Ole Miss Insight Park co-hosting DRA Delta Pitch competition

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

By Edwin Smith

University of Mississippi

Individual entrepreneurs and start-up organizations are invited to vie for fellowships to a national conference at the Delta Regional Authority Delta Pitch competition Thursday at the University of Mississippi.

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The event begins at 1 p.m. in UM’s Innovation Hub at Insight Park. Co-hosts are Insight Park, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended.

“The Delta Pitch Competition is part of DRA’s region-wide entrepreneurial initiative known as The Delta Challenge,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development at Insight Park. “It will provide participants the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to an esteemed panel of judges.

“The top three winners will get the chance to attend an expenses paid trip to New Orleans Entrepreneurs Week in spring 2017.”

Competition is open to residents of the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta Regional Authority. This includes Lafayette County and all Ole Miss students, regardless of their hometown.

“The number of participants is uncertain, but we can only accommodate up to 10 or 12 teams, so it is important to register soon to ensure a spot,” Nicholas said.

“The university and the EDF frequently partner together to promote entrepreneurial endeavors to inspire students and community members to start businesses and improve our community and our state. This competition affords us an opportunity to fulfill that mission.”

The DRA Delta Pitch Competition is another opportunity to allow UM and its partners in the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation to showcase the best in entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial ecosystem, said Clay Dibrell, CIE executive director, professor of management and holder of the William W. Gresham Jr. Entrepreneurial Professorship.

“One of our goals is to make Oxford a destination for entrepreneurs,” Dibrell said. “A strong entrepreneurial ecosystem is a driving force for community economic prosperity and a greater quality of life.”

The DRA Delta Pitch Competition is a wonderful opportunity for Oxford to show off its entrepreneurial spirit, said Allen Kurr, vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette County EDF.

“The entrepreneurial culture we are cultivating in the Oxford-Lafayette-University community will greatly benefit from this program, and hopefully the participants will see this competition as a way to jumpstart their business ideas here locally,” he said.

Judges for the competition are Kim Campbell, Bill Mobley, Kyle McElhaney, Troy Drewry and Steve Vasillo.

During the three-minute pitch, entrepreneurs should address the critical questions of each category, while maintaining the flow, pace and consistency of a good business pitch. Entrepreneurs will then have one minute for questions and answers from the judges.

Pitches will be evaluated on presentation, business model, organizational structure, financial objectives, market, risk, competitive advantage and scalability.

Requirements for eligibility in the contest are:

• Individuals and startup organizations must live or work within the 252 counties and parishes that DRA serves;

• Be organized as a for-profit business;

• Generate less than $1 million in annual revenue;

• Have fewer than five full-time employees.

Up to 20 startup companies will be identified to represent the eight-state DRA region and will receive a fellowship to participate in a special segment of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week 2017. While at NOEW, fellows will have access to programmatic seminars, workshops and mentorship from panelists and industry experts as well as opportunities to showcase their company to a panel of investors.