Can you create your own job? There’s no better way for UNM students to answer this question than to test their entrepreneurial mettle and build critical business skills by taking part in the UNM Business Plan Competition.

UNM students ponder the possibilities for app creation using open data.


S&H Hauling, LLC, was one of the recent competitors in the
Entrepreneurial Challenge, now known as the Entrepreneurial
Ventures track.

The competition, where entrepreneur-minded students can meet seasoned startup veterans, talk about the exciting journey of launching a business and learn about the competition opportunity, recently kicked off. The UNM Business Plan Competition will forever change a student’s view of business and, as successful teams report, it will literally change their life pathway.

Students from across all UNM schools and colleges can choose from two competitive tracks: the Technology Ventures or the Entrepreneurship Ventures. Founding Professor Dr. Sul Kassicieh, Distinguished Professor and Anderson’s Endowed Chair in Economic Development, launched the competition eight years ago and opened it to interdisciplinary student teams from all UNM schools. While the experience is student-focused, teams may also include UNM alumni (since 2007) and an experienced business partner from the community.

The Technology Ventures track began in 2005 as the UNM Technology Business Plan Competition and invites students to commercialize technological innovations from Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, from STC, UNM, or their own source. Teams will present their plans based on technological intellectual property (with the permission of the owner of said intellectual property) to a group of judges consisting of successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, technologists, and other business experts from accounting, law and management.

Students interested in starting non-IP ventures can enter the Entrepreneurial Ventures option, known previously as the Entrepreneurial Challenge, a generalist competition for which Kassicieh added in 2010. Teams present their business plans to a group of experienced business leaders who judge the viability of the concept, the validity of market analysis and financial predictions, and the management team’s ability to actually launch the business, among other criteria.

The competition, which will be held on April 11, 2014, is a full day of activity which runs from dawn until dark. Following a morning breakfast to welcome almost 100 judges and competitors, approximately 15 teams begin the semifinal rounds on the morning of the competition, scattered in a number of classrooms at Anderson. These presentations are open for faculty, students, and the public to attend. The judges convene, select finalists, and during lunch the advancing teams are announced at the Jackson Student Center. Finalist teams present during the afternoon, and the winners are announced at an awards banquet that evening to complete an exhausting but exciting day.

Another dimension of the competition, a seminar series, brings top-notch business leaders to campus to share their extensive experience on essential topics such as understanding markets, making financial projections, and presenting a viable business plan. The seminars, held on several Fridays during fall and spring semesters, allow students to spend invaluable face time and build new relationships with visiting entrepreneurs. The seminar series helps to strengthen the outcomes of student teams as they transition ideas from concept into real business ventures.

This year’s competition brings an infusion of new interest from across the UNM campus. Spreading an entrepreneurial ecosystem across the campus, the Department of Computer Science will bring new incentives designed to lure teams from Computer Science as competitors. The competition is also expanding with an Elevator Pitch Competition at the UNM School of Engineering, held in conjunction with senior design projects. Student engineers will “pitch” their design idea to judges and collect prize money if they win. Thanks to growing support in the business community, the UNM Business Plan Competition will award even greater cash prizes this year totaling $75,000 to winning teams, to be used for startup funding.

The UNM Business Plan Competition is an unparalleled learning experience – and can be the key to writing one’s own ticket, creating economic independence while building the economy of New Mexico. For any student who ever entertained the notion of starting a business, the Competition offers tools to turn an idea into reality. It’s a call to all game-changers and challengers: take a look into the future.

UNM Business Plan Competition Seminars banner

UNM Business Plan Competition Kickoff and Seminars Calendar

(all seminars held in ASM 1064 from 9:30 – 11 a.m., unless otherwise noted; RSVP to Anderson Events) 

  • Sept. 27: “Issues in Technology Commercialization,” Peter Atherton, Senior Manager of Industry Partnerships, Sandia National Laboratories
  • Oct. 18: “Lean Startups,” Scot Moye, CEO, Evolve AES
  • Nov. 15: “The Challenge of Entrepreneurship,” Jim McNally, COO, Applied Technology Associates and former CEO, TruTouch
  • Jan. 31, 2014: “Financial Information for Startups: Why are the Numbers Important?” John W. Brown, CEO Silent Falcon
  • Feb. 14, 2014 “Presenting Your Plan,” John Freisinger, CEO, Technology Ventures Corporation