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Frequently Asked Questions

Who can enter?

The contest is open to any and all current students at The Citadel, including Citadel Cadets (undergraduate students), Citadel undergraduate evening students, and Citadel Graduate Students. Students enter as teams that may consist of one or more members. The “student” status for eligibility is necessary to be met at the time the brief summary is submitted for the first round, thus a student must be enrolled for the fall semester.

Businesses that have previously received external funding (family, friends, private investors, venture capitalists, bank loans, funding from affiliated companies, etc.) greater than $5,000 are not eligible to compete in the competition. In addition teams with business plans affiliated with an existing business are not eligible to compete, unless the scope of the entry covers expansion into a significantly different industry or customer base, or a major geographic expansion (e.g., franchising or expanding a local business on a national scale). A business franchise is eligible for the competition but given the judging criteria, this type of business generally would not score as highly as a new idea that had more potential for growth. The nature of any previous external funding or affiliation to an existing business must clearly be disclosed and described in the first-round summary.

What are the prizes and how are they distributed and divided?

The first place team will receive $10,000 to start their business. The second place prize is $5,000.

Further investment dollars and/or in-kind services may be awarded or made available to any of the teams. All prize money may not necessarily be awarded.

Is my competition entry confidential?

Every reasonable attempt will be made to maintain the confidentiality of the summaries and business plans, however the confidentiality of entries cannot be completely guaranteed. Judges, mentors, and coaches associated with the competition will be asked to sign confidentiality agreements. However, the final judging event will be open to the public. Prior to the final judging event, teams will be mentored regarding legal steps they may take to protect their intellectual property.

In most instances, it should not be necessary to disclose possible patent concepts or materials with significant details that would jeopardize intellectual property rights. However, due to the complexity of intellectual property laws, it is recommended that contestants seek competent legal counsel if they have specific issues or concerns related to intellectual property matters.

If I have further questions, whom can I contact?

Send an email to Professor Shawn Swartwood at

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