Business model competitions to prepare student entrepreneurs for success
BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP), which specializes in stimulating entrepreneurship opportunities in North Louisiana, has partnered with four universities this fall to continue EAP’s Grand Prix business model competitions that encourage student innovation. Competitions at LSU Shreveport (LSUS), Northwestern State University (NSU), Grambling State University, and the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) began on August 19. There will be an application period where students submit their ideas for a business in any industry.
“EAP continues to forge ahead with our mission to support aspiring entrepreneurs in North Louisiana,” said Dave Smith, Executive Director of EAP. “In doing this, one of our important tasks is aiding entrepreneurship education in universities and colleges. In three years, we have grown the university business model competitions from one to six schools, with possibly two more joining next spring. We want our students to know that they can successfully start and grow any business in our region.”
Students participate in a workshop with EAP team members and other advisors who provide the competitors with expertise, mentorship and key connections needed to fuel their success.
In the final phase of the competition, the top five participants at each school will present their business idea to a panel of judges at the Final Pitch. The winners receive a cash prize, scholarships to the Louisiana Startup Prize 2020 and the Patent Academy, plus professional services from EAP.
“This will be EAP’s third year to bring the Pilot Pitch competition to LSUS,” said Larry Clark, Chancellor of LSUS. “Entrepreneurship is highly important to this region. Our students have the chance to stand up and go through the experience of pitching their idea to potential investors. They’re not just learning about it – they’re doing it,” said Clark.
For the second year, EAP is partnering with NSU for its Inferno Pitch and Grambling for the Golden Pitch.
“It is an honor for Northwestern State University to work collaboratively with the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program to showcase the entrepreneurial talents of our students,” said Dr. Chris Maggio, President of NSU. “The Inferno Pitch provides an amazing opportunity for our students to be creative, design business models, attend development workshops and pitch their concept to a panel of judges.”
Alba Maloff Johnson and Matthew Broekman won first place at NSU’s Inferno Pitch in 2018 for their in-vehicle bio-sensor that could detect drunk driving. “This competition gave us insight to how it would be to do this ourselves,” said Johnson. “I didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur before, but I do now!”
“For generations our students and alumni have changed the world through entrepreneurship,” said Grambling President Rick Gallot. “We are excited to inspire a new generation of ideas and businesses.”
This will be the inaugural Warhawk Business Pitch competition at ULM.
“The University of Louisiana Monroe has a long history of supporting and encouraging entrepreneurship in our region through our participation in the Louisiana Small Business Development Center program, our business incubator, as well as our business academic programs,” said ULM President Dr. Nick Bruno. “We are excited to add the Warhawk Business Pitch competition to encourage and support our student entrepreneurs.”
The Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program, an initiative of BRF, is a public/private partnership between BRF, the Caddo Parish Commission and the City of Shreveport to diversify the regional economy, create jobs and expand the area’s tax base by providing services to innovative startups that have high growth potential. Since EAP began in 2014, the program has screened 859 startups and provided services to 260 companies. EAP’s portfolio companies have created more than 210 new jobs and raised $74 million in capital.