Competitive Opportunities for Student Entrepreneurs.

The SCTE helps student teams perfect their business plans, models and presentations for entry into local, regional and national business plan funding competitions. Rensselaer undergraduates and graduate students have participated and won funding in a variety of entrepreneurial business competitions.


Eship.0 Identify a Problem

Take a road trip to an industry conference or trade show to identify some problems facing today's industry. The Eship@RPI team will identify a promising industry conference, teach you some quick tips on how to strike up a conversation with conference-goers that will yield an industry problem and even help you navigate the show once there.

Think of how good your resume will look when you add a conference to it!

Due to the ongoing concern for our students' health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be scheduling any trips to industry tradeshows during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Eship.1 Problem Pitch Competition

Identifying problems is the first step towards being a change-maker. Before you can fix something, you need to understand the issue. With a chance to win one of several $500 prizes, this competition will allow you to choose an "unsolvable" problem and explain why it has not been solved yet.
Open to all students.

Submit your unsolved problem by Sept 14 to enter the F20 competition. Students will pitch their problems live online on Sept 16 at 6:00PM.

Can't think of a problem? Attend the Find a Problem online pop-up session at 6:00PM Sept 9 here.

Or consult the Books of Problems we're compiling for you to adopt one and enter this competition or the Eship.2 competition.
Book of Problems F17
Book of Problems Sp/Su18
Book of Problems F18#1 & #2

Book of Problems Sp19

Eship.2 Solutions Competition / aka Change the World Challenge

A bi-annual contest to develop innovative ideas with the potential of changing the world. Open to all current Rensselaer students. Up to $10,000 in prizes are distributed each semester.

The Solutions competition provides a unique opportunity for students of all disciplines to form teams and develop their unique ideas into a viable business concept.  This is a hands-on experience in which students perform customer discovery to better understand the problem they are solving. Top teams are awarded $1,000 each and become eligible for the Best of the Best prize of $5,000 at the end of the year.

This competition is funded by Rensselaer alumnus, business and social entrepreneur, Sean O'Sullivan '85.


Oct 7 6:00PM
Join online

What does it take to win $6000? Introduction to the competition

Pop-Up: Who is going to buy this thing?

Oct 14 6:00PM
Join online

Pop-Up: Talking to customers

Oct 7 - Nov 9

Teams conduct customer interviews on their own time.
Due to the current state of the Corona Virus pandemic, we strongly encourage students to conduct customer discovery remotely and not in person. Try a video conference call or a phone call. 
Check in along the way if you need help finding customers to talk to or analyzing what you heard from them.

Nov 4 6:00PM
Join online

Pop-Up: Pitching to Win

Nov 9 8:00AM Submit to compete

Nov 11 6:00PM
Join online

Live Pitch Night
Results will be announced after all participants have pitched and results are tallied.


The revised rubric in which teams will be judged can be found here. 


Rensselaer Business Model Competition

The goal for the Rensselaer Business Model Competition is not only to provide teams with prizes of cash and in-kind services, but also to provide student entrepreneurs with the opportunity to improve their business through workshops, customer interviews, coaching, feedback and live practice sessions in preparation for the myriad of competition opportunities held annually each spring across the nation and globally. 
Due to the change in the delivery method of courses for the end of teh spring semester, this competition has been reformatted to accept video entries in place of in-person live pitches.

Spring 2020 Competition Dates to Remember
Useful Information

Mar 27

Submit your intent to participate and learn about the competition details.

Unfamiliar with the business model canvas?
Watch the short videos linked below.

Mar 25-Apr 13

Coaching and submission reviews are available to all teams. Email to learn how.

Preparing your submission (video)            
Slide deck template

Business Model Canvas writeable and exportable

Apr 13 by 8:00AM

Final video submissions are due.  

Apr 15


What is the Business Model Canvas (2:20)
Apr 16 Notification of results

Nine Components of the Business Model Canvas


How to conduct customer interviews

Qualification Criteria

  1. This competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students only.
  2. Each team must be made of at least half RPI students.
  3. The business idea must be a student-born idea.
  4. Students must be enrolled for the academic year in which the competition takes place.
  5. Students may not participate on more than 1 team each year of the competition.
  6. RPI students must play an integral role in each team.
  7. The presentation must be delivered by RPI student(s).
  8. If the competition is split into graduate and undergraduate tracks, teams must enter in the division dictated by the highest education level of all the team members. This decision will be made after all submissions are received.

Competition Process

  • Plans can be for a product, service, process or technique.
  • The submission must be unique to the market.
  • Your submission does not have to be technology-driven.
  1. Intent to Submit
    Each team must complete the Intent to Submit form by March 27 found here. Teams who complete this form will be sent an example pitch deck.
  2. Coaching 
    Coaching is available to all teams between March 25 and April 13. Email for virtual office hours and links.
  3. Video Submissions
    In place of a live pitch, teams will pre-record themselves pitching with their slidedeck visible. These videos will be viewed by judges to determine the top competitors.

In any competition submission, you should describe your business idea without revealing any proprietary information. We don't want to know what your secret sauce is. Part of this process is learning how to write and present your idea in an intriguing manner without revealing your intellectual property.


Judges will consist of community members and alumni with varying backgrounds in entrepreneurship and business. Judges will provide the teams with feedback for fine-tuning and clarifying their business model and presentation for future competitions. The judges' scores will determine the winners. Judging rubric 


Over $15,000 in cash and in-kind services plus the prize money from the Change the World Challange will be combined and distrbuted to top competitors. If awarded a monetary prize, the money will be distributed in increments based on achieved milestones. All prizes must be claimed within 12 months of the date of the competition or will be forfeited.


  • Bob Godgart ’82 (Founder, ChannelEyes, Autotask, PowerAdz, etc.)
    Bob Godgart has over 25 years of successful software and SaaS experience, building each company from startup to market leader. He served over 10 years as CEO of Autotask, creating the world's leading Services Automation tool for IT Solution providers.  His current (and 5th) startup ChannelEyes has helped re-imagine the way vendors communicate, educate and engage with their sales channel.
  • Heslin, Rothenberg, Farley & Mesiti, P.C.
    The law offices of Heslin, Rothenberg, Farley & Mesiti, P.C. have graciously donated in-kind services to the first place team(s). Heslin, Rothenberg, Farley & Mesiti, P.C. is the largest law firm in New York's Tech Valley, devoted exclusively to intellectual property law. The firm handles all aspects of acquiring and enforcing intellectual property rights, both domestic and foreign, including licensing and litigation.
  • Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship
    The Paul J. ’69 and Kathleen M. Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship (SCTE) helps foster new generations of budding and successful entrepreneurs through outreach programs, education and support systems.

Class of '51 Entrepreneurship Fund

An annual competition for Rensselaer undergraduate and graduate students to encourage early development of entrepreneurial ideas. $5,000 in prizes.

One of Rensselaer’s most active, generous and supportive alumni groups – the Class of ’51 sponsors an annual competition for undergraduate and graduate students to encourage early development of entrepreneurial ideas.

Early development grants are awarded to the first ($2,500), second ($1,500) and third ($1,000) place individual or team entries which are determined by the judges to best meet the competition criteria.

New York State Business Plan Competition

State-wide competition with multiple tracks covering several industries. Open to college students across NYS. Occurs each year in April.

2020 Rensselaer Team Finalists: Dolphin Data, Intelligent Medicine, Vewr

2019 Rensselaer Team Finalists: Iconoclasm, Intelligent Medicine, DeadEye Technologies, Mobius Packaging Co.

2018 Rensselaer Team Finalist: IPPSec

2017 Rensselaer Team Finalist: Sanguine Diagnostics

2016 Rensselaer Team Grand Prize Winner: Dual:Lock
2016 Rensselaer Team Finalists: Nova; Guide; Bloom

2015 Rensselaer Team Finalists: 

2014 Rensselaer Team Finalists: Resumazing, Adept Advancements
2013 Rensselaer Team Finalist: Vulcan Technologies
2012 Rensselaer Team Finalist: Adept Advancements

Learn more

High School Business Plan Competition

Formerly hosted by the Rensselaer Lally School of Management, the 2015 competition (and all subsequent competitions thereafter) will be transitioned to a new host, the Center for Economic Growth. The competition provides an opportunity for teams of high school students to win prizes and exchange ideas in an intellectually vibrant environment.

Learn more