Sponsored by Eric Aroesty, C’92

Enter your Startup


  • Applications Open: Monday, December 2, 2019 (12:00 am, Eastern)
  • Application Platform:
    • New users: Create an account on Fluid Review, complete the Eligibility form, select View Programs, choose Penn Wharton Startup Challenge, and complete the application.
    • Existing users: Log into Fluid Review, select View Programs, choose Penn Wharton Startup Challenge, and complete the application.


  • Deadline: Sunday, January 26, 2020 (11:59 pm Eastern)
  • Application screening: late January 2020
    • Faculty and staff of Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship will screen applications to determine which will be sent to the judges for review. Applications that are incomplete, do not adequately provide the required information, or are too early to answer The application questions outlined below will not be sent to the judges for review. The decision of Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship is final.
  • Judge review: early to mid-February 2020
  • Semifinalists (top 25) announced: late February 2020
  • Semifinals and Finals: Friday, May 1, 2020 at the Penn Wharton Startup Showcase.
    • The team leader must be physically present and able to pitch and participate in the full day of events.


  • Short Description (required): A 1-2 sentence description of your venture, for use on our website and in the Startup Showcase booklet, if applicable. Please note that this description will be made publicly available.
  • Answers to the following (required):
    • Describe the problem you are trying to solve. Why you (and your team) and why now?
    • How have you engaged with potential customers? Be specific.
    • Describe your 3-5 biggest accomplishments to date. Only include accomplishments that move the venture forward (not completing incorporation paperwork, splitting equity, etc.)
    • Provide details on any measurable traction.
    • Provide a timeline of each team member’s involvement with the venture, including specific roles and responsibilities related to the venture.
    • Who do you still need to add to the team?
  • Pitch Deck (required): Upload a pitch deck that describes your venture (pdf). Make sure you are addressing all of the criteria. This video is also a helpful resource: Professor Ethan Mollick’s YouTube video 10(ish) Slide Pitch. The first slide should be the cover slide. The order of the remaining slides and what is included on each is up to you.
    • Cover slide: Venture name, team lead, and team members (include Penn affiliations). Required first slide.
    • Opportunity: What problem are you solving? How are potential customers solving this problem now? Why you, why now?
    • Solution: Product/service description; value propisition; user experience
    • Market: Size of market; target market segment
    • Customers: target customers, influencers, decision makers; marketing plan; sales plan; customer acquisition
    • Competition: Competitive advantage; landscape; your differentiation
    • Revenue model: plan to make money; break-even point; costs; pricing model; assumptions
    • If venture is a nonprofit, how will you generate enough capital to be sustainable and grow?
    • Team: Specific description of roles and responsibilities; team background
    • Plan to scale
    • Funding plan
    • If venture is a nonprofit, what is the path to sustainability?
    • Risk assessment: Overview of risks/challenges and plan to address them
    • Product development timeline; progress and current status
    • Traction: Venture accomplishments
    • Milestones: Next 6-12 months
  • Elevator Pitch Video (required): The video can be an “elevator pitch” or simply a description in your own words of your venture concept. It should be no more than 2 minutes long.
    • Set the video to public, so it is viewable by our selection committee. Videos that are set to private or password protected cannot be seen and may result in your team’s disqualification for an incomplete application.
  • Supplemental Materials (optional): Feel free to upload any additional materials that you think will help the judges as they review your submissions. Examples include an executive summary, appendices, etc.
  • Personal Video (optional): In this video, you can share your founder’s story and why solving this problem is important to you. It should be no more than 2 minutes long.
    • Set the video to public, so it is viewable by our selection committee. Judges are unable to view videos that are set to private or password protected.


To be considered for the $10,000 Jacobson Social Impact Prize, you will provide the following on the Startup Challenge application:

  • Provide a description and assessment of the social challenge.
  • Provide a description of your solution to the social challenge.
  • How do you plan to structure your venture to provide social impact?
  • How will your business model be impacted by your social mission?
  • How do you plan to measure your venture’s social impact?

Questions? Email Cathy Ogur.