BUFFALO, N.Y. — It’s a nerve-wracking
minute-and-a-half: You’re standing in a room full of aspiring
entrepreneurs, you’re presenting an idea for a business to a
panel of judges, and you have just 90 seconds to do it.
That’s the type of drama the University at Buffalo’s
second annual Elevator Pitch
Competition will deliver.
The contest, which takes place April 16, is open to students
from across UB.
It’s like ABC’s Shark Tank — only faster. At
year’s competition, the atmosphere was collegial but
tense, with competitors practicing rapid-fire talks outside the
room before taking the stage. There were meltdowns and mistakes, as
well as moments of perfection.
This year, first-place winners will get a cash prize of
What: UB Elevator
Who: Seventy-five student teams have signed up to
present. Students can pitch business or other ideas that provide
novel solutions to real-world challenges. No notes, slides or other
visual aids are allowed.
When: Wednesday, April 16, at 1 p.m. Good visuals:
The contest is expected to last about four hours, with back-to-back
pitches. Winners will receive giant checks.
Where: Student Union Theatre on UB’s North Campus.
The Student Union is building No. 28 in the yellow section of this
On-site contact: Hadar Borden, administrative director,
UB Undergraduate Academies
Sponsors: UB Entrepreneurship Academy; UB Office of
Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR); and UB
School of Management. Prizes are supported by the Bruce Holm
Memorial Catalyst Fund.
Why: The pitch competition gives undergraduate and
graduate students the chance to generate novel ideas, connect with
peers with similar interests, and learn how to pitch to potential
investors and supporters.
“The pitch competition is part of a growing effort at UB
to promote entrepreneurship, to realize the promise of UB 2020 and
to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western New York,”
said Yong Li, PhD, academic director of UB’s Entrepreneurship
Academy and an associate professor of operations management and
strategy in the UB School of Management.
VIDEO of last year’s contest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoXjQam0-xY
Other UB programs that support business-minded students
- The Entrepreneurship Lab, or eLab. Launched in 2013,
this winter session course acts as a startup bootcamp, with
students fine-tuning business ideas, engaging with potential
customers and sizing up target markets.
- The Student Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program. Also
launched in 2013, this program supports promising eLab teams with
$5,000 to $8,000 in seed money. Fellows receive mentorship and
access to the Hot Desk, a new program that provides shared space in
the UB Technology Incubator. “The eLab and Hot Desk are
essential follow-up programs to the pitch contest, to help better
prepare our students to start businesses with a good chance for
success,” says Robert Genco, PhD, DDS, the UB vice provost
who oversees STOR.
- The UB Entrepreneurship Academy. Launched in 2012, this
is one of five Undergraduate Academies that give UB students the
chance to learn and live with peers who have similar interests.
Members of the Entrepreneurship Academy participate in activities
such as the pitch competition, networking events with local
business leaders and more.
- The annual Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship
Competition. Now in its 14th year, the contest brings together
UB students from science, technology, business and other
disciplines to maximize their potential and build viable businesses
in Western New York. The team with the best plan wins $25,000 in
startup funds, along with in-kind law, accounting, human resources
and business services.