Hundreds of students will rapidly share their startup ideas at the annual Carolina Challenge Pitch Party Thursday evening in the Blue Zone at Kenan Memorial Stadium, as they compete for financial awards.
This year, about 115 student teams are expected to participate, junior Mary Ashley Murrah, student president of the Carolina Challenge team, said. It's an increase from last year’s approximately 80 teams.
While the event is coordinated and hosted by the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School's Entrepreneurship Center, the Pitch Party competition attracts students from all disciplines.
“We believe that entrepreneurs come from all different disciplines and majors, and that is one of the many reasons why entrepreneurship is such an exciting space — because it brings together a diverse set of people and ideas,” Vickie Gibbs, executive director of the Entrepreneurship Center, said in an email.
The competition is divided into five categories: early stage, early stage social, late-stage, late-stage social and the newly introduced, graduate student category.
During an hour-long segment, students will pitch their ideas to judges who will circulate around the room and distribute 10 tokens to the startups they like best.
“Pitch party is super electric. There are a lot of ideas flowing, a lot of collaboration between students at UNC coming from different clubs, organizations and classes,” Murrah said. “It’s really diverse, as in students are coming from everywhere on UNC’s campus. It’s not just kids in the B-school or kids in the entrepreneurship minor.”
With about 300 judges expected to attend, students will have many opportunities to refine and become more confident in their pitches as the night progresses.
“It was very busy, but at the same time, I wasn't very nervous or overwhelmed,” said senior Camille Wyatt, who participated in last year’s competition and won first place with her team. “I was just really excited because I put so much research and time into our product. It was just really great having conversations with people.”