What is the prize, and what is it for?
The Bill Gross Prize for Entrepreneurship awards prizes for undergraduate or graduate students who submit a business plan to launch a product, process, or a novel use for an existing technology. Students may apply as individuals or as members of a team.
Each year, qualifying applications will be reviewed, and chosen applicants will be mentored by OTTCP's Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and other volunteer mentors.
At the end of the mentorship period, each individual or team will present their business plan before a panel of volunteer judges from across the entrepreneurship community. Winning teams will split $100,000 and be considered for internships with Caltech-associated startups.
What is the timeline for the competition?
Drop-in info session, networking, and pizza lunch
Thursday, November 16 from 12-2pm
Caltech Innovation Center | 271 S Chester Ave.
The application form opens in the Fall Term and closes the first full week of Winter Term: January 8, 2024.
Finalists will be selected and announced week of January 15.
Finalists will be assigned mentorship and work on business plan during Winter Term.
Takes place in the beginning of Spring Term (week of April 8).
How do I apply?
Please fill out the form below with no more than 3 sentences for each question. Submissions with more than three sentences for each section will not be considered. Submissions with incomplete responses will also not be considered.
Questions? Want to join a team?
Please contact Brianna Chu for any further questions. If you want to join a team and don't have a business plan idea yourself, please contact us or indicate in the form below and we will matchmake you with a submission.
Frequently Asked Questions
The competition is open to all current Caltech students (undergraduate and graduate students).
- Teams may also include recent Caltech alumni (graduated June 2022 onward), and students from other institutions, as long as the team lead is a current Caltech student.
- International students should consult with the ISP Office with any questions.
All 6 finalists will receive a financial award: 1st and 2nd place receive $25K each; 3rd and 4th place receive $15K each; 5th and 6th place receive $10K.
- Funding will be awarded and paid to the legal business entity. The winning companies will be required to provide a W-9 tax documentation for their legal business entity. In-kind support may be subject to taxation and are the sole responsibility of the entity to which the awards are distributed.
- Awards will be given to the company in the form of a "simple agreement for future equity" (SAFE) note between Caltech and the startup entity, following a standard SAFE template with a $5M valuation cap.
- All applicants will receive mentorship and coaching on their business plans.
- All finalists will receive assistance with startup formation, including entity incorporation documents.
Yes. Other source(s) of funding you or your company has received has no bearing on your participation in this business plan competition.
Caltech patent policy applies – the Student Patent and Copyright Agreement can be found here. If you have questions about your particular situation, please contact us to discuss specifics.
Should your project or idea involve Caltech IP, your startup may need to take a commercial-use license. In this case, Caltech will be happy to consider granting the startup a license, which would be negotiated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with OTTCP's normal licensing practices.
There is no formal maximum team size, but we suggest teams of 1-5.
Yes, just create separate submissions for each project or idea.
Yes, there is no limit on the number of submissions from a person or team.
About Bill Gross (BS '81)
A lifetime entrepreneur, Bill Gross (BS '81) started his first business in high school, selling plans and kits for solar energy products. As a Caltech undergraduate, he patented a loudspeaker design and formed GNP Loudspeakers, Inc., to manufacture the product. After earning his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, Gross and his brother created a natural language product for Lotus 1-2-3 called HAL and established GNP Development, Inc., which was acquired by Lotus Development Corporation in 1985. In 1991, he launched Knowledge Adventure, an educational software publisher that eventually was sold to Havas/Vivendi. Gross founded Idealab, his dream laboratory, in 1996. Now the longest-running technology incubator, Idealab has introduced more than 150 companies with more than 45 IPOs and acquisitions. In 1999, after serving five years as a Young Alumni Trustee, Gross was elected to the Caltech Board of Trustees, where he currently chairs the Technology Transfer and Innovation Committee. He serves on the boards of numerous companies and is also a trustee of Art Center College of Design.