Entering the Competition

Explore Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition rules and eligibility, team registration and teach coach information, helpful frequently asked questions, and available resources.

Three group members meeting over charts

Useful information in entering the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition

This page outlines critical data you need to know before joining the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition. These include rules and eligibility, team registrations and teach coaches, as well as a continuously updated set of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

  1. The Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition is limited to teams that include active Seattle University (SU) students or alumni as defined below:
    • Seattle University students enrolled either full-time or part-time in degree programs during one or more of the following academic periods: Summer 2024, Fall 2024, Winter 2025, or Spring 2025 at Seattle University.
    • Seattle University alumni who have graduated from SU prior to the Summer 2024 academic period. SU alumni from any school or college within the university are eligible to participate in the competition.
  2. Non-student business professionals are allowed as team members, but there must be a Seattle University student or alum on the team.
  3. The business plan must be developed during the current school year and the student/alumnus must have played a major role in writing the plan.
  4. Working with outside entrepreneurs with existing businesses/business ideas is permissible but as noted in #3 above, the student/alumnus must write the plan.
  5. Total company revenues cannot exceed $500K (for existing businesses without a business plan).
  6. In the Trade Show Round, no more than four team members, including both students/alumni and non-students, may present their business concept to the judges at their booth.
  7. In the final presentation round of the competition, only students or alumni will present.
  8. The Director of the Entrepreneurship Center reserves the right to make the final determination of the appropriateness of submitted business ventures. Not all prizes may be awarded depending on the quality of submissions.
  9. Eligible teams must not have previously pitched their idea to an angel or venture investing group.  This ensures a more equitable playing ground for competitors.

Team Registration

  • Register your team and members online. Team registration must be received before submitting your screening round entry.
  • Submission includes team/business name, team member names, contact information, and a very brief description of your business idea.

Team Coach Application

  • Team coaches are assigned to all Semi-Finalist Teams. If you feel that you are ready for a team coach before they are assigned, you may email the IEC Director with a draft of your business plan summary to apply for a teach coach. You should not apply for a team coach until you have a very clear idea for the business you will submit and have a draft of your business plan summary.
  • Coaches will help you refine your business plan, but they should NOT be asked to help you brainstorm business ideas, decide between two ideas, write the plan summary for you, work with you before you have started to draft your plan, or otherwise share their time if you are not prepared to use it respectfully.
  • Coaches are all local volunteers. Many are entrepreneurs, investors, startup consultants, business leaders, and engaged professionals.
  • You should plan to meet with your team coach every week or every other week (ideally in person, at a location convenient for them, but Zoom video calls may suffice) as long as you remain in the competition.

How many people should be on a team?

  • There is no set number of participants per team, but we recommend teams of two to four people. Doing the competition as a team of one or as a team of more than four people is difficult to do, but not impossible.

Can I have non-students on my team?

  • Yes! Each team only needs one member who is an SU student or alum. However, this student or alum much present the pitches in Rounds 2 and 3, and must be actively involved in developing the business plan.

Do I have to use the prize money for the business?

  • No. You can use the prize money for anything your team decides—to launch the business, pay for tuition, go on vacation, or pay it forward for future teams. Whoever (individual) or whatever (business) accepts the prize money is obligated to pay any required taxes.

Competition Resources

Here is a list of useful documents, guides, and templates to use for each of the rounds, as well as other resources that can help inform your entry to the Harriet Stephenson Business Plan Competition.


Your first step is completing the Team Registration Form. Then, email your plans to Peter Rowan (prowan@seattleu.edu) by 11:59pm! Your Screening Round Entry business plan summary should be 2-3 pages, plus appendices, and submitted in a PDF format.

Templates and Resources


Drop in for a one-on-one conversation with IEC staff to ask questions or get feedback on your business plan. These office hours take place every Wednesday, 12 to 1 p.m., via Zoom on select days early in the year.

  • The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) is one of the oldest and largest state tech associations in North America. Access presentations, webinars, white papers, and more on the WTIA website.
  • CoMotion partners with the University of Washington community on its innovation journey, providing tools, connections, and acumen to transform ideas into economic and societal impact. You can view recordings of past presentations on their YouTube channel and register for upcoming presentations on the CoMotion website.
  • The Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship has been connected to Seattle's thriving entrepreneurial community for over two decades. You can view recommended resources for local startups on the Buerk Center website. Also note: The Buerk Center's Dempsey Startup Competition is a regional business plan competition open to all Seattle University students.

Wednesday Workshops

Wednesday Workshops are hybrid sessions to prepare your screening round entry. They are held every other Wednesday, 12 to 1 p.m., in-person in the Puget Sound Energy Room (PIGT 416) and via Zoom on select dates early in the year.