Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition
A competition designed to bring students’ cool ideas to life.
The Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition was created to help students grow their business ideas. It is a four month competition in the spring where teams of students begin by creating growth-oriented business models. These teams go on to research and produce rough drafts to complete business plans. The top 4 teams compete for a chance to win over $40,000 in prizes. The Center offers mentoring and various other helpful resources along the way.
Entry Requirements & Registration
Registration for the 2017 Big Idea competition has closed.
- Students can enter the competition individually or form teams
- The team leader must be an enrolled student at any college or school at UF
- The business submissions must be the team’s own original work and ideas
- Have a clear vision of what business you’re trying to create, and have a good idea of the potential as well as the issues of the intended business.
- Register online by 11:59 pm on December 15.
* If needed, team members can be updated throughout the competition.
Please note that the entrant must certify that at least one member of the team was an enrolled student at the University of Florida during the Fall and/or Spring semesters of the academic year in which the competition falls.
*If you do not have a team, but you are interested in collaborating with others, complete the Join a Team Form.
Graduate and undergraduate competitors enter individually or in teams to create growth-oriented business models.
Teams submit their basic business models for judging in the preliminary round, which takes place in early February. At this point, teams need only submit a plan overview.
The second phase begins when judges review the preliminary entries for the strongest high-potential ideas.
The competitors who make it to this point must finish researching their new ventures and write a complete business plan by April 8th.
Judges will then narrow down the field to 16 semi-finalists who will present their plans to a panel of investors on Thursday, April 20th. From there, four teams will have one day to refine their pitches before delivering one final presentation on Friday, April 21st for the chance to win $25,000 in first place prize money. These two events are open to the public.
The top three competition winners—those who represent the best potential for growth and for attracting outside financing—will receive grand prize money.
First place receives $25,000 towards their venture. Second place receives $10,000, and Third place receives $5,000. The winners will also receive free start up legal and accounting services.
You can also win special prizes including:
- Fourth Place - $1,000
- One year of FREE high traffic Retail Space in the Reitz Union (Gator Retail Entrepreneurial Hatchery), includes retail support and a budget for initial set up, which will be available for the academic year 2017-2018
- Amazon Web Services Credit
- Scholarships & preferential admission into the Masters in Science of Entrepreneurship Program will be awarded to exemplary students
- Best Technology Prize ($1000)
- Best Social Impact & Sustainability Prize ($1000)
The plans must be successfully presented to a panel of judges. The rules section of this website covers specifics about the competition. The prize money is offered as seed money to promote the plan’s enactment. The business must actually be started, and prize money checks are written to the new companies, not the individuals.
Judges review the complete business plans on the following criteria:
- Concept strength
- Economics of the business
- Management team
The completed business plans are due April 6th. The judges select the top 16 teams to compete in the final presentation phase. This phase takes place over two days.
On day one, each team will have 15 minutes to verbally present their plans to judges. Judges then have 15 minutes to question each team.
From this, the top four teams are chosen to compete on day two—before a different panel of judges. Winners are determined and awards are presented after a second round of presentations. The semi-finals and finals are held on April 20th and 21st, respectively.
Note that this is a competition in which both the innovativeness of the business idea and the quality of the full business plan are evaluated. The competition rewards creative thinking regarding new markets, products and services, as well as the team’s strategy to implement its plans.
Business Plan Help
We strongly recommend you follow the format of the Nuts & Bolts of Great Business Plans document. In addition to the Business Plan Lab, online resources are available to support you throughout the process.
The Center will work with you to enhance your business plan. We offer a Business Plan Lab (ENT4934 / ENT6930) that can be taken for credit or as an optional free workshop, mentoring from our experienced faculty and successful entrepreneurs, online resources for preparing financial statements, special sessions with accounting and law firms that have partnered with us and access to a video library of former business plan presentations.
CEI's Social Entrepreneurship & Sustainability Initiative is pleased to present the Social Impact Award and the Technology Impact Award, sponsored by Study Edge; this award is for the Big Idea plan that exemplifies a commitment to leveraging the power of entrepreneurship to solve social, environmental, and/or economic problems.