The Steven and Barbara Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Student Business Pitch Competition at Columbia College

The Steven and Barbara Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Student Business Pitch Competition at Columbia College allows students to compete for prize money to develop start-up business ideas. 

The competition is part of our annual Entrepreneurship Showcase event that includes a keynote address and networking opportunities.

All Columbia College undergraduate and graduate students who are currently registered and enrolled may participate.

Ideas may be conceptual, in development, or in early stages of startup and should solve a real problem for a market that is large and growing. They may have a social purpose but should be based on a for-profit business model.

Students may submit ideas individually or as part of a team. Up to ten ideas will be chosen to work with our coaches to develop a business plan and presentation. More than one idea may be submitted.

If you have any questions related to the application process please contact Don't wait until the last minute to submit your idea(s)

The Pitch Awards

Three prizes will be awarded.

Frequently asked questions

To participate in The Pitch, submit your creative, innovative idea that solves a real problem for a market that is large and growing.

Business ideas are preferred to be from student entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of their startup, but may also be conceptual and in development. Ideas may have a social purpose but should be based on a for-profit business model. All currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate Columbia College students are eligible to apply. Currently registered status is also required to participate in The Pitch Competition.

In order to be considered for the Steven and Barbara Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Student Business Pitch Competition, you must submit your application by 5 p.m. CST November 10, 2023.

Up to 10 of the best student ideas will be selected to work with our coaches in developing a business plan and presentation for The Pitch Competition. The Fishman Center will notify the individuals/teams in mid December. If you or your team is selected as one of the finalists, you may have to go through a standard background check.

The best student startup ideas will be selected to prepare for The Pitch Competition to be held in March. The exact date will be announced later..

To make it to the stage, you must develop a well-written and strategically formulated plan, and a rock star presentation. You’ll have help from our coaches along the way. These are professional individuals with years of experience starting, building, financing, and managing firms. In January and February you will develop and fine-tune your plan and pitch to make you a strong contender for the top award of $5,000.

Students who are pitching will also gain access to our Pitch Competition Resource Hub. In that you will have access to our Pitch community along with literature and guides to help you develop a strong pitch. Students who are pitching will be asked to join us in January 2024 for experiences and tutorials on pitch preparation. Save those dates!

You may submit more than one idea. If you are submitting more than one idea, you must complete one application per idea. All applications must be submitted by filling out the online application form. If selected, you or your team will only present the idea accepted by the selection committee. You may not take someone else's idea and/or intellectual property and submit as your own. Please obtain all necessary consents. Ideas may be submitted individually or as a team.

The competition will take place during our Entrepreneurship Showcase in March, in the event space in New Hall on the Columbia College campus in Columbia, Missouri*. The Fishman Center will pay transportation, lodging and meals (up to approved amount) to bring you to Columbia to pitch in-person, and attendance at all Entrepreneurship Showcase events is mandatory.

*In the event that COVID-19 circumstances impact our ability to hold an in-person pitch competition, we will attempt to hold the pitch event virtually.

November 10, 2023: Pitch applications due
Mid December, 2023: Students will be notified
January 2024: Students will participate in a D2L class for Pitch this week
March 2024: Entrepreneurship Showcase and Pitch Competition. Final date will be announced later.

Anything. The sky's the limit!

We are looking for early stage businesses with fresh ideas that are creative and innovative and solve a real problem, or satisfy a need for a market that is large and growing. Businesses may have a social purpose but should be based on a for-profit business model. Ideally the idea is scalable, and can grow with additional resources.

If your idea is selected, the Fishman Center will host a virtual student get together in our Pitch Competition Resource Hub located in D2L. We will schedule a time for you to meet your coaching team in early January 2024. The Center will provide you with a business plan development template, and the necessary additional resources in order to assist in getting ready for the pitch competition in March. There will be a couple practice pitch submissions required along the way, so that the Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Director and Robert W. Plaster School of Business Dean can see how your preparation is going, and offer more feedback to improve your pitch.

In addition, competitors will be paired with coaches to help guide them as they develop their business plan. Students and coaches will formulate a schedule for business plan development with coach feedback throughout the process, which will ultimately ensure students create a well-developed business plan.

A panel including business professionals, faculty, dean, or the director of the Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship will evaluate the business ideas and select up to 10 for coach supported business plan development. If the students work hard and create a well-developed plan, they will participate in The Pitch Competition.

How much time you decide to spend on developing your idea is up to you. Just remember that turning great ideas into a viable business strategy requires time, effort and energy. During preparation for the competition, deadlines will be provided for different aspects of the pitch. It is essential that you meet the deadlines provided. Our expectation is that you take this process seriously. While reviewing the check-in pitch submissions we’ll gauge your commitment to preparing—make those awesome!

After the pitches conclude in March during the event, the winners will be determined and announcements will be made. Checks will be disbursed after the event and usually the winners receive their checks in a few weeks.