CEO Program and Student Business Plan Competition

Have you ever thought about turning an idea into a business? The South Dakota Mines Competitive Entrepreneurial Opportunity (CEO) Program is a comprehensive, semester-long program that immerses students in learning to draft a business plan and culminates in a pitch competition for cash prizes. The CEO Program is the perfect starting point for students who are interested in entrepreneurship. 

This unique program features workshops on opportunity identification, introduces students to business concepts and project financials, and works through the development of a standard business plan. Students from the CEO Program have gone on to win several state and national business plan competitions in addition to securing other forms of funding and recognition including the SD Governor’s Giant Vision Business Plan Competition.

Eligibility Requirements

  • All South Dakota Mines, Black Hills State, Western Dakota Tech, National American University, and Chadron State students are eligible. West River high school students are also eligible.
  • One Team member must be a full time student at South Dakota Mines or other participating institution.
  • Each team must submit a business plan.
  • Must attend Business Financials and Business Plan Training.
  • See Calendar Below

How To Register

Please send an email to and include the following information:

  • Name, School’s Name, Email address, Major (undergraduate or graduate), of each team member
  • Idea or Business Name
  • A very brief description of your idea or business

Team Support

  • Business Plan Training
  • Financial Training by Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
  • Mentoring by Entrepreneurs-In-Residence


  • All teams must provide a written business plan with financial statements
  • Semi-Finalist to present their business plan to panel of judges (7 minute presentation, 3 minute q/a)
    • 30% Quality of Business Plan
    • 40% Impact of Presentation
    • 30% Overall Assessment of Business Potential


  • 1st Place - $4,000
  • 2nd Place - $3,000
  • 3rd Place - $2,000
  • 1st Place High School - $500
  • Best Agricultural Plan - $1,000
  • 2023 Competition Calendar

    Information Sessions

    September 11 @ 5 pm
    September 14 @ 5 pm
    Surbeck Center - Hardrock Room

    Email Intent to Compete to:

    By Friday, September 22
    Business Plan Training

    September 28 @ 5 pm
    October 4 @ 5 pm
    Classroom Building, Room 205                       

    Mentor Support: Each team will receive a mentor(s) by
    Week of October 9
    Training to Develop Business Financials: Facilitated by Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Week of October 23
    Submit Business Plan to Due November 26
    Notification of Finalists Week of November 27
    Finalist Pitches and Awards December 2
    King Center, Hall of Fame Conference Room


    Contact the Office of Economic Development:
    Phone: 605-394-5168

    Thank you Sponsors!

    West River Electric Assoc.
    BigDLogo Big D Oil Co OfcOfPresLogo South Dakota Mines
    Office of the President


    BlackHillsEnergyLogo Black Hills Energy logoGoldenWest Golden West
    logoSiouxSteel Sioux Steel Biotech Logo South Dakota Biotech

    elevateRC logo
    Elevate Rapid City

      SDepscor logo SD EPSCoR  

    * Governor’s Office of Economic Development funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration.

    Office of Economic Development

    (605) 394-5168