2022 Prize Descriptions
In total, more than $2 Million in investment and cash prizes was awarded to the teams at the 2022 Rice Business Plan Competition. Please read the prize descriptions throughout the document on the types of prizes, eligibility, and guidelines for claiming them.
Prizes for Placement in Competition
GOOSE Capital is proud to sponsor the Grand Prize Investment Award (“Grand Prize”) for the Rice Business Plan Competition this year, as it has since 2005. GOOSE Capital is an early stage investment firm comprised of successful serial entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives. GOOSE Capital invests ~$10 M annually in early-stage breakthrough technology ventures typically raising Seed and Series A rounds. GOOSE prides itself on helping startups navigate the complexities of business with the deep industry experience and business expertise within the GOOSE ranks.
Through the Grand Prize, GOOSE aims to develop a close relationship the winner, and help the entrepreneurs launch and build a successful business. GOOSE is committed to the mission of the RBPC and the success of its Grand Prize winners.
The investment structure for the Grand Prize is a convertible note, the key terms of which are summarized in a separate document. This structure is intended to be concise, simple, and founder-friendly, and are "better than market” terms for a Company of this stage (no valuation cap, interest rate of 5%, discount rate of 20%). Thus, GOOSE expects that the Company will sign the term sheet within two weeks of winning and close the investment within one month of the RBPC.
As it has done in the past, GOOSE is interested in opportunities to invest capital beyond the Grand Prize amount. For example, the largest initial investment in a Grand Prize winner to date has been as high as $2,500,000. The largest total investment in an RBPC winner (over several rounds) has been over $6 million. In total, GOOSE Capital has invested more than $20 million in past RBPC winners. To expedite funding of the Grand Prize, however, GOOSE prefers to explore and negotiate these additional investment opportunities after the initial $350,000 Grand Prize investment is closed.
The second place finisher at the Rice Business Plan Competition will receive a $100,000 investment. The investment prize will be provided by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, and is sponsored by Finger Interests, the Anderson Family Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, Greg Novak, and Tracy Druce. The investment structure for the 2 nd place overall prize will most likely be a convertible note, intended to be concise, simple, and founder-friendly, with “better than market” terms for a Company of this stage (no valuation cap, interest rate of 5%, discount rate of 20%, no board seat).
The third place finisher at the Rice Business Plan Competition will receive a $50,000 investment. The investment prize will be provided by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, and is sponsored by Finger Interests, the Anderson Family Fund at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, Greg Novak, and Tracy Druce. The investment structure for the 3 nd place overall prize will most likely be a convertible note, intended to be concise, simple, and founder-friendly, with “better than market” terms for a Company of this stage (no valuation cap, interest rate of 5%, discount rate of 20%, no board seat).
All finalists will be awarded a prize with 4th-7th place receiving $5,000 cash each sponsored by Norton Rose Fulbright, EY, Chevron Technology Ventures and Shell Ventures
All teams that do not advance to the Semi-Final Round will advance to the Wildcard Round on Saturday morning. The top scoring team from the Wildcard Round will advance to the Final Round. Teams must compete in the Wildcard Round and be present at the Awards Banquet to receive their cash prizes.
All teams will win cash prizes in the Wildcard Round. There will be six Wildcard Flights, and every team will win one of the following prizes, depend in on where they finish in their flight:
- 1st Place: $1,000
- 2nd Place: $900
- 3rd Place: $900
- 4th Place: $800
- 5th Place: $800
The top 3 overall teams in the Wildcard Round will receive the special Ed Molter Memorial Prizes sponsored by Egan Nelson, in lieu of the lesser prizes mentioned above. These 3 teams will win the following:
- Wildcard Round Winner: $2,000 prize and advance to the Finals
- Wildcard Round Runner-up (2nd place): $1,750 cash prize
- Wildcard Round Third Place (3rd place): $1,500 cash prize
All 42 teams are eligible for, and compete for, all of the Mercury Elevator Pitch cash prizes. Teams will present their elevator pitch on Thursday afternoon, April 7, 2022. Judges will score the elevator pitches based on their effectiveness and persuasiveness of their pitch!
Five top teams with the best elevator pitches will win cash prizes:
- First place overall: $1,000
- Runner Up in Each Sector: $500 each
You can re-watch the pitches on YouTube after the Elevator Pitch Competition by Friday, April 9 at YouTube.com/RiceAlliance.
Teams that finish first or second in the First Round flights on Friday will advance to the Semi-final Round. In addition, Friday’s highest-scoring third place team overall will also advance to the Semi-Final Round.
These fifteen teams will compete in the Semi-Final Round, split into three flights. The top 2 teams in each of the 3 Semi-Final flights will advance to the Final Round.
Teams that compete in the Semi-final round that do not advance to the finals will receive the following cash prizes:
- Semi-Final Round – Flight 1: 3rd Place: $2,000; 4th Place: $1,500; 5th Place: $1,250
- Semi-Final Round – Flight 2: 3rd Place: $2,000; 4th Place: $1,500; 5th Place: $1,250
- Semi-Final Round – Flight 3: 3rd Place: $2,000; 4th Place: $1,500; 5th Place: $1,250
Individual Prizes (investment)
The OWL Investment Prize $100,000+ Investment
The OWL Investment Group will invest $100,000 and tends to do more. Previously, the OWLs have been known to invest close to $1 million in a single startup. The ultimate size of the investment will depend upon a straightforward due diligence process.
The OWL Investment was created to increase the total prize/investment monies of the RBPC, create a new community of involved judges, and continue to encourage and support the most promising teams to build successful companies. The OWL investment Group has invested close to $5M in a dozen RBPC companies over the past years, resulting so far in an acquired company and another having an initial public offering (IPO), providing substantial returns. In 2022, we are committed to participating – looking for a strong team with leadership who have identified a significant problem and are bringing a compelling, if not disruptive, solution/product to the market.
In some instances, the OWL Investment Group may tranche their initial investment based on milestones. Participation may be as a convertible note or preferred series financing in a C-corp. The OWLs can lead or participate and have significant venture capital experience and relationships; The OWLs seek syndicates of like-minded investors in participation. It is important that The OWLs see that the startup is properly funded to reach its milestones and a successful exit.
The Houston Angel Network (HAN) is the oldest angel network in Texas and has been ranked as the #1 most active investment network in the United States. Its members have invested more than $100M in more than 400 deals since its inception in 2001. HAN Most likely the HAN prize will be in the form of a Convertible Debt Note.
Eligibility: All 54 teams at the RBPC are eligible to receive this prize, but it is anticipated that the Houston Angel Network Investment Prize will be awarded to a semi-finalist or finalist, as selected by the Houston Angel Network.
The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and senior professionals with roots in the Indus region, has grown to become one of the largest entrepreneurship groups in the world. TiE currently has 15,000 members in 61 chapters across 14 countries, including a vibrant chapter in Houston. TiE’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship by generating and nurturing our next generation of entrepreneurs. We do this through mentoring, networking, education, incubating, and investing. The TiE Houston Angel Investment Prize has been formed by TiE angel investors from Houston and globally.
Eligibility: All 44 teams at the RBPC are eligible to receive this prize, regardless of where a team finishes at the competition, but it is anticipated that the TiE Angel Investment Prize will be awarded to a Finalist at the RBPC, as selected by the TiE Angels, most likely in the form of a Convertible Debt Note.
$250,000 investment prize + Health-tech accelerator program invite
TMC Innovation partners with founders to connect them with world-class researchers, scientists, engineers and investors in the Texas Medical Center community. Only at TMC Innovation can pioneering health and life science startups be embedded into a community that fosters growth by giving them access to substantial clinical validation while building demand for their product in the world’s largest medical marketplace - the Texas Medical Center.
TMC Innovation will select a promising life science startup at the RBPC to participate in our Accelerator Bootcamp - a 2 week immersion with customer and stakeholder engagement. Following Bootcamp, a subset of companies are invited into the Accelerator, a six month program focused on maturing these strategic relationships. Upon successful completion of the Accelerator and due diligence, the TMC Venture Fund will seek to invest $250,000.
The Softeq Venture Fund will provide 2 (two) investment prizes worth $125,000 each at the 2022 Rice Business Plan Competition. The investment structure for each prize will be a convertible note, and Softeq's standard terms (which may negotiate around) are 5% interest, 20% discount, $3-5mm valuation cap. The investment prize includes $50,000 cash and $75,000 of in-kind services including but not limited to development services, marketing support, legal, etc. Additionally, Softeq requires any investment prize winner to participate in our SofteqVenture Studio which is a 3-month YC/Techstars-like program in exchange for 6% in common stock. Softeq is a dedicated, hands-on team of entrepreneurs and investors ourselves who will work closely with the founders to grow their business leveraging our engineering expertise, network, and know-how.
Thomas Healy, founder of Hyliion, 2015 3rd Place Winner from Carnegie Mellon and RBPC’s first IPO, will be awarding a $50,000 investment prize to a startup at the 2022 competition. Thomas, dubbed by Forbes magazine as America’s youngest self-made billionaire, recognizes the impact of the competition on his startup and is eager to pay-it-forward to another deserving RBPC startup. This prize is a continuation of the growing and supportive RBPC alumni network.
Hyliion is the market-ready electrified powertrain solutions provider for the commercial transportation industry. Through its best-in-class electrified powertrain technology, advanced software capabilities, and ability to leverage existing infrastructure, Hyliion delivers immediate value and the fastest path to market without sacrificing performance and reliability. Hyliion products are purposefully built and practically designed to enable the commercial transportation industry to achieve net-carbon-negative emissions in the global effort to fight climate change.
Eligibility: The prize is open to all competing startups. The investment structure is a convertible note with founder-friendly terms. Prize is dependent on due diligence and the ability to reach an agreement on the terms of the convertible debt note.
The nCourage Entrepreneurs Investment Group members are successful women entrepreneurs and investors from across the US who believe in supporting passionate entrepreneurs who are making a difference. nCourage is celebrating its 11th year in supporting the RBPC this year with this award. The group will select a team to award a $50,000 investment prize to a team that includes:
- A woman as CEO or as a member of founding leadership team, and
- At least one woman on the RBPC presenting team in Houston
The nCourage Entrepreneurs Investment Group will consider all 54 teams at the RBPC that meet the above criteria, regardless where the team places at the competition. The investment prize will be in the form of a Convertible Note.
Urban Capital Network (UCN) was established to make investing in venture capital opportunities affordable, diversified, and de-risked for a broader and more diverse pool of investors. UCN partners with established venture capital firms who believe more people should have access to premium investment opportunities. Driven by a shared interest and aligned values, UCN and its partners have helped more than 200 investors grow their wealth beyond traditional investments like 401K, IRAs, stocks and bonds.
UCN’s investors get access to VC-backed funds and portfolio companies for under $12K. Additionally, UCN invests a portion of their revenue exclusively in founders of color and women who may not be VC-backed, but who have a sound and viable business, strong management team, and demonstrate a company with high-growth potential. UCN also encourages and offers opportunities to their investors to invest alongside of UCN’s in those same companies. UCN’s goal is to help underrepresented investors generate VC-like returns, and provide education and support to help them identify opportunities to re-invest in their own communities and interests. We leverage capitalism to generate capital for social impact.
Eligibility: UCN will invest $25,000 in the most investable company, as determined by the UCN Management Team, with at least 50% founders of color and or women. The investment will be in the form of a convertible note. UCN is also interested in investment participation in future rounds as a lead or co-investor, and we will present the winning company to our VC partners for additional investment consideration.
New Climate Ventures invests in carbon reduction and avoidance technology companies and believes in supporting passionate entrepreneurs who are making a difference by speeding the transition to a low emissions economy. The group awards a $25,000 investment prize to a startup in the energy, cleantech and sustainability sector.
Eligibility: all startups that have a technology or application in the energy, cleantech, sustainability space and reduces or avoids carbon will be considered for this prize. The investment prize will be in the form of a Convertible Note.
Individual Prizes (cash)
In partnership with the Southwest National Pediatric Device Innovation Consortium (SWPDC.org) at Texas Children’s Hospital / Baylor College of Medicine, these annual pediatric medical device awards have been added to the Rice Business Plan Competition. Up to $50,000 in awards (cash) are available to support the advancement and commercialization of novel pediatric medical devices.
Eligibility: Eligible devices must be FDA-regulated medical devices with a pediatric indication (0 - 21 years of age). If no teams meet the criteria or requirements, the prize will not be awarded. The prize will be decided by the SWNPDC judging team.
As the fastest growing city in the Houston region, Pearland offers affordable housing, outstanding schools, safe neighborhoods and superb quality of life - everything a growing company needs to be successful. As the lead economic development agency for this thriving, business-friendly community, the Pearland Economic Development Corporation (PEDC), offers assistance with state and local incentives, relocation services, and workforce training and development.
Whether you need assistance with your business relocation, expansion, or start-up, the PEDC is perfectly positioned to help you discover all that Pearlandhas to offer. For more information, visit www.pearlandedc.com.
Eligibility: The $25,000 Pearland EDC Spirit of Entrepreneurship cash prize (non-dilutive) will be given to a team that exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship as determined by the Pearland EDC judge group at the Rice Business Plan Competition. All 54 teams at the competition are eligible for this cash award, regardless of where the team finishes at the competition.
The Prize will be given to the Energy, Cleantech or Sustainability startup that finishes highest among all the sector’s competitors, based on voting from all of the judges at this year’s competition. The goal of this prize is to provide much needed seed funding to startups solving our most pressing energy and climate challenges. As one of the largest sectors at the RBPC, this prize will continue emphasizing the priority Rice Alliance puts on driving innovation in energy and cleantech.
The funding for this prize was awarded to Rice Alliance as part of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator Channel Partner Strategic Awards. The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN²) is a $50 million clean technology program funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). IN² identifies and supports promising cleantech startups, with the goal of commercializing low-carbon solutions in order to achieve the associated social, economic, and climate benefits that are so urgently required.
Eligibility: The Energy, Cleantech or Sustainability startup with the highest score is eligible for this prize.
The RBPC experience doesn’t stop once you walk out of the banquet hall on the final day of the competition—startups enter into the RBPC alumni network, where Rice Alliance strives to continue celebrating their successes and encouraging connection among competitors and the RBPC network. To support this ethos, the RBPC Alumni Network was formed in 2022. Launched by a group of companies that recognized a part of their progress and success can be owed to the RBPC, they are keen to “pay it forward” to current competitors in hopes of providing seed money to help launch their ventures. The prize is generously sponsored by NABACO.
Founded by Rice Alumni, The Nixon Institute advocates for community development through its educational and charitable programs and events. The non-profit organization was further inspired by Michael Van Alstine, who made great advancements in healthcare software, and who displayed exemplary leadership, and even greater kindness in his many roles through his life.
Eligibility: The Nixon Institute - MVA Award will be awarded to a RBPC team who best carries the values of beloved friend, innovator, & entrepreneur, the late Michael Van Alstine.
DK Innovation is the innovation arm of DelekUS, a downstream energy company with a passion for growth and a commitment to operating safely, reliably, and ethically. Founded in 2001, DelekUS Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: DK) has assets in petroleum refining, logistics, convenience stores, asphalt, and renewables. Delek is proud of their culture of excellence, strong financial position and track record of growth, and are committed to creating exceptional value for our customers and shareholders.
Eligibility: For their $3,000 cash prize, DK Innovation will consider all 42 teams at the RBPC, regardless of where the team places at the competition.
The Eagle Investors will award a cash prize to a RBPC team based on the investability of the company. Award criteria include the quality of the product or service, business model, viability, and coachability of the management team. The Eagle Investors are high-potential high school students from underserved communities in Houston. Participants have spent the past year learning about entrepreneurship and business investing, and RBPC attendance is the highlight of the program. They are excited to network with teams and judges as they experience entrepreneurship in action.
The Eagle Investors thank the RBPC for hosting them at this year’s event, and gratefully acknowledge WG Consulting for sponsoring their prize and attendance at the Awards Presentation.
$3,000 cash divided among 3 winners ($1,000 each)
The Anbarci Family is providing three $1,000 prizes for Company Showcase prize winners which will be voted on throughout the Company Showcase & Networking Reception at the Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 9, from 6pm to 7pm. Attendees will “vote” on their favorite showcased by placing stickers on the score sheets at each table. The 3 startups that secure the most stickers will each win $1,000. Teams are encouraged to attract attendees to their table and try to secure the votes (i.e., “stickers”) from attendees. All startups are eligible for this prize.
Three winners: $1,000 each
Individual Prizes (In-kind)
OFW is a premier FDA law firm based in Washington, D.C. with deep experience in all aspects of FDA law, including regulatory matters concerning pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, food, tobacco, and government relations. Its clients span the largest pharma, food, and device companies to small early stage companies.
OFW believes a strong understanding of the regulatory pathway is a critical element in a strong business plan for life science companies. OFW is proud to offer its expertise and guidance on developing a regulatory strategy, including its reimbursement strategy, to a life science company it believes has the strong potential that can benefit from its guidance.
The winner should contact Dr. Ed Teitel no later than June 30, 2021 to make arrangements regarding the FDA Regulatory Strategy to be performed by OFW Law. These services must be provided by June 30, 2022.
Eligibility: All RBPC startups are eligible for the prize. The OFW team will provide at least $20,000 of services, to the winner of the OFW prize as determined by the OFW Law judge group.
RG Advisory Partners is a full-service financial advisory firm to startups and growth companies. Our services include interim/full-time CFO consulting, debt and equity capital raising, and M&A strategy. We look forward to building long-term relationships with management teams and investors. We will provide the Grand Prize Winner with CFO Consulting for 3 months. RG Advisory Partners is run by Rohit Gandhi and Gautam Gandhi. Gautam won the Grand Prize at the 2004 RBPC.
Draper University is a Silicon Valley based pre-accelerator offering a combination of on-site and virtual programs designed to build understanding and foundations for the next generation of startup founders and entrepreneurs. With the aim to connect international startup ecosystems, Draper University has always worked towards building bridges between these ecosystems and Silicon Valley.
Draper University will award three scholarships to three RBPC startup competitors for its Hero Training program, an intensive, immersive five-week entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley, CA. During your stay at our San Mateo campus, you’ll develop the essential startup skills you need to launch and sustain a successful venture, gain exposure to industry experts and network with other like-minded entrepreneurs who share your vision of changing the world. One member of each selected winning startup team can attend the program under the scholarship.
Eligibility: all competing RBPC startup are eligible to be considered for this prize. Representatives from Draper University will determine the winner of their prize. Winners must express interest in, or claim their prize, within 6 months of the competition’s end (October 9, 20220)
Baker Botts has a leading emerging company and venture capital practice. Our corporate and intellectual property lawyers offer diverse strengths and cradle-to-exit experience and capabilities across a wide range of industries. Baker Botts will offer free legal services for the top three winning companies at the 2022 competition. The guidance will include up to $20,000 in legal services combined for the three teams.
Eligibility: Baker Botts’ in-kind legal services are subject to review by our Baker Botts lawyers. Prior to advising the winning RBPC companies on the applicable legal representation matters requested by each winning company, each company must clear a Baker Botts conflict review. Each company will be required to clear our new business intake procedures for new clients, our standard firm conflicts check, and sign an appropriate engagement letter. Baker Botts will discuss firm engagement and conflict check procedures once the winning companies are selected. We look forward to having the opportunity to provide in-kind legal services to the winning companies provided the firm does not have a conflict.
Prizes for All Competitors (in-kind)
Entrepreneur Futures Network (EFN) mentors have offered pre-competition mentoring and advice to each of the 42 teams who have been invited to participate at the 2020 RBPC. They have provided advice in areas such as refining a business plan, refining financial models, and improving presentation skills.
Amazon Web Services will provide up to $5,000 in service credits for each of the 42 startup teams for 2 years. This comes with 1 year of Business Support (up to $1,500) and opportunities to Qualify for Additional Credits. The credits will expire one year from April 9, 2021, which is April 9, 2022
Allianse (www.allianse.com) connects pre-seed to Series A startups and investors. The Allianse platform connects investors to vetted startups in an unbiased way both through search and tailored recommendations. Entrepreneurs get introductions to capital aligned with their mission and investors get early access to (and the ability to follow the journey of) startup deals they might miss otherwise.
Allianse founder Eleanor Haglund is an RBPC alum (2021) and offers all 2022 RBPC competitors 3 months of exclusive access to the Allianse platform, including the ability to connect with investors.
To claim this prize, RBPC startup can sign up on the website ((www.allianse.com -> app.allianse.com) and select "Beta" option when asked to pay.
One member per startup can claim this prize. They are welcome to join at any time to begin their 3-month trial. Must claim prize within 6 months of competition ending (October 9, 2022)
Notes Related to all Prizes:
- In order to win any prizes, teams must fully participate in the competition:
- Elevator Pitch Competition (April 7)
- Round 1 pitches (April 8)
- Round 2 (April 9)
- Finals (April 9)
- Awards Banquet (April 9)
Failure to participate in the above events of the RBPC may result in forfeiture of all prizes.
- These prizes are subject to change at the sponsor or competition organizers’ discretion at any time.
- Some prizes may contain certain restrictions, conditions, or eligibility criteria.
- There is generally not a geographic commitment associated with these prizes, except for the following:
- The TMC|X, which requires a team to participate in the TMC|X Accelerator program in Houston
- In addition, the coworking space or office space in-kind prizes may require a team to be resident at one of the respective co-working spaces in Houston.
- While we do not anticipate changes, the rules of the competition, criteria, and eligibility may be modified at any time.
- Several of the prizes involve Convertible Debt Notes or equity investment. These prizes are typically provided directly from the sponsor (e.g., Houston Angel Network) to the winning company and may be dependent on the sponsor and company mutually agreeing to the terms associated with this prize. These investment prizes typically require the winning company to provide standard company information to the investor in advance of receiving funding. This information is expected to include:
- Company incorporation documents
- Capitalization tables
- Copies of fully executed technology license agreements (if applicable)
- Founders agreements
- Most, but not all, angels and other investors require a company to be structured (or restructured) as a Delaware C corporation before receiving investment funding.
- Startup teams do not have to have their incorporation completed at the time of the competition.
- All cash prizes are considered income and will have appropriate taxes taken out before being awarded to the winning startup.
- All winners will receive the appropriate tax documents at the end of the current tax year.
Steps for claiming prizes:
- The RBPC Director will connect the winning startups with their prize sponsors by email.
- Both parties will then begin the discussion of awarding theprize. This is in the event of an investment prize, and in some cases, in the event of a cash prize.
- Be prepared to work with your prize sponsors very soon after the competition. This means to save some time the week after the RBPC for video conferencing, telephone calls and emails on moving forward with your prize.
- Before receiving any cash prizes, a representative from the startup management team will need to register with the Rice University payments portal; this includes uploading a W9 or W8-BEN (for international citizens) and submitting contact details. The RBPC Director will work with each cash prize recipient on how to fill out the form, which will start the process of receiving your prize money.
- Please expect up to three months for cash prizes to be received.