George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Deans' Business Competition

The annual Deans' Business Competition provides students and recent alumni the opportunity to gain first hand experience with entrepreneurial actions such as opportunity identification, team formation, idea validation, customer and product development, business model innovation, and communications and presentation skills.

For the first 8 years the event was hosted by the Dean of the School of Business. In 2017, the Deans of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science, College of Education and Human Development, and School of Engineering join the Dean of the School of Business as co-hosts of the competition. 

The Deans' Business Competition and Social Entrepreneurship track:

  • are open to students in all Mason schools and programs and recent alumni of all Mason schools and colleges
  • welcome ventures and organizations in all industries, sectors, including social ventures, B Corps, and non-profits
  • are open to early, idea stage ventures and organizations earning up to $250,000 in revenues annually

The Deans' Business Competition and Social Entrepreneurship track each consist of two rounds. The first round application is submitted online. The first round deadline is April 5th at 11:45 PM EST.

The deadline for the first round of the VSGI Mobile Game competition is April 1. Enter the VSGI Mobile Game Competition.

Enter the Deans Competition Now

The second, and final, round take place on April 28, 2017 in Arlington, VA. Finalists will present publicly.

Leading investors, entrepreneurs, and members of the DC innovation community and game industry will serve as judges during the competitions. The judges will ask questions and provide direct feedback to the finalists, providing participants direct experience with answer investor and stakeholder questions.

More than $30,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to finalists in the three competitions. Prizes for the Deans' Business Competition include First Prize, Second Prize and Audience Choice Prize. Development and support valued at $15,000 will be awarded to the winner of the Mobile Game Competition.

The entire afternoon of innovation is open to the public and will take place in Arlington, VA on April 28, 2017 at the Make Offices in Clarendon.

Eligibility and Requirements for the Deans' Business Plan Competition & Social Entrepreneurship track:

Mason Affiliation. Your "Venture" must be 50% or more controlled by a Mason "Participant." Your Venture may be organized as a small team with an idea, an organized project, or a larger organized company, partnership, corporation, etc. A Mason "Participant" is defined as:currently enrolled (full or part-time) student in any Mason degree program, or an alumni of any Mason degree program who graduated after December 1 2012 (within the past 4 years).

Any Business or Industry. Open to entries from the early idea phase to operating profitable businesses, from any industry, including for-profit, nonprofit and social ventures.Early Stage Venture. Open to Ventures that: Have raised funding (equity or debt or both) or received grants of less than $100,000, and Have less than $250,000 in annual revenue.

As part of the first round application, each submission will include an executive summary and the completion of an online application (the short executive summary can be attached to the online application). Executive Summary document should include the following. 

  • 150 word summary of your venture.
  • The executive summary should answer: How does your venture, project or organization create value? (What problem solved or benefit created?)
  • Who is value created for? (Who are the customers that want this problem solved or additional benefit? Please be specific with examples.)
  • What is your solution to the problem? What is the value proposition for your customer? (e.g., cheaper, more convenient, better quality, more dependable, better value, intellectual property, etc?)
  • How important is this problem? How do you know this? Can you validate that this is a real problem? (For example, do you already have customers or you created a prototype and shared it with potential customers? Surveys? Crowdfunding? Prototypes? Other?)
  • How big is your addressable market? How many people will pay for your solution? How many can you reach? (How much of the market can you capture in the first 2 years? in 5 years? Please explain any important milestones.)
  • Does your organization make a social impact? If social benefits are a core part of your model please describe. How do you measure social impact?Who are your competitors, and why is your solution better?
  • How will you make money (what is your business model)? What are your revenue stream(s)?
  • Explain your marketing and distribution strategy?What are your major startup costs? Recurring costs?
  • Who is your management team? What backgrounds and experiences do they bring?
  • What holes do you need to fill?
  • How does your Mason participant (student or alumni) play a lead role in the venture?Use of funds—How will you use the $5,000 in first place prize money should you win the competition? How much additional funding do you need over the next 2 years?

The executive summary (up to 4 pages) should be attached to your online application. 

Congratulations to the 2016 Deans' Business Competition Award Winners!

First Prize ($10,000): EasyFBO - John Hill

Second Prize ($3000): Ground Control Coffee - Niels Bulskov

Social Impact Award ($3000): Selva Farms - Nico Vivero & Madeen Haidari

Audience Choice Award ($1000): EasyFBO - John Hill


Read about the 8th Dean's Business Plan Competition and its participants and winners.

Read about the winner of the 7th Dean's Business Plan Competition.

Read about the winner of the 6th Dean's Business Plan Competition.

Questions? Please contact the Mason Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at 703-993-6015.