Rules and Eligibility
Why should you participate?
1. Work one-on-one with investors and experts to move your idea forward.
2. Making it past each round gets you increased funding as you go, to use as operating capital. With one big final funding prize for the winner.
3. Rounds take place in front of an audience, giving your idea great visibility.
4. The structure keeps you moving forward throughout the entire quarter.
What do you win?
Besides lots of cash, mentorship, networking, working space access to the Advantage Accelerator and PR? You will be Oregon’s next best startup, walking away with an actual venture ready to launch.
This could be YOUR big break.
$200 To the 16 teams chosen for the competition (to be used for customer discovery)
$300 To the 8 -12 teams that make it to Round 2 (To be used for Product Market fit)
$400 To the 4 teams that make it to the Finals (to be used for continuing development)
Martin Tobias Prize – $5,000
Martin Tobias, founder and manager at MGT Investments, LLC, is an ’87 graduate of the OSU College of Business and a Seattle-based serial entrepreneur with credentials in cleantech and digital media. Martin has led numerous start-ups, including the collective buying and social commerce site Tippr, marketplace software developer Kashless, Imperium Renewables, a pioneer in bio-diesel production, and Loudeye Technologies, a developer of internet audio and video software acquired by Nokia. In addition to working with Yaletown, Martin serves on the Venture Council of Industry Ventures and is a director of Cloudmark. As a former Venture Partner at Ignition Partners and a co-founder of the Northwest Energy Angels, Martin has financed and provided guidance to more than two dozen technology start-ups in WA, OR, and BC.
* Cash amount may increase.
** Funder requests that prize be for STEM based projects and that a very short (4-5 lines) budget on use of funds be presented
Applicants must be enrolled in an OSU degree-granting program and in good academic standing.
Who is eligible for this competition?
This competition is open to all current OSU students. Teams may have other members of the team, such as faculty and those who are from outside the university, however only current OSU students may present to judges.
Who is ineligible for the competition?
Teams that are considered excluded from the competition are buy-outs/turnarounds, expansions of already existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spin-outs from existing companies. Ventures who have attained revenue or have raised capital from sources other than members of the team prior to the current academic year are also excluded.
What if I don’t have a team?
Individuals are able to enter the competition with the expectation that they will finish with a team capable of starting their venture. Teams are able to add or drop teammates throughout the competition and it is encouraged to reach out to contestants who have gone out of the competition and add them to the team if they can benefit the startup.
What type of business should I be?
Proposed ventures may be for a consumer of industrial product or service. Ventures may be either for-profit of non-profit with the most competitive businesses demonstrating high growth and/or a large market potential.
How does the competition deal with Intellectual Property and non-disclosure agreements?
An important aspect of pitching is to get your point across while protecting your confidential information. No one is required to sign a nondisclosure agreement for the competition.
The Competition and Judging
When does the competition take place?
The competition will happen over winter term between the months of January, February, and March. Dates are listed on the website. Initial applications for the competition are due January16. Round one will take place February 9, Round two will take place on February 23, and the Finals will take place on March 9.
What is the format of the competition?
The competition will be a similar format to the TV show “The Voice”. Teams will begin by pitching to coaches and explaining why their venture deserves to be in the competition. Coaches will pick which teams they want to represent them in the following rounds. Each of the successive rounds will be based around specific themes like Customer Discovery, Product Market Fit, and a completed Business Model Canvas. Coaches will choose to eliminate teams in their portfolio after each round until they are down to one team each for the finals (4 teams total competing in the final). In the finals the winner will be determined by which business is most likely to succeed, had the greatest amount of success, and is the most viable business.
I have limited business knowledge, am I still able to compete?
If you have a good idea that you want to turn into a business then this competition is for you. There will be workshops offered prior and during the competition to help prepare you for each round. Teams will also be coached by successful entrepreneurs and investors who will prepare you to succeed. Most importantly, it is in your best interest to recruit a team member that has the skills required for a successful business.
What can I generally expect for each round?
Before each round you will need to submit preliminary documents. During each round you will present/pitch to a panel of judges. Judges will ask follow up questions at the end of each round. After the coaches consult with judges they will each eliminate at least one of their teams.
Am I able to change aspects of my business throughout the competition such as marketing, distribution, or processes?
Almost all startups iterate and pivot when planning a new venture. The judges expect this to happen and is usually accepted as a positive attribute of a team. As more research and preparation is completed, teams may need to change presumptions and plans. It is expected that any business identity alterations are reported in order to eliminate confusion on the business plan.
What is the overarching focal point when it comes to judging and advancing in the competition?
The judging for the grand prize is based on which business is most likely to succeed, had the greatest amount of success, and has the most viable business. Factors that the judges seek are the market opportunity, the advantage and path for the opportunity, the teams’ management capabilities and skills to execute, and the financial strategy to determine if the business would be a worthwhile venture for investment. The avenue to articulate this is through the Business Model Canvas, and to get to this point, substantial evidence must be demonstrated during the early rounds of customer discovery and product market fit. A tip sheet for contestants is provided and the judge's worksheet is also available.
What if I have any expenses during the competition?
As each team advances to the next round, small amounts of cash is provided As with all startups, there are many resources available both on and off campus..
What are the judges’ backgrounds?
The judges will be from entrepreneurial and investing backgrounds.
What are the prizes/benefits of the competition?
The winning team will receive at least $10,000 in cash, goods and services. It is expected that there will be cash and in-kind prizes for the top four teams. In addition, there is mentors available outside of the coaches from the Advantage Accelerator and networking surrounding the competition. There is also access to working space at the Advantage Accelerator. And of course, upon winning you will claim the title of the Next Great Startup!