MTSU Business Plan Competition


The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition is the year's main Entrepreneurship event through Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University. Prominent early-stage company investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders from the Middle Tennessee area judge presentations by the final four student teams.

The Business Plan Competition was started through the Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship to foster the entrepreneurial spirit within the region. 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 Middle Tennessee State University learning experience, gain feedback on ideas, develop networks, and expose their ideas to potential investors. 

2020 Competition Application Deadline: February 28, 2020

Registration Due by 11:59 PM (NO EXCEPTIONS). Please email your new venture profile to The New Venture Profile is your official submission to the Business Plan Competition. Click here for the New Venture Profile Form that you will use as a template for your official submission.

New Venture Profile

Dates to Remember

March 2, 2020
The Screening Round begins. Business plans will be reviewed by a panel of judges and will determine whether who continues on to the Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round.

March 6, 2020
Announcement of which teams are advancing to the Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round. 

March 16, 2020
Business Plan Competition Information Session.
11:00am-12:00pm in BAS N222

March 17, 2020

Business Plan Competition Information Session.
11:00am-12:00pm location in BAS N222

March 31, 2020
Electronic copy of a one-page business summary due (must be submitted to by 12 p.m., NO EXCEPTIONS)

April 1, 2020
Trade Show 
11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Atrium of New Student Union Building

The Trade Show is open to Middle Tennessee State University community, friends, family, colleagues, and the public. Set-up can begin at 10:00 am.

April 1, 2020
Elevator Pitch Round
11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Student Union Room 218

April 3, 2020
Notification to Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round participants of which teams advance to the Final Round.

Coaching sessions for teams advancing to the final round take place following the Trade Show. These mandatory sessions are generally two hours per team.

April 22, 2020
Deadline to submit complete business plan (12-15 pages with up to 5 additional pages for appendix allowed).

April 29, 2020
Final Presentation Event
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. Student Union Building Parliamentary Room (201)

Final Presentations

  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Four finalists teams present
  • Voting
  • Winners of first and second place as well as other winners announced

2020 Competition

  • $25,000 total prize pool
  • $10,000 winning prize

2019 Competition

  • Grand Prize Winner ($5000)- Foliage 
  • 2nd Place Winner ($3000)- Bahama Braid Boutique
  • 3rd Place Winners ($1000)- Divinity LLC; ($1000)- DK's Trap Cafe
  • Best Elevator Pitch- Foliage 
  • Best Trade Show- DK's Trap Cafe
  • Best Written Plan- Foliage
  • The Wil Clouse Entrepreneurial Maverick Spirit Award- Solar Future Legacy
  • The Robert and Virgie Clouse Spirit Award- Foliage

2019 Sponsors

  • MTSU Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship 
  • Small Business Development Center of Tennessee 
  • The Clouse-Elrod Foundation, Inc.

2018 Competition

  • Grand Prize Winner ($5000)- University Ready 
  • 2nd Place Winner ($3000)- Salomon's Greenhouse 
  • 3rd Place Winner ($2000)- Vendy 
  • Best Written Plan- Salomon's Greenhouse
  • Best Trade Show- Drones iVue 
  • Best Elevator Pitch- Drunken Parrot 
  • The Robert and Virgie Clouse Agricultural Entrepreneurship Spirit Award- Salomon's Greenhouse 

2017 Competition

  • Grand Prize Winner ($7500) - Protective Innovations
  • 2nd Place Winner ($5000) - Smells Don't Sell, Inc.
  • 3rd Place Winner ($1000) - AACIJ (Accoa Adhesive Concrete Isolation Joint)
  • Social Entrepreneurship Award - The First Hello
  • Special Recognition Award - Groovly
  • Elevator Pitch Judges Award - Bongo Beverage
  • Trade Show Judges Award - TriSports
  • Corporate Innovation Award - Citadel Security
  • Wil Clouse Technology Award - Drones iVue
  • Wil Clouse Agriculture Technology Award - Volunteer Roots

2017 Sponsors

  • MTSU Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship
  • First Tennessee Bank
  • Small Business Development Center of Tennessee
  • The Clouse-Elrod Foundation, Inc.

Why participate?

The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship Business Plan competition is designed to help students and alumni in launching new business ventures:

  • For-profit Businesses
  • Not-for-Profit Businesses
  • Corporate Entrepreneurship
  • Social Enterprise

As a part of this experience, participants will enhance their MTSU learning experience, gain feedback on ideas, develop networks, and expose their ideas to potential investors.

Cash Awards Presented Spring 2018

Final Round

  • First Place $5000
  • Second Place $3000
  • Third Place $1000

Other awards

  • Social Enterprise Award
  • Special Recognition Award
  • Community Choice Trade Show Award
  • Community Choice Finals Award
  • Trade Show Judges Award
  • Elevator Pitch Judges Award
  • Corporate Innovation Award

Please note that 2018 competition prizes will not be confirmed until spring 2018.

Who can participate?

Any enrolled MTSU students or MTSU alumni can participate in the competition (see Rules & Eligibility for details). A team participating in the competition can consist of one or more contestants and can include non-students. However, there must be at least one MTSU student or alumnus on each team. We encourage all participants to take advantage of all the resources provided, mentors, prep sessions, etc.

How is the Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition Organized?

There are three major parts to the competition:

  1. The Screening Round is the initial review of business plans that determines which teams will be moving ahead to the Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round. Approximately 15-20 teams are chosen to progress to the next round. You can find business plan resources on the Tennessee Small Business Development Center website at
  2. The Trade Show/Elevator Pitch Round is divided into two distinct parts:
    1. Part 1: The Trade Show is a giant fair where teams have a space in the Student Center 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:
        1. Trade Show judges. Trade Show judges are pre-selected judges chosen by the Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship who visit the booths and select a minimum of three teams they feel have the best business idea and presentation.
        2. Community Choice judges. Community Choice judges consist of fellow students, friends, and other members of the community who visit the displays and then vote on their favorite business ideas and presentations. They may vote for one to five business ideas and presentations.
      1. Part 2: The Elevator Pitch Round consists of a three minute pitch of the team’s business plan, presented by the active MTSU student or MTSU alum, in front of a panel of judges. Two minutes may be given for a question and answer session. During the Trade Show, each team will designate one member (student or alum) to give their three-minute Elevator Pitch. While absent from the Trade Show giving your Elevator Pitch, be sure to have a back-up person manning your Trade Show booth. If you are the only person on your team, it is possible to engage up to two other non-team individuals to help with the booth and make presentations to Trade Show and Community Choice judges.

        The combined results of the Trade Show scores, given by the Community Choice judges and the official Trade Show judges, as well as the scores from the Elevator Pitch Round and Screening Round, will narrow the field down to the final teams that will continue to the Final Presentation Round.
  1. The Final Presentation Round is where the final teams present their complete business plan to a panel of judges.
    Three to 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, MTSU faculty, staff, alumni, students, and MTSU friends. Teams will give a maximum 15 minute presentation followed by 10 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 presenters will receive feedback from the judges in written form and mentoring within a week after their presentations.

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. After the coaching sessions, the final business plans will be due at least six days prior to the Final Presentations. The finalist teams will also be required to create a Power Point presentation for the Final Presentation.

Business Plan Competition Rules & Eligibility

Teams must comply with the following criteria to be eligible for the competition. Please read carefully!

  1. The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition is limited to teams that include activeMTSU students or alumni as defined below:
    1. MTSU students must be enrolled either full-time or part-time in any school or college at Middle Tennessee State University.
    2. Recent MTSU Alumni (graduating within 24 months of submission deadline) from any school or college within the university are eligible to participate in the competition, not just the Jones College of Business.
  2. Non-student business professionals are allowed as team members, but there must be a Middle Tennessee 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. You may not enter a plan that was entered in a previous year.
  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 $100K (for existing businesses without a business plan).
  6. In the Trade Show Round, no more than four team members, including both students/alumni and nonstudents, 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 Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship 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.


The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship 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. Middle Tennessee State University, the Jones College of Business, 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 MTSU staff associated with the business plan competition, so please do not ask.

*Disclaimer: Monetary prizes from competitions are  required to be included as financial aid assistance by the Financial Aid Office.   The total of all financial aid assistance (e.g., grants, scholarships, prizes, federal work-study, student loans, etc.) cannot exceed your financial aid "cost of attendance" (COA) which can be viewed on PipelineMT. If your COA is exceeded resulting from a prize award, other aid will be reduced.