FAQs

How do I know that someone won't steal my ideas? 
The Institute will make every effort to ensure the confidentiality of ideas entered. However, others must see, read and understand the ideas in order for them to be judged. The only information that will be made public is the idea title and the author’s name(s). Unfortunately, US law prohibits us offering more than the assurances above, as "ideas" cannot be protected according to US law. If you are truly afraid that someone will steal your ideas, you can trademark names or register domain names associated with your submission.

I have a class project that I would like to develop into a submission. Is that OK? 
Yes. We encourage you to submit class projects. However, please be aware that you will probably take a good deal of effort to craft an idea entry from a class project, because you must translate the project onto the entry form.

I can't describe my idea in 750 words. Can I make it longer? 
No. 750 words are the maximum. Please re-read it carefully, and eliminate unnecessary information. You can describe any business idea in 750 words if you use the right words

Do I have to write something in every field of the entry form? 
Not necessarily, but most entries will need something in each field if they are to be judged as complete and well thought-out. If you conclude that a particular field is not relevant to your idea, and you are bumping up against the 750 word limit, use your own judgment.

Can I enter more than 1 business idea? 
Yes. However, no person can be an author or co-author on more than 3 entries. Developing a winning business idea takes time and effort. You are far more likely to win if you concentrate your efforts on one or two ideas.

Are there programs I can take advantage of after the competition has ended?
Yes. The Rothman Institute offers a variety of undergraduate courses that you can take if you enroll at FDU. The Institute also offers one-week day camps during the summer called the Discover Business Teen Camp that might be of interest. In addition, the Institute has some informal contacts that may be of help to you. If you are interested in any of these, please let us know.

The idea essay questions:

4500 characters total.

Idea Title (10 Word Maximum)

The idea title and the author name(s) are the only information that will be made public by the Institute if the entry is a semifinalist or finalist. The title and authors will be listed on the web site and on the event program to be available at the awards ceremony. Please do not place any information in the Idea Title section that you wish to keep private. The title should be short but descriptive.

The Idea.

This field fills in the details of your business idea. Exactly what is your product or service, and how will it be used? What additional features or developments (if any) will be needed before the product or service becomes useful? Don’t be afraid to go back and change your basic idea after conducting research. Good business ideas are developed and don’t fall from the sky complete and ready to implement. In some instances, an author of a business idea entry will not have exclusive rights to that idea, because it came from elsewhere or perhaps relies upon an idea held by someone else. If that is the case, please mention the idea's owner in this field.

Customers.

In this field, outline who will use your product or service, and what customer needs will be addressed by it. Why should the judges believe that your product or service will be better than those currently in existence? If the product is truly new (nothing like it exists currently) how will you persuade customers of its value? What kinds of people make the decision to buy, and how do you plan to reach those people on a large scale?

Competitors.

New businesses almost always step on the toes of existing businesses. What businesses already sell products or services that will be negatively affected by your product or service? Why is your product or service better than what competitors are currently providing? How easy will it be for them to copy your idea? Remember that a new business is almost always weaker than existing businesses. If your idea takes customers away from others and is easily copied, you are not likely to be in business long enough to establish a competitive advantage. How will competitors respond to your market entry, and how will you protect your business from their reactions? Your idea could be a not-for-profit. Here, you will need to outline how your idea will generate enough revenue (through donations and/or other sources) to cover its costs.

Societal Overall.

Successful enterprises are always about more than money. The purpose of this field is to provide you with an opportunity to justify why your business/nonprofit should be supported by those who are not involved in it. What good will come from your business? Why will the world be a better place because of your idea? Some business ideas may not make much money, but create great value or provide an important good or service for large numbers of people. The judges will look favorably upon these ideas.

Your Goals.

Innovative products and services are very important to new business development, but these tend not to be worth much unless the founder(s) are very committed and dedicated to making the business a success. In this field, outline why do you personally want to take your idea and make a business out of it. How would creating this new business help you reach your potential, and how could you help the business reach its potential? Why would you be willing to dedicate a large part of your life to starting up this business? What key strengths can you provide to your organization?