Pechter Business Plan Competition

The final part of the Pechter Business Plan Competition took place during the Student Showcase on April 27, 2018. Out of three teams, two were selected as first- and second-place winners. Nick  Swetkowski, Donovan O’Hearn, and Seth Mason took first place and a $5,000 prize with their  business concept, UConnect. Sam Evans and Hunter Lewis claimed second place and $2,500 with their networking platform, Prospect. The competition, established by Penn State Altoona benefactor Shirley Pechter, consists of a four-phase process for students to take ideas from concept through a feasibility study/market analysis to a full business plan. Local business leaders judged the competition, basing their evaluations on the feasibility of the proposed businesses, the business overviews, and presentations.


The Pechter Business Plan Competition provides a process for students to turn great ideas into great businesses. Competitions encourage students to form interdisciplinary teams, to take ideas from the concept phase, through a feasibility study/market analysis to a full business plan, and to build a new venture. These competitions are designed for students across all programs at Penn State Altoona, and welcome the participation of students not enrolled in the entrepreneurial or business curriculum. Student teams receive extensive feedback and receive written comments from judges.

Phase 1: Apply for It

  • Requirements: Registration form and Application
  • Registration Deadline: Thursday, November 15, 2018

Phase 1 encourages teams to develop and submit business concepts for evaluation. Business concepts are presented, reviewed, and critiqued by a judge with entrepreneurial experience but are not marked or scored against each other. The judges’ feedback allows teams to further develop their business concept.

Phase 2: Pitch It

  • Requirements: Business overview based on the Business Model Canvas and a 3-slide PowerPoint Presentation
  • Submission Deadline: Thursday, November 29, 2018
  • Presentation Date: Friday, December 7, 2018

As the first competitive phase, Phase 2 requires students to submit a more detailed description of the business concept, its potential market, and likely competitors. Venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and industry experts, who rank the feasibility of the proposed businesses, read these business overviews and judge the presentations. At the end of Phase 2, finalists are selected and awarded space in the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Business Incubator. The finalists will then move on to the next two phases of the Pechter Business Plan Competition.

Phase 3: Plan It

  • Requirements: Full Business Plan submitted for judges’ review
  • Submission Deadline: Monday, April 1, 2019

Phase 3 requires the finalists to describe their concepts in a full business plan. The process of putting together a full business plan encourages students to detail all aspects of launching, growing, and managing a new venture. The judges will review and offer feedback on each submission. The finalists then prepare for Phase 4, which is the presentation of their full business plan to judges and the business community.

Phase 4: Present It

  • Requirements: Presentation before judges and business community
  • Event Date: Friday, April 26, 2019
  • Finalists present at Student Showcase. Judges announce awards.

This premier event is a unique opportunity for the finalists to present their business plans to distinguished judges, who will select the winners. The Finals will attract an audience of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, industry specialists, attorneys, local business leaders, alumni, students, and media representatives. All finalist teams make a live interactive presentation to convince the panel of judges of their business’s viability. After these presentations, the judges adjourn and deliberate. The entire audience convenes for lunch followed by the awards ceremony of cash and in-kind awards!

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