Frequently Asked Questions

About the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

Who can participate in the competition?

  • Anyone who is at least 18 years of age.  

Do I have to be a Rhode Island resident to participate?

  • No. However, all applicants must agree to establish substantial operations in Rhode Island in order to receive prizes as a finalist or winner. 

Is there a limit on team size?

  • No. Teams submitting a business plan can be any size. 

Do all members of a student team have to be students?

  • All key members of the team must be students.

May a business plan be submitted that has been submitted to another business plan competition?

  • Yes.

May a business plan be submitted that has received institutional, angel, or other financing?

  • Yes.

Can I submit an application without being on a team?

  • Yes.

What is an early stage company?

  • An early stage, or seed stage, company typically is at the inventor stage where there is an idea, a concept, or even a product, but little or no income has been generated yet.

Can a business proposal enhance an existing, revenue generating business?

  • Yes. But the new plan must aim to considerably enhance the company’s future success.

Can an existing business offer a plan for an entirely new business?

  • Yes. However, like all plans submitted, applicants must agree to establish substantial operations in Rhode Island in order to receive prizes as a finalist or winner.

Do proposals have to focus on technology?

Can my plan be a social venture?

Do I apply by submitting a completed business plan?

  • No. You apply by completing an application online. After reviewing all the applications, the judges will invite selected individuals/team to submit a complete plan. See Dates to Watch.

Why can't I apply by submitting a completed business plan instead of completing an online application form?

  • We use an application in order to provide a level field for all applicants. Asking all applicants to answer the same set of questions ensures that the judges gets the same input from each applicant. If everyone were asked to apply by submitting a completed plan, there likely would be a wide range of plans submitted and many would likely fail to include answers to questions such as what are the plan's greatest strengths, weaknesses, and risks just because not everyone would think to address these issues. This would likely be especially true for those who haven't written a business plan before.

What if I have never written a business plan before?

  • Now’s a good time to start. A business plan demonstrates that you have thought through the critical issues related to launching a business. See Business Plan Guidelines for the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. Also, check the small business section under Resources.

Can I look at other business plans submitted for this competition?

  • No. All business plans submitted to the competition are considered confidential. But be sure to consult Business Plans in our Resources section, which contains excellent advice from experienced business builders and previous competition winners.

Can I learn about previous competition winners?

Who is judging the plans?

  • Judges for the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition represent a cross section of business professionals. All of the judges have extensive experience helping emerging companies grow into strong competitors. See biographies of the judges.

Can I submit a plan if I have had contact with an organization with which a judge is affiliated?

  • Yes. However, you will risk disqualification if you attempt to approach a judge, or have someone do that on your behalf, specifically in connection with the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.

Will the judges sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?

  • No. Requiring the judges to sign an NDA would overwhelm them with legal requirements that would severely inhibit their ability to participate in the competition. You should take appropriate steps to protect your intellectual property, just as you would if you were approaching institutional investors. Be sure to read Protection of Intellectual Property.

What if my/our situation changes after submitting an application but before judging is completed?

  • Let us know of any significant changes by email as soon as you learn of them. These include receiving financing from another outside source, a change in business focus or plans, and/or other material events.

What if I/we have to withdraw from the competition after filing an application?

  • Let us know by email as soon as possible. This is especially important so that our volunteer judges don’t spend time evaluating a proposal that is no longer active. Only the principal applicant listed on the application may withdraw an application from the competition.

Will I get feedback on my application or plan?

  • No. Unfortunately, the judges do not have the time to provide individual comment on each proposal.

Will you return my plan after the competition is over?

  • No. The organizers will endeavor to collect and destroy all copies used by the judges.