In total, $1.6 Million in investment, cash and in-kind prizes was awarded to the teams at the 2021 Virtual Rice Business Plan Competition. The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product.
2021 Prize Descriptions
In total, more than $1.2 Million in investment and cash prizes is expected to be awarded to the teams at the 2021 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 MM 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. 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 54 teams are eligible for, and compete for, all of the Mercury Fund Elevator Pitch cash prizes. Teams will present their elevator pitch on Tuesday afternoon, April 6, 2021 in a pre-recorded event. Judges will score the elevator pitches based on their effectiveness and persuasiveness of their pitch! The top 5 teams with the best elevator pitch will win cash prizes.
- First place overall: $1,000
- Runner Up in each Sector: $500 each
Watch live at YouTube.com/RiceAlliance.
The Anbarci Family is providing a $3,000 prize pool for the "People's Choice Award" prize which will be voted on throughout the competition by Judges within the event platform. All startups are eligible for this prize.
- First Place: $1,500
- Second Place: $1,000
- Third Place: $500 for third place
Individual Prizes (investment)
The OWL Investment Group will invest $300,000 or more. Previously, the OWLs have invested close to $1 million in a startup, although a larger investment may be split among tranches or spread across more than one investment. The size of the total investment depends upon due diligence.
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 well over $4M in a dozen RBPC companies over the past ten years, resulting so far in an acquired company and another having an initial public offering (IPO), providing substantial returns. In 2021, 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. We can lead or participate, but we like syndicates of like-minded investors in our participation. It is important that we see that the startup is properly funded to reach its milestones.
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.
The Artemis Fund is a venture fund based in Houston that leads seed rounds for female-led tech-enable companies across the US. The Artemis fund specializes in technology that helps people build wealth and care for the families and communities in a more sustainable way. The managing directors of the Artemis Fund are Stephanie Campbell, Leslie Goldman, and Diana Murakhovskaya.
Eligibility: The Artemis Investment Prize will be awarded to a company with at least one woman on the founding team. The prize will be in the form of equity or a convertible debt note.
TMC Innovation’s independent programs are the bridge that connects the best minds in medicine at the Texas Medical Center member hospitals with world-class researchers, scientists, engineers and investors. Only at TMC Innovation can pioneering 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 the exclusive TMCx bootcamp - a 4-week rally of customer and stakeholder engagement. Upon successful completion of the TMCx accelerator program and due diligence, the TMC Venture Fund will look to invest $100,000 into the awarded Company.
TMCx is a premier medical device and digital health accelerator advancing healthcare for patients worldwide. TMCx provides access that will transform any life science business. We provide a space and relationships to mature your company, and entry to the world’s largest medical marketplace at the Texas Medical Center. The TMC Venture Fund is the venture capital arm of the Texas Medical Center; we exclusively source deals from founders who participate in programs led or partnered with TMC Innovation.
baMa (Business Angel Minority Association) is a national initiative to create a more inclusive startup ecosystem through early-stage investments in minority-led and minority-focused startups. Our members are accredited investors who make an annual investment pledge into early-stage minority-led startups. The group of experienced business angels is excited to offer a $50,000 investment prize to an early-stage startup that is minority-founded or catering to the minority community.
Eligibility: Startups must be (1) minority-founded or (2) meeting the needs of the minority community and fulfilling baMa’s investment criteria. The prize will be decided by the baMa judging team.
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 available to everyone. UCN partners with established venture capital firms that believe more people should have access to premium investment opportunities at affordable levels. Driven by a shared interest in helping others, UCN partners have helped friends, family, and clients grow their wealth beyond traditional investments like 401K, IRAs, stocks and bonds. Urban Capital Network helps people invest in leading venture-backed companies for under $12K. Additionally, UCN, encourages and offers opportunities to their investors to invest a portion of their profits, alongside UCN’s Management Company, in early-stage founders of color who may not be venture-capital backed, but who have a sound and viable business, strong management team, and demonstrate a company with high-growth potential. UCN’s goal is to help underrepresented investors generate healthy returns, and provide education and support to help them identify opportunities to re-invest in their own communities and interests.
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 females. 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.
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 Johnson and Johnson Innovation | JLABS Life Science Award will be given to the life science startup at the 2021 Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) that finishes highest among all the life science competitors, based on the voting from all of the judges at this year’s competition. All 18 of the life science competitors at the RBPC will be eligible to be considered for this award.
Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS @ TMC is in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, located at 2450 Holcombe Boulevard, in Houston, Texas. The 34,000-square-foot JLABS facility opened in March of 2016, and can accommodate 50+ life sciences startups. Johnson & Johnson Innovation seeks to find the best science and technology, no matter where it is located, to solve the greatest unmet medical and healthcare needs of our time. As one of the top global biotechnology clusters, and home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, Houston is a flourishing life science hub in which Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JLABS @ TMC plays a pivotal role. The Johnson & Johnson Innovation model enables talented scientists in the region to take their innovations to the next level, furthering our goal of helping entrepreneurs advance science with the potential to become transformational solutions for patients. To learn more, visithttps://jlabs.jnjinnovation.com/locations/jlabs-tmc.
The Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation’s mission is to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding Texas business leaders and to perpetuate and inspire the values of entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity, and community leadership in all generations of Texans. Each year, scholarships are awarded to outstanding Texas students who exhibit the same entrepreneurial drive and leadership spirit.
Eligibility: The Texas Business Hall of Fame will award a $10,000 cash prize (non-dilutive) to the RBPC finalist that is currently based in and living in Texas and finishes highest in the overall competition.
The Eagle Investors will award a $5,000 cash prize to a 2021 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.
Since its creation in 1988, Palo Alto Software has grown to a leading provider of small business tools worldwide with the single goal of helping other small businesses grow and become successful. Palo Alto now offers several software products and an extensive library of free expert content to help small businesses succeed. Palo Alto Software will award a $3,000 cash prize to the team that is judged by Palo Alto Software to have designed the most outstanding LivePlan pitch pages.
Eligibility: All 42 teams at the RBPC are eligible to receive this prize, regardless of where a team finishes at the competition. Winners will be decided by Palo Alto.
Individual Prizes (In-kind)
Polsinelli is an Am Law 100 firm with 900 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Recognized by legal research firm BTI Consulting as one of the top firms for excellent client service and client relationships, the firm’s attorneys provide value through practical legal counsel infused with business insight, and focus on health care, financial services, real estate, intellectual property, middle-market corporate, labor and employment and business litigation.
Polsinelli will award two $15,000 in-kind awards in the form of legal support around Intellectual Property and other matters: one in the area of Tech Innovation and one in the area of Energy Innovation.
Eligibility: Polsinelli will select the recipient from among the 54 teams without regard to where they finish in the competition.
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.
The Silver Fox Advisors will provide business mentoring and consulting to three startup teams at the 2021 Rice Business Plan Competition. This coaching will include up to three 3-hour sessions with each of the three teams, involving 1-2 Silver Fox Advisors at each session.
Eligibility: The Silver Fox Advisors will select which teams to offer this mentoring from all 42 teams at the Rice Business Plan Competition. Services will be available to three teams for up to 12 months from the date of the competition. The three sessions with each team will need to be completed within this 12-month period. (The offer will expire within 12 months, even if the team had not taken advantage of these services.) The mentoring will be provided by the Silver Fox Advisors team in Houston. The mentoring will be conducted via teleconference if the startup team is not in Houston.
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 2021 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.
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.
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
Even with the virtual nature of our 2020 event, more than $1.3 million in cash and investment prizes were awarded—with 7 startups receiving $100,000+ each.
Prizes offered at the 2021 RBPC are expected to mirror 2020 prizes. If you're interested in offering a prize, please reach out!
Notes Related to all Prizes:
- In order to win any prizes, teams must fully participate in the virtual competition in the following:
- Elevator Pitch Competition (April 6) – video submitted in advance and cast on June 17.
- Round 1 pitches (April 7) – startups must submit their pitch deck in advance and complete their live pitch
- Round 2 (April 8) –startups must complete their live pitch
- Finals (April 9) - finalist must complete their live pitch
Failure to participate in the above events of the virtual RBPC, either by not submitting required materials or by not completing any required pitches, 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
- The Texas Business Hall of Fame prize will be awarded to a startup currently based in Texas.
- 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 main prize sponsor will contact the startup team leader via email or phone to start the discussion of awarding your prize. This is in the event of an investment prize, and in some cases, in the event of a cash prize.
- Alternatively, the RBPC Director will put you in touch with the prize sponsors to start the prize transfer.
- 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 fill out a W9 or W8-BEN (for international citizens) and submit contact details. This will be done through an online portal to Rice University’s Payables Department. 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.