Entrepreneurship Experience for College Students in Southern Virginia

Open to ALL Southern Virginia college students in ALL majors

Overview: The RISE Collegiate Business Plan Competition is open to students of all types, backgrounds, skills, interests, and majors. This hands-on entrepreneurship education experience is designed for students who are passionate about developing a new social venture, product, or service. 

Eligibility: Students must either 1) be enrolled at higher education institutions in Southern Virginia or 2) have a permanent address in Southern Virginia if attending school online or elsewhere out of the region. High school students who are dual enrolled are eligible to complete. Students do not need prior experience in business or entrepreneurship. This experience is designed for students ages 16 and older.

Collegiate Business Plan Competition Pitch Day

The Collegiate Business Plan Competition pitch day is Thursday, March 23, 2023 from 3:00-6:05pm at Hampden-Sydney College.

Want to attend? Register now to be an audience member at this event!

The RISE Collegiate Business Plan Competition (CBPC) is designed for college-age students to gain real-world experience in entrepreneurship.  Teams of students with diverse backgrounds, skills, interests, and majors will work together for six months (October through March) with support from entrepreneurship educators, resources, and mentors.

Students will learn how to collaborate on a team, interview customers, and develop a business model for an innovative product, service, or social venture.


  • Round 1: Register & Submit Video (90-seconds maximum) – due October 22, 2022
  • Round 2: Business Model Canvas – due November 18, 2022
  • Round 3: Notification of Progression to Pitch Event – December 15, 2022 (Teams that do not progress will be given an option to schedule an appointment with Jacob Dolence to review feedback.)
  • Round 4: Feasibility Study Workshop and schedule appointment with outside mentor for feedback – January 23, 2023
  • Round 5: Feasibility Study Due – February 15, 2023
  • Round 6: Final Business Plan Due – March 16, 2023
  • Round 7: Business Pitch Event at Hampden-Sydney College – March 23, 2023

Student Eligibility

Participating students must be enrolled at a higher education institution in Southern Virginia (see list below) – OR – must have a permanent address in Southern Virginia if attending college online or elsewhere.

Higher education institutions in Southern Virginia include:

  • Averett University
  • Danville Community College
  • Longwood University
  • Hampden-Sydney College
  • New College Institute
  • Patrick Henry Community College
  • Southside Virginia Community College
  • Southern Virginia Higher Education Center
  • Dual Enrollment Students*

*High school students who participate in dual enrollment college courses are eligible to participate in either the CBPC or the Student Idea Summit.

Questions about eligibility? Contact us a hello@sovarise.com

1. Create a Team

Teams may consist of 1 to 7 members. Building a team with diverse skill sets is recommended. Teams can add or remove team members up until the January Workshop.  Teams can include students from multiple schools. 

Assign a team leader to ensure all deadlines are met throughout the competition.

Need help finding additional team members? The CBPC Planning Committee can help you connect with students across campus or at other schools. Email us at hello@sovarise.com

2. Select a Business Idea

Innovative product and service ideas are highly encouraged. All business ideas must have the potential to be viable, legal entities eligible to operate under the laws of Virginia.

Teams may enter multiple business ideas in the first round, but only one (1) such business idea may compete in the semifinals. If two submissions from the same team leader are selected for the semifinals, teams can break up or add additional team members as needed. 

3. Register your team by the application deadline – October 22, 2022 at 11:59pm


Recommended Reading

“Talking to Humans: Success starts with understanding your customers” by Giff Constable

Talking to Humans is a practical guide to the qualitative side of customer development, an indispensable skill for vetting and improving any new startup or innovation. This book will teach you how to structure and run effective customer interviews, find candidates, and turn learnings into action. For a free digital copy download, fill out the Non-Profits/Schools form found here.

2022 Winners:

  • Project Connect – Averett University ($4,000 in prize money awarded)
  • The Ville – Longwood University ($2,000 in prize money awarded)
  • Fail Harder Fitness – Hampden-Sydney College ($2,000 in prize money awarded)
  • BFX Studios – Patrick & Henry Community College ($1,000 in prize money awarded)
  • You’re Not Alone/YNA – Danville Community College ($1,000 in prize money awarded)

Contact Information

Longwood University

Jacob Dolence
Director, Educational Innovation and
Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
Faculty, Cormier Honors College
Brandon Hennessey
Director of Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Hampden-Sydney College

Dr. Andrew King
Director, Flemming Center for Entrepreneurship

Averett University

John Vigouroux
Chief Entrepreneurship & Innovation Officer
Dr. Peggy Wright
Chair, Business Administration

Southern Virginia Higher Education Center

Hope Harris-Gayles
Associate Director, Communications & Outreach

Patrick & Henry Community College

Dr. Nancy Phillips
Professor and Department Lead for Business Technology

Don't see your school listed? You can still compete!

Contact us at hello@sovarise.com

Have you been accepted into the Collegiate Business Plan Competition?

All students accepted into the competition will need to self-enroll in the CBPC Canvas course.

2022 RISE Collegiate Business Plan Competition Pitch Day

Event Sponsors

Interested in becoming a sponsor of this program?

Let’s talk! Send us an email and we will set up a conversation.