In hurried speech, hitting the highlights, with no props and no handouts, one member from each student team had one minute each to quickly summarize their venture to a panel of judges as audience members hooted and hollered their support. And that was just the Elevator Pitch component of the exciting New Venture Championship (NVC) international business plan competition hosted in Portland, April 12-14, by the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business.
"The New Venture Championship is about innovation, growth, and venture creation. But it's also about passion and doing what you love. It brings together some of the best and brightest entrepreneurship students from top universities to create a experience that will forever be a touchstone in their development," said Lundquist Center Managing Director Randy Swangard, explaining why the event, now in its sixteenth year, continues to inspire and motivate.
In addition to the Elevator Pitch competition, NVC gave twenty student venture teams several opportunities to formally present their venture plans to panels of judges comprising practicing entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders. In total, teams had the opportunity to win more than $95,000 donated by the event's generous sponsors: Columbia Sportswear, Intel Capital, Tektronix, Aequitas Capital Management, and more.
That prize money included a surprise gift by Georges St. Laurent, one of the Finals Round judges, who was so inspired by this year's competition he doubled the first place award, providing an additional $25,000 to the winning team. And St. Laurent's gift wasn't the only one that had attendees gasping and applauding. Columbia Sportswear President Tim Boyle and his wife, Mary, also made a multimillion dollar gift to NVC (see related story above).
But more than prize money, the New Venture Championship once again attracted superior teams and venture plans because of the feedback, insight, and education it provides this next generation of entrepreneurs. "The feedback we received from judges was phenomenal. They helped us articulate the concepts we knew but hadn't fully explained," noted Fred Maidment, a member of the winning team from University of Georgia's Mullis Enterprises, which seeks to produce environmentally friendly products to control household pests.
The winning team, however, wasn't the only one to benefit. As Swangard summarized, "Although we have only one champion, every team profits from the candid feedback, wisdom, and enthusiasm of judges. More than any other competition, NVC advances skill sets of all participating students, giving them confidence in their own abilities and better preparing them for leadership roles in tomorrow's entrepreneurial business environment."