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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Entrepreneurial Center Hosting First Startup Challenge for Students

On Friday, April 11, teams of aspiring student entrepreneurs will gather at the College of Business and Public Administration for Old Dominion University's first Startup Challenge.

The event, which will be held from 4:30-8 p.m. in 1002 Constant Hall, is designed to help foster an exciting and competitive entrepreneurial environment on campus.

Co-sponsored by the ODU Student Entrepreneurship Club and Enactus, the university's new service club dedicated to social entrepreneurship, the Startup Challenge is open to all ODU students.

During the event, student entrepreneurs will pitch their business plan ideas to a panel of faculty members and business leaders. It is free and open to the public.

Jim Lant, an instructor in the management department and interim director of ODU's new Entrepreneurial Center, said this competition is the first of many the center will sponsor over the next 12 months.

"The research and analyses that go into planning a business are key to building upon the entrepreneur's business idea and help form a successful business model," Lant said.

"The Entrepreneurial Center will sponsor competitions that reflect the entire life cycle of the entrepreneurial process. I'm especially looking forward to competitions around 'elevator' pitches, and what I'm calling 'back of an envelope' plans, where our student entrepreneurs will present the very basic, salient aspects of their business model."

Tom Asefi ('96) an ODU financial management graduate who has founded several high-tech companies in the Washington, D.C., area, will serve as guest speaker for the April 11 event.

Lant said the multistep process to create a comprehensive business plan for seeking financing is trying, especially for new entrepreneurs.

"However, often entrepreneurs do not need significant outside capital; in those cases they need do only the research, analyses and written-plan steps that are appropriate to their specific circumstance," he said.

That is part of the rationale behind the creation of the Entrepreneurial Center - to help establish an entrepreneurial "ecosystem" on campus where student entrepreneurs in every college can receive coaching for their idea and learn real-world lessons.

The project is being funded in part through the recent $11 million donation to ODU by Mark and Tammy Strome in support of a new, multipronged program to nurture business entrepreneurs.

The ODU Entrepreneurial Center will guide student entrepreneurs across the entire life cycle of the entrepreneurial process - from idea and on through the planning, research, analysis, startup and initial operations stages.