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!

Join us for the Eship.0 Roadtrip to Boston on December 4th. We will attend the Material Research Society Conference Tradeshow to uncover problems in the materials industries.

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 problem by Jan 31 to enter the Sp20 competition. Students will pitch their problems live on Feb 6 at 5PM.

Can't think of a problem? Attend the Find a Problem pop-up session at 5PM Jan 29 in the J-bldg

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.

  Let us know you are interested by signing up here.

Feb 19 5:00PM
J-Bldg 3rd fl

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

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

Feb 26 5:00PM
J-Bldg 3rd fl

Pop-Up: Talking to customers


Get out of the building and talk to customers; attend a Foundry-RPI mtg
Check in along the way if you need help finding customers to talk to or analyzing what you heard from them.

Mar 18 5:00PM
J-Bldg 3rd Fl

Pop-Up: Pitching to win

Mar 20 by 5:00PM

Let us know you are ready to pitch live by submitting your info here.

Mar 25 5:00PM
J-Bldg 3rd Fl

Live Pitch Night
Top winners get $1000 each and an entrepreneur t-shirt


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. 

Spring 2020 Competition Dates to Remember
Useful Information

Apr 3
by midnight

Deadline: Submit your application

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

By April 6

Notification of acceptance

Business Model Canvas writeable and exportable

Apr 6-8

Coaches review and provide feedback on applications


Apr 8&9

Practice runs with EIR and feedback coaches - sign up for a time slot (coming soon)

What is the Business Model Canvas (2:20)

Apr 15

Competition, Rensselaer Campus

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. Application
    Each team's application consists of a completed business model canvas. The canvas is a visual chart comprised of (9) essential components of a business, value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. Teams will list hypotheses in each of the (9) boxes on the canvas and then prioritize them. On an additional page, choose 3-5 hypotheses from the canvas and describe how you will test them. Learn more about what the canvas is and how to use it in your submission here.
  2. Review
    Each canvas will be reviewed by a minimum of one coach who will provide feedback prior to the competition date.
  3. Coaching
    Teams are required to attend a coaching session the week prior to the competiton. These will be used for presentation dry-runs and Q&A.

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.


If accepted and notified, teams will be asked to present their business model to an external panel of judges. Each presentation is limited to 10 minutes. This time frame will be strictly enforced by a time keeper. Teams are allowed to use visual aids as they see fit. At the end of the 10 minutes, the judging panel will have 5 minutes to ask questions and provide feedback and coaching. Any team member presenting must be college students enrolled for the academic year in which the competition takes place. Example presentation (video) Example slide deck (PPT) 


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 are available this year. 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.

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