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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Northwest students pitch their business idea during the University’s 2014 New Venture Pitch Competition. Below, a judging panel comprised of business professionals listens to the pitches to choose the ideas in which they are most likely to invest.

Northwest students pitch their business idea during the University’s 2014 New Venture Pitch Competition. Below, a judging panel comprised of business professionals listens to the pitches to choose the ideas in which they are most likely to invest. (Photos by Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University)

Feb. 13, 2015

Students, public invited to enter annual New Venture Pitch Competition

By Alexandra Mortallaro, media relations assistant

A judging panel comprised of business professionals listened to the pitches and chose the ideas in which they were most likely to invest. College students, high school students and members of the community interested in presenting their business ideas in a competitive setting are invited to register for the fourth annual New Venture Pitch Competition at Northwest Missouri State University.

The deadline to enter is Friday, March 13. The competition will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 17, in J.W. Jones Student Union at Northwest. There is no entry fee and a meal will be provided during a lunch session that will feature keynote speaker and Northwest alumnus Mark Doll.

The event provides students and entrepreneurs the opportunity to present ideas to professionals, small business owners and potential investors. It also gives students the chance to network with business professionals and gain presentation experience.

“The pitch competition brings together individuals from around the area to advance entrepreneurship. Many alumni and friends of Northwest volunteer their time to make the event possible,” said Dr. Ben Blackford, assistant professor of management, who annually organizes the contest. “During the competition, students gain real-world experience presenting to a variety of individuals with backgrounds similar to those who may someday be their colleagues, supervisors or customers.”


How to enter

A team may enter by completing the online registration form. Entries will be accepted until all 50 spaces are filled or March 13, whichever comes first.

The competition consists of three tracks: students enrolled in an accredited higher education institution, high school students and members of the general public.

The business venture being presented during the pitch must be developed by the team. The venture is eligible to enter the competition only once.


Competition format

The competition format consists of three rounds for each track. During the first round, teams give a one-minute elevator pitch about their idea to a panel of judges. In the second round, teams set up a booth to present their business ideas. The judges will then visit the booths of the teams that impressed them most during the first round. Four teams from each track will be selected by the judges to advance to the final round.

The teams selected for the final round will pitch their business ideas and judges will select a winner for each track. During the final round, teams have 10 minutes to present their business idea, followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers.

Judges will use a scorecard to evaluate each presentation and rank teams on the effectiveness and persuasiveness of their presentations, the innovativeness and quality of their ideas, the competitive advantage of their proposed businesses, effective discussion of financials and proposed management teams. Ultimately, judges will base their final decisions on how likely they would be to invest their own money in one of the proposals.



The winning team of each track will receive $2,000 toward startup costs for their business and a six-month lease at the Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship located on Northwest’s campus.

Sponsors for the event are the Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth Endowment Fund and Husch Blackwell. 


About the competition day

The competition starts on at 8:40 a.m. Friday, April 17, and concludes about 3:30 p.m. The keynote speaker will begin at 11:10 a.m., followed by a luncheon from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.

Mark Doll, chief executive officer and president of Doll Distributing Inc., will be the day’s keynote speaker. He is a Northwest alumnus, having earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and participated as a member of the Bearcat football team.

Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Doll Distributing is a distributor affiliated with Anheuser-Busch, Boston Beer, Corona, Goose Island Beer, Summit Brewing and Stone Brewing as well as local craft beers. Doll Distributing also has locations in Council Bluffs and Spencer, Iowa. The company serves about 3,500 bars, restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores. Doll began as the account manager in 1981. In 1985, he became the general manager and continued in that capacity until he and his siblings purchased the business in 1987.

Doll Distributing has continued its mission of striving to be the best beverage distributor in the industry as measured by their communication, customer service, efficient processes and growth. Throughout its history, the company has been committed to being a leader in technology and innovation. Doll’s storage facilities are temperature-controlled year-round to ensure product reliability, and the company has invested in state-of-the-art technology to provide customers with the industry’s highest in-stock rate and shipping accuracy.

Aside from his distributing business, Doll is involved with the Constellation Brands Distributor Board, Iowa Parks Foundation and many other charitable organizations across Iowa. He served as chairman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Iowa Beer Wholesalers, the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce and the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Panel. Doll was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to serve two terms with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

For more information about the New Venture Pitch Competition or to register, visit or contact Blackford at or 660.562.1282.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468