Students Present Ideas at Annual New Business Venture Competition

Northern Michigan University will host the annual New Business Venture Competition, an event that includes a trade show, a business after hours event as well as “Shark Tank” pitch competitions: the Mini Pitch and the Big Pitch. The New Business Venture Competition begins at 2 p.m. on April 21, at Forest Roberts Theatre. 

The culminating event of the New Business Venture Competition is the Big Pitch, where students as either individuals or teams compete and present their business ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win thousands of dollars to get their business ideas off the ground. 

The event is designed to spur entrepreneurial activity among students by recognizing and rewarding those that present detailed plans on designing and creating new business enterprises, drawing on their own ideas and inventions or those of others. 

The competition provides a forum for the students to present their new ventures to investors, receive meaningful feedback, have the opportunity to start a new business and apply classroom learning to real-world projects. The business plans must propose that the ventures will be financially profitable, create new jobs and be lawful. 

The judges for the Big Pitch competition are Joe Thiel, CEO of Innovate Marquette and executive director of Invent@NMU; Vince Nystrom, partner at Renaissance Venture Capital Fund; Ed Kim, CPD, MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing Technologies; Denise Graves, university relations director, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and MJ Cartwright, state-wide innovations mentor, University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships Team.

A trade show and business after hours event will be hosted before the Big Pitch. The after hours event will allow time for networking opportunities with local businesses, followed by the Mini Pitch Competition.

The Mini Pitch is a less intensive pitch competition where teams or individuals can pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win one of two cash prizes. Similar to the Big Pitch, but in a more creative and entertaining way, students are asked to present a smart, fun and convincing pitch that is not required to be formal. 

The Mini Pitch does not require a business plan, and will not feature a question-and-answer forum. 

The schedule for the event is as follows:

  • 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Trade Show

  • 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Business After Hours Event

    • 5:00 - 6:15 p.m. Networking

    • 6:15 - 7:00 p.m. Mini Pitch Competition

  • 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Big Pitch Competition

For more information on the event, visit

Prepared By

Nicholas Jones
Student Writer

Categories: Around NMU