KEC Competition Information
$70,000+ in Cash Prizes to Student Entrepreneurs!
The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) is sponsored by Network Kansas, Kansas State University Research & Extension, and Kansas State University Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship to promote entrepreneurship and small business development in Kansas. The competition is for student-created, managed, and owned ventures.
KEC Prep Course
Students participating in the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge are strongly encouraged to complete the exercises in the KEC Prep Course in preparation for the event. Each student selected to compete at the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge who has successfully completed the exercises will receive a Certificate of Completion and an additional $50 in prize money.
KEC Competitor Guide
Students must be enrolled in a Kansas middle school, high school, or high school equivalent during the semester the competition is held. The concept and venture must demonstrate student management and ownership. Teams must have a teacher or sanctioned event organizer that will authenticate that the venture concept and executive summary are the student team’s original work.
Individuals or teams of no more than four students may submit a concept. No person can be a member of more than one team. Teams must present in-person at the KEC finals. Team members who do not present at the KEC finals will not receive prize money.
The KEC is for independent student-run ventures. Concepts must be the original work of the students who comprise the team. For-profit and not-for-profit entities are eligible. Generally excluded from entry are the following: school-based businesses, buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, and licensing agreements for distribution in the local market. The licensing of technologies or commercialization of research that is not the original work of the student team is prohibited.
Confidentiality and Intellectual Property
All submitted information is deemed the property of the participating teams and any licensors. Competition judges and staff do not sign non-disclosure agreements. Teams are strongly encouraged to not provide any specifics or details that are considered to be intellectual property.
Conflict of Interest Statement
No judge, volunteer, or competition staff member may have any vested interest, equity stake, or financial stake in any of the finalist companies. Any of the previously listed parties that stand to gain financially or otherwise from the success of any finalist company is strictly prohibited. Any such associations will result in disqualification of the team and/or removal of that individual from his or her associated position with the competition.
Spirit of the Competition
The spirit of the KEC is that current middle school and high school students originate, found, and lead the startup idea. Teams not aligned with this vision or not working towards this end may be disqualified (e.g. an existing company run by non-students cannot recruit students only to become eligible for the competition). The KEC staff reserves the right to review companies on a case-by-case basis and make eligibility decisions. Teams that are unsure of their eligibility should contact the KEC staff. The licensing of technologies or commercialization of research that is not the original work of the student team is prohibited. Competitors who promote illegal, illicit, unethical, immoral, or other types of activities, which may be considered unworthy of association with the KEC, may be disqualified.
High School Division
- Local Event Winner: The top team from each NetWork Kansas YEC Series sanctioned event automatically qualifies. If the top team is not able to participate, the event organizers may send an alternate team to the KEC. Teams must submit a three-page executive summary of their concept, as well as a signed photo release.
- Wildcard: Up to 15 teams will also be selected for the KEC through the Wildcard Review.
All submitted work must be the original work of the team members. Any submission that does not meet these requirements will be eliminated.
- YEC and Wildcard submissions are required to include an executive summary.
- Executive summaries format requirements:
- No longer than three pages
- At least 10 point font
- At least .75” margins on all four sides
- Must be submitted in PDF form
- Wildcard submissions are also required to include a video pitch.
- Video pitch should be a minimum length of 90 seconds with a maximum length of three minutes. Video pitches should not exceed the three minute time limit.
- March 19, 2024 - YEC sanctioned event deadline
- March 27, 2024 - Wildcard winners announced
- April 14, 2024 - Mock Board Room questions released
- April 16, 2024 - Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge
Please note: All submission deadlines are final. Late applications cannot be accepted and deadline extensions cannot be granted for any reason. The KEC staff encourages each team to submit requirements early so that any technical difficulties can be resolved before the deadline. All submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. (CST) on the due date.
Teams will be judged on the following:
Executive Summary (prior to competition day)
Judges will take the following into consideration:
- Market Opportunity – Clear market need presented, with the ability & plan to capture it
- Management Capability – Founder / team demonstrates ability to effectively grow company
- Business Model – viability to grow a profitable business
- Product / Service Offering – customer focused solution with a clear value proposition
Mock Board Room (on competition day)
Successful entrepreneurs are adaptable, critical thinkers, and creative problem-solvers. The format of the Mock Board Room is designed to help teach and reward these skills in aspiring entrepreneurs. Based on a review of the executive summary and video pitch, KEC judges and staff will provide a list of questions to the participants designed to reflect the real-world challenges and decision-making requirements of entrepreneurs. During the Mock Board Room, the students will have time with KEC judges to answer these questions and any additional follow-up questions asked by the judges.
- The Mock Board Room is closed to the public.
- Time begins when the presenter begins speaking.
- Teams are not allowed to use a slide presentation (ex. PowerPoint). Prototypes, props, index cards, etc. are allowed but must be easily removed from presentation room.
- There will be no guarantee of confidentiality. Presenters are encouraged to avoid speaking about topics or items that should remain confidential.
Mock Board Room Scoring
- Entrepreneurial Characteristics
- Realistic – answers were feasible, realistic and aligned with company’s means
- Justification – ample justification given using quality data, analysis, and critical thinking
- Specificity – responses were specific, detailed, and action-oriented
- Originality – solutions were creative and original
- Professionalism - student carried themselves in a professional manner
- Knowledge - student had appropriate amount of business knowledge
Cash prizes for the KEC will be awarded and paid to the legal entity where one exists. If no entity exists then the prizes will be awarded to individual student team members in proportion to the capitalization table or proposed capitalization table submitted. If no capitalization table exists, prize money will be split equally among student team members. Cash prizes will not be paid at any time to non-students outside of an entity. If a non-student holds an equity position as indicated on a capitalization table where there is no entity present, the cash prize will be paid on a pro-rata basis to only the student members listed on the capitalization table. Prize awards may be subject to taxation and are the sole responsibility of the entity or person to whom the awards are distributed.
*Each entity or individual will be required to provide a W-9 and photo release form before receiving any prizes.
*All participants must attend KEC to receive prize money.
Hotel Blocks - to be announced spring 2024.
Nominate your teacher for the Educator of the Year Award!
Nomination submission form will be published in spring 2024.
Thank you to the event sponsors: