Annual JagStart Competition Calling Out for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

The annual “JagStart” Pitch Competition is approaching quickly, with the application deadline set in early February.

JagStart is an “elevator pitch” competition that encourages and allows students to consider the possibilities of entrepreneurship and pitch ideas to a panel of judges in March. JagStart is conducted through the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research with Research Development Facilitator Karen White.

White explained that competition rose out of an “emphasis to offer extracurricular opportunities for all students to develop business.”

The emergence of JagStart has influenced many to grow product, business and nonprofit ideas into more developed plans.

Winners of last year’s competition. (Image courtesy of Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.)

Winners of last year’s competition. (Image courtesy of Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.)

So why do JagStart?

Although JagStart does require students to put some effort into applying their skills, according to White, the competition is a great new way to develop business ideas for students who aren’t regularly asked to do so in their coursework.

White added, “Someday, with enough experience, you may want to know the mechanics of a business pitch, and the first step is convincing people the idea is good enough.”

Prizes for top ideas include a $2,500 check for first place, a $1,500 check for second place, a $500 check for third, as well as a $1,000 check selected through “Audience Choice.”

Winners are not required to spend the money on their pitched idea.

Who can participate in JagStart?

Any student can participate in JagStart. White explained that she tries to keep the competition as open as possible, so any student, full-time or part-time, can participate as long as they are enrolled in a degree program at IUPUI.

White also explained there are workshops for JagStart taking place from now well into January to help interested students develop their ideas and prepare their written applications. White estimated that approximately thirty to forty students send in applications each year.

February 12th is the committee meeting date in which the 10-15 finals are chosen by a board of local business owners to participate in the live competition.

What makes a winner?

To be a part of JagStart, students must first fill out the online application. It is recommended that potential participants attend one of the many workshops offered prior to applying. These workshops are listed online on the JagStart webpage.

White described a winner as someone with a passion for whatever idea they are pursuing. No matter the product or business, the finalist with the most compelling pitch is bound to win.

 Last year, the first prize winner of the competition pitched a non-profit organization, which has been rare in this competition. 

Judges for JagStart are recruited from the local business community, as White explained, and there are usually three to five judges on the panel. She held that many locals in Indy have gone down the path of entrepreneurship, and several of these locals hope to help students pursue their own paths in the field.

Video of last year’s winner, Autumn Fox, giving her pitch to judges and audience.

A few tips for getting involved, as White provided, include less worry on the prospect of coming up with a “money making” product.

White explained that all great products, businesses, and even non-profits began from a small idea. The most difficult parts of this competition and relevant real-world opportunities involve starting.

 The best way to prepare for the application, White said, was to attend the workshops provided by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. These workshops cover information to prepare a product, business, or nonprofit for entry into the competition, and other workshops cover the three-minute “elevator pitch” for the live competition.

 White added that most students learn skills they wouldn’t have been able to start without in the workshops.

The deadline for the JagStart applications is February 2nd, 2018, by 5 PM.