Clemson Pitch Smackdown logoCLEMSON — The Pitch Smackdown is simple: On the day of the main event, participants have three minutes to give the most compelling “call to action” speech possible to a panel of judges.

For the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, the Pitch Smackdown will be a place for the university community to show off ideas — from barely nascent ones to fully developed products — to potential investors and mentors. The only thing getting thrown to the ground is the idea that only certain people can be entrepreneurs.

By welcoming students, faculty, staff and alumni — solo or on a team — organizers have set a simple goal for everyone involved: Conquer the fear and get all the ideas out.

The main purpose of Smackdown is to show students from every discipline that entrepreneurship is accessible to anyone with an idea and the gumption to pursue it.

“The Smackdown is where a student’s formal education meets the real world and provides for competitive learning in a fun and entertaining way,” said Greg Smith of Blue Vista Ventures LLC, an organizing member of the event. Individuals, regardless of what they have studied, can get a taste of putting their notions into motion while learning how to improve them.

People should enter business plans and ideas by Sept. 12. They should use the three “practice pitch” opportunities to get tips from advisers and event coordinators on style, content and delivery impact. If they are selected to present in this highly competitive event, they’ll take the stage Friday, Sept. 26, try to win part of the $1,750 cash prize and be the Smackdown champion. The event will be 2-5 p.m. at Tillman Hall auditorium.

Though there are bragging rights and prize money to be won, the best benefit from the event is not the competition, but the collaboration among the Clemson Family members. The Tiger Angel Network, a group of current or former entrepreneurs who are Clemson alumni, has a fund and a mission: to invest in Clemson startups, especially those from students.

“The Smackdown event provides students with an opportunity not only to test an idea, but showcase the level of passion behind it.  It will end up being the most important part of success,” said Michelle Higdon, principal and CEO of Solid Gold Pet and a Spiro board member.

With sponsorship from the alumni group and Wyche Law Firm, the Spiro Institute organized the Smackdown with the hope of working with students and encouraging questions. And, by inviting sponsors such as the Tiger Angel Network to join students for a networking reception after the competition, the connections may lead to profitable partnerships.

Contenders who would like to participate should register online at the Pitch Smackdown website. There is a limited number of free tickets for spectators, who should reserve them on that website.

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