John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge



Since 1989, the University of Montana College of Business has hosted the annual John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge, the premier opportunity for Montana’s brightest and boldest students to present exciting new entrepreneurial ideas for adjudication. In its formative years, the competition would not have been possible without the efforts and contributions of the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs (MADE), a group composed of Montana’s finest entrepreneurs and business professionals. Although MADE is no longer a formal organization, the Montana business community continues to foster the spirit of innovation through generous support of the UM College of Business and its business startup challenge.

Occurring every spring, the Business Startup Challenge is open to all students attending a college or university in Montana. From new products and inventions to social entrepreneurship ventures, the challenge invites all ideas for submission.

With the dedicated leadership of both the College of Business and UM’s Blackstone LaunchPad running the event, up to 12 teams will be selected and invited to compete in the annual event. Invited teams will compete for $50,000 in awards while also having the opportunity to network with venture capitalists, early stage investors, investment bankers, economic developers, corporate executives, and successful entrepreneurs. Teams will also have the unique opportunity to present to over 250 business professionals and community leaders who will be attending the Final Round presentations.

For more information about the competition (eligibility, applications, important dates, etc.), please visit the Business Startup Challenge website provided by Blackstone LaunchPad.

Check the Startup Challenge Winner's Library to view previous winners of the competition. Those interested in sponsorship can check out the current Sponsorship page and Sponsorship Form.