Shining a spotlight on high school entrepreneurs across Big Sky Country
One Montana is a Bozeman-based nonprofit organization. Our mission is to create a vibrant, healthy and sustainable Montana by connecting rural and urban communities. We do this by serving as a trusted nonpartisan catalyst that brings together diverse stakeholders to address our state's common challenges.
Montana Teenpreneur Challenge is an investment in Montana's next generation of business innovators and community leaders.
One Montana's motivation to develop the Challenge emerged from a June 2016 recommendation by a focus group of Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers who participated in our community-based Rural-Urban Student and Entrepreneur Exchange program that began in 2012. Those Exchange teachers encouraged us to develop a second entrepreneurship program that would be available to all of Montana's 40,000+ high school students and that would celebrate the more entrepreneurially minded among them.
The Challenge fills a vital space in Montana's high school entrepreneurship ecosystem by providing an all-students-welcome competition during which Montana's most innovative youth, regardless of type of school, gender, race, socio-economic status, academic courses, or CTSO and community youth organization affiliation, can demonstrate their entrepreneurial savvy through a statewide, third-party judged competition.
The future of Montana and the vibrancy of our state's diverse rural and urban communities are linked to how successfully we empower our children to see themselves as having agency to create their and our communities’ futures.
The Challenge provides a means to find, reward and provide advanced business training to promising high school students who exhibit an entrepreneurial mindset. It is our hope that success in the Challenge will motivate them to continue along this path during their remaining time in high school and into their adult lives. Montana will be well served when they do!
Approximately 50% of Montana businesses employ fewer than 100 people and overall our state’s small businesses employ 67% of the private workforce. Having been recognized multiple years as first in the United States for business start-up activity, Montana’s economic future is linked to how well we create and sustain small businesses.
The Challenge provides an opportunity for students to fuel their self-image as creative problem-solvers and business innovators. How important is it for Montana’s future to motivate high school students to see themselves in this light? ...critically important!
The goal of Montana Teenpreneur Challenge is to shine a spotlight on all the good work being done in Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, by Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) in schools, by community youth organizations, and by independent teens across Montana. The Challenge searches for and rewards the most innovative, entrepreneurial high school students throughout Big Sky Country.
We seek to provide an opportunity for all of Montana's 40,000+ high school students, regardless of their affiliation, to participate in an all-comers-welcomed statewide competition. Who are the most promising business innovators among Montana’s next generation? Stay tuned!
Check back later to see the complete list of our corporate donors and the cash prizes they will be sponsoring. Our 2016-17 Challenge sponsors contributed over $2,500 that was awarded to winning students and their teachers.
Any of Montana's 40,000+ high school students are eligible to submit their existing businesses or new business ideas. Students can enter the Challenge as individuals or as teams.
The Challenge is open to all high school students, whether they are enrolled in public, independent, or religious schools, are homeschooled, or participate in CTSOs (BPA, DECA, FCCLA, FFA) or community youth organizations (i.e. 4-H, Boy or Girl Scouts).
Students can also enter the Challenge if they are unaffiliated with any of the above.
All students entering the Challenge must have an adult sponsor.
Yes. Students may work alone or in teams. If a team wins one of our cash prizes during the June 2018 entrepreneurs' bootcamp, team members and their teacher/adult sponsor will decide how to distribute the prize.
The Challenge provides two competition tracks to showcase students’ abilities as business innovators.
Category 1- Existing Business: Students who already demonstrate their entrepreneurial savvy by running a functioning business will compete in this category. The existing business can be for-profit, a revenue generating venture that has a social impact, or a nonprofit organization. Students who are operating businesses through their BPA, DECA, FCCLA and FFA clubs are encouraged to enter the Challenge.
Category 2- New Business Idea: Students who have ideas for new products or services that address a need will compete in this category. The business can be a for-profit, a revenue generating venture that has a social impact, or a nonprofit organization. Students who develop business ideas for their CTE courses are encouraged to enter the Challenge.
December 1, 2017: Open for submissions.
February 18, 2018: Contest closes. No additional submissions will be accepted.
February 19 - March 11, 2018: First, a panel of judges representing Montana's business community will evaluate submissions and select the top-scoring finalists. Second, the public is invited to cast votes for a rural and an urban People's Choice Finalist.
March 12, 2018: All top-scoring finalists in each catergory will be announced.
June 2018 (TBD): Top-scoring students will participate in an all-expenses-paid, 4-day accelerated entrepreneurs' bootcamp taught by Montana business leaders and business development specialists. Their teachers/adult sponsors will attend a no-cost, concurrent 2-day seminar.
Our goal is that Montana Teenpreneur Challenge will be Montana's premier entrepreneurial competition and advanced training experience for high school students and the educators who support them. Based on the positive feedback we received after our 2016-17 inaugural Challenge, we decided to enhance the competition's impact by incorporating advanced training programs for top-scoring students and their adult sponsors.
In March, a panel of judges and the public will select top-scoring finalists from the entries that were submitted by February 19.
In June, student finalists and their sponsoring teachers/adults will attend a 4-day, all-expenses-paid, accelerated entrepreneur bootcamp and concurrent 2-day seminar, respectively. The purpose of the bootcamp will be to provide finalists with advanced entrepreneurship training, which will culminate in a business pitch showdown. A second panel of judges will evaluate and rank the presentations. Cash prizes will then be awarded before students head for home.
Requirement #1: Up to a 2-minute video in which students make the case for their product or service. In business terms, this is known as making a pitch. Only the content and persuasiveness of the pitch will be judged. The quality of the video will not be judged, as there are too many technical variables that can impact video quality.
Requirement #2: A written Business Summary containing no more than 1,000 words. The document must follow this template:
- Introduction to the Business: Describe the purpose of your business and why it is successful (existing business) OR why it is likely to be successful (new business idea).
- Description of Product or Service: Describe how your product or service meets the needs of an existing or potential market. For an existing business: Who wants what your business offers, and why do they want it? For a new business idea: Who will want the product or service your business will offer, and why will they want it?
- Marketing Plan: Describe your marketing/advertising strategy. How do you (existing business) OR how will you (new business idea) let customers know about the availability of the your product or service? What specific single or multiple advertising strategies do OR will you use?
- Financial Plan: For an Existing Business: show our judges you understand basic business concepts of expense categories, pricing, and gross versus net profit as they apply to your existing business. For a New Business Idea: show our judges you have considered what expense categories you might need to start your business, a guesstimate of how much these categories might cost, and how you might price your product or service to ensure you make a profit at some point in time.
Requirement #3: A Release Waiver Form completed by parents/guardians and students is required. The completed form must be submitted as a PDF when uploading the video pitch and Business Summary.
All students participating in the Challenge will submit their entries electronically through our online portal. Beginning December 1st, go to our Challenge webpage and click on the "SUBMIT HERE" button.
In March, a panel of volunteer judges representing Montana's business community will evaluate and rank all submissions using our judging rubric. Top-scoring submissions will be based on the combined scores of the video pitch and written Business Summary, with each component given equal weight.
Additionally, the public will be invited to vote online for a rural and an urban People's Choice. These two top vote-getters will also be designated as top-scoring finalists.
Top-scoring students and their teachers/adults sponsors will attend concurrent, all-expenses-paid training programs in June. The student bootcamp will run for 4 days, while the concurrent teacher/adult sponsor seminar will run for 2 days.
In June, during the entrepreneurs' bootcamp for top-scoring students, a second panel of business professionals will watch the finalists give their business pitches orally and select the winning entries. Cash and in-kind prizes will then be awarded before students depart for home.
Check back later to learn the amount of money our corporate sponsors have donated and how the prize purse will be awarded. For the 2016-17 Challenge, cash prizes of $2,500 were distributed among multiple winners in the two contest categories, and teachers of the winners each received $100.