Competition Rules



                  The Business Design Competition in the Entrepreneurship Program is intended bridge the traditional academic format of higher-education into the more complex and ambiguous conditions of the public and private sectors, post-graduation. The curricular framework is designed to both leverage and augment upper-division academics in an individual’s area of study, allowing students to put what they’ve learned into practice in an interdisciplinary, team-based environment. Teams may propose their own ideas, or may choose to build business models around intellectual property created by faculty and researchers within UCSC. They then compete in a business design competition, where judges (investors, industry and academics) review, score and assess the overall performance of the team’s work.


  • 1.     Expose participants to real-world conditions of entrepreneurship.
  • 2.     Learn methodologies and processes for conceptualizing, modeling and implementing viable and pragmatic ideas, whether for business, social, or political goals.
  • 3.     Experience interdisciplinary collaboration with people with different skills and backgrounds.
  • 4.     Learn organizational techniques, from people to processes. 

Course Structure

The two-quarter course is broken up into two stages: application followed by execution. The first quarter is more structured like a class: students learn how to organize, collaborate, ideate, and ultimately to create the embryonic system that defines an entrepreneurial team. In the second quarter, the course is structured more like an independent study, where classes are unstructured and there are no assignments or team deliverables. However, students are graded on an independent research paper and the team business document provided to the finals competition (50/50). During this time, the teams formulate the rudimentary components of a business design, designate areas of responsibility to team members, and create a written document and presentation, which is then demonstrated live in a competition format.

Students can elect to merely audit the course for no credit, or sign up for 2 or 5 credits of independent study.

The option to sign up for credit has expired. To do so now, you need permission.

Teams must be formally created early in the first of the two-quarter series. There must be at least four members per team, but not all members of the team are required to sign up for the course. The team “leader” is the only person required to show up to weekly meetings. This allows entire teams from Senior Projects in other departments to engage in the business competition without attending sessions. Theoretically, if only the team leader is in the course, s/he would have a burdensome workload; it is presumed that at least several key team members from the larger team would attend.


All teams are required to produce and deliver via email the following items in order to be eligible for competing in the Finals. (See this page to download sample templates for the deliverables described below.)

 ·       An executive summary

·       An employee handbook

o   Hiring and Firing Procedures

o   Dispute Resolution Processes

o   Org Chart

o   Titles and responsibilities

o   Employee review protocol

·       A SWOT analysis

·       Company Branding

o   Company Logo and/or Icons

o   Design template (font, color scheme, music)

o   Marketing templates (website, ad, catalog page)

·       A planned focus group study

·       Equity Distribution Table (founders stock)

·       Description of methods of market research

·       Detailed technical descriptions or specifications of underlying IP, if applicable

·       A computer-based presentation (PowerPoint or Keynote)

·       A final business design document

While all of these are required for each team, individuals are only responsible for specific items that are assigned to them by the team leader. (Thus, it is in the team leader’s interest to attract students with diverse skills to optimize performance and efficiency.) Individuals are graded on the quality of their individual contributions and are unaffected by what is produced by their fellow teammates. However, because a student’s overall grade may be increased or decreased by the team’s combined success, people have incentive to deal weaker performers through approved management protocols.

Note the final business design document has many subsections that will also be delegated by the team leader.

Grading and Evaluation

The class is made up of 100 points. Students earn points according to the table below:

·       Attendance: 20pts, derived from: 

o   In-class attendance

o   Class email list

o   Participation in live and online activities

·       Assignments: 30pts.

o   All Assignments are turned in online

·       Team Participation: 40pts

o   Each person is responsible for a particular section of the final team design document (usually the result of some form of research, production, analysis, or technical factor).

o   Individuals will not be graded on the performance of the team as whole, and are unaffected by the results of the final competition. (Hypothetically, a team can perform quite well and an individual fail to pass, just as a team can perform poorly, while an individual passes the course with notable honors.)

o   One (and only one) person in each team is responsible for the final document and the final PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentation, and may use this responsibility as a replacement for contributing a separate section. This will most likely be the team leader, but it does not have to be.

o   NOTE: Those who only audit the course may still be obligated to produce their share of work for the benefit of their team, who may otherwise suffer as a group, though this would not affect the grades of the individuals.

·       Final Essay: 10%

o   Each student will write a final essay of 1000 words that illustrate the student’s grasp of the higher-level concepts presented in the course. The topic will be personally assigned to each student by the instructor based on an assessment of the student’s goals.

·       Team Performance Points

o   In the final competition, judges “score” teams on their performance based on

Topics and Deadlines

                  Lectures are scheduled for the first hour of every class, with the latter half consisting of in-class activities, team meetings and presentations.


Winter Quarter




Readings, Deliverables, etc

January 17


Introduction to Entrepreneurship (review)


Review of Course Rules, Materials and Deliverables

Rules Handbook,

Course Outline (this doc)

January 24


Overview: Five Stages of Creation: Ideation, Design, Development, Prototyping, Business Planning


Faculty & Researcher IP Pitches


January 31


Topics on Leadership


Student-generated Pitches


February 7


Organizational Structure and Design for Start-ups


SWOT Review

Final Team Formation

February 14


Business Design Template Review

Assignment of individual responsibilities


Company Handbook Review

Executive Summary, SWOT

February 21


Market Research and Company Branding

Employee/Company Handbook


February 28


Market Research and Company Branding (continued)

Product Prototypes &  Company Branding


March 6


Ideas – Who Owns What?

Founder’s Equity


Presentation Skills/Practice

Market Research & Focus Group Designs

March 13


Semi-Final Practice




Semi-Final Practice Presentation

Final Competition

Ideas and objectives vary dramatically and will not be compared against one another for their individual viability. Therefore, the final competition is more of a series of “presentations” where each team’s goal is to achieve ratings from independent judges on four criteria:

       Team (structure, make-up, organization)

       Commercial Viability (product, market)

       Scientific Viability (science behind the product)

       Research methods and approaches (econ, science, etc.)

Judges will be representative of four different perspectives:

  • ·       Venture Capital (those who invest other people’s money)
  • ·       Angel Investors (those who invest their own money)
  • ·       Corporate Management (how a larger organization might view the idea)
  • ·       Academics (professors)

Each team will have created a “business design document” that describes the team’s idea, goals and plan for execution, but these are not intended to be full-on business plans. Teams may go beyond the template and produce more traditional business plans if they desire, of course. For the competition, teams will be assessed on the credibility of their research into only those areas of applicability: marketing methods, scientific viability, pricing models, social and/or societal viability, production and distribution, and so on. Forecasting future revenues, costs, profits, or any other aspect of the business is strongly discouraged unless such data is necessary to demonstrate viability of aforementioned criteria.