2021 SIUE Metro East Startup Challenge
Submission Deadline10/10/2021

Welcome to the 2021 Metro East Start-Up Challenge Business Plan Competition (BPC) website.

The Challenge is a $25,000 cash prize business plan competition to identify, encourage, and reward excellence in entrepreneurship in the St. Louis Metro East region. From its inception, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, SIUE School of Business and University Park have been the competition's cornerstone sponsors. PNC and Growth Corp are this year's MESC Angel Investor Level Sponsors.  Scott Credit Union is recognized as the 2021's Networking Event Sponsor.  Other Award Sponsors include  Anders CPAs, Carrollton Bank, the City of Edwardsville, St. Clair County Economic Development, Madison County Economic Development, Town and Country Bank, City of Highland, Monroe County Economic Development Corporation, FCB Banks, The City of Alton, the Riverbend Growth Association. The SIUE School of Business and Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are facilitating the competition.

This year's $25,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to entrepreneurs and new business start-ups based -- or with plans to locate -- in Illinois portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area. The purpose of the Challenge is to:

Increase the region’s interest in and excitement for business start-ups through a competitive process;

Identify "growth oriented" start-ups for location in the nine-county St. Louis Metro East region;

Generate a greater awareness of network services/resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners;and

To advance the academic mission of the University by strengthening relationships with private enterprise and expanding opportunities for both students and facility.

The goal of the Challenge is to evaluate, select and award the first place winner a $10,000 cash prize accompanied by in-kind professional services. 2nd, 3rd and 4th place winners will receive a $6,000, $4,000 and $2,000 cash prize respectively. Top four will also receive an array of in-kind professional services.

To participate in the 2021 Metro East Startup Challenge, prospective applicants must meet the following criteria:

An entrepreneur and/or an existing small business enterprise established after April 30, 2018;

1. An entrepreneur starting a for-profit small business enterprise or an existing for-profit small business established after April 30, 2018, regardless of State of initial operation;

2. For existing for-profit businesses, operations headquartered in the nine-county plus Metro East region (Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe, Randolph and now open to Montgomery and Fayette Counties!).

3.For an entrepreneur purchasing an existing business, the entity will not be considered a startup.  Date will begin with previous ownership.

For pre-venture entrepreneurs, proposed new business operations will need to be located in these eleven counties;

4. No public governmental entities or public/private schools or universities may apply

Due to federal law, businesses concerning cannabis, gambling, or lobbying activities will not be considered for the competition.

Structure and Schedule:

The SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge includes three (3) rounds. The first round consists of a questionnaire and executive summary submittal for all applicants meeting the eligibility guidelines. The second round is the business plan submittal and open only to first round participants invited to submit. The third round is the final pitch and open only to second round participants invited to develop a pitch.

  • June 13: First Round Application Open
  • August 8: First Round Application/Executive Summary Deadline (11:59 pm)
  • August 20: Semi-Finalists Announced/ Second Round Opens
  • September 8: Mentor-Semifinalist Networking Event (5:30 pm-7:30 pm/Gateway Center, Collinsville)
  • September 10:  Business Plan Class 3-4 pm (Attendance is highly recommended)*

Tentatively via Virtual Zoom Meeting, Semifinalists will receive login invite closer to date.

  • September 15, 2021, 3-4 pm.:  Business Plan Financial Spreadsheets Class (Attendance is highly recommended) *

Tentatively via Virtual Zoom Meeting, Semifinalists will receive login invite closer to date.

  • September 22:  Pitch Prep Class 1 (All Semifinalists-3:30 pm-5:00 pm, SIUE Morris University Center, Willow Room) *
  • October 6: Pitch Prep Class 2 (All Semifinalists-3:30 pm-5:00 pm, SIUE Morris University Center, Willow Room) *
  • October 10: Second Round Condensed Business Plan Deadline (11:59 pm)
  • October 20: Mock Pitch (All Semifinalists-3:00 pm-5:30 pm, SIUE Morris University Center, Willow Room)
  • October 22: Announcement of Finalists
  • October 27: Final Pitch to Judging Panel (SIUE Morris University Center, Magnolia Room)
  • November 5:  Announcement of MESC Winners at Virtual Leadership Council Meeting (7:30-9 a.m.)

*An extra 3 points added to final score of Business Plan if you attend all 4 sessions (2 BP sessions and 2 pitch classes).


Use of Competition Materials: The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE reserves the right to use any material prepared for the MESC BPC for the purpose of publicizing and promoting the event. The SBDC may use these materials in any printed materials and any videotape or other medium that it may produce. The SBDC reserves the right to videotape any portion of the Competition and use for future publicity and promotion.

Changes to Competition Rules: While not anticipated, BPC rules and prizes are subject to change at any time. Interpretation of the rules will be at the sole discretion of the Ilinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE.

Decisions regarding the Competition and the Winners: All decisions regarding the competition rules, procedures, and processes are at the sole discretion of Ilinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE. Changes and/or interpretation of these rules may be made by at any time, even though they may be (or may appear to be) in conflict with some previously published information. The selection of teams and winners is at the sole discretion of the judges and the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE.

Confidentiality: The Metro East Startup Challenge Business Plan Competition considers all submitted business plans as confidential and treats all team matters accordingly. But, due to the nature of the event, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality for proprietary matters. SIUE, BPC sponsors and the organizers of the competition are not responsible for any proprietary information and/or intellectual property included in a submitted business plan.

Ultimately, protection of sensitive materials such as intellectual property, copyright, or patent confidentiality is the sole responsibility of the individual or team participating in the competition. Non-Disclosure Agreements will not be signed by judges, mentors, or any SIUE staff associated with the business plan competition.

Business Plan (Round II)


  • MESC Business Plan Guidelines:

  • The narrative of the plan should be no longer than 15 one-sided pages with no less than 1.5 line spacing. It should be uploaded to the Review Room Site.

  • The appendix containing your supporting documents should be uploaded with your business plan but does not count toward the 15 page limit.

  • Do not share highly confidential or proprietary information in the plan.

  • The financials -- Start Up Costs and Cash Flow Statements – are not included in the 15 page limit.

  • Font size between 10 and 12 point. You may use any font you like; however, for ease of readability recommended fonts include: Times New Roman, Arial, and Tahoma.

  • Some of the recommended sections may not be applicable to your business. Provide information specific requested in each section; try not to repeat information or data from one section to another.

  • Margins no less than .75 not including the header or footer

  • All pages must have either a header or footer stating the name of the business.

  • It is strongly recommended that you format the financials in Excel or Word.

  • Submit you plan in PDF format including appendix. Available sources: pdfonline.com, primeopdf.com, createpdf.adobe.com

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