The Sloan School of Business at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hosts a yearly competition for the best business plan. It's not just your average science fair project. Many entrepreneurs have used the money they won in the MIT competition to turn a paper plan into reality. Marketplace host David Brancaccio talks with two students, Jeremy Bender and Obadiah Plante, who won the contest in May 2002 ( - from 13:51 to 17:40).


Business, Entrepreneurship, Profit Motive


  • Explain the risks and returns that entrepreneurs face in their efforts to provide goods and services.
  • List and describe the types of preparation required for a entrepreneur to get funding for a business.
  • Explain how entrepreneurs contribute to a market economy.


Entrepreneurs must take many steps to start up their own businesses. MIT sponsors a competition that takes two new entrepreneurs through these steps. In this lesson, students learn how entrepreneurs develop a business plan; they also learn about potential risks and profits involved in starting a business.


[Note to teacher: The following link requires RealPlayer .]


Activity 1

Have the students listen to the Marketplace audio file (from 13:51 to 17:40) about 'MIT's Business Plan Competition.' As they listen they will complete an outline of important information contained in the story. Then they will use their outlines to answer both factual and evaluative questions about economic concepts addressed in the story.

Give the students the following instructions:

Listen to the Marketplace audio file about MIT's Business Plan Competition - . Play from 13:51 through 17:40.

While you are listening, use the Note-Taker to record supporting details about three main ideas.

These are the three main ideas you will focus on today:
Office Desk

  • Competition Structure
  • Ancora Pharmaceuticals' Structure and Business Plan
  • Questions Asked by Judges and Venture Capitalists

As you listen to the segment, record any words you don't know or words that may be important economic terms. 

Then listen to the Audio File (from 13:51 to 17:40) again to gather additional supporting details and possible definitions of the vocabulary words using context clues, and record the details and definitions in your note-taker.

Finally, you will be asked a series of questions related to the story.


1. Have the students turn in their note-takers. Student work should reflect an understanding of the risks and benefits that entrepreneurs must consider when starting up a business.

2. Have the students listen to the Audio File (from 13:51 to 17:40) again and discuss the following questions with classmates:

  • What are the main components that a business plan must address in order to be successful?
  • What was it about the Ancora Pharmaceuticals' business plan that made it attractive?
  • What risks will the entrepreneurs face when starting Ancora Pharmaceuticals?
  • How do entrepreneurs contribute to a market system?
  • Why are entrepreneurs vital in keeping innovation going?

THINK ABOUT IT: What do you think motivates entrepreneurs?


Hand Shake

Conclude the lesson with a brief exchange of ideas. By the conclusion of this lesson, the students should be able to identify at least three main elements in Ancora Pharmaceuticals' business plan that helped it win the competition. Use this discussion to identify the risks and rewards that entrepreneurs face.


Have the students further explore entrepreneurship in the following two lessons:

'Business Ownership: How Sweet It Can Be!'

'The Entrepreneur in You'

Have the students use the Internet to look for business information about Ancora Pharmaceuticals. The winners of the competition stated that they would open their business in the summer of 2002. Did they find investors? Have they continued the business successfully?


  • “The sba website is a wonderful resource!!”

    Patricia P., Chillicothe, MO   POSTED ON November 18, 2009