Please see below for brief descriptions of the program’s Semi-Finalist and Finalist rounds:



Round 1: Executive Summary and Pitch Deck

Entering teams or founders must attach both an Executive Summary* and Pitch Deck* of their business concept as well as verification of their eligibility as part of the Business Accelerator Program application.

Click here for Executive Summary Requirements

Click here for Pitch Deck requirements


Round 2: Accelerator Program Workshops

After being admitted into the Business Accelerator Program, Semi-Finalists will attend two mandatory workshops which are sequenced to help competitors prepare for the Elevator Pitch and SMU Startup Launch Competitions. These customized workshops will include a Lean Canvas session that will help competitors think holistically about their startup in a few different dimensions. This becomes the groundwork for the Pitch Deck in the next session, essentially presenting the Lean Canvas’s information. The Pitch Deck then becomes the outline for the 10-page Business Plan which is required to become a Finalist.


Round 3: Elevator Pitch Competition

Modified from previous years, the Elevator Pitch Competition will be open only to Semi-Finalists who are accepted into the Business Accelerator Program who complete the mandatory workshops. A short, 90-second pitches to judges will give the competitors an opportunity to compete for up to $10,000 in non-dilutive funding and in-kind donations. Competitors will also be able to use this as a chance to practice a pitch in front of a crowd with relatively low stakes! From there, competition winners will be placed in two different tiers: Tier 1 and Tier 2. Please see the “Prizes” tab for information on the two Tiers.


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Elevator Pitch Competition Rules
  • Pitches must be no longer than 90 seconds. Pitches will be hard stopped at the 90-second mark. Time begins when the presenter begins speaking
  • No visual aids, index cards, slides, or props of any kind, including wearables and logos, may be used during the pitch.
  • There will be a judge Q&A period following the pitches
  • The presenter (an SMU student) must be physically present and give the elevator pitch live. The winners must also be present to claim their prizes
  • Presenters will be scheduled to present in random order
  • It is encouraged for all contestants to present a compelling pitch that clearly presents their competitive advantage and the problem the business is solving



Round 4: Finalist Selection / Business Plan

Semi-Finalists (both Tier 1 and Tier 2) will then submit their full 10-page Business Plan* through The Business Plan will then be evaluated and Finalists will be selected by judges to compete in the SMU Startup Launch Competition.

Click here for Business Plan Format Requirement

Click Here for Business Plan Content Requirement

Click here for Additional Business Plan Requirement


Finalist Round: SMU Startup Launch Competition

The top-ten Finalists will be selected to present their new venture in a slideshow format in front of a live audience and a panel of expert judges in the Crum Auditorium.  Students will deliver a 10-minute pitch followed by judge Q&A and will compete for up to $50,000 in awards of   cash prizes and in-kind donations.  The winner will then be announced at the SMU Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club Investors Dinner/Awards Gala following the competition. Startup must attend the SMU Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club Investors Dinner/ Awards Gala  on Friday night to receive their award. 


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SMU Startup Launch Competition Rules

SMU Startup Launch Competition Rules

  • Each team must present a 10-minute presentation which will be followed by judge Q&A
  • Finalists must send FINAL Presentation decks by March 23, 2022, at 5:00 pm CST. Due to technology restraints, presentations cannot be changed after this deadline
  • Finalists will be provided with a study room as a “green room” on the day of the event to prepare
  • Finalists will not be allowed to see other presentations until AFTER they have presented
  • Finalist orders will be drawn at random, and concessions will not be made for schedule conflicts
  • To be considered for an award all competing startups must attend the SMU Startup Launch competition
  • Finalist may not add or substitute presenting members during the competition.


*Refer to the “Resources” page for the content and format requirement.