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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

New Venture Competition

April 16 and 18, 2024


New Venture Competition
New Venture Competitors

Bring Your Business to Life

The New Venture Competition is a celebration of entrepreneurial learning and competition. All student-created, managed and owned ventures are welcome. Graduate and undergraduate business plan competitions will be held for Nebraska students during the two-day event. All graduate students are eligible to participate, including MBAs. Students pitch their business plans to judges from the Lincoln and Omaha business community and field questions on current traction, monetization strategies, risky assumptions and more.


April 16 and 18, 2024
City Union and Rococo Theater (140 N 13th St Lincoln, NE 68508)

Registration is Closed

How It Works

The New Venture Competition runs in a bracket, or knockout format. Teams advance through two preliminary round. Following elimination rounds, four teams compete against each other for the grand prize. One grand prize of $15,000 along with additional cash prizes will be awarded during the Networking and Awards Reception. Top four have opportunity for further investment up to $25,000 from the Husker Venture Fund

Required documents: Registered teams are required to present an executive summary prior to the last day of registration. Business Plans are not a requirement but are strongly recommended for teams that want to be competitive. *Neither are required as part of the registration process.

Grand Prize


Second Place


Third Place


Fourth Place


Top four have opportunity for further investment up to $25,000 from the Husker Venture Fund

Thomas G. Guy Startup Team Award

Awarded to the team demonstrating the best organization and collaboration


Volunteer to Judge

Judges for the New Venture Competition come from a variety of sectors and bring diverse and valued perspectives gained through their professional experiences to their roles in evaluating the competition. Judges also play important roles as role models and sources of encouragement as well as trusted voices to offer constructive critiques and reinforce student learning.

If you would like to become involved as a judge for this or other competitions hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship, please register via the link below.

Registration is Closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Event Specifics

  • When do I need to submit my application to compete/business plan?
    • Registration is due March 10, 2023. In this registration, we ask registrants to provide team information and a short, tweet-length business summary. Following March 10, registrants will receive an email with a link to upload any supporting documents (business plan, executive summary, slide decks, etc.). These documents are not required, but highly encouraged, and must be uploaded by March 24, 2023.
  • What is the structure of the New Venture Competition?
    • The competition is run in a bracket (knockout) format. Teams advance through two preliminary rounds. After elimination rounds, four teams compete head-to-head in a final round.
  • Do I have to show up at check in or only when I present?
    • You must show up at check in.
  • Who are the judges?
    • Judges include entrepreneurs, investors and successful leaders of the Nebraska business community.
  • Will there be investors there?
    • Likely, but you may not recognize them. Many of our judges and attendees are successful entrepreneurs and have experience investing in early-stage companies. If someone is interested in investing in your company, they will get in touch with you.
  • Are there separate competitions for undergraduate and graduate students?
    • No, all students will compete under one bracket.
  • What are the "Small Business" and "High Growth" categories?
    • Small Business: a business that is limited in size and in revenue (depending on the industry).

      High Growth: a business that is often, but not always, technology-focused. This category of firm uses newer business models such as online advertising and 'software as a service' (SaaS). Such companies have a nearly unlimited potential for growth, regardless of the number of people they employ, but this comes with the costs of high competition and unproven markets.
  • Can I submit more than one business plan?
    • No.
  • Do you accept paper copies of the business plan or other materials?
    • No. NVC is a paperless submission competition, all documents that you wish to be included must be submitted to electronically by the close of the final day of registration.

About Teams

  • Can I compete in Center for Entrepreneurship (C4E) competitions if I am not in the College of Business or in any entrepreneurship classes?
    • Absolutely! Competitions are open to all UNL undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Is the competition for individuals, or is it team-based?
    • You are welcome to present as an individual or as a team.
  • Do all team members need to be students?
    • No, but for companies in the concept phase, students must have played a major role in conceiving the venture and have key management roles within it. Existing companies must be at least 50% student-owned. Students include currently enrolled UNL undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni who graduated within a year of the competition (May 2022 or after).
  • Do all team members need to be at the competition?
    • No.
  • Do all team members need to present?
    • No. However, we strongly encourage your entire team to participate in the presentation.
  • Are there restrictions as to who can present?
    • If there are non-students who are members of your venture's management team, they are not allowed to present. They can participate in planning the venture and may help answer questions from the judges, but cannot present.

About the Business Plan/Pitch

  • How many times do I need to present?
    • There are three rounds of presentations - two preliminary rounds on Day 1 and a final round on Day 2. Because the competition is run in a bracket (knockout) format, you may be required to present once, twice or three times. If you are a finalist, you will present your business plan three times.
  • Does it need to be an existing business?
    • No. The competition is for new, independent ventures in the idea development/pre-launch, seed, startup or early growth stages.
  • Can it be an existing business?
    • Yes. All new, student-created, managed and owned ventures are welcome. The competition is for new, independent ventures in the idea development/pre-launch, seed, startup or early growth stages.
  • How long is the presentation?
    • Each team will be given five minutes to set up and then 15 minutes to present its business plan, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session with the judges. These time limits will be strictly enforced.
  • Do I need to submit a written business plan?
    • No, but it is in your best interests to submit a business plan. There is limited space in the competition and not everyone who submits will be accepted. Providing a business plan will nearly always give you an edge over someone who submits only a brief description of their business. Also, if you are serious about your business, a business plan is the only way to effectively organize and present the strategy you will need to make it happen.
  • Are there resources to assist me with my business plan and/or financial projections?
    • There are always people available at the Center for Entrepreneurship who can and will help you with questions and advice. Contact to set up an appointment, or stop by HLH 315 any time.

      The C4E recommends a business plan development platform called LivePlan which has all of the tools you need to create a business plan from start to finish. Short-term LivePlan access codes are available to registered competition participants for no cost. Contact the center to request a code.

      LivePlan includes tools for financial projections, but if you would prefer a free option, we recommend a financial workbook from SCORE (download). For this competition, the most important financials for you are one and three-year cash flow statements and a break-even analysis. See the corresponding tabs along the bottom of the workbook, fill in the numbers and it will calculate things for you. Let the Center for Entrepreneurship know if you need a hand.
  • How long is the Question and Answer?
    • Each team will be given five minutes to set up and then 15 minutes to present its business plan, followed by a 10-minute question and answer session with the judges. These time limits will be strictly enforced.
  • Can the judges ask questions during presentations?
    • Judges will typically reserve all questions until after the team has finished presenting. At that time, there will be a 10-minute question and answer session with the judges.
  • Can I have props?
    • If your company manufactures or sells a physical product, you can use your product as a prop. Otherwise, we advise against props because they are distracting.
  • How long should my business plan be?
    • There are no length requirements, but all business plans should include: a problem statement, solution, target market(s), business model, marketing and sales plans, competition, management team, financial projections, key metrics, current status, accomplishments to date, timeline and use of funds.
  • Do I need to use PowerPoint?
    • A slide deck (of presentation slides) is not required but is recommended. A presentation should be around 10-15 slides to fit within the 15-minute presentation limit. Teams will be responsible for determining the best way to show their slides while presenting. Please reach out to if you would like assistance.
  • Can I use Google Slides?
    • No. Presentations will only be accepted in PowerPoint format.
  • Will there be an internet connection?
    • Maybe, but we cannot rely on it being up on any or all computers. If you have music, videos or a website, make sure they are available offline on the same flash drive containing your presentation. (applies to in-person competitions)
  • Can I observe other teams' presentations and/or their question and answer sessions?
    • Teams are not allowed to observe other teams' presentations or question and answer sessions before they have presented. After presenting, teams are welcome to observe both the presentations and question and answer sessions of other teams.
  • Can my friends and family come to watch me present at the NVC?
    • Absolutely. All rounds of the competition are open to the public. Friends and family are welcome.

About Prizes

  • What are the prizes?
    • Grand Prize: $15,000

      Second Prize: $12,500

      Third Prize: $10,000

      Fourth Prize: $7,500

      Top four have opportunity for further investment up to $25,000 from the Husker Venture Fund

      We will also award the Thomas G. Guy Startup Team Award for the team demonstrating the best organization and collaboration: $2,500
  • If I win, how do I receive the prize money?
    • Employees of the university are paid via payroll. All other winners are paid via check.
  • If I win, do I have to spend the money on my business?
    • All finalist teams who are awarded a prize will be required to have their prize money deposited into a business account. This funding change is effective starting with the 2023 New Venture Competition.
  • Is there one Grand Prize per business category ("Small Business" and "High Growth")?
    • No. The grand prizes will be awarded to the top team, as decided by the judges.

Previous Winners


$15,000: Dyslexico
Grace Clausen, Tristan Curd, Bridget Peterkin and Schadrack Shumbusho

$12,500: InforMedic
Tan Phan and Pranav Rajan

$10,000: Beacon
Maci Wilson

$7,500: Pat on Tap
Abby Miller

cattle kettle

$15,000: Cattle Kettle
Seth Daup and Brooke Bode

$12,500: The PALETTE Project
Erika Casarin

$10,000: InforMedic
Tan Phan, Pranav Rajan, Luke Farritor

$7,500: Now Vertakking
Courtney and Sheldon Brummel

  • coraltechnologies
  • Hudl
  • Dyslexico
  • Fan Word
  • Informedic
  • Lslures
  • Oakbarn Beef
  • Pat on Tap
  • Pawlytics
  • Stahlaservices
  • The Pallette Project
  • Upstream Farms

Past Winners


$25,000: Corral Technologies
Jack Keating

$25,000: LS Lures
Hunter Suchsland and Cade Ludwig

$10,000: Heartland Sounds
Hailey Demers (Coufal)

$7,500: Playbook
Maria Heyen


Oak Barn Beef, Savannah Breeders Service


Pawlytics and Upstream Farms


Terrace Ag


Concise Research Group


Bongo Watersports and T&B Innovations, LLC


Stahla Services




Center for Entrepreneurship
HLH 315