The Proving Ground kicks off October 30, 2017, and the finals, the Shark Tank like pitch competition, will be held March 29, 2018. Here are some important dates to be aware of:
|October 30, 2017||The Proving Ground officially launches|
|February 28, 2018||Deadline for submission|
|March 1, 2018 - March 4, 2018||First round of judging|
|March 5, 2018 - March 14, 2018||Second round of judging|
|March 20, 2018||Information session for finalists and practice presentations|
|March 29, 2018||Finalists pitch competition and awards ceremony
W.W. Hootie Johnson Performance Hall
Darla Moore School of Business
The Proving Ground competition will have three categories:
In both the Avenir Discovery and the Maxient Innovation categories, 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 category or the Avenir Discovery category. The differentiation between these two categories is based on who is eligible to enter.
The Avenir Discovery category is open to University of South Carolina students, undergraduate or graduate, and alumni who graduated in the last five years (since May 2012). This category is supported by Avenir, a management consulting firm specializing in entrepreneurship and new business mentoring.
Entrants in this category must be undergraduate students at the University of South Carolina. Any team that enters must be composed completely of USC undergraduate students. This category is supported by Maxient, creators of Conduct Manager, the number one software used by university conduct offices.
The last category is the SCRA Fan Favorite. On the evening of the pitch competition, there will be two finalists the Maxient Innovation, and Avenir Discovery categories. 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 first two categories will face off, make their pitches, and the winner will be determined by the audience. This category is supported by South Carolina Research Authority an organization dedicated to enriching and enhancing South Carolina's innovation economy.
In each category, prizes will be awarded to the winner and the runner-up.
In the Maxient Innovation and the Avenir Discovery categories, the winner will receive $17,500 and the runner-up will receive $5,000. In the SCRA Fan Favorite category, the winner will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $2,500.
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 Startup Compete system 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 28, 2018.
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 Startup Compete system 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.