The Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition is a rigorous competition for Seattle University students and alumni. Teams advance through three rounds of judging and feedback (screening round, semi-finals, and finals) to see who will take home the $20,000 Grand Prize! Teams will submit their executive summaries into the screening round, then advancees are hand-selected a coach to get them through the next two rounds. Four teams are then selected from the semi-finals to advance to the final round; these teams will give 10 minute investor-style pitches to a panel of seasoned judges to determine the grand prize winner.
The HSBPC is a public event and draws hundreds of investors, advisors, business leaders, community members, students, alumni, and faculty as audience members. It is the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center's largest event, and one of the hubspots for entrepreneurial spirits!
Click the '+' button on the sections below to expand and view all the details you need to know for the competition.
HSBPC Wednesday Workshops: Online workshops to prepare your screening round entry are held every other Wednesday 12-1pm via zoom (click here to join the zoom):
HSBPC Office Hours: Drop in for a one-on-one conversation with IEC staff to ask questions and get feedback on your business plan, every other Wednesday 12-1pm at the IEC office (Pigott 432A).
Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Resources:
CoMotion Fundamentals for Startups series:
UW Buerk Center Startup Resources:
Team Coach Application
How many people should be on a team?
Can I have non-students on my team?
Do I have to use the prize money for the business?
The Screening Round is the first round of the competition! Teams submit a 2-3 page summary of their business plan, which are then read, reviewed, and scored by Screening Round Judges. The 12 top-scoring teams (or the number of qualified teams as determined by the IEC Director) will progress to the second round, the Semi-Finals (Elevator Fast Pitch and Trade Show).
You must first complete the Team Registration Form. Then, email your plans to Peter Rowan (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 11:59pm! Your Screening Round Entry business plan summary should be 2-3 pages, plus appendices, and submitted in a PDF format.
See below for:
Business Plan Summary Template
Round 1 Judging Rubric
Past Submission Examples
Judges & Scoring
The Semi-Finals Round are held in person on the Seattle University campus. It includes two separately judged (but equally weighted) scoring sections - the Elevator Fast Pitch and the Trade Show.
Part A: Elevator Fast Pitch
The Elevator Pitch Round consists of a two-minute pitch of the team’s business plan, presented by the active SU student or SU alum team member, in front of a panel of judges.
See below for:
Part B: Trade Show
The Trade Show is a giant fair where teams have a "booth" space to set up a display and present their business idea. You may have a total of four members of your team, including the student/alumni member, working your booth. Teams are scored by two constituents:
Executive Summary Sheet
Each team will create a one-page Executive Summary sheet that will be provided to the Pitch Judges, Trade Show Judges, Audience Choice Judges, and event attendees. The executive summary sheet is due three days before the Trade Show.
See below for:
The Final Presentation Round is where the final teams present their complete business plan to a panel of judges. Normally, four teams will proceed to the Final Presentation round (exceptions to this number may be made based on the quality of business plans submitted). The Final Presentations focus on the complete business plan where teams present their plans to a group of judges and field questions. Presentations are open to investors, Seattle University faculty, staff, alumni, students, and Seattle University friends. Teams must submit a full (10-15 page) business plan by 11:59pm on the Monday before the Finals event. These plans will be reviewed and scored by the Finals Judges.
At the Finals event, teams will give a maximum 10 minute presentation followed by 5 minutes of questions and answers. The judges will meet after the presentations to make final award decisions. Winners will not be announced until the Awards Reception.
The finalist teams will receive special coaching sessions prior to their final presentations. If teams choose to revise their final plan before the final coaching session, the business plan will be due back three days prior to the coaching session to give the coaches time to review it. The finalist teams will also be required to create a Power Point presentation for the Final Presentation.
Grand Prize - $20,000: The Herbert B. Jones Foundation & The Madeline Haydon Award for Entrepreneurship
2nd Place Prize - $10,000: John Meisenbach & The Madeline Haydon Award for Entrepreneurship
3rd Place Price - $5,000: In Memory of Don Leuthold & Friends of the IEC
4th Place Prize - $2,000: Lindsey McGrew '16
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
Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship
Director of Community - on leave
Interim Director of Community