The University of Tennessee Research Foundation embraces the mission-critical function of fostering entrepreneurship through the Tennessee Venture Challenge (TVC).
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 who will choose the winner of a cash prize.
The event will provide valuable experience and feedback to all participants. 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 host workshops to assist teams. Teams must submit a revised Canvas and a short summary of the process and results that led to the revised Canvas. 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.
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 a $25,000 cash prize. Finalists will make their pitch to venture capitalists, early stage investors and successful entrepreneurs serving as judges for the finals round.
UTRF 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.
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 (must be based on UTRF intellectual property). 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.