Gustie Entrepreneur Cup

Student Entrepreneurship Competition


2021 Gustie Entrepreneur Cup

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 1:00 PM
Held Virtually Via Zoom

The NEW 2021 $21,000 Gustie Entrepreneur Cup student entrepreneurship competition showcases the innovative ideas of Gustavus students. Engaging with faculty, coaches, and mentors, students develop their ideas into feasible, scalable business models. Students then present to a panel of judges for the opportunity to win a share of $21,000 in seed funding:

  • New! First Place $10,000
  • New! Second Place $5,000
  • New! Third Place $3,000
  • New! People's Choice Award $2,000
  • New! Sustainability Award $1,000
  • The winner could walk away with $13,000 in total seed funding!
  • The first-place winner will automatically advance to the semi-finals of the Minnesota Cup. 

The Gustie Entrepreneur Cup is based on the lean startup method, incorporating the Business Model Canvas and minimum viable products (MVPs) as development tools. This is a more agile, realistic, and fun way to develop a venture idea by seeking answers to important questions from real people. This approach is far more effective than writing traditional business plans, which are static, executable documents, filled with assumptions and projections based on existing business models and historical data. For the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup, students find real answers, use real data, and integrate important research to develop a business model, instead of locking themselves away and crafting an elaborate plan that will likely be obsolete before the first sale.

Important Changes for 2021

Considering the health concerns of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Gustie Entrepreneur Cup will be a virtual event via Zoom. Competition rules and expectations have been slightly modified to adapt to the additional challenges faced in developing and testing business models during these difficult times. The entire event, including the awards presentation, will be held virtually. Payment of prize money will take place in the days following the event.

The lean startup method promotes getting out and engaging with real people to test assumptions and ideas. This activity, however, is much more challenging given the current situation. While preparing for the 2021 Gustie Entrepreneur Cup, students are required to take necessary health precautions, including practicing social distancing, wearing approved masks, and utilizing virtual technology whenever possible.

Before You Apply

Students may enter the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup individually or as a team of 2-4 people. Students must complete the event application form and provide the following information by March 15, 2021:

  • Names and biographical information for each member of the team.
  • 150-word Executive Summary. The summary provides a description of the problem, the opportunity, the idea, and a one-sentence value proposition. Why is this idea important and market-changing? Teams should think of the executive summary as an elevator pitch for the venture idea.
  • Baseline Business Model Canvas (BMC). Based on what is known today, provide brief hypotheses (guesses) for each of the nine elements of the BMC. These initial guesses will drive the lean startup development process between the application date and the final presentation at the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup event. This is the work that teams will engage in to evolve their idea for final presentation and judging. This is also where teams determine the key hypotheses to test.
  • Gustavus Core Values. Provide a statement about how the venture idea promotes any or all of the Gustavus Core Values of excellence, community, justice, service, and faith.

Apply Now

Additional Resources for Applicants, Judges, and Mentors
Lean Startups/MVP Articles and Videos:

Steve Blank HBR Article: "Why the lean startup changes everything"

The Lean Approach: Minimum Viable Products

The Art of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Making Sense of MVPs

Eric Ries - Building the Minimum Viable Product

Steve Blank: Getting the MVP Right

Lean Startups and Customer Discovery in a Pandemic:

Steve Blank - Lean Start-Up Movement Founder on How to be an Entrepreneur During a Pandemic

Steve Blank on "Don't Waste A Good Crisis" (The NFX Podcast)

Customer Discovery in the Time of the Covid-19 Virus

Business Model Canvas Article and Videos:

Business Model Canvas Poster

Strategyzer Ep 1 - Getting From Business Idea to Business Model

Strategyzer Ep 2 - Visualizing Your Business Model

Strategyzer Ep 3 - Prototyping

Strategyzer Ep 4 - Navigating Your Environment

Strategyzer Ep 5 - Proving It

Strategyzer Ep 6 - Telling Your Story

Video: The Business Model Canvas - 9 Steps to Creating a Successful Business Model - Startup Tips

Video Credit: Will Clark '21  Video Updated by: Axel Hallin '21

Questions? Contact professor Tom Clement.