Build the Business Competition

Process and Schedule of Events:

Early September: NU students are notified that they can compete to create a line of business for a company that possesses a patented product, invention or intellectual property. Student teams must have 3 members (multi-disciplines/majors are recommended)

Mid-September: Sponsor company presents the product innovation to students, showing a prototype , if available, and discusses the possibilities for this product and or innovation in the market.

Late September: Northwood student teams pitch their capabilities to company sponsor representatives. That same day, winning teams are announced and presented with a check for $450.

November: Northwood student teams present the business model and value proposition that they recommend for the product innovation to the sponsoring company. Winning teams are awarded a check for $1200 to move forward in the competition advancing them to produce a market plan and three year financial proforma.

Mid February: Final selected teams will present recommended market plan and financial proformas to sponsoring company. The winning team is awarded a check for $3000 and the potential option to come to work for the company as a summer intern or employee to launch the product and line of business if the company sponsor desires.

What are the benefits of sponsoring the Build the Business Competition?

Student teams produce outcomes that present recommended commercialization plans, business model alternatives, market research and target markets alternatives for company sponsors with patents, new innovations, technology or intellectual property.

Build the Business Competition Teams

Who might want to sponsor this competition?

  • A startup company who needs to solidify a commercialization plan for potential investors

  • A seed funded startup in need of further target market strategy to meet investor milestones

  • A 2nd stage company that possesses a technology, intellectual property or patent interested in growing an additional or complementary line of business

  • An inventor, entrepreneur or startup with an innovation, patent or concept that needs vetting

Companies or entrepreneurs interested in participating should contact John Gustincic, Director of the ABDCCE, at

Build the Business Competition 2012-2013

In 2012-2013, the Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity & Enterprise hosted a Build the Business Competition sponsored by the FC Mason Company and Chris Turner (NU ’92, MI campus), President & CEO of the FC Mason Company. The competition, which launched in September 2012, began by challenging students to create a line of business and commercialize a patented product owned by the F.C. Mason Company. Over the next several months, student teams pitched their personal capabilities, business model alternatives, market research, brand development, financial proformas and target market selections to win cash prizes.

Ready Lock Team

"This competition put classroom concepts into real world experience. We have been friends since freshman year. We enjoyed working together and utilized each other’s skills to make the best team. The opportunity to work with a new patent and product provided a great professional experience that is very valuable to our future."

The Ready Lock Team – Competition Winners 2012-2013

"This competition is unparalleled. It is uniquely aimed at the connection between innovation and its commercial potential. It proves that Northwood University students can be challenged and successfully demonstrate an understanding of the commercialization process involved in developing a feasible plan for innovative products, ideas and inventions."

Georgia Abbott, DeVos Graduate School MBA Fieldwork Coordinator


"What a great experience!" "This competition showcases the value of both teamwork and individual effort in a way that no other program can. Success is proven when business meets potential, and inspiration is allowed to flow through challenge."

John Gingrich, Engineering Manager

"This was a fantastic opportunity for FC Mason Company. These extremely sharp students provided us with pre-market feedback, product application scrutiny, and professional business plans. They also provided us with some great ideas about applications and markets that hadn’t been discussed before. Overall, a very worthwhile process that proved to be a lot of fun for all involved. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to participate!"

Chris Turner, President & CEO

"The success of the Build the Business Competition is compelling for the students to know they can put their entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge to use in the business world. While the event was inspiring to the participating students, it was equally inspiring to us as employers to know there are academic programs cultivating a vision combined with practical experience to prepare students for success in business and life."

Brett Maki, V.P. Business Development