Startup Cup Competition showcases student business ideas

Kari Norton

As Program Coordinator for the Grand Valley State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and President of the Student Enterprise Association (SEA), Ulandra Reynolds knows a thing or two about business plans and being an entrepreneur. She doesn’t stop just there though, she has created the Startup Cup Competition as a way for other students to showcase their business ideas for a chance to win some extra cash.

“I want to provide an opportunity for artists to showcase their work, for the engineering club to show their latest remote control car, for students who are restricted to a gluten-free diet to bring in a recipe, for a nonprofit student to talk about their nonprofit organization, and for whoever has ever thought of an awesome idea to have the opportunity to share it and win some cash to take that idea to the next level,” Reynolds said.

The competition, in a sense, is the Artprize for entrepreneurs, Reynolds said. Students with any sort of business ideas are encouraged to apply and show off their plans.

“GVSU students are innovative, creative, and practicing entrepreneurship regardless of their major or career plans after graduation,” Reynolds said. “Students are exploring the concept of starting businesses and nonprofits without much push from faculty or administrators. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. Entrepreneurs find an opportunity for a solution or an improvement and they run with it. GVSU students are natural entrepreneurs.”

Students interested in creating their own business are also encouraged to check out SEA, which helps students market their ideas and put them into a business plan.

“SEA strives to bridge the gap between talent and business,” Reynolds said. “Providing non-business majors access to the business culture at GVSU and in West Michigan is one step toward providing students with a truly liberal education experience while studying at GVSU.

The Startup Cup Competition and SEA accept students from all majors but were both specifically created with non-business majors in mind, Reynolds said. Students chosen to compete will be given one and a half hours to convince people that pass their station to vote for their business idea. The audience will vote via text and the top three winners will win a total of $750 – 1st place $400, 2nd place $200 and 3rd place $150.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 15 and the actual competition will take place on April 16 at 6 p.m. in the Grand River Room in the Kirkhof Center. For more information or to apply, check out
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