at the Fair is consistent with the Business Plan

The Written Business Plan will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Necessary components – does the business plan contain all of the necessary sections?
  • Well written – the business plan must be written in a clear, concise, and logical manner; additionally, it should adhere to the principles of good writing
  • Viability – the venture must be implementable, realistic, and viable
  • Innovation and Creativity – should be discernible in the venture and the business plan

The written portion of the business plan will comprise 60% of the weight.

The Oral Presentation of the Business Plan will be judged using the following criteria:

  • The persuasive presentation of the viability of the venture
  • The materials are presented in a clear, concise, professional, and logical form
  • Presenters convey a sense of confidence, enthusiasm, and professionalism
  • Presenters are responsive to the judge’s question
  • The visual aids are relevant, attractive, and professional

The oral presentation portion of the business plan will comprise 40% of the weight.

The Five Minute "Big" Pitch Presentation will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Clear explanation of the product or service.
  • Conciseness
  • Logic
  • Conveying of a sense of energy and enthusiasm
  • Professionalism
  • Features and benefits of goods or services that the venture proposes
  • Response to judge questions.

Viability of Venture Criteria:

  • Market opportunity—there is a clear market present and method for taking advantage of it
  • Competitive advantage—the business has a unique, novel, or distinct approach, which gives it an advantage
  • Management capability—the contestants are able to effectively develop the venture and handle the tasks necessary for its success
  • Financial understanding—the contestants have a good understanding of the financial requirements of the venture
  • Innovation—the contestants have developed an innovative solution to an existing or emerging problem

Other Notes:

  • The decisions of the judges are final.
  • All federal, state and local taxes, if any, are the sole responsibility of the winners.  All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.
  • By entering in the competition, the contestants give permission to Northern Michigan University to use the names of the winners and their project for publicity and/or trade purposes without further compensation unless prohibited by law. Contestants grant permission to the University to record and publicize their oral and written presentations, in whole or in part.  All submitted materials become the property of the University and will not be returned to the contestants.
  • Northern Michigan University, judges, and sponsors shall make no claim to any property or rights retained by the contestants.
  • Contestants and any business entities associated with them release and discharge Northern Michigan University, the judges, and prize sponsors, from any and all liability associated with participating in the New Business Venture Plan Competition and with the start-up and operation of any businesses described in the business plans. 
  • Contestants should not present any information to the judges, orally or in writing, which they deem to be confidential, proprietary, or commercially sensitive. Information presented will not be kept secret.  The presentation of the business plan, the elevator pitch competition, and the trade fair are all public events.
  • Competition contestants may be invited by the University to allow implementation of the business plan in a business incubator at the University.
  • Cash prizes will be awarded to first, second and third prize winners for the best business plans (viability and presentation) 
  • Cash prize for first place winner in the best trade fair presentation.
  • Cash prize for first place winner in the best 5-minute pitch presentation.
  • Cash prize for the first place winner in a "Crowd Favorite" vote

Business Plan Prizes 2019-2020

First Place

  • Cash Prize.
  • Consultation for Technology, Hardware, Web Development and Software.
  • Financial consultation and training provided by Tailored CPAs, P.C.
  • Legal Consultation Services for Business Provided by Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Seavoy & Larsen, P.C.
  • Consultation regarding proposed business strategy and development.

Second Place

  • Cash Prize.                     
  • Consultation for Technology, Hardware, Web Development and Software.
  • QuickBooks Software provided by QuickTrophy, LLC.
  • Consultation regarding proposed business strategy and development.
  • QuickBooks Training.

Third Place

  • Cash Prize.
  • Consultation regarding proposed business strategy and development.
  • QuickBooks Training.

The New Venture Business Competition is being generously supported in part through an endowment created by Mr. Ervin Kranberg, a co-founder and president of Professional Liability Brokers & Consultants, Inc. (PLBC), a wholesale broker in the professional liability insurance industry.  The firm’s home office is in Vernon Hills, Illinois, with a branch office in Phoenix, Arizona.

Previous Competition Winners

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Michael Cole

Michael Cole

Cannoptics

Business Plan First Place Winner - 2020

Crowd Favorite Winner - 2020

Big Pitch Winner - 2020

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Max Steele

Max Steele

OccuDec

Business Plan Second Place Winner - 2020

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Jonathan_Damon

Jonathan Damon

OccuDec

Business Plan Second Place Winner - 2020

Business Plan First Place Winner, Crowd Favorite Winner, Big Pitch Winner - Glen Arbor Wines - Keefer Edwards

First Place Winner, Crowd Favorite Winner, Big Pitch Winner - Glen Arbor Wines - Keefer Edwards

 

Second Place Winner - Lifestyle Gymnastics Center - Kidron Stromwall 

Second Place Winner - Lifestyle Gymnastics Center - Kidron Stromwall 

Third Place Winner - Lead Carpet Firearms and Safety - Sierra Utych

Third Place Winner - Lead Carpet Firearms and Safety - Sierra Utych

Trade Fair Display Winner  - UP Lure Co. - Jacob Patterson

Trade Fair Display Winner  - UP Lure Co. - Jacob Patterson

Business Plan First Place and Trade Fair Presentation Winner - Portage Paddle Sports - Brendan Jacques

Business Plan First Place and Trade Fair Presentation Winner - Portage Paddle Sports - Brendan Jacques

Business Plan Second Place and Big Pitch Winner - Modern Marketing - Keef Edwards

Business Plan Second Place and Big Pitch Winner - Modern Marketing - Keef Edwards

Business Plan Third Place, Trade Fair Presentation Winner, and Crowd Favorite - Marq Etiquette Board Shop - Nic Beaudrault

Business Plan Third Place, Trade Fair Presentation Winner, and Crowd Favorite - Marq Etiquette Board Shop - Nic Beaudrault

Business Plan First Place - Ben's Boards - Ben Phillips

Business Plan Second Place - Keef Company - Keefer Edwards

Business Plan Third Place - Yooperade - Gisele Duehring

Business Plan First Place - Upscale Energy Solutions - Logan Stauber

Business Plan Second Place - Go Energy Breath Spray - Rheta and Marshall Mering

Business Plan Third Place - The 906 Collective - Brett Etengoff

 

Business Plan (First Place $7,750 total cash and prize value) - Hobby Car Malaysia - Wenfei Kou, Yufeng Zhuo, and Wilson Goh 

 

Business Plan (First Place $7,750 total cash and prize value) - Hobby Car Malaysia - Wenfei Kou, Yufeng Zhuo, and Wilson Goh 

Business Plan (Second Place $4,000 total cash and prize value) - Superior Shores Bike Park - Justina Liss

 Business Plan (Second Place $4,000 total cash and prize value) - Superior Shores Bike Park - Justina Liss

Business Plan (Third Place $2,200 total cash and prize value) - Cardboard World  - Micah Argeropoulos, Ethan Hausmann

Business Plan (Third Place $2,200 total cash and prize value) - Cardboard World  - Micah Argeropoulos, Ethan Hausmann

Business Plan (First Place $7,750 total cash and prize value) - SnapTanx - Jacob Yoho

Business Plan (First Place $7,750 total cash and prize value) - SnapTanx - Jacob Yoho

Business Plan (Second Place $4,000 total cash and prize value) - Torched Vines & Wines and Torched Spirits - Nicholas Lefebre

Business Plan (Second Place $4,000 total cash and prize value) - Torched Vines & Wines and Torched Spirits - Nicholas Lefebre

Business Plan (Third Place $2,200 total cash and prize value) - U.P. Coding - Corey Engelhart

Business Plan (Third Place $2,200 total cash and prize value) - U.P. Coding - Corey Engelhart

Business Plan (First Place $4,000), 60-second elevator pitch ($500), and Trade Fair ($500) - The Protein Palace - Tony Plemmons

Business Plan (First Place $4,000), 60-second elevator pitch ($500), and Trade Fair ($500) - The Protein Palace - Tony Plemmons

Business Plan (Second Place $2,500) - Warm Fuzzies for NECO - Lauren Lund

Business Plan (Second Place $2,500) - Warm Fuzzies for NECO - Lauren Lund

Business Plan (Third Place $1,500) - Fossil Woodworks Co.- Sage Henning

Business Plan (Third Place $1,500) - Fossil Woodworks Co.- Sage Henning

Business Plan (First Prize, $4,000), 60-second elevator pitch ($500), and Trade Fair ($500) - Indoor Organics - Laura Sironen

Business Plan (First Prize, $4,000), 60-second elevator pitch ($500), and Trade Fair ($500) - Indoor Organics - Laura Sironen

Business plan (Second Place, $2,500) - Marquette Roofing Tiles, LLC - Steve Farr, Martin Banerud, Jordan Wilson, and Aron Jurmu

Business plan (Second Place, $2,500) - Marquette Roofing Tiles, LLC - Steve Farr, Martin Banerud, Jordan Wilson, and Aron Jurmu

Business Plan (Third place, $1,500) - CC's Soup - Bill Dufour

Business Plan (Third place, $1,500) - CC's Soup - Bill Dufour

Business Plan (First Place, $4,000), Sixty Second Elevator Pitch ($500), and Trade Fair ($500) - Prometheus Tree - Rob Johnson and Josh Morrison.  Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (First Place, $4,000), Sixty Second Elevator Pitch ($500), and Trade Fair ($500) - Prometheus Tree - Rob Johnson and Josh Morrison.  Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (Second Place, $2,500) - Intertwined - Sondra Troup and Skye Davis.  Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (Second Place, $2,500) - Intertwined - Sondra Troup and Skye Davis.  Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (Third Place, $1,500) - Protectski - Martin Stuge and Ingrid Fjeldheim.  Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (Third Place, $1,500) - Protectski - Martin Stuge and Ingrid Fjeldheim.  Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (First Prize, $4,000), and Sixty Second Elevator Pitch ($500) – Great Lakes Cremation Services – Chad Walker and Steve Farr. Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (Second Prize, $2,500) – Pulsar Backup – Joshua Petrovich. Click photo to view his business plan oral presentation in video format.

Business Plan (Third Prize, $1,500), and Trade Fair Display Presentation ($500) - Squeezed – Jessica Beaver and Kris Kohtala, Click photo to view their business plan oral presentation in video format.
 

Business Plan (First Prize, $4,000), Trade Fair Display Presentation ($500) and Sixty Second Elevator Pitch ($500) - M@M - Alysa Diebolt. 

Business Plan (Second Prize, $2,500) - Hand Struck - Christina Brazinski.

Business Plan (Third Prize, $1,500) - Cool Cakes - Brittney Alden. 

Business Plan (First Prize, $4,000) and Trade Fair Display Presentation ($500) - Presque Longboards - Bryan Johnson, Darren Young, Brian Emigh (team leader) and Ricky Golden

Business Plan (Second Prize, $2,500) - Extreme Boat Works - Chad Lewis

Business Plan (Third Prize, $1,500) - Project One Design Group - Thomas
Gallaher (team leader), Richard Diebold, and Crystal Zrelak

Sixty Second Elevator Pitch ($500)- Northern Eco System  -- Rebecca Miller