Calling All Investors: Fairfield StartUp Kicks Off
Last month Fairfield students gathered at the Dolan School of Business to hear from Chris Huntley, associate professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, run through the formal team registration process for the Fairfield StartUp Competition. Formerly known as StagUp, Fairfield StartUp is an entrepreneurship competition open to all Fairfield University undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in developing entrepreneurial skills. Students who participate in the semester-long competition form teams, select a business idea and work with competition mentors to develop their business pitch. The competition culminates in April with the Showcase, an evening where select teams pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors for start up funding.
Students interested in joining the competition attended the Founders Day event to learn about important upcoming deadlines, and to meet some of the potential mentors they can recruit to work with them to help develop their business idea throughout the semester. The event is called Founders Day because students are committing to a business idea and establishing themselves as the founders of their business.
Although the team registration deadline was February 1, many prospective teams started developing their business idea last semester during the Business Model Workshop and Elevator Pitch Contest. These events were provided for competitors looking to develop their business ideas and recruit their teams early on. One of the draws of the competition is that even if students don’t have a business idea but want to participate in the competition, other teams can recruit those students if they have the skills that other teams would find valuable.
The evening was also an opportunity for teams to practice their business idea pitch in front of a small audience. Students came to the table with ideas that spanned various market sectors, including apparel, ideas for a few different kinds of apps and medical equipment. Students without a solidified idea pitched their skills and experience.
Now that teams have registered, the semester will be dedicated to refining the teams' business pitches with the help of mentors in preparation for the Showcase Qualifiers on March 5. Coming out of the Qualifiers, five teams will go onto the StartUp Showcase on April 5 where teams will make their pitches to the investors. One important change to the competition this year is that there is no limit to what investors can invest in any one business idea, making the stakes higher than ever.
“Fairfield StartUp is a major upgrade from last year’s Business Plan Competition,” explained Chris Huntley. “Last year we were limited in how much financial support we could provide the student companies. Now that investors can invest directly in the companies, there is no limit. We are actively recruiting sponsors and will work with them to make Fairfield StartUp an avenue to connect with Fairfield alumni and local entrepreneurs. The more sponsors the better, no matter how modest the support, we want to talk with them."