Press Release

July 1, 2024 | By Cole Hatcher

The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University is launching its national business plan competition on July 1. Applications for the competition, Ohio's largest, will be accepted through Aug. 15. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

Building Businesses

Ohio Wesleyan Launches U.S. Entrepreneurship Competition on July 1 with Nearly $500,000 in Prizes

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University is launching its new U.S. Entrepreneurship Competition on July 1. Open to entrepreneurs of all ages and from all locations, it is the largest business plan competition in Ohio, with a total prize package of nearly a half-million dollars.

The U.S. Entrepreneurship Competition (USEC) at Ohio Wesleyan University includes both student and professional tracks. The student track is open to current college students and 2024 college graduates. The professional track is open to all others. First-, second-, and third-place winners in each category will earn cash investments and incubate in the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at OWU, where they will have access to intellectual capital and services to advance their business ideas.

"Ohio Wesleyan was founded with entrepreneurial spirit nearly 200 years ago," said Phil Smith, director of the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at OWU, a first-of-its-kind collaboration among the university, City of Delaware, and Delaware County. "The competition lets us expand upon this innate strength and help others build their own business legacies. Winners will receive the expert advice and support they need to forge their path forward and launch a successful company."

Those interested in competing in the U.S. Entrepreneurship Competition at Ohio Wesleyan University must apply before midnight Aug. 15 at Up to 10 teams (student and professional) will be selected to participate Sept. 26 in a live competition. Semifinalists must be able to travel to the OWU campus in Delaware, Ohio, to compete, Smith said.

The judges will announce the top three winners in each track that day, with final placements announced Oct. 5 during an Ohio Wesleyan Homecoming and Family Weekend celebration. The winners will earn prize packages valued at $100,000, $75,000, and $50,000, respectively. The judges will award $5,000 prizes to the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in each category as well as special awards such as best "elevator" pitch and most sustainable business.

Those applying to compete in the U.S. Entrepreneurship Competition at Ohio Wesleyan University must be able to submit:

  • Business plans, potentially including an executive summary, industry overview, market analysis, sales and marketing plan, management plan, operating plan, and financial plan.
  • Media materials, including a business logo, social media links, and 100-word business description.

Applicants also must be able to answer a series of questions, including:

  • What primary and secondary markets are you seeking to serve?
  • Has your startup generated any sales revenue? (How much?)
  • Has your startup received any funding? (How much and what types?)

During the live competition, the semifinalists will make 60-second "elevator" and five-minute full pitches to the expert judges, who will follow up with three minutes of questions to determine each plan's viability and potential.

"The U.S. Entrepreneurship Competition at Ohio Wesleyan University will provide all competitors with valuable experience in preparing for, presenting, and answering questions about their business plans," Smith said. "And we can't wait to welcome the USEC winners into the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at OWU to help them address their challenges, build their businesses, and move closer to achieving their goals."

Additional information about the competition, including access to the application form is available online at

Opened in 2018, the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University, 70 S. Sandusky St., Delaware, is a first-of-its-kind liberal arts business accelerator as well as a first-of-its-kind city, county, and educational institute partnership. Its benefits include connecting members with Ohio Wesleyan student-interns able to assist with accounting, data analysis, event planning, graphic design, market research, volunteer coordination, website creation, or other needs. As the students work, they also gain hands-on experience to help them fulfill their personal entrepreneurial ambitions.

Learn more about the Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at OWU and all opportunities for up-and-coming entrepreneurs at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation's premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book "Colleges That Change Lives" and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review "Best Colleges" lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at or learn more at