Startup Challenge Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Startup Challenge?

The UIC Startup Challenge is a business competition where anyone in the UIC community can learn how to take their idea and turn it into a business. The UIC Startup Challenge culminates in a competition where you present your plan to a panel of distinguished judges to win prizes.

Is the Startup Challenge only for the College of Business?

No! The UIC Startup Challenge is open to anyone within the UIC community – all students from any UIC college, all faculty, all staff, and all alumni are encouraged to participate. Anyone who has an idea for a business is welcome!

How does the Startup Challenge work/what do I need to do?

1. Have an idea for a business and work on getting a team (2 person minimum).

2. Submit a completed registration by MARCH 10, 2017 11:59 (CST) on the Blackboard site. A completed submission to compete includes an Executive Summary and Team Registration Form.

3. All registered submissions will be reviewed by internal and external judges. By March 14, all semifinalists will be announced. Semifinalist teams will present their business concepts during the UIC Startup Challenge on April 10, 2017.

4. Semifinalist teams present a 5 minute Pitch Presentation and 60 second Elevator Pitch during the UIC Startup Challenge. We will hold Pitch Practice workshops between March 27-April 8. Each team competing must attend 2 workshops scheduled at a convenient time for the team. These workshops are aimed to help you hone your presentation skills to have the best chance of winning!

5. Attend and compete in the UIC Startup Challenge Semifinals and Finals on April 10 on the UIC Campus and Pitch it to Win it!

What is the deadline for entry?

March 10, 2017.

Who are the judges?

The judges range from industry professionals to serial entrepreneurs, and investors. The judges volunteer their time to read your business concept and listen to your presentation. Personal feedback from the judges is provided after each round on your business concept and presentation delivery.

What are the prizes?

Multiple cash prizes are available as well as bragging rights.

Can I be on more than one team?

No, you may only participate on one team.

What if I am just one person? Can I still participate?

There is a minimum requirement of 2 people per team.  You may apply for the UIC Startup Challenge if you don’t have a teammate yet, but by April 10 at the live pitch competition, there must be at least two people on your team.

If I don’t like to speak in public, do I have to make a presentation at Startup Challenge?

All teams must present in order to compete in the Startup Challenge. The team determines who presents during the competition. The only people who are ineligible to present are non-UIC team members.

How is the competition judged?

You are primarily judged on the feasibility of your venture. This is done by the judges when they read your executive summary and listen to your presentation.

Do I have to compete in the Startup Challenge to participate?

No. There are many ways to be involved in Startup Challenge without having to compete. You can volunteer to help during the competition or during any of our events leading up to the competition or simply come to watch the event !

Do I have to attend your workshops to participate in Startup Challenge?

The workshops are available to you in order to help you succeed and navigate through the necessary requirements needed to compete. Attendance is not required, although it is strongly encouraged.

How can I protect the confidentiality of intellectual property?

Only share information you are comfortable sharing with judges and in a public presentation.

If I have entered Startup Challenge before, can I enter again with the same business?

Yes, you may enter again, but with a different business concept or if your original concept has significantly been altered.

How many teams will make it to the Semifinals/Finals?

It depends on the level of participation. Competition tracks are determined by the number of competitors. Traditionally, the top team per track competes in the Finals. All teams compete in the Elevator Pitch. So if your team does not win the semi-finals round of your track, you can still win Elevator Pitch or Fan Favorite.

Can I have people on my team who are not from UIC?

Yes. As long as at least one person on the team is part of the UIC community (student, faculty, staff or alum), you can compete.

What are the eligibility requirements for the UIC Startup Challenge?

There are 3 basic requirements for the UIC Startup Challenge.

  1. Be a part of the UIC community (student, faculty, staff or alum).
  2. Have an idea for a startup.
  3. Meet submission deadlines.

What if I have an idea but do not have a team? Will there be a chance to meet other people who want to enter the UIC Startup Competition looking for co-founders?

Yes. You can meet potential team members through our workshops or at our UIC Startup Challenge Info Sessions  and Mixers as well as by using the online teamfinder.

Can I use a class project for my business idea

Yes. Any class project that could potentially be a business would qualify.

If I’m a faculty member, how can I get involved?

Faculty can participate in multiple ways:

  1. Enter your own business idea to compete in the faculty track at the UIC Startup Challenge.
  2. Act as an advisor to student, alumni or staff teams that are competing in the UIC Startup Challenge.
  3. Promote the UIC Startup Challenge to your students in class by letting a UIC Startup Challenge representative conduct a 5 minute information session.