Aspiring entrepreneurs at CMU compete for early stage venture capital

$75,000 in seed money to be awarded at New Venture Competition
New Venture Competition at CMU

The next Bill Gates or Warren Buffet could emerge as a winner of the fourth annual New Venture Competition at Central Michigan University.

Led by the CMU College of Business Administration’s Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship, 23 teams will compete for $75,000 in venture capital funds March 28 in the Education and Human Services Building on CMU’s campus.

The New Venture Competition is a forum for learning, identifying, nurturing, and showcasing emerging entrepreneurs and their businesses while supporting students in the process of creating and evaluating new business and social impact ventures.

“The student teams from CMU and Michigan Technological University are the next generation of Michigan entrepreneurs,” said Debra Zellner, executive director for the Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship. “These business leaders of tomorrow are building something that they see as an unmet need. They have passion and a commitment to think big, make their product be successful.”

More than fifty judges comprised of CMU alumni entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, angel investors, and venture capital experts support the competition.

The lunch panel discussion on early stage funding includes Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley; Paula Sorrell, vice president of entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; Diane Durance, president of MiQuest; Ken Kousky, president and CEO of Blue Water Angels; Cia McCaffrey, former vice president of Foresee Results; and Erin O’Brien, president and CEO of Central Michigan University Research Corp.

Awards will be handed out in 10 categories this year including $30,000 in seed money for the best overall venture.

The CMU New Venture Competition received recognition in 2013 as the “Best Educational Program of the Year” from Automation Alley. This recognition acknowledges the combination of CMU’s entrepreneurship curriculum with experiential opportunities maximizing students’ potential to launch a business.

A total of 15 teams from past New Venture Competitions are still in business.

“The passion and drive of our entrepreneurial students is inspiring,” Chuck Crespy, dean of the College of Business Administration, said. “The countless hours spent over the last seven months working with faculty, mentors and experienced entrepreneurs will come to fruition as students transform their prototype ventures into a sustainable business.”