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February 01, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Here’s a good opportunity for student entrepreneurs

The Heartland Challenge Startup Competition has a prize pool of $100,000. Get those applications in by February 10.

Student entrepreneurs from across North America will descend on Bentonville, AR in mid-April for the in-person “Heartland Challenge Startup Competition” where there is a $100,000 prize pool.

First offered in 2020 as a virtual event, the competition is hosted by the University of Arkansas’ (U of A) Sam M. Walton College of Business and overseen by the U of A Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation with generous support from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. Designed to simulate the process of raising venture capital for a high-growth enterprise, the “Heartland Challenge” has awarded more than $350,000 since its launch.

Applications are open through February 10 at 11:59 p.m. CST. Twelve semifinalists will be selected for the final round of competition with the overall winner collecting $50,000. The second place team will receive $25,000, third place will be awarded $10,000, and fourth place secures $5,000.

First and second place winners in the elevator pitch competition — decided by an audience vote — win $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.

“We are incredibly excited to host the Heartland Challenge in Bentonville again this year,” said Deb Williams, Senior Director of Operations and Student programs in the U of A’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “This competition exposes founders from across the globe to the burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northwest Arkansas and helps them gain valuable connections and experience as they develop and build their ventures.”

Also included this year is the second annual “Startup Expo” where the competitors can showcase their start-ups and attendees will have an opportunity to vote for their favorites. The winner will receive $5,000.

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