Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition?

The annual business plan competition encourages Purdue students to develop their unique ideas for new products or services into a profitable business. Student teams learn how to write an effective business plan, while competing for cash prizes.

Is any type of business idea is acceptable?

Any type of business idea is acceptable. However, teams must create a business plan describing a business idea that is wholly original and based on the independent thinking of the team. If the idea includes or is based on scientific knowledge and developments that might be considered "intellectual property" the members of the team must certify and attest to the fact that the science or innovation is the result of their independent work, any collaborators that may have participated in the work have given their permission for the science or technology to be presented in an open forum, and any monies that may result from the competition are to the benefit of the team.

The certification of the ownership of the technology must be verifiable. Failure to do so will result in disqualification of the team and/or forfeiture of any prize money won. Teams will not be permitted to present ideas based on science and technology owned by third parties who are not a member of the team or Purdue University. The organizers of the competition may disqualify any team failing to comply with the spirit and intent of this rule and shall be held harmless due to such action.

Why enter the contest?

Cash prizes
Learn how to write an effective business plan
Learn how to attract investors
Network with successful entrepreneurs

How do I enter the competition?

Attend a callout or register online, see the calendar for deadlines. Teams will then select a division to compete in, Gold or Black. Gold is an open division and teams can be made up of undergraduate students, graduate students, or both. The Black division is for teams made up entirely of undergraduate students.

All registered teams will need to create and submit an executive summary. Judges will review the executive summary and select semi-finalists in both divisions to submit full business plans. Judges will then review the full business plans and select 5 teams from each division to compete in the competition for cash prizes.

Who is eligible to enter?

All currently enrolled Purdue students are eligible to participate in the competition. Non-students such as, Purdue alumni, faculty, staff and local residents can also be team members (if they can demonstrate a connection to Purdue University), but currently enrolled Purdue students must make the final presentations to the judges. If any team has been found to have violated either the spirit or intent of this rule or the absolute language of the rule, the team may be disqualified and any prize money forfeited based on the sole discretion of the organizers, who shall be held harmless due to such actions.

Teams that placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a previous Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition are not eligible to enter the competition. Teams in the Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition are only allowed to submit one plan per year, and students cannot be a member of more than one team.

Can faculty members be part of a team?

Yes. Faculty may serve in an advisory role for undergraduate (Black) division. For the graduate (Gold) division faculty may be full members of the team including an entitlement for prizes. In both the Black and Gold Divisions, currently enrolled students MUST make the presentations.

May I submit a plan for a not-for-profit venture?

Yes. But the same criteria regarding commercial viability, technical viability, and financial viability will be applied.

Can we get more information on the selection process?

The competition will take place in two phases.

Phase I: Teams will define their executive summary per requirements defined on the Web. Semi-finalists will be selected from the entries. Winners will then have the opportunity to proceed to Phase II.

Phase II: Semi-finalists will expand their executive summary into complete business plans. Five finalists from each division will then be selected to make presentations. Awards will be given based upon the business plans and the presentations. Prizes will be awarded at an awards banquet following the presentations.

What are the prizes awarded?

The prize package for the two divisions is as follows:

PlaceGold DivisionBlack Division
1st $30,000 $20,000
2nd $15,000 $10,000
3rd $7,500 $5,000
4th $3,750 $2,500
5th $3,750 $2,500
Subtotals: $60,000 $40,000


How is the prize money distributed?

Winners will be announced at the evening awards banquet. Finalist will receive paperwork on the day of the competition (at check-in). Prize checks will be in the name of individuals and will be distributed within a few weeks of the competition.

Who is Burton D. Morgan?

Mr. Morgan was a successful Purdue alumnus, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist who donated money to fund this competition.
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Does the 30-page business plan limit include appendices?

Appendices beyond the 30-page limit should not be attached, unless there is a solid reason to do so. Examples include a sales promotion, test market survey, testimonials, or detailed product specifications. If you will exceed the 30-page limit with appendices, please discuss it with us first. The submission must be a .pdf file.

Are there margin limitations?

There is a minimum 10 point type requirement. Margins must be one inch overall.

How many years of financials should I include in my business plan? What periodic basis should I use?

You should include 3 to 5 years of financials and they should be reported on a monthly basis for at least the first year and quarterly thereafter.

Where can I find information about local area average costs for office space leasing, utilities, etc?

Local space leasing, which includes utilities, averages $1.00 to $1.25 per square foot.

May we view the rankings by the judges of our mini business plans?

No, Judges' rankings are confidential. Access to the results is limited to a few staff members involved with the competition. At the judges' discretion, we will provide teams with specific feedback from the judges.

Who judges the final business plans and the competition?

The same external judges will review the written business plans and judge the presentations.

Outside Business Plan Competitions

Winning teams from the Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurial Competition may represent Purdue University in other business plan competitions held throughout the nation or the world. Teams desiring to compete in other business plan competitions and desiring to represent Purdue University in those competitions must obtain permission to represent Purdue University in those competitions from the Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship well in advance of the competition.

Any team that desires financial support from Purdue University to compete in these other competitions must likewise, make application to the Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship who will evaluate each request on an individual basis.

Other questions?

Please contact the BDM Center at BDMCenter@purdue.edu for any additional questions you may have.

Business Plan Competition


Contact Information

Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship

1201 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2057