The Proving Ground kicks off October 24, 2018, and the finals, the Shark Tank like pitch competition, will be held March 28, 2019. Here are some important dates to be aware of:
|October 24, 2018||The Proving Ground officially launches|
|February 15, 2019||Deadline for submission|
|February 16, 2019, - February 26, 2019||First round of judging|
|February 27, 2019, - March 8, 2019||Second round of judging|
|March 11, 2019||Information session for finalists and practice presentations|
|March 27, 2019||Dress rehearsal|
|March 28, 2019||Finalists pitch competition and awards ceremony
W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall
Darla Moore School of Business
The Proving Ground competition will have three tracks:
In both the Avenir Discovery and the Maxient Innovation tracks, the concepts submitted may be for any business and any industry, ideally addressing an unmet need or solving an existing problem. Do you have an idea for a new app? Do you have an innovative restaurant or retail concept? Do you have a new way to deliver a recognized service? Do you have a product or service that creates a market that does not exist today? Any and all of these ideas would be applicable to the Maxient Innovation track or the Avenir Discovery track. The differentiation between these two tracks is based on who is eligible to enter.
The Avenir Discovery track is open to University of South Carolina students, undergraduate or graduate, and alumni who graduated in the last five years (December 2013 and later). This track is supported by Avenir, a management consulting firm specializing in entrepreneurship and new business mentoring.
Entrants in this track must be undergraduate students at the University of South Carolina. Any team that enters must be composed completely of USC undergraduate students. This track is supported by Maxient, creators of Conduct Manager, the number one software used by university conduct offices.
The last track is the Fan Favorite. On the evening of the pitch competition, there will be two finalists in the Maxient Innovation and Avenir Discovery tracks. Those finalists will have been determined by judges who reviewed all the plans submitted. The two highest scoring plans, which do not make the finals of the Avenir and Maxient tracks, will face off, make their pitches, and the winner will be determined by the audience.
In each track, prizes will be awarded to the winner and the runner-up.
In the Maxient Innovation and the Avenir Discovery tracks, the winner will receive $17,500 and the runner-up will receive $5,000. In the Fan Favorite track, the winner will receive $4,000 and the runner-up will receive $2,000.
No. We're looking for any business concept that is innovative, has commercial viability, and has the potential to scale. No idea is too big or small. That said, we encourage teams to pursue ideas that will change the way people live.
All submissions must survive a three round elimination process to make it to the prize money:
All submissions will be subject to the following evaluation criteria throughout each round:
Here's what you need to know to be eligible.
Teams must register through the YouNoodle platform before they can submit their documents. The site provides a step-by-step guide for registering and submitting your business plan. You will receive an e-mail confirmation with a link to verify the account. You must submit your business plan and all required information by February 15, 2019.
Each team is required to submit the following:
As an applicant of The Proving Ground, you will have access to LivePlan, Palo Alto Software's award-winning business plan software, for a greatly reduced price. Click here to access the program.
If you do not wish to use LivePlan, there are numerous sources on the internet about writing a business plan. One you might find helpful can be found at the Small Business Administration website, https://www.sba.gov/writing-business-plan
In addition, the Small Business Development Center, an organization whose mission is to advance South Carolina's economic development by helping entrepreneurs grow successful businesses, is available to all Proving Ground applicants for consultation and advice. With 17 offices in the state, the SBDC is reach of everyone in South Carolina. To reach the Columbia office, dial (803) 777-5118. For contact information for other offices, go to the SBDC web site.
Teams MUST submit their ventures through the YouNoodle platform and be a registered team before they can submit.
Contact Dean Kress, Director of the Faber Entrepreneurship Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803.777.7015.