Thirty thousand dollars cash, professional business advice and maybe even access to venture capital await the student team entering the best business startup plan in the University of the Virgin Islands’ new 13D Student Entrepreneurship Competition.
"It really is intended to create new business startups, complete with funding to get started and a second round of funding to overcome common startup issues," said UVI associate professor of management and competition director Glenn Metts.
Funded by a $5 million gift from investment strategist and entrepreneur Kiril Sokoloff, the founder of 13D Research, the competition will be run by the UVI School of Business and the UVI College of Science and Mathematics but will be open to all eligible students within the university.
The competition will become an established, interdisciplinary part of UVI’s curriculum, through which student entrepreneurs will submit business plans for new ventures demonstrating significant business potential.
Students will receive practical guidance and insight from experienced local and national entrepreneurs and business leaders, along with the expertise of companies associated with UVI’s nascent research and technology park.
“The competition will keep the teams engaged and working on improving and developing their idea throughout much of the fall and spring,” Metts said.
According to Metts, the teams will pitch their business plans in November and January, and mentors will give them feedback. The competition then begins in earnest, with half the teams eliminated in February during round one on St. Croix.
According to Metts, each advancing team will receive $500 and move on to the final round of competition in April when they’ll battle for the $30,000 grand prize. The runners-up will receive $20,000, while $10,000 will go to the third-place team.
"But what is really important is we expect to have some venture capitalists and funding sources to look at these ideas and takes some interest," Metts said.
The competition is open to UVI undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines. However, Metts said, “We are really hoping to see some cross-disciplinary teams, with students in business working together with someone in math and science."
Business startups are costly and difficult, but Sokoloff’s unusually generous gift has created a unique business opportunity for the winners, hopefully providing enough resources to really get off the ground, he said.
In a statement, UVI President David Hall said the competition is one sign of the university’s commitment to providing students real-life learning experiences that have the capacity to change their lives.
“I envision numerous new business ventures in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean that are a direct result of this competition," Hall said.
The university will be holding an informational hearing from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in the UVI Administration and Conference Center, room 142, on the St. Thomas campus and in UVI’s Great Hall on St. Croix.
For more information, contact Metts in the UVI School of Business via e-mail or at (340) 693-1303 or (419) 297-2060.