Ithaca, New York is an innovation hub for start-ups. At Ithaca College, we have decided to give students the opportunity tapped into this. In partnership with Rev Start Up Works, the School of Business host start up competitions. In the fall semester it is “Ithaca College Business Idea Demo Day” and in the spring semester it is “Ithaca College Business Pitch Demo Day."
Before competing in these competitions, students are asked to do something called "Customer Discovery." This allows them to process the needs of their potential customers in a deep and meaningful way.
Students have a number of resources to help them with their business ideas. Not only are there multiple entrepreneurship classes offered at the School of Business, there is also a student organization - the Young Entrepreneurs' Organization (YEO) - that gives them the opportunity to pitch their ideas and receive feedback from their peers.
The Fall Idea event is focused on highlighting a new idea for a new business entity. Student teams have 4 minutes to make their pitch to a panel of experienced business people. Then there is 4 minutes of Q&A with just the panel. After hearing all of the presentations, the panel will convene in private to determine how $5,000 will be distributed to the teams. This money is not a prize, but rather a guarantee to pay for expenses that are incurred if the teams choose to move forward with the business idea to take it to the next level.
In order for teams to qualify for the Spring Plan Demo Day, an "Audition Day" is held, where any team can pitch to a review panel for consideration for the Demo Day. The review panel watch and ask questions to every presenter, and at the conclusion of all the presentations. they will select the business idea teams for inclusion in Demo Day.
The Spring Plan Demo Day is geared towards students who are ready, or have, started a new business. There is a higher expectation of having worked out more of the details and nuances involved in launching a new business venture. The format of the event is each team has 10 minutes to present, then 5 minutes of Q&A from a panel of experienced business people. After hearing all of the presentations, the panel will convene in private to determine how $15,000 will be distributed to the teams. Similarly, this money is not a prize, but rather a guarantee to pay for expenses that are incurred if the teams choose to move forward with the business plan to take it to the next level.