Feb 4 • 3 min read


Launching dreams and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, the 17th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl (BYOBB) provides a platform for today’s startups to become tomorrow’s next big hit.

The event, organized by the Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI), awards $160,000 in cash prizes, plus more than $40,000 in non-cash prizes including legal, accounting, and public-relations services. Winners also will participate in Temple’s summer accelerator, a program in which participants will receive mentoring and assistance in reaching key milestones, and have opportunities to meet potential investors. Further details of the accelerator will be forthcoming.

The BYOBB is open to all faculty, alumni, staff, undergraduate and graduate students across Temple’s 17 schools and colleges. Any burgeoning entrepreneur with a financially sound venture is encouraged to vie for one of the 13 prizes available this year, said Ellen Weber, IEI’s Executive Director. The competition attracted 163 registered teams and 180 participants in 2014. Once again, it will be held at Alter Hall, and all interested parties are urged to begin crafting their business plans now for the April 16 final competition. (Completed business plans will be accepted as early as mid-February. For now, interested parties can apply to receive a mentor.)

For Weber, the BYOBB aligns with the vision set forth by Temple University President Dr. Neil Theobald, whose commitment to the university includes a “real-world ready” emphasis for all students.

“The BYOBB gives our students the tools they need to be entrepreneurial in the workforce or to start their own businesses and to take control,” said Weber, who also serves as Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the Fox School of Business.

New for 2015, the competition focuses on selecting business plans that appeal to the accelerators and investors needed to take it from paper to practice. Encouraging team entries, as opposed to individuals, to ensure a high-quality product, this year’s BYOBB winners will participate in a summer accelerator program in which they will engage with experienced startup advisors, attorneys, investors and marketing experts to help turn their dreams into a profitable reality.

As Executive Director of the IEI, Weber oversees a BYOBB competition that is one of the most lucrative of its kind in the country. Helping successful startups for more than 15 years, the BYOBB has refined its entrance requirements to ensure its legacy of success. The panel of 300 reviewers is looking for a business plan, a pitch deck and the detailed financial assumptions and projections necessary to craft a realistic and sustainable company.

Looking for persuasive quality, BYOBB nurtures both the traditional for-profit ventures as well as companies with significant social impact. The social-impact track is for new ventures whose primary focus is to create social value. Social-impact plans must incorporate a measurable social and/or environmental bottom line into its mission and practices, and plan to attain financial self-sufficiency primarily through earned revenues, Weber said.

Thirteen companies will be selected for the final competition. They will participate in scrub sessions with investors and startup advisors to refine their pitch decks to be presented April 16. The final judges, comprised of business professionals and Temple alumni, will gather to critique presentations on how well its entrants pitched their services or products, how its entrepreneurial qualities solve a critical problem and gauge the entrants’ chances for success.

“We want Temple students to be known as people who can identify problems, come up with solutions and execute those solutions. That’s what entrepreneurs do,” Weber said.