John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge

1.jpgThe John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge is a Montana-wide event which encourages innovation and creative thinking. Hosted annually by the University of Montana College of Business since 1989, the Business Startup Challenge is Montana's premier opportunity for students attending any college or university across Montana to present exciting new businesses and/or social entrepreneurship venture ideas for adjudication. The Business Startup Challenge is run by the School of Business Administration and the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana. 

Up to 12 teams will be selected and invited to compete in the 29th Annual John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge to be held on April 13, 2018.  Teams will compete for thousands of dollars in awards and have the opportunity to network with venture capitalists, early-stage investors, investment bankers, economic developers, corporate executives, and successful entrepreneurs. Teams will also have the opportunity to present to over 250 business professionals and community leaders who will attend the Final Round presentations.

Submission Deadline on March 12 at 6:00 PM.

Please review the Submission Requirements and Deadlines page to obtain important dates, eligibility criteria, and submission requirements.

To get ahead on your submission, sign up for our JRBSC e-mail list.

Join A Team!

Love entrepreneurship, but not ready to launch an idea? We have a list of competitors looking for people like you to dig in prior to the competition and possibly pitch at the competition. Get a front-row seat to starting up and get some prize money while you do! By Sunday, March 4 at midnight, e-mail with the subject line "I Want to Join a JRBSC Team!" Include your name, major, contact information, and a small list of strengths.

Competition Date: April 13, 2018

Check the Competition Day page to view a sample schedule of the Competition Day.

Further Competition Details:

Ticket information

Tickets are free for students or $10 for non-students through Eventbrite: All proceeds directly support the event and help boost student prize money.

Lodging & Travel Fee Coverage

Significant effort is made to subsidize student travel to Missoula from other Montana areas through scholarships that cover transportation and lodging. Teams can expect to have up to two hotel rooms provided for two nights. To arrange contact

About the Coaches & Judges

All of the Business Startup Challenge judges and coaches are successful business leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, investors and professionals who are committed to the advancement of entrepreneurship. All teams will be assigned an experienced coach no later than March 14, 2018. Coaches have committed to providing their assigned teams a minimum of five (5) hours of guidance and feedback, either in person or via phone/e-mail. Coaches will also be on hand to provide support during the competition. Judges will be present at the competition but not available for team consultation leading up to the event.

Statement of Non-Confidentiality

All sessions of the competition are open to the public at large.  Any and all of these sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include but is not limited to radio, television, and the Internet. In fact, attendance by media personnel is expected and encouraged. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by competitors should be considered information that could enter the public domain and competitors should not assume any right of confidentiality of any data or information discussed, divulged, or presented in these sessions.

Due to the nature of the competition, we do not ask judges, reviewers, staff, or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements. However, the John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge staff will make every effort to limit distribution of the written submissions to judges of the competition.