Finalists Selected for New Venture Challenge

The Business School’s Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship launched its two-stage business plan competition in Fall 2019.  Running through early April 2020, the inaugral Duquense New Venture Challenge (DNVC), is an exciting new competition open to anyone in the Pittsburgh region and beyond.  Structured to offer tremendous resources for those with compelling start-up ideas, DNVC cash and service prizes are valued at approximately $85,000.

How it works:

In Stage I, participants submitted a short description of their business idea with a two-minute video “elevator pitch.” Cash prizes of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 were awarded to the top three video pitches.

The competition judges, who are regional business leaders and members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, decided on the winning video pitches as well as which finalist teams were chosen to advance to Stage II of the competition.  In Stage II, finalists have access to the School’s Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship maker space and receive 15 hours of consultation with a mentor with relevant entrepreneurship experience.  Each team also has free access to Palo Alto’s LivePlan software—the world’s leading business plan software designed for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Finalists will submit an executive summary, business plan, PowerPoint presentation, and a YouTube video for a panel of judges to review and score by April 4, 2020. Cash prizes totaling $25,000 will be distributed to the finalists. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finalist teams will also receive 10 hours of free legal education services from the School of Law and five hours of free consulting services from the University’s Small Business Development Center.

Five Finalists Selected for Inaugural New Venture Challenge

Overall, entries for the first DNVC have exceeded expectations, in terms of both quantity and quality.  With nearly 70 entries representing diverse industries—including some from Duquesne as well as neighboring universities and high schools—the entrepreneurial talent and spirit, particularly here in Pittsburgh, is impressive and inspiring.

The finalist teams and their products are (in alphabetical order):

  • Biomotivate—wearable artificial intelligence (AI) wristbands that can help counselors track patient psychological behavior patterns to encourage those being treated for substance abuse to remain in treatment.
  • LeanMed—innovative medical equipment designed to improve access to healthcare in low-resource regions.
  • Nollapelli—bedsheets designed to regulate moisture, temperature and friction to promote wellness during sleep.
  • Sparkwear—a wristwatch device used during networking events to help event attendees find other guests with similar interests.
  • Talkmeup—an AI smart coach training software that assists users with improving communication skills.

Who are the judges? 

We have an impressive group of judges from a variety of backgrounds, including the Pittsburgh community, manufacturing, technology, and entrepreneurial finance.

  • Bill Douglas (B’86, MBA’89), President, Kenco Corporation
  • Pete Ferraro (B’81), Principal, CLA Pittsburgh
  • William Generett, Jr., Vice President for Community Engagement, Duquesne University
  • Afshan Khan (B‘85), Portfolio Executive, Innovation Works
  • Bob Mallet, Former Chairman and CEO, Mallet & Company

Funding for the DNVC is thanks to the generosity of Bob Mallet, former chairman of Mallet & Company.  

“Our hope for this project is to make entrepreneurship education more accessible to talented individuals in our community and across Duquesne’s campus, while showcasing the Business School’s cutting-edge facilities and resources.”   –Michele Migliuolo, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Palumbo-Donahue School of Business

For more information:  · 412.396.2538 ·