Entrepreneurs to Pitch Ideas at IU Southeast’s Next Big Thing

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (Nov. 13, 2023) – Budding entrepreneur finalists will have a chance to pitch their ideas and take home seed money and other prizes as part of The Next Big Thing Pitch Contest, sponsored by the IU Southeast School of Business, Maker 13, Indiana Small Business Development Center, NovaParke Innovation & Technology Campus, and the New Albany Floyd County Library. The live pitch event will be held on Saturday, November 18th from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Hoosier Room, located in the University Center North Conference Center on the IU Southeast campus. The public is invited to attend to hear the ideas and cheer on their favorite entrepreneur.

“We’re thrilled to be organizing a pitch contest that not only celebrates entrepreneurs and the spirit of entrepreneurship but is also an official event of Global Entrepreneurship Week,” said Dr. Aycan Kara, associate professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship at IU Southeast. “We’ve received submissions from both established and aspiring entrepreneurs. The submissions have truly impressed us, not just in terms of quality, but also in the wide range of concepts they cover, from high-tech solutions to mental health initiatives and services for pet owners.”

Finalists participating in the competition, similar to the popular television series, Shark Tank, will have the chance to present their ideas to a panel of experts, entrepreneurs, and mentors, who will provide valuable feedback and guidance on projects. Registrants will also compete with other talented individuals/teams from around southern Indiana and the best pitches will receive cash awards, mentorship, and exposure. Additionally, there will be insights from Fail Forward speakers and opportunities for networking.

There are two categories in Saturday’s pitch competition including Community Fast Pitch, and Community Pitch Tank.

The Community Fast Pitch is for individuals/teams who have identified a problem to solve/customer need, have executed market research, and have a rough business plan; however, they have not identified or finalized a minimum viable product or service to offer. Participants must be an Indiana resident or have an existing business organized within the state of Indiana. If the business is not yet organized, winning submissions must pledge to start the submitted business idea within the state of Indiana to receive financial prizes.

The Community Pitch Tank is for individuals/teams who have a completed business plan and have identified a specific minimum viable product or service to offer. Participants must be an Indiana resident and have an existing established business in Indiana or pledge to start the submitted business plan/idea in Indiana.

“This year’s contest will serve as a stepping stone for future competitions, fostering increased cooperation among community partners and cultivating a truly nurturing environment for our startups,” said Kara. “For next year’s competition, our goal is to have a larger prize money pool, attract more submissions, and harness the innovative thinking of the upcoming generation. To create a vibrant local community and economy, we believe that we must attract and retain innovative ideas and talent, address the needs of our local community, and integrate high school entrepreneurs into the local entrepreneurship ecosystem,” she said.

The 2023 list of prizes total $16,750 in cash, workspace at the NovaParke Innovation & Technology Campus, and membership at Maker 13.


1st Place:  $2,000
2nd Place: $1,000  
3rd Place:  $750
4th Place:  $500


1st Place:  $5,000 + 1 year office space at Novaparke Innovation & Technology Campus ($10,000 value)
2nd Place: $3,500 + 1-year membership at Maker 13 ($4,800 value)
3rd Place:  $2,500
4th Place:  $1,500

The Next Big Thing Pitch Contest is sponsored by Indiana University Southeast and the IU Southeast School of Business and community partners including the Indiana Small Business Development Center, NovaParke Innovation & Technology Campus, Maker 13, The Main Street organizations, and Floyd County Library.


About IU Southeast:  IU Southeast is one of seven campuses of Indiana University. Offering more than 150 degree programs and concentrations, the scenic 180-acre campus is located less than 15 minutes from downtown Louisville, Kentucky. It currently has an enrollment of more than 3,750 students and employs more than 360 faculty members. About 400 students live on campus in five fully furnished, lodge-style residence halls. Through an agreement with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Indiana University Southeast offers in-state tuition to students enrolled from eight counties in the Louisville region. IU Southeast has three nationally recognized, accredited schools including the School of Business, School of Education, and School of Nursing. For more information, visit www.ius.edu. IU Southeast is a tobacco-free campus.


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