UVM junior advances in VT business competition

Anna Power, Staff Writer

LaunchVT, a community that aims to bring exposure to local entrepreneurs, according to its website, will hold its annual Pitch Competition May 12.

Those competing all have the chance to win over $75,000 in cash and prizes, according to the NBC website.

Each team will be paired with a venture capitalist mentor to prepare their pitch, according to the website.

The finalists will have an eight-minute pitch of their business plan, followed by a five-minute Q&A from a finance panel.

Among the seven finalists is junior Peter Silverman, who won the collegiate competition.

The competition was between the top business teams from each of the eight colleges in Vermont, Silverman said.

“A qualifier narrowed it down to the best student-run business in the school at UVM,” he said.

The competition consisted of an eight-minute pitch, followed by a five-minute Q&A from a business panel, Silverman said.

“The only real competition was Middlebury, because they usually beat UVM in entrepreneurship,” he said.

Silverman and his team won. Their company, Beacon business, is a website that helps students find jobs and makes money by selling it to different universities, he said.

Previously, Silverman has been to about 20 to 30 different pitch competitions, he said.

“The hardest part was memorizing the pitch and being able to get it all in within the time limit,” Silverman said. “I probably went through 19 series of revisions and memorizations.”

Silverman explained that at this competition he will be up against 40-year-olds with PhDs who have done lots more with their businesses, such as selling to NASA and making renewable energy resources, he said.

The winner gets $30,000 in cash and $45,000 in-kind support, which they can use for office space, lawyers and advertising, Silverman said.

“At its core, every business tries to create value, and the value I create is to find students jobs through advertising making software, helping students out,” he said.

Although Silverman is excited to get his idea out there for people to see and understand, he is also looking forward to meeting the higher-ups of the business world, Silverman said.

“The more practical thing is, there are more venture capitalists at the competition to secure funding after college,” he said.

Each team is paired up with a venture capitalist to get advice on their revenue model and scalability before the competition, which is exciting because they give funds to startup businesses, such as Intel or Facebook, in hopes that one goes viral, Silverman said.

Silverman was excited and nervous for this competition, and that he had to revise his pitch to make it more professional as he will be pitching to finance officials instead of just people in a business, he said.