New Venture Challenge Rules and Guidelines

Updated 1/23/24

General guidelines of competition

It is the participant's responsibility to read and to abide by these guidelines. Participation in the New Venture Challenge (NVC) shall be interpreted as the participants having both read and accepted the terms of these guidelines.

While not anticipated, the Central Michigan University (CMU) College of Business Administration (CBA) reserves the right to update, add, or subtract from these guidelines at any time and may reject the submission of a business if it believes it is in the best interest of CMU.


NVC is a competition program for students enrolled across all colleges at CMU to develop their entrepreneurial mindset, learn business start-up techniques, and develop their business ideas. It is intended for very early-stage student business ventures. NVC provides a transformational experience where students can earn start-up funds for their businesses. Students have multiple opportunities to connect with experienced entrepreneurs, alumni, business professionals, venture capital experts, angel investors, faculty, and community leaders. They work on their business ideas over two semesters, pitch their businesses to experienced professionals, make adjustments, and compete to earn (win) start-up funds and in-kind services.

During the fall and spring semesters, a series of workshops, mentor meetups and other programs are hosted by CMU’s Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship (IBIE). Teams are encouraged to create minimal viable products or prototypes and do customer discovery and validation. They have multiple opportunities to provide a two-minute pitch to gain feedback from professionals.

We welcome aspiring entrepreneurs from Michigan Technological University (MTU) to join CMU students to further expand the possibilities for start-up business success in Michigan. The number of entrants from MTU is determined via agreement between MTU and CMU.

The New Venture Challenge final competition day is April 19, 2024. Prizes and awards are subject to revision. Final revisions will be completed by April 15, 2024.

How to enter

1. The IBIE uses Google Forms to manage applications and submissions. To enter, one individual from the team must complete the online “Intent to Compete” enrollment form by 11:59 pm EST on March 8, 2024. Additional materials and your full entry form will be submitted by March 25, 11:59 PM EST.

2. All final entry forms, and submission materials, must be submitted by 11:59 pm EST on March 25, 2024. 

3. Teams competing in the 10-minute full presentation category (High Growth, Main Street, and Social Mission) must submit their venture website URL. Your website must contain your financial summary with all requirements and the marketing one-pager. You must also upload your team logo and photo, and a brief description of your venture.  These URLs, photos, descriptions, and logos will be shown in the NVC event app as part of the competition and in a post event program. You must submit a link to the recording of your 10-minute pitch with your PowerPoint Pitch Deck. Be sure that it is open/public. If judges are unable to access your video recording, your team will be disqualified from the competition.

4. Participants competing in the Elevator Pitch category of the New Venture Challenge must submit a two-minute video recording of their pitch. They must also upload a brief description of their venture idea, a professional photo of their team, and their venture logo. Be sure that your video is open/public. If judges are unable to access your video recording, your team will be disqualified from the competition.

5. Participants competing in the Innovation Showcase must submit their intent to participate in the Innovation Showcase by March 25, 2024, by 11:59 PM EST. Innovation Showcase teams will submit their project idea, a brief description of their showcase, and submit any needs for their showcase (electricity, table size, tablecloth, etc.). 

Guidelines and eligibility*

*Subject to Change

1. Participant Eligibility

a. This competition is for current undergraduate or graduate level Central Michigan University (CMU) students and through invitation to Michigan Technological University students (MTU).  The student must be a full-time or part-time student who is pursuing a degree program, and who was and/or is registered at CMU and/or MTU in Fall 2023, and/or Spring 2024 semester(s).

b. The CMU (or MTU) student must have a significant role in the venture and be part of the business structure.  This role should be detailed in the submission. The competition committee (IBIE staff) reserves the right to review this position when questions arise in this regard.  Examples of strong evidence of significant roles include but are not limited to: significant ownership (majority or controlling) equity in the venture; and/or a key management role in the venture as evidenced by written agreement.

c. Leadership: The CMU (or MTU) student must be a leading presenter during the pitch and venture competition presentation.  The business venture and documentation must be the original work of the team members.  The team is expected to conform to the highest standards of honesty and integrity and comply with CMU (or MTU) Conflict of Interest Guidelines.

d. Eligibility Determinations: CMU and IBIE have full discretion to determine whether a team or student meets the requirements for participation in NVC.

2. Participant Requirements

a. While we strongly encourage teams with multiple students, solo entrepreneurs are allowed to compete. We encourage all competitors to create a support team consisting of other students, mentors, advisors, faculty, or staff. 

b. Teams are encouraged to work with mentors, advisors, faculty, and staff to help them throughout the process. Teams are required to attend a mandatory Qualifying Round Friday, March 22, 2024, prior to submitting their final entry form Monday, March 25, 2024.

c. All participants should have their websites and marketing one pager reviewed by the CMU Writing Center and/or other resources prior to the submission deadline of March 25, 2024.

d. All work must be the original work of the students. Teams can utilize the assistance of the Design Bureau and IBIE staff for website and graphic design. Participants may use reference materials.

e. NVC participants (competitors) may only present with one team in the competition.

f. All participants must be willing to participate in a variety of promotional activities related to the NVC, including photos, interviews, and information about their business during the year of competition and after the competition. Further, participants agree to complete annual post NVC surveys for up to three years after the competition.

g. If a CMU (or MTU) employee is to be an officer of a company connected with an NVC team or entry this must be fully disclosed to the CMU Conflict Review Committee prior to March 7, 2024. Such disclosure shall indicate the role the CMU (or MTU) employee will play in the business and how this relates to the employee's CMU (or MTU) responsibilities. Any decision or recommendation made by the Conflict Review Committee with respect to the employee’s role in the company shall be final and binding on the team. Deviation from this decision or recommendation or refusal to follow it shall be grounds for disqualification of the team from the NVC.

3. Nature of Ventures

a. This competition is for independent student ventures in the start-up ideation, early growth, or seed stages (with an exception being made in NVC 2024 for the new Alternative Entrepreneurial Pathways competition track, see below for full details). It is desired that these have a positive impact on the business environment in Michigan and the United States. Generally, excluded, but can be considered are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchises, multi-level marketing and licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area. Students considering these types of ventures may qualify to enter the Alternative Entrepreneurial Pathways category or they must get written approval from the New Venture Challenge Committee prior to March 8, 2024. Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged, assuming they have not been previously commercialized. Students need to be a significant part of the business structure as noted in team composition.

b. NVC 2024 will include a new competition track titled Alternative Entrepreneurial Pathways (AEP), powered by Doug Parker. Generally, the AEP competition track will allow feature ventures that are expanding a family business, innovating within an existing business, or students planning to become entrepreneurs through acquisition will compete within the alternative entrepreneurial pathways track. The AEP competitive track shall be considered a full 10-minute presentation. The winner of the 2024 AEP competition track will be chosen at the conclusion of the NVC Preliminary Round. The winner of the AEP competition track must present on the main stage on April 19, 2024 (full 10-minute presentation) in order to receive their NVC award (failure to appear and present will be deemed a forfeiture of any award and the award may be presented to an alternative AEP participant.


c. Early growth or seed stage ventures with sales in any fiscal year greater than $50,000 or alternatively, sales over the life of the business greater than $100,000 are not eligible to compete. These sales metrics are measured as of December 31, 2023.

d. Ventures that have received outside financing or institutional funding (awards, prizes, venture capital, private equity, etc.) of $25,000 or greater on or before December 31 2023, are not eligible to compete. However, capital raised from insiders (e.g., founders and employees) and grantors (e.g., governmental agencies and nonprofit foundations who make grants to local entrepreneurs) will generally NOT count towards the $25,000 amount. Students seeking an exception from (or clarification of) this rule should contact the New Venture Challenge Committee prior to March 8, 2024.

e. Consistent with the design and purpose of the competition, CMU will evaluate the business web site including the components of a one-pager and a financial table based on the criteria presented and will not accept plans that it deems, in its sole discretion, to be unethical or contrary to local, state, or federal law. In addition, CMU reserves the right to reject any business plan for reasons including, but not limited to: the plan, or any part of the plan: is deemed to be in violation of the CMU Code of Ethics; violates any local, state or national law; or does not present sufficient content.

e. Participants must adhere to the requirements of the CMU (or MTU) Intellectual Property Policy and CMU (or MTU) Conflict of Interest Policy, as well as any other CMU (and/or MTU) policies and procedures that may be applicable. Teams that wish to use CMU (or MTU) owned IP must obtain permission from CMU (or MTU) prior to March 7, 2024.

f. Participants that competed in New Venture Challenge 2024 in the 10-minute presentation competition must submit in the NVC enrollment form how their venture expanded, changed, or evolved since competing in NVC 2023 within the online application form by 11:59 EST on March 8, 2024.

4. Pre-registration required

Each team (or solo participant) must complete the online application form in Google Forms by 11:59 EST on March 8, 2024. This indicates the team's intent to participate in the day of competition.

5. Awards

a. Award money exceeding $1,000 will be made payable to the business entity that the winning team (or solo participant) forms (e.g., a corporation, LLC, etc.) around their winning submission. Winning teams have until June 1 of the competition year to form their business entity (unless approved in writing by the IBIE). If the winning team fails to form the business entity and request the award money within the specified period, the money remains in the competition fund and is not disbursed. (Unless approved in writing by the IBIE). Teams (and solo participants) and their business entity are responsible for any tax consequences of the award. CMU team members winning awards below $1,000 have the option to receive payment to their student account.

b. Each winning participant (recipient of monetary award) will be required to provide appropriate documentation to receive their award payment which may include student identification, W-9 and/or EIN forms.  This serves as the winning participants’ award agreement.  ​See the IBIE office in Grawn 164 with any questions.

c. Competition awards and prizes are selected by the judging panel, independent of CMU and MTU, based on their view and the judging criteria provided by IBIE.

d. NVC participants must be present at the awards ceremony to collect the awards and prizes (unless approved by the IBIE).

6. Full Entry form Due March 25, 2024

 All teams (including solo participants) must submit their complete entry form, with relevant documents and links by 11:59pm on March 25, 2024. Students can compete in either the Elevator Pitch Competition or the Full Presentation Competition and must indicate which level of competition you are competing in on this Entry Form.

a. Elevator Pitch entries will be reviewed virtually by a team of judges by April 3 and participants will be notified no later than April 13 if they are advancing to the Finals on April 19. For those that advance, they will pitch between 1:00pm and 2:30pm (subject to adjustment) on April 19, 2024.

b. Full Presentation entries will further select which category they are competing in: High Growth, Main Street (often service or food related ventures and apps that are not high growth or social focused), or Social Mission, or Alternative Entrepreneurial Pathways.

i. The preliminary round will be held April 2, 2024. Judges will select the finalist Full Presentation teams and the top Elevator Pitch teams who will compete in the New Venture Challenge April 19, 2024.

ii. Judges will deliberate, and then will announce the ‘Top 3’ of each category by April 13. The ‘Top 3’ for each category will then make a 10-minute presentation between 3:00 and 5:30pm on April 19. All other Full Presentation teams qualify to compete in the Venture Gallery and Elevator Pitch category between 1:00 and 2:30pm on April 19.

c. All Full Presentation and Elevator Pitch competitors must participant in the Venture Gallery during the New Venture Challenge April 19, 2024. There are separate awards and judges for the Venture Gallery round on April 19 between 5:00pm and 7:00pm.

d. The winner of the Alternative Entrepreneurial Pathways competition track will present a full 10-minute presentation on the main stage on April 19, 2024 (additional details to be provided).

7. Preliminary Round, April 2, 2024.

The preliminary round(s) for NVC 2024 will take place April 2. Details will be provided to all students completing the Intent to Compete form by March 8, 2024.

8. New Venture Challenge Finals for Elevator Pitch and Full Presentation Competition, Venture Gallery & Showcase, and Awards & Recognition Gala - Friday, April 19, 2024 (approx. 1:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.)

Anticipated 2024 start-up capital awards/prizes 

Anticipated 2024 Start-Up Capital Awards/Prizes

Seed Capital Awards (full presentation only)

Four categories

High Growth

1st Place High Growth: The Korson Family's Highest Growth Potential Venture Award - $ 10,000

2nd Place High Growth: The Reed Family 2nd Place Award - $5,000

3rd Place High Growth: Kristie Nystedt 3rd Place Award - $2,000

Social Mission

​Top Social Venture Award: $ 10,000

Second Place Social Venture Award: $5,000

Third Place Social Venture Award: $2,000

Main Street Ventures

Best Main Street Business Award: $ 10,000

Second Place Main Street Business Award: $5,000

Third Place Main Street Business Award: $2,000

Alternative Entrepreneurial Pathways – Powered by Doug Parker

The Doug Parker Pathways Award: $5,000

The Patrick Lyndell Elevator Pitch Competition Awards

Best Overall Pitch: $ 4,000

1st Runner Up: $ 2,000

2nd Runner Up: $ 1,000

(2) Honorable Mention: $ 250 each

Venture Gallery Awards

1st Place Gallery: $ 2,000

2nd Place Gallery: $ 1,500

3rd Place Gallery: $ 1,000

(2) Honorable Mention: $ 250 each

Audience Choice Awards

Top Venture Gallery: $1,000

Runner Up Venture Gallery: $500

Top Innovation Showcase: $1,000

Runner-up Innovation Showcase: $500

Stand-Out Awards

The Bob Larson Creativity Award(s): $5,000

Doug Parker Rural Impact Award: $5,000

Campus Impact Award: $5,000