BYU has one of the best undergraduate and graduate programs for entrepreneurship in the country, according to the Princeton Review. Its on-campus competitions, its center specifically for entrepreneurs and many other resources, make BYU a fantastic place to launch a startup.
The Miller New Venture Challenge, a series of competitions on the BYU campus, gives students the opportunity to pitch and start their own business plans. Through three separate events, participants are encouraged to come up with a big idea, form a business plan and start a legitimate company.
Big Idea Pitch
The first stop in the course of the competition is the Big Idea Pitch event, where participants write up a problem they want to solve, the market they think is most affected by it and their idea to fix it. They then submit their work to the judges. Four participants from this year’s competition on Oct. 2 will walk away with $250.
Business Model Competition
After the idea pitch, the Business Model Competition allows entrepreneurs the chance to show how their company has grown and how the product itself has evolved with testing. Jeff Brown, assistant director in the Rollins Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology, helps organize the events.
“All traditional business plan competitions have an idea competition, but the new thing that we’ve added is the business model competition. It’s all about validating your idea with customers,” Brown said.
First-place winners take home $3,000.
Miller NVC Final
The final event consists of teams showing off how well their company has performed and about the traction they’ve gained through customers and investors. The top eight teams receive $15,000 and can attend more events in the summer and fall, where they are given expert advice, access to tools like accounting and legal firms and a chance to pitch to investors.
“The mentors, connections and help are invaluable,” said Garrett Aida, CEO of technology company Dark Energy and a past participant in the Miller New Venture Challenge.
Another opportunity students have to acquaint themselves with the startup process is a new boot-camp-type event called ThirtyX60. This innovation crash-course consists of 60 students and professional mentors working through the process of launching a startup in 30 hours. To register with an idea for this year’s event, go to bit.ly/thirtyX60.
The Miller New Venture Challenge also has several workshops throughout the course of the competition that will teach students new entrepreneurial techniques like the lean startup.
“BYU is literally on the cutting edge, right on the front wave of this new approach to entrepreneurship,” Brown said. “So there’s workshops to help students learn that new approach, and there’s competitions that back up that approach.”
BYU also has websites designed specifically for innovators. GetMentoring.com connects students with professional entrepreneurs that can give them advice and help them navigate the startup process. CougarCoFounders.com matches students with people who have the skills they need for their startups like designers, engineers, marketers and business developers.
In addition, there are several clubs on campus specifically for entrepreneurs. Venture Factory, started in the College of Engineering and Technology, helps students work through their ideas and create prototypes. Innovation Academy bridges the gap between disciplines and offers workshops, and the Entrepreneurship Club deals with the business side of innovation and hosts monthly networking events.
The Rollins Center also has a library in the Tanner Building where students can check out books on startups, entrepreneurship and innovation in general.
BYU has a multitude of resources to offer its students and startup companies, attesting to the opportunities to get involved and compete in the Miller New Venture Challenge. Jeff Brown and the Rollins Center’s staff want students to take advantage of all the campus has to offer. “Take the leap, and worst case scenario you learn a bunch,” Brown said.
To learn about these resources and more, students are invited to attend the Rollins Center Entrepreneurship Week, coming up Sept. 29–Oct. 3. Check out millernvc.com and cet.byu.edu for information on workshop dates and upcoming competitions and events.