Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club to Host Competition for Start-Ups

Founded in 2000, the Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club was created to encourage students interested in entrepreneurship or venture capital.

This past year, the club has introduced a new Business Accelerator Program designed specifically to support members working to create a start-up.

From within this program, the club is hosting the SMU Startup Launch Competition. Previously known as the Business Plan Competition, the new competition gives students the opportunity to compete for up to $50,000 in non-dilutive cash prizes and in-kind donations to launch or support their business.

President Valecia Harris says that this competition is different from previous competitions because it is re-designed to bridge gaps in getting connected and getting visibility with entrepreneurs in the DFW community.

Madison McMahan presenting Social Panacea
Madison McMahan presenting The Social Panacea Photo credit: Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club

“Once these competitions are over and they’re done with the program, they will have established a rapport with some industry leaders throughout the community who can support them continuously on their journey of launching their start-up and it being a viable start-up,” Harris said.

From the 26 applicants for the accelerator program, 15 semi-finalists were chosen to advance and compete in the elevator pitch competition. Within that competition, the semi-finalists had the opportunity to compete for pre-seed funding.

The progress for each competing start-up varies greatly. Some students are still in the ideation phase, whereas others already have existing start-ups and are working to scale them.

Out of the 15 semi-finalists, 10 have been chosen to advance to the final competition scheduled for March 25.

“Ideally, what they’re presenting to the judges is that they’re ready to start their business today,” Harris said. “That means they’re ready to launch, they have prototypes, they have a team, they build an advisory board. They’re ready to get into that stage and say ‘Yes, we want to start our business and continue to scale from there.’”

The program and competition are open to every undergraduate and graduate student throughout the community.

Irewole Akande presents City Health Tech Inc
Irewole Akande presents City Health Tech Inc Photo credit: Cox Graduate Entrepreneurship Club

The accelerator program also hosts immersive workshops featuring entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that have worked with and successfully scaled different start-ups. The program also leads one-on-one mentoring initiatives to help members get an inside lens of how to develop their businesses in the competitive platform of the start-up world.

“We just want this program to be sustainable to ensure that the next leaders that take it on have the support they need from our amazing SMU community as well as the DFW community to support next-gen entrepreneurs,” Harris said.

The final competition for up to $50,000 in funding will take place on March 25 in the Crum Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Each finalist will give a 10-minute pitch and presentation of their services, prototypes, and financial data, which will be followed by a 5-minute Q&A from the judges.

For more information, visit the organization’s website and view the list of finalists competing for funding on March 25.