By Brooke Bailey
One student entrepreneur team will walk away with $25,000 next week at Baylor’s New Venture competition. The students are pitching their business plans to judges in hopes of winning the cash prize and receiving some feedback from business experts.
The 12 competing finalists have passed the first two rounds of judging and will present their business plans March 1-2 for the last leg of the competition.
Business scholars and entrepreneurs give feedback to student teams every step of the way. In addition to the $25,000 grand prize, students have the opportunity to win differing amounts of cash during certain phases of the competition.
The first part of the finals is closed to the public. The finalists will participate in feedback sessions with the judges, which will help shape their presentations, Nemec said.
The morning of March 2, all 12 teams will give their pitches to the panel of judges. Judges select the top five to continue the competition. The final presentations are from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. at Kayser Auditorium and are open to the public.
The awards ceremony will conclude the day from 3:15 to 3:30 p.m. at Kayser Auditorium. The top five are eligible to win the $25,000, but all 12 teams will walk away with a minimum of an honorable mention and $1,000.
The competition has grown since its debut. In a year, the size and dynamic has changed from 14 Baylor submissions, to 59 applicants from Baylor and 12 other schools. Last year, $25,000 was given to student entrepreneurs by the end of the competition. This year, the total doubled to $50,000.
Business planning competitions are not new, but this is only Baylor’s second year to host this competition.
Wes Nemec is the coordinator of New Venture Competition and hopes to continue growing the competition. Making the competition a mainstay and offering more support are the goals, he said.
Nemec said it was important to reach out to other schools to get involved.
The more applicants and schools represented, the more the competition will grow.
“In order to make it more sustainable, you have to invite others and recruit top talent from the state of Texas and beyond,” Nemec said.
A business plan competition will help increase the rankings of Baylor’s entrepreneurship program, said Dr. Leslie Palich, assistant director of the entrepreneurial studies program. The entrepreneurship program is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation.
“It was an important addition to the entrepreneurship program,” Palich said.
Nemec said the experience of creating a business model, giving elevator pitches and receiving tips from experts far outweighs the cash prize.
“It’s a different opportunity that you can’t get from anywhere else. You can read a book or take a class, but you can’t understand it until you do entrepreneurship,” Nemec said.
Fredricksburg graduate student Charlie Gasmire thinks it is a win-win situation for his team. Presenting to an audience is one of the biggest benefits, he said.
“The money would be a cherry on top,” Gasmire said.
Gasmire’s team is presenting their plan for Vendevor, a company that helps small businesses sell products online. Nemec and Palich both encourage students to apply for next year’s competition.
“If you are passionate about entrepreneurship, it will be worth it to you,” Nemec said.
Undergraduate and graduate students who have a business plan are eligible to compete. It’s more than just having a plan, though, Palich said. Any student team presenting needs to have a legitimate ownership interest in its business.