By Laura Gossman

Elevate is not for the faint of heart. It may not require successfully throwing a basketball from the three-point line or steel-toe hiking boots to summit Mt. Whitney, but as the name might suggest, stamina, well-thought-out strategies and preparation are needed for this business competition for Christian students.

Elevate has a mission to elevate entrepreneurial excellence through an annual faith-based business plan competition among national Christian colleges, universities, and fellowships.

Finalist from APU's Zuventurez competition. David Kim, Elevate's co-founder is standing on the end right as one of the judges.

Finalists from Azusa Pacific University’s Zuventurez competition. Annie Tsai, bottom right, is the new Vice President of Vocation, Formation and Innovation at Azusa Pacific University. David Kim, standing on the top right is the co-founder of Telos Ventures and Elevate.

 

The vision is to elevate and mobilize a generation of entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders to work for the good of others (Genesis 2:15), use God-given gifts (Romans 12:6), and multiply God’s resources (Luke 19:11-27) for God’s purpose and Kingdom.

As a new effort initiated by Telos Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based, global, Gospel-centered community accelerator and venture capital fund co-founded by Eric Quan and David Kim, the inaugural event will take place this spring. Applications are due here by February 15th, 2015. To learn more about the competition and guidelines, check out www.elevatebizplan.com.

The idea first came from a Telos Ventures Capital investor. Telos then brought on Dr. Annie Tsai, the new Vice President of Alumni, Vocation and Innovation at Azusa Pacific University. Elevate then partnered with Wheaton College, Covenant College and Christian Union at Princeton University, and Dr. Tsai secured the partnership of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities as well as their endorsement.

Annie Tsai, the new vice president of Vocation, Formation and Innovation at Azusa Pacific University kicks off Zuventurez competition this past November. APU will be hosting the regional finals for Elevate March 2015.

Dr. Annie Tsai at Azusa Pacific University kicks off Zuventurez competition this past November. APU will be hosting the regional finals for Elevate March 2015.

Elevate is modeled after the March Madness of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. For-profit startup business plans will be selected from a national application pool to pitch in regional final competitions on March 21st, 2015, in the East, (Princeton University/Christian Union), Midwest (Wheaton College, IL), South (Covenant College, GA) and West (Azusa Pacific University, CA) host sites.

The winner of each of the regional finals will be awarded $20,000 and be invited to compete for the $50,000 grand prize investment to be awarded in Silicon Valley, California, on April 18th, 2015.

Three Wheaton College students are the power trio behind Curio, a fair trade e-commerce website focused on creating reciprocal relationships between vendors and consumers. Curio participated in Wheaton's business competition "Shark Tank" in November 2014 and will host the regional finals for Elevate March 2015.

Three Wheaton College students are the power trio behind Curio, a fair trade e-commerce website focused on creating reciprocal relationships between vendors and consumers. Curio participated in Wheaton’s business competition “Shark Tank” in November 2014. Wheaton will host the regional finals for Elevate March 2015.

Each team must meet certain requirements in order to compete in the 2015 ELEVATE Business Plan Competition. These general prerequisites include a profession of faith, current enrollment as an 18-year-old+ student at an undergraduate or graduate level, and a minimum of one student in a leadership capacity. Ventures must be currently seeking outside capital for their for-profit business.

The judging criteria is broken down in to four main quadrants:

Where is God in it? 25%

-The vision for the startup originated from a clear call

-The founders are intentional about how God is working in and through them

-God is demonstrably moving in this area

-The product or service serves the world

Is this a good opportunity? 25%

-There is a significant identified problem

-There is a significant addressable market 12/8/2014

-The company has been thoughtfully positioned against competition

-The idea is a viable solution with clear and distinct differentiation

-There is creativity and innovation in product/service, branding, marketing, etc.

-The market timing is appropriate for this concept

Is this the right team? 25%

-The team is passionate about solving the problem and clearly loves what they do

-The founders have relevant experience and a track record of high performance

-The founders are humble and hungry

-The team is focused and dedicated

-The team is complete or there are appropriately identified potential additions

Business/Financial Model Design 25%

-The team has identified a clear and actionable monetization strategy

-There is an identified initial target market and clear sales channels

-The solution is sustainable and scalable

-The team has developed comprehensive and considered financial projections

-Team has undergone customer development to validate/invalidate assumptions

Bonus Points + 10%

-The startup has proprietary technology or other defensible intellectual property

-The startup is already a going concern with operations, revenue and/or other demonstrable traction

-A quality advisory team and/or Board of Directors support the founders

-There is an inherent WOW factor

If you or someone in your network might benefit from this competition, please connect them to this information as the application deadline is fast approaching. May the best team win! May those participants who do not win experience increased wisdom and courage to faithfully bring their innovation, service and skills to their corner of the marketplace.

Wheaton College student preps for some Shark Tank publicity.

A Wheaton College student preps for some Shark Tank publicity.

Laura Gossman lives in Pasadena, California. She is the Director of Operations at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership, mother of a growing toddler named Benjamin and wife of Adam Gossman. She received her MA in Cross Cultural Studies from Fuller in 2006.

Fieldnotes Magazine is a publication of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. We would love to hear from you about people, businesses, or other organizations we can interview or feature. Please email the editor at Fieldnotes Magazine.

 

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