Students as VCs

In new competition at Case Western Reserve University, students decide who gets funded.

This fall, the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio, will launch a new business competition—one that features students both as business founders and competition judges.

Founding teams must include at least one current student or recent alum of CWRU. They will present their business concepts to an entrepreneurial finance class taught by Scott Shane, the A. Malachi Mixon III Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and an economics professor at the Weatherhead School. Students in the class will select the top six concepts. In March, these will be presented to a panel of venture capitalists at a demo day competition at Sears think[box], the university’s 50,000-square-foot innovation and entrepreneurship center.

The lead backers of the program are JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland nonprofit that supports Ohio-based tech startups, and venture capitalist Bob Pavey. In honor of the late startup investor David Morgenthaler, the event will be named the Morgenthaler-Pavey Startup Competition.

The top three winners will receive prizes of US$25,000, $15,000, and $10,000, respectively, all provided by JumpStart. The six finalists will be mentored by JumpStart and connected to capital, talent, and other business development resources in Northeast Ohio.