Arts Business Idea Competition Guidelines and Application

2024 Guidelines

Who Can Apply?

This competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students from any major and any Penn State campus. The only requirement is that the business idea/concept is arts-based. Freelance, non-profit, for-profit, hybrid, and small or large-scale ideas are welcome.

Selection Criteria for the Four Finalists

The finalists will be chosen based on the quality of the business plan in terms of effort, attention to detail, clarity, professionalism, and the potential viability of the arts business.

Please keep in mind that scalability, or the potential for high growth is not a metric for success.

Demonstrating viability, not scalability, should be the primary concern as you develop your business concept and prepare your business plan. A freelancer who makes $40K a year doing their art is a success, and a scalable arts business with a $2 million annual budget is also a success; one is not more successful than another. Fiscal solvency is the main factor here.

Real-world traction and implementation is not required, but is an advantage, and should be highlighted in your business plan submission.

How to Enter the Competition: Semi-Final Round

Inform Dr. Gangi of your intent to apply as soon as you decide to enter the competition by sending an email to Submit a PDF document of your business plan to Dr. Gangi via email by 11:59 p.m. March 1, 2024. Finalists will be announced via email by March 11, 2024.

Final Round

Finalists will present their business concept to a panel of judges who will choose the winners during TBD. Exact date and time during that week is TBD. All finalists must be able to attend the final round.

  • 1st place $5,000
  • 2nd place $3,500
  • 3rd place $1,500

Competition Winners Recognition Event – Date/Time TDB

The first-place finalist must participate in this event. All finalists are strongly encouraged to attend this event.

Arts Business Idea Competition Application: The Plan

Using Times New Roman 12-point font, the document should be a maximum of 5 pages in length (not including the budget section), single-spaced, with two spaces between paragraphs. Use the headings provided below. Your budget should begin on page 6. Please email Dr. Gangi at if you have any questions or need help as you complete your arts business plan.

Summary of the Arts Business Idea

What is your company name?

Your Mission Statement?

Describe your arts business idea in one paragraph by answering the following questions: Is there a need or problem that you are solving or are you satisfying desires and wants? Do you envision that the business will grow to become large, or will this be a small business? Is it for-profit, not-for-profit, or a hybrid? Other?


Describe your product(s) and/or service(s).

Are your customers individual end-users, other businesses, or both?

Estimate the target customers for the product(s)/service(s) using sociodemographic descriptors, psychographic descriptors, and geographic descriptors.

What are the product/service benefits offered to your current/future customers?

How will your product/service offerings make their lives better in some way?

What value are you providing?

Revenue Model

Describe the pricing strategy for the product/service.

What actually generates cash?

What does a transaction look like?

Operating Approach

How do you do the things it takes to accomplish those transactions mentioned in the Revenue Model section?

How is your product produced?

Describe the distribution channel and distribution strategy for the product/service.

Estimate consumer decision-making processes for the product/service. Will/do your consumers make purchase decisions based on Cognitive (logical) or Affective (emotional) Processes?

Are the decision-makers the users of the product or service, or simply to buyer, such as parents buying for their children?

Describe your marketing objectives (what you wish to achieve), strategies (how you are going to achieve it), and tactics (the tools you will use, such as advertising, personal selling, PR, sales promotion, social media, other, etc.) for your product(s)/service(s).

Describe how you will provide great customer service at all points of customer interactions, such as pre-consumption, consumption, and post-consumption.

People Approach

If a team is needed, describe the team.

What skills and talents are critical?

How will you tap into them?


What is unique about what you are doing?

Why will it attract resources?

What is your competitive advantage over other similar businesses?


What are the specific risks to launching and sustaining your business?

How are you mitigating these risks?

Action Plan and Timeline

Describe your action plan and timeline to launch your arts business.

Real-World Traction

If you have taken action and validated any of the assumptions listed in your business plan, describe what you’ve accomplished or learned. This includes any sales, progress in product development, marketing, networking, etc. Remember, real-world traction is not necessary to enter the competition, but it is a great advantage!


Create a budget projecting income and expenses showing how you hope your business will work once its operating at an optimal level. These numbers will be fictional unless the business is already operating. Fictional numbers are the only possibility at the early stage of a business concept, however, your projections should be as realistic as possible. If you have real numbers, include them and be clear about which numbers are projected vs. real.

Show your assumptions in arriving at all numbers, for income and expenses. For example, if you are a music teacher and your income is $72,000 annually, show how many lessons per month you would need to teach and the cost of lessons. (i.e. 30 one-hour lessons per week at $60 per hour for 10 months equals $72,000 per year of gross income).