CIE Competition Eligibility Rules

Team Composition

Competing teams should consist of no more than 5 degree-seeking student presenters enrolled full-time at the UM during the competition year. Non-students may be part of the venture but cannot participate in the competition (e.g., video submission, pitching, Q&A, etc.). The competition is for UM student-created and -managed ventures, including new ventures launched by licensing university technology. Students are expected to:

  1. be the driving force behind the new venture,
  2. have played the primary role in developing the business model,
  3. have key management roles in the venture, and
  4. own significant equity in the venture (if allocated).

University Affiliation

If a competition is posted as exclusive to UM students, only full-time enrolled students at the UM can participate. If you can’t get Ole Miss football tickets for a big student discount, then you cannot compete. Not all competitions are exclusive to UM students.


If the company has allocated equity, then the participating team members must collectively own 20% or more of it.


The student team must control a minimum of 51% of the venture’s voting rights.


Because revenue is often the best form of validation, minimal revenues gained in the process of validation are allowable for the competition. Excessive revenues will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the organizers.


No more than $100,000 will be allowed from friends and family, debt (any source — convertible, venture, traditional), accelerators, and equity investments (angel and venture capital).

NOTE: We do not encourage early investment because it can lead to premature scaling which is a leading cause of failure.

Nature of Venture

Ventures cannot be a buyout, an expansion of an existing company, a real estate syndication, a tax shelter, a franchise, a licensing agreement for distribution in a different geographical area, or a spin-out from an existing corporation. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming they have not been commercialized previously.

Language of the Competition

English must be used in all competition submissions and presentations.

Prior Activity

Students are disqualified from entering the same business in the same competition (i.e., Entering the Gillespie Business Plan Competition with the same idea twice) if they have ever placed in the top 2 teams with the same idea. In other words, you can only place once. The same team and idea can enter multiple competitions if they have not yet placed (i.e., Winners of Gillespie may compete in the Fall Business Model Competition). Students can return with the same business if they have won one of the associated prizes (Colbert Prize, etc.) although it is unlikely that they will win that same prize again.

VISA Requirements

Students who cannot legally get scholarships or be employed outside of the university as a condition of their VISAs are not eligible to compete in CIE events. They may be members of the team but they cannot present or take receipt of any support funding.