Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition

Since 1998, the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition has been providing a platform for all Seattle University students and alumni to pitch entrepreneurial ideas and launch their businesses.

Heidi Dishneau doing her pitch at the 2023 Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition

A Launchpad for New Business Ideas

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center's Business Plan Competition was started in 1998 by Professor Emerita Dr. Harriet Stephenson, a Seattle University faculty member who began teaching in 1967. When asked what the impetus was in starting it, she said, "Building credibility. We wanted to be part of the leadership pack in developing entrepreneurship programs on the West Coast."Harriet Stephenson portrait

The Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition (HSBPC) 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.

The competition has become a testing ground for a wide range of Seattle University business ideas, from automated sunscreen dispensers to a nonprofit school for children with autism. It has given away over $400,000 in prize money and started numerous former contestants on their first entrepreneurial journeys.

Teams led by Seattle University students and alumni advance through three rounds of judging and feedback to see who will take home the $20,000 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. 

2024 HSBPC Key Dates

  • Jan 17, Jan 31, Feb 14, Feb 28, Mar 13: Wednesday Workshops (12-1 p.m.)
  • March 19: Entry Deadline (11:59 p.m.)
  • March 20-24: Screening Round Judging
  • March 26: Announce Semi-Finalists
  • April 14: Pitch Retreat for Semi-Finalists (12-4 p.m.)
  • May 3: Semi-Finals (3-6 p.m.)
  • Mid-May: Finalist Team Coaching
  • May 31: Finals & Awards (5-8 p.m.)

Cash Prizes

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center is grateful for the continued support of our generous prize sponsors who make this competition possible.

Audience applauding

Grand Prize: $20,000
The Herbert B. Jones Foundation and The Madeline Haydon Award for Entrepreneurship

2nd Place Prize: $10,000
John Meisenbach and The Madeline Haydon Award for Entrepreneurship

3rd Place Prize: $3,000
In Memory of Don Leuthold and Friends of the IEC

4th Place Prize: $2,000
Lindsey McGrew, '19 MBA

John Castle Award for Grit & Resilience: $2,000
John Castle Family and Ro Health

Social Innovation Award: $,1000
Elaine Baylor and 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

What contestants gain from the competition "Relationships; stronger ideas; personal growth."

Lindsey McGrew, 19 MBA

"Meeting with my mentors and practicing my pitch over 300 times drove our concept into winning the grand prize. Being a successful entrepreneur is about having great ideas and continuing to grow those ideas with rewarding relationships, persistence, and follow-through. Even if you don't place in the finals, you will walk away with new relationships, stronger ideas, and personal growth."

2016 winner for The Madrone School


The Seattle University Business Plan Competition considers all submitted business plans as confidential and treats all team matters accordingly. But due to the nature of the event, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality for proprietary matters.

A presenter in front of an audienceSeattle University, the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, the Albers School of Business and Economics, and the organizers of the competition are not responsible for any proprietary information and/or intellectual property included in a submitted business plan.

Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials such as intellectual property, copyright, or patent confidentiality is the sole responsibility of the individual or team participating in the competition. Non-Disclosure Agreements will not be signed by judges, mentors, or any SU staff associated with the business plan competition.

Past Winners

Our Prize Winning Teams

Grand Prize: BioLegacy

Vincent Rettinger (BSME '25)

Technology to extend transplant organ viability from 24 hours to months to significantly improve organ transplantation accessibility.

  • Pursuing patents and prototyping

  • 2nd Place Prize: JANE - Heidi Dishneau (LEMBA '23)
  • 3rd Place Prize: Oakmoss Laboratory Setup Services - Irina Mueller (PMBA '23)
  • 4th Place Prize: SmartDash AI - Zachary Jeffreys (MSCS '23)
  • The John Castle Award: HomeFiltered - Aaron Bekken (LEMBA ’23)
  • The Swilo Social Innovation Award: Campalicious - Shilpa Allimatti (LEMBA ’23)
  • Pitch Judges Award: Idli on Wheels - Preeti Suryakumar (MSBA ’23)
  • Tradeshow Judge Award: FaceMarket - Yamato Suizi, (BSEE ’26)
  • Audience Choice Award: Encocoa - Dawn Meader McCausland (PMBA ’23)

Grand Prize: Ellebit

Anna Del Toro (LEMBA ’20)

All-in-one private dining booking platform for customers and venues to easily manage reservations in real-time.

  • 2nd Place Prize: 45th Street Seating - Blake Garfield (LEMBA '22), Krystal Garfield (PMBA '22)
  • 3rd Place Prize: Lynk - Jaidev Vella (Business Management ’22), Joseph "JP" (Interdisciplinary Studies ’22)
  • 4th Place Prize: Loqui - Anthony Ansay, Sanjana Satheesh, Melissa Kallander, Kenny He (Bridge MBA ‘22)
  • The John Castle Award: OutPlayed Gaming - Jessica Berlin, Kevin Hernon, Alvaro Vazquez, Emma Tamura, Ahmed Ugas (Bridge MBA ‘22)
  • The Swilo Social Innovation Award: Inspire Kids Early Learning Center - Ananya Jauhari (MS Finance ‘22 ), Nasteha Muse (Alumni- MBA)
  • Pitch Judges Award: Tech4REFUGEES - Afrikaan Sahra (Computer Science ‘22)
  • Tradeshow Judge Award: Sanima Millk - Chris Dempewolf (LEMBA ‘22), Ellen Zouras, Joelle Prokupek
  • Audience Choice Award: Spin Doctor - Siddarth Bhagwat (MBA Alumni), Casey Gould (MBA ‘22), John Tran

Grand Prize: Syntek Medical

Tawny Fajardo (BS Nursing ’13 & BA Humanities ‘13)

Innovative and simple medical device to ensure safe intra-hospital transportation for patients.

  • 2nd Place Prize: Spirited - Kendal Swinski (LEMBA ‘21)
  • 3rd Place Prize: Happy Hound Products - Camberly Gilmartin (LEMBA ’21)
  • 4th Place Prize: Ethos - Lysie Taylor (LEMBA ’21)
  • The John Castle Award: James & Son - Stephanie Jamieson (MBA ’20)
  • The Swilo Social Innovation Award: Handimaps - Vishaal Diwan (MSBA ’22)
  • Pitch Judges Award: Smash Bakery - Olivia Moore (Bridge MBA ’21)
  • Tradeshow Judge Award: Offset.Life - Alexander Kipp (MBA ’21)
  • Audience Choice Award: Davis, Stover, Vranizan PLLC - Christopher Davis (JD ’21)

Grand Prize: Nature's Label

Arya Mathew (BA CS ‘20)

Eco-friendly alternative to plastic PLU produce stickers

  • 2nd Place Prize: Delta Bee - David King Traub (LEMBA ‘20)
  • 3rd Place Prize: Pail - Kristian Swank (LEMBA ‘20)
  • 4th Place Prize: Solar Dot - Jake Zeigler (BABA ‘21)
  • The John Castle Award: Better Mankind: The HappyGo App - Derrick Peters (MBA ‘11)
  • The Swilo Social Innovation Award: Up & Up - Sharon Ideguchi (BABA ‘20)
  • Pitch Judges Award: One2Cook - Thomas Martig (LEMBA ‘20)
  • Tradeshow Judge Award: MODICA - William Gibbs (BS Mechanical Engineering ‘08)
  • Audience Choice Award: Votegrity - Tom Thomas (LEMBA ‘20)

Grand Prize: eDoula (previously 'Hatch')

Bettina Paek (LEMBA '19)

Digital pregnancy and birthing support app used in hospitals.

  • Pilot launched at Evergreen Health

  • 2nd Place Prize: Teak & Timber - Daniel McConnell (PMBA), Darby Stearns (PMBA)
  • 3rd Place Prize: Start Date - Jessica Bishop (LEMBA '18), Taysser Gherfal, Ali Anderson
  • 4th Place Prize: Cash Butte Distillery - Julia Bringolf (PMBA), Arielle Newcomb (PMBA), Eric Lein (PMBA)
  • The John Castle Award: Lyfe Tech - William Luckett (BABA), Alexis Figueroa-Guttierez
  • The Swilo Social Innovation Award: Garden Grounds - Audrey Nevue (BABA, Finance & Marketing), Kyla Cantillo (BABA, Marketing), Matt Heffel (BABA, Finance & Marketing), Alejandro Ramirez (BABA), Jake Zeigler (BABA), Caleb Dickinson-Cove (BABA), John Gavin (BABA, Accounting & Business Analytics), Andrew Freemuth (BA, Graphic Design)
  • Pitch Judges Award: Erudition Construction - Denise Burnside (LEMBA), Brian Burnside
  • Tradeshow Judge Award: 2nd Degree Snacks - Teresa Slosson (LEMBA), Kristy Foster, Ally Nisbet, Randy Henson
  • Audience Choice Award: Neural Synergy - Duron Jones (Alumni, Business '14), Nina Cook (Neuroscience '17)

Grand Prize: Vita Inclinata Technologies

Caleb Carr (JD), Brittany Bourcy (BABA)

Drone technology to stabilize helicopter swing loads.

  • 2nd Place Prize: Arevo Health - Ryan Fix (LEMBA)
  • 3rd Place Prize: GrowZones - Tim Sipiora, Mike Laveson (MBA)
  • 4th Place Prize: No Fry Zone - Danielle Quint, Michelle Draper, Ashley Quint, Bailey Quint (LEMBA)
  • Runner Up: Air in Action - Bayley Guy (BABA, Finance), Patrick Curtis (BABA, Marketing), Kavya Shanmuganathan (BABA, Business Analytics), Allie Saunders (BA, Economics)
  • Swilo Social Innovation Award: Jose’s Little Taste of Venezuela - Jose Maragall (Bridge MBA), Samuel Chanen (Bridge MBA), Taylor Cloud (Bridge MBA), Demetra Annest (Bridge MBA), Chase Wilson (Bridge MBA)
  • The John Castle Award: CareerLight - Yan Tang (PMBA), Mohand Alturky (PMBA), Shreya Mehta (PMBA)
  • Above & Beyond Award: Lykosa - Tyler Wade (JD), Kon Petrov (JD/MBA), Derik Vranizan (JD), Lauren Fletcher, Michael Saito (BABA, Finance; Economics) Kendell Snow (BABA, Business Economics)
  • Pitch Judges Award: Knotted Titans Workshop - Jessica Bishop (LEMBA)
  • Tradeshow Judge Award: WAT Upfitting - Kim Nakatani (LEMBA)
  • Audience Choice Award: Wellness Getaways - Chelsea Adamson (LEMBA)

Grand Prize: Discovery Health

Ann Jarris (LEMBA), Ray Jarris, Afsar Ali, Matthew Bateman, Marina Furtado

Specialized healthcare and patient support for maritime workers.

  • Accepted in to the first cohort of the Washington State Maritime Blue Innovation Accelerator established by Washington Maritime Blue, the Port of Seattle and WeWork Labs in January 2020.

  • 2nd Place Prize: Mot Mot Coffee Company - Braden Wild, Hannah Rips, Sadie Lopez, Bayley Guy (BABA)
  • 3rd Place Prize: Brew University - Zach Johnston, Ian Bedell, Ilse Torres, Parker Funai (Bridge MBA)
  • 4th Place Prize: CooperKade - Alyssa Goodchild (MBA)
  • Runner Up: Nuciano - Joy Egbejimba (LEMBA), Jude Egbejimba, Alicia Tang (BABA)
  • Social Innovation Award: MiMi Globe Goods - Scott Fetz, Matt Heffel, John Gavin (BABA; Enactus)
  • Pitch Judges Award: RecruiterReach - Gagan Khinda, Chase Jenkins, Emily Barr, Malu Tang (MBA)
  • Tradeshow Judges Award: Cosmopolitan Choices - Spencer Townley (PMBA), Cindy Townley
  • Tradeshow Audience Award: Pearls for Girls - Sierra Harden, Samantha Garrard, Caroline Engs, Lauren Fricke (Bridge MBA)

Get answers to your HSBPC questions