Student entrepreneurs to compete for startup money in virtual Wright Venture

Five teams will compete in the Wright Venture finals on April 13 at 3 p.m. on Webex. (File photo from 2019)

Wright State University students with promising ideas for a new business will compete for startup funds during a live online version of Wright Venture, the annual entrepreneur competition hosted by the Raj Soin College of Business.

The Wright Venture finals will take place Tuesday, April 13, starting at 3 p.m. Viewers can watch the student entrepreneurs’ presentations on Webex.

Wright Venture is an entrepreneurial competition modeled after the reality TV series “Shark Tank.” The winner of Wright Venture is awarded $5,000 in startup funding.

The student entrepreneurs and the judges, a panel of experienced entrepreneurs called Wolves, will participate remotely.

Five student teams will present their business ideas, then respond to questions and get feedback from the Wolves. Students in the Raj Soin College of Business, College of Computer Science and Engineering and College of Education and Human Services are participating in this year’s competition.

The teams’ business ideas include: a mobile app helping high school athletes find college camps; an app that provides contractors and small business owners with free estimate generation and invoicing; a tool that helps individuals understand their finances, restructure debt, and build for their future; a website and app that helps college students save money, find affordable meals and benefit from lifestyle tips; and an on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning concierge and delivery app.

Last year’s online competition attracted about 50 viewers and organizers hope to attract a larger audience on April 13. Watching the finals can inspire students who may want to compete in Wright Venture in the future or who are interested in entrepreneurship.

“They’ll learn a lot of what a business needs to think about before they open up,” said Thomas Traynor, dean of the Raj Soin College of Business. The goal of the competition is “to encourage entrepreneurial thinking, entrepreneurial action,” he added.

Ian Chamberlain, director of student affairs for the Entrepreneurship Club and a marketing major, said that Wright Venture provides students an opportunity to practice what they learn in the classroom.

“It creates an opportunity for students to have a real-world, real-money, and real high-stakes application of what they’re learning,” he said. “This is something where you have a real test of your skills and a real reward at the end.”

Wright Venture encourages students to consider taking on the role of an entrepreneur by providing instruction for starting a business and helping students bring their idea to life. It creates an experience similar to an actual business startup, including networking, mentorship, creative idea development, product design, service creation, financial management, business planning and marketing skills, offered free by Wright State faculty, staff, and local and regional sponsors.

Students have spent much of Spring Semester preparing their presentations for the finals by participating in a series of entrepreneurial workshops on business planning, finance, marketing and business operations.

The judges volunteering for this year’s competition are Barry James, President, CEO and portfolio manager of James Investment Research, and three prominent Wright State business graduates: Jill Barber, president of CYMI Holdings; Sonia Barros, partner at Sidley Austin; and Andrew Kaiser, CFO of Cincinnati Bell.

“They are a valued group that really supports Wright State, the Raj Soin College of Business and entrepreneurship,” Traynor said.

Past Wright Venture winners include a water purification kit, a gym bag designed to organize clothing and belongings, and Galatune, a strategy card game.

Funding for the Wright Venture program is provided by the James Family Entrepreneurship Program, the City of Fairborn and Scene75.

More information is available at

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