John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge at UM Postponed to Fall 2021

Feb. 26, 2021


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MISSOULA – Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and current vaccination projections, the University of Montana College of Business and Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars at UM are postponing the 32nd annual John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge (JRBSC) until the fall of 2021.

This delay is in the hopes of hosting the event in-person and providing the most well-rounded and safe experience for all parties involved.

“We pride ourselves on our ability to effectively promote and encourage the success of student entrepreneurs and their business startups in Montana for over 30 years now,” Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars at UM Paul Gladen said. “We truly believe the deepest value comes from the face-to-face networking and interactions involved with an in-person event.”

Since 1989, the UM College of Business has hosted the annual John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge, the premier opportunity for Montana’s brightest and boldest students to present exciting new entrepreneurial ideas for adjudication. It is the only statewide student business startup challenge, open to all college students in Montana, which awards $50,000 in prize money annually.

“Thank you to our generous sponsors for making these opportunities available to students across Montana,” Alex Rich, Assistant Director of Development at the College of Business said.

The 31st JRBSC received over 24 sponsorships, including title sponsors Missoula Economic Partnership and Ontra Marketing Group.

While the competition has been postponed, both the UM campus and Blackstone LaunchPad at UM remain open for business.

Information and details on the rescheduling of the event will be made available on the competition website (


The University of Montana is the flagship university of the state. The College of Business at UM is nationally renowned and has been named the top business school in the Big Sky Conference by U.S. News and World Report for five consecutive years.