Graves Business Plan Competition 

The annual Graves Business Plan Competition offers University of Tennessee undergraduate students the opportunity to win startup capital for an original business idea. There are prizes for first, second and third place in two business categories: growth and lifestyle.

First place: $5,000
Second place: $3,000
Third place: $2,000

The three-round competition takes place each spring semester and is open to any full-time undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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Eligibility

In general, any undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is eligible to apply. Specifically: 

  • Students can apply individually or as a team.
  • Student teams can be composed of up to five students.
  • The team leader must be a full-time undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • Student teams who have placed previously in the Graves Business Plan Competition may not use the same plan to compete again.

Application

The Graves Business Plan Competition will accept applications beginning in February of each year. To apply, fill out and submit the application form. Final applications must be submitted via the online form in order to be considered for competition. After preliminary review by the judging panel, invitations to present in the first round will be issued.

Submission Guidelines

Student Financial Advisors

Students majoring in finance and accounting are eligible to apply for student financial advisor roles. These students will have the opportunity to consult and advise an early-stage student startup in the financial portions of their presentations. Student financial advisors will be matched with startup teams prior to the first presentation round of competition. Once paired with a team, the student financial advisor will be eligible for prizes based on their team’s advancement in the competition. Student financial advisors will meet with their paired startup prior to the first round, and, if their team advances, prior to the final round of competition. Advisors will attend their team’s pitch during competition and the judges’ final deliberation following competition. Student financial advisor prizes are awarded to advisors whose teams win first, second and third in both the growth and lifestyle categories. The student financial advisor program and schedule is subject to change based on availability of participants.

Student Financial Advisor Awards

  • First place: $300
  • Second place: $200
  • Third place: $100

Student Financial Advisor Applications

The Graves Business Plan Competition will accept student financial advisor applications for the 2019 competition beginning in February 2019. To apply for a student financial advisor role, fill out and submit the application form.

Student Financial Advisor Schedule

It is the responsibility of the student financial advisors to advise competitors on their financial information prior to competition rounds. The student financial advisor program and schedule is subject to change based on availability of participants.

  • Meet with paired student startup and create a simple income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet. Identify any holes in their financials and advise accordingly.
  • First Round of Competition - Attend your startup's pitch and the judges' deliberation.
  • Meet and debrief with student startup. Relay information from judges' deliberation and advise accordingly.
  • Second Round of Competition - If your startup advances to the second round, attend your startup's pitch and the judges' deliberation.
  • Awards Ceremony - If your startup advances to the second round, meet and debrief with student startup. Relay information from judges' deliberation and advise accordingly.

Student Financial Advisor Eligibility

Applicants must be a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, undergraduate student at majoring in finance or accounting. Must also be considered a senior or junior by academic standing. Please contact the Anderson Center at ACEI@utk.edu if you would like to discuss eligibility outside of these requirements.

Student Financial Advisor Time Commitment

Student financial advisors are responsible for completing, at most, four meetings with their paired startup. Advisors are required to attend the pitch and judges' deliberation for each round of competition in which their startup competes (up to two pitches and two deliberations). If the advisor's startup competes in the both rounds, this will require roughly 10 hours of work between during the competition.

Our Benefactors

In 2016, anonymous donors made a donation to endow the Undergraduate Business Plan Competition in honor of Tom Graves. The competition was renamed the Graves Business Plan Competition in 2017. Graves has managed the program since its inception in 2008. Read more about this generous dedication.