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The 2013-2014 PASSHE Business Plan Competition

Welcome to the 2013-2014 PASSHE Student Business Plan Competition

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Student Business Plan Competition Committee is looking for state system students who are interested in starting or growing their own business. Funding is available to support students in their business development efforts. Start-up/seed capital and in-kind prizes will be awarded to assist with the creation or of your new business or the development of your growing business.

Prizes include:

  • $10,000 for 1st place
  • $5,000 for 2nd place
  • $2,500 for 3rd place



Eligible applicants must be matriculated undergraduate or graduate students, enrolled full-time or part-time during the Fall 2013 semester, at any of the 14 PASSHE universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, West Chester.


Additional Eligibility Requirements:

  • A team of contestants must be comprised of 100% PASSHE students as described above, however they don’t all have to come from the same PASSHE institution.
  • The proposed venture may be either a for-profit or not-for-profit enterprise.
  • An eligible pre-venture or early stage business is one that:
    • has been operating for three years or less, and
    • has $25,000 or less in annual sales and cumulative sales over the last three years (2011-2013) of $75,000 or less.
  • An individual or team who has previously received third-party funding must disclose the amount when completing the venture profile.
  • The contestants must own the intellectual property they propose to make, distribute or sell in the venture profile.



  • Registration, “Intent to Compete”, form must be submitted by November 30, 2013.
  • Venture Profile submission due by February 14, 2014.
  • Judging – Semi-Finalists Selected: Early March 2014.
  • Judging – Finalist Interviews: Late March 2014.
  • PASSHE Student Business Plan Awards Ceremony: April 2014.

            * Please note that all dates are subject to change.


INTENT TO COMPETE: Due November 30th 2013

Students interested in competing in the PASSHE Business Plan Competition should submit their “Intent to Compete” form no later than November 30, 2013.  Only one “Intent to Compete” form may be submitted per team or individual.


VENTURE PROFILES: Due February 14th 2014

Following submission of completed Venture Profiles, semi-finalists will be selected in March.



Finalists will be announced at the end of March, and the top three award winning business plans will be announced at the PASSHE Business Plan Awards Ceremony, which is scheduled for April 2014



  • When registering your profile and filling out your team's "Intent to Compete" enter your University's Banner ID. Also make sure to select your university for you 'track" when completing your team's profile.
  • If you want to keep your business idea private (viewed only by committee members and judges), do not check the box “Display your Business on the iStart Public Directory.” If you check the display box, anyone may do a search and find your information.
  • Students may submit their completed Venture Profiles between December 3, 2013 and February 14, 2014. Venture Profile Outline: (insert link).



Students are encouraged to contact their campus representative for a list of business development resources available to them, as well as any additional information about the PASSHE Business Plan Competition:



The Entrepreneurial Leadership Centers (ELC) or their designee at each PASSHE university will be responsible for assisting students in completing their venture profiles.  A team of independent judges will review the semi-finalists and select the finalists.  Finalists will be required to participate in a phone interview with the external judges.



The semi-finalists and finalists of the PASSHE Business Plan Competition are encouraged to represent their plan ideas during a reception immediately preceding the awards presentation. This is an opportunity for each participant, judge, faculty, ELC Director and the guests to become familiar with the scope of the work and the ideas of each contestant. Your local ELC or university designee can provide assistance.

We encourage creativity and professionalism in creating the posters within the following basic guidelines:

  • The poster is to be no larger than 22” wide by 28” tall, which is the size of a standard poster board.
  • The poster can weigh no more than ¾ pound and be no more than ½” thick.
  • The poster must be able to be supported by a display easel and have a straight bottom edge.
  • It is recommended that the poster be mounted to foam board or foam core.
  • It is recommended that the surface be matte as opposed to glossy.
  • The text and graphic content must be suitable for all ages.
  • Balloons, ribbons, drapery, flowers and foliage are not permitted.
  • No tables or table space will be provided or permitted.

Within the above criteria, design your Venture Profile poster to represent your idea, attract attention, and inspire conversation about your idea. The posters are similar to what one might expect to see at a trade show. We encourage you to bring business cards to distribute to those attending.



The winner has up to five years to utilize the funds awarded for their business plan.

If a team wins the competition and only one, or several, of the team members proceed with the business development, those who proceed with the development will receive the award benefit.

Funds in escrow will be deposited in a secure interest bearing account, with interest to accrue to the winners.

To qualify for the funding awards the businesses must be located in Pennsylvania.



Start-up capital may be used for business plan development, product prototype, legal expenses, accounting, marketing, and commercialization support. Funds may also be used to purchase specialized equipment if the student can demonstrate that the equipment is essential for their business development. Payroll, travel and entertainment expenses are ineligible uses of the award funds.

Prize money is available to currently enrolled students in good standing as of the fall 2013 semester only.



The awards for the first, second and third place winners are intended to assist the winners in capitalizing and developing their business concept into reality.

  • A portion, 10%, of the award will be available as cash. The balance of the award is to be held in escrow by the University, University Foundation, or the PASSHE Foundation and will be released to the winner for business related costs.
  • Business related costs may include, but are not limited to professional services, such as accounting, legal, or consulting, that are needed to complete the business plan, establish a legal structure, secure financing, and complete related pre-start up tasks.
  • The use of free resources, such as the Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) online training, are recommended and preferred. However, awardees are permitted to use up to 30% of their award for professional development/training that meets the following standards:
    • The development or training must be necessary to obtain a certification or license that is required by the state to operate the winning business.
    • They must be short-term (one to two weeks) intensive training, including continuing education units (CEU) programs, which provide the skills needed to operate their business.
    • Conferences must be less than one week and offer professional development sessions that provide the skills needed to operate their business.
    • No funds may be used to complete degree requirements at any level.
  • Rent and utilities for space to conduct the business.
  • Working capital for business costs, which include advertising, supplies, materials, inventory, web site development, etc.
  • Necessary equipment.
  • No more than 10% of the award can be used for salaries and wages.


For technical issues with the iStart platform, contact:

Dean Shirley
PASSHE Business Plan Coordinator

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