Funded in 90 seconds

UB Elevator Pitch Competition takes notes from Shark Tank, allows students to compete for cash prizes

Release Date: April 7, 2015

“Entrepreneurship stimulates innovation, job creation and economic growth – exactly what Western New York needs.”
Yong Li, academic director, Entrepreneurship Academy
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Ninety seconds is all that will stand between 100 students and the first steps toward turning their business ideas into a reality.

The annual University at Buffalo Elevator Pitch Competition returns for its third year – Shark Tank-style. Students will deliver their pitches from an eight-foot-tall vintage elevator before a panel of judges from Buffalo’s entrepreneurial community.

Sixty teams have entered and will compete for two $1,000 first-place prizes.

The competition is scheduled from 4-9 p.m. on April 9 in the Student Union Lobby.

A networking session for competitors and guests to meet the judges – entrepreneurship veterans from 43North, LaunchNY and more – will run from 6-7 p.m. in the Student Union Social Hall.

The event is sponsored by the UB Academies, the School of Management and the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). The elevator was constructed by students and faculty in the UB School of Architecture and Planning. The awards were made possible by funding provided through an anonymous donation to the UB School of Management.

“UB is in a unique position to encourage student entrepreneurship, given that we have a great blend of talents in arts, sciences, engineering, management and other disciplines,” says Yong Li, PhD, associate professor of operations management and strategy in the School of Management and academic director of the Entrepreneurship Academy. “Entrepreneurship stimulates innovation, job creation and economic growth – exactly what Western New York needs.”

The competition follows the premise of a student obtaining the chance meeting of an investor in an elevator. Teams must summarize their businesses in the allotted time, without the aid of visuals. Judges will not ask follow up questions and will judge contestants solely on the strength of their pitch.

Judges will award up to 10 cash prizes based on the merit of the presentations; including several $500 second place and $200 third place awards. Guests will also have the opportunity to honor one team through an audience choice award.

“Successful entrepreneurs need to tell clear and compelling stories of how they plan to shape the future – a difficult skill we all need to master,” says Martin Casstevens, business formation and commercialization manager for STOR. “You know you have seen a good pitch when you understood it, will remember it later and are intrigued to hear more.”

Winning teams will be encouraged to further their ideas through one of several classes at UB; participating in the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition; or interning with the Buffalo Student Sandbox program, which provides students with a weekly stipend to build their own startup.

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