Third annual StartUp Challenge begins Feb. 4

Anne Boyd

This year’s StartUp Challenge will take place from Feb. 4 to Feb. 18. With the alumni and local entrepreneurs generous donations, it will have the biggest cash prizes yet in this its third year at Villanova University.

The StartUp Challenge is a two-week competition in which students make a business plan based on a given scenario. Students must focus on various areas of the business, including marketing and financial planning. After coming up with this plan, the top eight teams present their ideas to a judge in the “elevator pitch.” This segment of the competition is intended to simulate the little amount of time entrepreneurs may have to pitch their plan to a potential customer.

At the final banquet, the top four teams will give a formal presentation in front of a panel of judges. Classes from local entrepreneurs are also offered to the students. Students are judged both by professors and current entrepreneurs; it is both a scholarly and academic judging.

The mission of the challenge is to provide an opportunity for students to critique their business writing skills, network and improve their communication and team skills. The executive board members hope that the StartUp Challenge will allow undergraduate students to show creativity, think like an entrepreneur, improve teamwork, apply knowledge, build resumes and improve networking,

There is a new case each year where students have to think of how they would run that business and create a business plan on how that business would be run.

“The first year of the competition, it was a very scientific problem that an engineer would be more skilled at, and the second year it was a bridal gown store so it is important to have several mindsets, and not strictly a business-oriented mindset,” said senior Kim Wallmeier, the executive director of the program.

The Startup Challenge received 30 percent more plans last year than its first year. Dr. James Klingler, Adam Siegrist (class of 2005) and Travis McMenimom (class of 2005) began the competition in 2004.

“In the future we plan to expand to other schools and make it a regional competition,” Klingler said. “Representatives from other schools plan on attending the competition, possibly bringing Startup Challenge to their university next year.”

There is wide support for this challenge from the University. Dean Danko, new Dean of Commerce and Finance, plans to speak at one of the events.

The Startup Challenge has eight different prizes totaling $6,000 in cash prizes. There is a final catered banquet, where the money is given out on Feb. 18, 2006.

In order to be a part of the third annual Startup Challenge, register at