MISSOULA – Students from across the state will showcase their entrepreneurial aspirations during the annual John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition. This event will highlight the 25th anniversary of Montana’s statewide competition on Thursday, May 15, at the University of Montana.
The shared business ideas and educational experience of the competition have helped Montana in many ways, including leading to the creation of more than 65 businesses since its inception in 1989.
This year’s event will begin at 4:15 p.m. on the first floor of the Gallagher Business Building with a reception for all participants. The final round will be an exciting showdown as the audience selects its favorite competitor 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.
Past participants in the competition have said their experience is one of the most rewarding they have ever had. Taking the challenge seriously, some work on their formal written plans five months in advance. Many students spend weeks polishing their oral presentations.
Faculty from higher education institutions across Montana nominate 30 teams to compete. Judges then evaluate the written plans to select 16 teams to compete in the semifinal round. The teams will compete for more than $30,000 in prize money this year. Last year’s event drew an audience of 250 business leaders to hear pitches and presentations.
The prestigious panel of judges includes venture capitalists, angel investors, bankers, successful entrepreneurs and corporate executives. They offer feedback and narrow the field to four finalists, who present their plans during the final round to a larger audience.
The John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition is one of the highlights of spring semester at UM. The competition creates an atmosphere charged with the energy of information exchange and enthusiastic discussion.