University of Maryland University of Maryland Business Plan Competition
Executive Summaries
Business Plans
Develop, Launch, Win

How to Write an Executive Summary

An executive summary is usually submitted by an entrepreneur seeking early-stage funding from venture capital firms. It serves as an introduction to potential funders. If Angels or VC’s show interest in financing the venture, they will generally require a full plan before executing any funding.

An executive summary is usually brief (a few pages) but contains enough of the business concept to enable a venture capitalist to make an initial evaluation. Well-written executive summaries are part marketing pitch and part clear business analysis.

For purposes of the preliminary round of the University of Maryland Business Plan Competition, executive summaries will be no more than 3 pages of text, single spaced, 12 point font. You may have 2 additional pages of charts and graphs. Font on those pages must be at least 10 point font. Total for the plan, therefore will be six pages- one page for a cover sheet (Cover page content is explained here.), three pages of narrative, and two pages of charts.

We recommend that your executive summary address the following important issues and supporting questions. The summary should begin with a paragraph that summarizes very succinctly the product or technology to be commercialized, the value proposition, the competitive advantage, and the magnitude of the target market. The body of the executive summary simply elaborates these key issues and includes a description of the (1) stage of development, (2) team, (3) intellectual property/competitive advantage, and (4) funding situation. We value well-organized, clear, and concise presentations. Acceptable plans include those promoting products or services in high-tech, bio-tech, scalable low-tech or high-potential niche markets. Purely life-style plans with low potential for scalability are not preferred. In answering the guideline questions, please tailor your submission to your particular business idea. The questions provided are broad in nature and may not completely apply to a specific plan. For submission guidelines click How Do I Enter?


What is the product , process, or new business model?
What is being sold and to whom?
Is it B2B, IT infrastructure, biotech, or what? 

What is the value proposition?
Why will customers buy this product or service?
What needs does your product / process / new business model satisfy?
Is it faster, less expensive, of better quality, or what?

What is the competitive advantage?
What does your product / service offer that is better than competitors' or substitutes?

What is the stage of development?
Are you at the conceptual, R&D, prototype, or test market stages?
Are there revenues or employees?
Does the company have an effective sales and marketing plan?

What is the size of the target market?
What is the expected industry share?
Who are the existing / expected competitors (direct and lateral)?
What barriers are there to entry of other competitors?
Who are the existing / expected customers and suppliers?
How concentrated are the customers and suppliers?
What are the switching costs for customers?
How long will it take to gain the expected market share?
What assumptions have you made?

What is the revenue and profit model?
Will revenues be derived from subscriptions, transaction fees, usage fees, advertising, licensing, product sales, or what?
How much profit will be earned and when?

Who are the team members and what do they add to the company?
What are their prior accomplishments?
What are their skills and areas of expertise?
What is their prior start-up experience?

Does this company have intellectual property or other assets?
Is there unique and valuable information that only this company has?
Can this knowledge be protected?

How has the company been funded to date (who and how much)? How much capital is needed and when?

Conducted by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute,
A. James Clark School of Engineering.
Copyright © 2007 University of Maryland.