About the Competition

The 2015 Springboard Ideas Challenge is open for registration! Please take a few minutes to read the following information to find out more about this year’s competition. You can also visit the Schedule page for a list of important dates for this year’s competition. Please note that the divisions, awards and eligibility criteria have changed from the 2014 competition. Please contact us at griggscenter@acu.edu with any questions.  


Divisions, Awards and Prizes 

What are the different divisions for the 2015 Springboard Ideas Challenge?
The 2015 Springboard Ideas Challenge includes two divisions: Community-Growth, Community and College. See the Eligibility section below for the criteria participants must meet to compete in any of these divisions. 

What are the awards and corresponding prizes that will be awarded in each division?
The cash prizes for the 2015 Springboard Ideas Challenge are listed in the table below. Additional in-kind prizes may be announced prior to the competition. 

Award Community-Growth Community-Small Business College
Grand Prize$20,000$5,000$10,000
2nd Place$5,000$3,000$3,000
3rd Place$1,000$1,000$1,000
Small Business Award$2,500 N/A

What is the Small Business Award?

This award recognizes a contestant in the community division whose business concept may not be scalable or attractive to an investor but still represents an attractive business opportunity for the entrepreneur.


Eligibility 

Do I need to live in any particular communities in order to compete in one of the community divisions?

Yes. The Springboard Ideas Challenge is a mini-business plan competition for students and community members in the Big Country. All participants must be a permanent resident in one of the following 19 counties:

  • Knox
  • Stonewall
  • Kent
  • Haskell
  • Throckmorton
  • Comanche
  • Brown
  • Coleman
  • Runnels
  • Eastland
  • Callahan
  • Taylor
  • Nolan
  • Mitchell
  • Stephens
  • Shackelford
  • Jones
  • Fisher
  • Scurry

In addition, by registering for the competition, contestants in the community division agree that their business operations will remain located in one of the counties listed above for at least 24 months following the competition.

Which schools are eligible to compete in the college division?
Full-time students at at any of the following institutions are eligible to compete:

  • Abilene Christian University
  • Cisco College
  • Hardin-Simmons University
  • McMurry University
  • Texas State Technical College
  • Texas Tech University at Abilene
  • West Central Texas College

However, you are still eligible to compete in the community divisions as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria.

Can any student enter the college division?
No.  Only students who will be attending one of the eligible institutions listed above during the 2015-16 academic year are eligible to compete in the college division.  In most cases, this means seniors are ineligible to participate in the college division.  However, students graduating in 2015 are still eligible to participate in the community division assuming they meet the other applicable eligibility criteria.

All participants in the college division must also be enrolled on a full-time basis.

Is there an age requirement for any of the divisions?
Yes. All participants in the community and college divisions must be 18 years or older.

What if I’ve already started my business?
Participants in any of the divisions may include (1) a new business concept that is not yet operational as well as (2) start-up companies that are in the early stages of launching the business. However, any companies that have been in operation for more than 36 months are not eligible to participate in the competition.

What if a student team that has taken on outside investors and/or recruited a non-student as a co-founder?

The college division is for ventures created and managed by students. As a result, students are expected to:

  • be the driving force behind the new venture,
  • have played the primary role in developing the business plan,
  • have key management roles in the venture, and
  • own significant equity in the venture.

In general, a member of the student team should be CEO, COO, or President of the venture, or members of the student team should occupy 50% or more of the senior management roles.  Students should also own a significant (50% or more) percentage of the equity that is allocated to the management team.

Please note that the Griggs Center has full discretion in determining whether teams in the college division meet this requirement and reserves the right to exclude any teams.

Does it matter if I entered a previous Springboard Ideas Challenge?
Business concepts that have been awarded prize money in previous Springboard Ideas Challenge competitions may not be resubmitted in the 2015 competition. However, any other business concepts from previous competitions may be resubmitted in this year’s competition.

Individuals who were part of a ream that won a grand prize in either division in a previous competition is not eligible to participate in the competition for two years.

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Registration 

When is the deadline to register for this year’s competition?
The deadline for registration is 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

How much does it cost to register?
The registration fee is $10 per submission. 

If I plan to submit multiple business plans, do I need to register them separately?
Yes. Multiple submissions are allowed but each submission will require a separate registration form and fee.

How do I register?
All participants must submit a registration form with all required information and pay the required registration fee. Participants can register using any of the following methods:

1. Register and pay online

2. Register online and mail payment: Send payment according to date of registration to the following address:

Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy
ACU Box 29300
Abilene, TX 79699-9300

Your registration form must be received by the registration deadline described above so please complete prior to mailing payment. Checks should be made payable to ACU - COBA with Springboard in the memo line.

3. Register online and pay in person: Deliver the registration fee in cash or check and a completed registration form to the front desk at the Mabee Business Building at Abilene Christian University (see ACU campus map). Checks should be made payable to ACU - COBA with Springboard in the memo line.

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The Competition Process  

Phase I - Online Application
All participants in the community and college divisions will be asked to complete an online application. The questions focus on important points about each business concept that would be important to potential investors and other stakeholders of why the venture would succeed. The application generally takes 15-30 minutes to complete.

The deadline for completing the online application is the same as the registration deadline, which is 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

All applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges. Participants who advance to the next stage of the competition will be notified on Monday, March 16, 2015.

Phase II - Mini-Business Plan
Participants who advance to this phase of the competition will be asked to prepare a mini-business plan addressing the fundamental issues of interest to potential investors. This document should highlight the most important and interesting points of the business, which should give potential investors a general understanding of why this venture would succeed. See below for details on the mini-business plan.

Business plans must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on Thursday, March 26, 2015. All plans must be submitted electronically to griggscenter@acu.edu. PDF files are preferred but files in Microsoft Word will also be accepted.

Finalists will be notified of their advancement to the next phase of the competition on Wednesday, April 1, 2015.

Phase III - Live Panel Judging
Contestants who qualify as finalists will be asked to deliver a presentation before a live panel of judges. The live panel judging for the community and college divisions will take place during the evenings on Monday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7, respectively. Participants will be given 10 minutes to present their idea to the judges and will then be subject to 10-15 minutes of Q&A from the judges. Additional information regarding this phase of the competition will be provided to finalists when they are notified of their advancement to the Live Panel Judging.

Phase IV - Awards Dinner
Each finalist in the community and college divisions is expected to be present at the Springboard Awards Dinner on Thursday, April 9, 2015. All winners will be announced at the event. Finalists will present their business concept as part of an exhibit hall immediately before the dinner. Additional information regarding the event and exhibits will be provided to finalists when they are notified of their advancement to the Live Panel Judging.

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Requirements for Mini-Business Plan  

The mini-business plan is a brief document that should address the fundamental issues that would be of interest to potential investors. It should highlight the most important and interesting points of the business, which should give potential investors a general understanding of why this venture would succeed. Additional suggestions about what information to include will be provided to participants who advance in the competition.

The Mini-Business Plan should be formatted as follows:

  • Cover page excluded from page limit 
  • 1-page executive summary
  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Times New Roman of similar font
  • Size 11 font
  • Compressed or expanded type is not permitted
  • Page numbers should be included

While the entire document should be no more than ten (10) narrative, numbered pages, contestants should note that financial statements, charts and graphs are permitted and should be included as exhibits or appendices at the end of the document (i.e., charts and graphs do not count toward the 10 page text limit).

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Terms and Conditions

Many actual and prospective participants in the Springboard Ideas Challenge often ask that confidentiality agreements be secured from mentors, organizers and/or judges. While the organizers of the Springboard Ideas Challenge appreciate the concerns behind these requests, as a matter of convention and practicality, confidentiality agreements are not signed as part of the competition.

Competitors are also responsible to protect any information concerning the submitted plan that is shared with mentors or fellow participants in the competition. The Springboard Ideas Challenge takes no responsibility for unwanted disclosure in these instances.

BY REGISTERING FOR THE SPRINGBOARD IDEAS CHALLENGE, PARTICIPANTS AGREE TO INDEMNIFY, DEFEN, AND HOLD HARMLESS ABILENE CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY, ITS BOARD OF TRUSTEES, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, REPRESENTATIVES, COMPETITION SPONSORS AND VOLUNTEERS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, THE GRIGGS CENTER FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND PHILANTHROPY, THE SPRINGBOARD PROGRAM FROM AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL LIABILITY, CLAIMS, DEMANDS, OR ON ACCOUNT OF INJURY, LOSS, DAMAGE, OR EXPENSE, INCLUDING DEFENSE COSTS, COURT COSTS, AND ATTORNEYS FEES, WHICH ARISE OUT OF OR ARE IN ANY MANNER CONNECTED WITH THEIR PARTICIPATION IN THE SPRINGBOARD IDEAS CHALLENGE INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DISCLOSURE OF PROPRIETARY CONCEPTS.

Contestants should be careful about disclosing information concerning proprietary concepts. While general questions or concerns regarding confidentiality should be addressed to griggscenter@acu.edu, please consult a licensed attorney with any questions regarding intellectual property concerns and your particular business concept. 

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Featured Slideshow
Springboard Ideas Challenge
Click to view a slideshow of photos from Springboard Ideas Challenge.