Tennessee Venture Challenge
About the Tennessee Venture Challenge
The University of Tennessee Research Foundation embraces the mission-critical function of fostering entrepreneurship through the Tennessee Venture Challenge (TVC) to be held from 3:00-5:00 p.m. on April 3, 2014 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
The Tennessee Venture Challenge (TVC) is designed to encourage students, researchers, and community members to create new high-growth businesses in the State of Tennessee. New company creation and development is an integral component of academic technology commercialization, and is increasingly recognized as a key lever of economic growth in the 21st century.
The Tennessee Venture Challenge is a business plan competition for the University of Tennessee community, where University-affiliated startup companies will pitch their business model to a panel of seasoned investors for a share of $25,000 cash prize.
The event will provide valuable experience and feedback to all participants and attendees, who will observe firsthand the most effective means of communicating with prospective investors. We hope you will join in by applying to be part of our competition.
The competition encourages the development of the entrepreneurial spirit through teamwork and mentorship. Applicants should consist of small teams interested in commercializing a UT invention or creation. Assistance will be made available in the form of mentors, workshops and courses to guide teams through the phases of new venture creation.
The $25,000 cash pool may be distributed as one prize or in various prizes to provide a wide range of opportunities for different ventures. Your venture idea may focus on a technology, consumer product, service, or social venture. Teams must have at least one member from any UT College or Campus. More information regarding specific prize categories will be made available in the future.
There is no limit to the number of teams that can enter the TVC. Based on the initial submissions, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and its affiliates will work with judges to determine a list of teams that will present their venture pitches at the Finals Event. Teams in the final round will compete for up to $25,000 in cash, plus valuable in-kind prizes (dependent upon sponsorships). Finalists will make their pitch to venture capitalists, early stage investors and successful entrepreneurs serving as judges for the finals round.
Each team must indicate their intent to compete in the TVC by Friday, February 7. To enter, one individual from each team should complete the online Intent to Compete Form.
UTRF highly recommends the use of the Customer Development process for new venture creation. There are numerous guides available for the Customer Development process, including an excellent online course available for free at Udacity (www.udacity.com/course/ep245). The cornerstone of Customer Development is the Business Model Canvas, and all teams will be expected to utilize the Canvas in the TVC.
By Monday, February 17, 2014 each team must submit their initial Business Model Canvas. The initial Business Model Canvas round is not a competitive round – that is, no teams that submit a complete initial Canvas will be eliminated from the TVC.
Between February 17th and March 28th teams are expected to follow the Customer Development methodology to test and refine their initial Canvas. In addition to the highly-recommended Udacity course, UTRF, in conjunction with the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, will organize a series of workshops over this period to assist teams. By Friday, March 28, 2014 teams must submit a revised Canvas and a short summary of the process and results that led to the revised Canvas.
Finalists will be selected from among the teams that submit revised Canvases by the March 28th deadline. There is no cap on the number of Finalists.
UTRF, Tech2020 and the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will organize a series of venture development workshops, which will be video conferenced to other UT locations for participants not based in Knoxville. Attendance is strongly encouraged for all participants in the competition. Each team should plan on having at least one representative present at each workshop.
Workshops will be held on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. beginning February 4th. The first session will be held in conjunction with the TVC Kick-Off Event on Feb. 4 in the UTRF Business Incubator (2450 E. J. Champan Drive, Knoxville, Tenn., 37996). Beginning Feb. 11 sessions will be held in Haslam Business Building, Room 403.
February 4, 2014 - Business Model Canvas Overview | Video
February 11, 2014 - Value Proposition & Company Legal Structures | Video
February 18, 2014 - Market Segments, Elevator Pitch & Business Models | Video
February 25, 2014 - Business Model | Video
March 4, 2014 - Financial Projections, Executive Summary & The Funding Continuum | Video
March 11, 2014 - Strategic Timeline & The Mind of the Invenstor
March 25, 2014 - Pitching Your Company
Week of March 31, 2014 - Presentation Prep & Practice
Cash Prize Conditions
The investment pitch should specifically address how potential prizes of $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000 would be used by the business. The judges will have discretion in how they award the prize money, and may choose to split the money equally among several teams or to award the prize to a single team. If, in the opinion of the judges, the proposed ventures do not represent favorable business opportunities for the full $25,000, then some portion of the prize money may not be awarded.
Cash prizes will be awarded to an organization, not to the individual team members. The business entity must have an independent account with a recognized, preferably local, bank prior to receiving the prize money.
Judges Evaluation Criteria
Judges will evaluate the teams based on how convincingly they present their business concept, such that the judge would want to learn more about the company as a potential investor. The best teams are those with whom an investor would want to schedule a follow-up meeting because they believe the company represents a strong investment opportunity.
Successful teams should communicate the following in their pitch:
- Clear explanation of their product/service and the problem it solves
- How their company is unique and differentiated
- Sizable market opportunity and ability to penetrate that market
- Current development stage
- Viable business model
- Clear measures of success
The Final Round includes the following:
- 10 minute prepared remarks, 10 minute Q & A
- Winners announced at awards ceremony
- All teams will be offered feedback meetings with judges after awards ceremony
Nature of Ventures
The competition is for new, independent ventures in the seed, startup, or early growth stages. Generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area, and spin-outs from existing corporations.
1. The startup must be a legally existing company seeking to develop a product or service based (in whole or in part) on intellectual property created within The University of Tennessee system. The obligated technology must comprise an integral part of the startup’s business focus. There is no territorial limitation on the company’s location.
2. Ventures with revenues (excluding SBIR/STTR grants) that exceeded $50,000 in the prior 12 months are excluded, as are ventures that have raised equity capital in excess of $50,000 from sources other than the founders or their friends and families.
3. Teams must consist of 2-4 people. Teams are highly encouraged to have the individual giving the pitch be someone that is committed to taking a leading executive role in the new venture. The judges will be critically evaluating not just the proposed product, but also the capabilities of the team to execute on the business model.