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Spartan Challenge



Contest Guidelines

The competition has two stages, described below. 

1. The Business Concept Stage

During the Business Concept stage of the competition students will build skills that enable them to assess whether the idea they have created is a meaningful opportunity to pursue.The multidisciplinary team of undergraduate students will identify a marketplace need and an opportunity to meet it. They are encouraged to network around campus and seek support from CWRU entrepreneurial centers, clubs and programs. They should seek help from business and faculty advisors to prepare their application. Gathering and organizing their research and ideas, they must develop...

  • A one-page Executive Summary with basic business concept information, such as team, funding needs, source of intellectual property. This is the type of document an investor might preview.
  • A PowerPoint presentation suitable for a 5-minute “elevator pitch” covering
    • What is the business concept? 
    • Who are your customers and how will you reach them? 
    • Who are your competitors? What is your main advantage over these competitors and why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? 
    • How is your business going to make money and over what time frame? 
    • What are the one or two key risks that can influence your business? 
    • You are your team members and what role will each of them play? 
    • What external resources do you need to develop and run this business?

AWARDS: These presentations are made to a three- to five-person panel that chooses the top six teams. These teams receive $500 each to move on to the next phase. Judges are potential team mentors.

2. The Business Planning and Mentorship Stage

These six semifinalist teams will be paired with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and other experts who will closely mentor them to refine and strengthen their concept to enable a launch of the team’s winning Opportunity Analysis.The mission is to identify an initial “critical path” milestone. Teams will define the scope of work; management and human resource contributions needed for launch; and risks for failure. Check out a sample plan.

The Business Planning paper should be a minimum of five and a maximum of 10 pages, with up to five pages of appropriate support documents, charts, examples, drawings, etc. The paper will address the following:

  • What is your product or service? How will it fill a need?
  • What are the features and benefits of the product or service? What value are customers receiving from your product or service?Who is the customer? Will you be selling to an intermediary or to the end user?
  • Who is your perfect customer? How will you find them? What is the demand for your product or service?
  • How will the customer get access to your product or service? Describe the product or service value chain/distribution system. 
  • What are the demographics, trends, patterns of change of the industry?
  • Are there any barriers to entry? If so, how will you overcome them?
  • Who are the competitors? Who, What, Where is your competition? Do you have a niche? Do you have some kind of business advantage over your competitors?
  • What about intellectual property? 
  • As students, what specific skills or expertise will you need to start this business? These might include legal, finance, sales and more. 
  • What are your team’s gaps and how will you fill them?
  • What are your start-up capital requirements? What startup resources do you need? Be specific; give the details of the materials needed, systems needed, etc. What is the plan? How much inventory will you need to carry?
  • What are the amounts and sources of expected revenues? How will you make money? What are your revenue streams? Make a preliminary estimate of the first three years income and expense.

AWARDS: The top three teams chosen from the Business Planning and Mentorship stage will be awarded funding -- $10,000, $5,000, $2,500 -- to begin implementing their business concept.

A business mentor network will be a part of the team going forward to ensure team success.

Important Deadline

Deadline to submit the Stage 1 Business Concept Executive Summary is upcoming this late January/early February.

Rules for 2018

Rules and eligibility will be discussed at a workshop upcoming in January.