Nick Favazza envisioned a career at a startup, but found difficulty figuring out what company would best fit his talents. The frustration led him to propose a new business plan at the 48-Hour Challenge hosted at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business.
“I asked myself, ‘I want to work for a startup, so where do I go?’ I looked up places and some of them were just outdated or not feasible for me as an out-of-state student. Finding startups was a big problem and I knew I wasn’t the only one out there that had this problem,” said Favazza, a junior management major from Clarkston, Michigan.
Coordinated by the Center for Entrepreneurship, the challenge served as one of two new pop-up courses at the College of Business. The contest brings students of all majors together for one weekend to pitch an idea, build a team and develop a business plan. Favazza’s problem led him to propose Liftoff, a connector for entrepreneurial people and startups – a solution he believes can solve his and other’s woes when it comes to finding work at startups.
“Through customer discovery, we found we can help so many startups by bringing on people who are better fits. Starting a business and working for startups are two scary things and I wanted my idea to make it as simple as possible,” he explained.
He and his team worked throughout the weekend of the competition, generating numerous revenue streams for their business. However, their plans took a sharp turn after some honest feedback from one of the competition mentors, Lizz Whitacre, ’17, founder of Pawlytics.
“Lizz came in and basically told us, ‘you're not going to make it.’ She got us down to the root of our problems, right at square one. Once we figured that out, we only had one or two revenue streams,” said Favazza.
A former champion of several entrepreneurial competitions and local business-pioneer herself, Whitacre knew the Liftoff team needed to look closer at the early stages of their idea.
“A lot of founders are visionaries who love to dream about the potential of the company and what 'Step Z' will look and feel like, meanwhile we really should be focusing in on nailing Steps A, B and C to ensure that Step Z is a viable reality,” explained Whitacre. “I asked them to zone in on one revenue stream that would be able to propel the business into the next markets and explain what would drive that forward to the long term goal he saw.”
The advice helped steer the team to victory, as they enthralled the judges with the focused vision of what Liftoff could be. Not only did Favazza secure a win, but he also found the guidance he needed to create a viable business plan to carry forward to the Center for Entrepreneurship’s New Venture Competition this April, where he has the chance to win prizes of more than $50,000.
“I came here with this idea and am glad I stuck with this one. Of all my ideas, Liftoff has received the most feedback and I think has the most positive impact. It was great to workshop the trials and tribulations Liftoff could face before New Venture.”
The winning team included:
- Youngju Cho, senior management major from Daegu, South Korea
- Nick Favazza
- Tanchan Li, senior management major from Tangjiawanzhen, China
- Eric Schiermeyer, junior accounting major from Nelson, Nebraska
The 48-Hour Challenge's most entertaining presentation award winners included:
- Tyler Schindler, teaching learning and teacher education graduate student from Omaha, Nebraska
- Coleman Cooper, junior management and marketing major from Grand Island, Nebraska
To learn more about the New Venture Competition, held April 7 and 9, visit: https://business.unl.edu/entrepreneurship.
Published: February 18, 2020