Centers | Texas Venture Labs

Rules and Guidelines


Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition (Texas VLIC) is designed to mimic the real-world process of raising venture capital. The competition allows graduate students from The University of Texas at Austin to gain real experience while developing and growing new ventures based either on their own ideas and technologies or those developed by others.

The spirit of the competition is to allow companies conceived and developed during the graduate school experience to participate. This means excluding companies started before graduate school admission or companies which are an expansion of an established business.

This document sets out guidelines to capture these goals. Not every circumstance can be anticipated. We reserve the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, regulations or spirit of the competition.

Participating teams are responsible for ensuring their eligibility. Violations by the teams will result in their disqualification from the competition as well as forfeiture of any awards and prize money.

If at any point you have questions about your eligibility to compete or the rules as they are laid out below, please send an email to or for clarification.


Rules and Guidelines

Nature of Ventures

Companies must intend to be operating companies with corporate structures and financial statements that reflect real operating revenues and expenses. This is intended to exclude investment vehicles, partnerships, licensing and other pass-through entities where returns are measured for investment value versus operating earnings.

The Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition focuses on new, independent ventures in the seed, startup or early growth stages. In addition to what is outlined in the above paragraph, generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchise based outlets, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area and spin-outs from existing corporations. Licensing technologies from The University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Technology Commercialization or from the technology transfer offices of other universities or research labs is encouraged assuming there has been no previous commercialization. Key in these types of ventures is demonstrating significant added value to the technology through the efforts of the management team.

All ventures must be seeking outside equity capital.

Prior Activity

Ventures, and their base concepts, may compete only once in the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition. Also, ventures may not compete in the VLIC affiliated competitions after competing in the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition. Ventures that have generated revenue or raised equity capital from sources other than the members of the student team before the current academic year are excluded.

Faculty Involvement

For the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, the business venture need not be prepared under faculty supervision. Students from outside the McCombs School of Business will receive support from Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs in preparing their business plan and accompanying presentation.  Ideally, however, the venture will be prepared for credit in a regularly scheduled course or as an independent study. The executive summary and business plan must represent the original work of members of the team.

Team Composition

This is a competition for University of Texas at Austin graduate students; teams with a minority of undergraduates can compete. Students from any graduate program—not just MBAs—are eligible to participate, including executive and evening format programs. Non-students may be members of the venture's management team and may participate in planning the venture, however only students may participate in the competition.

Student Involvement

The competition is for University of Texas at Austin student created, managed and owned ventures. This is the most common area for requested rules clarification. The guidelines are:

    • Students played a major role in conceiving the venture by having key management roles and owning significant equity in the venture.
  • Significant equity is 50% or more of the equity allocated to the management team and key advisers.
  • The objective of this rule is to exclude ventures formed and managed by non-students who have token student representation to compete on the investment circuit.

Student Enrollment

This competition is for students currently enrolled in graduate school, not just MBAs. Students in certificate programs or post-docs are specifically excluded from the competition. We encourage executive education or evening school students to participate in the competitions. Students in an executive or evening school program who graduate between September and May of the current academic year are eligible to compete in that academic year's competitions. Students in these programs that graduate from June to August may opt to compete in the following academic year. Such students are not allowed to compete in the competition in multiple academic years using the same plan.

Exceptions will be made for students who both formed their business venture for academic credit and graduated during the preceding summer.

James D. Pippin Veteran Entrepreneurship Award

The Pippin Award is a separate cash prize awarded to a team with one or more U.S. military veteran co-founders. Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs and its veteran advisory team will make the final determination regarding a team’s eligibility for the award.

Preparing an Executive Summary

Summaries should be submitted as a single, printable PDF file. Documents are limited to no more than two pages with the following parameters:  format is 1.5 line spacing with 1 inch top, bottom, left and right margins and 12-point font. This line spacing and font requirement applies to the textual content of the document and not to titles and descriptions accompanying pictures, graphs, tables or worksheets.

Include an explanation of the offering to investors indicating how much money is required, how it will be used and the proposed structure of the deal.

Preparing a Business Plan

The business plan is required for each team at submission, but might not be evaluated by the judges.  In the case of a particularly engaging executive summary, the judges are encouraged to include the business plan in their decision.

Your business plan is limited to the following maximum page counts:

  • Title Page— one  page
  • Table of Contents— one  page
  • Executive Summary— two pages
  • Body of Plan—10 pages
  • Appendices and Exhibits— six pages

All plans must be submitted using 12 point font with 1.5 line spacing.  This spacing and font requirement applies to the textual content of the document and not to titles and descriptions accompanying pictures, graphs, tables or worksheets. All pages must be numbered excluding the cover page. The cover page must include venture name and university affiliation.  Margins for the top, bottom, left and right-hand side are to be 1.0 inch.  Plans should also be submitted as a single printable PDF file.

Some additional guidelines regarding content include:

  • Financial data should include cash flow, income statement and balance sheet details
  • Delineate the exit strategies if equity is part of the offering
  • Appendices should be included only when they support the findings, statements and observations in the plan

Presentation Rules

The presentation format is 30 minutes running clock and judges may interrupt at any time with questions.

Each member of the team present at the competition must participate fully in the formal presentation of the plan.

Teams may not observe other teams’ presentations in their division until after they have presented their own plan.

Each team needs to supply its own PC-compatible laptop computer and is responsible for assuring it works with the provided audio-visual equipment in advance of their presentation.

IP Considerations

Teams requiring non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should not participate.

All sessions of the competition are open to the public and may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include radio, television and the Internet.

Any data or information discussed or divulged throughout the competition should be considered information that will enter the public domain.

The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business and the organizer of the Venture Labs Investment Competition may make photocopies, photographs, video recordings and/or audio recordings of the presentations including the business plan and other documents, charts, media or other material prepared for use in presentation at VLIC.

The above entities may use the materials in any book or other printed materials and any videotape or other medium that they may produce, provided that any profits earned from the sale of such items is used by these entities solely to defray the costs of future Venture Labs Investment or affiliated Competitions. These entities have non-exclusive world rights in all languages and in all media to use or to publish the materials in any book, other printed materials, videotapes or other medium and to use the materials in future editions thereof and derivative products.

Representing The University of Texas at Austin

The winner of the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition will represent UT Austin at the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition in May.

All teams competing in the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition may apply to Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs to represent UT at Austin at one, or more, of the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition affiliate competitions.  Only those teams recommended by the Director of Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs will be accepted by the affiliate competitions as the UT at Austin representative.   All teams are also encouraged to apply to the Global VLIC via the Open Berth process.  Information on this process and its requirements can be found here.

Page last updated: 2/11/2015