The University of Virginia Entrepreneurship Cup, also known as the E-Cup, is an annual competition that seeks to enrich the area’s entrepreneurial community by encouraging new ventures with the potential to address unmet needs, solve social and economic problems, and do so in an interdisciplinary way.
The E-Cup is open to all UVA undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. The history of ECUP Finalists and Winners can be found here.
The E-Cup consists of three different stages: Concept, Discovery and Launch! Each stage will have its own competition with varying judging criteria.
Stage I: Concept
The Concept Competition is the first stage in a three part series of annual competitions organized under the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup. $25,000 in total prize money will be awarded as part of the Concept Stage.
The purpose of the Concept stage of the competition is to surface and seed ideas from all parts of the university at every stage of development. Students are encouraged to come up with out-of-the-box ideas that could be translated into compelling projects. Submissions are not expected to be a full business plan, and will not be penalized for not having a working prototype, fully developed team, forecast, revenues, etc.
Stage II: Discovery
The second stage of the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup, the Discovery Competition, is all about customer and product development. $25,000 in total prize money will be awarded as part of the Discovery Stage.
The Discovery Competition is based upon the principles of effectuation, a problem solving process that expert entrepreneurs undertake after they have conceived of their idea (Stage I: Concept), but before they invested significant time and money into the project (Stage III: Launch!). By focusing upon the “fit” between customer needs or wants and the project’s product or service, as well as the personal skills, connections and effort students bring to this challenge, this stage of the competition requires students to—and rewards students who—demonstrate that they have taken steps to “de-risk” their idea, perhaps the most crucial step in the startup process.
Stage III: Launch
The Launch Competition is the third and final stage of the UVA Entrepreneurship Cup, and its goal is to showcase and provide seed capital to the most compelling student ventures. In past years, upwards of $50,000 in total prize and in-kind resources have been awarded.
This stage of the competition is about commitment, sustainability, and scale. Are the students committed to the venture? Is it likely that that the venture, whether a for-profit or nonprofit, could be sustainable (i.e., financially and operationally viable)? Could this venture grow to have the impact and/or the upside imagined by the founders?