2007 New Venture Challenge welcomes university alumni into the competition.

This year, for the first time, Florida International University alumni are invited to join currently-enrolled, upper-division undergraduate and graduate students in the 2007 New Venture Challenge Business Competition.

2005 undergraduate winner Mike Anestor of Infinity Dance Project with 2006 undergraduate winners, Phoenix Tutoring and Mentoring’s team members William Hatcher, Mike Sylvestre, Steven Benyard; 2005 graduate winner Hein Nguyen of Intelligent Math, Starex Smith of Phoenix Tutoring and Mentoring; Alan L. Carsrud, executive director of the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center; and Gerald Nievas-Caro of Phoenix Tutoring and Mentoring
2005 undergraduate winner Mike Anestor of Infinity Dance Project with 2006 undergraduate winners, Phoenix Tutoring and Mentoring’s team members William Hatcher, Mike Sylvestre, Steven Benyard; 2005 graduate winner Hein Nguyen of Intelligent Math, Starex Smith of Phoenix Tutoring and Mentoring; Alan L. Carsrud, executive director of the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center; and Gerald Nievas-Caro of Phoenix Tutoring and Mentoring

Hosted by the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center, the annual New Venture Challenge gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and present a written business plan to a panel of judges that includes successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, lawyers, and consultants.

“We are excited to expand this opportunity to entrepreneurs in the university alumni community,” said Alan L. Carsrud, executive director of the Pino Center. “We are continually impressed by the high caliber, originality, and professionalism of the business plans submitted to the New Venture Challenge competition and eagerly await to see what fresh ideas this year’s competition brings.”

Each team entering the New Venture Challenge can have between one and five members and also must have a faculty advisor. Participating teams compete at two levels: undergraduate and graduate/alumni. Their business ideas must be for an original seed-funded, start-up venture. The top four winning teams receive cash and in-kind contributions to help them fund their new businesses—with the grand prize for each level totaling $15,000.

Competition season kicks off in earnest for this year’s entrepreneurs.

The early application deadline for the 2007 New Venture Challenge is February 2, 2007. Regular applications are due by March 2, 2007. Applicable application fees are due at that time.

“We encourage participants to apply online,” said Lourdes C. Balepogi (BS ’00), director of marketing and public relations for the Pino Center. “The nominal application fee covers all team members’ participation in workshops, presentation rounds, and the Hall of Fame event for finalists.”

Business plans must be submitted electronically in PDF file format by April 16, 2007, with hard copies of business plans due by April 23, 2007.

“Boot Camp” workshops help young entrepreneurs fine-tune their business plans.

“We provide participating New Venture Challenge teams with a wealth of resources, including two ‘boot camps’ to help them gain a better understanding of market opportunities as well as to provide guidance in writing business plans, in developing the supporting financials, and in understanding business law,” Balepogi said.

The first workshop session is on February 9, 2007, and focuses on market opportunities and business plan writing. The second session, scheduled for March 9, 2007, covers the fundamentals of financials plus legal issues.

Think outside the box.

In previous years, winners of the New Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition have pushed the entrepreneurial envelope with creative, unexpected ideas that go beyond possibly preconceived ideas of a “traditional” business plan.

Here are just a few winning examples:  G-Force Tools introduced ergonomically designed lawn and garden tools into the marketplace. Phoenix Mentoring launched a non-profit company focused on mentoring Miami’s inner-city children in the arts as well as in academics. Toesie Cozies created small socks for women to wear with their dressier pumps. Sala 440 built a complex of seven rehearsal studios for amateur and professional bands. Eco-Solutions, Inc., proposed manufacturing mulch and tea tree oil from Florida’s abundant nuisance, the melaleuca tree. And the list goes on.

“As you can see, the door is wide open to original thinking,” Carsrud said. “This competition encourages the sense of innovation and discovery that powers the true entrepreneurial spirit.”

Winners of the 2007 New Venture Challenge will be announced at the university’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame Luncheon and Induction Ceremony, to be held on May 16, 2007, at Parrot Jungle Island in Miami.

To learn more about the New Venture Challenge, prospective participants are encouraged to attend the information sessions held every Tuesday and Wednesday in February at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus, VH 130.

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