FAQ


If you have questions not addressed below, please feel free to email us at bpc@jhu.edu.

For Judges & Mentors

How do I sign up to become a judge and/or mentor?

Judge and mentor registration opens on Friday, January 15. Learn more about registering for the competition here.

What are the responsibilities of a mentor?

Mentors remotely review competition submissions and provide feedback to student teams on their business plans using the LivePlan platform or through their preferred communication method (Zoom, Skype, email, phone, etc.) during the first round (early March) and second round (early April) of competition. Mentors can select one or multiple categories in which to provide feedback based on their expertise.

How big of a time commitment is mentoring?

We anticipate that each mentor will be asked to provide feedback on an average of 3 business plans. During the first round, mentors will likely spend an average of 30 minutes reviewing each team's Round 1 submission and providing feedback. In the second round, mentors will spend an average of 1-2 hours reviewing each team's Round 2 submission (their full business plan) and providing feedback. Mentors can choose their preferred method of communication with their mentees (video conferencing, email, commenting directly on the team's submission via LivePlan, using Slack, or some combination of methods). Our mentors often find this work rewarding and return year after year to continue to guide young entrepreneurs through the process of developing their first business plans.

What are the responsibilities of a judge?

Judges attend the competition event held virtually on Friday, April 23. This all-day event includes two rounds of judging, and a virtual awards ceremony. Judges are given a set of criteria and may ask questions of student teams during the live final round of competition. Judges must then evaluate pitches and select first, second, and third place winners in each category.

I'd like to serve as a mentor AND a judge. Can I?

Absolutely! Interested individuals can serve as a judge, a mentor, or both. In fact, many of our participants choose to mentor and judge.

If I have expertise in more than one category, can I mentor or judge in multiple categories?

You are encouraged to mentor in as many categories as you are able. Because our presentation sessions run concurrently, you are only able to serve as a judge for one category on the day of the event. However, during registration, we ask that you select all of the categories in which you have expertise in the event that additional judges are needed to fill a particular session.

What criteria are used to evaluate business plans and pitches?

We provide rubrics on the day of the event, but you can find more information on our Judge Criteria page.

For Competitors

Do I need to be a student at Johns Hopkins University to participate?

No, but each team must have at least one member that meets both of the following requirements:
1. be a current part-time, full-time, or postdoctoral student of any of the nine divisions of Johns Hopkins University during the current academic year.
2. be a member of the venture's startup management team.

Is there a team size limit?

Yes. Each team must be limited to six presenters. Additional members can take part in the development of the business plan, but only six members total can register for the event and compete on competition day. At least one team member on each team must meet the eligibility requirements.

I have a business idea, but I do not have team. Can I still compete?

Yes! However, if you will be your team's sole member, you must be a current part-time, full-time, or postdoctoral student at Johns Hopkins University.

I previously participated in the Business Plan Competition. Can I participate again?

Absolutely! However, teams are prohibited from presenting a plan that won 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in a previous competition.

Does it cost anything to participate?

Registration is free of charge to all participants.

What type of business plan can I submit to the competition?

Participants can submit a business plan to the competition in any of our three categories: General Business, Medical Technology & Life Sciences, or Social Enterprise. You can find more information about each category here. Teams can only compete in one category during a single competition year.

Can I submit a plan for an existing business?

No. All submissions must be new ventures. By "new," we mean ventures that are pre-profit and have less than $10,000 in outside investment funding as of August 2020. Ventures that have raised equity capital from sources other than the members of the student team or their friends and families before the current academic year, i.e., before August 2020 that exceeds $10,000, are excluded. However, both student and other team members may have worked on an idea or new technology in previous academic years or in the case of the student team members even prior to entering Johns Hopkins University, provided that their venture had no revenues and raised no outside equity capital prior to the current academic year.

Can my team submit more than one plan?

Yes! Teams may submit distinct ventures in any and all of the three categories. Keep in mind, however, that because presentations in all categories are delivered in concurrently running sessions, team members cannot present in more than one category on competition day. In this case, your team will need to identify members who can present on each venture in the event that more than one venture is scheduled at the same presentation time.

Can I submit a plan that has previously been submitted to another competition?

Yes.

How will my business plan be evaluated?

Mentors will provide feedback through the submission platform Liveplan in the early rounds of competition (early March and early April). Judges will evaluate your team's business plan using the criteria found on our Judge Criteria page on the day of the competition event.

What can I win?

In each category, winning teams receive $5,000 for 1st place, $3,000 for 2nd place, and $1,000 for 3rd place.

How are the prizes distributed to the winners?

Teams have full control over the distribution of prize money. Prizes are awarded through Hopkins' vendor payment process and prize recipients receive 1099s in January for tax purposes. This is important to keep in mind when deciding on who receives prize money through the payment system.

If my team does not progress past the first round, can I still attend the networking event?

We are working to establish a networking event during our virtual competition in April 2020.

What if I have a question not answered here?

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions by email at bpc@jhu.edu or by phone at (410) 516-8205.

Who presents on competition day?

BPC staff will evaluate your Stage 1 submissions to establish that they are complete and developed enough for presentation on Competition Day (Stage 2). All competing teams will be notified on Monday, April 12 about whether they will move onto Competition Day (April 23).