Semi-Finalists Named for Duquesne ‘New Venture Challenge’ Entrepreneurship Competition

Duquesne University announced the 20 semi-finalists for its New Venture Challenge (DNVC) entrepreneurship competition, which is hosted by the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business.

The three-stage business plan competition is open to anyone in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. All types of business plans were eligible for entry, though submissions that emphasized technology, general business ideas and post-COVID job creation were encouraged.

The semi-finalists were selected from 77 entries. Almost half already had a Duquesne connection on the submitting team (i.e., a student, alum, faculty and/or staff). The majority of submissions were from the Pittsburgh and surrounding area, though there were several entries from out of state and the Philadelphia region.

"We are thrilled to receive 77 entrants for the 2020-21 Duquesne New Venture Challenge," says Dr. Dean McFarlin, dean of the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business. "The competition is only in its second year, but we have already had to add a semi-finalist stage because of intense interest. In addition, we have significantly increased the cash prizes this year. This is a testament to both the quality of the competition and the strength of entrepreneurial thinking in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. It's also great to see so many Duquesne connections among the entrants as well as students from several schools at the University."

In Stage I, entrants submitted a short description of their business idea along with a one-minute video pitch. Three video winners were selected on the quality of the video pitch itself.

Video Winners:
• 1st Place: $2,500 - CleanRobotics
• 2nd Place: $1,500 - MindTrace
• 3rd Place: $1,000 - Pralent

Judging for Stage I was based on the potential for scalability and longer-term viability of the business, quality of the management team, creativity/feasibility of the product idea and target learning, effectiveness of oral and written communication, and innovativeness of the product/service.

Semi-Finalist Teams Advancing to Stage II (Listed alphabetically):

• Center for Song Writing Studies
• ChessGuides
• CleanRobotics
• Coinread
• Farm to Flame Energy
• Footbridge for Families
• Grow Incadence
• Lean Med
• Local Love
• Masters of Maternity
• Menschy's Mowers
• MindTrace
• NextGen E
• Pralent
• Precision Neuroscopics
• Propelicy
• SimpL
• Sparkwear
• StudioME
• Team Palet Lay-Day/Company JD51

"The 2020 DNVC attracted a wide array of exciting entries, including non-tech organizations focused on social issues," says Dr. Michele Migliuolo, executive director of Duquesne's Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship. "We are privileged to host a competition of different flavor and look forward to our contestants' continuing work."

In Stage II, semi-finalist teams submit an executive summary, short business plan, and a five-minute video pitch. Each semi-finalist team will receive $1,000 (a total of $20,000 in cash prizes). A panel of judges will select up to five finalist teams to advance to Stage III by January 22, 2021.

Finalist teams will compete for an additional $30,000 in cash plus other service prizes as well as have access to various resources, including an assigned mentor, Palo Alto's LivePlan Software, and the sophisticated equipment in Bob's Launch Pad-the maker space in Duquesne's Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship.

Funding for the DNVC is thanks to the generosity of Bob Mallet, member of Duquesne's Board of Directors and former president and chief executive officer of Mallet & Company.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

It's time for bigger goals
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