Local college student entrepreneurs are competing this Friday for $50,000 in prize money, but they need a really savvy business idea first.
Students will pitch their best business and nonprofit ideas to a panel of potential investors at the annual John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge in Missoula.
Paul Gladen, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad, the University of Montana’s business startup platform that’s co-running the competition this year, says, “The students that compete every year tell us that in many ways the most valuable thing is not really the prize money. It’s the connections they make, it’s the insights they gain from the questions and the discussions they have with the judges."
Past winners from the challenge include Big Sky Brewing and the restaurant 5 on Black, American Expedition Vehicles and Chilton Skis.
Gladen says the competition sparks entrepreneurial spirit and inspiration in a state leading the nation in business creation, according to a Kauffman Foundation study.
The winner of the competition will be announced Friday at 7pm.