Please see below for more details about of the program’s Semi-Finalist and Finalist rounds:

NOTE: Active participation and engagement in the BAP program including attendance to BAP workshops, networking events and consistent engagement with mentors will contribute to the judges selection of companies advancing to the Finalist Round and the final score of the SMU Start-Up Launch Competition.



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, attendance to all scheduled workshops will be required to remain eligible in the program and to compete in the upcoming competitions . Each workshop is designed to help competitors prepare for the Elevator Pitch and SMU Startup Launch Competitions. For example, one of the 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 be submitted in order to be selected as a Finalist to compete in the SMU Start-up Launch Competition.


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 over $5,000 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
  • Presenter must be physically present and deliver the elevator pitch in-person
  • 1 Founder or 1  Team Lead of co-founders will pitch
  • 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 throughout the entire competition to be deemed as eligible in order to be awarded their prize winnings
  • 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. The overall pitch should embody content , delivery and impact.



Round 4: Finalist Selection: Business Plan and Seed Funding Pitch Deck

Semi-Finalists (both Tier 1 and Tier 2) will then submit their full 10-page Business Plan and Seed Funding Pitch Deck. Both the Business Plan and Seed Funding Pitch Deck 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 Tier 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 over $50,000 in awards of cash prizes and in-kind donations.  The winner will then be announced at the SMU Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club Black Tie Awards Gala following the competition. Startup founders and co-founders must attend the SMU Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club  Awards Gala to be eligible to receive their award.

NOTE: Active participation and engagement in the BAP program including attendance at BAP workshops,  continuous engagement with mentors, and networking events will contribute to the final score of the final competition.


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SMU Startup Launch Competition Rules

SMU Startup Launch Competition Rules: Please Read Carefully

  • Each team must present a 10-minute presentation which will be followed by 5 minute judge Q&A
  • Finalists must send FINAL Presentation decks by Tuesday March 28, 2023, 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 and Awards Gala
  • Finalist may not add or substitute presenting members during the competition.
  • Active participation and engagement in the BAP program including attendance at BAP workshops,  continuous engagement with mentors, and networking events will contribute to the final score of the final competition

Presentation Requirements: 

  • Presentation must be in 16:9 aspect ratio, pptx (2007-2016) (commonly known as widescreen)
  • Files should be no longer than 20 MB
  • Limit Animation
  • Font size no less than 18pt, must be readable on a large screen and consistent with 1/2″ margins
  • Presentation slide deck must be 10-15 maximum
  • Appendices, citation  and title slide do not count towards the maximum page requirement
  • Submit final presentation in power-point format not PDF via email to and 


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