MISSOULA – Students from across the state will showcase their entrepreneurial aspirations during the 24th annual John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition on Thursday, May 16, at the University of Montana.
The event begins at 4:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Gallagher Business Building, and the final round will be an exciting showdown as the audience selects its favorite competitors for the People’s Choice and Elevator Pitch Awards. The competition, sponsored by the UM School of Business Administration and the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs, is free and open to the public.
Faculty members from Montana’s higher education institutions nominate teams to compete. A panel of distinguished judges then reviews the written plans and identifies the top 16 teams, which are invited to participate in the John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition at UM. The teams will compete for more than $30,000 in prize money this year.
The prestigious panel of judges includes venture capitalists, angel investors, bankers, successful entrepreneurs and corporate executives. They offer feedback on the final business plans and narrow the field to four finalists. The four final teams then present their plans to the audience.
The John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition is the highlight of the spring semester at the UM School of Business Administration. Some competitors have spent much of their final year in college working on their business plan and students spend weeks polishing their oral presentations. Last year’s event drew an audience of 250.
The competition benefits Montana in many ways by advancing the state’s entrepreneurial culture. In addition, it has led to the founding of dozens of great Montana companies including Big Sky Brewing, Orbital Shift, American Expedition Vehicles and Five on Black. Many participants say the competition was the highlight of their educational experience at UM.