Is previous entrepreneurial experience required to enter?

  • No. However, if you do not have previous entrepreneurial experience (or have not yet taken any entrepreneurship classes, such as MGMT 231 or 806), to strengthen your knowledge of business fundamentals we recommend that you take all or part of Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Specialization on Coursera. Students who do not wish to receive a Course Certificate have the option to audit courses. Teams who have registered for Startup Challenge may also have access to select resources offered through Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship’s VIP-Community program. Depending on the date a team registers for the Startup Challenge, the team leader will receive an invitation to access resources and attend events, as applicable.

What types of business entities can enter?

  • The Startup Challenge accepts entries that are new ventures/new businesses. An existing business is only eligible if, before the first day of classes in the current academic year (typically the end of August), it has received less than $100,000 in institutional funding. Institutional funding includes any funding from angel investors, VCs and/or accelerator/incubator programs. Non-profit ventures are eligible.
  • A venture does not have to be incorporated to be eligible for entry. However, winners of the Startup Showcase will have the option to have the award paid to the company, and to do so, the company must be incorporated and have an EIN. It can take several weeks to several months to incorporate and receive an EIN, so it is recommended that you begin the process well in advance. Failure to do so may result in requiring the award to be paid to an individual, depending on the timing related to the end of the University’s fiscal year, which could have varying tax implications, depending on the team leader’s citizenship status.

Does the Startup Challenge or Startup Showcase require judges to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements?

  • No. As a matter of convention and practicality, confidentiality agreements/NDAs are not signed as part of the PWSC. Judges and mentors are investors, entrepreneurs, business professionals, service providers and other friends of the Wharton School & University of Pennsylvania. They are accustomed to handling confidential information and participate so as to support the education of the student participants. However, the final decision about participating in the PWSC and about what information will be shared is the responsibility of the team. Please note that the Startup Showcase is open to the public, including members of the media/press. It is the responsibility of the team members invited to participate in the Startup Showcase to keep confidential information confidential and to maintain the confidentiality of their own intellectual property.

Is there a minimum or maximum number of team members allowed on a venture’s team?

  • No. You can have as many, or as few, people as you want on your team. Teams of just 1 person are allowed, as long as that person is a currently enrolled, degree-seeking Penn student. Teams are permitted to have non-Penn team members, but all teams must be led by a currently enrolled, degree-seeking Penn student.

Can I participate on more than one team?

  • Yes. You can participate as a member on more than one team. As the Team Lead for a particular venture entering the Startup Challenge, you must also be the Team Lead for any other Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship program/award you choose to enter with that venture (ex. Innovation Fund, Summer Venture Award, Venture Initiation Program). If you would like to be a team leader for more than one venture, you will have to create a separate Fluid Review account for each venture.

I am an exchange student/post-doctoral student here for the year. Can I participate in the Startup Challenge?

  • Yes. You can participate on a team in the Startup Challenge, but not as a Team Lead. Your team must be led by a currently enrolled degree-candidate student of the University of Pennsylvania (graduate or undergraduate). See the Rules & Eligibility for full details about the requirements for participation.

What criteria will the judges use to evaluate my submission?

  • The judges will be asked to consider 6 category areas: Idea, Product/Service, Preparation for Launch, Execution Plan, Traction, and Team. You can see the full judging criteria here.