Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge & e-Fest Rules

Undergraduates from four-year colleges and universities in North America have the chance to compete for $215,000 in cash prizes at a three-day virtual celebration of undergraduate entrepreneurship in April 22-24, 2021.

What is e-Fest®?

e-Fest®, sponsored by the Richard M. Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and by, a non-profit online platform for entrepreneurship education, is a 3-day weekend celebrating 25 undergraduate student teams who submit the best new venture idea presentations in the preliminary online competition. Achieving “finalist” status as a student team is an elite recognition, accompanied by an expenses-paid* trip to the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship to network with fellow entrepreneurs and faculty while using the competition formats as opportunities to network and improve. During the e-Fest finals, there are three different competitions, pitch practice and development workshops, and appearances by Dick Schulze, founder and chairman emeritus of Best Buy, Inc. Note: Due to event restrictions and for the safety of all participants. e-Fest® 2021 will be held virtually over Zoom. 

*The college or university of each of the 25 finalist teams will receive a stipend check to cover airfare for the team (including advisor) as well as ground transportation, hotel and incidentals. Most meals/beverages will be provided during the event.

STUDENTS: Student team submissions opens February 12, 2021

FACULTY / DIRECTORS: School registration and development grants opens  October 15, 2020

To enter, undergraduate student teams will submit up to a seven-minute video and 15 slides detailing their business idea or venture. The submission can be a new idea that is being researched and developed or it can be an actual venture with the first few customers (see the rules below). From among all the qualifying submissions in the online round, the top scoring 25 finalist teams will be invited to participate in e-Fest.

As the preliminary competition gets underway, EIX and the Schulze Family Foundation will award up to $125,000 in development grants to institutions to support developing e-Fest teams.

Undergraduates: Get your team together!

This competition is for you! To compete for a piece of the $215,000 in cash prizes, start by forming a team and recruiting a team advisor. Then, start developing your video and slides promoting your business idea. Rules and information are below. Get in touch with your entrepreneurship faculty or center director for more information and to make sure your school is participating. Please let them know they can contact us at [email protected] with questions or to say Hello!

Rules for Student Teams

  • Must be all undergraduate students registered during 2021 spring semester, or have graduated no earlier than Fall 2020
  • Must attend a 4 year college or university in North America
  • Must have a team advisor who is on the faculty or center staff at the university
  • Teams must have at least 2 and no more than 5 members
  • Other people can be involved in the venture (non-students / past graduates), but e-Fest student team members must have a substantial leadership role in the venture
  • Team members can be from different schools, but will submit as one team from one school for administrative simplicity
  • Top 25 Finalist teams must be accompanied by a faculty/staff advisor
  • Winning teams agree to allow their video submission and slides to be published by EIX
    • e-Fest works with numerous media outlets to highlight the achievements and ventures submitted by students; finalists will be asked to prepare for media interviews during e-Fest.

This web page will contain all current rules and information about e-Fest and the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge. Details are subject to change, so please revisit often.

Professors / Advisors:  e-Fest® information

By registering for e-Fest (there are no fees of any kind for participation), your college or university is added to our informational directory of contact information for students who are interested in forming an e-Fest team. We hope that each registered college or university can field at least one (1)  undergraduate student team, that provides an e-Fest submission. Rules for the formation of student teams, submission of entries, prize distribution, and other disclosures are explained in the Rules (see below).

  • Higher education institutions in North America that offer undergraduate courses, degrees or concentrations in entrepreneurship are eligible.
  • Undergraduate student team members can come from different colleges or universities, as long as one advisor and one qualifying college/university serves as the “home base” for the team.

By registering your college or university, advisors or faculty will be the “academic contact” for their school and will receive occasional e-Fest email notifications.

Coming Soon: Click Here to Apply for Your College or University to participate in e-Fest®

Rules for Development Grants

  • One grant per school/college, $125K in total grants (first come, first served)
  • Open only to four-year degree-granting colleges/universities in North America
  • The college/university must have an active entrepreneurship program, concentration, center or curricula consisting of at least three relevant courses taught at the undergraduate level
  • Grant recipients agree to help at least 1 team submit for the competition
  • Grant recipients will review and provide feedback in the grant application about how EIX content could be shared with students, educators and relates to courses taught at the school.
  • Schools with faculty members on the EIX Editorial Board are not eligible for the grants.

e-Fest® Competition Rules


  1.  Submissions: Each team and its team members may submit only one venture concept to the competition. Initial submissions are due by March 7, 2021 11:59 pm Pacific Time. All submissions must be uploaded through the e-Fest submission portal using the links provided.
  2. Team: Teams should be at least two and no more than five students.
  3. Repeat Participation: Students may submit in multiple years. However, any venture invited as a Top 25 Finalist in e-Fest cannot be resubmitted. In other words, prior finalists must submit a new idea or venture. 2021 Exception: Due to the cancellation of last year’s e-Fest competition, all 2020 Finalist Teams are welcome to re-submit their 2020 venture so long as all other eligibility criteria is met.
  4. Student Enrollment: The competition is for current or recently graduated (no earlier than Fall 2020) undergraduate students. Appropriate adjustments will be made for any students from non-US universities that have a different academic calendar. However, only undergraduate students may compete (including submitting, presenting their plan, and answering questions from the competition judges).
  5. Student Involvement: The competition is for student-created and student-managed ventures, including new ventures launched by licensing university technology.
    Students are expected to:
    a. Be advised by a current undergraduate student faculty member or entrepreneurship center director from a 4 year college or university in North America.
    b. Play the primary role in developing and leading the business.
    c. Have key management roles in the venture.
    d. Have fundamental, equity-holding (or potential equity-holding) positions within the company and have a combined ownership/potential ownership of at least 25% of the founder’s equity in the company.
    e. Be part of only one e-Fest team.
    f. Be present during the entire competition and at the time of the prize presentations to be eligible for prizes.
  6. Forms of Business:
    a. Submissions are for new independent ventures in the seed, start-up, or early growth stages.
    b. Submissions should not include buyouts, entity expansions, not for profits, subsidiaries or recapitalizations.
    c. The e-Fest team has the final decision on which teams are invited to compete in the competition and reserves the right to include or exclude any teams for any reasons.
  7. Business Status: Since this competition is for new ventures and opportunities, established companies may not qualify. Importantly, student venture submissions do not have to be established companies in order to participate. Student ventures that are established companies must meet these criteria:
    a. Total funding from investments, grants, and awards — including contributions, cash investments, loans, and paid expenses by any team members, founders, or individuals — cannot exceed $100,000 (all time)
    b. Total sales at the time of the e-Fest submission cannot exceed $25,000 (all time)
  8. Point of Contact: Students must designate a single point-of-contact person responsible for communication with competition organizers and submitting the entry into the e-Fest student team application portal. The submission form will have a spot to designate this person. This is to streamline operations.
  9. Academic Advisor: Each student team must provide the name and email address of their team faculty advisor when submitting their team entry for consideration for e-Fest.
  10. Institutional Eligibility: Colleges and universities in North America that have an undergraduate entrepreneurship or new venture development offering of 3 or more courses, or which offer entrepreneurship major or minor concentrations, may participate.
  11. Email Correspondences: e-Fest news and updates will be emailed to the academic contact who first registered the college or university for e-Fest. Email us at [email protected] to have additional faculty or entrepreneurship center directors or staff added to our e-Fest email news list.
  12. e-Fest News & Updates: We will post all updates to rules or information on this web page, which is subject to change at any time.


  1. Format: A video and PowerPoint deck (or equivalent) are required for each submission. Both items must be submitted through the e-Fest portal ( to be eligible. Teams must adhere to the time limits on the video and convert their pitch deck to .pdf format for the written submission.
    a. Video Submission: The video submission should be up to a 7-minute pitch. This is the storied “rocket pitch” and should convey the key attributes of the opportunity, as depicted in the Pitch deck. Substance trumps style. The video file should be saved in one of these video file formats: .MOV, .WMV, .MP4  (email us with any technical questions: [email protected])
    b. PowerPoint Submission: The PowerPoint deck must be no longer than 15 slides and must be converted to .pdf format prior to submission.
  2. Original Work: The business submission must represent the original work of each entrant.
  3. Resources: has published some expert advice in two videos about persuasive pitch presentations:
  4. Integrity: The submission must contain only accurate information about team members’ backgrounds, experience and educational levels; stage of product development; product performance claims or market survey results.
  5. Data Retention: After e-Fest concludes, only contact and basic information about each team and entry will be retained. All provided files will be permanently purged from the e-Fest online system, with the exception of e-Fest winners and entries selected for mentioning by EIX editors on the EIX.ORG family of websites.
  6. Withdrawal. If a confirmed Finalist team team drops out after April 9th, 2021 for any reason, their university will be ineligible to compete in the competition the following year.


  1. First Round: The first round of the competition will judge the videos and slides submitted through the EIX e-Fest portal. Two judges will review each entry. Scoring will be against a pre-prescribed rubric, which is published. Every team will receive feedback. 25 semifinalists to be selected.
  2. Semifinalists: Teams will be notified of their invitation to participate by March 22, 2021. At e-Fest, groups of five teams will each be presided by at least four judges, for the final pitches. Judging panels will listen to each team’s pitch and score each team against a scoring rubric. Each judging panel will select one of the five teams as a finalist.
  3. Finalists: At e-Fest, the five finalists, the top scorer from each preliminary group, will pitch to a final judging panel, who will score the final pitches against a scoring rubric and deliberate to arrive at first place, second place and third place. Judges will also award a prize for best social impact and global impact submissions.
  4. Innovation Challenge: The innovation challenge will be held Friday evening. Judges will create new teams by mixing different team members together. The teams will be issued a challenge for which they must devise a business-based solution. A panel of judges will review the devised solutions and award monetary prizes to the teams who have developed the most compelling value propositions.
  5. Confidentiality: All sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these sessions may be shared with interested persons, through media that may include radio, television, printed materials and the Internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that could possibly enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged, or presented in these sessions. Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, sponsors, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant. By participating in the competition, entrants agree that no member of the e-Fest team — EIX, The Richard Schulze Family Foundation, The University of St. Thomas, members of the judging panel, sponsors and their designate organizations — will assume any liability whatsoever for any disclosures of business plan information that may be made (whether inadvertently or otherwise) by any judge, reviewer, staff member, audience member or other individual connected with, participating in, viewing, hearing, or receiving information from the competition.


  1. Notification: Teams will be notified of whether they are invited to compete in e-Fest on or before March 22, 2021.
  2. Attendance: To be considered for any award, all competing (presenting) team members must arrive at The University of St. Thomas by 5 p.m. on April 22, 2021 and be present on campus that evening for the opening of the competition and until the close of the event on Saturday evening. Teams must attend the activities on the agenda. Teams should plan their return travel NO EARLIER than 8 p.m. on Saturday evening. Hotel rooms will be made available for reservation by teams for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, if desired.
  3. Required Forms: Each team will be required to provide appropriate documentation to receive award payments, which include a personal W-9 and a creative release form. No prizes will be awarded without the required forms submitted. International teams and students will also be required to submit proper documentation to be awarded prize money, and will be instructed on an individual basis on the required forms.

Travel and Accommodations (Not Applicable to 2021)

  1. Travel: Each finalist team will be provided with a stipend check to cover airfare, shuttle to/from airports, hotel expenses for the entire team (including advisor), and incidental expenses. Teams from locations that do not require air travel may receive a pro-rated check in a lesser amount, to be determined.
  2. Lodging: A block of rooms will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel adjacent to University of St. Thomas’ Minneapolis Campus, where e-Fest will take place. Teams (advisors) are responsible for reserving the number of needed hotel rooms for their team (we plan for single occupancy for advisors and double occupancy for students, with no mixed gender room assignments). This is a change from past e-Fest events, where we managed hotel reservations. This year, we are providing more funds to each team to manage their travel and hotel directly, for convenience. Please plan your accommodation logistics accordingly.
  3. Ground Transport & Incidentals: The stipend check for each team will be be sent to the school, attention the e-Fest advisor for that school, to be used for shuttle, taxi, snacks, and expenses to facilitate making the flight and arriving in time at the hotel. We ask each team advisor to coordinate the use of these funds and to ensure that students travel and expenses are covered and managed in a timely manner.


  1. Equipment: Teams should plan to bring a laptop and a copy of their presentation on a flash drive. Each presentation room is equipped with a large-screen projector and equipment to run your presentation (each room type has a presentation guide that will be available to all competitors). IMPORTANT NOTE: If a team is using Mac laptop, you should bring your own video adapter to be able to connect into the A/V system in the room. Please note that if your presentation contains video, graphics and/or sound, there is every expectation that your presentation will work properly at the e-Fest competition.
  2. Materials: The e-Fest team reserves the right to use any material prepared for the competition to publicize and promote the event. The e-Fest team may video record any portion of the competition and utilize these videos in any way that its sees fit.
  3. Changes: While not anticipated, these rules and prizes are subject to change at the discretion of the e-Fest team at any time. e-Fest staff has the right to interpret these rules according to its own judgment.
  4. Awards: All decisions regarding the competition rules, procedures, and processes are at the sole discretion of the e-Fest team. Changes and/or interpretations of these rules may be made by the e-Fest team at any time, even though they may be (or may appear to be) in conflict some previously published information. Selecting the teams to compete and deciding on the winners are at the sole discretion of the judges and the e-Fest team. Best efforts will be made to make decisions in accordance with this Official Rules document.
  5. Copyrights & Permissions: If a team uses copyrighted materials and/or images from a third party in their submissions or presentations, they must obtain permission and authorization in advance from the owners to use this material.
  6. Brokerage: Information presented by the students at the competition is the sole responsibility of the students. The e-Fest team has not taken, and does not intend to take, any steps to verify the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, materials or statements presented by the students, aside from verifying the eligibility requirements of the team and venture. The students and advisor, and not the e-Fest organizers, are responsible for ensuring the students’ compliance with all applicable federal, state and other securities laws, and it is solely the students’ responsibility to comply with any of such laws that are applicable. The e-Fest organizers do not give investment advice, endorsement, analysis or recommendations with respect to any securities and is not a broker, venture fund or an investment advisor.