15 Business Competitions for High School Students
- Why Should You Enter an Investing Competition?
- 15 Business Competitions for High School Students
- How Do Business Competitions Affect My Admissions Chances?
Whether you dream of being a billionaire businessman like Mark Cuban, an investment icon like Warren Buffet, or a founder who’s focused on giving back like Hamdi Ulukaya, the creator and CEO of Chobani, entering a business competition for high schoolers is often a great first step toward a successful enterprise.
Why Should You Enter an Investing Competition?
Business competitions are a great opportunity to show off your entrepreneurial spirit while gaining a deeper understanding of the challenges of starting and running a business. Business competitions allow you to highlight in-demand skills like idea generation, creative thinking, leadership, and communication. They also give you a chance to learn about building a business and to test your ideas in a relatively risk-free environment—after all, there is no capital or investment to lose.
Many business competitions will also connect you with real-life professionals and college business school faculty. This creates both the chance for mentorship and the foundation of a business network that can serve you both inside and outside of the classroom—it can help with everything from gaining college admission to getting a business off the ground.
Business competitions for high schoolers also often provide winners with monetary awards or scholarships which are beneficial for keeping the cost of college down—something every aspiring business person can appreciate.
15 Business Competitions for High School Students
Date(s): 2023 dates announced in August
This business challenge tasks students between ages 13 and 18 to apply science and technology to solve global issues, create a pitch, and build a business plan. Participants work in teams of two to five students to compete in four traditional categories and one special category that changes annually. The four traditional categories are:
- Aerospace and aviation
- Cyber technology and security
- Energy and environment
- Health and Nutrition
The 2021/2022 special category was “re-purposed farmlands and alternative uses of tobacco (and its by-products)”.
The Blue Ocean High School Entrepreneur Pitch Competition is one of the world’s most prestigious business competitions for high school students. Participants can work alone or in teams of up to five to generate an innovative product or service that the world needs and pitch it in a maximum five-minute-long video.
Individuals between the ages of 13 and 29 are invited to participate in this business competition focused on using entrepreneurship to solve global issues. Participants are challenged to create or implement an idea, project, concept, solution, or initiative with a societal impact that addresses one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The Wharton Global High School Investment Competition is a highly regarded business competition for high schoolers and is open to students in grades nine through 12. Participants are required to examine a case study of a potential client and create a portfolio that meets their long-term goals using $100,000 in hypothetical funds. Unlike investment competitions that select winners based on the performance of their portfolio, Wharton Global High School Investment Competition winners are chosen based on the strength and articulation of their investment strategy.
The GYEC is a 12-hour, online, worldwide business competition for high school students ages 14 through 19. Participants work in teams of up to eight students—each ideally possessing broad and complementary skill sets—to solve a significant global problem using an innovative and sustainable enterprise idea. Winning teams will receive a trophy along with an award certificate.
Participants in the GENIUS Olympiad compete in numerous categories (including business) focused on environmental issues. Students can compete in one of two business tracks: entrepreneurship or social responsibility. Both tracks require the participant to deliver a presentation as if they were making a real pitch for funding—dressing in formal business attire and including an accompanying PowerPoint presentation.
This well-known high school business competition is an initiative of Horn Entrepreneurship
at the University of Delaware. The challenge features two tracks for participants to compete, business innovation and social innovation. Both tracks require participants to work in teams of two to four students, to submit a concept narrative, and provide a pitch deck. Diamond Challenge offers substantial awards to its winners—first place takes home $11,000, second place $7,500, and third place $3,750.
This Pirates Pitch Competition for High School Students is provided by Seton Hall University and is aimed at teaching high schoolers the basics of entrepreneurship and idea generation. To enter the competition, participants must submit a business idea in 350 words or less. Finalists will need to pitch their idea to judges in a live virtual event. Competition winners receive both a cash prize and a generous scholarship to Seton Hall.
The Yale DHSRI High School Investment Competition is hosted by the Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investment Fund at Yale University, the nation’s oldest undergraduate-run socially responsible investment fund. Competing in teams of two or four students, high schoolers (students in grades nine through 12 are eligible to participate) build a portfolio using $100,000 in virtual funds and ultimately submit a final investment report that outlines their strategy, learning process, and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) themes.
10. DECA Challenges
For three-quarters of a century, DECA has been helping to prepare future entrepreneurs and leaders in marketing, finance, and hospitality. DECA has more than 3,000 high school chapters and 175,000 members. Throughout the year, DECA issues many challenges to its members, many of which are business focused and require participants to demonstrate specific skills and knowledge.
STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math)-based business is at the heart of the tecBridge High School Business Plan Competition. Participants are expected to create sustainable and scalable concepts, answer a series of questions, and deliver a ten-minute-long presentation. Students are also expected to demonstrate creativity, critical thinking, and top-notch presentation skills.
Young entrepreneurs are challenged to think of ways to make the world a better place to live by using business to implement change in this high school business competition. The competition is open to all high school students and requires them to submit a 1,075-word description of their business idea. Nearly $35,000 in prizes are awarded annually, including a $1,000 first prize.
Utah high school students ages 14 to 18 can show off their entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas in this business competition. Students are encouraged to form teams of up to five students to compete in the HSUEC and are required to submit a business proposal that details:
- the opportunity or problem the business/product addresses
- the solution or improvement the business/product provides
- the market the business/product competes in, its target customer, and what sets it apart from the competition
Participants must also submit a prototype in any medium of what their idea, product, or service will look like.
The West Virginia High School Business Plan Competition is open to West Virginia students in grades nine through 12. The competition is aimed at helping high schoolers learn how to move a business idea from conception to action. Participants can compete either as an individual or in teams of up to four people. Submissions to the contest are in the form of a maximum 90-second YouTube video that addresses three key points:
- the business product or service
- the problem or opportunity and why is it a problem or opportunity
- the customer and how the product/service solves their problem
This awesome business competition—open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors—is presented by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Alta Resources Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Students can compete alone or in teams of up to three and are asked to present an idea or solution to a problem that could lead to a business. Finalists will need to deliver a four-minute-long pitch to a panel of judges. Prizes include cash awards as well as scholarships to UW Oshkosh.
How Do Business Competitions Affect My Admissions Chances?
Business competitions can have varying levels of influence on your odds of getting accepted into college. Everything from the prestige of the competition to where you are placed to the value a college places on extracurricular activities like business competitions can impact the weight they’re given by an admissions office.
The four tiers of extracurricular activities are useful for better understanding how colleges consider your activities outside of the classroom. Top-tier activities (those in tiers one and two) include participation in the most well-thought-of and distinguished competitions. Winning or placing highly in a top-tier competition can significantly improve your admissions odds. Less prominent and lesser-known competitions fall into tiers three and four. Lower-tiered activities don’t hold the same sway over admissions offices and have less effect on admissions chances.
Interested in learning how your participation in a business competition influences your odds of getting into your dream school? CollegeVine can help! Our free chancing calculator considers factors such as grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of getting into hundreds of colleges and universities while also providing insight into how to improve your profile.