Santa Clara University

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Business Plan Competitions

Business Plan competitions allow students to gain experience in not only as competitors for a prize, but also in working together as a team, public speaking, strategy, planning ahead and making contacts.  

In addition, the CIE provides information, coaching and advice to students enrolled in the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program on both regional competitions and national competitions and also works with the SCEO on other student-run competitions and team prep.

Below you'll find information on upcoming competitions for the academic year, including the $5,000 CIE Business Plan Competition as well as other competition invitations.


2015-2016 Competitions


SDSU LogoSDSU LeanModel™ Start-Up Competition Open to Students from California Universities-Registration Deadline January 15, 2016

San Diego State University (SDSU) and the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center are thrilled to announce the 4th annual LeanModel™ Competition hosted on Friday March 4th and Saturday March 5th, 2016 on the SDSU campus! The LeanModel™ Competition is not a traditional business plan competition, it is designed to assist and reward student based start-ups that utilize both a solid business model and customer testing mentality.

The LeanModel™ Competition is a regional qualifier competition for the International Business Model Competition held at Brigham Young University. The winner of this competition bypasses the At-Large Round and is granted an automatic slot in the Semifinal Round of the international competition!

The Application to Compete is Now Open! Click Here to Download the Registration Form

In the true world of the entrepreneurial start-up, it is not the business plan that leads to success. An oft-quoted term from venture capitalists is that, "As soon as the business plan is written, it is obsolete." We believe that early on, the start-up must move quickly to prototype and test their product or service and that customer interaction is critical. Too often, teams focus on writing a business plan and never actually interact with their target customers.

The LeanModel™ Competition rewards students for identifying and defining assumptions, testing those assumptions in the marketplace, and then pivoting their business model based on customer interactions. Unfamiliar with the business model canvas? Check out "Business Model Generation" by Alexander Osterwalder. Check out "Business Model Generation" by Alexander Osterwalder.

This new competition was influenced by Lean Start-up (Eric Ries) and Business Model Generation (Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur). If you have questions regarding this competition or want to compete please contact Kathryn Boyles at or call the Lavin Center at 619-594-2781.




startup madness

Calling All College Student Startups!  Applications Now Accepted for Student Startup Madness 2015-16 Seeking the Best College Digital Media Startup (Nationwide Tournament)

Early Admission Deadline:  October 9, 2015
Final Application Deadline:  December 4, 2015

Online applications are now being accepted for Student Startup Madness (SSM), a fun and exciting nationwide tournament offering college student startups the opportunity to “live the entrepreneurial dream”: compete against fellow student entrepreneurs and grab the attention of potential investors and leaders in the startup community at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in March 2016. Winners will receive a cash award as well as subscriptions and services provided by SSM partners.
Student Startup Madness is open to all college student digital media startups from any college/university in the United States. To apply, go to Applications will be accepted through Dec. 4, 2015.
Teams are encouraged to apply for “Early Admission” by Friday, Oct 9, 2015, when 20 of the 64 SSM starting field of tournament teams will be selected. The benefits of early admission include less competition for the 20 “early admission” spots and more time for student teams to plan ahead and prepare their application materials, if they are selected for the semi-finals. Early application will also afford the SSM Selection Committee more opportunity to consider applications versus those that are submitted close to the Dec. 4 final application deadline. 

So far, this year’s SSM “regional hosts” include: Arizona State University, Bucknell University, Cornell University, Georgia State University, Michigan State University, St. Louis University, Seton Hall University, University of California Davis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Washington-Tacoma. All of these universities have innovative, “applied entrepreneurship” programs (where students are encouraged to start ventures on campus), and they have agreed to promote SSM in their regions.

Competition format
Each round of the nationwide tournament will build momentum, awareness and social media buzz, drawing attention to colleges and universities as sources for innovation, entrepreneurship and talent while showcasing university entrepreneurship and encouraging college students to start businesses.
From all online applications, 64 teams will be chosen by the SSM Selection Committee for the first round of competition, which will take place online in the platform.
From the 64 first-round competitors, half (32 teams) will advance to the semi-final round. From this will emerge the “Entrepreneurial Eight,” the top eight student teams that will be invited to pitch to a celebrity panel of well-known entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors at the Student Startup Madness national finals on Monday, March 14, 2016, at South By Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.

About Student Startup Madness
The Student Startup Madness concept was developed by Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, in conjunction with SXSW.
Student Startup Madness, along with its sponsors and host universities, believes in American entrepreneurship and on-campus startups—and wants to help young student entrepreneurs succeed and become a part of the SXSW experience.
For more on Student Startup Madness, visit the website ( and follow SSM on Facebook:


Looking for the $5,000 CIE Business Plan Pitch Competition?


2016 Competition Date:  May 12, 2016


Have a Competition to Share?

If you would like to ivite Santa Clara University students to participate in your elevator pitch or business plan competition, please send pertinent event details to the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Go

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