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McGinnis Venture Competition

We are excited to announce the McGinnis Venture Competition, a platform exclusively for Carnegie Mellon University’s community of student entrepreneurs.

The McGinnis Venture Competition brings together Carnegie Mellon's best and brightest student entrepreneurs to compete for $60K in investments. All participants receive crucial interaction with alumni entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, an opportunity to raise capital and valuable feedback about ventures.

This multi-round competition kicks off in early January, starting with two virtual rounds and culminating in a final live round celebration at Carnegie Mellon University on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Prize Allocation

Graduate Track

First Place

$25,000

Second Place

$15,000

Third Place

$10,000

Undergraduate Track

First Place

$4,000

Second Place

$2,500

Bonus

Undergraduate track winners are also awarded a place in the CMU Venture Challenge.

photo of McGinnis winners

*Investments are awarded in the form of a convertible note. The remaining $3,500 will sponsor the CMU Venture Challenge.

Plus Get

Coaching

The competition includes coaches for each team that declares participation in the McGinnis Venture Competition via Startup Compete by Monday, November 28, 2016. The Swartz Center staff will match the appropriate team with an appropriate coach. If a team is not registered by Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, the Swartz Center cannot guarantee that a coach will be assigned for the competition.

Networking Opportunities

Meet and interact with peers who are also passionate about entrepreneurship, and gain access to Carnegie Mellon’s amazing entrepreneurial alumni network. Teams from all rounds enjoy access to exclusive networking events.

Help Along the Way

CONNECTS events are held throughout the year to help teams prepare.

Here are a few video resources that we suggest to help with your video pitch: 

Important Dates and Deadlines

Tuesday, November 1

Registration opens. 
View competition application requirements: Executive summary [pdf] and video pitch constraints via the Swartz Center website.

Monday, November 28

Declaration of Intent to Compete due. If you register via Startup Compete by this date, you will be guaranteed to be assigned a coach for the rest of the competition. For those who register after November 28, we cannot guarantee that you will be assigned a coach for the competition.

Thursday, January 19

Round 1 submission deadline at 11:59 p.m. EST.
 Round 1 executive summary [pdf] and video pitch due.

Friday, January 20

Round 1 judges can view team’s applications at 5 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, January 31

Round 1 judging ends at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Wednesday, February 1

Teams notified. Round 2 begins at 5 p.m. EST.

Sunday, February 19

Round 2 submission deadline at 11:59 p.m. EST.
 Round 2 updated executive summary [pdf] and video pitch due.

Monday, February 20

Round 2 judges can view team’s applications at 5 p.m. EST.

Wednesday, March 1

Round 2 judging ends at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Thursday, March 2

Teams notified. Round 3 Begins at 5 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, March 14

Round 3 Mini-Business Plan [pdf] due at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Wednesday, March 15

Round 3 judges can view team’s applications at 5 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, March 21

Live Final Round will be held at Carnegie Mellon University, Gates and Hillman centers.

Wednesday, March 22

Judges have until 5 p.m. EST to complete Startup Compete feedback.

Requirements & Guidelines

The McGinnis Venture Competition is open to all current Carnegie Mellon University undergraduate and graduate students who have created, managed and owned ventures.

A CMU student should be CEO, CTO or COO. Members of the student team should also own a significant majority of the equity allocated to all parties. Non-CMU students may be members of the venture’s management team and may participate; however, current CMU students should deliver the majority of the content in all of the rounds.

How to determine which track you are competing in:

  • If you have all undergraduate students on your team you will be considered in the undergraduate track.
  • If you have all graduate students on your team you will be considered in the graduate track.
  • If your team is made up of both graduate and undergraduate students you will be considered in the graduate track. You will not be eligible to compete in the undergraduate track.

**Please note that you will upload your Executive Summary and Video Pitch on Startup Compete.**

Deliverable: Executive Summary and Video Pitch*

The Executive Summary must be 3-5 pages in length. Please use the Executive Summary/Mini-Business Plan [pdf] for guidance.

A 5-minute Video Pitch targeted to investors is also required. You should pretend you are pitching to real investors and include all pertinent information. Record your Video Pitch and insert a Vimeo link on Startup Compete.

The Executive Summary and Video Pitch must be submitted on Startup Compete.

Round 1 closes on Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST on Startup Compete.

*If you need to borrow video equipment to make your video, visit Clusters Multimedia Lending.

**Please note that you will upload your updated Executive Summary and Video Pitch on Startup Compete as you did in Round 1.**

Deliverables: Updated Executive Summary and Video Pitch*

Submit via Startup Compete an updated Executive Summary and Video Pitch (Vimeo). Use the feedback that you received from Round 1 to improve.

Watch an example pitch from Neon Labs.

Round 2 closes on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST on Startup Compete.

*If you need to borrow video equipment to make your video, visit Clusters Multimedia Lending.

**Please note that you will upload your Mini Business Plan/Expanded Version of Executive Summary on Startup Compete as you did in Round 1 and 2.**

Deliverables: Mini Business Plan/Expanded Version of Executive Summary and Live Pitch

We suggest that you use the Executive Summary/Mini-Business Plan[pdf] as guidance when creating your business plan, which should be 5-10 pages. You can add additional information to your business plan.

Sample successful mini-business plans from some of our 2013 winners: Lumator [pdf] and Playpower Labs [pdf].

Business plans are due Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST on Startup Compete.

The live presentations are 8 minutes long followed by 7-minute Q&A from the judges. Time limits are strictly enforced. The live round will be held at Carnegie Mellon University on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

The authors of the executive summaries and mini business plans will retain all rights to the executive summaries and mini business plans regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition except as stated below. Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant.

All public sessions of the competition, including, but not limited to, oral presentations and question/answer sessions, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media that may include radio, television and the internet. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions.

Carnegie Mellon University may make photocopies, photographs, videotapes and/or audiotapes of the presentations including the business plan and other documents, charts or material prepared for use in presentation at the McGinnis Venture Competition. Students retain all proprietary rights. The university may use the materials in any book or other printed materials and any videotape or other medium that it may produce, provided that any profits earned from the sale of such items is used by the university solely to defray the costs of future competitions. The university has non-exclusive world rights in all languages, and in all media, to use or to publish the materials in any book, other printed materials, videotapes or other medium, and to use the materials in future editions thereof and derivative products.

View our judging guidelines

View our coaching guidelines

Thank You

The McGinnis Venture Competition is made possible by a generous endowment from Gerald E. McGinnis, founder of Respironics.