Impact Venture Challenge showcases student entrepreneurs

Impact Venture Challenge showcases student entrepreneurs

“Shark Tank” style competition awards $10,000 in seed money for student start-ups

This April, six student-led teams have the chance to win $5,000, $3,000 or $2,000 for their businesses through Messiah College’s Impact Venture Challenge (IVC). The second annual Impact Venture Challenge encourages students to develop and launch a faith-informed business venture that addresses important societal needs.

The IVC began last year as a collaborative effort of students Dylan Thomas ’15 and Ebenezer Dagu ’15, and Professor of Business Information Systems and Entrepreneurship Brian Nejmeh in Nejmeh’s entrepreneurship class.

“We had a number of discussions around the topic of how could we motivate students to think more about launching businesses that both made a profit and made a difference in the world,” said Nejmeh. “Our sense was that some type of business plan competition might act as a catalyst for entrepreneurship among Messiah College students.”

With that, the IVC launched and continues to thrive as a unique opportunity for student entrepreneurship on a college campus.

-Erin Bray ’10 

LIVE finale

Thursday, April 28, Calvin and Janet High Center at Messiah College

6-6:45 p.m. – “Experience the Entrepreneur” pre-event, lobby of Parmer Hall 
7-9 p.m. – live event, Parmer Hall

Your audience vote helps determine the winning teams!

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Any Messiah student could begin the program in the fall or spring semesters. While some participate as part of a class, a good number of the 50-75 students participating do it as an extracurricular activity. Through the challenge, students become equipped to develop, evaluate and launch faith-informed impact ventures.

They work with faculty members, community mentors, nonprofit organizations, potential investors and other business leaders who guide them along the way through workshops, presentations, mentoring sessions, among other learning experiences. Each aspect of the competition addresses the challenge’s main goal: to explore the intersection of your faith, passions and talents to make a profit and a difference in the world.

And for students, it’s an incredibly useful experience. “I believe that participating in the IVC has been my best college experience related to business because it takes everything I've been learning in the classroom and puts it into real life situations,” said Tyler Hershey ’17, a business administration major. “The decisions you have to make are real; they aren't for a grade like so many other college experiences. The competition provides you with a real experience of what it's actually like to start your own business,” he added.


The competition starts with many teams, but is narrowed down to just six for the final round. To make it to the final presentation, teams must first advance through the concept overview (round one); business plan draft (round two); and video pitch (round two b) stages. A committee made up of faculty (Kathleen Johnston, assistant professor of accounting; Chuck Johnston, adjunct professor of accounting; Allison Grindle, senior lecturer of marketing) and alumni (Peter Greer ‘97, CEO of Hope International and Dylan Thomas ’15, IVC creator) judge the plans through these rounds.

Students Kurtis Eby and Irebe Umusangwa assist the committee in all aspects of the competition. Teams that advance prove there is a market for their product/service, show they can produce and deliver their product/service in a quality manner and could generate a profit in doing so, and prove there is meaningful social and spiritual impact that can result from their business and product or service.

Current Messiah business administration major Moses Robson Kavishe ’16 found that participating in the IVC helps transform an idea into an actual business. “This is not just a dream; now it is a business. This might be the only time where I have the privilege to surround myself with people who are willing to challenge and support me so much,” he said.

Nejmeh says one of the most rewarding parts of the challenge is seeing students come to realize and act on their God-given talents, inspirations and passions to impact the world for God’s glory

“We know from many studies that this generation of students is more apt to start a business that any prior generation of students. Therefore, providing a solid biblical worldview and entrepreneurial foundation from which to launch such ventures is of critical importance,” reflects Nejmeh. “I am convinced, more than ever before, that God intends for us to leverage our talents and passions to launch sustainable entrepreneurial ventures as a platform for ministry.”

This year’s IVC culminates with a final presentation round April 28 from 7-9 p.m. in the High Center’s Parmer Hall. Six final teams will present their plans to a panel of six judges (who are all entrepreneurs themselves) and a live audience. The judges’ scores and audience votes will combine to select a first, second and third prize winner of the competition. Prior to the final presentation, an “Experience the Entrepreneur” pre-event will occur in the lobby of Parmer Hall from 6-6:45p.m., offering guests an opportunity to interact with the final teams and learn more about their businesses before the live event.