New Venture Challenge Rules and Guidelines

Updated 1/30/23

General guidelines of competition

It is the participant's responsibility to read and to abide by these guidelines. Participation in the competition or challenge means that the participants have read and agree to these guidelines.

While not anticipated, the CMU College of Business Administration 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.


The CMU New Venture Challenge (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. The NVC provides a transformational experience where students are able to earn start-up funds for their businesses. They 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, bootcamps, and other programs are hosted by CMU’s Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship (IBIE). Teams are encouraged to create minimal viable products 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 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 NVC Challenge and Final Competition Day is April 21, 2023. Prizes/Awards are subject to revision. Final revisions will be completed by April 15, 2023. 

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 enrollment form by 11:59 p.m. est on March 7, 2023.  This becomes your "intent to compete".  Additional materials and your full entry form will be submitted by April 4, 2023.
  2. Your Final Entry Form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. est on April 4, 2023.  This Form includes such things as your venture URL (including video elevator pitch, financial statement & executive summary), a team logo and photo, and a brief venture description.  These URLs, photos, descriptions, and logos will be printed in the NVC program book as part of the competition. If you are competing in one of the full 7-minute categories, then you will also submit your PowerPoint Pitch Deck.

Guidelines and eligibility*

*check back for updates

  1. Team composition
    1. 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 the Summer 2022, Fall 2023, and/or Spring 2023 semester(s).
    2. 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. 
    3. 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.
    4. Eligibility Determinations: CMU and IBIE have full discretion to determine whether a team or student meets the requirements for participation in NVC.
  2. Team requirements
    1. Generally, teams should consist of no fewer than two members, and preferably no more than five members.
    2. Teams are encouraged to work with mentors/advisors to help them throughout the process. Teams are required to attend a mandatory session with the IBIE coaching team prior to the preliminary round on April 11, 2023.
    3. All teams should have their websites and executive summaries reviewed by the CMU Writing Center and/or other resources prior to the submission deadline of April 4, 2023.
    4. 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.
    5. Team members may only present with one team in the competition.
    6. 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 subsequent to the competition.
    7. 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, 2023. 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
    1. This competition is for independent student ventures in the start-up ideation, early growth or seed stages. It is desired that these have a positive impact on the business environment in Michigan and the USA. 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 must get written approval from the New Venture Challenge Committee prior to March 7, 2023. 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.
    2. 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 September 5, 2022.
    3. Ventures that have received outside financing or institutional funding (award/prize funding, venture capital, private equity, etc.) of $25,000 or greater on or before September 5, 2022 are not eligible to compete. However, capital raised from insiders (e.g., founders and employees) and grantors (e.g., governmental agencies 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 7, 2023.
    4. Consistent with the design and purpose of the competition, CMU will evaluate the business web site including an executive summary and 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.
    5. 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, 2023.
    6. Participants that competed in New Venture Challenge 2022 in the 7-minute presentation competition must explain how their venture expanded, changed, or evolved since competing in NVC 2022 within the online application form by 11:59 EST on March 7, 2023. 
  4. Pre-registration required
  5. Each team must complete the online application form in Google Forms by 11:59 p.m. on March 7, 2023. This indicates the team's intent to participate in the day of the competition.

  6. Awards
    1. Award money exceeding $1,000 will be made payable to the business entity that the winning team 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 of time, the money remains in the competition fund and is not disbursed. (Unless approved in writing by the IBIE). Teams 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.
    2. Each team 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 team’s award agreement.  ​See the IBIE office in Grawn 164 with any questions.
    3. 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 IBamong other things.
    4. Team members must be present at the awards ceremony to collect the awards and prizes (unless approved by the IBIE). 
  7. Full entry form due April 4, 2023
  8. All teams must submit their complete entry form, with relevant documents and links by 11:59 p.m. on April 4, 2023. 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.

    1. Elevator Pitch entries will be reviewed virtually by a team of judges by April 11 and notified by April 13 if they are advancing to the Finals on April 21. For those that advance, they will pitch between 1:00 and 2:30 p.m. on April 21, 2023.
    2. 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.
      1. There will be a preliminary round held virtually, using the Airmeet platform on April 11, 2023
      2. 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 their full 7-minute presentation between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m. on April 21. The others will all qualify to make an Elevator Pitch on their venture between 1:00 and 2:30 p.m. on April 21.
    3. All entries are encouraged to provide a “Venture Exhibit" in the Venture Gallery on April 21. There are separate awards and judges for the Gallery round on April 21 between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.
  9. Preliminary round, April 11, 2023
  10. The preliminary round(s) for NVC 2023 will be held virtually with a semi-final round on April 11. Details will be provided to all students completing the Intent to Compete form by March 7, 2023.

  11. New Venture Challenge finals for Elevator Pitch and Full Presentation Competition, Venture Gallery & Showcase, and Awards & Recognition Gala - Friday, April 21, 2023 (approx. 1:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.)
  12. The NVC Finals, Gallery Showcase, and Awards & Recognition Gala will all be held on April 21 on CMU’s campus in McGuirk Arena and John G. Kulhavi Event Center. Details will be provided to all students completing the Intent to Compete form by March 7, 2023.

Anticipated 2023 start-up capital awards/prizes 

Seed capital awards (full presentation only)

Three awards in three categories 

High Growth

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

    2nd Place High Growth: Mike and Judy Reed Award - $5,000

    3rd Place High Growth: $2,000

    Social Mission

    ​1st Place Social Mission: $ 10,000

    2nd Place Social Mission: $5,000

    3rd Place Social Mission: $2,000

    Main Street Ventures

    1st Place Main Street Venture: $ 10,000

    2nd Place Main Street Venture: $5,000

    3rd Place Main Street Venture: $2,000

    Elevator Pitch Competition Awards

    Best Overall Pitch: $ 4,000

    1st Runner Up: $ 2,000

    2nd Runner Up: $ 1,000

    (2) Honorable Mention: $ 250 each

    Isabella Bank 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 Choice by audience: $1,000

    Runner Up by Audience: $500

    NVC Investor Contribution Awards

    Middle Michigan Development Corporation (MMDC) Investor Award: $2,000 and In-Kind Services