Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU to host competition for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors

December 20, 2012

Aspiring entrepreneurs pondering "what if" about a business or invention idea can pitch and develop their concept at a business development competition at Indiana State University in February.

Registration is open for the Startup Weekend Terre Haute competition Feb. 8-10 at Federal Hall, which houses ISU's Scott College of Business. During the competition, people will submit their ideas for a novel business or invention, then work with members of the local business community over the weekend to develop a plan for the creation.

"You're matched with industry professionals and mentors that will walk you through the process," said Heather Strohm, regional director of the West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center which is located in the Scott College. "You're going to have a very good idea about how to launch this business by the end of that weekend."

On the competition's first day, participants will pitch their ideas before those in attendance vote on the concepts that advance to the next round. Mentors, who will be professionals from a variety of fields, will team with the aspiring entrepreneurs to develop the plan that will then be judged at the end of the competition.

"Participants will actually have a business plan, or close to a business plan, that they can launch and implement," Strohm said. "In addition, they're going to get a chance to build relationships with some resource providers here in the area."

The winner will receive a package of services to help develop the small business or invention, including legal services valued at $500, website development and a business development program. Yet even the contestants who don't win will still benefit from participating in the competition, Strohm said.

"They'll get a chance to network and really build those relationships," she added, "so that if they do decide to pursue the business idea, which we do hope that they do, they'll be able to leverage those relationships to help them get started."

Coaches to help the contestants include Stacey Thacker, founding member of Art Totality; Edward Jones financial advisor Evan Lunsford and Doug Edge, director of sales at WTWO/WAWV. Attorney Lakshmi Reddy and Rajan Kapur of Ark IT Solutions and Venture Club of Indiana will be among the judges.

Several Indiana State faculty members and administrators will participate in the competition. David Robinson, associate professor of management and co-director of Sycamore Student Ventures, and Samantha Penney, ISU director of distance learning, will be among the coaches at the event. Jeff Harper, director of the MBA program, will be among the judges.

"ISU is strongly invested in the community, and we work very closely with the downtown," Strohm said, "but we want everybody to know that we're open to working with all businesses and members of the community as well."

The competition is open to the public. The goal is that the projects developed in the Startup Weekend competition help create jobs in the Wabash Valley.

"The Scott College of Business works in the classroom and in the community to support entrepreneurs and innovations that will spur economic development in the state, region and even beyond," said Brien Smith, dean of the Scott College of Business who will also be a competition judge. "We are excited to play such an integral role in an event that has the potential to produce new business startups in our region."

Registration costs $25 for high school and college students. Early registration is $50 and ends Feb. 1, 2013; it will cost $75 thereafter. For more information, including to register, visit

People will additional questions can contact Heather Strohm at 812-237-7676 or

Photo: (Submitted photo)People work on art projects at Art Totality's Going Green with Artwork event. Stacey Thacker, founding member of Art Totality, will be one of the judges at the Startup Weekend Terre Haute competition for aspiring entrepreneurs in February. The West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center housed in Federal Hall at ISU is one of the co-organizers of the event.

Contact: Heather Strohm, regional director, West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center, 812-237-7676 or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Story Highlights

Registration is open for the Startup Weekend Terre Haute competition Feb. 8-10 at Federal Hall. During the competition, people will submit ideas for a novel business or invention, then team with members of the business community to create a business plan.

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