Dave Noack, director of the Entrepreneurship Program at WSU, speaks at the Pitch Contest at Fireplace Lounge. (Source?)
Dave Noack, director of the Entrepreneurship Program at WSU, speaking at the pitch contest at fireplace lounge last semester. (Emily Ferguson / The Signpost)

Five teams made up of Weber State University students will compete in Opportunity Quest, a business pitch competition, on Jan. 29 for a chance at cash prizes to help fund their business plans.

The competition will take place at 1:00 p.m. in the Wildcat Theater in the Shepherd Union. The event is free and open to the public.

Zions Bank awards money to the University of Utah each year so that the money can be distributed to other schools in Utah, Dave Noack, director of the Entrepreneurship Program at WSU, said. Each school then uses the money to host their own Opportunity Quest.

In addition to prize money, the first place winner from each school is then entered as a finalist in the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge which will be hosted at the University of Utah later in the semester.

Noack has been involved in the Opportunity Quest competition since he first began working at WSU. This will be his third time working on the competition.

“I think this year we have had some of the best entries,” Noack said.

The five teams will have 10 minutes to present their executive business summary plan to a panel of judges.

“We want to put five teams in front of these judges that make them feel confident,” Noack said. “That make them feel like the money will actually go to starting a business and it’s not just a pipe dream that someday might happen.”

Luis Tirado presents his business idea at the Pitch Contest at Fireplace Lounge.
Luis Tirado presents his business idea at the pitch contest last semester. (Emily Ferguson / The Signpost)

Jeff Clements, an assistant professor at WSU who earned his bachelors in entrepreneurship, believes competitions such as this are beneficial to students.

“It’s a chance to push yourself and to stretch into areas that you might not always feel comfortable in,” Clements said.

Libby Hughes, the administrative specialist for the Goddard Business Centers at WSU, has been working behind the scenes to help prepare for the competition. Hughes said this is her first time working on this competition and is very excited to have the chance.

“I’m excited,” Hughes said. “The students that are competing are really good students.”

Students competing in this competition first began their journey last semester when they had to submit an executive summary with the logistics of their business which could either be projected or real.

Clements said an executive summary should tell people what the business will be doing and why they should be interested in the first place.

“Creating an attention grabbing executive summary helps introduce everyone to your business plan and ideas,” Clements said.

Clements also compared the summary to speed-dating and said that it needs to make a good first impression. Make it fast or it may be overlooked.

Students were also required to enter a two minute video explaining their business idea.

“Some students made a commercial-type video,” Noack said. “While others just had their iPhone on hand and made a quick clip of themselves explaining their business plan.”

Noack said that they had around 25 entries. From that, 10 semi-finalists were selected. From the 10 semi-finalists it was narrowed down to five students that will be competing on Friday.

“What I tell students is that if you can’t explain your business plan to me in 30 seconds then you need to go back to the drawing board,” Noack said.

Noack believes this competition is beneficial to students who participate, even if they don’t make it past the initial entry, because it gives students a real-world experience.

“I wish I would have done this when I was in school,” Hughes said. “I think it’s a cool platform for presenting their ideas and a great real-world application for the stuff they learn in the classroom.

Clements encourages students to take part in these events even if it may seem scary.

“Doing hard things always pays off,” Clements said. “Doing easy things rarely does.”

For more information about upcoming events from the Hall Global Entrepreneurship Center and the Goddard School of Business visit their website at, www.weber.edu/goddard.

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