Darden's Entrepreneurial Concept Competition


What is the Entrepreneurial Concept Competition?

The Entrepreneurial Concept Competition is a preliminary event for the U.Va. Entrepreneurship Cup.  Its primary purpose is to encourage the development of new ventures, either for profit or social benefit, by members of the U.Va. community. 

"The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try.”
- Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies

Some  Guidelines


Concept competition entrants must submit a written proposal that incorporates the elements described under Requirements. Concepts are evaluated on their viability in the current marketplace and social environment. Darden and U.Va. students will be encouraged to structure their entries around a design-based innovation process. Hands-on workshops (register here) will cover the topics of ideation, team building, presenting your idea effectively, and intellectual property. These workshops will enable students to collaborate across a wide range of disciplines, providing multiple opportunities for students to cross-pollinate business ideas within a design-thinking framework.

In general, a winning idea does not have to be and often will not be "novel." For example, a previous finalist proposed creating a better format and targeting a new market for karaoke lounges. If your idea is not entirely new, plan to address this issue in your "Market Opportunity" section to discuss issues such as why there is still plenty of opportunity in the market, how your approach to the problem or the customer is unique or better than those currently in practice, why your management team is unique or better than your competition's, etc.



  • Any team with an undergraduate or graduate student currently enrolled in a degree program may enter the competition. Faculty, staff, and alumni are encouraged to participate by providing advice or mentoring and can be listed as team members.
  • Note that "new business ventures" excludes business ventures that have placed in this competition in a previous academic year (including placing in the preliminary events) or have participated in the Darden Business Incubator.
  • Teams may not compete if their concept has generated more than $75K in revenue, is/was part of another venture, or raised funding other than from the team members.
  • Concepts based entirely on externally funded research may not compete but new applications of UVA funded research may compete. In order to compete, participants must have legal access to, ownership of,  or written permission from the owners of the technology they are presenting.
  • Only current UVA students may participate in the team’s presentation including Q&A.


  • Submission Deadline: Thursday, 24 October, 2013
  • Finals: Friday, 8 November, 2013 (kick off event for Darden E-Conference)

 To submit your concept visit www.UVACup.org.


The Entrepreneurial Concept Competition requires a business or not-for-profit proposal in general terms and should outline the idea, the market, the competition, and competitive advantages. Specific market and financial forecasts are not required, although participants should have a basic idea of the level of financing they would need to start the business. Concepts are evaluated on their viability in the current marketplace.

The submission should be in the format of an Executive Summary. The Executive Summary should be two to three pages of text and two exhibits plus resumes, 10- or 12-point font and one-inch margins. Some additional thoughts on the Executive Summary are as follows:

Concept Summary:

  • Write a short paragraph describing your entrepreneurial concept.
  • Start with a one-sentence description of the underlying idea.
  • Determine the customer/market.
  • Decide how the business will generate revenue or become self-sustaining
  • State what makes the concept unique.

Value Proposition:

  • Determine the "Pain" or problem that the entrepreneurial concept addresses.
  • Explain the solution the concept provides.
  • Discuss why these product/service benefits are real and valuable to customers.

Market Opportunity:

  • If applicable, calculate the total revenues for the target market. (This can be expressed in terms of total revenues or total expenditures by customers, or can be expressed in terms of total customers multiplied by the average amount spent per customer annually.)
  • If revenue is not applicable, how would you measure success?
  • Discuss your current or anticipated competition. Describe what other solutions exist.
  • Describe the critical success factors and critical risks.
  • Articulate milestone and longer-term goals.

Product/Service Description:

  • Describe the attributes of any product or service.
  • Explain how the product will be produced or how the service will be performed.
  • Determine how much or what types of resources would be generally required.

Management Team:

  • Who are members of the team?
  • What are their backgrounds?
  • What are their intended roles within this proposal?

Contact Information:

  • Name of Team Captain
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • E-mail Address


The Entrepreneurial Concept Competition will be open-session. Information deemed highly proprietary or sensitive should not be included or disclosed in either submissions or presentations. Concept documents will not be published or distributed except as described above. Participation in, submissions, and information disclosures for the competition are wholly voluntary. Participants should note that they alone control the content of their disclosures. The Darden School, Batten Institute, and the University of Virginia assume no responsibility whatsoever for accidental or third-party breaches of confidentiality.

Judging Criteria

The same criteria is used at all levels of the UVA E-Cup competition: from concept submissions to each track, to presentations at each track semi-final, to presentations at the University-wide E-Cup final 22 November 2013.

Please visit the official U.Va. E-Cup site for judging criteria.


  • First Prize:                $3,000 and MUST COMPETE in the UVa E- Cup
  • Second Prize:          $1,500
  • Third Prize:               $  500

Payments:   Unless otherwise specified, the entire payment will be made directly to the team captain.  To split payments between team members or pay to a business entity, please contact the competition organizer for more information.

*Please be aware that if you are a Darden or UVA student who receives financial aid, any award you win could impact your loan package (unless you are incorporated and plan to receive the award through that entity). If you plan to compete in one or more of these competitions at Darden or at other schools, and you receive financial aid, please speak with Susan Loduha, Director of Financial Aid at Darden (LoduhaS@darden.virginia.edu or (434) 924-4784), or your school's financial aid advisor, prior to the competition. 

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