Louisiana State University Shreveport students and faculty who have a “big idea” could win $3,000 in an inaugural business model competition called Pilot Pitch.

The new competition for budding or would-be entrepreneurs was born of a need to fill a perceived gap in the entrepreneur ecosystem in Northwest Louisiana.

According to Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) financial analyst Caryn Chalmers, a graduate of LSUS’ MBA program, the university setting is the perfect environment to bring forth the next big idea. Think Dell, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and more recently, Snapchat.

“Quite a few startups in the last 15 to 20 years were from partnerships that formed in academic settings – not necessarily from people in the same fields, but between students of different backgrounds coming together to solve a problem,” Chalmers said. “This is where the spark between creativity and entrepreneurship really happens.”

Though the contest in its first year is only for LSUS students and faculty members, there are plans to expand to other local colleges and universities.

“We all knew we needed this here,” Chalmers said. “And it fills the need to have a university-level entrepreneurship competition and compliments other efforts like the Louisiana Startup Prize, Junior Achievement, CoHab and Segue Science Management.

We saw this as a great opportunity to encourage students and faculty who need that extra push to take their idea beyond the concept phase. Who knows if the next great founder is sitting in a Northwest Louisiana university. The idea is to create a complete pipeline for entrepreneurship from early life and education to a point where he or she can move from concept to commercialization.”

EAP is partnering with LSUS for the competition, sponsored by LSUS, EAP and its parent organization BRF (formerly Biomedical Research Foundation), Committee of 100, Davis and Bujold, and Segue Science Management.

Entries are now open and close Sept. 29. The final pitch in the competition is Nov. 16, corresponding with Global Entrepreneurship Week, a worldwide celebration of entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Organizers said participants should be encouraged by Pilot Pitch’s simple entry process.

Phase I of Pilot Pitch requires participants to fill out two templates – a lean canvas, which helps organize components of a business model, and a startup cost analysis, which helps startups plan financially how to best get a business off the ground.

In Phase II, the “workshop phase,” the top 20 submissions from Phase I will receive instruction on refining their lean canvas, financials and a pitch deck presentation.

The best five business models from the workshop phase will go on to Phase III, the final pitch.

Judges will include EAP Executive Director Dave Smith, a member of the Committee of 100, local patent attorney Charles Holoubek, a representative from LSUS and Dr. Jim Cardelli, of Segue Science Management.

The five finalists will deliver the final pitch to the panel on Nov. 16, followed by a short question and answer session.

The top winner receives $3,000 cash; the second, $1,000; the third, $500. All three winners will receive EAP services, which include assistance with business plans, financial analysis and modeling, market analysis, market and industry research, and help finding funding opportunities – whether through a bank, grants or angel investors.

All participants who make it to Phase II of Pilot Pitch receive coaching from industry experts, real world experience in the startup and fundraising process, networking with industry experts and like-minded entrepreneurs, and a chance to take a business idea from concept to commercialization.

The top 20 that advance to Phase II will receive scholarships to enter the Louisiana Startup Prize.

For more information or to enter the Pilot Pitch competition, visit PilotPitchla.com.