The business plan pitch competition, held by the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship, awarded student entrepreneurs and their high schools approximately $25,000 in cash prizes this year. With the introduction of a separate social venture competition, the prize pool for 2016 has been doubled.
Horn Program director Dan Freeman said that for the last two years, the Diamond Challenge featured a social impact prize — a separately judged competition that doles out a much smaller award. It’s now evolved to a track equal to that of the existing business pitch track.
“We added it specifically to give a little more emphasis to students who have ideas for revenue generating nonprofits and mission driven for-profit organizations,” said Freeman. “This year we decided we really wanted to place greater emphasis on it.”
With funding from Capital One, the social venture track will be able to offer an additional $25,000 in prizes exclusively for social ventures, bringing the grand total of competition prize money to $50,000. Preliminary winners will compete at the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit, which has been expanded to roll out into two-days this year.
Pitches for U.S. students will be held in Maryland and Delaware, with international pitch sites in Turkey, Kenya, Georgia and Moldova. And for students who can’t make it to any of the physical pitch locations? Good news.
“We’ve opened up access to literally anyone,” said Freeman. “If you’re not able to travel to one of the pitch sites, you can submit a video pitch.”
Through a video curriculum (available for both tracks), registered competitors will receive mentorship in best practices for ideation, prototyping and pitching, all grounded in “evidence-based and lean startup methods.”