(BLOOMINGTON) – The Mill, Bloomington’s center for entrepreneurship, announced the launch of a collegiate version of its flagship pitch competition, Crossroads.
The new spinoff event, called Crossroads Collegiate Pitch Competition, is open to any student currently enrolled at any Indiana university or college with a startup based in Indiana.
The winner will take home a cash prize of $5,000.
The collegiate competition was inspired by the success of going virtual with the signature event last fall, explained Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming for The Mill.
“Going virtual allowed us to expand our reach considerably,” Lehman said. “We were able to attract not only more startups, but also more judges, and more diverse participation from every corner of Indiana.”
The Mill saw a surge in student interest in 2020, in Crossroads and its other programs, including its Spark Business Plan competition and boot-camp startup classes offered through Indiana University.
“We already work with some incredibly talented college students, and we know there are many more across the state. This new event will showcase their innovation and drive,” Lehman added. “Crossroads Collegiate gives student entrepreneurs the chance to not only win some money, but also to get out in front of judges, entrepreneurs, and investors from all over the state, from South Bend to Evansville.”
To apply to Crossroads Collegiate, students will submit an executive summary, a pitch deck, and a 10-minute pitch video by April 12.
“The video takes some of the pressure off of pitching,” Lehman explains. “You can re-record it a dozen times, as many as needed to get it just right. New entrepreneurs really benefit from the practice and the opportunity to get feedback.”
A judging panel of respected Indiana entrepreneurs and angel investors will view the recorded pitches at the semi-finals and select finalists, who will pitch live over Zoom on April 29.
“Students are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs earlier and earlier,” Lehman commented. “It’s the right time to feed their interest and build on the current momentum in our startup ecosystem.”
Indiana has seen a surge in investment in early-stage startups. Elevate Ventures recently reported that despite COVID, in 2020, pre-seed investments in Indiana more than doubled to 100 from 46 in the prior year.
The Mill’s mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship.