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The following release form must be completed and submitted: Publicity Liability Release form.



Startups are NOT smaller versions of large or existing companies. Starting a company is about SEARCHING for a business model, not EXECUTING a known business model. A startup is a temporary organization whose goal is to become a large company. A startup is putting together resources to search for a repeatable, scalable model. Most startups fail because of a lack of customers, not because product development fails. Startups should validate their BUSINESS MODEL before any thought is given to writing a BUSINESS PLAN.  Many well-written business plans do not survive first contact with customers.


This competition acknowledges the groundbreaking work being done by organizations such as the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and the Department of Defense to help startups develop business models and reduce the risk of starting a business. This “Lean Launchpad” approach is based on a combination of two books:


Additional Resources


Customer Development

The development of a business model is based on the scientific method. You begin by creating an initial Business Model Canvas, which is considered your initial hypothesis. These are your “best guesses” to things such as who your customer is, how you will monetize your product and with whom you will partner. You then test these hypotheses by performing a process called Customer Development. Based on the insight gained from actual potential customers and other industry contacts, you “iterate”, meaning make a small change to your business model, or perhaps even “pivot” to a drastically different business model. Little by little, your “guesses” become facts.


Minimum Viable Products

Another tenet of the Lean Launchpad approach is the concept of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This means the entrepreneur develops a minimal version of the product or service, in order to gain additional customer feedback. An MVP could be anything from a wireframe, demo, mock-up, whatever is needed to get learning to occur.


Making a Pitch (Finalists Only)

Pitch presentations may take several forms. Here is a blog article on them from entrepreneur and investor Guy Kawasaki:


Download the preferred slidedeck outline for this competition.


Financial Models for Startup Businesses

Balance Sheet Template

Cash Flow Projection Template

Simple Income Statement Template


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