PastedGraphic 1 SEO411 HCC Business Plan Competition Eligibility Rules

Eligibility Rules

Who Should Apply?

Proposed, Startup and Existing Entrepreneurs Seeking Growth – The competition is open to entrepreneurs pursuing proposed and startup businesses. It is also open to existing business owners planning their next level of growth.

  • Proposed Business – A business that has not started yet, that is in the planning stages. Founder is planning to start the business within 12 months following the competition.
  • Startup Business – A startup is considered any business that has not yet achieved six continuous months of net profit. Businesses that have been launched/opened, but are still in the process of proving the business model and management.
  • Existing Business– An existing business can range from a small business to a large enterprise. In either case the initial business model has been proven and they are operating for the most part profitably with positive cash-flow. The primary focus of the company is growing the business profitably and adjusting the business model accordingly.
    • Entrants who own a business embarking upon a growth plan;
    • Entrants who own a business that needs a new course of action; or
    • Entrants whose employer needs a new business direction and/or new product line.


  • Team Leader must either be an HCC Student who has either taken one of the prerequisite classes, completed one of the listed partner programs; or graduated from the 10,000 Small Businesses program.
  • Team may include from one to five persons, all of whom should be affiliated with the operations of the proposed or existing business.
  • They may not include outside business consultants or other individuals who are not involved in the actual on-going business as an employee. Teams may, however, consult with outside parties in research for their plan.


  • Each contestant team must submit a fully completed application with their business idea within this time frame: January 1, 2020 through January 30, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Upon notification of acceptance, each team will be paired with their advisors and can begin working at once.
  • HCC students applying must be in good academic standing. Students on academic probation are not eligible.
  • All plan content must be the original work of the contestant team.
  • Owners, partners, etc. are considered employees if they perform a substantial role in the operation of the venture.
  • The business plan should be for a new business venture or for a startup or existing business that is embarking on a growth plan or a needed new course of action.
  • The business must be located in the Houston area.
  • If for a new business, the plan must address the entire business concept, including implementation.
  • If for a startup or an existing business the plan must fully justify the change in direction and/or the planned growth.
  • The venture may show intentions to license technology from or to another company for manufacturing and/or distribution purposes. Revenue streams from the venture should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
  • Proposals for the buy-out of an existing company, tax-shelter opportunities, franchise, real estate syndications, and other consulting projects and analyses are not eligible.

Applicant Requirements

2020 Application Process

2020 Application Process – Apply January 1 – January 30 til 5:00 pm – Prior to filling out the online application, proposed, startup and existing entrepreneurs should precede as follows:

  • Proposed & Startup* Entrepreneurs– 3 Steps1) Workshop, 2) Quick online class, 3) Apply
  • 1)  All Proposed and Startup Entrepreneurs must attend this one-day event:  Financial Workshop for Small Business Launch & Growth – scroll down to sign up.  Some proposed and startup entrepreneurs must also take the quick online class (Creating a Successful Business Plan-CASBP) described below. There are some exceptions to this rule.
    • EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE: Proposed & Startup Applicants who have previously completed one of the following, are NOT required to take the quick online class (CASBP) mentioned below: 1) BUSG 2309 Small Business Management; 2) BUSG 1373/1073/1307 Entrepreneurship & Economic Development; 3) Small Business Success Series by HCC; 4) University of Houston SURE program; 5) Houston Area Urban League Small Business University; or 6) Liftoff Houston Competition (completed all Liftoff training sessions and submitted a business plan).  
  • Existing Entrepreneurs– 2 Steps: 1) Workshop and 2) Apply
  • * Note, you are considered a startup entrepreneur if your existing business has not yet achieved 6 straight months of net profit.


Eligibility  |  Required Classes  | Application Overview