Welcome to the Liftoff Houston Start-Up Business Plan Competition Website!


NOVEMBER 7,2020  11:00 AM-1:00PM


Liftoff Houston is the City of Houston's annual business plan competition. It is an entrepreneurial initiative that aims to empower Houstonians with business literacy education and mentorship to start their own businesses while contributing to the local growth and sustainability of the Houston economy. It is sponsored by Capital One Bank, which provides cash prizes totaling $30,000. This year, there are two ways to participate in Liftoff Houston:

  • The 2020 Liftoff Houston Start-Up Business Plan Competition 
    • Minimum Eligibility Requirements:
      • Must be in the start-up phase of your business, which means you either must have a business idea or have a business in operation for less than one year
      • Must have revenue of less than $10,000 
      • Must live within the City of Houston limits. Also, if you have a business location, it must be within the City of Houston limits.
    • Reward: 
      • Win $10,000 for your idea/business. 
      • Gain skills that will help you take your idea or small business to the next level

  • The 2020 Liftoff Houston Educational Pathway
    • Minimum Eligibility Requirements:
      • None
    • Reward: 
      • Gain skills that will help you take your idea or small business to the next level
      • Receive Certificate of Completion 
      • Meet the prerequisite for the annual HCC Business Plan Competition by attending all required workshops and submitting a written business plan in the same calendar year. 

Both programs will include orientation, workshops and mentoring sessions. However, the competition will have an additional component of presenting and pitching a business plan for an idea or an existing business for a chance to win the cash prize. Contestants and Educational Pathway participants will participate in a myriad of workshops ranging from business plan basics to raising capital, as well as information sessions on essential City of Houston business resources available through the Houston Public Library (HPL) and the City's Office of Business Opportunity (OBO.) The goal is to enable individuals to successfully research and develop their business plans. They will also receive additional support from professional mentors from SCORE Houston and Capital One Bank to further refine the business plan for submission.

There will be three award categories: Product, Service, and Innovation.

$10,000 – Awarded for top “Product” Based Business Plan (Retail, resale, merchandise, etc.)

$10,000 – Awarded for top “Service” Based Business Plan (Food, labor, consulting, etc.)

$10,000 – Awarded for top “Innovation” Based Business Plan (Software, Hardware, inventions, new market businesses, etc.)

The 2020 Liftoff Houston Start-Up Business Plan Competition will launch on July 8, 2020. Application will open on July 8, 2020 at 12 p.m. and will close on August 10, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Orientation is REQUIRED for everyone. Click on one of the links below to RSVP for orientation.  

Click here to see 2020 LiftOff Houston Workshop Schedule

The competition will be held online at www.liftoffhouston.smapply.orgDue to COVID-19, the workshops will be held virtually until further notice. Contestants/participants only need to register for ONE session of each topic. Each topic is offered multiple times to allow all contestants more than one opportunity to attend. Please do not sign up for more than one session.

Step 1: Click "Register" on the top right of this page to create an account. (Once you finish creating an account the website will send you a confirmation email to confirm that you have a working email.)

Step 2: Complete the "Eligibility Test" to determine the program you are eligible for.

Step 3: Complete an application either for the Liftoff Houston Start-Up Business Plan Competition or the Liftoff Houston Educational Pathway.

Liftoff team members are available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Calls or e-mails outside of regular business hours will not be returned until the following business day.

City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity
Twitter/Facebook: @Liftoffhouston

Telephone: 832-393-0954