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Ready, set, pitch! Contest to give student entrepreneurs 90 seconds to deliver the perfect elevator pitch

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Jacqueline Molik Ghosen

First-place winners get $1,000 for presenting ideas clearly—and quickly—to judges

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- It’s a nerve-wracking minute-and-a-half: You’re standing in a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs, you’re presenting an idea for a business to a panel of judges, and you have just 90 seconds to do it.

That’s the type of drama the University at Buffalo’s second annual Elevator Pitch Competition will deliver.

The contest, which takes place April 16, is open to students from across UB.

It’s like ABC’s Shark Tank — only faster. At last year’s competition, the atmosphere was collegial but tense, with competitors practicing rapid-fire talks outside the room before taking the stage. There were meltdowns and mistakes, as well as moments of perfection.

This year, first-place winners will get a cash prize of $1,000.

What: UB Elevator Pitch Competition

Who: Seventy-five student teams have signed up to present. Students can pitch business or other ideas that provide novel solutions to real-world challenges. No notes, slides or other visual aids are allowed.

When: Wednesday, April 16, at 1 p.m. Good visuals: The contest is expected to last about four hours, with back-to-back pitches. Winners will receive giant checks.

Where: Student Union Theatre on UB’s North Campus. The Student Union is building No. 28 in the yellow section of this map: http://bit.ly/1jq1rRX.

On-site contact: Hadar Borden, administrative director, UB Undergraduate Academies

Sponsors: UB Entrepreneurship Academy; UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR); and UB School of Management. Prizes are supported by the Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund.

Why: The pitch competition gives undergraduate and graduate students the chance to generate novel ideas, connect with peers with similar interests, and learn how to pitch to potential investors and supporters.

“The pitch competition is part of a growing effort at UB to promote entrepreneurship, to realize the promise of UB 2020 and to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western New York,” said Yong Li, PhD, academic director of UB’s Entrepreneurship Academy and an associate professor of operations management and strategy in the UB School of Management.

Video of last year’s contest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoXjQam0-xY.

Other UB programs that support business-minded students included:

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News and World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.