... Shining a spotlight on high school entrepreneurs across Big Sky Country
What is One Montana?
One Montana is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to create a vibrant Montana by connecting rural and urban communities. We embrace collaboration as the most promising way, perhaps the only way, to address the difficult issues of our state. Our goal is to change the way we think and act about rural and urban communities from divide to connect.
What is the Montana Teenpreneur Challenge?
Montana Teenpreneur Challenge is an investment in Montana's next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders. Developed by One Montana as an offshoot of the organization's highly successful Rural-Urban Student and Entrepreneur Exchange program, Montana Teenpreneur Challenge is a statewide contest open to all high school students and designed to celebrate their skills as business developers, real-world problem solvers, and persuasive communicators.
The objective of this competition is to showcase new ideas and existing entrepreneurial initiatives of high school students across the Big Sky. Our educational contest is designed to enhance students' knowledge and skills in the areas of ...
- Design innovation
- Problem-solving in the real world
- Business development
- Persuasive public speaking and writing
Why is it important for high school students to think and act like entrepreneurs?
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 their communities’ futures. Montana Teenpreneur Challenge provides a means to find and reward adolescents for exhibiting an entrepreneurial mindset, a mindset that will hopefully motivate them to continue along this path through their collegiate years and into their adult lives.
Approximately 50% of Montana businesses employ fewer than 100 people and when combined, our state’s small businesses employ 67% of the private workforce. Having been recognized for the 4th straight year as first in the United States for business start-up activity, Montana’s economic future is linked to how well we continue these positive business trends. Montana Teenpreneur Challenge provides a public opportunity for students to fuel their self-image as creative problem-solvers with entrepreneurial savvy. How important is it for Montana’s future to motivate teens to see themselves in this light? ...critically important!
Aren't there existing entrepreneurship and business-related programs for high school students that sponsor their own contests?
The goal of Montana Teenpreneur Challenge is to shine a spotlight on all the good work being done in schools, by youth organizations and by independent teens across Montana. The Challenge is searching for and rewarding the most innovative, entrepreneurial high school problem-solvers throughout Big Sky Country. The Challenge is not duplicating what already exists. Rather, the Challenge seeks to leverage the many separate business-related educational initiatives by hosting a single, all-comers-welcomed statewide contest. Who are the most promising entrepreneurs among Montana’s next generation of business and community leaders? Stay tuned!
Prizes made possible thanks to our generous sponsors:
Blackstone LaunchPad, Foundant Technologies, Galt Ranch, Made in Montana, Nicholson, Inc., Tintina Montana, Montana Cookie Company, Yellowstone Bank, Aspinwall Mountain Wear, Elixiter, Inc..
Programming support from Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation and M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
Who is eligible to participate in Montana Teenpreneur Challenge?
Montana high school students enrolled in public, independent/private, religious schools and those who are homeschooled are invited to enter the Montana Teenpreneur Challenge. Participation in Montana Teenpreneur Challenge can be through academic courses, school clubs, and out-of-school civic, career and technical youth organizations. Students can also enter as individuals, not affiliated with any of the above-listed categories. All students entering the contest must have an adult sponsor.
Can individual students and teams of students enter Montana Teenpreneur Challenge?
Yes, students may work alone or in teams to submit their entries. If a team wins 1st Place, Honorable Mention or People's Choice Award, team members and their teacher/adult sponsor will decide how to distribute the prize.
What are the two contest categories?
The Challenge provides two competition tracks to showcase students’ skills as innovative, problem-solving entrepreneurs.
Category 1. Business Concept: Students who have ideas for new products and/or services that address an unmet need in the marketplace or community will compete in this category. The business can be strictly revenue generating for-profit ventures, revenue generating ventures that are designed to have a social impact, or a not-for-profit (nonprofit) designed to have a social impact.
Category 2. Existing Business: Students who are already demonstrating their entrepreneurial savvy by having created a functioning business will compete in this category. These existing businesses can be revenue generating for-profit ventures, revenue generating ventures that have a social impact, or not-for-profit (nonprofit) organizations.
What prizes will winning students and their teachers/adult sponsors receive?
High schoolers who propose the most plausible business ideas for products and services addressing a community need or market niche will be awarded cash and in-kind prizes and professional mentoring to advance their solutions.
- 1st Place in each business category = $500 each, 6 months of mentoring from MSU Blackstone LaunchPad or UofM Blackstone LaunchPad, and backstage pass for Made in Montana Wholesale Trade Show. Cash prizes thanks to Foundant Technologies, and Tintina Montana.
- Honorable Mention = $250 and backstage pass for Made in Montana Wholesale Trade Show. Cash donations thanks to Yellowstone Bank and Montana Cookie Company.
- People’s Choice Award = $100 and backstage pass for Made in Montana Wholesale Trade Show. Cash donations thanks to Nicolson, Inc.
- Teachers/adult sponsors of all winning entries = Multiple awards at $100 each of cash or in-kind value. Cash prizes thanks to Galt Ranch.
What are the critical dates for the 2016 Montana Teenpreneur Challenge?
October 1: Online contest platform opens for submissions.
November 1: Submit by November 1 and have an opportunity to receive feedback from a mentor. Mentors are Montana's entrepreneurs and business leaders. Students can then refine and resubmit a more nuanced entry by the December 1 deadline.
December 1: Contest closes. No additional submissions will be accepted.
December 2 through 14: A panel of judges comprised of Montana's professional entrepreneurs will evaluate entries. They will select 1st Place and Honorable Mention winners in each of the two submission categories.
December 2 through 14: The public is invited to view the videos and cast their vote for the People's Choice Award.
December 15: Winners announced.
How do students submit their entries to Montana Teenpreneur Challenge?
All students who participate in Montana Teenpreneur Challenge will submit their entries electronically through the contest’s online portal. Go to www.OneMontana.org and click the Montana Teenpreneur Challenge link on the right sidebar. This will direct you to Montana Teenpreneur Challenge homepage where you will find a link to submit your entry.
What materials are required when submitting an entry?
Our panel of volunteer judges will be drawn from Montana’s entrepreneurs and business leaders. Judges will assess each entry based on the following criteria.
Requirement #1: Up to a 2-minute video in which submitters 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 Plan Summary containing no more than 1,000 words. The document must follow this template:
- Executive Summary: Describe clearly, concisely and convincingly the purpose and potential for success of the business.
- Description of Product or Service: Describe clearly, concisely and convincingly how the product or service meets an existing or potential market.
- Marketing Plan: Describe clearly, concisely and convincingly the strategy to communicate with potential customers in the context of the marketplace.
- Financial Plan: Demonstrate consideration of the costs, budget, and profit-loss projections . We recognize it may be challenging to develop a detailed financial plan and financial projections that a bank or potential venture capital firm require. However, we would like to get a sense of the level of thought and research submitters have given to this critical component of developing a successful business.
Requirement #3: A Release Waiver Form completed by parents/guardians and students is required. The completed form must be submitted as a PDF.
Who will judge the entries and select the winners?
A team of volunteers comprised of Montana-based entrepreneurs and business leaders will judge submissions. Winning submissions will be based on the video pitch and written business plan summary. Equal weight will be given to both video and written components.
Additionally, the public will vote for a People’s Choice Award between December 2-14. Entrants should encourage voter participation.
Am I required to use the volunteer mentor assigned to me by Montana Teenpreneur Challenge?
There is no requirement that students must be assigned a mentor.
However, what do 100’s of entrepreneurs across Montana agree on? Having a mentor is a critical component of their success. A mentor is a trusted individual who guides a less experienced person by providing constructive insights. Before submitting their entries, students are encouraged to share their ideas with others in their networks of family, friends, teachers, and local entrepreneurs and business owners.
Students who submit their entries by November 1 can be assigned a mentor. This mentor will review the initial submission and provide written feedback. After receiving feedback from a mentor, the contestant will have the opportunity to modify and resubmit the entry by the December 1 deadline.
Entrants submitting by November 1 will be contacted by One Montana to determine if a mentor is desired.