The Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship [VIBE] is hosting its first business plan competition. “We’re trying to create an epicenter of entrepreneurship at UW Tacoma and this event will help kickoff that effort,” said VIBE Director Thomas Kuljam.
Located on the third floor of the Tioga building, VIBE works to develop veterans and UW Tacoma students into entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops and lectures. The business plan competition is an offshoot of this commitment, one Kuljam hopes will grow. “I want this program be become nationally recognized,” he said. “We have so much talent in this area and they go off to other parts of the world instead of staying here.”
Kuljam wants to cultivate local talent and help it stay local. For that reason the competition is open to all colleges and universities in the South Sound. The winning team will receive a cash prize and in-kind services from businesses in the area. “We want to create viable businesses that will create and/or retain jobs in the region,” said Kuljam.
The competition is also open to members of the community. However, every team needs to have a student and a veteran – one person can fill both of those roles. Putting a team together can be difficult, which is why Kuljam is hosting an open house at the VIBE offices on February 10. “People can come pitch their idea and find people who want to be a part of their team,” he said.
The deadline to enter the competition is Friday, March 31. That’s the day executive summaries are due; they can be dropped off, mailed or submitted online. There are four rounds in the competition and they include screening, investment, coaching and the finals. The competition is elimination style with round winners advancing to the finals. The coaching round isn’t a judging round; instead, mentors will offer tips to participants. Win or lose, Kuljam says everyone who competes will benefit. “This is a valuable experience that allows people to build relationships and to see what kinds of businesses are out there.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org