San Diego State University Venture Challenge

SDSU’s annual Venture Challenge is a fabulous opportunity for graduate students from around the globe to introduce their startup business to the world, seek investment capital from investors, and potentially win international recognition and prize money.

As an open-forum, this competition is also a great opportunity the interested public to see what’s up and coming in the business world as well as get an idea for what investors look for in a new company.

Competitors will vie for a combined total of over $20,000 in cash prizes as well as titles to several of the contests special categories. Here is the prize structure:

1st place: $15,000

2nd place: $3,500

3rd place: $1,500

Additional prize money can also be won with the title to special categories such as:

Social Innovation ($1,000) for the venture that best incorporates consideration of individual and societal impacts.

Environmental Awareness ($1,500 1st place and $1,000 2nd place) to the company that fosters environmental sustainability and reduces dependence on non-renewable natural resources.

The showstopper award goes to the team with the best exhibit and presentation.

The competition is comprised of three rounds. In the first round, panels of 5 to 7 judges review the top 20 written business plans submitted. Winners of this round will advance to the semi-final round where live 15-minute presentations are to be made, followed by 25-minute question and answer sessions. Time permitting; there may also be open Q&A sessions for the audience. These presentations will be repeated for the final round from which the winners will be selected.

Judges will base their decisions on a qualitative analysis of each team’s written and oral presentations. In this analysis will be considered the company’s overall feasibility, method of implementation, potential for capital gains, and investment possibilities.

Written business plans must be professionally bound (no 3-ring binders) and no longer than 30 pages (20 for text /supplemental financial data and 10 for spreadsheets, appendices.) Included in the financial data section should be the balance sheet, cash flow statement, income statement, as well as justification for financial expenditures.

During public sessions of the Venture Challenge, no confidentiality rights can be assumed. SDSU will videotape presentations and reserves the right to market said presentations. The University also requests the right to place a copy of each venture’s business plan in its archive for read-only privileges by students. Teams are allowed to observe each other’s live presentations only after their own has been made.

Recent winners of this competition include:


1st Place – CleanSmart (University of Oregon) heralds of a new technology for safely and effectively decontaminating many of the world’s most challenging waste streams.

2nd Place – Bigfoot Networks (University of Texas at Austin) with its new type of network card for online gamers.

3rd Place – Poise (University of Michigan) inventors of a self-calibrating nanoliter viscometer.


1st Place – EnviroBinz (San Diego State University) a company dedicated to helping communities and cities divert waste from landfills by increasing recycling.

2nd Place – Quanlight (University of California at San Diego) makers of a novel yellow-red light-emitting diode (LED) technology.

3rd Place – FloraGenics (University of Oregon) generating genetic fingerprints of plants in an effort to transform and streamline the plant breeding process.

Social Innovation – Green Flight (University of North Dakota) introducing a breakthrough technology to produce jet turbine fuel from domestically produced crop oils such as soybeans.

Show Stopper – Intelligun (University of Michigan) with its safety system that completely locks a gun, unlocking it only for authorized users who are identified via a fingerprint reader on the gun itself.

Numerous rules and regulations apply to participation in this contest. Please visit the Venture Challenge website at for more details.