Annual Johnson School competition invites business idea submissions

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Nicola Pytell

The Johnson School's annual competition that rewards unique business ideas has a new name and new rules, but it remains a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit of many Cornell students, alumni and faculty.

The Cornell Venture Challenge, formerly the Business Idea Competition, is sponsored by the Johnson School's BR Ventures, the student-run venture capital fund. The competition is accepting entries through March 1.

For the first time in the competition's eight years, the public will be invited to watch finalists pitch their businesses to judges, said MBA student Matt Dacey, BR Ventures chief operating officer. Finalists, once selected, will also have additional requirements.

"It's more than just an idea challenge," Dacey said. "It's for hashing out ideas into something more tangible."

The winning idea will receive $10,000 and 20 hours of free legal help through BR Legal, Cornell's entrepreneurship legal-services program. Second place will be awarded $2,500 and third place $1,000.

Further, winners will receive a Cornell Technology Transfer Prize that matches their prize money if their business idea is based on Cornell intellectual property officially on record with the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization (CCTEC).

To enter, students, alumni, faculty or staff must submit a two- or three-page description of their business. BR Ventures student managers will review each entry and then select up to five finalists. The finalists will then be required to submit an additional 10- to 15-page plan -- new this year -- further detailing their business and including a description of how they would go from idea to reality.

The contestants will be judged on the viability of the business and the information conveyed during the final presentation, April 16. Following the presentations, each finalist will receive feedback from the panel of judges to further refine their business idea and pitch. The winning ideas will be announced at the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration Dinner, also April 16.

The Cornell Venture Challenge is sponsored by the Cornell Business and Technology Park, which provides some of the funding for prize money; CCTEC, which will provide the Cornell Technology Transfer Prize to winners utilizing disclosed intellectual property developed at Cornell; and Palo Alto Software, which will give business plan software to all competition entrants.

Additional information, including official rules, guidelines and the entry form can be found at:


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