February 15, 2001

Competition Fuels New Business Ideas

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The first annual Business Idea Competition will offer any Cornell student, faculty member or alumnus the opportunity to compete for cash prizes by submitting the best idea for starting a new business.

“The goal of the competition is to generate a flow of ideas,” said David Bendaniel, Don and Margi Professor of Entrepreneurship.


The Big Red Venture Fund (BRVF), a venture capital fund which is run by nine students in the Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM), is sponsoring the competition.

“A lot of great ideas come out of Cornell,” said Trisha Jen JGSM ’01, a student manager of the BRVF. “This [competition] helps students with great ideas get funded.”

“We want people to move past thinking ‘what if,'” said Sujith Abraham JGSM ’01, another BRVF student manager.


Participants are competing for a $10,000 first prize, a $2,500 second prize and a $1,000 third prize. In addition, the BRVF offers an evaluation of the business proposal and the opportunity to use the fund’s resources to implement the proposed idea.

“[The BRVF] is offering resources to help develop ideas to fruition, which differentiates us from other top schools [which focus on already developed plans],” explained Jeff Peterson JGSM ’01, another BRVF student manager and creator of the Business Idea Competition.

Contestants must complete a two-page application, which is available starting today at 304 Sage Hall and on the World Wide Web at www.bigredventure.cornell.edu/competition. The deadline for application is March 31.

“Other schools have business plan competitions that require a proposal of 30-40 pages,” Jen said. “Ours is different because the focus is on the idea, not the presentation.”

The nine student managers of the BRVF will initially examine the proposals for viability as a business and then the BRVF student managers in conjunction with an advisory board will determine the winners.

In addition to sponsoring the Business Idea Competition, the student managers of the BRVF review business plans throughout the year. If they determine that a plan is viable, they connect the creator of the proposal with a business student who can help to refine the plan.

“If someone has a great idea for a business, but it doesn’t exist yet, we can connect the person with another student who can help with technical expertise,” Peterson said.

Archived article by Elisa Jillson