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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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March 10, 2020

Transform Your Business at New Venture Competition

Student Entrepreneurs Could Win $75,000 in Cash Prizes
Transform Your Business at New Venture Competition
Hannah Esch shares with the judges food samples from her business, Oak Barn Beef, during the final round of the 2019 New Venture Competition.

Student entrepreneurs, who are ready to take their business plans to the next level and win funding for their idea, can now register for the New Venture Competition at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, held April 7 and 9.

Hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Business, the two-day competition challenges Nebraska students, both undergraduate and graduate, to compose a business plan and present to a panel of judges in a bracket-formatted tournament of ideas. After the two elimination rounds, four teams will compete against one another for two grand prizes of $25,000, among other cash prizes.

Hannah Esch, senior animal science major from Unadilla, Nebraska, won one of the grand prizes at last year’s competition. With the prize, she invested in the future of her business, Oak Barn Beef, and also gained experience beyond the value of money.

“The New Venture Competition allowed me to connect with other participants, judges and staff putting on the competition. My network increased substantially, and I am still in contact with many of the same people I met through this competition. I also tremendously improved my business pitch through each round of the competition. I am much more comfortable pitching my business after going through the New Venture Competition,” she said.

Dr. Samantha Fairclough, associate director of the center and assistant professor of practice in management, noted how the initial draw of the competition is the cash, but students generally walk away with much more.

“The cash prizes are certainly an attraction for competitors and can be important to kick-start or grow a business, but the competition is not just about the money. The experience of writing a plan, pitching it to a panel and responding to some fairly tough questions is a fantastic method of refining and testing business ideas, and a way for students to build confidence,” said Fairclough.

Students who need assistance on aspects of their plan may attend one of the free workshops hosted at Howard L. Hawks Hall, held every Friday,  12-1 p.m. in HLH 315. One-on-one mentoring sessions are also available and can be reserved on the competition’s website.

  • March 13: Number Crunching and Finances
  • March 20: Launching, Scaling, Sustainability, Growth
  • April 3: Polishing Your Presentation

The competition is open to the public to attend and watch. The first day of pitches begins at 8:30 a.m., April 7, at the Nebraska Union on city campus. The Sheldon Museum of Art hosts the final day of competition, beginning at 12:50 p.m., April 9, with a Reception and Awards Celebration to follow.

To learn more or register to compete for the New Venture Competition by March 31, visit: