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Rules and Regulations 2019-2020

Welcome to the 14th annual West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, hosted by Encova Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship housed in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. The competition affords college students around the state the unique opportunity to make a business idea come to life with the support of state institutions of higher education and seasoned business professionals from around the country.


To work collaboratively with a mission to move the state forward by engaging young minds to solve West Virginia’s greatest issues. The future of our state is at hand, and we are working to involve young talent from across the state to share their ideas. We will provide students with the education, skills, contacts, and motivation necessary to create a viable start-up company in West Virginia. Two (2) grand prize packages consisting of $10,000 cash, consulting services, and legal services are awarded to the top team in each category:

Lifestyle and Hospitality - Products or services that are part of daily life or relevant to hospitality, restaurants, hotels, tourism or related fields. They can be the introduction of new products or services, or new methods or techniques of existing products or services.

STEM and Innovation – Products or services with an emphasis in science, technology, engineering, math, energy, and healthcare, or any new innovations. They can be the introduction of new products or services, or new methods or techniques of existing products or services.

In addition to the two grand prize packages, the competition awards an additional $20,000 of at-large prize money. The judges award $10,000 of at-large prize money to any finalist team(s) and a student board awards the other $10,000 donated by ZinnStarter. Ray Zinn created ZinnStarter in 2016 to support early-stage entrepreneurs to foster startups.


Any full-time college student attending a degree-granting West Virginia institution. Open to all majors. Full-time status will be verified.

Students participating in university-approved co-op programs are considered to be full-time students for the purpose of this competition.

Students that graduate in December 2020 are eligible to compete, but MUST attend all mandatory functions related to the competition during the spring of 2021. 

Round One

1. Create a Team

Teams may consist of 1-3 members. Assign a team leader. Team leaders will submit the team business idea using the business model canvas template.

All members must be full-time college students at West Virginia institutions of higher education, but they do not need to be from the same institution. Building a team with diverse skill sets is recommended. 

Teams may enter multiple business ideas in the first round, but only one (1) such business ideas may compete in the semifinals. If two submissions from the same team leader are selected for the semifinals, teams can break up or add additional team members as needed. Teams can add or remove team members up until the Workshop.

2. Select Business Idea

All business ideas must be FOR-PROFIT WV businesses. Non-profit ideas are not eligible. Social entrepreneurship is encouraged. All business ideas must have the potential to be viable, legal entities eligible to operate under the laws of West Virginia.

Rules of Eligibility:

  1. Businesses who have generated revenues of $10,000 or more on the sale of goods and/or services produced by their business prior to the Round 1 submission date are not eligible.
  2. Past winning participants are not eligible for re-entry of the same business idea.
  3. Past, non-winning, participants are eligible for re-entry into the competition.
  4. Businesses must be registered and compliant with the laws in the state of West Virginia. There are no restrictions as to the geographic location(s) as to where the business operations shall occur.

3. Fill out the Business Model Canvas Template 

Business Model Canvas

Understanding the Business Model Canvas

Templates can be filled out based on the following information and 500 characters per section (maximum). Do NOT indicate the name(s) of your team's higher education institution(s) in your answers. 

Executive Summary

  • Briefly describe your company and why it will be successful. May include your mission statement, product or service and basic information about the company's leadership team and location.

  1. Value Proposition
    1. What value do we deliver to the customer?
    2. Which one of our customer's problems are we helping to solve?
    3. What bundles of products and services are we offering to each Customer Segment?
    4. Which customer needs are we satisfying?
  2. Customer Segments
    1. For whom are we creating value?
    2. Who are our most important customers?
      • Mass Market
      • Niche Market
      • Segmented
      • Diversified
      • Multi-sided Platform
  3. Customer Relationships
    1. What type of relationship does each of our Customer Segments expect us to establish and maintain with them?
    2. Which ones have we established?
    3. How are they integrated with the rest of our business model?
    4. How costly are they?


      • Personal assistance
      • Dedicated Personal Assistance
      • Self-Service
      • Automated Services
      • Communities
      • Co-creation
  4. Channels
    1. Through which Channels do our Customer segments want to be reached?
    2. How are we reaching them now?
    3. How are our Channels integrated?
    4. Which ones work best?
    5. Which ones are most cost-efficient?
    6. How are we integrating them with customer routines?
  5. Key Activities
    1. What key Activities do our Value Propositions require?
    2. Our Distribution Channels?
    3. Customer Relationships?
    4. Revenue streams?
    5. Categories
      • Production
      • Problem Solving
      • Platform/Network
  6. Key Partners
    1. Who are our Key Partners?
    2. Who are our Key suppliers?
    3. Which Key Resources are we acquiring from partners?
    4. Which Key Activities do partners perform?
    5. Motivations for partnerships:
      • Optimization and economy
      • Reduction of risk and uncertainty
      • Acquisition of particular resources and activities
  7. Key Resources
    1. What Key Resources do our Value Propositions require?
    2. Our Distribution Channels? Customer Relationships?
    3. Revenue Streams?
    4. Types of Resources
      • Physical
      • Intellectual (brand patents, copyrights, data)
      • Human
      • Financial
  8. Cost Structure
    1. What are the most important costs inherent in our business model?
    2. Which Key Resources are most expensive?
    3. Which Key Activities are most expensive?
    4. Is your Business more:
      • Cost Driven (leanest cost structure, low price value proposition, maximum automation, extensive outsourcing)
      • Value Driven (focused on value creation, premium value proposition)


      • Fixed Costs (salaries, rents, utilities)
      • Variable costs
      • Economies of scale
      • Economies of scope
  9. Revenue Streams
    1. For what value are our customers really willing to pay?
    2. For what do they currently pay?
    3. How are they currently paying?
    4. How would they prefer to pay?
    5. how much does each Revenue Stream contribute to overall revenues?

4. Register online

Due: November 13, 2020 by noon 

Team leaders register team and complete the required submission data.

5. Scoring

Each submission will be reviewed by a panel of judges comprised of various business professionals. Summaries will be scored on standard rubric.

Ten (10) Lifestyle & Hospitality and ten (10) STEM & Innovation teams will be chosen to compete in the Semifinals. Should the top 10 teams in each category not include representatives from each participating school, additional semifinalists will be chosen so that every institution will be represented in the semifinals. Semifinalists must agree to compete at the Semifinals by December 4.  Semifinalists will be announced to the public on December 7, 2020.


Each team must have a coach for the Semifinals. It is recommended you work with one coach from your institution and one from private industry with subject matter expertise around your product or service.

If you have any issues obtaining a coach, please contact the Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for assistance.

Round Two - Semifinals

Friday, January 22, 2021
West Liberty Highlands Center

1. Feasibility Study

Due: January 15, 2021 by noon

Submit on-line via ReviewR

  • 5-page maximum PDF (page count does not include Cover Page, table of contents, or appendices)
  • Double spaced
  • 12 pt. font 

2. Elevator Pitch

  • 2 minutes
  • Only one (1) team member is required to speak
  • No questions
  • No visual aids (Power Point, posters, etc)
    *Note cards are permitted, but not encouraged

3. One-on-One Interviews

  • 5 minutes
  • Visual aids and prototypes are encouraged

Scoring Breakdown

Feasibility Plan - 33.33%

Elevator Pitch - 33.33%

Interview - 33.33%

*Finalists and alternates will be announced at the event. Five (5) Lifestyle and Hospitality and five (5) STEM & Innovation teams will be chosen to compete in the Finals. One (1) alternate from each category will also be selected based on scores. Finalists are required to attend the Workshop.

Snow Clause

Should a poor weather forecast pose a safety concern for traveling to West Liberty University, the Semifinals may be postponed to a make-up day of January 29, 2021. Semifinalists will be notified 24 hours in advance in the event of a reschedule. Should inclement weather also prevent travel on the make-up day, the Semifinals will be cancelled and the teams with the top-scoring Feasibility Studies will advance to the final round of competition.

Finalists Workshop

Saturday, February 27, 2021
West Virginia University

1. Workshop

Teams will meet and work with marketing, financial, legal and business professionals. They will learn valuable information, related to starting a business in West Virginia. This event is mandatory for all finalists, and coaches are encouraged to attend.

2. $1,000 Stipend

Each team will receive a $1,000 stipend to spend how they choose. It is taxable. Should a team fail to compete in the final competition, the stipend must be paid back in full. The teams will receive this check at the workshop. Teams that do not attend the workshop are not eligible for the stipend.

Alternates will receive a stipend for travel based on travel distance.

Round Three - Finals

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Charleston Convention Center

1. Final Business Plan

Due: April 6, 2021 by noon
Submit on-line via ReviewR

  • 20-page maximum PDF (page count does not include Cover Page and TOC)
  • 12 pt. font
  • Double-spaced 

2. Final Competition - ONLINE

  • Each Finalist will give a (maximum) 8-minute presentation followed by 4-minute Q&A with the judges.
  • Only one (1) team member is required to speak during this presentation.
  • Presentations are open to the public, business plans are not.

*Mentors and/or family are permitted in the presentation room during their  respected team's presentation, but non-team members may not speak during the presentations or Q&A. Should a non-team member speak any time the judges are present, the team will be disqualified. The presentation rooms are closed to competing team members.

3. Reception & College Fair

  • During and after the competition, West Virginia higher education institutions will have the opportunity to showcase their programs to high school and college students in the competition.
  • The cost of a table is $100. Schools that have a team enter the Collegiate Business Plan Competition OR Marshall University’s Business Model Competition can waive this fee.
  • For more information, contact the Encova Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (; (304) 293-7221)

4. Agenda for the Day

  • Evening before: Optional Practice Presentations
  • Practice Presentations
  • Final Competition
  • Reception & Awards

Prize Money

  • Grand-prize winners receive the $10,000 over three (3) disbursements (see winner's contract for details)
  • At-large money will be given via check over disbursements agreed upon with the Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
  • ZinnStarter winners receive the money based on amount granted by student board in one (1) disbursement. 

*All prize proceeds may be revoked if the recipients are found to have violated any of the competition’s rules and regulations. West Virginia University is not responsible for the content or quality of any in-kind services that may be provided as awards for this competition.

The Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition is committed to undertaking a practical and reasonable effort to protect any confidential and proprietary information provided by participants. Finalists will receive guidance on intellectual property and an overview of best practices will be included in the workshop materials. Judges in all rounds are asked to acknowledge and agree to be bound by confidentiality terms. Final round judges and semi-final judges will sign hard copy confidentiality agreements at the event. All participants do acknowledge the public nature of a business plan competition and assume all risk associated with any disclosure during the course of the competition.

Important Dates 

November 13, 2020      Round One submissions due by noon
December 7, 2020         Semifinalists notified
January 15, 2021            Feasibility Studies due by noon
January 22, 2021            Semifinals - Fairmont State University
February 27, 2021         Workshop - West Virginia University
April 6, 2021                    Final Business Plans due by noon
April 13, 2021                  Final Competition - ONLINE