Organization:Business Model Competition

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The Business Model Competition(BMC), or International Business 

Model Competition(IBMC), is a unique business development competition that differentiates itself from other business plan competitions by stressing the value of validation with real customers, described in the following video:

The International Business Model Competition is the first and largest lean startup competition in the world. The competition's primary aim is to educate and inspire smarter entrepreneurs who launch ventures that are more successful.

By recognizing that over 85 percent of new business fail within the first few years, often due to the attempt to plan their way to success, the IBMC represents a radical departure from the past and is at the crest of a new paradigm in entrepreneurship. The IBMC is not a business plan competition. It doesn't reward the student for doing lots of library research, drawing fancy graphs, or crafting the perfect sales pitch to venture capitalists. Instead the IBMC want the students to:

  1. Break down their idea into key business model assumptions
  2. Get outside the building and test their assumptions with REAL customers
  3. Apply Customer Development/Lean Startup principles to make sure they nail the pain and solution
  4. Learn to pivot(change) until they have arrived at a customer-validated business model

Ultimately IBMC believes this will dramatically improve the success rate of new ventures, allowing entrepreneurs to save both time and money in the process.[1]

Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is one of the key tools that IBMC recommends the competing teams utilize. It is a strategic management template for developing new or documenting existing business models. The canvas consists of nine business model building blocks, which can be organized into four categories: infrastructure, offering, customers,and finances.[2] By using a visual approach to design business models, the Business Model Canvas makes it easier for firms to align their activities by illustrating potential trade-offs.


IBMC 2017 Winners

1st Place - Instapath, Tulane University


2nd Place - Rubi, Brigham Young University


3rd Place - ABAL Therapeutics, University of Iowa

Success Stories


Kaitek Labs, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

1st Place, 2015
Kaitek Labs are transforming bacteria into computers. Kaitek Labs uses microorganisms’ natural capacity to gather and process information about its surroundings. This natural functionality gives both a purpose and a human interface to turn bacteria into information gathering machines,capable of expressing their findings to human users.

Founded in 2013 by Emilia Diaz in Santiago, Chile, the company has expanded and gained support of the Chilean government granting Kaitek $350K for development. Reflecting on the 2015 IBMC Emilia said, “Do not underestimatewhat lean methodology can do for you. At first I honestly thought there was absolutely no way I could apply it to slow, expensive biotech, but I actually found it a great tool when it comes to trying to move as quickly as possible….We have used it many times before and after IBMC to decide what experimental line to pursue.”

Important Dates - 2018

  • January 01  At-Large Round Submissions Open
  • April 01        At-Large Round Submissions Close
  • April 12       Quarterfinalist Teams Announced
  • May 10         Lean Startup Thought-Leader Conference
  • May 11         Quarterfinal, Semifinal, and Final Events

IBMC Sponsors & Founders

The IBMC is sponsored by the Kevin and Debra Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology in the Marriot School of Management at Brigham Young University. The competition was founded by:

  • Nathan Furr (Ph.D., Stanford; Entrepreneurship Professor, BYU)
  • Steve Blank (Entrepreneurship Professor, UC Berkley; Lecturer, Stanford)
  • Alex Osterwalder (Co-Founder Strategyzer)
  • Jeff Brown(Associate Director, Operations at BYU Rollins Center)
  • John Richards (Entrepreneurship Professor, BYU)
  • Scott Petersen (Director, Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, BYU)


IBMC wants to dramatically improve the success rate of new ventures by bringing a very different perspective to entrepreneurship. Instead of asking its participants to research existing business models, or craft a perfect sales pitch, IBMC focuses on the process of developing and validating the perfect business models by encouraging its participants to identify and clarify the assumption in the model. IBMC believes that entrepreneurship should not be similar to managing a corporation, since the problems they are facing and the dynamics are very different. As the first international competition of its kind (open to all students) IBMC ultimately wants to change the way entrepreneurship is currently being taught and bring our attention to the importance of validating assumptions.

Distinct Differences From Other Startup Competitions

The IBMC is a unique student startup competition focused on the inputs, not the outputs, of the entrepreneurial process.The competition requires active identification and validation of crucial business model hypotheses rather than the writing of a static business plan, talking to customers outside the building rather than gathering secondary data inside the building, applying customer development rather than relying on product development, and “pivoting” or changing course rather than executing on the plan.

In short, IBMC emphasizes these three key steps:

  1. Identifying and tracking business model hypotheses
  2. Testing and validating these hypotheses with customers
  3. Iterating their business model based on customer feedback

Impact Achieved For Students and Campus

The IBMC helps students and campuses in many different ways. First, the competition encourages students to explore entrepreneurship - and with a different mindset. With the advice and critiques given throughout the competition, students will further develop and strengthen their ideas. Second, workshops and lectures will be arranged at the beginning of the year. These events invite experienced entrepreneurs to talk about their approach and help the students work on their businesses. Even without the competition, these lecturers are very helpful in bringing student interest to entrepreneurship. Lastly, the monetary award helps the winners to roll out the business plan. With $25,000 given to the first place and with a total of 28 award recipients, students can have a great financial start on their business as well.

University Involvements

The IBMC is currently co-hosted by Brigham Young University, Harvard University, and Stanford University. At the same time, it also encourages and helps local sector development. Currently, it has ten universities and colleges hosting qualifier competitions, and three participating universities.


Qualifier Competitions

Qualifier Competitions.PNG

Participating Universities

Participating universities.PNG

Steps Required To Bring Resource to Campus

There are two ways to become involved with the IBMC:

  1. Become a participating university
    Advertise the competition and encourage the students to apply through a general application process.
  2. Become a qualifier competitions host
    Apply to be a qualifier competitions hosting university - Build, organize, and run the competition.

Here is a link to the General Application.

The Business Model Competition is open to all participatants who meet the Eligibility Criteria. Bringing this competition to campus doesn't establish the necessity to submit any application to BMC or the requirement to establish a local chapter on campus. Although, BMC does enforce a set of rules that ensure the strong representation of students within the competing teams, allowing for the attraction of new student entrepreneurs.

Applying to the IBMC

Teams must fill out and submit the application form at the beginning of January. However, before submitting the application, teams also need to complete the following:

  1. Create a 5-8 minute video presentationdescribing the customer discovery and validation you have been through with your idea and business model. You may use PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi or any other presentation software. The presentation needs to be narrated and saved as a video file. See the "Presentation Video Creation Tools" section of thePreparing Your Submission page for help doing this. We also strongly encourage you to check out the submission example videos on that same page.
  2. Upload your video toYouTube(if you want to keep your video hidden mark it as "unlisted" NOT "private,"only someone logged into your account can watch your videos marked private).
  3. Indicate that your teamunderstands and agrees to the items outlined in theCertifications and Agreements Form. This form is also included in the appendix of theCompetition Rules and Information Pa

2018  Application form: April 1st)

How to Win IBMC

  1. Complete Steve Bank's "How to Create a Startup" course on Udacity

  2. Seek Out an appropriate mentor(s) and meet frequently with them to help you through the lean startup process.

  3. Familiarize yourself with the following IBMC website resources:

      and the concepts in the books below (most of the books have summaries)

  • Nail It, Then Scale It
  • Business Model Generation
  • The Startup Owner's Manual
  • Running Lean
  • The Lean Startup
  • Boom Start

  4. Tracks your progress by using a canvas. Consider using a digital tool to help with this process. A few are:

  • Business Model Toolbox for iPad (from creators of Business Model Canvas)
  • (from the creator of Lean Canvas)
  • Business Model Fiddle

  5. Watch the following videos on the IBMC website:

  6. Follow these blogs and social media accounts:

  7. Complete the submission form on the IBMC website prior to the deadline

You can find a PDF of this checklist here

Creating a University Competition

The organizers of the International Business Model Competition encourage the development of similar competitionsat schools throughout the world. Business model competitions transform student entrepreneurs' perspectives, helping them learn a more effective approach to entrepreneurship that dramatically increases their chances of success. Even if your school already holds a business plan competition, experience has shown that holding a BMC before or in conjunction with a business plan competition or new venture competition leads to significantly better businesses.


Universities interested in hosting their own qualifier competition must have a full-time faculty or staff that will hold the position of competition director to insure the longevity of the competition. It is also strongly recommended that this director leverage an existing student club or assemble a team of student leaders to run the competition. If would like to start a qualifier competition at your school or have an existing competition serve as an IBMC Qualifier Competition, send an email to

IBMC made a strategic guideline to help universities start the BMC qualifier competition on their campus. The detailed documentation can be downloaded here: Download Guideline.

Contact Information

The administration office for the International BMC is housed within the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at Brigham Young University. To contact the administrators, contact the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology using the information provided below, or send an email to

Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology
470 Tanner Building
Marriott School of Management
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

Phone: (801) 422-7437
Fax: (801) 422-0109

Student Contributors


  2. Business Model Generation, A. Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Alan Smith, and 470 practitioners from 45 countries, self published, 2010