The Business Plan Competition was started in 1998 by Dr. Harriet Stephenson, a Seattle University faculty member who began teaching in 1967. It is designed to help students and alumni in launching new business ventures, including for-profit businesses, not-for-profit businesses, corporate entrepreneurship, and social enterprise. Participants enhance their Seattle University learning experience, gain feedback on ideas, develop networks, and expose their ideas to potential investors.

Seattle University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) at the Albers School of Business and Economics hosts the annual Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition (HSBPC) – teams led by Seattle University students and alumni advance through three rounds of judging and feedback to see who will take home the $10,000 Grand Prize.

The HSBPC is a public event and draws hundreds of investors, advisors, business leaders, community members, students, alumni, and faculty as audience members. The Semi-Finals round consists of a fastpitch competition and a two-hour trade show that will be held in person on the Seattle University campus. The competition ends with The Finals & Awards Celebration, which will also be held in person at a venue in Seattle.

The IEC has launched entrepreneurial leaders for 30 years, providing students and supporters experiential engagement opportunities and life-long connections. Past winners of the HSBPC range from a nonprofit school for children with autism (The Madrone School, 2016) to a drone technology company valued at $150 million that is contracting with the US military (Vita Inclinata Technologies, 2018).

HSBPC Program Details & Application

View Past Winners

One of the IEC's largest programs, the HSBPC provides a platform for all SU students and alumni to pitch their ideas and launch their businesses. Video created by Nils Gollersrud, Bridge MBA '20.

Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition Prize Sponsors


Grand Prize ($10,000)

The Herbert B. Jones Foundation

2nd Place Prize ($5,000)

John Meisenbach

3rd Place Price ($3,000)

In Memory of Don Leuthold

4th Place Prize ($2,000)

Friends of the IEC

John Castle Award for Grit & Resilience ($2,000)

John Castle Family & Ro Health

Social Innovation Award ($1,000)

Elaine Baylor & Friends of the IEC

Pitch Judge Award ($500)

Kurt Wedgwood

Tradeshow Judge Award ($250)

Friends of the IEC

Semi-Finals Audience Choice Award ($250)

Friends of the IEC

If you are already a student entrepreneur, or aspire to be an entrepreneur, you should participate in the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition as many times as possible. The competition is a free program that most students take for granted. I've learned so much through the competition, and it leaves me with the desire to learn so much more.

Dylan Bade 2020 Semi-Finalist Team, BarBuddy


Headshot of Peter Rowan

Peter Rowan

Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship

Amelia Marckworth

Amelia Marckworth