The Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln hosts the New Venture Competition on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 3-4. Held at the Nebraska Union, undergraduates of all majors and graduate students pitch their business plan to compete for over $75,000 in total prize money. Students who want to participate must register by Sunday, March 25.
Given 15 minutes to present their business plan to a panel of judges, they then complete a 10-minute question and answer session. Entrepreneurs, investors and successful leaders of the Nebraska business community serve as the judges of each room.
Dr. Samantha Fairclough, associate director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of practice in management, said, “The New Venture Competition is an opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their business ideas, startups and early stage ventures in order to compete for cash prizes to fund themselves and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs, investors and financial professionals.”
Teams compete in a bracket-style format, split out amongst 12 different rooms. Winners from each room move on to compete against other room winners. There will be two grand prizes of $25,000 as well as cash prizes for the first and second runners-up.
“The cash prizes are certainly an attraction for competitors and can be an important kick-start to their journey to get the funding they need to start or grow a business. But the competition is not just about the money. The experience of writing a plan, pitching it to a panel and then responding to some fairly tough questions is a fantastic method of refining and testing business ideas, and a way for students to build confidence and resilience,” Fairclough said. “Even if they don’t win, students appreciate the learning opportunity the competition presents. The judges who hear the pitches are always impressed by the creativity and passion of the students, which motivates them to come back year after year to judge. They also enjoy seeing which teams make it through the bracket – the winners could be the next Hudl!”
Open to the university community to attend, the presentations begin at 9 a.m. the first day of the competition. The first day includes the initial two rounds of the bracket, with finalists being determined by the end of the day. The finalists compete the next day at 1 p.m., followed by the awards presentation where the winners will be announced. A reception will be hosted by the center after the awards.