The CU Boulder New Venture Challenge is recruiting participants for its 11th annual competition, offering mentoring and resources for budding entrepreneurs and more than $200,000 for campus startups to make their ideas a reality.
The program trains participants to develop a business venture from scratch, connect with customers, create a product and craft a compelling pitch for investors. Participants gain unparalleled access to founders, CEOs and big thinkers from across Boulder’s prolific startup community.
Registration closes Feb. 22 for participants, but those who sign up sooner can immediately begin attending NVC events and learning from mentors.
For the first time ever, NVC will offer a Hardware Track, sponsored by the College of Engineering and Applied Science, for teams focused on creating physical products. Through workshops and mentoring, teams will learn to negotiate manufacturing minefields, set up efficient product supply chains, build sustainable business models and avoid common pitfalls experienced by those types of ventures, said Kyle Judah, director of entrepreneurship at CU Engineering.
“We’ll connect them with specialized mentors in the local startup community with those experiences and help them take their idea from the dorm room or classroom into making real-world impact,” Judah said.
Additional tracks are available in Research & Development, Information Technology, Creative Industries and General.
NVC is open to anyone with a Buff OneCard, including students, faculty and staff. Teams may also include members outside the CU community, as long as at least one team member has a Buff OneCard and plays a significant role in the business creation.
Creating a team of diverse founders with complementary skills and experiences will boost chances of success, Judah said. Even those whose ideas are less developed should consider joining, he said, because all who participate will emerge with greater familiarity about the startup process and a better chance of success in the future.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn, make mistakes in a safe environment and build up muscle memory for how to create new products,” Judah said.
Each track holds a semi-final and final competition in March, and winners from each track advance to the NVC Championships on April 3 at the Boulder Theatre.
Track winners are eligible for up to $10,000 in prizes, while the top team from the campus could take home up to $200,000.
NVC also offers a women’s entrepreneurship prize available to all teams who have at least one female founder, as well as a social impact prize for ideas that effectively integrate social and environmental responsibility in their business plan.
“Engineering and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand, and New Venture Challenge is an incredible training ground for those who want to dip their toes in the water,” Judah said.