2017 Competition Rules

UNC Affiliation

At least one founding member of each team must be a UNC student or alumnus within 1 year after graduation date (maximum age of 25) to compete in the competition.

Alumni more than 1 year after graduation date, UNC Graduate Students, UNC Faculty, and UNC Staff are NOT ALLOWED compete in the this year’s competition.  Please check out the following available resources:





The UNC-affiliated team member must be a founding member of the idea/venture with at least 25% ownership and cannot be a token team member added to gain eligibility for the competition.

Stage of Venture

This competition seeks to foster the development of ideas into viable ventures. In general, ventures which are already well-established are not eligible to compete although they are urged to consult with the Competition’s organizers to determine their participation rights. Generally, to be eligible, a venture:

  • Cannot have raised more than $25,000 in seed funding (generally meaning “equity financing” other than from founding members).
  • Cannot have more than $50,000 in annual, booked revenue.
  • Cannot have won more than $2,500 in previous Carolina Challenge competition(s).
  • Cannot have been operating for more than 12 months.
  • Exceptions may include:
    • A startup that is based on scientific research that has taken years to develop.
      Ideas that have been in existence for longer, but had a period of inactivity or are changing dramatically.
    • Ventures that have revenues but are changing business models.

If you have any questions about eligibility, please email kris_hergert@unc.edu before submitting your intent-to-compete.

Multiple Year Entries
In general, teams may re-enter the Carolina Challenge competition if they fall into one of several categories:

  • They have changed a fundamental aspect of their business model;
  • They have made significant progress on their product or service since competing last year (achieved concrete milestones that warrant a new entry);
  • They did not win more than $2,500 in prize money in the competition as a first-time entrant.

Entrepreneurship Faculty and Staff
No faculty or staff teaching or working in the field of entrepreneurship at UNC may compete in the Challenge. This includes but is not limited to: the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, KickStart, Launching the Venture and the Entrepreneurship Minor.

Team Size
Each team must consist of at least one members, one of whom is affiliated with UNC (see above). There is no maximum number of team members. Team members may be added and subtracted until the completion of their final plan; however, one member must always be a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community.  At least one team member, including a UNC founding team member, must be present at each round.

Team Personnel Changes Per Round
Teams may change teammates at their discretion from round to round. For example, teams may pick up additional teammates as they progress to later rounds.

Each round may be divided into multiple “Tracks,” which will be determined based on the application pool. Tracks often include: Undergraduate For-Profit and Undergraduate Non-Profit. Teams may designate their preferred track, but organizers retain the right to place teams in the track deemed most appropriate for the event. A venture cannot be entered in more than one track.

Individuals on One Team Maximum Per Round
An individual may not compete on two teams in the same round. If an individual’s team does not proceed to the next round, that individual may join another team in the next round.

Round Requirements
Specifics about round requirements may change year to year depending on the applicant pool. After a team’s initial submission, you will receive specific instructions.

Prize Money
Checks are generally available for pick-up and/or mailed 6-8 weeks after the event to individuals designated by winning teams. Exact prize money values are determined on a year-to-year basis. The winners are expected though not required to use the money for their venture. Paperwork for prize money must be submitted within 60 days of the end of the competition or prize money will be forfeited.  Prize money distribution will be assumed to be split equally between all team members listed in any round unless a written, signed agreement is submitted indicating some other arrangement.

Dress Code
Teams are encouraged to dress respectfully and appropriately based on their ideas and how they feel they should be represented. This often means business casual (khakis and collar shirt or equivalent), but may mean business formal (suit and tie) if appropriate for your venture.

Publicity and Photo Release
All participants agree to allow the Carolina Challenge organizers the irrevocable right and permission to copyright and publish any photographs, audiotapes, and/or videotapes taken of the participants for use in any of its printed publications, audiovisual presentations, and/or online presentations related to its education mission.

Intellectual Property Rights
The authors of the business plan retain all rights to their work, unless it was created using UNC materials or resources, in which case property rights must be worked out with the university. To learn more about these university-wide regulations, please refer to the following website.  The judges and audience present at various public events will not be required to sign non-disclosure agreements. The Competition retains the right to record the events and use the records for educational or promotional purposes.

Educational Purposes
All participants agree to allow Challenge organizers to use their submitted materials for educational or promotional purposes for future Challenge events.

Honor Code
It shall be the responsibility of each student to obey and support the enforcement of these rules. All team members must indicate they have read and accepted these rules through in their initial application.

Dispute Resolution
All decisions by judges and the Carolina Challenge are final. For complaints, questions, concerns or to report possible rules violations, contact the faculty advisor, Jim Kitchen and/or program director, Kris Hergert. These rules may be revised at any time if the purpose of the revision is made in the interest of fairness for all competitors. Revisions will be communicated to all participants as quickly and fairly as possible.