By Seth Klamann
Ten student teams will pitch their startup business plans next year for a $15,000 grand prize through the University of Wyoming.
The contest, officially called the John P. Ellbogen $30k Entrepreneurship Competition, originally had a record-setting 76 teams competing, according to a UW news release. The top-placing teams of the 10 finalists will successfully pitch business plans that “show significant business potential.”
The judges, which typically are venture capitalists but will also include educators and entrepreneurs, will examine the proposals’ financials, their need — or lack of need — in the market and students’ passion for the ideas.
The teams will also be judged on their likelihood of keeping their businesses in Wyoming, said Steve Russell, the business college’s marketing and external relations director. Keeping these new business startups in Wyoming is a primary part of the competition, he said.
The final teams have been paired with a mentor to counsel them on their proposals, Russell said. Those mentors vary from alumni to community leaders who work in areas that are helpful to the teams. Russell said the advisers are just as helpful to winning teams as the prize money.
The mentors can help teams “jump over potholes that others have stepped in over the years,” he said.
The 10 finalists will pitch their startups at a conference on April 20 at the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. The event is open to the public.
The competition, which has been held for about 15 years, has grown in the past three years from 14 applicants in 2014 and 47 last year to 76 this year.
The winning team will receive $7,500 after the competition and an another $7,500 after a “satisfactory progress report” is submitted later. Russell said the progress reports should show that the teams have used the first half of their prize money to improve their winning ideas. That can mean attending conferences or buying needed equipment.
The second place team will win $7,500, and the third place winner will take home $5,000. Both teams will also receive half upfront and half after showing their progress after the competition.
The teams‘ pitches are:
A peer-to-peer cleaning service” that allows a client to post a short description of an area that needs cleaning to an app or website. Cleaners can view the request and submit bids.
A hardware and software platform that transforms speech to digital text.
A new method for microgravity, or “space-like,” testing that prepares objects for space travel.
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles