FAQ




Q: For the Spring Round 1 submission, should I keep the questions in the Idea Summary Template?

A: Yes, it's recommended but not required.  Some of the judges will be looking for the questions as "guideposts" for     their score sheet.  


Q: I am very interested in the Duke Start-Up Challenge, but do not want to join a team this year. What other opportunities are available?

A: We are constantly seeking entrepreneurial students from all disciplines to join the organizing committee and assist with numerous aspects of the competition. Your involvement will prove valuable and you will learn much about the entrepreneurial process that will help you in future business pursuits or in entering the challenge in future years. If you would like to join the committee, please visit the Organizers section of this website for more information about the various committees and send an email to Howie Rhee.

Q: Who can enter the Duke Start-Up Challenge?

A: See the rules page.  

Essentially there are two competitions:
1) The student competition must include a current Duke student who owns part of the company.  These teams are eligible for the cash prizes.
2) The alumni, faculty & staff competition must include a Duke alumnus, faculty, or staff member.  These teams are not eligible for the cash prizes, however these teams will receive feedback, support, and possibly some publicity.


Q: If I am not a member of the Duke community, how can I join a team ?

A: Check out the DukeGEN Startup Matchmaker

Q: How do I find other students to help work on my business idea? Or, if I don’t have an idea, how do I find a team with an idea to join?

A: Check out the DukeGEN Startup Matchmaker

Q: Who owns my idea if I enter or win?

A: YOU DO! Duke University is supporting this competition to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship on campus, not to generate direct financial returns on student’s business ideas. However, the university may have claims on certain intellectual property developed by faculty and others using University resources. If you have any questions about your obligations to the University because of your research program, you should contact the Office of Licensing and Ventures. However, the competition will not take any ownership stake in your company. Please visit the Equity sub-section under Rules for further details.

Q: Can I enter the same idea that I have submitted in the past?

A: Yes, as long as you have not won the Duke Start-Up Challenge competition with this idea before.

Q: Do I have to participate in Fall Elevator Pitch Competition in order to participate in the Spring Competition?

A: NO. You can participate either one regardless of whether you participated in the other.

Q: Can I get academic credit for working on my idea?

A: Academic credit is not a part of the competition itself, but you may pursue credit through any of several entrepreneurship and plan-writting classes offered through various schools at Duke, including Fuqua, Trinity, Pratt, Sanford, the Nicholas School or the Law School. If you do so, we strongly advise you to provide any sponsoring faculty with complete details on the competition and your entry so that you ensure your eligibility.

Q: Should I enter my plan in the Social Enterprise Track or one of the For-Profit Tracks?

A: A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes and addresses a social problem by using entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture that will evoke change. If the primary goal of your business is to generate financial returns on your investment, you should probably enter one of the for-profit tracks. The Social Enterprise Track is for ideas with an explicitly social mission.  Social Enterprises can be for-profit, though they usually measure social impact as well.

Q: Can I work by myself?

A: Yes, though we encourage multi-disciplinary teams (and some judges value that). 

Q: Can I be on more than one team?

A: Yes.

Q: Can I raise funding from other sources during the competition?

A: Yes.  You do, however, need to make sure you are under the limits of our eligibility guidelines.  See the rules page.

Q: How will my business plan be kept confidential?

A: As with most institutions and investors, we do not sign non-disclosure agreements and we do not guarantee confidentiality.  Please do not include confidential material in your materials.

Q: What are the prizes?

A: They change from year to year.  See the Rules & Prizes page for details.

Q: Who donated the funds for this year’s competition?

A: Each year is a different set of sponsors and supporters including firms in the entrepreneurial community (including legal firms, accounting firms, banks, and venture capital firms) and the various schools at Duke University.

Q: How can I sponsor the competition?

A: Please contact Howie Rhee at hwr2@duke.edu, Advisor to the Duke Start-Up Challenge.

Q: I would like to serve as a judge to one or more teams of students. Are there opportunities to do this?

A: Yes, though we have limited capacity and give preference to Duke alumni, parents, and supporters; and prefer those with investing and/or startup experience. Contact Howie Rhee at hwr2@duke.edu.