Anyone who is at least 18 years of age.
No. However, all applicants must agree to establish substantial operations in Rhode Island in order to receive prizes as a finalist or winner.
No. Teams submitting a business plan can be any size.
All key members of the team must be students.
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.
Yes. But the new plan must aim to considerably enhance the company’s future success.
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.
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.
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.
You may submit more than one entry, but it is not advisable. That's because the judges will question if you have really decided which idea to pursue, and question your commitment to either plan. It's better to put your energy into one plan and make it as strong as possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No. Unfortunately, the judges do not have the time to provide individual comment on each proposal.
No. The organizers will endeavor to collect and destroy all copies used by the judges.
Names of semi-finalists, finalists, and winners will be made public as they are selected. The name of their plan and a one-sentence description of the business idea they are proposing will be publicly announced. Neither their full application nor their actual plan will be publicly disclosed.