About the competition

HCC’s annual 2020 Business Plan Competition (BPC) is an opportunity for proposed, startup and existing entrepreneurs to develop focused plans to start or grow their businesses.

Applications are accepted in January.  The BPC will begin in February and run through May, with five free, two-hour training sessions. Two advisors will be provided to each team.

Participants can look forward to the following:

  • Free training & one-on-one advising.
  • Seed money will be awarded to top five teams. 

Last year $26,000 was awarded in seed money to the top five teams, with $20,000 in-kind prizes and $51,000 of discounted support services!  All teams will receive in-kind prizes and support services.

Preparing to Apply -  HCC Business Plan Competition

  • Proposed & Startup* Entrepreneurs - 3 Steps: 
    • 1) Workshop, 2) Class/Program, 3) Apply
  • Existing Entrepreneurs - Just 2 Steps: 
    • 1) Workshop and 2) Apply

*Proposed - have not yet opened; Startup - have not yet achieved 6 continuous months of net profit; and Existing - have already achieved six continuous months of net profit.  

Proposed and Startup Entrepreneurs - You may have already taken the required workshop and class/program.  Details are below, but, if you have not, you can still sign up for the required workshop and class from now through midnight January 28, and you must submit your completed HCC Business Plan Competition Application by 5:00 pm CST on January 30. 

Existing Entrepreneurs - Take Just the Workshop - You can still sign up for the required Financial workshop (no class required) from now through the HCC Business Plan Competition Application Deadline by 5:00 pm CST on Thursday January 30.  (Workshops are on 1/25 and 2/1).  Details below.

For Proposed & Startup* Companies - Take Required Class/Program AND Financial Workshop

  • Class or Program:   Proposed and Startup Team Entry Requirements - At least one member of each proposed or startup business team should complete ONE of the following classes at HCC or ONE of the following HCC programs or partner programs:  
  • 1) Creating a Successful Business Plan  (CASBP) The January class is still available for enrollment until midnight January 28.  Finish it before or on February 21.  It is an abbreviated online HCC continuing education class-takes 3 minutes to sign up.  Includes 12 online lessons  Takes 15-24  24 hours of your time. For applicants who have not completed this class yet OR one of the below classes/programs; sign up for the December CASBP class until December 26 & finish it by January 30; OR sign up for the January CASBP class (starts January 15, accepts enrollment til January 28; and you must finish it on February 21. If you sign up for the Self-Paced CASBP class, you can finish it sooner!)
  • 2)  Small Business Management - BUSG 2309  (for college credit) 
  • 3)  Entrepreneurship & Economic Development - BUSG 1373  (for college credit); prior to the competition;
  • 4) Small Business Success Series by HCC 
  • 5) HCC Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
  • 6) Liftoff Houston Startup Competition
  • 7) Houston Area Urban League Small Business University (HAUL SBU)
  • 8) University of Houston SURE program

 For Proposed, Startup & Existing Companies - Take Workshop

  • Financial Workshop - Required for Proposed, Startup AND Existing Business Owners* - A one-day workshop. 
    • Previous Financial Workshop Dates at HCC that will satisfy this requirement: November 1, 2018, December 13, 2018, January 15, 2019, January 26, 2019, February 2, 2019 or October 5, 2019.
    • Upcoming Workshop Dates in 2020: January 14, January 25 & February 1

Competition Timeline

  • Apply - January 1- January 30, 2020   
  • Teams Announced - February 21, 2020
  • Training - 5, 2-hour sessions:
    • February 25, March 3, March 24, April 7 & April 21.  
    • Note one team member from each competing team must be present at all five training sessions!
  • Plan Submission Deadline - May 6, 2020
  • Finalists Present to Judges - May 21, 2020
  • Prize Money!-All Completer Teams Celebrated-Prize Money Awarded-May 28, 2020

Location: Competition Training, Finals and Awards Ceremony & Reception will be located at HCC Alief Hayes, 2811 Hayes Road, Houston, TX 77082. Training sessions will be in the Center for Entrepreneurship, Main Building 3rd Floor, Room A319. The Awards Ceremony & Reception will be in the West Houston Institute building, fronting Westheimer in the Grand Ballroom.

Eligibility Rules

Who Should Apply?

Proposed, Startup and Existing Entrepreneurs Seeking Growth - The competition is open to entrepreneurs pursuing proposed and startup businesses. It is also open to existing business owners planning their next level of growth.

  • Proposed Business – A business that has not started yet, that is in the planning stages. Founder is planning to start the business within 12 months following the competition.
  • Startup Business – A startup is considered any business that has not yet achieved six continuous months of net profit. Businesses that have been launched/opened, but are still in the process of proving the business model and management.
  • Existing Business– An existing business can range from a small business to a large enterprise. In either case the initial business model has been proven and they are operating for the most part profitably with positive cash-flow. The primary focus of the company is growing the business profitably and adjusting the business model accordingly. The HCC Business Plan Competition is for existing business entrants who: 
    • Own a business embarking upon a growth plan; or
    • Own a business that needs a new course of action; or
    • Own a business that needs a new business direction and/or new product line.


  • Team Leader must be an owner of the proposed, startup or existing business and have taken the prerequisite workshop.  If the team is applying to develop a proposed business or further develop a startup business, then the team leader should also complete one of the prerequisite classes or programs, in the past or prior to the start of this year's competition group training sessions, which begin in late February.  Team leaders for those teams applying to grow an established existing businesses need only take the required workshop. 
  • Team may include from one to five persons, all of whom should be affiliated with the operations of the proposed, startup or existing business. 
  • Teams may not include outside business consultants or other individuals who are not involved in the actual on-going business as an employee. Teams may, however, consult with outside parties in research for their plan.

More about Applying

  • Each contestant team must submit a fully completed application with their business idea within this time frame: January 1, 2020 through January 30, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Upon notification of acceptance, each team will be paired with their advisors and can begin working at once.
  • HCC students applying must be in good academic standing. Students on academic probation are not eligible.
  • All plan content must be the original work of the contestant team.
  • Owners, partners, etc. are considered employees if they perform a substantial role in the operation of the venture.
  • The business plan should be for a new business venture or for a startup or existing business that is embarking on a growth plan or a needed new course of action.  
  • The business must be located in the greater Houston Metropolitan area.
  • If for a new business, the plan must address the entire business concept, including implementation.
  • If for a startup or an existing business the plan must fully justify the change in direction and/or the planned growth.
  • The venture may show intentions to license technology from or to another company for manufacturing and/or distribution purposes. Revenue streams from the venture should not be based solely on deriving revenues from the licensing of its own technologies.
  • Proposals for the buy-out of an existing company, tax-shelter opportunities, franchise, real estate syndications, and other consulting projects and analyses are not eligible.

Proceeding to Apply

2020 Application Process – Apply January 1 – January 30 til 5:00 pm - If you have already completed the above mentioned workshop, and (if required) the class; fill out the application and submit it from January 1 - January 30.  If you still need to take the workshop and/or the CASBP class that is still available, register for it/them prior to filling out the application. 

Proposed & Startup* Entrepreneurs

  • 3 Steps: 1) Workshop, 2) Quick online class, 3) Apply
  • 1)  All Proposed and Startup Entrepreneurs must attend this one-day event:  Financial Workshop for Small Business Launch & Growth – scroll down to sign up.  Some proposed and startup entrepreneurs must also take the quick online class (Creating a Successful Business Plan-CASBP) described below. There are some exceptions to this rule.
    • EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE:  Proposed & Startup Applicants who have previously completed one of the following, are NOT required to take the quick online class (CASBP) mentioned below: 1) BUSG 2309 Small Business Management; 2) BUSG 1373/1073/1307 Entrepreneurship & Economic Development; 3) Small Business Success Series by HCC; 4) University of Houston SURE program; 5) Houston Area Urban League Small Business University; or 6) Liftoff Houston Competition (completed all Liftoff training sessions and submitted a business plan).  
  • Existing Entrepreneurs2 Steps: 1) Workshop and 2) Apply

    * Note, you are considered a startup entrepreneur if your existing business has not yet achieved 6 straight months of net profit.

    1) Financial Workshop For Small Business Launch and Growth –Previous Financial Workshop Dates at HCC that will satisfy this requirement:  November 1, 2018, December 13, 2018, January 15, 2019, January 26, 2019, February 2, 2019 or October 5, 2019.

  • For additional Dates, choose and sign up for the day that is best for you. Click on these links to choose and sign up for one financial workshop on either Tuesday 1/14- HCC EastsideSaturday 1/25-HCC West Loopor Saturday 2/1-HCC Alief Hayes.  Be sure to sign up for the financial workshop prior to submitting your BPC Application (January 1-30). Then attend the workshop on the date you registered for it.

  • 2) Class – Creating a Successful Business Plan (CASBP) Quick Online Continuing Education Class – Takes three minutes to sign up. Cost $119. No Textbook!  Applicant team lead must have taken the class in the past, or commit to passing and completing the class as required.  Choose December class or January class:  

    • CASBP Class Starting December 11, 2019 Accepting Enrollment til December 26 – Finish by January 30
    • CASBP Started January 15, 2020 and Accepts Enrollment 
      til Midnight January 28Applicant team leader MUST Finish this Class by February 21.  There are twelve online lessons to complete. Each lesson takes from 1-2 hours.  In the instructor-led class, two lessons are released weekly and the twelfth of twelve lessons is not available till February 21. Therefore, we recommend you sign up for the Self-Paced class because you can advance to each lesson after you finish it and could finish the class sooner, if it is more convenient.
    • DO NOT Enroll in the CASBP class that starts in February if you want to apply for the 2020 HCC Business Plan Competition. You could not finish this one prior to the start of competition training, so this class is too late to satisfy our requirements. 

Next Step:  APPLY – January 1- January 30, 2020 5:00 pm – Submitting Your Application: 

  • Resumes Have electronic resumes for EACH team member ready to attach.  Upload each resume in a pdf file or word.doc file when prompted in the online application.  You cannot advance in the application past a certain point, until you attach a resume, so we recommend you have them ready when you start.
  • Read the Contestant Requirements
  • Read the Competition Rules
  • Tips for a Strong BPC Application – We recommend you get started on your answers to the on-line application by first typing them into a word.doc and saving it, so you can better write and prepare your answers before cutting and pasting into the on-line submission form, and so you will have a copy of your answers.
  • Video - Totally Optional!  Not Required!  If you'd like to submit a brief video, please do, but it is okay not to do so.   
  • 2020 Application Deadline – January 30, 2020 5:00 pm CST.  We recommend you start your application early, to ensure you meet the deadline. We encourage you to submit it early.  We will be choosing 25 teams for the 2020 competition as we review completed applications up to and after the application deadline, until all teams have been notified by February 21, 2020.

  • Team Leaders can begin your application by clicking the green Register button at the TOP RIGHT OF THIS PAGE.  You can save the application in draft until you click Submit. Note, after you click submit, you will no longer be able to edit your application.  Deadline January 30, 5:00 pm CST

Click Here for Our January 2020 HCC Business Plan Competition News Updates - Including: 

Video Success Stories By HCC Business Plan Competition Alumni 

Video With Competition Leaders, Alumni and a Mini-Orientation for 2020 Applicants

Scroll down in the newsletter to access the videos! 


In-Kind Prizes Awarded to All Graduating teams!

The greatest prize is moving through the competition’s free advising & training, but you could win prize money too! Last year, $26,000 was awarded in seed money to the top five teams, with $20,000 in-kind prizes and $51,000 of discounted support services!  All teams will receive in-kind prizes and support services. 

For Questions email us at c4e@hccs.edu


Are you interested in serving as an advisor to a contestant team in our 2020 HCC Business Plan Competition?  HCC is proud to gather an amazing cohort of 50-60 experienced volunteer advisors every year to advise our contestant teams as they move through the competition.  

To find out more about the advisor commitment and to apply to join our 2020 Advisor Cohort, please click on this link: 



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